Thin Affiliates

An affiliate earns money from affiliate commissions. An affiliate website exists primarily to make money. Affiliates often show content from other "real" merchant sites, such as Amazon or eBay, or a good hotel or travel website. When users click on links to buy products or make reservations, they are oftentimes redirected to the real merchant page.

A thin affiliate is a site that offers little additional information and does not offer substantial value to users compared to many other sources on the web. For example, an affiliate that has only copied content from the merchant site is considered a thin affiliate. This is a moneymaking spam technique.

Recognizing Thin Affiliates

To help determine if a page is a thin affiliate, you can do the following:

Look for original content on the page. The quality of an affiliate page or site depends on how much added value, usefulness, or original/additional information is available on the page that is not easily available elsewhere on the web. If the page has the same “cookie-cutter” text or functionality found on dozens or hundreds of other sites, it is more likely to be spam.

Look at the domain registrants. If clicking a button takes you to another page, check to see “whois” the registrant (or owner) of the two domains. If the registrant is the same, the page is typically not a thin affiliate. Please follow the instructions for checking “whois” in Section 12.3.8.

Recognizing True Merchants

Features that will help you determine if a website is a true merchant include:

• a “view your shopping cart” link that stays on the same site.

• a shopping cart that updates when you add items to it.

• a return policy with a physical address.

• a shipping charge calculator that works.

• a “wish list” link, or a link to postpone the purchase of an item until later.

• a way to track FedEx orders.

• a user forum that works.

• the ability to register or log in.

• a gift registry that works.

Please note the following:

• A page does not need to have all of these features to be considered a true merchant.

• Yahoo! Stores are true merchants – they are typically not thin affiliates.

• Some true smaller merchants take users to another site to complete the transaction because they use a third party to process the transaction. These merchants are not thin affiliates.

Many large web retailers offer affiliate programs. Some of the most common examples are,,,,,, and

There are two methods you can use to learn if a result is a thin affiliate:

• Check the properties of an image on the page to find the source of the image.

• Attempt to make a purchase to see if a transaction can be completed on the website.

Shoe Store Thin Affiliate Example – We will focus on one pair of shoes on the landing page.

Method 1 – Checking properties of an image on the page

Landing Page

Checking the properties of the image
. On the LP, we right-click the shoe image and then scroll down in the pop-up

window and click on Properties.

Checking the source of the image
. The Element Properties box tells us that the image comes from

Properties of the image

Method 2 – Attempting to make a purchase

Clicking on the shoe on the LP to make a purchase to find information about the shoe takes users to to complete the transaction or find information. Users cannot make a purchase on the LP.

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