What is the Current Feeling About Affiliate Based Review Sites?

19 replies
I think the Affiliate Based Review Site is a great model, but I have heard that Google is looking for these with their new spider (heard this from Perry Marshall) and was wondering what the Forum thought about this. Specifically I would like to know what the feeling is about how these sites should be set up (or should they), what kinds of affiliate cloaking or re-direction is currently still working with regard to Google ranking, and what new ideas can be utilized for this format?

I have read several ebooks and reports both here on the forum and elsewhere about this kind of site and am in the process of setting a hybrid type site up using WP blog in a special way - which is static home page with links to single posts which are the reviews. The full post page is hidden so it does not have the normal "blog" appearance. Full suite of plugins including GD star rater for rating the various software etc.

The hybrid idea is to include high quality free software such as things like GIMP packaged with ebooks that explain how to use it for a small fee and even free in some instances. This makes the site a real attractor for those searching for online biz software on a budget, but at the same time puts top of mind awareness there when they start making money and need more "stuff".

I would like to get a feel for other affiliate marketers who are using this sort of method. Thanks!

-Dave
#affiliate #based #current #feeling #review #sites
  • Profile picture of the author War_Guy
    The review site will be around for a long time, think about how often you use them. Now, what about your review sites and cloaking your aff link. If you have a spammy site, then yes do that you can to keep up the pretense that it is a honest review, if not then post both links aff link and non-aff link..
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    • Profile picture of the author David McKee
      Originally Posted by War_Guy View Post

      The review site will be around for a long time, think about how often you use them. Now, what about your review sites and cloaking your aff link. If you have a spammy site, then yes do that you can to keep up the pretense that it is a honest review, if not then post both links aff link and non-aff link..
      Well my intention is to have high quality stuff plus cheaper, but less quality stuff and say so - I figure if everything on a review site is "awesome" nobody is going to believe that, in fact I suspect more sales would be made if most of the things are on the site were medium to "bad" with a few gems - then people would tend to gravitate toward those gems (and make darn sure they are gems). Then offer tons of free content, articles, software, etc for additional attraction.

      It's a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it, but I would like to hear from others who have gone down this track.

      -DTM.
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    • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
      Thanks for the heads up about Perry Marshall's article, here's a link to it:


      Google Slap for Product Review Sites

      It looks like they going after the review business model itself not just "thin" sites. Your method looks promising if you can get people to opt in with the free stuff, and buy from your autoresponder.
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      • You used the term "Google ranking" which implies organic search rankings to me and you didn't mention PPC.

        Perry's post was about Google Adwords slapping affiliate sites for PPC and I don't recall anything about organic search rankings being affected. (But it's been awhile since I read that post.)

        So if you are planning to do SEO not PPC I think you'll be fine.

        Also in Perry's post about Adwords slapping PPC affiliate review sites, as well as other bloggers that blogged about it... I'm still not so sure that REVIEW sites were the problem specifically. It could have been the niches the sites were in, the type of merchants they were linking to or other factors. I think someone just assumed review sites were the common denominator some of them shared and jumped to that conclusion. I'm not 100% convinced that's the case though.
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      • Profile picture of the author Ralf Skirr
        Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

        Thanks for the heads up about Perry Marshall's article, here's a link to it:


        Google Slap for Product Review Sites

        It looks like they going after the review business model itself not just "thin" sites. Your method looks promising if you can get people to opt in with the free stuff, and buy from your autoresponder.
        What stuck out for me in the article is
        I think people need to move towards a deeper list building/relationship building strategy and/or a strong e-commerce model.
        That's sound advice, isn't it?

        Ralf
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        • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
          Originally Posted by Ralf Skirr View Post

          What stuck out for me in the article is


          That's sound advice, isn't it?

          Ralf
          Yes I agree with that, it's something Perry is great at and it's what I'm also something I am trying to do it in my business!
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  • Profile picture of the author David McKee
    I got word from several affiliate marketers that Google dropped the hammer today on affiliate review pages. Many pages went from quality scores of 10 --> 1 overnight. -Perry Marshall
    To me that sounds like PR going down on review sites that link to affiliates - not sure what Google would use to classify a site as "review" short of looking for the word review in the meta-tags or something.

    I appreciate the clarification though - I am certain sites that sell vitamin and certain "berry" and "enhancement" products are on the list - My niche is software that is "hard to find" for business and other uses (hence the domain "hardtofindsoftware.com") - and I want to put actual quality stuff and lots of really good free stuff - use a professional site (hence I am using WP in a non-blog fashion) and quality articles and content - no robotized, Markovian, spun or other mechanical content but real stuff.

    I wanted to see if the feeling was that Google was doing a blanket hammer on anything that looks like "Review" or specific types of sites.

    -DTM
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    • Sounds like you are doing it right David. I don't think you can go wrong if you focus on quality content and adding value. That's what Google always says they want.

      My guess is that at least some of the review sites that were hit were either hype filled spammy looking affiliate review sales pages or promoting products or niches Google doesn't like.

      But it sounds like you are on the right track.
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  • Profile picture of the author Amir.S
    Wow this is news to me, I thought that ALL review sites were getting the google slap. Hummm it looks like I need to do some more homework, so as long as my review sites have good content I should be fine.

