THE KNOWLEDGE PANEL Episode #7: SEO for Affiliate Niche Sites
Is it still possible to drive significant volumes of organic traffic from search engines to affiliate niche sites? Is SEO for affiliate niche sites something that used to be much easier or are there still significant opportunities to drive affiliate marketing success through organic?
In this episode of the Knowledge Panel Craig Campbell, Jenny Abouobaia and Julie Adams explore what’s currently working in the field of SEO for affiliate niche sites.
The Knowledge Panel is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
Want to Read Instead? Here is the Transcript.
David: “The Knowledge Panel,” episode number seven. SEO for affiliate niche science. “The Knowledge Panel” show is brought to you by InLinks, the entity-based SEO platform that helps you rank higher and stay ranked longer thanks to its advanced content optimization tools. Try InLinks for free over at inlinks.net. Hi there. I’m your host, David Bain, and replacing Dixon on temporary basis. But, Dixon, you’re still here, sir?
Dixon: I am. I am. Yeah, I’m in the room. I’m actually out of bed now. It says I’m from a recovery bed but they’ve let me to get onto crutches. I had a phone call with the physio today. And the physio said, “I’m sorry, you’re gonna have to come into this COVID infested hospital to have a check over,” because I can’t work out whether I’m allowed to walk again or not. But, yeah, it’s been six weeks since I’ve had a bike accident and broke a pelvis. So it’s a bit of a pain really. Made a mess of Christmas but a good time to do it, though, because I was locked down anyway. So what else was I going to do? I’ve been on drugs and goodness knows what so I’m really grateful to you, David, for running the show and letting me just not make a mess of it. And I’ll just bail off, bail out now and just leave you guys on to do the show.
David: Well, thanks for coming on and saying hello, Dixon. Great to see you and starting to recover there and Dixon is going to be back next month’s episode. I’m hosting that one that in four weeks today. So we’ll tell you a little bit more about that towards the end of this particular episode. But thanks again, Dixon. Of course, we’ve got three great guests joining me today. You see them on the screen if you’re watching the video live. But before we get to them, we’re going to be talking about affiliate marketing today of course. I’d like to first of all introduce you to a lady who’s heading up the launch of the new InLinks affiliate program. Hello, Red Barrington. Hi, Red.
Red: Hi. Hi. It’s lovely to be here.
David: Yeah, great to have you on here as well. So, obviously, Inlinks has launched its own affiliate program and this is something that you’re going to be heading up. So what’s it all about and I guess who should be signing up for it?
Red: Well, it’s a very exciting time. We’ve relaunched the affiliate program with InLinks and there’s a great opportunity to…for those who are already using perhaps the service know a bit about it, love the product, but enjoying utilizing the product. And now’s the opportunity, obviously, to share with clients or their audiences. And we’ve got two different types of affiliate programs depending on what you fancy. Going forward, there’s one that where you can gain money back straightaway with our promoter program depending on what your audience or clients perhaps are interested in. You can gain some money back based upon what the bill comes in from them. Or we’ve also got a customer kickback program which is fantastic. If you really love the InLinks products, you’re heavy usage of it, means that you never have to basically pay for it based upon, obviously, the amount of referrals you get. So my role now in InLinks is to really grow this affiliate program and help the affiliates get with the content or perhaps the resources that they might need to really help with their referrals. So I’m always on hand. I’m on affiliates.inlinks.net. So do get in touch with me. I’d really love to speak to you all and see how we can boost those referrals from your clients’ audience.
David: Superb. So you mentioned inlinks.net. Is there a link directly on the website that people can just go to and sign up for that?
Red: Yep. It’s actually was featured this week in the newsletter. And it’s also on the website as well. There’s a whole detail how to sign up on the website.
David: Super stuff. Well, great to hear from you, Red, and we may hear from you later on. We’ll see. But we’ll have you hovering in the background at the meantime and…
Red: Yeah, if there’s any questions, pop them into the chat area. I’m happy to answer those as well.
David: Sounds great. Sounds great. Well, let’s introduce you to the three main panelists for today’s discussions. First off is a lady who’s been in the SEO game since 2012. She has taken websites from ground level to sold for six figures and is the founder of SEO service SERP Decoder. Welcome, Julie Adams.
Julie: Hi. Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here. Given me a pretty good intro there. Like you said, I’ve been doing SEO since about 2012. I worked originally at an agency and now I’m doing affiliate full time.
David; Pretty good. It could be improved but pretty good. Okay, good to have you here, Julie. Thank you so much for joining us. Next up is a lady who loves to get her hands on a new site, audit it, and find its riddles and then fix it. She’s the founder of Clever Touch Marketing. Welcome, Jenny Abouobaia. I told you is gonna muck it up best, Jenny.
Jenny: No problem. Thanks for having me.
David: Come on, please, tell me what it should be.
Jenny: Yeah, it’s Jenny Abouobaia. And as David said, I’m the founder of Clever Touch Marketing. So we are an SEO agency based in Egypt that deals just with affiliate niche sites. So we build them for clients. We fix ones that are going wrong. And we’ll help them build out portfolios.
