While there can be a lot of money to be made in affiliate marketing of real products that are on sale that people want to buy, getting a dedicated site to rank high in the search engines has been something of a roller coaster ride of late.
To be more specific, I’m talking about Google as they still manage more than 60% of all search traffic. If you want to rank to make money, you need to rank in Google. But their recent algorithm changes as well as the increase in manual site inspection has made ranking your affiliate site much harder.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence of a great many marketers having a big chunk of their online income wiped out because their once high ranking affiliate sites suddenly took a drop in ranking for a variety of reasons. I’ll take a look at the more obvious ones so you can try and avoid them if possible.
All Ads and Little Real Content
This is a real killer of thin sites as far as ranking goes. Google have figured out how to spot these sites a mile off and are systematically demoting them in their index. Why? Because they want a better user experience from search. Sites that do little more than siphon traffic to places like Amazon and other online vendors that run affiliate programs are not good user experiences because they simply send the visitor off someplace else and get paid if the visitor buys something. How do you fix this problem?
Make User Friendly Sites
By building out your sites with lots of relevant content you create a better user experience. I don’t mean filling your site up with second rate crap outsourced to a non-native English speaker in the Philippines or someplace similar where they’ll work for a dollar an article. Research and write something interesting, informative and enlightening regarding the niche your site occupies and make it something that you would be proud to let your mother read!
Affiliate Link Density
This is another ranking killer that needs to be addressed. Many affiliate websites tend to write short reviews with two or more affiliate links in the article. There is usually one attached to the big image of the product. Another in the title or sub title. And probably another near the end of the article in a call to action “buy now” button or image. There may well be additional affiliate links in the sidebar to related products and what you have is a page that is chock full of affiliate links in ratio to the real content.
Change that ratio and your articles will start ranking again. The current school of thought is to build yoru reviews out to 400 -500 words or more if you can, with only one or two affiliate links on the page. Then intersperse those review articles with real informative articles with NO affiliate links in them. By all means use those articles to link to your review pages to boost the site’s on-site SEO. But make sure you have rather more real content pages than review pages and your site will return in the rankings, assuming you have sufficient backlinks.
Backlinks Still Rule
Getting back onto the subject of backlinks, they still make up the lion’s share of the way Google rates your site. But its the quality of those links that are counting more nowadays. Its no good spamming a ton of comment links or paying someone to create a thousand or so forum profiles, or blasting crap spun articles all over the web. Links contained in these are no longer considered of nay real value. They may give your site an initial lift in the rankings, but it will be short lived and could even set you up with a penalty.
Get quality links to your site. By that I mean broker link exchanges with legit sites and blogs, write guest posts on other people’s blogs and all the old fashioned ways of getting links before all this automated spamming crap came along. You might even find that if you write really good articles that people actually get a lot out of for reading, they might even give you a natural link for your trouble. Get enough of those and your site will soon grow to be an authority in its niche.
The last thing here is about getting yourself a real authority site in your niche. This is where affiliate marketing is heading. Building an authority site is really the best long term strategy. You don’t get that by outsourcing cheap articles because no one wants to read them and other website owners certainly won’t offer to link to articles they don’t like. But with really good articles that have been properly researched and provide a lot of answers to the visitor’s questions, you may just start attracting natural links. Its not guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that if you don’t write good articles, you won’t get any natural links!
It all comes down to how much work you want to put into your site. If you are willing to work on it and write a lot of top quality content (or pay top dollar and have a professional write it for you), then you will be building a site that you can be proud of and one that the search engines will like. When Google likes a site, it will rank it and it will be a good long term money earner because it will be reasonably immune to minor algo changes in the future. Isn’t that worth putting in that extra effort and going that extra mile?