For years, affiliate marketers have believed that with every new Google update, affiliate marketing would surely meet its death.
In 2010, many affiliate marketers stated they were seeing more and more brand web pages outranking their web pages in search results, even though those brands were barely related to that particular search query. Another major complaint included Google closing Adsense accounts because Google found websites they classified as bridge pages - pages that existed just to send web visitors to affiliate pages.
In January 2014, when Google posted a blog post notifying affiliates that if their websites do not add value those websites would be penalized, affiliate marketers saw that as a warning again that the end of affiliate marketing was coming.
In early 2015, Google started allowing merchants to start showing product reviews and price comparisons alongside their own products in search results. Many affiliate marketers believed this move made it harder for value-add affiliates to make a living as this feature encroached on all the things they did to add value: user reviews, price comparisons, attribute enhancements and all those things that happen at the end of the buying cycle.
Google is now suggesting cheap flights and hotels to its users. Alexander Kostin, Digital Marketing Project Manager at BettingExpert.com, an award-wining startup in Denmark, asks "What will companies like Hotels.com, Booking.com and Momondo.com do in the future?" Kostin goes on to say, "Google gave ground to all of these businesses. They can kill these businesses, too, because affiliate marketers rely on their knowledge of how to work with Google's search algorithm to drive significant traffic to their websites."
Affiliate marketers might be panicking, but is Google the real problem? In 2013, a Search Engine Watch article stated Amazon was passing Google as the top destination for shopping. In October 2015, A BloomReach survey discovered that 44 per cent of online shoppers skip Google and head right to Amazon to search for products. Of all the survey respondents, 87 per cent said they prefer making purchases from the retailer who customizes their shopping experience the best and 75 per cent said Amazon is the best at personalization.
A 2015 study conducted by Deloitte points out three things about consumers: consumers want retailers who make shopping easy, consumers want retailers who curate products, and consumers want control. Amazon meets these three desires - and has done so very well for years.
With things like Southwest airline tickets and Hyatt gift cards popping up in Amazon searches, will affiliate websites like Priceline and Hotwire soon have serious competition on their hands? What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments.