Affiliate Suicide

I love affiliate marketing, but always thought about the long term implication of promoting just one merchant as being the best. Basically, telling visitors to go visit that merchant instead of the affiliate site – unless there was something really compelling on the affiliate site.

Well … millions of affiliate marketers have been doing that for years. Putting up “review” sites telling people over and over and over to go shop at Amazon.

And here we are …

Most consumers now use Amazon as the starting point for their product shopping. (See references at http://searchengineland.com/report-amazon-grows-lead-product-search-engine-choice-259985).

I’ve read the referenced reports. The one least favorable to Amazon found:

38% start with Amazon

35% head to a search engine

21% go to a retailer website

6% start with other (ebay, etsy, jet, etc. are mentioned)

So where does that leave affiliates relying on search rankings for traffic? Which is where most affiliates are. Even the “build a list” suggestion requires initial traffic from somewhere.

Affiliates are battling for the 35% of visitors using search engines.

Within that 35% is the battle for search listings with:

1. Google Adwords

2. Google Products

3. Amazon listings

4. Retailer listings

5. Ebay

6. Pinterest and social sites

7. Other affiliates

Looks bleak.

Suggestions:

- Don’t be looking to do the minimum of putting up thin content, or spinning the merchant’s product review and putting up a link to Amazon. Do some real research and analysis comparing products, features, prices and sites.

- Don’t let Amazon be your only affiliate program. Fact is, long gone are the days when Amazon was the low priced option. It’s not. You can save your customers some money by recommending alternatives where you also have an affiliate relationship. And get a higher commission rate. And get a longer cookie period too. Does Amazon convert well? Yes. But you need to actually test to see what makes you the most money.

- Don’t just target generic keywords. The more specific you can get the more likely you are to get visitors who are closer to the end of their pre-buying analysis. Example: “Toaster” versus “Best 4 Slot Silver Toaster”. The key factor to remember – which many affiliates forget – is your goal is not traffic. Your goal is making money. 10 visitors making you $50 for longtail, well thought out keywords are worth more than 1000 visitors making you $0.

Consider 2nd Option Traffic

While most now start their shopping with Amazon that doesn’t mean that is the beginning and end of their shopping. For a good percentage that is true. But some of Amazon’s 38% will then do a second search on search engines looking to validate whether to (1) buy that product, and (2) buy on Amazon or not. They will be looking for best prices and in-depth reviews providing information not found on Amazon.

This would be a good focus for affiliates.

You can use Amazon reviews as a starting point for questions people have about a product. Other sites also have reviews. You should also brainstorm questions you would have if you were looking to buy. Having the most extensive question and answer page about a product, which then helps guide people to the right product to buy for them, makes for a nice, valuable, money-making page.

Amazon has only a one-day referral cookie anyway, so targeting people just starting their shopping may get traffic but fewer paid conversions compared to writing your content for someone who has already done some due diligence and knows what they want to buy, and is now looking for a best price, or best warranty, or answer to a questions, etc.

You can refer this traffic back to Amazon with your affiliate link. You can refer it to other merchants.

Note: You may want to not tell visitors on your web page you are linking to Amazon. If the person has already visited Amazon and sees you are simply saying go buy on Amazon, they are less likely to click your link. Why should they?

Other Helpful Ideas and Reports

Add your own products to your website. Sure, being an affiliate is great, but if you can add the right product to your site and sell directly – thus making money from every sale and not only when a purchase is made within your referral period – why not? Your own product could be a downloadable report. It could be a simple but related product. Be creative.

This old but good report reviews buying low and selling for profit. A lot of affiliates could increase their bottom line by adding a second profit stream to their sites: http://kickbutt.im/pennyproductwso

Lost Niche Profits is the ultimate guide to minimizing the competition problem. Get niches with little to no competition from Google Adwords, Google Products, social sites and other websites. Not just little to no competition, but the buyers are rabid. Its perfect: high conversions and low competition: http://kickbutt.im/686

Product Review Formula helps affiliates write product reviews that are useful, informative, answer buyers questions, direct people to the right product for them, and which can add a ton of unique words to your pages that search engines love – http://kickbutt.im/guides/dd2jvz.html

SEO for Amazon Affiliate Sites has specific information for Amazon affiliates to make their pages better so they rank higher for free search traffic – http://kickbutt.im/guides/dd3jvz.html

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Google, SEO

Ebay Cuts Affiliate Commissions for Christmas Holiday

If you’re an Ebay affiliate time to replace links with Amazon.

