That’s a fairly open-ended headline, I’ll admit.
But I think we all know what “it” refers to…
The affiliate marketing dream. Passive income from organic traffic, where you set it up once… and the commissions just roll in like clockwork, month after month.
No dealing with customers, no developing products, no “real” effort or need to build a brand… you simply broker the traffic. Insert yourself into the buying cycle, and soak up the profitable after-effects thereof.
No testing a plethora of different ads, no messing around with traffic buys… no real risk. Just slap up your sites, build some links on the cheap… and wait for the buyers to start rolling in.
(Just for the record – this was pretty much the consistent reality of organic marketing prior to mid-2011)
So is it still possible today? In 2013? Post Panda, Penguin, Penguin 2.0… etc?
Unlike most in this crooked little corner of the web – I really have nothing to gain at this point by feeding you any kind of “embellished hope” about what’s possible with SEO-driven affiliate marketing.
(As a handful of you may know, I’ve spent the last 2 years silently building another business – enterprise level, and almost completely outside of AM. And no, I’m not talking about LinkItPro).
That means what you’re about to read hasn’t been discreetly marinated with bias.
So let me be completely honest. The answer is a little complicated. Because not only is it still possible – in many ways, these days it’s actually easier, particularly in terms of average ranking speeds.
But there’s just one little catch:
It’s No Longer Passive
Everything else is still the same – all the keyword research, onsite SEO, fundamentals of link-building, Google’s domain-bias, gunning for product-analysis keywords… hell – even buying links based on PageRank.
It’s all just like it’s been for the past 5 years. (Regardless of what Google’s PR department would like you to think.)
Except, these days – if you’re an affiliate – you measure your site’s lifespan in months, and typically the number of said months can be measured on one hand.
This doesn’t mean it’s “over”, though. It just means that it’s a new playing ground, with new rules. And in some cases… there’s even a few less kids in the playground competing for a spot on the proverbial monkey bars…
The New World of SEO for Affiliates -
Pros, Cons, Realities – and the Way Forward…
Let’s talk in real terms about the pros and cons of affiliate marketing with SEO in 2013…
1. You Can Rank Fast. I Mean Really Fast. And For Almost Any Keyword. (Even New Domains)
If you don’t believe me (and if you’re too lazy to try yourself), all it takes is to head over to Google and start scoping out basically any of the aggressive, big-money niches. Payday, college, pharma, diet, as seen on TV… you name it.
Go and do 5 seconds of research over at SEMRush to determine what the big keywords are, and then look at who’s ranking on page 1. Aside from Google’s profit-driven “filler SERPs” (like Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc.), basically you’re going to find big brands…
…and brand-spanking-new minisites propped up with heavy, obvious linkage. If you take it a step further and monitor these SERPs for a few months, you’ll see the ever-revolving door of new sites continually running up the ladder to the top – and then either getting slapped, or pushed down by new contenders.
And no – I’m not saying it’s like this in every niche. But when ranking on page 1 means you’re going to be doing 5 figures a month… I guarantee you – those SERPs will be a revolving door.
How fast are we talking?
We’re talking a few weeks – at most. Sometimes we can get sites to page 1 (for real keywords) in a matter of days. Literally inside of a week, but usually inside 2-3 weeks. It’s truly amazing… especially compared to the months and months of waiting that SEO used to entail, in years past.
How are we doing it?
It’s a matter of straight out building as many High PR links as we can (with about 10% of the anchors being the target keyword, 90% brand/naked or generic), while maintaining an effective ROI. Since this typically rules out traditional link prospecting / bartering with other webmasters (established sites, in other words), basically your options come down to either “building” PR (with tiered linking on authority web 2.0s), or renting it (joining a network).
However, these present challenges as well…
Tiered linking – while awesome for client-safe campaigns, and still very effective, even in high-comp verticals, and particularly with exact match or near-match domains - simply takes a bit of time. Perhaps about a month longer than building links on pages that already have PR.
