Affiliate advertising represents a massive opportunity to profit from your website, and with any profitable medium there will be people searching for methods of increasing their own slice of the pie by “playing the system”. Why take risks yourself with a product or service when programs such as Google Adsense enable you to profit from others desire to drive traffic and sales to their companies?
You may be tempted to simply create a website with the express intention of selling advertising space. This is a proven business method after all, free local newspapers and newsletters have been operating for years based entirely on advertising revenue and classifieds, and the majority of the world’s television stations can only stay in business by telling you about their sponsors and advertisers products.
The world wide web offers advertisers an low overheads, an unrivalled market reach all combined with a level of statistical feedback that traditional non-interactive media can only dream of. This makes online business extremely attractive but also extremely competitive.
Advertisers need to find ways of raising awareness of their products and services against global competition. Maximising penetration in such a massive arena would take more resources than most companies can muster. Enter the affiliate marketers.
You, as a website publisher become an affiliate by agreeing with companies that you will promote their product on your website. In return the advertisers will pay you for bringing traffic or sales to their website.
The more traffic or converted sales you bring the more you will earn for your efforts. By the same measure the more traffic you bring to your own web pages the more you potentially stand to earn from your affiliates.
At this point many affiliate marketers will disengage their brain, concentrating their efforts on bringing web surfers to their site in order to push them on to their affiliates. Often the webmasters of these sites will be well versed in search engine technology, understanding the core concepts of optimized site design, keyword targeting, external linking and content generation that will increase the “relevance” of their page in the indexes of Google, Yahoo and MSN.
It is often the final, and tellingly the most time consuming of these techniques that will merit the least attention in the minds of professional web marketeers.
Often an amount of statistical analysis will take place to identify search trends and high paying affiliate industries that will potentially have the highest payout.
A site will then be designed with search engine optimization at the forefront, simple coding practices that will enable an algorithm to make a good attempt at cataloging the subject matter of the page and relate it to the identified keywords. Search engine experts are also well aware that sites which are updated frequently are treated as “more relevant” in the search engine index.
This is a simple equation, if you are searching for information on MP3 players you want to be presented with content telling you about the features of the latest iPod and reviewing the new competing models. You aren’t interested in reviews of a 5 year old device with the ergonomics and storage capacity of a house brick.
In their rush for content a number of affiliate marketers will turn to external sources, be it in the form of user generated content or “article directories”. Both can be useful tools for time-challenged webmasters, and particularly in the case of article directories which take the form of free to publish text on almost any subject imaginable.
Simply search for an article on your particular subject of choice, paste it into your template, upload it to your site and wait for the search engines to pick it up. Hey presto you are instantly a more relevant site and bumping yourself up the Google results while still leaving yourself time to spend your hard earned affiliate money at the pub.
So far so good but don’t forget the wisdom of your parents generation, “buyer beware” and “you get what you pay for”. Well if you are paying nothing more than a tiny fraction of your internet bill for these articles then you might want to consider the motives of the author of that lovely keyword rich article you just found.
The fact is there are many valuable articles in directories such as EZineArticles and ZapContent.com, but the mistake many webmasters make in their rush for search engine optimised content it that they don’t read, and I mean really read the text that they are merrily pasting into their site. Before hitting ctrl-c ask yourself “does this content really benefit my readers”. The chances are the best content from these services will find itself syndicated across a number of sites, or the information will be republished in differing forms.
As people use their search engines to find information they will look at a number of websites and will soon realize which content has been regurgitated ad-nauseum. Net result is if their first impression of your site is one that offers the same old information they won’t bother coming back.
Even worse, a number of prolific authors have an ulterior motive. They are simply trying to boost their own search relevance by increasing the number of backlinks to their own websites. If an article you find is borderline check the author’s history.
If they have submitted hundreds of pages of almost identical content stuffed to the gills with the same keywords the chances are they are simply link-spamming. They don’t care if you publish their content or not, each page in the directory linking back to their website in order to boost their page rank. Would your readers really be interested in such sloppy content? I’m sure mine wouldn’t.
This takes us neatly onto the key message. Why do people return to a website and hopefully trust their sponsors? Because the site has personality, your readers should be able to identify with your informational pages, hopefully they will bookmark your page, even tell others to read it.
Repeat visitors are far more likely to finally visit your sponsors than those who find your page once and then head back to their search engine of choice. By all means use relevant articles but never compromise your content by relying too much on third party content.
But aside from the human element there is a far more serious reason for ensuring your content is the best, and most original it can be and that is the nature of search engines. Companies such as Google know that their market position is based entirely on trust in their organic results.
Expect their search algorithms in future to be tweaked against certain types of syndicated content in order to give the (perceived) best service to their searchers.
Spending time now on good quality, original and easily updated content could save you time in the long run as you avoid spending time chasing your page rankings against ever more sophisticated relevance algorithms.
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