Fatwa: # 44128
Category:
Country:
Date: 11th February 2020

Title

Affiliate marketing and backlink schemes - Is this permissible?

Question

Assalamu alaikum, brother.

I have some concerns about 'halal' income.

I have websites where I do affiliate marketing. I earn a small commission when people buy through my link. I get free visitors mostly from Google. Google ranks websites using different factors. Backlink is one of the most important factors. Google prohibits to create/pay for backlinks. Because by creating backlinks on your own or purchasing backlinks, you can manipulate the search result. But, without link building, it is very hard to get ranked in Google.

Google kinda playing here double standard. I am really confused. Should I follow Google guidelines properly? If I do that it will be hard to get ranked, therefore there will be fewer visitors, so less income. My competitors are doing free and paid link building and they get ranked in Google quite easily.

Google's algorithm is not very good enough that it can differentiate which link is natural and which is paid. That's why they prohibit link building.

Links about what is backlinks and how it works in 2020:

https://moz.com/learn/seo/backlinks

https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/backlinks/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkR7L41SroU

 

Here is google's guideline about link building: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en

So, should I do link building to rank in Google or it will be not halal? Please, let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Brother in Islam,

There are two issues related to your query, Affiliate marketing and link building.

Affiliate marketing is referred to a type of performance-based marketing in which a company rewards an “affiliate” for each customer they bring to the company by his own marketing efforts. The company does not charge a fee to become an affiliate. Under the Affiliate Marketing scheme, the company pays an affiliate when the customer purchases something from the company through the affiliate’s link.  A person working under this scheme is similar to a broker. Thus, the income earned through affiliate marketing is permissible.[1]

Regarding the usage of link schemes to improve your search engine rankings, we understand that in general, link building does not violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. Rather, Google simply wants that the backlinks are genuine. Google aims at providing authentic and relevant content for those who use their search engine. Backlinks act as editorial votes to show Google that a certain website’s content is valuable and authentic. This in turn increases a website’s rank on the search engine. This assures that the most relevant and authentic content are shown first so that users may benefit from the search engine in the most efficient manner. This can only be achieved if the backlinks between websites are genuine.

In contrast, link schemes disturb this system and simply aim to increase the website’s rank by any means possible, whether the content be authentic or not. For instance, by purchasing backlinks, link exchanges, using automated programs to create back links, etc. As such, a website that may not have the best content would show up at the top of the search engine, solely based on its ranking. Link schemes violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. However, should you choose to use such schemes, the income would be ḥalāl, but disliked due to the element of deception involved in the link scheme. We advise you to consider the following two points.

1.     While it is important to earn a ḥalāl income, it is equally as important that the income  is received in an honest manner. Honest earning is a means of attaining barakah in our wealth. Consider the following ḥadīth:

 

عَنْ حَكِيمِ بْنِ حِزَامٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ الْبَيِّعَانِ بِالْخِيَارِ مَا لَمْ يَتَفَرَّقَا فَإِنْ صَدَقَا وَبَيَّنَا بُورِكَ لَهُمَا فِي بَيْعِهِمَا وَإِنْ كَتَمَا وَكَذَبَا مُحِقَتْ بَرَكَةُ بَيْعِهِمَا (رواه الترمذي: 1246)

Translation: akīm Ibn izām Radhiyallahu Anhu has related that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said: "Both the buyer and the seller retain the option (of withdrawal) as long as they have not separated. If they spoke the truth and clarified (any defects or conditions), then they would be blessed in their sale, and if they hid something and lied then their sale would be deprived of blessings. (Tirmidhī: 1246)

As you have stated, Google is the means of providing you with free visitors through their search engine. Therefore, it would be unethical for you to violate their terms to boost the visitors on your site.

2.     As mentioned in the link provided, a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines may lead to your site being entirely removed from the Google index. The Prophet Sallallahu ’Alayhi Wasallam has mentioned:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا ينبغي للمؤمن أن يذل نفسه" قالوا: وكيف يذل نفسه؟ قال: "يتعرض من البلاء لما لا يطيق.

(ترمذي 2254 ابن ماجة 4016)

Translation: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “It is correct for the believer to humiliate himself.” They said: How does he humiliate himself? He (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “By taking on a trial which he cannot bear.

    You should avoid putting yourself in an embarrassing situation should you be caught violating their terms. This would cause you to lose a great number of visitors to your site which can negatively impact your income.