David: Great to have you on but you’re not getting back on until you change your name. So thanks again, Jenny. Next up is a gentleman who may just do something unexpected with your domain if you don’t remember to renew it. He is the founder of Craig Campbell SEO. Welcome, Craig Campbell.
Craig: Thank you, David. Pleasure to be here. It’s been a while since we’ve been on a webinar together. So looking forward to today.
David: Absolutely. I’m sure it’ll be great. So, you’re famous on the live streaming world. So good to have you on here. And I’m sure we’ll do more in the future as well. So we’re talking about affiliate marketing today, of course, in relation to SEO. We’ve got three great experienced panelists in that area here. So maybe let’s go back to Julie initially there. Julie, I mentioned 2012 in the intro about you in terms of your involvement in the SEO space. How has affiliate marketing in relation to SEO changed over the last few years?
Julie: Oh, my gosh, it’s night and day. So before 2012, it was the Wild West. I consider 2012/2013 where it started getting a little bit cleaner. But back in the day back when I started, it was a lot of spun content and links that were generated by robots and stuff. And now it’s a little bit more about quality.
David: A bit about quality. Okay. So I remember affiliate marketing in the Wild West, as you say, then. I kind of dabbled or briefly probably about 2007, something like that. So those are the Wild West days. Craig, you’ve been involved in the SEO space for even longer than that. When did you get started in affiliate marketing?
Craig: Probably roundabout the same time as Julie probably. And I used to mess around with Rankin Rain, and you’ll win exact match domain names and everything ranked really well with your one page of content and whatnot. So I used to do a lot of that. And then obviously, roundabout 2012, 2015, the Panda and Penguin updates come out and things will start to be cleaned up. Things will so much went easy. And so that came that impacted my business model slightly in terms of, you know, the ranking rate model, which I found decent, and that’s when I kind of turned more towards affiliate marketing.
David: Okay. Great. And, Jenny, you’ve been involved in a little bit more recently but what was it about this side of SEO that particularly appealed to you?
Jenny: I think basically, I mean, I started out on the content side and I was specifically writing content for affiliate niche sites. And it felt like a kind of natural transition from kind of just the content to the SEO side. And I think I’ve always been the kind of person anyway that I like to kind of stay niche specifics or working with one thing rather than trying to spread yourself too thin. But also, I think, from working on a client side, I’ve always much preferred working on affiliate anyway because most of the clients that already have an idea about SEO, and even if they don’t necessarily have what the need to take the sight of that kind of next level, they have an understanding of what they should be doing and how long it takes where I could never really think of working in other areas of SEO where you’ve got clients kind of banging down your door after a day like what’s happening, this kind of thing. So I always felt, like, affiliate was a good way when working with clients to kind of it makes it project a lot easier when there’s a mutual understanding and they can appreciate the results that they’re seeing even when they’re on the smaller scale, if it’s seen over a short period of time. So that was kind of the thing that attracted us to it mainly.
David: Great. Okay. So you mentioned niche sciences there. And we’ll also dive into whether it’s the right thing to do just to focus in on a specific niche or maybe cover yourself and actually work across multiple different verticals. But just before we do that, maybe let’s talk about some areas that used to work really well but perhaps aren’t good opportunities nowadays, perhaps because of Google changing its algorithm or other things happening to them. And, Julie, I see you’re nodding your head just slightly there. Other niches that you have been involved in that were particularly successful in the past but you wouldn’t really advise people getting into them nowadays?
Julie: Anything at Amazon. So back in 2017, Amazon had their first big commission cut where they went from essentially paying commission on volume and they changed it to flat fees across the board. And if you were pushing 30,000 sales a month, you got your commission’s cut in half. Now, they did that again in March of 2020. So now things went from, like, 8% to 3%. So it’s not necessarily a singular niche. It’s just working with Amazon in general. They’re trending down and down and down. So, yeah.
David: Okay. And you’re nodding a bit there as well, Craig. Is it not the case where maybe there are certain types of products on Amazon that are still worthwhile being in the market for or is Amazon as a whole probably worthwhile steering away from and looking for other opportunities apart from that?
Craig: For me, I think Amazon I would advise people to stay clean over it now mainly because the commissions are so low now. For me, when I invest in content or invest in links and everything else, I’m outsourcing a lot of the grunt work, so to speak. So it’s just not feasible at all with the current commission structure. And after that 2020 update will be done, it basically sold off all of the Amazon websites that had. It was barely making money, and ultimately, decent profits of trying to grow and grow and scale. But a lot of that work was outsourced. So trying to do that unless you will just want, like, 500 bucks a month and it’s your holiday fund and you’ve maybe got an enthusiasm for your golf equipment or whatever it may be, then, of course, you can do that. But for me, I was wanting to scale it from 1,000 to 5,000 to 10,000 to then flipping it on. And I just think that it’s just too much. The commissions are just too low.
