Getting PHP Redirect URLs Indexed by Search Engines

A while back, when our hats were still gray, we started using php redirects for our PPS (pay per sale) affiliate links. We did this so that when we wanted to change from one sponsor program to another, we could change the code in just one location – the php redirect file – and have it populate throughout our sites.

One day, we started noticing unusually high CTRs for certain sponsor programs. We were happy about it, but still scratching our heads a little. Finally we realized that our PHP redirect pages were being indexed on the 1st and 2nd page of MSN for many search terms.

So, a surfer would do a search, click on our indexed link and be taken directly to the affiliates sell page with our tracker ID attached. Now, redirects like this are not that uncommon for us except for one thing: we weren’t cloaking on these sites!

Many of these PHP redirect URLs still populate the top pages of MSN SERPs.

Some of our adult webmaster friends tell us that they have had similar experiences getting their CCBill referral URL indexed by MSN and Yahoo. CCbill is an affiliate aggregator that independently tracks clicks, joins, rebills . . . etc. Instead of sending surfers directly to the affiliate, you would send them to CCbill so their system could track the user: CCbill uses a php refresh (or possibly a meta refresh) similar to the ones I set up when sending to affiliates.

Now, I really don’t know why our php redirect pages are coming up higher in the MSN SERPs than the sponsor’s sites, but I’m sure not complaining.

My best guess is that because my sites generally perform very well in MSN, they have a high MSN “page rank” (for lack of a better term). Therefore, when these pages point to another URL, they might have “throw” in the MSN algorithm.

So the two obvious questions ares:

1. Should I use php redirects to send to PPS affiliates?

That is a question you have to answer for yourself (or your client) depending on your (their) risk /reward tolerance. Because no cloaking is involved, I’m not even sure if this is a Black Hat SEO tactic or not. Short answer – Yes.

2. How can I set up php redirect pages?

Instead of putting a hyperlink like on your web pages, put links like . This php file is the one line of code:

<?php header(‘Location:’) ; ?>

As always, anchor text matters as does the context of the page your are sending from.

Note: If you don’t understand that you need to put your actual link codes & tracker IDs of the affiliate program in the above code instead of “”, go here for training.

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4 Responses to “Getting PHP Redirect URLs Indexed by Search Engines”

  1. oojee says:

    Loads of legit sites do it for tracking purposes so I don’t think it’s blackhat/something you’ll get overly penalised.

    this works for me (I do it slightly differently) in Y as well.

    PS thanks for the great info you give 🙂

  2. Ken says:

    Is that link to training meant to do anything, all I get is and some singing and music, no other links on the page. Interesting but not very informative.

  3. SEOGirl says:

    Ken! Ken! “This is Zombo Com! Can you hear me? This is ZOMBO COM!!!” Earth to Ken!!!

  4. John Andrews says:

    It might be “better” to specify exactly the kind of redirect you want in that PHP header-based redirect. Currently PHP dafaults to a 302, but there is no guarantee it won’t change. Why not be specific…. it does take an extra line. For example, for a 301:

    header (‘HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently’);
    header (‘Location: ‘. $txtYourDestination_with_http-colon_slashslash);

    For on-site redirects you might also look into making that destination be based on server variables, so that you don’t have to fix them manually if you move your site.

    As for indexing of redirects, in my experience this didn’t matter in the past. I have had plenty of success with indexed affiliate link destinations when no redirect was used. The better you are at promoting your link as *the* destination for buying X, the more likely your link (even if it’s a page on their site with your aff ID) will rank.

    The big question with Google’s “canonical root determination team” messing with the algos, is will a URL that includes your aff ID in the get string trump the root URL (no get string) if both are commonly cited as prime sources of info?