This article has been contributed by Ahmad Benguesmia.
At first, there were door-to-door salesmen, then there were cold calls. We call them old school sales and marketing strategies – though they can still work when approached correctly. However, they have a long history of being intrusive and pushy, because many strategies involved mental manipulation and high-pressure situations.
In the digital age, the explosion of inbound marketing has changed everything.
The way businesses generate leads and sell products has moved towards attraction-based strategies. In the affiliate world, this shift has sparked an explosion in comprehensive content that’s honest, transparent and ethical.
How To Make Google Love Your Site
The first step in creating your brand is to create your space – your online home/neighbourhood, if you will. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are popular avenues for affiliate promotion, but organic traffic from search engines is considered the holy grail when it comes to ROI and passive income.
Google’s search engine has a sophisticated algorithm that assesses websites, looking for the best way to answer users’ queries using their search terms. Google regularly combs the web, separating spam and low-quality content to determine the pages that fill the top-ranking spots on SERPs (search engine results pages).
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of creating and editing websites that follows a search engine’s guidelines. Search engines determine the ranking of a website through an ever-changing list of ranking factors that combine to form a complex algorithm. This algorithm helps serve the best results when you use Google search.
Related: The Ultimate Blog SEO Guide
For your website to command a great search presence, you must produce high-quality, relevant content that’s a step ahead of your competitors listed on the first page for the keyword you’re targeting.
Detailed, long-form articles are popular because they cover a topic comprehensively and are much more likely to achieve top-ranking positions in Google.
Do you need formal qualifications to create a great website with high-quality content?
Absolutely not – though certain industries (like finance and health) have far more stringent guidelines for what constitutes expertise, authority and trust in the eyes of Google.
In the age of information, passionate amateurs, enthusiasts, and even the average joe have a wealth of knowledge that could help others solve a range of problems.
Now, having the right content is nothing if it is not user friendly. Google pays a lot of attention to user experience signals these days. They look at things like page speed, intrusive ads and whether your site is mobile-friendly or not. Designing your site with SEO in mind will help you nail many of the technical requirements your site must meet in order to rank.
Here’s a quick checklist of things to give you an idea:
- A comprehensive “About Me/Us” page
- A clean mobile-friendly site design
- Clear contact information that’s easy to find
- Categorized content that form topic clusters or hubs
A clean interface with quick and easy navigation means lower bounce rates and higher dwell time, which is good news for your SEO.
Becoming A Trusted Authority as An Affiliate
When you have created your online space, it’s time to highlight what you bring to the table. The affiliate marketing products you promote might be the same as other marketers, but you can stand out through the way you communicate and build bonds between your visitors and subscribers.
What Do You Bring To The Table?
There are several approaches you can make when you promote products as an affiliate.
First, identify your strengths and ask yourself, “When people come to my website, what are they looking for, and how can I fulfil that?”
People generally look at two things when it comes to product recommendations – research and personal experience.
It’s hard to promote something you’ve never used yourself, though there are exceptions for certain well-known products.
As a general rule, be upfront about your affiliate relationships and maintain an objective point of view. This way, your transparency will shine through and help boost your credibility.
Maintaining Trust And Credibility As An Affiliate
The best way to maintain your audience’s trust is by building rapport and staying clear of products/services you wouldn’t consider using yourself. If it is not good enough for you, why is it good enough for your readers?
Instead of looking at the short-term gains of an affiliate product, focus on how it affects the relationship between you and your subscribers. Brands and affiliate marketers have a symbiotic relationship. They want access to your audience to sell products, and you want the credibility of being able to work with them, as well as win the hearts and minds of your visitors.
For both of you to make income, you have to be on the same page when it comes to product promotion.
Besides working with great companies, you also have to consider their relevance to your brand story. Marketers become credible by putting their audience’s interests first.
When people consistently follow you, they value what you have to say.
- If you focus on environment-friendly content, do not promote fast fashion.
- If you are an avid LGBTQ+ supporter, don’t promote products that have poorly handled gender-sensitive issues.
Stay consistent with your brand voice. If you want to shift niches or your values have changed over time, be open and honest with your audience about moving things in a new direction. Your followers will appreciate you being upfront on such matters!
The general public has an idea of how affiliate marketing works on a fundamental level. The importance of disclosing your affiliates, ads and sponsored content cannot be understated. Especially since regulations such as GDPR have been introduced.
Undisclosed promotion can mislead, and in many territories, is considered illegal or harmful practice. While this is done to protect consumers, creators can use honesty and transparency to boost their credibility.
Growing A Successful Affiliate Authority Site
On top of creating regular content for your affiliate website, there are a number of other things you can do to help you establish yourself as a trusted authority in your niche:
Your website’s domain name is a big part of your brand. A popular choice for affiliate marketers is to use some variation of their name. This works great if you’re looking to build a personal brand, but also comes with some limitations.