And one of the big things that I do now with Amazon websites, I will still buy Amazon websites, but just change the monetization model of them away from Amazon. And basically, by simply buying a lazy Amazon affiliates website, changing the monetization model over, you can basically double the revenue overnight. And that means, basically, if you paid 20 grand for that website, by just doing that and implementing those changes, you’ve doubled the value of your website overnight. So that is essentially what I would be doing if I had my hands on an Amazon website.
David: So, Craig, you’re talking about changing the monetization model. Does that mean simply look for third-party sellers that are offering a higher commission rate for the same products?
Craig: Yeah. So, I had a golf website and I think it gets slashed to 3% on Amazon and 2020 update. Now I could have easily flipped that over and got 10% from an American golf company. So just by flipping that over and sending all the traffic there is really important. But what really works well with Amazon is the really quick delivery and everything else and that it’s a trusted source. So certain instances, some of these private affiliates don’t deliver that quickly. I think that’s changing in general. I think a lot of people are trying to get next day or within a couple of days which is going to help your conversions. But that’s the only downside to it. Not everyone is going to go through a private affiliate in terms of buying and whatnot and people do trust Amazon. But the commissions are too low now for me to be invested in them to be honest.
David: So you mentioned there that, Craig, the Amazon have that trusted brands and then people were probably a little bit more likely to purchase from them. Are you able to share a little bit about the expected percentage conversion rate drop off if you go from Amazon to another third-party site that actually may not be a brand that’s recognizable?
Craig: I mean, I think you can fully expect to get up to 50% drop off anytime that I’ve done it. And it depends on the niche, though, and the type of product you’re selling. But certainly for the golf website that I sold on, I got a 50% reduction in the volume of autos. However, I was still making the same money. And I think over time I just get fed up and peed off and I end up selling the website to a guy. But I think you can expect to have a bit of a reduction because people just instantly when I go on to something, see if I can’t get it next working day, you know, on a website, I’m onto Amazon trying to get it delivered the next day, just for certain things. If it was a laptop or something more expensive, a high ticket item, I’m prepared to wait a little bit longer. But most Amazon affiliate websites people just want this stuff quickly.
David: Okay. So some great live chat there as well. We’ve got someone saying that Julie needs to share her perspective. Absolutely. You need to share your perspective as much as well, Julie. Julie, have you been heavily involved with Amazon or do you try and steer clear of that now?
Julie: So I think that Amazon, like Craig was saying the commissions are super, super low, but there is a big value in that conversion rate. So like Craig was saying, Amazon may convert 8%, whereas the manufacturer may convert 3%. So I actually use Amazon on all of my sites but not to make a ton of money off of it. I actually use it in the beginning in order to get sales data so that when I go to manufacturers I’m not just saying, “Hey, I have 100,000 visitors a month.” I can say, “Hey, I have 100,000 visitors a month and I’m making these sales.” So I kind of use it as a bargaining chip when I start talking to people kind of piggybacking off of Amazon’s really, really high conversion rates.
David: Great tip. Jenny, I see you nodding away there as well. Is that something you’ve been involved with as well?
Jenny: Yeah. Because, I mean, most of the kinds of clients that we work with are coming to us after they’ve just kind of done a course or something like this, learning how to build an affiliate site. So most of the people we work with, for a lot of the time are just building those brand new sites. So obviously, in terms of when it comes to a brand new site, obviously, Amazon is usually the first thing that they would go with just because, obviously, aside from the fact that for the client themselves, like obviously, if you’re building a site and you don’t have that much experience, if it’s your first site, for example, Amazon’s you know, it’s easy to get into. And then also the same as, like Julie was saying, it’s given you a chance to kind of build up that kind of reputation for your site as well. Because obviously if you’re wanting to reach out to other affiliate programs and things like this, a lot of time people get turned down, obviously, if they’re quite a new site and they’ve got nothing to show that their site is converting and then stuff like this. So that’s something that we work with a lot. So in the beginning, obviously, most of the sites are kind of based around Amazon and then with the kind of long-term plan of changing over to something else or even changing away from kind of affiliate altogether and more then maybe it’s digital products or something like this, you know?
David: So we’re streaming live on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter as well. We’ve got loads of comments coming in from different places. We’ve got Darren saying on YouTube, what about investments, financial services? Jenny, you mentioned niche-type sites to focus in on. Have you tried financial services in the past?
Jenny: Yeah. It’s something that we’ve done quite a few actually in kind of different areas. It’s one of those things where it’s better to have someone who’s kind of experienced just because of the niche because it’s one of the more kind of difficult niches to get into. So, yeah. I mean, it’s not that it can’t work and you can’t make money and things like that. I mean, we’ll have people doing all kinds of things in the financial space from things like reviewing like your digital banks, like revolute and things like this, all of these kinds of different areas. But again, because it’s a more difficult niche to get into, they’re kind of few and far between and usually left for the more experienced kind of affiliate site owners.
David: Julie, have you found yourself just focusing in on one niche or do you tend to recommend that people do that nowadays or is it better to actually have feet in multiple camps?
