Wednesday, February 01, 2006

URLs with Anchors - Affiliate Opportunity?

Barry points out a thread this morning from WMW that goes back to a discussion Jeff and I had earlier this year about anchor tags in URLs (www.domain.com/index.html#footer). How do the search engines handle such links? Our experience has been that Google drops all pound signs from URLs.

Wizard from WMW seems to agree:
I'd say #anchor is not a part of URL actually, browser doesn't send it to server with HTTP request.

Google doesn't treat /page.html#anchor as different URL than /page.html. It might be possible that keywords after # mark matter a little, but in Google links database everything after # is stripped.

This seems like the logical thing to do in my opinion, since there would in fact be huge duplicate content problems.

So, what? Here's what: You need an affiliate program? Build it to craft your affiliate links to read like http://www.zunch.com#affid1074 instead of using question marks. Parse the URL at the server level for the ID, and set the cookie or whatever it is you do. It should work just as well as using a question mark, and you get the added benefit of every affiliate link pointing directly to your home page. That is, to the search engines, the link looks like a typical backlink, with no affiliate tracking variable. Nice!


  • This will NOT work:

    While the browser does know, the server doesn't. #'s aren't sent in the URI. The browser chops it off, and when it parses the document, it jumps to that part of the page. The server never recieves this information.

    And while you could potentially use javascript to fire off a query to a script on the backend, this introduces javascript to the equation.

    You're better off with using the REFERER if you want to do this.


    By Anonymous Jaimie Sirovich, at 10:12 AM  

  • Good point, Jaimie. It still seems like using javascript might be a viable solution, along with the referer option.

    By Blogger Tyson Kirksey, at 10:22 AM  

  • What's wrong with referer masks. i.e. you parse out the domain, and issue a credit to the affiliate mapped to that domain.

    I know there are issues with people turning off referers for "security," but looking at my logs, I see those are in the minority.

    By Anonymous Jaimie Sirovich, at 10:56 AM  

  • You just have the issue of keeping up with all the domains associated with your different affiliates. What if I'm an affiliate and I want to put my link on 12 different domains? Wait, I just started another site, that makes 13. Do I have to tell you about it? You have to keep tabs on all of that, so you can attribute properly.

    Also, what if there are multiple affilliate links on one domain, such as a forum or something. How do you attribute those?

    If the affiliate ID is in the URL, it doesn't matter who the referring domain is.

    By Blogger Tyson Kirksey, at 11:02 AM  

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