Affiliate marketing success: We sometimes use affiliate links which means that, at zero cost to you, we may earn a commission if you buy something through our links. The landscape for affiliate marketers has changed significantly over the past year. From tighter legislation for affiliates, to Google cracking down on thin affiliate content, and a general increase in competition on the web, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for affiliate marketers to get ahead in the game.
Despite this, many smart individuals and companies continue to generate millions by staying one step ahead of the rest. So, what is it that affiliate marketers need to do to succeed in 2017 and beyond? When you hear about friends making millions from Clickbank products, and marketing products in emerging niches, it can be tough to stay focused. The price for losing focus, though, is having a portfolio of 21 websites in random niches all with a pitiful domain authority generating next to nothing in sales.
By all means, experiment with different niches once you’ve achieved a level of success you’re happy with on your first website, but to begin with go one inch wide and a mile deep. One of the biggest advantages affiliates have over established brands, and one of the greatest opportunities to add value, is the ability to be agile and act quickly with content marketing. While brands spend months approving their content strategy and holding fruitless meetings, affiliates can be creating content of such a high standard, that competitors simply won’t have the resources to compete with, and Google would be foolish not to drive traffic to. This is the strategy that we’ve adopted for most of our affiliate marketing sites at Venture Harbour. 8,000 word guide educating readers on tough buying decisions, such as how to choose the best scotch or an engagement ring. While not all of these posts contain affiliate links, affiliate links are often added if a site we’d be recommending anyway has an affiliate program.
It’d be hard for Google to argue with this content not adding value. After all, some of the guides have received close to 10,000 shares and have been used by the brands themselves to educate their own customers. Over the next year I think we’ll see more and more affiliates adopt this kind of strategy. For many affiliates, this is quite a concern, as affiliates haven’t traditionally had to concern themselves with building a strong brand. When you look at the leading sites in insurance, travel, property, personal finance, and homeware, it’s interesting to note that many of these sites are affiliate sites. Over time, affiliate marketers will find it increasingly difficult to succeed without a brand that user’s trust, so consider what you’re doing to develop the brand of your affiliate website.
Whether it’s due to Google updating their ranking algorithm, your favourite affiliate program shutting down, or media buying costs increasing, you’d be wise to mitigate against the possibility of major changes. There are two very effective ways to do this: diversification and by building your recurring revenue. I’ll talk about traffic diversification in a moment, but let’s first talk about recurring revenue. 10 per month over 10 months. The problem is that one-time payouts don’t protect you against major changes in your strategy. That’s why I recommend building up a portion of your affiliate revenue in recurring revenue. Obviously, the feasibility of this approach depends on your niche and what products are available to promote.
If the option is available, I’d highly recommend building a foundation of recurring affiliate income so that you peace of mind that no matter what happens you still receive a certain amount per month for the foreseeable future. The same thing happened again when Google launched the Penguin update in April 2012. It’s happening to brands who’ve built up organic Facebook Page audiences, and it’s going to happen time and time again across many third-party platforms whose business model revolves around selling eyeballs. Some of the people hit by these updates were good friends and clients, which is why I’ve been preaching about diversification of traffic ever since. If you absolutely have to rent it, rent it from multiple sources. How does this affect the individual affiliate? For one, if you’re directing traffic to sites that aren’t mobile friendly, you’re probably losing a lot of potential commissions.
Google have also started to send some rather blatant nudges to webmasters that their websites should be mobile friendly. In November, they launched a mobile-friendliness checker and began experimenting with displaying whether a page is mobile-friendly or not in search results. So, having a mobile-friendly site could become a good strategy for outranking your non-mobile friendly competitors in the search results. Another consideration is that with more people using and purchasing from mobile devices, certain niches, products, and search criteria will rise in popularity, and can be capitalised on by forward-thinking affiliates. Needless to say, if you’re not prepared for mobile, you’re preparing to be left behind.
Yet, new trends continue to breakout, creating hundreds of new weird and wonderful multi-million dollar niches every year. So, how can you find out what trends are likely to emerge this year? The first differentiation to make is between seasonal and breakout trends. Seasonal trends are recurring, and often predictable, peaks in popularity that you can prepare for in advance. Google Trends is your best friend for identifying seasonal trends. While you can just type in a keyword to see how it’s search volume fluctuates throughout the year, you can also use the category functionality to find seasonal trends in specific industries.
Breakout trends are much harder to predict. From electronic cigarettes and online TV, to selfie sticks and cinnamon flavoured whisky, even the most experienced industry experts often have a hard time predicting as far as six months into the future of their industry. Regardless, reading the predictions of experts in your industry is a good place to start. You could even try to predict which countries are about to increase in popularity, and begin promoting hotels, flights, and other products that might help people traveling to that area.