Affiliate Sites Siphon 27% of Paid Search Clicks on Online Dating Keywords

All is fair in love and war…and paid search advertising.

From September 1 through November 12, AdGooroo analyzed paid search clicks on 164 non-branded online dating keywords, including ‘dating sites’, ‘online dating’ and ‘best dating site’. During the period, we found the majority of the 775 advertisers sponsoring the keyword group offered online dating, meetup or matchmaking services, yet three of the top four most clicked advertisers were actually affiliate sites that drive traffic to advertiser sites for a fee. 

online dating paid search

Capturing a combined 26.7% of all clicks on the dating keywords, (ranked #1 with a 10.5 click share) (#3 with an 8.3% click share) and (#4 with a 7.9% click share) beat out all other advertisers except for, which ranked #2 with an 8.9% click share. The three sites offer visitors reviews of a handful of participating dating services such as Zoosk,, OurTime, Elite Singles and eHarmony, and links to sign up at the advertisers’ sites.

Since their inception in the mid-1990s, affiliate sites have had a love-hate relationship with the advertisers they support; although they do drive traffic to the advertiser’s site, they are often seen as siphoning clicks the advertiser would have gotten otherwise and driving up the advertiser’s advertising and customer acquisition costs.

The average cost per click on the online dating keyword group during the period was $3.67 according to AdGooroo data. The three aforementioned affiliate sites, however, averaged a far higher CPC, $6.36. One possible explanation is that the affiliate sites are bidding more aggressively on non-branded keywords (which comprise the keyword group we studied) because they likely have an agreement not to bid on the branded keywords of their advertisers. In any case, aggressive bidding on the 164 dating keywords is likely causing the cost per click to rise for all advertisers on the keyword group.

online dating paid search

Walmart advertises the sweet fruit, not romantic meetings at its stores

Lastly, search marketers often include negative match keywords in their AdWords account to avoid having their ads show up on unrelated searches. For example, a pet store will advertise on a wide variety of dog keywords but would not want to show up on searches for hot dogs. However, it’s not always possible to avoid this situation, as we found in the dating keyword group, where a handful of grocery and food advertisers such as Walmart were competing with online dating sites on the keyword ‘dates’. Of course, ‘dates’ refers to the sweet fruit for the grocery and food advertisers and to romantic relationships for the online dating advertisers.

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