Affiliation tracking overview

Nowadays affiliation revenue can easily be accountable for 10-20% of tier 1 publishers. It’s more and more common to see newsrooms having editors dedicated to content commerce articles production.

The Marfeel Affiliation module helps editors:

  1. It audits proper link tagging as nofollow to avoid SEO side effects
  2. Understand content production of affiliation articles via Explore
  3. Understand which products are getting more clicks via HUD to re-order the links based on viewable CTR. Products with higher CTR should be moved the highest on an article
  4. Get an in-depth understanding of how users are clicking on different affiliation modules via Recirculation and Article details
  5. Drive more clicks towards affiliation product pages through automated Experiences

How are affiliation links detected

For every canonicalized content url Marfeel detects the body of the article and extracts all the internal and external links it has during the Editorial Audit Phase.

Links pointing to Amazon, Awin, Tradedoubler, Aliexpress & Skimlinks affiliation networks are automatically classified as affiliation. Links pointing to these platforms are automatically tagged with AffiliationNetwork:<network> editorial tag. The tag allows users to find articles with links to the mentioned platforms.

Other links might get classified if they test positive on these heuristics:

  1. Must be an external host not pointing to the same site
  2. Must be an absolute url, no relative
  3. Must use https protocol
  4. The <a /> tag has a rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored attribute
  5. The link contains a utm_.*, .aff. or .af_. queryparam
  6. Marfeel excludes links pointing to,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

If Marfeel detects at least one link meeting the criteria above it will set hasAffilation=true to the Article. hasAffilation and AffiliationNetwork are available both as a filter and a dimension across the Marfeel Platform on Compass, Explore, Optimize and Good morning modules.

Affiliation Audits

If a link is classified as an affiliation link but doesn’t have an explicit rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored, as recommended by Google, an audit will trigger.


Tracking affiliation links on redirection domains

It’s a common practice that publishers don’t add links directly to Amazon or to the product pages. Instead links point to an intermediate endpoint owned by the publisher that redirects to the store or product page. These endpoints are normally responsible to track link clicks. Some of these links might look like:


In these cases, if not properly setup, Marfeel will automatically track outgoing clicks to or and won’t be able to report back on the actual product getting the clicks.

Marfeel no-code Recirculation Tag Experience provides an out-of-the-box mechanism to solve these situations. Admins can specify that links under a certain CSS selector are tracked using an specified queryparam on the Redirection links section:

Skip link processing

As an admin, you might be interested in removing certain URLs from being processed. You can exclude content via Metadata Settings using the Blacklist modules to remove the modules you would like to exclude.

After saving the new setup, you will need to re-execute the audit to update the Editorial Audit.

How to whitelist links detected as affiliation

The above solution will prevent certain links to be tagged as hasAffiliation=true and AffiliationNetwork:XYZ but audits will still be processed and if a link is classified as an affiliation link it will trigger an audit alert.

There are situations like owned cross-site linking where these links might be legitimate, and Google has also stated that there is no penalty for not adding these otherwise recommended attributes. In these cases we can whitelist a list of domains to prevent audits to trigger.

To whitelist domains please contact support via Intercom or you account manager.