It’s totally viable in all but the most competitive spaces – and it doesn’t jeapordize your rankings, either. Again – perfect for local campaigns, ranking your own brand’s site(s), moderately competitive affiliate verticals… etc. But a little bit too long-term to work for the churn & burn model.
(Disclosure: I obviously have a vested interest in LinkitPro, being that I’m their contracted marketing agent, working from my office in Canada. But I’m not actually a shareholder or partner in the company. Dave Kelly & Alex Miller are the co-founders. Just in case anyone was wondering.)
Joining networks isn’t necessarily always a slam-dunk, either.
Why? Two reasons…
a) If you join a homepage network, you’ll be sharing your linkjuice with probably 10+ other assholes (ahem… I mean fine, upstanding affiliates) on each respective page. The outbound links will not only dilute your potential linkjuice – they’re also a literal beacon of risk in terms of getting that host site deindexed / slapped for selling links.
Not to mention, you’ll be paying monthly for each link. This limits how many sites you can actively promote.
b) If you join a network that you can “blast” (with spun content, across hundreds of sites), your links will quickly roll off the homepages of each blog, respectively. And generally this happens very quickly. So you’ll often find that your “SERP Boost” is short-lived.
And again… you’ll still be paying monthly for posting access, generally.
This is why you ultimately want to build up your own network of High PR sites that you can use as linking assets (if you’re, you know, really hardcore).
Now – if you don’t feel like spending big bucks (and several months) building your own network of sites… there is another option for quickly ranking sites with the churn & burn model that’s deadly effective, and for once – very affordable.
What is it?
It’s a combination of network blasting to a number of high-PR sites, and then immediately reinforcing those posts with tens of thousands of tier-2 links so as to actively maintain (and sometimes even increase) your backlink’s respective PageRank source.
What this effectively does, is it gets you tons of high PR links fast – and cheap – and your linkjuice doesn’t dry up as soon as the post rolls off the root pages.
Typically, I’ve always had to do this heavy reinforcement myself (after running a network blast). That is, until it was officially added a few days ago to the LinkItPro lineup.
It’s called High PR Squared.
With this service, you can literally build hundreds of High PR links for as low as $3 per link – and they’re permanent. Not a monthly thing either… one-time.
I should make it exceptionally clear that – even though we’ve yet to see any slaps (and we have tons of page 1 rankings thus far) – this is NOT for your white-hat-obsessed, nail-biting clients.
It’s for churning & burning your way to page 1, over and over again, in high-stakes vertical. And if you know what you’re doing… and where the money is – there’s nothing else like it.
Anyway – enough of the semi-shameless plugging.
Let’s move on..
2. Thus, You Can Quickly Replace Sites That Get Slapped… Making “Churn & Burn” Totally Feasible.
As I just described above, by simply loading up a site with High PR links (as quickly and economically as you can), you can rank it in record time.
Even now – even Post Penguin 2.0
Just keep your anchor ratios in check, and you’ll see upward traction as fast as you’ve ever seen it – if not more rapidly.
I recommend that you basically queue up sites (and start promoting them in advance, regardless if your other properties haven’t yet fallen from grace) every 2 months, for each of your major keyword targets.
By no means do these sites have to be an artful masterpiece – nor do they need to offer hordes of content. For pretty much any affiliate site I put up these days, I keep them to about 5 pages in depth, total. That’s all that’s required, if even that.
Speaking of which…
3. Quality Content is No Longer a Necessity.
I debated as to whether this should instead be listed under “Cons” section as I drew up this list. I eventually decided that at least from an ROI perspective – and considering that ruthlessness is now a required attitude to adopt in order to succeed in the organics as an affiliate – it made sense to include as a “Pro”.
But essentially, it’s self-explanatory.
Despite my utter disdain for spun content, creative scraping, and in general – littering the web with crap – the fact is, Google still has yet to successfully differentiate “real” content from garbage. Let alone differentiating a content’s original source – which is why so many people complain that infringing scraper sites are still outranking them.