Using your name directly ties you to your brand’s identity – which makes it more difficult to sell your business at any point in the future, if you choose to do so.
To increase traffic, you want to be unique and easily recognised, so you should avoid having a name that’s too similar to a competitor or another existing website. Avoid long, drawn-out domain names and instead, try to make it catchy and easy to remember.
When creating your brand story, you can start with a mood board and use it as a reference for future content creation. A brand story is a narrative, and you get to control the style, tone and delivery of your message. Your brand narrative should cover what you want to explore, what you hope to achieve, and how you want to make it happen.
It also covers things beyond text like the general vibe you want people to associate with your website.
What emotions are you looking to communicate in your messaging? How do you want people to feel when they read your “About Us” page?
Pay attention to image, colour and tone. An effective brand story is relatable and constantly evolving with the times.
As an affiliate website, you are a part of the lead generation of an established product or brand. They want access to your audience. One way you can strengthen your brand story and attract more visitors to your site is to work with similar websites in the same niche. Collaborations and guest posts are an excellent way for you to access a new audience while redirecting your readers to content they might enjoy as well.
Guest posting is also a powerful way to land high-quality authoritative links back to your site, which can work wonders for your rankings.
Some of the best ways to promote your content and get in front of new audiences is through partnerships and networking. So don’t be afraid to reach out!
Content Marketing Strategy
Epic content forms part of your content marketing strategy with your affiliate website project. As mentioned earlier, the concept revolves around the creation of detailed, in-depth articles that deserve to rank on the first page and over-deliver on the promise of your headline.
Now “epic” is quite a subjective term – great content means different things to different people. But there are a number of features that define a stand-out piece of content:
- Being actionable and specific – Show instead of tell. The reader should be able to take away and implement something instead of just skimming the subject in a vague manner.
- Good structure and quality copy – Break paragraphs into easily digestible sentences. Ensure the piece flows naturally. Also, the quality of your writing is your foundation for communicating expertise, authority and trust to your readers.
- Using rich media – Nobody likes long unbroken blocks of text, no matter how great the copy. Using captivating images, infographics and videos makes your content more engaging.
Consistently creating great content is time-consuming and hard work but it means you deliver far more value to your readers. And they’ll naturally gravitate towards your brand because you’re being helpful, while demonstrating your expertise and authority on the topic in question.
Creating top quality content also makes it easier for you to promote it after you publish. Website owners are much more willing to link to an outstanding piece of content compared to an average one.
Reverse-Engineering Your Goals
Establishing a popular brand as an affiliate marketer can feel overwhelming. But if you start with baby steps, you’ll be surprised how far you can go in a relatively short space of time.
When it comes to goal setting and achieving big things, most of us struggle and fail because we don’t have a system in place. So instead of focusing on the goal, you should work on building a fail-proof system that works even when you feel lazy.
- Instead of planning to do 100 push-ups a day, start with 2.
- Instead of setting a goal to read 10 books in 3 months, start by reading 4 pages a day.
- Instead of focusing on making a million dollars in your new business, focus on getting your first paying client.
These micro-tasks create a path of least resistance that we naturally follow to achieve our goals. By following these methods, we form powerful habits that don’t require huge bouts of willpower to achieve.
So how do you go about creating these systems? Start with the end in mind…
Outlining Your Long-Term Goals
How many people do you want to reach? What is an achievable number of monthly visitors? Then work your way back:
- Create monthly, weekly and daily tasks to move towards your goal.
- Figure out your KPI’s and measure them from the start. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
So how do you actually record your goals, along with all your weekly/daily tasks? Plenty of tools can help you do this. From something as simple as Trello boards or Evernote to project management tools like Asana.
These tools make it easier for you to organize and manage everything, from simple to-do lists to long-term goals you set for yourself.
Without a system in place, you’re relying on your brain to remember everything, which is impossible!
If these tools are a bit much for you, a simple notepad with a checklist of daily tasks works surprisingly well. Remember to keep things simple here. It’s not about having all-singing and dancing software. You just want something that helps you get tasks done.
Affiliate marketing is becoming mainstream because of the huge benefits and relatively minor downsides for both publishers and merchants.
The ability to generate an income through promoting products and services you don’t need to create and support will always be appealing. Marketers that figure out how to separate themselves from the masses can do extremely well.
Finally, when it comes to branding for your affiliate site, focus on clarity of intent and over-deliver on value – both your readers and your wallet will thank you!
About the author: Ahmad Benguesmia, founder of Bengu, has spent years learning and internalising the key concepts and strategies that differentiate the super affiliates from the rest.