I try to drop by this forum every now and again to lend some of my experience to the other members because I know how hard it can be to try to make sense of today's internet marketing world.
Today, I'm going to give you some pointers to get you started building successful affiliate websites. Although I have a large amount of experience making money with Amazon affiliate sites, my techniques easily work with pretty much any affiliate ad network.
Before I get started, I want to talk about one thing real quick: Auto-Content. When you look around at the most popular Clickbank products, what do you see? I used to see high quality products that actually taught you how to do something useful. These days, most of the popular products are just sales gimmicks that are promising easy money.
Here's the dirty truth: Auto-Content is for suckers. The people that create an Auto-Content program/software can make it work for them to provide "proof" of it's success. Then, they sell it to thousands of other people. A few random people get lucky and make some money, while everyone else is left burned and dreaming over the next false promise to come along.
Google is catching on to Auto-Content too. Mark my words: it will be near impossible to make money online with non-unique content in the next couple of years.
So, do you want to make a quick buck or do you want to learn how to make a stable internet business? If you're after the quick buck and have no concern for the future, you probably won't want to continue reading.
I'm not a flashy kind of guy. I don't throw around earnings screenshots or hyped/misleading sales pages. Heck, I don't even drive a flashy car. I live a normal lifestyle. I have a wife, two kids, a minivan, two dogs, a cat and a house. The main abnormal thing about me is that I haven't worked a real job in 15 years (pretty much my entire adult life).
Growing up, I received a lot of pressure from my father to head down a particular path. He went to college to be a CPA and is now the CFO of a large corporation. My older brother followed in his footsteps. What did I do? I dropped out of school for computer animation, LOL. Yes, college does provide success in many cases. My father and brother are both very successful. However, I am younger than both and make more than both combined.
So, what's my secret?
Yes, I'm actually going to tell you!
One word: Quality.
The trend I see from internet marketers these days is the exact opposite. Most people tend to try to do the bare minimum they can do to make a buck.
Why do people do this? There's probably a few different reasons, but I bet the main reasons are a desire to be rich/successful, time-sensitive financial problems and/or laziness.
Instead of putting the time and effort into making a high quality website, most people will take shortcuts and often open websites long before they should be. Then, they'll jump to the next idea and continue that way (likely forever). In the long run, they do a lot of work, but they end up with very little success.
Now that I've explained that part, I will move on to the actual plan. Always keep your focus on quality, through every step in this plan.
Niche Affiliate Marketing Plan
#1 - Niche Research
Beyond maintaining high quality standards when you build your website, limiting your website to a specific niche is the other most important thing that you can do.
When you're talking about websites, a niche is a particular subject, topic, product or type of products. It is similar to a "category", but not as general. If you are interested in making an affiliate website having something to do with cars, there is simply too much information on that topic for a single person to cover. However, you could easily pick something very specific about cars to build a website about. A website about modification kits for a Honda Civic would be an example of a niche website that would be much easier to cover most of the needed information on that topic.
When you have a niche figured out, you will want to do keyword research on the niche. I always try to find an exact match .COM domain name to use for my niche affiliate sites. If you follow this strategy, you will find it much easier to get great search engine rankings and you will also start getting search engine traffic faster.
Niche keyword research and finding an exact match .COM domain name is really another topic in itself. I have actually posted another thread on this forum back in December that will explain my strategy in this area. I highly recommend that you take a bit to read through this thread for more specific information to do niche research.
You can find my niche research thread here:
How to Find a Niche Market
#2 - Site Planning
Once you have determined your website niche, you will want to spend some time planning your website before you even build the first page. Site planning is another important step in the process. It helps you provide a better experience for your website visitors, and it can also save you a lot of time redesigning your website using a trial and error process.
Do more keyword research to find some relevant terms that you can target on pages of your site. I like to come up with a handful of main keywords that I want to target in addition to my primary keyword phrase. These are generally more popular keyword phrases (500-1000 monthly searches).
