Placing an Ad for Free? Affiliate Programs Don’t Always Work
If you’re like me, while you enjoy blogging, you would also appreciate receiving a little bit of income for your efforts. Google Adsense is probably the most popular tool beginning bloggers use to generate revenue from a website, but what about all of those unbelievable stories about affiliate programs that can generate thousands upon thousands of dollars of income a month?
Just like every other industry, Internet marketing has its share of marketing schemes and scams. Countless websites out there promise that if you purchase their e-book for $39.95, you’ll become an Internet millionaire in less than two to three years. And just like every other industry, those who get sucked into the scam quickly learn the basic truth of life that Thomas Edison left us many years ago – Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. That, my friends, is the gods-honest truth.
With this basic truth in mind, I’d like to provide those of you who are looking for such a way to make at least a decent level of income online with a glimmer of hope in the world of affiliate business – let this be your 10 percent of inspiration, and then I’ll leave the 90 percent of perspiration up to you.
Putting Up an Ad for Free – Affiliate Program Mistakes
Before I get to a system that does work, I’m going to cover my own early online advertising mistakes so that others can avoid them. I’m not too proud to admit to these – it’s important to fall before you can run when you’re starting out with your blog or website, as you know you will not have hundreds of thousands of clicks every month.
Mistake #1 – Ads Unrelated to Content. Making money with affiliate advertising when you have a high-volume website (like MakeUseOf) requires far less work and creativity than making money from a small blog. Does that mean that it’s not possible? Not necessarily. But the one biggest mistake many new bloggers make after signing up for numerous affiliate programs is just to publish the advertisements along the side of their blog and call it good.
Sometimes blogs will include ads that are relevant to the content in the blog, but other times the ads really make no sense. For example, what’s a National Geographic ad doing on a blog about SEO and web content?
Mistake #2 – Unfocused Affiliate Campaign. Another common mistake beginning bloggers make is that they’ll head out and try to sign up for as many affiliate programs as possible, and then place those ads on every single website across the net that they are affiliated with. Unfortunately, most visitors to a blog or website are already inclined to ignore sidebar or banner advertising, so using ads that run the entire gamut, and for the most part are unrelated to the content, simply increases the odds that the ads will be ignored.
Mistake #3 – Ignoring the Advertising Potential of Your Content. If you travel through the amateur blogosphere, you’ll see countless blogs with ads plastered across the top, bottom and sidebar of the blog, and not a single advertisement within the content itself. Ironically, it’s actually the inverse that serves as a more effective method to get people to click on the ads. Most website owners across the net have recognized this truth in terms of the dramatically higher click-through rates with Google ads that are situated within the content itself.
This one subtle change in your website advertising tactics can easily increase your clickthrough rates by 10 to 20% or more. It doesn’t only work with Google Adsense – it will work just as well with your affiliate advertisements. So, keep your header and footer banners if you must, but remove those gaudy sidebar advertisements and start carefully and tactfully inserting your affiliate ads into your content itself. After all, this is where your readers are focused on when they visit your site, so it’s exactly where your advertising should go.
Focusing On A Niche & Showing Me The Money
Now, for the secret weapon that will take your carefully placed affiliate ads and send the click-through rates into the stratosphere. The secret to “winning” the traffic game as a little guy on a newer blog with lower pagerank is by identifying online niche areas that have little competition but very high demand. Yes, there are tools that the big boys have which provide targeted insight and SEO analysis, but quite honestly anyone can perform a similar analysis for free – it just takes a little bit more effort.
Just remember the two principles – high demand (search engine searches) and low competition (other high-ranked websites offering content). If you think that every popular topic already has something written about it online – think again. To find high volume keywords, we will once again turn to Google Adwords .
Here, I’ve conducted a search for “dog” – a very generic and popular term. As you can see, if you sort by “Search Volume,” you will have the terms with the highest monthly search rate. While the competition numbers in here may not look too promising, don’t worry. Just scroll down the list and look for high volume keywords with at least less than 3/4 bar of competition. Once you have a good list, the next step is to really examine the actual competition that’s out there. To do this, I recommend a great free tool called Niche Watch.
To show what you’re looking for, I’ve conducted a search for a highly popular and highly competitive term – “ghost hunting.” Niche Watch gives you the top 20 ranked competitors for that search term. As you can see here, the Anchor, Title and Text columns are filled in pretty well. This means that not only are the top competitors ranked highly for the term – but Google likely ranks the site highly, and your little blog will have a lot of difficulty “beating out” those sites to the top of Google results for that term. On the other hand, you will eventually discover that one of your high-volume keywords have Niche Watch results that look like the following.
Here, you’ll notice a lot of empty spaces under Anchor, Title and Text. These are the terms where you can easily skate up to the top of Google results on a very popular term, so long as you use the SEO techniques that we’ve discussed earlier. If you perform your optimizing better than those competitors (who are, for the most part, already not valued very highly by Google) – you will get the majority of that traffic.
How High Traffic Benefits Your Affiliate Business
Forget about the $39.95 book about how to get rich quick with an affiliate business. You can get rich, but by working smart, not quick. The recipe for success is no secret – these are the only steps you need.
1. Simply identify those niche search terms that so many people are searching for, yet there’s barely any useful content online for.
2. Register a domain name that capitalizes on that specific keyword phrase.
3. Create optimized (and valuable) content on the website, with your content-relevant affiliate advertisements embedded tastefully throughout.
Obviously, there’s much more to developing a successful website from scratch – but if you don’t already have a highly popular website, then focusing on an underserved niche is the only path to success for an entrepreneur like yourself.
Please share your experiences with your own affiliate business efforts and any tips that you would offer anyone who is new to the business in the comments section below.