Since discovering SEO at 15 years old, I've relied on search engines to enable me to make my living online. Like many internet marketers, I make the majority of my income with affiliate marketing, but unlike many, I don't go anywhere near PPC or any form of ad buys.
I'll save the reasons I've strayed from PPC for another article, as today I want to talk about dominating search engines and getting natural, free, search engine traffic.
Since 90% of my income relies on this source, I've learned quite a few things to help me get the best results, in the shortest amount of time.
Surprisingly to some, I've made tens of thousands of dollars ranking one-page websites in Google. The one page tactic generally only works if you've found a rare keyphrase which nobody else is trying to rank for.
In this post though I'll be showing you how to dominate search engines for big industries, and how to avoid the usual problems of getting affiliate sites to rank.
Search engine traffic is not actually difficult to get, but it certainly can be for affiliate websites. Google and other search engines do not want to see squeeze pages or blatant affiliate sites in their search results and generally, quality sites don't want to link to these pages either.
If you put together a typical affiliate site and expect to rank easily, then don't be surprised when you find the process almost impossible. If you want to make money as an affiliate in big industries relying on search traffic, then you have to take a different approach. Here's what works for me...
Stage one: simple blog design
I usually start my process by building a blog which looks absolutely nothing like your average affiliate site. I've built a number of popular blogs in different industries and have found it far easier to build links to a blog than any other type of website.
The whole point of using this blog design is to have a quality looking resource which people will link to. Link building is at least 80% of the process for getting rankings, in my opinion, so it's crucial that I don't make this stage harder for myself.
Quality sites will not link to you if you're clearly just promoting something, and not offering any form of value.
This is why the blog "front" is so crucial to my process. I'll start by creating about ten viral articles for my site, and then begin networking in the niche. From there I'll follow the typical process of link building by writing quality articles which people talk about, connecting with influencers, and writing guest posts for other sites.
At stage one, there are no affiliate links whatsoever on the site. Depending on how competitive the niche is and how many links I need to build, stage one may last a couple of weeks, or it may last a few months.
I'm in this "game" for the long haul, so I don't mind waiting patiently for my hard work to pay off.
Stage two: aiming for the quick wins
I tend to focus on keyphrases which get over 100,000 exact searches per month so there's no way that I will be ranking for them very quickly.
These terms tend to be very competitive, with the top ranking sites having aged a good few years. Though I am patient, I don't want to wait a year to see a financial return on my time investment, so I will go for what I like to call "quick wins".
As an example, let's say my kephrase is "how to lose weight". A phrase that is very competitive, but also very lucrative.
A quick win, meaning a phrase which is likely to bring in quick traffic for less work, might be "how to lose weight fast" or "how to lose weight quickly".
Generally, my quick win keyphrases are just an extra word added to the main keyphrase which you're trying to rank for in the long-term. I'll focus my homepage (which is easier to get ranking than an internal page) around one of these quick wins.
I'll then build separate pages for quick win phrases that are less competitive. My main focus will actually be on ranking for my quick win phrase (how to lose weight fast), rather than my main keyphrase (how to lose weight).
Most of my time will be spent building links for these less competitive terms, and I tend to rank for them fairly easily with a few quality links.
Because I am building links for how to lose weight fast, with article marketing, guest posting and other sources, I'm also helping my site rank for how to lose weight because that phrase is in the anchor text of the links I'm building.
Stage three: introducing the affiliate links
Unless there's something I'm promoting, my site isn't going to make money. I can usually rank for my quick win phrase within a few months, which wont bring in as much traffic compared to if I was ranking for my main keyphrase, but it will send me relevant visitors.
Visitors I can convert into customers. Generally, by the time I reach this stage, I have about 20 quality articles on my site, and I'm spending a lot of time making connections and building links.
I don't care whatsoever about building a readership like most blogs, as the blog design is more of a "cover" which helps with the link building process.
I don't have to worry about whether my design changes will annoy readers, since I don't expect to have any loyal subscribers. I do however, introduce them subtly so the changes don't hinder the links I can get from the connections that I've made. I'll start by adding affiliate links to the sidebar of my site, and at the bottom of all articles.
This means that I can make money from any page that a person lands on via search engines. As I'm ranking for my less competitive term, I start making a good, but far from amazing, income.
Stage four: turning things up a gear
Depending on how much work I've put in and how competitive my keyphrase is, I usually find myself ranking on the second or third page of Google for my main keyphrase, and on the first page of Google for a few of my quick win phrases.
The main keyphrase is always going to make me the most money, and since it's popular, I'll still get some traffic, even though I'm back on pages two or three in the search results.
I have most of the links that I need, so I don't have to worry so much about my site looking like a legitimate blog, and I can start tweaking it for conversions. At this point I'll usually take over the header of the site and start promoting my affiliate product a lot more prominently.
Stage five: maximising conversions
I've continued to build links, following my tactics of guest posting, article marketing, and utilising the connections I've made. Before I put the final stage into action, I'll try to mimic some of my competitors' backlinks, and get as many quality links to the site as I can. Though it will take a while to see results, I can get on the first page of Google as long as I stay consistent.
My homepage at this point will become your typical sales pages, but I will keep the articles I created at the start featured on there. Just in case I do go through some kind of manual review, and so the changes on the site aren't too drastic.
Once I'm getting traffic from my main keyphrase I'll then focus on the likes of:
- Tweaking my copy for conversions.
- Looking at creating my own product, so I get 100% of commissions.
- Building an email list I can repeatedly promote to.
- Allowing other people to promote my product (if I make one) as an affiliate.
This whole process is not going to make you rich overnight. Generally, it can take one or two years for all of my work to pay off.
Then again, I don't think there are many legitimate strategies online which will allow you to make big money fast, without a lot of work. I've repeated this whole system in multiple industries, and it has worked time and time again.
I'm currently on page two for my biggest project, a keyphrase which gets 170,000 exact searches per month. If all goes to plan, I can easily see the site making me $30,000-$50,000 per month.
I would love to write more articles here on my link building process and how I take things to the next level, so if you would like to read more, please let the Econsultancy team know in the comments ;). If anyone has any questions, I'm more than happy to answer them.