Then, I plan to target one of those main keyword phrases on a single page of my site. Next, I plan numerous sub-pages for each of those main pages. These sub-pages are only linked from the parent main page and the sub-pages also link back to the parent page (in addition to the home page of the website). Your sub-pages should relate to the parent page. By building a structured site like this, you will boost your search engine ranking power. This will help to give you a better ranking for your primary keyword phrase and also for your other targeted keyword phrases on the main pages.
The key is to figure out a way to help your website visitors by giving them useful information that is easy to find and/or by helping them solve a problem. Think about what people are trying to find out when they search for something relating to your niche. Do they just want to see an advertisement and general information or are they looking for something more?
Most people want to build affiliate sites that are just loaded with reviews. Sure, some people look for that type of stuff, but the majority of people that end up buying something online are generally looking for something else first. I do use some reviews on my sites, but they are not the primary focus in most cases.
#3 - Site Building
I highly recommend using Wordpress to build your affiliate sites. Wordpress is a free software, if you don't already know. You will just need to have your own domain name and a hosting account to self-host Wordpress. This gives you full control over the software and your site, which is very important. You do not want to be building a great website on someone else's domain because they ultimately own it and will take something from you (probably a portion of your commissions). In the long run, it's simply worth the low cost of a domain and hosting. If you avoid these things, now is the time to take that leap.
I can't give you a tutorial on Wordpress because that is simply too vast of a concept to cover here. You can easily search on Google to find out about Wordpress and find free information on how to use it. My goal here is to teach you my personal methods and not something you can find with a Google search.
Build a single page to be your home page, instead of letting the home page be a standard list of the recent posts. Design a home page to feature the main pages that you have planned for your site. Those main pages can also be linked from the sidebar. In the same manner, you will have a main page just like the home page, except it will feature all of the sub-pages that relate to it. I actually avoid using Wordpress "posts" to make a site in this manner, but I have made successful sites with #1 Google rankings using a normal Wordpress page/category/post structure.
Build at least 20-30 total pages on your site. It's OK for the home page and the main pages of the site to use a specific keyword phrase as the title of the page, but you want to make sure to use some variety on the sub-pages (even pages that don't have full keyword phrases in the title). You want to include targeted keyword phrases on each page, but you also want to make sure you aren't using too many. Just a couple of references to your target keyword phrase is generally enough if the rest of that page is relational.
Each page of the site should have unique content. Take the time to learn about your niche and your products so you can write educational, unique content about them. You want to have at least 300 words on each page of your site. If you are going to top 600-1000 words on a single page, you may want to break it up into multiple pages.
#4 - Site Advertising
Personally, I use a Wordpress plugin I created to make my affiliate ads. I made so many sites that it was easier to make a plugin to help me make ads the way I have found to get good conversion rates.
Just like keyword phrases, don't overdo your advertising. Try not to sound too salesy. Instead, try to educate/help the visitor. I don't put ads on my home page and often won't include them on main pages either. On the sub-pages, I'll usually target a specific product and I'll show a styled advertisement that includes useful product information. I will also convert an instance of that product name in the page text into a plain text link for that ad.
You want your website visitors to feel like the site wasn't made for the advertisements. Too many affiliate sites are centered around the ads, which is an easy way to scare off your visitors. Let your visitor enter your site without seeing an advertisement. Let them see that you have quality information and something useful to offer before they run across an ad.
I have shown a small selection of my sites to other internet marketers. When I've done it on this forum, I always get a couple of people who say they don't understand how I can make money with a site because they can't find an advertisement. I just sit back and smile because that is the secret. Those internet marketers aren't reading my content and they aren't getting deep into my website, but REAL website visitors do both of these things and then stumble on an ad at just the right time. Consider this when you place your ads, if they overwhelm the site, then you should reconsider your approach.
DO NOT use Google ads ANYWHERE on your affiliate site, unless that is the only kind of advertising you use on the site. You can easily lose sales through Google ads.
Experiment with your ads. Try some different things to see what works best for your niche and your website visitors. Track your site visitors through Google Analytics. This will allow you to see reports about your site pages, which you can use to identify pages that are performing poorly (high bounce rate pages or high percent exit pages are good pages to target for redesign).
