Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Affiliate Success Formula

Some people aren't going to like this affiliate success formula. That's because it requires work, and it's not a get-rich-quick scheme. But this is the simplest formula for affiliate website success that I know of.

Content + Links = Affiliate Success

First, find a big niche. Lots of get rich quick guys tell you that you should tackle a small niche that you can dominate. That's nonsense. You can be an average player in a huge niche pretty easily still. (Big niches include stuff like dating, travel, credit cards, mortgages, etc.)

Then buy a domain name and build a website. Fill it with hundreds of pages of brilliant, useful, keyword-rich content. Update the site often. Add content constantly. Some of your pages will rank as long as you do basic search engine optimization stuff like:
  • making sure your keyword phrases are in your pages' title tags
  • using your keyword phrases in your pages' body copy
  • emphasizing your keyword phrases by repeating them in the copy, header
  • emphasizing your keyword phrases with bold text, italics, quotation marks
  • using your keyword phrase in the URL string of each page
The big SEO secret is that there are no secrets. Just make it clear to the search engine what your page is about.

Then get links from appropriate websites. This will keep the search engines visiting your website. As a general rule, the more links you have pointing at your website, the more important it is. And important sites rank higher.

Don't do stupid stuff like exchanging links with 1500 websites, none of which have useful information. Or spam blogs. You don't need thousands of links to compete; you need some good links.

Then add advertisements for appropriate affiliate programs.

It really is that easy, but it takes work. Most people launch lame content and get lame links and wonder why they fail. Write good content, or hire a good writer. Then get good links. Don't worry if you don't have hundreds and hundreds of links right away.

Do the work and make money. Don't be lazy. Don't take shortcuts.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

SEO Blogs You Should Be Reading

This is a list of SEO blogs that you should be reading but probably aren't. I've included what I think are some of the best posts from those blogs here too, along with some commentary as to why I think these blogs are so worthwhile.

This is Michael Martinez's SEO blog. Many people in the SEO industry seem irritated by Michael Martinez, but I think having someone who's not repeating the "party line" is good for the industry. He's been accused of being deliberately contrarian just for the sake of being deliberately contrarian, and I'm not sure I disagree with that. But unlike some other folks, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing either.

An affiliate marketer or SEO can learn a lot about SEO just from watching what Martinez actually DOES with his blog. (Maybe they'll even learn more about SEO by watching what Martinez does than they will from listening to what Martinez says.) The main lesson to be learned from the SEO Theory blog is that lots of constantly updated content is good. And long pieces of content which repeat and emphasize keyword phrases is also good.

Most webmasters seem to think that 500 words of content is both the minimum and the maximum amount of content on a page or in a blog post. Most of Martinez's posts are 1000 words or more. What benefit does that offer?

For one thing, the more words you put on a page, the more likely it is that a searcher will type in a phrase that exists on your page. You increase longtail traffic.

At the time of this writing, SEO Theory has 443 pages indexed in Google, which is pretty good. (That's more pages than I have on any of my static sites, although I have a couple of forums which have more pages than that.)

Suppose you had 443 pages indexed with 1000 pages on each phrase. Do you think you might receive traffic?

Some of my favorite blog posts from Michael Martinez include:
  1. The Infallible SEO Option - One of the best posts ever written about SEO anywhere. Sure, it might seem obvious, but for a beginner, it's not obvious. And so many SEO's out there seem to preach that links are all you need.
  2. Building Content For Search - Martinez condemns cookie-cutter SEO wisdom, which is something that desperately cries out for condemnation. He also makes the point that you should use long pages of content when the content calls for it, and short pages when the content calls for that instead.
  3. Answers to 100 SEO Questions - The questions and answers are great, but having a page that ranks for 100 different queries is even better. Wondering what you should do with the information from your referral logs? This post from Michael should give you at least one idea for what to do with that info.
  4. The Great Link Building Mystery Unplugged - A consistent theme in Michael's blog is that getting lots of links and anchor text is only one way to rank well in the search engines, and it's not necessarily the easiest or best way. This runs directly contrary to what a lot of people in the affiliate business think.
  5. Hardcore SEO Tips - Another great post. This one and the post above about the infallible search engine optimization method will make almost any SEO better at what they do.
What I really like about Michael Martinez's blog is that it's not aimed at beginner SEO's. Most other SEO blogs on the Internet seem to tackle very basic stuff in very basic ways.

Hundred Dollar SEO

I found this blog through a link at Michael Martinez's SEO blog. Carlos del Rio is the author of this blog. He's a former teacher and part-time artist who brings a fresh approach to SEO blogging. He's obviously a big fan of Martinez's, but I don't hold that against him and neither should anyone else. Some of my favorite posts from him include:
  1. Cheap Seo - This is a legitimate concern for a lot of people who want to get started making money on the Internet. Del Rio offers two approaches for getting some SEO done for $100 or less. I haven't decided which approach I like better yet though.
  2. Internal Linking Structures - Del Rio describes in some detail some of the different approaches to link structures for websites. His explanation of the silo strategy is the best explanation of that approach that I've read yet. Internal linking structure is a hugely important aspect of SEO that many SEO's never discuss. (Mostly because they're talking about different ways to get external links all the time.)
  3. Long Copy Versus Short Pages - Del Rio looks at whether or not you should write long or short copy from another perspective, different from Michael Martinez's. He also discusses the results of a landing page contest which measured conversion rates for a long landing page compared to a short landing page.
  4. Link Flavors - Here he talks about some of the different "flavors" of links, including "reciprocal" and "sitewide" flavors. Some people think links of certain flavors (like the two I just mentioned) can hurt your SEO efforts more than helping them. He also examines evidence that on-topic linking doesn't really matter as much as you might have been led to believe, and he gives an example.
Tropical SEO

Andy Hagans is a cool dude and an awesome blogger. He leans more toward the lazy blogging approach though, only publishing something when he has something to say. I'd rather see him post more often, because then I could learn more about how he thinks, but he's too busy living the dream and getting rich. Here are some of this best posts:
  1. The Lazy SEO Manifesto - Living the dream, brother! This is kind of the whole point really.
  2. You Are Better Than You Think - Some ideas about why you should start acting like a CEO instead of an SEO.
  3. Why I Quit Working For Clients - Some people might not know this about me, but I used to work for clients too, just like Andy used to. But honestly, even the good clients can be a pain in the ass when you want to work on your own websites.
  4. How to Build an Affiliate Site Worth $1 Million - Should be required reading for every affiliate webmaster/SEO.
  5. How to Escape Google's Supplemental Index - Just as relevant now as when Andy first wrote it.
So many more posts from these 3 bloggers are worth reading. And so many more bloggers than this have affected my SEO thinking. I read Aaron Wall religiously for example, and I have great respect and admiration for Eric Ward. I used to read SEOmoz a lot, but I don't read it as often anymore. Lots of good stuff there though, especially in the members' area.

Here's a good piece of advice though. Don't spend so much time reading these SEO blogs that you stop producing content of your own. That's where the real money is: creating brilliant content.