How will online affiliate marketing networks impact search engine ranking?
textabstractIn online affiliate marketing networks advertising web sites offer their affiliates revenues based on provided web site traffic and associated leads and sales. Advertising web sites can have a network of thousands of affiliates providing them with web site traffic through hyperlinks on their web sites. Search engines such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo, consider hyperlinks as a proof of quality and/or reliability of the linked web sites, and therefore use them to determine the relevance of web sites with regard to search queries. In this research we investigate the potential impact of online affiliate marketing networks on the ranking of advertisers’ web sites in search results. This article empirically explores how seven different affiliate marketing networks affect the rankings of the advertising web sites within web search engines. The field study followed intensively seven online affiliate marketing networks for twelve weeks after their launch. The results indicate that newly started affiliate networks effectively improve the rankings of advertising web sites in search engine results. Also, it was found that the effects of affiliate marketing networks on search engine rankings were smaller for advertising web sites operating in highly competitive markets. Another finding was that a growth in visitors coming from search engines was present as a result of the improvement of search engine rankings. Finally, the results indicate that cost-benefit metrics associated with affiliate marketing programs, such as the average marketing cost will decrease when the positive effects of affiliate marketing on search engine rankings are taken into account.