Julie: Definitely good to have feet in multiple camps for a couple of different reasons. One, you obviously want to always diversify. Even if you’re in a niche that is very secure, you never know what’s going to happen. COVID happened, entire niches just got obliterated because of something you couldn’t predict. And then also, if you’re only in one niche and you want to go to sell a site, a lot of times there’s non-competes. So if you don’t have some sort of diversification, you’re not really allowed to sell websites with a lot of brokers. So definitely diversify but stick to what you know so you can do the best there.
David: Great. Okay. So I’m gonna get Craig’s thoughts on that just now as well. But just after that, let’s move on to driving traffic. So your thoughts on driving traffic through organic search and perhaps other ways of driving traffic to affiliate sites as well. So, Craig, what are your thoughts on niche sites? Is it important to actually just focus on one niche? Maybe would you recommend two or three different niches or as many as possible?
Craig: I think I’ve got to just echo what Julie says that, you know, having your feet in a few different niches is probably the most sensible way to go forward, especially if you’re going to be flipping websites on. But also I think if you get bored if you’re gonna keep doing the same niche, you’ve got kind of boredom get on as well. So just to learn new things, new products, new search terms and things like that, just keep your brain as the SEO guy active. And I think that’s also quite important. But you know what? I think I’m always looking at new niches. I’m looking for…there’s so many niches out there like I’ve had and I’ve got friends that have ranked really well and [inaudible 00:19:59] niche. And that was the only website that we had. The most bizarre things really can sell well. And I think you’re always just looking for new niches, trying to jump on something that you can take advantage of. And there’s so many untapped markets out there that just you’ve got to do it.
David: Craig, Aamon says in the chat as a rule of thumb niche affiliate sites are much better focusing on services and contracts over physical products. Is that something that you’d agree with from your experience as well?
Craig: Yeah. I’m not one for being that niche with a website. I think you’re better focusing on services and contracts rather than physical products. When it comes to physical products, it starts to broaden out. And your website can be about multiple different things. So niche websites, I don’t know, like plumbing accessories or something like that y’all can probably do really well. And you would focus it only on that because something like kitchen accessories are just not going to be that relevant. So, yeah, I would tend to agree with what Aamon’s saying there. But it really depends. Everyone has got a different opinion on that. There’s no set right way to set up a website. And, yeah, that’s it.
David: I remember a long time ago, you talked about kitchens there. Actually had a website that focused on a home remodeling a long time ago and I did quite well through getting commissions for each coat that people would send off for different home remodeling. But it was a long time ago. And because it was a long time ago used to be able to do things like sell links from PR of a certain authority on your site. And I ended up earning a lot more revenue through that instead of actually the affiliate marketing. So I didn’t focus in on the affiliate marketing so much. Of course the ability to sell links went downhill. So that’s I guess why didn’t focus on it so much there. Let’s move on to driving traffic. Is it still the case then where you rely on Google or you can rely on Google for much of your traffic to many of your niche sites, Julie?
Julie: Yeah. So my strength hasn’t always. Probably will be SEO. But the nature of that, you know, you’re kind of at Google’s beck and call for whatever reason. If they decide they don’t like your website, they can just knock you really for any reason even if you’re following all the rules. So with that being said, it’s still important if the commissions are high enough to diversify with ads and Facebook. So I’m always doing that honing my skills but I do get probably 80% of my traffic from Google organic.
David: And do you have any concerns that certain niches are going to be taken away by the fact that maybe Google is going to compete in that area? Obviously, to a certain degree, they’ve come in to other areas maybe different comparison type websites? Do you have any concerns about certain niches over the coming years or so?
Julie: I think anything in your money, your life, Google is gonna obviously keep cracking down on that. And you’re seeing with, like, certain products, like you were mentioning Google is basically giving the answer to the question in the SERP. So let’s say you’re doing versus query. So this product versus this product. Instead of clicking on the first organic result, Google shows you basically a knowledge panel…not a knowledge panel, but it shows the two products side by side and then you have the option to buy right next to it as an ad. So people aren’t even looking at organic for stuff like that. So in that sense, yeah. If Google keeps trending towards keeping people on Google, it could be a little bit of an issue. But that’s always the case.
David: And so I’m just looking at the chat here and I’m just wishing that I probably hadn’t looked at it actually. I’m going to be sharing all the messages as part of that but that’s thanks to Craig. Jenny, what are your thoughts about driving traffic to niche sites? Because you hear that several years ago Google started clamping down on thin affiliate sites without much added value, without much content. How can you actually ensure that you’re gonna get consistent rankings over the long-term in Google to your affiliate niche sites?
Jenny: I think the one thing that is kind of my pet peeve that I kind of keep telling clients and keep screaming from the rooftops about kind of thing is not just thinking about the SEO side because what I find a lot of the time is when I kind of review a site or someone asks us to audit it, you’ll see that someone’s built a site with so much focus on keywords and ranking in Google that they haven’t thought about anything else. So when you go to the website, it’s rubbish, to be frank, you know. And there’s no kind of quality there, there’s no…especially when, I mean, like Julie was saying about Your Money Your Life sites, there’s no About section, there’s no social media, there’s nothing like this. And I find it quite strange that a lot of the time, even though, essentially, it’s a business, people don’t think about an affiliate website in the same way they would think about any other business in terms of making sure that the site itself is, you know, user friendly, and thinking about user experience and conversion rate optimization. And you find that so much with affiliate niche sites.
