Affiliate Marketing After the Penguin, Panda … and whatever

It really feels bad when you wake up one day to find that your income has been unplugged by someone playing GOD over you. And do you know what’s even worse? when someone makes up a rumor that affiliate marketing is dead because HIS sites are gone.

It’s really bad because it makes new affiliates give up although this statement about the death of affiliate marketing could not be further from the truth.

I am an affiliate and I am making my living out of affiliate marketing and promoting other people’s sites and products. And this whole “death of affilaite marketing” thing is nothing but a rumor. At least not due to the latest Google updates.

First of all I don’t rely on Google’s search engine traffic in my business. I am a “paid traffic” guy. And that’s for a reason: I am running a business. To run a business you need to know your ROI on everything you do before you decide to do it. With paid traffic I can do that. With Google’s organic traffic I can NOT do that due to those updates of his.

Still, I get organic traffic from Google search results to all of my websites. And due to the large number of sites that I have I can tell whether this is a trend or not. So let’s get into it.

Some of my sites have been hit badly by the new updates. By badly I mean losing more than half of the traffic they were getting from big ol’G. Other sites moved up and are getting more traffic.

The rest of the story is more important …

Most of the sites that were hit badly started to climb up again and caught up with the first page once more. Still this is not the whole story yet.

What’s ironic in this movement is that my income from those sites is almost the same as before the updates. And that’s because Google’s traffic represents less than 5% of the total traffic I am getting to my sites.

That’s right. Less than 5% of my traffic is from organic search engine results. The rest comes mainly from paid traffic. But this is not all.

If you are on my list or have been following my pdfs you’d know that I have a method for free traffic that has nothing to do with Google and it’s my favorite free traffic method. It worked for me 5 years ago, last year, before Google updates, after Google updates, and is still working until now.

And this method is article marketing, but not as you know it.

Most of the courses that teach article marketing, like “my online income system“, focus on two concepts that I don’t like:

1. Getting back links from the articles directories and if you’re lucky you’ll get some from publisher’s sites as well, and

2. Ranking the article in search engines so that they send you traffic!

And that’s for a reason, Google gives authority to big sites with large numbers of pages and you have a better chance ranking your article in search engine results if you publish them on those big sites than on your small site.

My method is built on a totally different concept:

1. Your articles are not going to be spammy articles. On the contrary, you’ll be writing really good articles and will publish them on your site first. There was a rule of 500 words, forget that. Don’t limit yourself to the number of words and write for the readers. Impress them.

2. Rewrite your articles (dont’ spin them, really rewrite them) and publish them on article directories. A really good article will be picked by other sites, and here comes your back link. The most important thing here is to ignore that “anchor link” thing because this is what identifies a spammy link. Just place a plain url for your website.

3. Also the good article (the one on your site and that one on the article directory) will pick up traffic quickly if you go viral on Facebook because you’ll be proud to share it and your friends will also share it. And here comes some traffic to your site from the social giant.

4. Contact the owners of the websites that published your article and offer them more articles written just for them. Mention the panda and they’ll thank you for your offer. Now you can include the anchored links in your articles.

This method has been mentioned elsewhere on this site and on my other site fomt.biz, porbably a bit different now than when I first published it but it’s almost all the same. The main difference is that plain url in the article bio box.

So here you have it. Affiliate marketing is not dead due to Google slaps or anything. But it could die due to something else.

As you might know, I am a CPA guy. Of course I don’t promote trash scammy offers. The same affiliate networks that have the trash also have some good stuff. Since the end of 2011 and utnil now the affiliate networks that I have been working with have been disappearing one after the other. Some file bankruptcy and some are still operating but stopped paying affilaites! Only a couple are still working with me and the mother company of one of them is filing bankruptcy, so it’s all declining. The only networks that have not been touched are Clickbank, Amazon, and Commission Junction among a few others. This is not a good picture for the future of affiliate marketing, although there is an advantage in it (the disappearance of trash offers).

Anyways, sites like Clickbank and Commission Junction look like they’re here to stay around for quite a while, so don’t let those “death of affiliate marketing” voices discourage you. Go ahead and do it.

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Article Marketing the Big Panda Way

The new changes in Google algorithms, also known as “big Panda”, killed article marketing as we know it. If you don’t believe me here is how the new algorithms will affect the traditional article marketers:

  1. The new algorithms penalize the “content farm” websites. According to Google this includes any website that provides contents in varying topics. This description applies to article directories.

  2. Article directories traffic dropped significantly during the week after the announcement of the new algorithms.

  3. Articles when republished on other websites are “copied content”. This means the sites that republish your articles will get penalized, which will reduce the value of the links you get from those sites.

  4. If you do direct article marketing then your source of traffic will drop significantly because the articles that provide you with the traffic are now getting less traffic themselves.

This means the end of some businesses, which is bad news for some and great news for others.

Article marketing had been abused big time by spammers who spin articles and republish them all over the net to get back links. Those are among the most affected ones. But that doesn’t mean that good marketers are not going to be affected as well.

The great news is that spammers lost their spots in the search engines, which gives the opportunity for legitimate high quality content to replace them. And this is your chance my friend.

Now you don’t need to think about the “authority” issue anymore because the sites that had the authority like ezinearticles and hubpages lost it with the new change. This gives your website the chance to get the love it deserves from search engines.

