Not all affiliates work on the basis of SEO alone. Concepts such as but also price comparators and some meta-searchers can also be found in the paid results. Sometimes it is only to strengthen the SEO result. Do you also manage SEA campaigns or do you regularly Google the keywords for your business? Then you have undoubtedly noticed that these affiliate advertisements are rarely found at the top of the page. They usually settle down for the lower click prices on the side (positions 4 and lower). So how does affiliate marketing work ? Let us see.

Image side results affiliate

This is mainly because it is difficult to match the CTR and quality score of advertisements and an affiliate will, therefore, pay himself blue for the premium positions. And that is difficult to get profitable with a performance-based compensation model.

  • Bad news for those affiliates, because those positions are no longer there.
  • The chance that they will be in the top 4 is small, so you will miss out on visitors who chose you through the affiliate.


The Google update is in line with the Google search results on mobile. We only had premium positions there and there was not much organic in your (small) screen at all. The focus of Google on mobile is of course not strange; they proudly presented that it is finally the year of mobile. Since the end of 2015, mobile searches that exceed desktop 1 Thing is certain; the traditional affiliate is certainly not always ‘mobile ready’. And that is not surprising, because if the webshop does not convert mobile, there is no performance fee. And if we are honest, we all know that there is much room for improvement. The value of mobile is therefore still not great for them.

The larger publishers who are mobile-ready and also get their traffic almost entirely from social and apps are rarely affiliates on a performance basis. It is for a reason because it is simply not yet a cost-effective way to convert mobile traffic into revenue. What we can conclude from this is that mobile in traditional affiliate marketing will not have much impact yet.

In short

We expect a negative impact on affiliates through Google’s update. The results of the affiliate are in many sectors very closely intertwined with the desktop rankings in the search engine. It will be harder for some advertisers than for others. It also depends on how your affiliate program is structured and how your larger affiliates get traffic. In addition, the competitive field and the ‘mobile readiness’ of your business is of course also a determining factor.

If SEA and Display are deployed via Google Adwords, you can also create specific campaigns that are aimed at the current customer. A customer target group must then be loaded into these campaigns. This ensures that your customers will see a different message than non-customers when they search on Google or surf the web.

how does affiliate marketing work

You can create a customer target group in different ways:

Create a customer target group in Google Analytics if you have a user ID. Then import this target group into Google Adwords.

If a user ID is not available, but there is a customer environment on the website, a target group can be created in Adwords of customers who have been logged in to the customer environment. Finally, you can also use a customer match. For this, a data file with email addresses of the customers must be uploaded in Adwords.