And I think, you know, going back years, it was kind of easy to just throw up, you know, a skeleton site and rank. And that wasn’t a big problem but, you know, the further we’ll go forward, especially with the way Google’s going now, is user experience is playing a huge part. So I think you really have to think about those kinds of things because it’s going to make a massive difference. And like I said, even things like, you know, having full About sections and making sure you’ve got social media that you’re driving traffic through as well, and things like that, I think that’s hugely important.
David: Okay, so I love that. So, in essence, you’re creating a proper brand for your affiliate niche sites. You’ve got an About section about that brand and your social handle, as you just said and I guess you’re sharing decent quality content on social media all the time. So what kind of additional content should be sharing on a regular basis? I mean, do you actually create original videos, for example, for your affiliate sites?
Jenny: Yeah, we do a lot of different things with obviously, different clients. One thing that we do is standard for all of our content, because content is probably our main service, it probably always will be. But we create custom infographics with every single piece of content. So then, obviously, they’re easily shared across social media. And they pick up, you know, a lot of Google traffic just from the image itself, and making sure that we’re kind of ranking that infographic as well as the content, and things like that.
And obviously, we’ve worked with clients before, where we’ve done kind of unboxing videos as well for the products and things like this. So anything you can do to build that brand, like you were saying, because obviously that brings a lot of trust factor as well with, you know, the people who are visiting your site. And I think that’s what people forget as well. When you’re looking at it as an SEO, you know, we can look at a site and we know exactly what’s going on. But at the end of the day, we’re not your demographic. Your demographic is Joe Bloggs down the street or, you know, my mom or someone like this, who doesn’t understand how SEO works.
And it’s having that site that is a brand and, you know, looks great, and it’s user friendly, and things like this. It just brings that trust factor and that’s what brings the authority, and that’s boosting conversion. So we see that a lot where people are doing everything they need to do on the SEO side, and then they’re getting that traffic, but that traffic doesn’t convert. So at the end of the day, if you’re not making any money from it, the traffic doesn’t really mean that much at the end of the day.
So I think that’s where, especially as we go forward, and like I say there’s going to be a lot more focus on user experience and core web files and things like this, people need to really put thought into making sure that the website is, you know, ready for users. Once you’ve got that traffic, once you’re, you know, ranking in Google, once you’re bringing people to the site, the site is already ready for those people to be impressed. And, you know, they’re happy, even if you’re not with Amazon, like Craig was saying, which is a well known name, if you’re using other affiliate partners, then, yeah, the site has already got that kind of trust and authority that’s going to help those conversions basically.
David: And you touched on infographics as well there, Jenny. Do you have other goals for your infographics apart from improving your user experience? I’m thinking about do you want to drive traffic from Pinterest or Google image search or other places?
Jenny: Yeah, well, Pinterest, quite a big one for a lot of our clients, obviously, especially kind of certain niches as well, where you’re doing things like recipes, if you’re doing maybe it’s in the grill niche or something like this, where you can make a great infographic to go along with the recipe and it’s really easy to absorb. And, you know, they do really, really well on social media, especially on platforms like Pinterest.
David: Okay, I’m just reading another comment from Aamon there saying trust and reassurance are critical factors when you’re not a leading brand. Doubts or uncertainties make people favor known big brands for safety and people need to be relaxed to try a new brand or product. Comment there for a second term. Julie, what about other ways of driving traffic yourself? Are you a fan of creating original video content? Do you have other ways of driving traffic?
Julie: Not so much video. I have had some success with doing some quizzes. So let’s say you get somebody that comes from some sort of research based term. So they have a problem that they want to solve, but they’re not necessarily aware that they need a product to solve that. So instead of, you know, throwing a product in their face, as part of a blog post, you can essentially drop a quiz in there to help them match with a product.
And, now, that does two things. One, that turns a research based visitor into somebody who would potentially buy, and it makes them feel a little warm and fuzzy, like they’ve been matched with the product. They’re not just given a selection of five. They’ve answered a couple questions, this feels personal to them. So it’s a good way to build trust when you’re not a big brand, is using quizzes and stuff like that. And then also building email lists as well.
David: Yeah, I love that. I love your quizzes idea actually. I think Naked Wines do a great example of that in the UK. They do a Twitter campaign where they drive people towards a quiz. How much does a typical wine cost in the supermarket? How much do you think, actually is profit and how much goes into packaging? And obviously they do an offer at the end of it, but it gets people immersed in the whole conversation about why it’s important maybe to be spending a little bit more money online.
Julie: Yeah. And when using wine as an example, like, if somebody wanted to buy wine for a present and they don’t necessarily know what type of wine somebody might like, they could take a quiz and answer questions. You know, I generally like something sweeter and then they can get actually paired with a product.
David: Yeah, and I guess chatbots would be a great way of doing that as well.
