Forwarding Domains to Affiliate Sites

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Companies offering affiliate programs and partnerships typically have extensive terms and conditions that their Web associates must follow. One of the most frequently asked questions about those terms and conditions is regarding the practice of redirecting a domain straight to an affiliate site.

About the Practice of Affiliate Site Redirection
Lets say you are an affiliate of a large established partner network and that you have a domain name to spare. You can either use a permanent 301 redirect or simply redirect any traffic you get at that domain (using a java script redirect or header redirects) to the site your are promoting. More on the various approaches of redirection in a future blog post.

Is it within the network's terms and conditions?
It is essential that before you start redirecting your URL to the affiliate site that you take a careful look at the terms and conditions and discuss it with the affiliate program provider personally. There are many instances where these type of affiliate sites have ended up replacing the merchant (affiliate network) site in search results pages at popular search engines for competitive keywords. As you may have guessed, many merchant do not care for this result and place URL forwarding restrictions in their terms and conditions to restrict the practice. Many terms and conditions can even reserve the right to not pay you if you breach the TOC so, as always, measure twice and cut once - ask your affiliate manager.

The Advantage/Disadvantage of Forwarding Domains
While it may be acceptable (based on the terms and conditions of your affiliate network) to forward domains, it still does not mean that you should. The problem with this very common approach is that it prevents you from doing any selling on your own part. While the vast majority of affiliates are only interested in making a few quick bucks, if you are not keen on working to promoting the merchants products via your own Web content then forwarding domains may be right for you.

Best Practice for Affiliate Site Redirection
Ideally affiliates get paid when they do some work to earn the sale so while (depending on the merchant TOC) it may be acceptable, it's always best to put up at least a landing page to express why you as an affiliate recommend the product or service. If you don't want to pay for hosting one landing page, then use URL forwarding to a page on an existing site or get a cheap reseller account so putting up one page sites won't cost you anything.

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