So you’ve got yourself a website. You’ve got your ads in place. You’re having some success with converting, and now you’re thinking to yourself, “The only thing that would be better is if more people would come to my site!”
You’re not alone.
Welcome to the world of affiliate marketing. Even if you’ve been in the internet industry for a while now; the concept of building websites that provide valuable information to people, and in return, show those people advertisements (and thus generate sales) may be something new to you. If this describes you; here is a handy list to help you get started!
1. Understand Affiliate Marketing
There are four key players in affiliate marketing: The Merchant (These are the guys providing the product or service, and then ultimately selling it.), The Network (These folks have a catalog of offers from a bunch of different Merchants that you choose from.), The Publisher (This is most likely you. Publishers create content or provide a service that brings traffic to their website where they display offers.) And finally, The Customer (pretty self-explanatory I guess, these guys are visiting your site, clicking on ads from the Network, and buying stuff from the Merchant.) God bless them, every one.
There are a plethora of different types of websites you could be operating to drive traffic through your affiliate ads. So really, the rest of the tips here are written to apply to most, if not all, of the different formats you may be using.
2. Keyword Research and Search Engine Optimization
No list would be complete without this. If you’ve got your head wrapped around SEO or pay someone to understand it for you, then skip to the next tip. If you need SEO assistance, knowledge, or details, read on.
When people want to find something on the internet they visit a type of website called a Search Engine. The most popular search engine, by a landslide, is Google. (Heard of them?) Microsoft also has their ownsearch engine called “Bing,” which isallegedly an acronym for “Because It’s Not Google.” And finally Yahoo has, well… Yahoo. (However Yahoo is now using Bing for all their results so unless you’re using Yahoo as your email provider or your fantasy football team; just go to Bing.)
Search engines work by taking a word or words that you type into them and then return a list of the top websites that most closely match those “keywords.” So if you have a website that compares the price of local gasoline someone might search for “compare gasoline prices” into a search engine to find you.
Keyword research is about using tools like Google Keyword Tool to find out which keyword phrases people are using for their searches and how many people are using each phrase. SEO is all about how to make your website rank for specific keywords. SEOBook.com is a great resource to help you get started.
3. Google Analytics
Every website should have Google Analytics installed. Period.
Analytics tell you exactly who is visiting your website (location demographics,) when they visit, where they came from (search engine, inbound link, direct traffic,) which pages they viewed and in what order, and which page they left your website on. You can SEO all day long, you can write new pages to try and bring in new traffic, but without Analytics there’s really no solid way for you to judge what is working and what is not.
4. Use trackbacks (and pingbacks)
If you’re like most internet users out there, you read blogs and articles about your industry, your hobbies and your passions. As you begin to publish more and more content on your websites, you’ll notice that a lot of what you take in from the web around you finds its way into what you write. What if you read a really cool article and some of the info you got there directly related to what you’re writing about on your website? What if you could tap the author of that article on the shoulder and say, “Hey, that article was great! In fact, I used some of the info I gleaned from it on a related article on my own site. Here it is!”
Enter the trackback.
Almost every article publishing system out there now supports trackbacks. Underneath your awesome author’s article is a place for you to Comment. Ever wonder why it asks you for your website? Trackbacks. Now you know. Not only are you giving the author a virtual high five for being awesome, he’s giving you one back by letting you link your website in the comment you write him. Authors (hopefully that soon includes you) like trackbacks because it is a great way to reward people for interacting with them on their website.
Pingbacks are similar but different. Basically, blogging software like WordPress (yep, that’s what we use here at http://partners.adknowledge.com have a system built into them where if you link to a website in your blog; WordPress will automatically go ping that website and let them know you’re talking about them. This lets the author know that you mentioned them in your article without you actually visiting their website and commenting on something.
Why is it important to have a bunch of websites tracking and pinging and linking to yours? Read #5.
Search engines rank every website on two primary factors: relevancy and authority.
Relevancy is how relevant your website is to the search phrase being used. There are several things most search engines look for to determine relevancy. The first, obviously, is how often the keyword search phrase appears within the webpage’s text. However, there is more to it than just bombing a page with keywords. Search engines also look for where the keywords are, how often they appear (don’t want too many or too few instances), and very importantly, other words and phrases which are related to the keywords (such as a website about ‘cars’ might mention ‘engines’).
Authority is how much command your website holds on the internet. How famous is it? How many other websites in the same industry talk about your website? This is where backlinks come in. A backlink is when a website other than your own has a hyperlink to your website. The more of these that exist, the more search engines think you have authority. A backlink leading to your webpage from a well ranking webpage with the same or similar keyword phrases performs better.
6. Blog Liberally
Every website can benefit from having a blog. Blogs allow you to publish articles and post them to your website as separate pages. (Search engines rank each page according to its own merits) Most blogging platforms also include functionality which handles just about everything leading up to this point WordPress is my blogging platform of choice and includes handling SEO, Trackbacks, Pingbacks, Keyword Tags, and Google Analytics.
Blog as often as possible and make sure to link to other pages on your website from within the blog articles (preferably hyperlinking the keywords you want for that landing page). Blog Tags are a way of telling your blog platform that your article is closely related to a particular keyword phrase. Think of it as a simple way to categorize each article, assign a keyword hyperlink to it, and then displaying a list of popular tags so your readers can pull up a list of articles that match a particular tag.
7. Get Everyone Involved
Starting a company blog isn’t the easiest thing in the world for a single person to do; it takes the involvement of many, if not your whole team, to make a successful blog. Start from the top and get the head of your company involved and backing your blog in one way or another, whether it be providing ideas, actually writing articles, or approving articles and attaching their name to them. (aka you’re ghostwriting for them).
Once you’ve got the bosses on board; it’s time to get the rest of your team involved. Encourage anyone who wants to try their hand at writing to write an article for the blog. Get everyone involved brainstorming ideas for articles. Keep it fun and rewarding for your office. Offer rewards for the best content submitted each week/month. Don’t be afraid to let your team’s personality shine through your posts.
8. Appoint a Head Blogger
While it takes a team to brainstorm and create content; it takes a leader to compile all the ideas, articles, and content into a cohesive, successful blog. Choose someone with a knack for writing that understands your industry and make them responsible for doing the actual posting. Have them take responsibility for your blog and compile reports regarding views, trackbacks/pingbacks, conversions and analytics. Having a single person responsible for posting to your blog creates accountability and ensures you that it will get done on schedule.
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