And this means that, unfortunately, you can basically get away with proverbial murder when it comes to content production.
As long as it’s “unique” in a technical sense, on an algorithmic level – Google eats it up.
So my advice is to be as ruthless as you feel like being.
For myself, this amounts to basically using passable, unique (but non-spun content) for my 5-page wonders.
And for my database-driven directory sites, instead of spending a fortune on content, I use “ad-lib” style spin-scraping to automatically generate “content” for thousands of keyword-rich pages. And it basically works just as well as hiring a team to spend months writing blurbs for 4,000 pages.
(Ask me how I know).
The bottom line is – just keep it technically unique, and you’re fine. That’s all there is to it, currently.
And as far as Panda goes – just make sure that 99% of the pages on your site (that you allow to be indexed) have at least a few hundred words of “unique” content, and you’re fine.
4. There’s More Technology at Your Disposal to Squeeze Out More Profit Than Ever Before…
I’ll refrain from expanding on this one – as there’s literally 100 blog posts worth of exploration here (and that’s something I plan on doing at some point this year, at least in part), but I will summarize some of the key, relatively-new technologies that you can use to immediately multiply your average revenue per visitor in a big way…
* Build a Retargeted Audience from Key Properties / Segments.
Particularly if you’re in a high-ticket market (like FX trading, for example), then every visitor is sacred. So you’d honestly be insane not to start building a pixel audience that you can retarget at any time, right from day one – even if you don’t plan on running ads for several months.
I’ll try to go into the opportunity here in a future blog post sometime soon – but the ability to instantly reach all of your previous visitors, with any offer – regardless of where they are on the web – is epic. Especially considering that you can often bid far less in $eCPM to reach them, seeing as how they’ll often be on “mass market” sites where you can typically win impressions for next to nothing.
My RTB platform of preference, so far, has been SiteScout – which handles not only retargeting, but also a full suite of other media-buying channels, on virtually every ad exchange. Again – it’s a whole other blogpost, but RTB (realtime bidding) is very much in its infancy. Keep an eye on it… it’s what “SEO” was 15 years ago, in terms of opportunity.
* Pay-per-Call, Pay-per-Install, Pay-per-”Like”, CPA-driven content “unlocks”… etc.
There’s a whole new world of conversion metrics – and therefore profitable benchmarks – that can be tracked and quantified in today’s environment than there ever was a few years ago…
There’s dudes out there turning over 6 figures monthly with each of the above monetization models, day in / day out. Use creativity, and dig deep into what your “colleagues” are doing.
There’s a hell of a lot more out there than AdSense, these days…
5. SEO is Still the King of eCPC’s at the Prospecting Level…
And this is still the big one, folks.
Even with all the cards seemingly stacked against organic traffic these days (see below), it is still – far and away – the best ROI you’ll ever realize from a traffic-cost perspective when you’re prospecting for new visitors, new leads, etc.
Even if it means you have to perpetually turn over new sites on a weekly basis – chances are, it’s still many times more affordable to realize effective traffic streams from soley-organic properties, than it is to simply cave in, and start running PPC ads…
In short – it’s still the only place where you can “buy” real, motivated clicks for pennies.
And until that day ends – SEO will remain the King of ROI at the prospecting level.
So, those are the primary “Pros” of the current state of SEO, as it pertains to affiliate marketers.
And make no mistake: There is a big difference between the affiliate experience VS. the local business experience VS. the big-brand experience VS. the sole vendor experience… ad infinitum.
I don’t have time to address those differences today – but they are real, and the differences are vast. I’ll be addressing them in detail, quite soon.
But for now – back to the affiliate experience.
