I just wrapped up a great webinar last night with James Martell of the Affiliate Marketers Boot Camp (affiliate link) – we talked at length about SEO for affiliates, the Panda updates, the importance of writing well researched and well presented content, and backlinks and how to pick them up. This was the first in a mini-series of Fanatics Affiliate Webinars geared towards helping affiliates succeed in a post-Panda world. The long and the short of what we discussed is that Google is more committed than ever about presenting their searchers with quality, unique content and that the techniques used in the past to try to game the system and get high rankings are either not working at all anymore, or put you at risk of losing your primary traffic source at Google’s whim. I know from experience here that a number of affiliates have taken traffic hits that dramatically damaged their income and are now anxious to find solutions to overcome the traffic losses that they suffered.
The solution is all about content- content on your site, and content that you can leverage to generate valuable backlinks to your site that will combine with the quality of your content and your reputation as a writer to rank well in the natural search results. Here are a few things that James recommended that marketers invest their time and potentially, their money in moving forward as they build their affiliate businesses in 2012.
1. Generate unique, well written content for your site. Your content should be focused more on actively engaging users than on writing for the search engines. The benefit here works across a number of levels: if you write good content, the readers who find you will respect your work and keep coming back. They will also be more likely to share your page with their social network. They may even quote you in articles on their own content sites and this gives you a valuable backlink. You will also win the respect and trust from your audience which will translate to higher click-through rates and higher conversion rates on the products you promote.
2. If you are going to use data feeds, you will need to either invest time in rewriting your descriptions to generate unique content, or you’ll need to “wrap” your product feed links with unique content. Google is getting really good at detecting duplicate content and properly assigning the SEO value to the originating site and not to the hundreds of affiliates who are using the same content on their sites. Write your own unique descriptions and don’t forget to opimitize your images. If you have questions on how to do this, please get in touch with me. Change your mindset on data feed content; think of your feed content as creative, not as primary content.
3. You can pick up high value, long lasting backlinks by producing high quality guest posts that you contribute to complimentary (not competitive) sites or blogs. The key is to make sure that the articles you post are well researched, well written and genuinely add value to users of that site, and contain one or two anchor tags that link back to your site. Take a hint from the newspapers – have your article include a photo, and a quote or two and cite any sources that you use. Make sure that the articles you write are UNIQUE . Submitting the same article content to a blog network or to tons of article directories is by definition generating duplicate content. This content will either not be given as much value or will negatively impact on your content’s ranking with Google.
Be looking to deliver value at every stage. The name of the game is not fooling Google into ranking your content at a higher level than it deserves. The name of the game is to provide useful content that people will link to, promote via social media, quote on their own sites. The same applies if you are going to try to pick up “juice” by posting comments on other people’s blogs and in discussion boards. If you look to add value to others first through the use of unique content that helps the reader, you will build a reputation as a respected resource in the community and you’ll build both backlinks and direct traffic driving links. If you look to spam the comments or the community, you’ll out yourself as a parasite who will see your community site accounts closed.
4. Don’t look to substitute a high number of low value backlinks for a moderate number of high value backlinks. You may pick up some juice short term, but you’ll always be living in fear of the low value links impacting your SEO negatively in the next Google sweep.
I am passionate about affiliate marketing, and about seeing my affiliates leverage affiliate marketing to make the money to be able to live the lifestyle that they want. I am a firm believer in something that sales trainer and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said a long time ago: “You can get anything you want in your life if you help enough other people get what they want.” If you set out to provide value to your user in everything you do, you won’t be living in fear of the next Google update and the impact it will have on your income and your livelihood.
I’ll post the webinar that I recorded with James Martell shortly and link to it here.