#5 - Site Marketing
When you're completely finished with your site, it's time for site marketing. If you've built a high quality site like I've talked about, you may already have some random search engine traffic before you are done.
Before you actually start to try to bring extra traffic to your site or boost your rankings, do one more thing first. Get a friend or family member to take a look at your site. Try to find someone who knows something about the internet, nothing about internet marketing and preferably someone who is interested in your niche. Ask them to spend a bit of time on your site and give you an honest, detailed review. You could even offer to pay the right person to do this for you, but I would only recommend paying a friend/family member because of the time required for a detailed review. Take that review very seriously and make changes to address any problems that came up.
When you are confident with your site, start marketing it online. The easiest way to do this is by building backlinks, which most people are fairly familiar with. Build links to your home page using your site's primary keyword phrase. Also build links to the main pages of your site using the target keyword phrase for those pages. Be sure to use a bit of variation with your backlink building strategy, which makes it look more natural to a search engine.
I also like to build some random links to the sub-pages on my sites, because a lot of natural backlinking happens this way. Consider the last time you saw a non-marketing related link, maybe from a friend on Facebook. Did they link to the home page of a website using only a keyword phrase or did they link to a specific page on a site to make a reference to something particular? Links to your "bottom" pages on your site that are not just using a keyword phrase for the anchor text are one of the most natural kinds of links you can build. Don't be afraid to throw an extra word or two in your links along with your targeted keyword phrase - it can actually help.
When it comes to building backlinks, there are millions of places you can do it. The entire internet is your backlink playground. You can go after some of the more common types of backlinks using free sites that let you publish a baclink along with content (ezinearticles, squidoo, etc..). There are also traditional directories - if you really made a great site, get yourself listed on DMOZ.org for some AMAZING results. I also recommend going after a few niche related backlinks. For niche backlinks, you want to try to find sites that are highly relational to your own website. If you can find a site that isn't in direct competition with you but still in your niche, you can often strike a deal with that site to exchange some backlinks. You can even offer other services to websites to get a backlink - guest content is one great way of doing that.
Your initial goal should be to get a #1 ranking for your primary keyword phrase. Once you achieve that, try to get a #1 ranking for your other main page keyword phrases. At the very least, I usually won't stop marketing a site until I have a #1 rank for the primary phrase and a top ten ranking for the other main phrases.
Once you achieve that goal, you will have an affiliate site that is able to make recurring revenue with almost zero maintenance. At that point, you can just move on to making another site. By building a number of these sites, you can literally make thousands of dollars every month or even every week. If you went after niches that have longevity, that income will continue for a long time to come. A hot new product can be a great niche to go after, but if that product will not have a long lifespan in the spotlight, then your success with that site could be limited as well. Certain products will always be used by people, at least for the known future. Those products do have heavy competition, but if you can find an available niche you will be able to make a long-term income with it.
If you maintain a high standard of quality when you build your site, you will actually reach a point where other sites start to link to you without any effort on your part. This is another one of the benefits to making great niche affiliate sites. When you start to get natural backlinks to your site, you may actually find that your site starts to get search engine rankings for more general keyword phrases (because of the power of your site). Those things can lead you to develop authority sites that can literally make thousands of dollars of month per site.
Even if you don't develop a huge authority site, you can still make a lot of money with this strategy. A 30 page affiliate site with a #1 ranking on it's primary keyword phrase that gets 500 searches/month on Google will usually make $30-$450 per month ($1 - $15 per day). Even if you stop there and move on to a new site, you can make thousands every month with a few dozen sites.
I hope I have been able to point some of you in the right direction to making a successful niche affiliate website with this marketing guide.
- Research Your Niche
- Use Exact Match .COM Domains
- Build High Quality, Useful Websites
- Conservatively Use Advertising Where Appropriate
- Market Your Site & Make Changes When Needed
Feel free to reply with comments and/or questions. I stay pretty busy, but I will bookmark this thread to reply to questions as I have the time.