Julie: Yeah. Yeah, you can do it with chatbots.
David: What about yourself, Craig? What are some new and interesting ways to drive traffic from your perspective?
Craig: I think pretty much what Jenny said. Like, I see a lot of people who have affiliate websites and they’re crappy, they don’t have social media, they don’t have a proper persona, if you like, behind that. And, you know, I think people need to start treating these websites like real businesses. The way I see it is, if you invest money in a digital asset, it’s the same way as buying a property. Are you going to go out and use some, you know, £2 tin of paint to paint the house? Absolutely not, if you’re going to be selling that to someone. Why would you do the same with a website? You know, people don’t treat these websites with any great deal of respect.
And I think, for me, just solely relying on organic traffic is hard, because then it’s just not good. And I’ve been playing around a lot with click through rate manipulation over the last year. And I’ve done a lot of videos and a lot of talks on it. And that stuff can…you know, your whole marketing process, using your mailing list, using push notifications, paid Facebook traffic, Pinterest, any way you can drive traffic onto your affiliate website is always going to help your SEO anyway, because of those click through rates and engagement.
And a lot of people don’t actually utilize their assets properly, like using your push notifications to drive more traffic, like using your email marketing list to build more traffic. Half of these guys don’t even have…you know, they’re not even trying to grab emails from people. And having email marketing is one of those things that half of the people out there think it’s dead or worthless or whatever. You know, I get so much value from building just email campaigns alone. So trying to drive traffic in from a whole bunch of different avenues is the smart way to do it.
You know, I go over and above that as well and also use micro workers and everything else. Because you’re doing your SEO, you’re putting your content out, you’re building links to it, you get into possession six, but then it really does come down to…it’s not more content, not more links, you do want to get some click through rate and engagement to push yourself into the top three positions. And one should be, organically, you should stick there because you’re going to be getting the bulk of all the traffic anyway.
But there’s no point in having a crappy website and go into all of that length. And then, you know, you’ve not got social media, you’re not claiming emails, you know, you don’t have push notification set up. It’s just, you’ve got to do everything in sequence and then start retargeting people and everything. You know, people don’t even have Facebook pixels in their website and stuff like that, which is just madness.
David: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’re all talking about some great marketing ideas and some conventional brand led marketing ideas. I think many people perhaps have a wrong perception about affiliate marketing that you have to be a little bit gray or black hat to be super successful at affiliate marketing. Is that kind of perception fear in any way?
Julie: I mean, I think SEO is…sorry, are we talking to Craig or just an open ended question?
David: I thought I’d leave that question hanging just to see who wanted to answer that one.
Julie: I think in, like, white hat SEO, it’s impossible if you’re not a big brand, everybody’s going to be a little bit gray. Now how gray or how black you go, you know, that’s just dependent on technique and, you know, what kind of risk you’re willing to take. But I don’t think you can really compete nowadays without some sort of manipulation. And even just adding a title tag that is based on keyword research, technically, you know, you’re trying to game the system just by doing that, so.
David: Is there any type of manipulation that you would particularly recommend?
Julie: Well, I know Craig does a little bit with the…what you’re saying, the click through rate manipulation. I don’t know a whole lot about that. I know that it’s…you have to have a pretty good scale, and you’ve got to be fairly consistent with it, yeah.
Craig: Yeah, I mean, as I said, you can use paid…you want to mix all of that up, though, you don’t want to be just using bots or kind of traffic or anything. I think using paid, using your emails, using your push notifications, maybe adding in some micro workers just, you know, for a variety of different cliques and stuff like that. And you can use tools like CTR booster, as a bot just with residential rotating proxies just did to have a nice mix of CTR going on.
David: Jenny, do you have any thoughts on using bots, using tools to try and, I guess, enhance the rankings for the new sites?
Jenny: I think, essentially, for me, I’m a big fan of tools. And it’s something that I find that a lot of…especially because we work with a lot of new people, a lot of people don’t invest in. And actually, it’s one of the best things I think you can do is, in any way, not even essentially for manipulation, but even just, you know, things like keeping on top of the SEO, which you see all of the time that, you know, the most basic of things are not being done, because someone doesn’t have something as simple as Ahrefs or an audit and make sure that keeping up with that stuff.
And I just think that, you know, especially like Julie was saying, like, it’s so difficult especially if you want to be white hat. And the market now is getting so saturated, you have to think of everything, and you have to stay on top of everything. And so, I mean, certainly for me, tools is one of the best way to do that. I’ll have every tool at school and I’ll give it a try, basically, to see, you know, where it can save you time, how it can help you in a way that is going to make a difference, really.
David: So, Jenny, you’re talking about tools and staying on top of things. How do you actually ensure you’re staying on top of ensuring that you’re in the best possible affiliate niche market and identify new opportunities as they come up?
Jenny: I think one thing that we try to recommend for people is…which sounds kind of odd, but we try to think long term while staying flexible. So we find that a lot of people will, you know, you buy a domain, before they’ve even kind of done any form of keyword research or anything. Even say that our niche research to see whether that niche is even worth pursuing, whether it’s something that’s going to be worthwhile, long term. So that’s something that, you know, again, what Craig was saying, not thinking about like any other business.
