Optimizing for an Affiliate Marketing Campaign

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In affiliate marketing, it’s said that you should always stay on message. If you run a sports affiliate site, throwing in an affiliate link for perfume hardly makes a lot of sense. It’s just not the demographic, and while it’s possible someone might click that link, it’s not probably. What’s more it’s difficult to brand a site if your affiliate links are not on point.

Really it just comes down to professionalism. Linking to a perfume affiliate is just tacky and it’s going to turn off potential customers. For this reason, your affiliate links need to be well-directed. With any site, this isn’t too difficult, as you have some amount of leeway. For example, a sports-affiliate site could link to apparel, equipment, tickets, even credit cards. Everyone needs credit cards. But no perfume.

Marketing and Site Branding

But SEOHosting is devoted to search engine optimization so I’ll go there. However, there should be a similar framework for selecting affiliates and providing web content. Just as your affiliate links need to be on topic, so does your web content. In fact, providing web content that is totally unrelated to the major theme of your site and the products you’re selling could lead to a dreaded red flag. It’s tantamount to adding a stray “adult-related” keyword to bring in traffic. Google’s like Santa Claus: He knows when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, and he knows when you’re trying to fool search engine spiders.

So both your affiliate links and your site’s content need to be on topic. More importantly, your web content should be specifically designed to bring in more visitors who will click on specific affiliate links. This is a much cheaper method than paying for expensive pay per click campaigns, but I’d still recommend that you diversify: pay per click and try to rank organically.

If you’re running that sports site and one of your major affiliates is for local sports tickets. Well, your best bet is to direct that content about a particular sports team or about stadium amenities or something else ticket-related. What I’m saying is that optimizing for affiliate marketing isn’t just about targeting via keywords, but targeting via theme. Once you’ve found a successful theme, the keywords tend to take care of themselves – though of course you want to add some keyphrases into content, without weighting the content too drastically.

Testing Conversion Rates

SEO isn’t just about ranking high in search engines, but how that rank pays off. You could rank number one for “plaster platypus sculptures” (No results currently in Google. It’s wide open!) but what does that matter if that keyphrase doesn’t convert into sales. Of course, this is getting more and more difficult, as there are literally thousands of websites selling – for example – sports apparel and tickets – so competition is fierce.

This is why niche markets can sometimes pay off better than oversaturated big moneymakers. Still, for the sake of argument, lets take a look at a sports affiliate site. You shouldn’t be looking at traffic – actually, that’s a secondary concern. Really, you should be looking at which traffic coverts. If a piece of web content was particularly successful at converting to sales, load up on more of the same.

Changing Affiliate Partners

Another issue to consider is that your conversion rate may not be the fault of your content or ranking. This is where gauging traffic is important. Say you’re bringing in 500 hits a day for a certain search term and it’s not converting at all. This likely has more to do with the quality of the affiliate links – or where they’re placed – than with the quality of your web content. So optimizing for affiliate links isn’t just about selecting the right keywords to market, but how to effectively place affiliate links.

If you try and try again and still nothing happens, maybe you’re working with a dud company. Maybe the affiliate partner is overpriced or can be found anywhere and everywhere online – i.e. maybe it’s a problem on their end, not yours. This is why running a website means always updating: both web content and how that content is monetized.

Affiliate Marketing: A Full Time Job

Really, the best way to be an effective affiliate marketer – or an effective website owner, because after all most every website is going to be monetized in some way – is to treat it as a full time job. Writing targeted web content every day and gauging how that content performs is no easy task. Keep in mind that the most successful affiliate marketers don’t just have one site, but a stable of sites put together. Writing targeted web content for ten or more sites is challenging, to say the least. Put another way, if you want affiliate marketing to become a full time job, you’re going to have to devote full-time energy to the enterprise.

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