Let’s talk about what’s not so great, in 2013…
1. The “Great Content + Big Site = Lifetime Traffic” Model is Dead. D-E-A-D.
This is the one that is most painful to write about – both philosophically and personally. It unearths everything that’s wrong over at the G plex, and it sheds light on the death of what was once a great, user-driven business model…
It USED to be that if you actually followed Google’s guidelines, created a wealth of excellent content, and built up your site to be a huge repository of valuable knowledge for your marketplace – regardless of your particular business model – you could more or less count on an eventual, long-term, consistent influx of steady traffic from Google.
This WAS the reality, for many years. And it was a fair system, as it rewarded true effort with steady traffic. If you built lots of great content, you would receive lots of great traffic. And if you only built a handful of good pages – you’d only get a handful of good visitors.
Then… Panda happened. At first, the fallout wasn’t so bad. Most of the losers were big sites with slim content (particularly ecommerce sites), and so we could more or less agree with the logic.
But then, with each new Panda “update” and user-experience-driven algorithmic patch, it became clear that Google didn’t give a flying shit about increasing SERP quality. Far from it, actually.
This became increasingly evident, as Google continually started giving up more and more of its results to YouTube, Yahoo Answers, Wiki pages, Forum Threads, YouTube, Twitter, Blogspot, YouTube, eHow (really, Google?), Scrapers, and YouTube.
Did I mention that YouTube results practically dominate every keyphrase?
This is what has choked out legitimate, relevant and focused content on topical blogs, multi-user platforms (like Squidoo), and otherwise static authority sites that actually ADDRESS the user’s search query.
Why? My hunch is that it’s because YouTube & friends are “relevant enough” to avoid user revolt, there’s shitloads of content to draw from on those platforms – and what it does is it makes the AD BLOCKS legitimately more relevant than the organics.
THAT is the “user experience upgrade” that the Panda algorithms have accomplished for Google. It has NOTHING to do with combating spam, low-quality sites… and everything to do with turning off the free-traffic taps for sites that used to be able to earn that traffic by supplying Google with solid results to serve its users.
Google doesn’t need publishers anymore. And therefore… they don’t need to reward them.
These days, trying to draw in consistent traffic from the long-tail of search with a wide volume of good content is a fool’s errand. If you don’t believe me – try it. Better yet, go over to quantcast.com and start running estimated traffic lookups on all the major content sites out there. The ones in your niche, the user-driven sites like HubPages, Squidoo, InfoBarrel… etc.
They’re all dying.
Then, go look up eHow, Yahoo Answers, YouTube, Quora… etc. All those shitty, “gap-filling” content sources that Google loves to throw at searchers are thriving.
Do the math, friends. This isn’t about improving user experience. It’s about improving INVESTOR experience. This is Google pandering to the pigs on Wall Street, at the expense of the millions of legitimate, well-meaning publishers who’ve invested their life into building their content hubs – people who can’t AFFORD to build their audience through other means.
Search-driven content publishing, as a business model, is dead for legitimate publishers.
Let me tell you about one of my most ambitious projects in the past few years. I had really high hopes for this one, and I was waiting until we had a plethora of stellar results before telling you guys about it, and promoting it to my readers…
Maybe some of you have seen it on the blogroll.
It’s called Ukritic.com
The idea was to essentially make it as simple as possible for people to start with affiliate marketing, by giving them a pro-affiliate platform to publish awesome product reviews, on an already-established authority site.
Unlike Squidoo/Hubpages, affiliate marketing would actually be encouraged – but every page is also human moderated prior to going live. This would keep out the “crap” and maintain tight standards, site-wide.
The biz model from there was to basically develop a backend product line for users, and maybe monetize somewhat with ads – and/or charge a premium for people to turn ads off on their review pages (called “krits”).
We went to fucking town, loading up the site with 900+ REAL product reviews, written by a small team of pro writers. We spent mid 5 figures just on content alone.
Every link ever built for Ukritic during its initial promotion phase was done with sweat. It was ALL the real-deal. Hell, we actually hired a publicist to go out and land us magazine interviews, we got on a radio show, we had writeups done on some of the key touchpoints in the general marketing world.