You know, if you are starting any other business, you do a business plan, for example. So, you know, doing something like that, like a huge batch of keyword research to make sure that you’ve got those opportunities, not only, for example, if you think you’re going to start out with Amazon, you’ve got enough money keywords to kind of keep you going as to whether there’s opportunities to diversify. And things like this will obviously remaining flexible all the time because, you know, like Julie said earlier, look at this past year, how things have completely changed. Just with COVID, we’ve seen niches completely disappear off the face of the earth.
So you’ve got to kind of have that plan, but also, like I say, keep on top of things in terms of staying flexible, keep up to date with what’s going on. Because I find that a lot as well that a lot of people have blinkers and they kind of decide they’re going to go ahead with this niche before they’ve looked at anything. They do a first batch of keyword research and they never look at it again. So it’s kind of taking it from both sides if you’d like, to make sure that you are going to be in the best position possible and that you’ve got not only the opportunity to kind of diversify, if you need to, but also having that awareness of what’s going on around you at the time to know as and when to do that if necessary.
David: Craig, how do you go about identifying new niche opportunities?
Craig: I’m asked this all the time, normally stolen from someone else. I’ll hear someone talking about something and I’m like, “Wow, I quite like that.” But I’m not the most creative thinker in the world. And it’s normally stolen if I’m honest. You just hear someone say something and it just clicks in your head, you’re like, “I’ve got the same rush and I’ll just see what the search is.” And you’re like, “Whoa, no idea that, you know, this peculiar thing has so much search.” So, yeah, normally just stealing from people or just analyzing competition or whatever. And I’m like, “Yeah, I quite fancy that.” So, yeah, it’s always stealing. I’m going to be honest.
David: What about yourself, Julie? Any thoughts on how best to come up with a new niche?
Julie: Just being open minded. So I guess stealing is…you know, I can’t say I’ve done that, but you do get inspiration from other people. So I can’t say I’m accepting but [crosstalk 00:40:45] So let’s say you’re on Commission Junction or Ship, Share or Sale, or something like that, you just go in there with an open mind. So you have something that you know you may not want to get into.
So personally, I stay out of your money, your life, just because if I’m not an expert in something, you’re going to be spending a lot more money on content for somebody who is an expert in niches like that. So outside of that, just going into basically those platforms with an open mind and seeing what’s there. I do that probably once a month, just kind of scanning, seeing what offers are available. And then if there’s a good offer, and then you start the keyword research process.
David: What about seasonality, Julie? Are you in any markets that are highly kind of fluctuated based upon seasonality? And how do you plan around that if so?
Julie: Not really. I was in the outdoor niche previously, but it was a really, really small site, and it was my first big site. So I didn’t really have, you know, much thought going into it. But if you’re doing seasonality, that’s definitely something you have to think about and diversify, because like outdoor, for example, winter months, I’m sure you’re selling, you know, a lot less surfboards or whatever it is. So, in that regard, if you know that you’re a seasonality type of niche, just get more diversified.
David: Jenny, are you involved in any seasonal industries?
Jenny: Yeah, not so much anymore. Like Julie, we did a lot of outdoors camping, this kind of thing, which kind of went downhill with COVID a little bit. But with those kinds of niches, a lot of the time, our clients tend to focus on building their money content kind of in the quiet time. So then, obviously, once people are backed by and they’ve already got, you know, the views, that kind of budget, they get all that content ready there. So it’s ready to go and then kind of through the rest of the season, just kind of fill it with, you know, informational content and other areas like that.
David: What about yourself, Craig? Are you involved in industries that might take advantage of things like Black Friday?
Craig: I sell a lot of courses in Black Friday. So, personally, yes. But I think, seasonal niches…I’ve also been caught out in the golfing niche. And I mentioned the golf site earlier. And that was really good from probably around about March until October. And you just have to have more money websites, if you want to keep earning money. And you can obviously double down on your content and whatnot in the downtime.
But what I would say is try if possible to be clear of seasonal niches unless you’re really going to be making millions of bucks in that six-month gap. You know, if it’s just going to be a kind of project where you’re going to be earning, you know, 4k or 5k a month, you probably want to avoid those seasonal niches because it’s just not good.
David: Superb. Okay, so we’re actually coming to the end of this episode. But just before we get there, I’m going to ask you all two questions and actually give you the choice of answering one of them over the other one. So one question is, how will affiliate marketing change over the coming few years? So you can either answer that one or you can leave one affiliate marketing tip that you haven’t shared yet but you want to share with the audience.
And then after you answer your question, I’ll just ask you to share your website or your best social handle for people to say hello to you online. So let’s go to Julie first. Julie, which question would you like to answer? Is it, how affiliate marketing changed over the next few years or what’s your affiliate marketing tip that you’d like to share that you haven’t shared yet?
