How to Remove Skimlinks (and How they Hurt Your SEO)

How Affiliate Links Operate

Affiliate marketing is a method of splitting a sale. A blogger, for example, can join up to become an affiliate for a product they believe in, then promote it on their website and send visitors to the product. The blogger receives a certain proportion of any sales made as a result of this reference.

Are SkimLinks harmful to SEO? SkimLinks is a third-party add-on for any online publisher, from blogs to forums, if you're not familiar with it. When a user clicks on a link in the publisher's content, SkimLinks converts the conventional link to an affiliate link.

Unfortunately, if you're not careful, this might have a significant influence on your SEO.

SkimLinks appears to be innocent at first glance, as affiliate marketing is nothing new. However, WordPress, which controls more than 60% of the CMS industry, has installed SkimLinks on all of its self-hosted free blogs without the blogger's awareness — a crucial distinction from other affiliate connections.

If you write on the platform, your contextual in-content links that point to a vendor with whom SkimLinks has a partnership (e.g. Oakley) may earn a commission for WordPress and SkimLinks–and you won't see a dollar of it, despite the fact that you created the material.

"To maintain the service (and keep features free), we occasionally run adverts from partners like Sharethrough and SkimLinks," according to WordPress. We make every effort to just run them in a few locations." It's to "pay the bills," in other words.

Skimlinks-Related Questions:

  • Could search engines consider a website spammy if the majority of its outbound links are related and followed?
  • Is it possible that SkimLinks would dilute huge merchants' natural backlink profiles and harm their organic search visibility?
  • What if SkimLink's business model becomes the norm?
  • Does a high paid-to-natural link ratio harm a website's credibility and organic rankings?

Search Engine Optimization with SkimLinks

Let's dig a little more into SkimLinks and how they might effect SEO for major merchants.

Examine the source code of any webpage that makes use of Skimlinks. There is no "nofollow" attribute on any of the editorial links. Nonetheless, according to this SkimLinks blog post, the company claims to be fully compliance with Google's requirements.

If this is the case, Skimlinks may add the redirects and nofollow characteristics after a user opens the link. Perhaps it is passing the command through a robots.txt or other non-indexed file to complete it? In either case, users see what appears to be a normal link but is actually an affiliate link. Does this appear to be an ancient black-hat cloaking technique?

I contacted a few fashion bloggers and inquired if they were aware that their postings featured affiliate links. They all indicated they had no notion and were worried about removing the affiliate code.

There are also a lot of inquiries regarding how to remove Skimlinks on the WordPress help forum.

Are there any Quality Parameters?

WordPress asserts that SkimLinks are only used in a few places. So, like any curious marketer, I put that claim to the test.

I quickly created a free blog (which will stay anonymous) and included a few links to major stores. SkimLinks did not display right away. Fast forward 24 hours: the redirects were up and running.

Keep in mind that this page only featured two lines of text and three outbound links. Is this truly a high-quality page that adds value to the visitor's experience? Do you want this page to link to you? I didn't believe so. There do not appear to be any quality requirements in place to determine where and on what blogs SkimLinks appear.

Digging deeper

I dug deeper and tested the anchor text to determine if links containing the words "buy," "obtain," or "purchase" activated the association. Nope. Then I moved the link destination to the company's blog rather than a product landing page, which had no effect.

Regardless of the destination url, Skimlinks transformed the link. Is this also a quality issue? To put it another way, might an editorial link to an About page be considered an affiliate link? Most likely not.

Do skimlinks have any SEO value?

One of our key goals here was to see if Skimlinks pass any SEO value, often known as PageRank.

Unlike most affiliate links, SkimLinks do not contain criteria that betray their purpose. They appear entirely normal until a user clicks on them, at which point the affiliate code is visible in the url bar.

This begs the question of how Google and other search engines will crawl and index these links. Do they consider SkimLinks to be followed links if they lack the rel="nofollow" attribute? Or does Google recognise the link as an affiliate, depriving it of all SEO value?

Googlebot's Interpretation of SkimLinks

SkimLinks were introduced to a WordPress blog for testing to see how Googlebot crawled them.

Skimlinks appear to be recognised as affiliates by Googlebot. They do not, however, have a nofollow characteristic – at least not in our initial tests. As a result, following Skimlinks could be hazardous. And if they aren't, those links will have no SEO benefit.

Despite Google's claim that nofollow links do not transfer PageRank, they are nonetheless beneficial to your backlink profile. They not only diversify link profiles, but they also increase brand visibility and referral traffic.

SkimLinks, on the other hand, use a temporary 302 redirect, which Google likewise ignores.

Some links, such as paid links, should always be nofollowed. Because affiliate links are a type of paid link, they should also be nofollowed. Otherwise, they risk a Google penalty, either manual or algorithmic. Even the FTC requires a clear statement that some connections on a website may be linked, in order to protect consumers.

Isn't affiliate marketing a good thing?

To be clear, affiliate marketing isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Website owners that create compelling material should be compensated for their efforts. Affiliate marketing, when utilised correctly, produces a win-win situation for all involved. A large retailer benefits from brand discovery and publicity. Bloggers can earn a commission on things that they believe in.

The issue emerges when affiliate links are exploited and people direct visitors to low-quality pages in order to earn a commission from a bad user experience.

Blogging is the modern-day equivalent of maintaining a journal, with the added benefit of being able to contribute value to others and allow those with similar interests to connect. As blogging has grown in popularity, an increasing number of bloggers seek to make money from their work.

Additionally, affiliate programmes provide businesses with a new cash source. From a marketing standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

How to Get Rid of SkimLinks

Do you want to get rid of the Skimlinks? One option is to pay $30 per blog, every year to upgrade from the free version.

However, there is another way to prevent SkimLinks from hurting your blog's outbound links. Here's how it works:

For any link, add the rel="noskim" tag to the html code. This is how it would appear in your source code:

Your anchor text is a href="" rel="noskim">a href="" rel="noskim">a href="" rel="noskim

This would prevent the link from being affiliated and allow it to be perceived as an unambiguous, followed link that was neither paid for nor monetized. If you want to discover if a page is using SkimLinks, Ghostery, a privacy extension, can tell you anything that is operating in the background, including trackers.

Finally, consider the following:

Because Google considers affiliate links to be paid links, they must all have the nofollow tag (whether or not you got a cut).

Skimlinks will continue to grow, and comparable affiliate schemes, such as Viglink, will emerge. Those in the SEO profession, from consultants to SEO firms to in-house teams for major retailers, should be concerned in the coming months. Will white-hat link building result in nofollow links that pass no authority or PageRank?

Again, the only option to deal with SkimLinks at this point is to either upgrade the blog to a paid edition and eliminate the advertisements entirely, or to use a rel-attribute to disable each individual affiliated SkimLink.

SkimLinks, according to affiliate sites, have no negative impact on your SEO. However, as SkimLinks and related services continue to grow in popularity, this remains to be seen.