There again, we spent big money on real promotion. Another healthy 5-figures.
This is all prior to reaching out with list promotions, and/or attempting to bring in the member base. The whole idea was to get our own content well seated, and drive our own results – and establish ranking authority – so that we could bring members in and offer them a platform that truly worked.
Well… there’s a reason you’re only hearing about it now.
No matter what we did, no matter how stringent our content standards, and no matter how careful we were with linkbuilding – NOTHING would bring the site into Google’s good graces.
It is so disconcerting to watch some of our individual blackhat mini-sites, or individual database-driven mass scrapers, pull down more daily traffic, and more daily profit – than Ukritic. Which is the fucking poster-child of “what to do right”, according to Google’s suggestions for affiliate publishers.
Yes, it still generates some traffic, and some revenue (it basically covers our office rent)… but it’s a far cry from what this site would have been in years past. Before Google’s concern for “user experience” (aka. investor experience) in the SERPs, Ukritic would likely be conservatively adding roughly 50 – 100 new members a day, and averaging about 10K – 20K uniques per day, and in the range of $2K – $6K in commissions, daily.
But more than that… it would have been a great way for beginning affiliates to not only start earning relatively quickly/consistently – but we were enforcing actual value for the readership. The platform openly supported public product voting, so that only the stuff that’s ACTUALLY GOOD would be able to convert into real sales.
It was a great idea. And it was, admittedly, also a gamble.
So we rolled the dice, and counted on Google actually abiding by their own guidelines. And what we found, is that the business model they push directly (via Matt Cutts, via their own materials, etc), is total bullshit.
It literally makes more sense, from a business model perspective, to focus on building 5-page churn/burns – which provide NO value to anyone – than it does to shoot for the stars, and try to make something worthy for all parties, especially including the visitor.
That’s ultimately because Google is in the user-gouging business. And unfortunately… we now have to join them, if we’re going to survive in their playground. Quality is not the ticket. The ticket, friends, is ruthlessness.
But, this ruthlessness comes at a cost…
2. Organic Traffic Has Lost Most of its Value as an Capital Asset.
For all of the reasons above – especially regarding the death of the big, quality site model…
…organic traffic as an ASSET has largely decayed. The market for organically-driven traffic properties has become volatile at best. And it only makes sense from the buyers’ perspectives. The sheer volatility and risk involved with investing into organic traffic has significantly reduced buyer confidence, and therefore, the valuations for sites mostly dependent on organic traffic have plummeted.
Again, this means that there is no more gold at the end of the “good content, big site” rainbow. All you’ll have ended up doing is building yourself a temperamental income inside of a big, giant liability.
Now, some will argue that relying solely on organic traffic has always been a shitty business model. And I’d mostly agree. However, at least there was always some asset value involved, since – even factoring in things like ranking fluctuations and new competition – it used to be that domain authority, age and in general a long-established profile were things that would give that property a serious edge over any inbound newcomers.
Then, Google decided to ramp up its user-experience algorithms by introducing external penalties – things OUT OF YOUR CONTROL that could damage your sites.
These include the Penguin algos, the Unnatural Links warnings… etc. This has got to be the most blatantly-obvious move in Google’s history, in their campaign against the organic model.
Because now any asshole with a Fiverr account and $10 can go and destroy a 7-figure brand. Overnight. Nearly instantly.
And no, link disavowal doesn’t work. Nor do reconsideration requests. (Go and try, if you don’t believe me). And in the rare cases where they do… it usually involves MONTHS of waiting, and proof-of-effort in regards to link cleanup… etc.
The fact is, Google could instantaneously restore most of the value in organic traffic by simply setting the value of bad external factors to “0″, rather than making them a negative signal. The fact that they don’t do this – should be pretty telling to anyone with the remotest of deductive abilities.
This, more than anything, has degraded both the perceived and true value of organic traffic as an asset.