Julie: I think affiliate, I’ll go with the, how it’s going to change. I think it’s going to continue trending more towards quality. And if there is a good niche and somebody, you know, with a lot of money to spend discovers that potentially they could buy up a bunch of websites and completely dominate. So I think you’re going to have certain niches that are going to be more and more impossible to get into.
Not even just Your money Your life but just anything with you know, 25% commission, you have somebody with a lot of money, they can build 15 websites and just dominate. And one tip buy links, I guess. And be willing to spend money, because links aren’t free, even if you’re building them yourself, if somebody is going to offer you a $20 link, like it’s going to be crap. So you need to be able to invest in that. I get so many people who are like, “How do I get links for free?” And it’s like, it’s not possible nowadays. So just kind of [inaudible 00:45:15]
David: And what’s the best website where people can get ahold of you? And what’s the best social handle that you want people to say hi?
Julie: So I just got on Twitter. It took me a long time. So, Julie Adams SEO is my Twitter and then SERP Decoder is my website.
David: Superb. Thanks for joining us today, Julie. So let’s move on to Jenny. Jenny, which question do you want to answer?
Jenny: I think I’ll probably go with how things are going to change. And I think it kind of reiterates what I was saying before, in terms of, you know, the likes of the quality of websites, that’s going to be the way that things go. It’s going to be gone are the days where you can kind of throw up a half decent website and some crappy content. It’s just going to get as the…especially I think, with the situation we’re in now, where, you know, all over the world, so many people are trying to find ways to earn money online.
And obviously affiliate is kind of an easier route to go. So, just everything’s getting more and more saturated. So I think, obviously, naturally, with that, anyway, there’s going to be huge amounts of competition. So if you’ve got an affiliate website, and yours is not even an early website, if it’s not at the point where you can build a brand and, you know, you can compete or at least look to compete with big name quality sites, then, you know, you probably kiss it goodbye, to be honest.
David: So the days of registering keyword rich domains are over and you just have to focus on a brand, yes.
David: Jenny, thank you again. And where can people get ahold of you online? What’s your website and what’s your best social handle to say hi?
Jenny: Yeah, you can catch me over at clevertouchmarketing.com. And I’m still not done with the kids with Twitter. So it’ll have to be, LinkedIn is probably my best one. And…
Julie: It takes a while.
David: Kids have moved on to TikTok, yeah.
Jenny: Yeah, no, I’m definitely not there. But I’ll leave that up, Craig.
David: Thanks for joining us, Jenny. Okay, lovely stuff, Craig, what support questions you want to focus on yourself?
Craig: And I’m going to go for a tip and just to go against these guys just to see if they love it. There’s not much else I can say. What I would say, obviously Jenny saying, you know, be careful, it’s a saturated market. One tip, I would say that many affiliate marketers are not doing that well. And I see a lot of people just blindly authoring content, for example. And they’ll just go, “Right, I want 1000 words.” You know, they’ll order 10 pieces of content and they’ll all be 1000 words long. And they’re all be, like that’s the best or whatever it’s going to be.
Now, what I would say is who says that it should be 1000 words? There’s tools out there now like POP, Surfer, and various other bits and bobs that will tell you that the top 10 sales results have on average, you know, 1800 words. So actually look at your topical clustering, look at your content. Are there extra header tags you can be adding to write for a whole variation of keywords and do that stuff properly.
Because although there’s a lot of people in the market, and are saturated which I totally agree with, not everyone is doing that level of work. And I think if you do want to get in, you can make sure that you go in there, do your research properly, do your topical clustering, don’t have overlapping content, and all of the kind of garbage that we see because people are blindly just authoring your 50 new articles a month and not actually doing that well with them. So that’s just one tip.
David: So I was spinning 200 word articles, is that what you’re saying? That’s the reason it’s not working for me? Craig, thanks so much for joining us. What’s the best place for people to find out more about you online, and what’s the best social handle?
Craig: So you can find me on craigcampbellseo.com. And you’ll probably find me with the social handle Craig Campbell SEO on TikTok and all of that stuff. So I’ll go for TikTok. You’ll see me goofing around there doing some stupid stuff. So catch me there.
David: Okay. We’ll check out our guests on the various social handles goofing around and say hi there and say you saw them on here as well. Red just popped on there as well. So, thanks for joining us at the beginning there as well. Do you have any thoughts on what we’ve been discussing or anything else?
Red: No, but it’s really interesting. I’ve worked in affiliate marketing since 2002. So, yeah, I’ve come through the Wild West and came out the other side. So it was interesting. I remember quite…well, I know quite a lot actually of some of the tactics that you were discussing.
David: Lovely. Okay, well, thanks again for joining us, Red. Of course, if you want to sign up for the InLinks affiliate program you can do that over at inlinks.net. I’ve been your host, David Bain. You can find me producing podcasts for b2b brands over at castingcredit.com. Dixon Jones we’ll be back hosting next month when we’ll be answering the question, what aspects of technical SEO do big brands miss? Sign up for that over at theknowledgepanelshow.com to be part of the live audience. Thanks for being part of this one. Until next time, take care and we’ll chat again soon. Bye-bye.
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