I’ve run my numbers and in the past Ebay was great due to its new user bonus paying 200% commissions.

That commission rate was just cut in half. Double commissions instead of triple commissions for bringing a new customer to Ebay.

The bonus is only paid for purchases made within 24 hours.

Here is the ugly list of cuts Ebay has recently made to its affiliate program:

- Reduced cookie length to 24 hours
- Eliminated holiday bonuses
- Eliminated other bonus opportunities during the year
- Company overrides of affiliate cookies by making its own offers to affiliate referrals
- Not paying commissions on eBay gift cards
- Not paying commissions on various (not described) Ebay deals

Ouch.

Obviously a program in a downward spiral.

IMHO Ebay has been cutting the program payments to boost earnings and the stock price. That only works so long as affiliates are bringing in buyers.

10 years ago if you bought Ebay stock your investment of $13 per share would have increased to $32. If you bought Amazon stock your investment per share of $38 would have increased to $840. Tells you a lot about the companies.

Odd – news stories have been disseminated recently predicting good things from Ebay’s replatforming to product pages, but those of us who see actual conversion data day in and day out are not seeing increased conversions. If anything, conversions are worse this year. Frankly, I smell a ‘pump and dump’ scheme to protect the new management and more commission cutting on the way to prop up the replatforming bet being made.

You can still make money with Ebay. But, if you’re with Ebay time to take another look at Amazon and other affiliate programs.

Posted in Affiliate Marketing

Google Penguin 4 Linking Update is Live

Google has just announced a major Penguin update and that this backlink penalty is now part of Google’s core algorithms which will run in real-time. In other words, spammy backlinks can now immediately decrease search rankings.

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/09/penguin-is-now-part-of-our-core.html

If you are not familiar with “Panda” and “Penguin”, two major ranking factors, or need a brief refresher, here is a summary of what Google is doing.

Panda is one of Google’s on page quality control algorithms. The concept is poor, short, thin, and spammy web page content can trigger a penalty which decreases your search rankings. Although mainly directed at pages, have enough bad pages and Panda can reduce your website’s overall rankings – even for good pages.

Another on page quality control algorithm which trips up many websites is the “top heavy” check. If your pages have too many ads versus good content ‘above the fold’ – that is, on the initial visible part of the screen when you page first loads, then your ranking can be penalized. (More info here)

Penguin is one of the backlink algorithms used by Google. The concept is spammy and irrelevant backlinks created to your web pages to try and boost PageRank can trigger a “Penguin” penalty which decreases your search rankings.

Until now the Penguin penalty only happened when Google manually ran the algorithm against its search index. That last happened two years ago in October 2014.

What does that mean?

First, if your pages received a Penguin penalty in 2014 they have remained penalized for two years. Even if you fixed the backlink problem and would not be penalized today, your site has remained penalized. It has been a ridiculous situation, but perhaps intentional by Google to kill off sites who were spamming backlinks to rank.

Second, if your web pages have been happily ranking from poor quality backlinks acquired after 2014, those rankings may be ending. If you begin noticing less traffic and lower rankings that means your site is now being penalized from Penguin.

Both Panda and Penguin now run live. This means Google no longer has to manually trigger the checks. Instead, Penguin is now integrated into Google’s other algorithms. Bad backlinks can now immediately decrease your rankings when Google finds them.

Takeaways:

- This is Google only. It is irrelevant to Bing / Yahoo traffic.

- There are many other ranking factors Google uses. Still, Penguin is one of the more important ranking factors.

- With ‘real time’ results there are now some interesting possible implications. It may be possible to test ranking results from particular links. Add a link and see what happens with your rankings. Spam links should drop your rankings. This can tell you not only what links to avoid, but also what links to send your competitors way via negative SEO.

More Backlinking and Penguin Update Resources:

Backlinkpedia – Updates are happening as more information about the Penguin update becomes available.

More detailed information about the rollout of Penguin is here here:

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-4-live-22737.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-updates-penguin-says-now-real-time-part-core-algorithm-259302

What do Do if You’ve been Penalized by Penguin:

- You will want to increase your good backlinks.

- You will want to remove spammy backlinks you have placed.

- You will want to disavow spammy backlinks you have no control over. To do this you need a Google account and setup a Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster) to register your site. Then follow Google’s instructions here for disavowing links.

Posted in Backlinks, Google, SEO
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