When I discuss advanced affiliate marketing, I often suggest creating affiliate brands instead of affiliate sites and provide these two recommendations:
1.) Start buying “brandable” and not keyword-laden domains. If you can include a keyword in your domain name, great, but branding is important and necessary.
2.) Differentiate yourself and add value. Let’s get one thing straight – Google doesn’t hate affiliate sites. Google hates thin affiliate sites. Treat your affiliate site like any “real business” and develop a point of difference.
Defining a point of difference is something that I’m asked about often. And the bottom line is that creating a point of difference essentially means creating a brand.
In the old days, creating affiliate sites based on 50 three hundred-word articles all focused on keyword variations was the norm. However, when it comes to successfully marketing affiliate sites via search engine optimization in today’s economy, those tactics are long dead.
If you want to not only survive organically in Google, but thrive, you need to step up your site-building game.
So what exactly is an affiliate brand?
Shopping.com is a prime example of a huge affiliate brand. The site, at its core, is nothing more than an affiliate datafeed aggregator. But because they bought a memorable domain and were ahead of the pack giving consumers the ability to do product reviews, they were able to create a strong point of difference.
That point of difference has since translated into 4 million unique visitors a month according to Quantcast.com (and those numbers are probably low) and millions of dollars in revenue each quarter.
Of course, Shopping.com is an extreme success story (and proof that yes, Virginia, you can not only make an income, but you can support an entire company on affiliate marketing), but there is no reason you can’t create the next extreme success story.
And even if you can only create the next “medium” or “small” success story, it can still be a very lucrative story to tell.
How do you create an affiliate brand?
- Buy memorable, “brandable” domain names
- Make sure that at least 20% of your site content is unique, compelling and “flagship” in nature
- Allow for and encourage user-generated content… the Web is no longer a monologue
- Identify and capitalize on your “point of difference”. Figure out what sites in your niche are lacking and fill those holes to separate yourself from the pack
Not only does creating an affiliate brand make it easier to compete in the search engines, but it also opens you up to additional revenue streams, as well.
Many branded affiliate sites are able to make additional profits off of CPM based and contextual ads, in addition to their affiliate earnings.
The important thing to realize is that affiliate marketing has evolved. You’re going to need to learn how to evolve with it and how to create an affiliate brand if you want to stay viable in the online world.
Rae Hoffman is the CEO of internet marketing firm Outspoken Media and website publisher MFE Interactive. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae.com blog.
Download the entire FeedFront issue 9 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/24376105/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-9
FeedFront issue 9 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article002334