 

In the light of the above, we advise you to avoid link schemes to increase your Google ranking. Rather, you should focus your efforts and attention to create authentic and relevant content that will naturally gain popularity. You can also make a genuine effort to gain links such as reaching out to relevant sites who can help you promote your content to interested followings or reaching out to influencers with followings that are interested in your type of product. You could also divide out your products on different pages that target specific interest groups and develop connection with various influencers or blogs, sites that address your target customer group.

 

A Muslim remains firm on his principles and is not affected by the people around him. While you should be worried about the competitive market, it should not come at the cost of your principles. Remember that rizq is definite and you will only be allotted that which Allah has decreed. Therefore, you should continue to work ethically and honestly. We have highlighted a few methods to increase your organic ranking in an ethical manner. This is not an exhaustive list. We have tried to highlight the principles you should be mindful of when selecting your methods of work. Experts in the field may be able to outline other effective and ethical strategies.  Do your best and keep your trust in Allah.

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mirza-Zain Baig

Student - Darul Iftaa

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 

08-06-1441| 02-02-2020

 


[1]

بدائع الصنائع:دار الكتب العلمية:4:184

 وَالسِّمْسَارُ هو الذي يَبِيعُ أو يَشْتَرِي لِغَيْرِهِ بِالْأُجْرَةِ فَهُوَ مَحْمُولٌ على ما إذَا كانت الْمُدَّةُ مَعْلُومَةً

 وَكَذَا إذَا قال بِعْ لي هذا الثَّوْبَ وَلَكَ دِرْهَمٌ وَبَيَّنَ الْمُدَّةَ وَإِنْ لم يُبَيِّنْ فَبَاعَ وَاشْتَرَى فَلَهُ أَجْرُ مِثْلِ عَمَلِهِ لِأَنَّهُ اسْتَوْفَى مَنْفَعَتَهُ بِعَقْدٍ فَاسِدٍ

 قال الْفَضْلُ بن غَانِمٍ سمعت أَبَا يُوسُفَ قال لَا بَأْسَ أَنْ يَسْتَأْجِرَ الْقَاضِي رَجُلًا مُشَاهَرَةً على أَنْ يَضْرِبَ الْحُدُودَ بين يَدَيْهِ وَإِنْ كان غير مُشَاهَرَةٍ فَالْإِجَارَةُ فَاسِدَةٌ لِأَنَّهَا إذَا كانت مُشَاهَرَةً كان الْمَعْقُودُ عليه مَعْلُومًا بِبَيَانِ الْمُدَّةِ وَيَسْتَحِقُّ الْأُجْرَةَ فيها بِتَسْلِيمِ النَّفْسِ عَمِلَ أو لم يَعْمَلْ

 

المبسوط للسرخسي: دار النوادر: ١١۵: ١۵

 و السمسار إسم لمن يعمل للغير بالأجر بيعا و شراء و مقصوده من ايراد الحديث بين جواز ذالك

 

إنعام الباري: مكتبة الهراء: ٤٦۳: ٦

سمسرہ کی اجرت کی ایک شکل یہ ہے کہ کوئی اجرت مقرر کر لی جائے اجرت کی مقدار معین کر دی جائے کہ تمہین پانچ ہزار روپے دین گے تو اس کو سمبہی جائز کہتے ہین اور محقق قول کے مطابق حنفیہ کے ہان بہی جائز

لکن عام طور سے سمسرہ مین جو صورت ہوتی ہے وہ اس طرہ اجرت معین نہین ہوتی ہے بلکہ فیصد کے حساب سے مقرر کی جا تی ہے ۔۔۔۔۔۔ اس مین بہی مفتی بہ یہ ہے کہ ایسا کرنا جائزہے

 

كتاب النوازل:مكتبة جاويد:12:347

 

Follow Mufti Ebrahim Desai’s official Twitter handle: @MuftiEbrahim

 

Latest Tweet:

 

‘Do not focus too much on empowering the brain & outward appearance. Focus on inculcating values in your heart.’ 

 

 

DISCLAIMER - AskImam.org questions
AskImam.org answers issues pertaining to Shar'ah. Thereafter, these questions and answers are placed for public view on www.askimam.org for educational purposes. However, many of these answers are unique to a particular scenario and cannot be taken as a basis to establish a ruling in another situation or another environment. Askimam.org bears no responsibility with regards to these questions being used out of their intended context.
  • The Shar's ruling herein given is based specifically on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question.
  • AskImam.org bears no responsibility to any party who may or may not act on this answer and is being hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused.
  • This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of AskImam.org.
  • Any or all links provided in our emails, answers and articles are restricted to the specific material being cited. Such referencing should not be taken as an endorsement of other contents of that website.
The Messenger of Allah said, "When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen."
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]