    Thanks for a great question David, and thanks for all the info guys.
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  • Profile picture of the author MemberWing
    Specifically I would like to know what the feeling is about how these sites should be set up (or should they), what kinds of affiliate cloaking or re-direction is currently still working with regard to Google ranking, and what new ideas can be utilized for this format?
    I signed up an attractive affiliate deal with high end hardware vendor (offered double commission) and wanted to build a network of Wordpress-based affiliate sites. That was the time when Perry Marshall released his post about Google affiliate review site slap. Being a developer as well as marketer I analyzed everything trying to find proper solution for affiliate links and couldn't.
    So I built my own Wordpress plugin that would add a double guard against affiliate slap by the virtue of intelligent redirects (I don't want to say more than that here - send me email if interested in details). Additionally to that when launching multiple sites - it is hassle to add affiliate links here and there so I added functionality of placing cloaked shortened affiliate redirects automatically based on the chosen keywords.
    As an icing on the cake I added integration with Google Analytics to track every click on every page.

    So far my site ranks #1 on first page of google for the most important keyword and it is reflected in commissions either.
    So to summarize:
    Cloaking works and is needed.
    Cloaking does not affect organic ranking.
    If interested - check this plugin - AFLinker in my signature. Site has a bit more description on what it does. I plan to put more info and welcome feedbacks.
    Gleb
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    • Profile picture of the author David McKee
      MemberWing,

      An awesome plugin! Very Generous of you to offer this too. Thanks.

      Robert,

      I disagree with your assessment of all review sites - perhaps review is a "loaded" word, but for me it means this: I am displaying content that describes what a product does, give my personal opinion about it, shows the opinions of others who have purchased it, and then ranks the item with regard to similar items. Yes, the link is affiliated - I make no apologies about that, why bother otherwise? I'm in business. But at the same time I believe in quality, and I will display a true spectrum of products from the best to not so good, but why would anyone want to read much about a crappy product? I may write small reviews including a list of products I consider crappy, but not waste space promoting them.

      If you don't like review sites with sale links, then this forum is not really for you either, because in many ways it is the same kind of thing! (especially in the review section).

      my 2 cents anyway...

      -DTM
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  • Profile picture of the author JonMills
    Originally Posted by David McKee View Post

    I think the Affiliate Based Review Site is a great model, but I have heard that Google is looking for these with their new spider (heard this from Perry Marshall) and was wondering what the Forum thought about this. Specifically I would like to know what the feeling is about how these sites should be set up (or should they), what kinds of affiliate cloaking or re-direction is currently still working with regard to Google ranking, and what new ideas can be utilized for this format?

    I have read several ebooks and reports both here on the forum and elsewhere about this kind of site and am in the process of setting a hybrid type site up using WP blog in a special way - which is static home page with links to single posts which are the reviews. The full post page is hidden so it does not have the normal "blog" appearance. Full suite of plugins including GD star rater for rating the various software etc.

    The hybrid idea is to include high quality free software such as things like GIMP packaged with ebooks that explain how to use it for a small fee and even free in some instances. This makes the site a real attractor for those searching for online biz software on a budget, but at the same time puts top of mind awareness there when they start making money and need more "stuff".

    I would like to get a feel for other affiliate marketers who are using this sort of method. Thanks!

    -Dave
    The type of sites perry is probably referring to are the Blogs you see online which usually have in the sidebar " Pay Me To Do a Review " through companies like reviewme.com which most of the people doing the review are being paid to do it, to create glowing reports about products and services which could be crap.

    also thin affiliate sites which are strictly weak on the content side of things.
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  • Profile picture of the author bahnsurf
    Hi,

    Are we talking about PPC penalty or organic?
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  • Profile picture of the author St Croix

    Spider gonna get you!

    If Google wants to stay in business it won't punish you for having an affiliate link. It's entire business model depends on selling advertising. If product sellers leave google and go elsewhere, they are done.

    If Google is the closest we have to capitalism and they reject the very thing that brought them to prominence - then IM ain't the biggest thing you have to worry about.

    There's always Yahoo
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    Back in the game!

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    • Profile picture of the author actionplanbiz
      Originally Posted by St Croix View Post


      It's entire business model depends on selling advertising. If product sellers leave google and go elsewhere, they are done.

      There's always Yahoo
      But dont you think serving the searchers 1st would ultimately make their business more solid and stronger? instead of catering to affiliate marketers.

      It does suck when your trying to search for something and all you get is affiliates trying to sell you crap.
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  • Profile picture of the author seven7bh
    Review Sites may work but they are borderline scams. A confidence scam is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence.

    That is exactly what Review Sites are, the owner of the review site "Reviews" products. I haven't seen many legitimate reviewers out there, but there are some. I wouldn't say there are none, but few. When the products are review, that is supposed to give the viewer confidence in the site owner who is doing the review. So in all this method of affiliate marketing is a con game.

    When did IM niche become so crowded with people just trying to scheme everyone, especially newbies into wasting their money on products they don't need.

    So yes Review Sites can be profitable for affiliate marketing, but really at what cost?

    Robert
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    Robert

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  • Profile picture of the author actionplanbiz
    Maybe instead of affiliate links you can host your own presales page with the affiliate links?
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  • Great thread of information and great questions -- we think it's just PPC stuff that's earning the slaps. Great, consistent information within a proper structure just wouldn't earn it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeff Casmer
    Hi,

    I think its very important that review sites are actually review sites not just an attempt to gain someone's trust to help them buy that very product....

    Take care
    Jeff Casmer
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