At best, these days, organic influx needs to be seen as a psuedo-paid traffic strategy, for the purpose of diverting that audience into other channels (pixel, email, social, etc.) as rapidly as possible…
When you sell a site that solely relies on organic traffic – what you’re selling is a billboard on a busy highway that’s on the brink of toppling over. You don’t know exactly when the sign will fall down, but you know that it inevitably will at some point – without any rhyme or reason, or warning. Could be next year. Could be next week. Both are equally plausible.
How much would you invest into something as insane as that?
Ergo… the death of a business model.
3. There’s More Moving Parts, and it Takes Perpetual Action to Maintain Consistent Influx.
SEO – particularly for affiliates – is now a lot more involved. Everything happens 10X faster.
This means that while ranking new sites is WAY faster… those rankings fluctuate 10X more quickly, and more often. What this has done is create the necessity for perpetual management in order to maintain organic traffic influx.
Whether you’re managing freelancers, platforms, software… whatever it is – the fact is, you WILL be managing something, all the time, in order to keep it coming in.
This is simply the cost of doing business in the new SEO playground. Gone are the days of watching your rankings slowly accumulate and trend upwards, month after month, until you cement yourself for years on end at the top of the pile.
Now the whole thing happens inside of a few weeks. Today’s SEO life-cycle is like watching how things used to work in 2006, except in time-lapse mode, where each 24 hours in 2013 is like 24 days in 2006.
This is good in terms of ROI turnover. And it’s bad in terms of long-term value. So this is more or less the other side of the double-edged sword with respect to ranking quickly.
4. Adwords, the Knowledge Graph, and Other “Rich Media” in Google’s Top-Fold is Increasingly Shrinking Your Total Potential Traffic via Organic SEO
This is a silent killer for alot of organic players – and many of them probably don’t realize the impact that this has.
I recently discovered the extent of this damage…
A few months ago, I decided to jump back in the saddle and hit some sites out in a trusted, tried & true niche that had treated me quite well in the past. I used to easily pull in several hundred unique visitors a day, per site, as soon as any of them rounded over the 1st page of results for any half-decent keyword.
And so I set things in motion, assembled my various network blasts, and sat back in anticipation.
I did end up on page 1 for essentially all of my targets. And boy, was I surprised to see how much of an impact Google’s new “user experience” upgrades to their layout has had on organic CTRs.
Positions where I USED to be pulling in 500 uniques a day in pos. #1 or #2 were now only netting 150, on a good day. This generally applied to all the other keywords in my target group, across the board.
I couldn’t believe it. And no, the search volume wasn’t down – according to all the trends, it’s either stabilized or in some cases increased, in that particular niche.
Therefore, it’s important to realize that given the volatility of trying to shoot for long-term rankings as an affiliate (bad idea), you need to carefully consider the cost of promotion – now that you’re often dealing with less than HALF of the available traffic (just based on deprecated CTR in the organics).
This trend will not reverse itself. Google, understandably, has no interest in restoring the strength of organic listing CTRs in the profitable spaces. They will, in fact, perpetually try to do just the opposite.
Therefore, you need to get more out of less, in today’s playground. Once again… ruthlessness required.
5. The Reality is Simply That Google Hates Affiliate Sites. Period.
And this is the big one, folks.
Regardless of what anyone (including Google, Matt Cutts, White-Hat “experts”, etc.) tells you, something I’ve just seen over and over again is that Google outright hates the affiliate model, period.
We’ve seen this in our own results.
We’ve seen this echoed – clearly – in leaked internal documents for Google’s remote rater contractors.
We’ve seen this perpetually play out over the last couple years in every competitive vertical.
We’ve seen this in Google’s shotgun approach to dealing with “low quality Adwords users” by carpet-banning literally tens of thousands of advertisers who had at ANY point in the past decade, decided to run an ad (or even a hypothetical campaign!) for what Google considered to be a “low quality offer”.
And ditto the above, for AdSense publishers (carpet banning).
I have literally watched as Google has taken action and sent warnings via WMT against an entire group of affiliate sites in niches where we PURPOSELY hosted each site on a different server, and promoted each site with entirely different methods. The WMT warnings ranged from unnatural links, to “thin content”, to malware… you name it.
All on the same day. What a coincidence.
Obviously, Google has people who manually curate the competitive verticals where money’s on the line for their advertisers (and them). Anyone who believe otherwise is either inexperienced, or they have one anomalous site on which they base the entirety of their results.
This is a fact. This is the reality. You can choose to stick your head in the sand, and head on over to SEOMoz (oops… that’s just “Moz” now – hmmmm…) and talk about how wonderful Google is all day long. But that doesn’t change the simple fact that if your business model revolves mostly around earning organic traffic – then you are no friend of Google’s.
Particularly as an affiliate.
Where do we go from here?
What is the future for affiliate marketing… SEO… and the “dream” in general?
If I build it… will anyone show up?
The Way Forward:
How to Embrace the New World…
And Exploit the NEW Opportunities…
Do you remember, as a kid, discovering that Santa Clause wasn’t a real person? Or the tooth fairy? (Or whatever else?)
Maybe you were sad for a few days… and maybe initial shock of resigning yourself to the fact that something that once seemed special was in fact, very ordinary, took a few days to wear off.
But pretty soon – you just simply moved past it. It was probably liberating, in some ways – to have any growing suspicions, or doubts in your subconscious mind become validated by direct confrontation (having the “talk” with Mom, or finding Dad’s santa suit in the closet).
The magic of Christmas, or of Easter, or of getting a dollar when you lost a tooth, wasn’t “lost”. It was simply shifted into a new context. For me at least – it was still just as much fun to receive presents, or chocolate eggs – or whatever – regardless of the source.
This is very similar to what has happened in the past 24 months, for SEO’s in general – and particularly affiliate marketers.
The inevitable “squeeze” has happened. And for many, the trap door beneath them has swung open. Perhaps, you’re one of them.
They have a choice – freefall, or adapt and learn how to fly.
The key, folks, is to embrace this new reality – get smart about it – and then evolve in order to thrive.
So… where are these “new” opportunities?
You need to consider both sides of the equation, in the wake of Google’s tumultuous stranglehold on the web marketing industry in general…
* Faster ranking cycles means that now you have a real chance at sucking in some serious traffic for those “holy-grail” keywords that, years ago, would be little more than a pipe dream.
Again, you can do this inside of a couple weeks using low-cost, big-horsepower services like High PR Squared
* Volatile SERPs are awesome for experienced affiliates in verticals where you’re not duking it out with hardened, well-heeled veterans. If you’re competing with traditional brick/mortars, or even less-experienced SEO’s, you’re going to crush them.
* Remember that most people still honestly believe – and follow – the bullshit myth about “great content” and “great user experience”. Exploit this for all it’s worth by outranking them with swaths of cheap, shitty links – and passable content.
* Actually MAKE USE of organic traffic. Don’t just expect it to roll in, day after day. Channel it into other audiences that YOU control. Email lists, pixel audiences, social channels… etc. Real assets that aren’t dictated by Google’s whims.
* Treat organic traffic as a paid strategy. Measure your eCPC’s (effective costs per click) with your campaigns, and get better at converting the traffic you bring in. Combine this with other traffic sources to discover which traffic strategy works best for your niches.
* Maybe this is the wake-up call you needed to finally step up your game, and get on the other side of the fence. You can really only go so far as an affiliate. Remember that as the vendor… you can afford to spend far more on traffic acquisition, while still realizing superb profit margins (far more than affiliates can).
And the biggest opportunity of all for affiliates in the new “era”?
Well… that’s coming up in the next blog post
(Disclosure: I obviously have a vested interest in LinkItPro, being that I’m their contracted marketing agent, working from my office in Canada. But I’m not actually a shareholder or partner in the company. Dave Kelly & Alex Miller are the co-founders. Just in case anyone was wondering.)