This is a great news, but only if you do it right.

Here are some thoughts about it and how to do it.

First of all your website should be highly specific. No broad topics anymore. This makes long tail keywords more appealing to you. Build your site around those highly specific, laser targeted long tail keywords.

The second and equally important thing is to put some effort in the research behind your content. As per Google’s own words on their blog: “At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on”. And this is exactly what you need to do: research, in-depth reports, and thoughtful analysis.

Provide the ultimate value that your visitors will love to share with their friends and contacts. This will get the word about your website around faster than regular marketing techniques. Easier said than done you might say, but think about it this way: you spend some time adding real value to your site and save the time and headache of bribing your visitors to tell their friends, or spend money and time on the old viral marketing techniques (tell a friend, viral traffic generators …) and still get penalized by search engines because your content could be found elsewhere maybe with higher value added.

This is about your own website and what to do with hit. It might take you longer to create such websites but this is your only chance of getting search engine love, and most importantly, the love of your website visitors. But what about backlinks?

Article directories used to be the best method of getting backlinks by providing high quality content that website owners would republish on their sites and your links at the end of the article will be now coming from their websites. But after the new changes how are you going to get those backlinks?

They are still essentials and you’ll need them for increasing your ranking and getting more traffic from search engines.

First of all, the good content will eventually attract the quality backlinks. But as marketer you can not wait for those love backlinks, you need to actively promote your site.

Here is the how it might work right now after the new changes:

First you need to establish yourself as an authority in the subject of your site. You do this by publishing 100 articles or more in your subject (be very specific here) on ezinearticles.com. You are still getting backlinks from these articles but they are not going to be of the same value as they used to be before, but your goal is to establish yourself ad an authority.

After that use the tools given to you by ezinearticles, like the widgets, and build an “author résumé”. Start contacting websites in your field to offer providing them with free content with one anchored link back to your site in each article. Start with those sites that already have your articles published on them, explain to them how the new algorithms will affect their sites and offer unique articles to them for free to replace the ones they published for you.

It’s going to be a lot of work because these articles that you’ll be offering must be at the same level of value as your own website, but it’s totally worth it.

Here you go, a full plan to replace the old fashion, low-value, article marketing technique with a new one that Google loves and at the same time enriches the Internet ecosystem with real value.

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Affiliate Marketing 101: Residual Traffic

One of the most controversial posts on this blog was that titled “Affiliate Marketing 101: Traffic: Organic vs. Paid“, where I wrote about how unreliable organic traffic is vs. paid traffic and why you should only consider paid traffic if you are going to build a business.

It is really as simple as it sounds; you can build a business only on what you pay for. The changing algorithms make it impossible to optimize your site for search engines on a long-term fashion. Instead you’ll have to be optimizing your website frequently. Compare this with paid traffic. You pay for traffic, and you get it.

But there is a draw back in paid traffic: It’s not residual. You pay for traffic today and you get it, then you have to pay again for the same traffic tomorrow and so on.

A residual source of traffic is the one that sends you traffic every day once you establish it. And the more source of traffic you build the more daily traffic you get from those sources together.

Does this kind of traffic exist? The one you work for today and get traffic for a long time as long as it is there sending you traffic? And every day you work on it you accumulate sources of residual traffic that send you more traffic?

Yes it exists, and in both forms: paid and free.

Build a List:

First off, whatever your source of traffic if you are not building a list you are losing more money on the table than you are making. Think about it. The highest conversion rate on a landing page I’ve ever heard of was around 8%. Say it’s 10%. That’s 90% of your website visitors leaving your website without making you money. You paid for this traffic, yet you are passively watching it leaving your site.

Even with free traffic, to get organic traffic you work even harder to get that, yet you don’t do anything to follow up with your visitors who don’t take action.

It’s easy by the way. The easiest thing to do on a website is to add a lead capture form anywhere and offer your visitors a gift for stopping by asking for their names and email addresses to send the gift to their inbox.

And you don’t need to create the gift. You can buy one ready and just give it away. And don’t think about it as an extra cost. By building a list you are doing the most important thing an online business owner should do. The list is your asset. A website with a list is worth several fold more than a website without a list when you consider selling it.

Write Articles:

An article that points to your website is a source of traffic as long as it is live online. The more articles you write the more streams of residual traffic you get to your website. It’s that simple.

Again, on your website, no matter which one of the three affiliate websites described on this blog (lead capture, review, or blog) always make sure you capture your visitors info to follow up with them. Build a relationship with more free stuff and valuable info.

Frank Kern once said: “Over cool your competitors” if you want to win the competition. And you do that by providing more value to your list members over the time.

Other Web 2.0 Properties:

In addition to article directories, there are other sites that let you publish your content in return for a link to your website. Squidoo and hubpages are among the most famous examples.

Again: don’t forget to build your list.

Social Media:

Social media, another type of web 2.0 sites, allows you to link to whatever you want, and build relationships with millions of people out there. Examples are facebook, twitter, my space … etc. They work like a charm as long as you don’t spam. Be cool, be likable, be social, and don’t forget your website in your profile and when appropriate.

Don’t forget: the list.

Social Bookmarking Services:

Social bookmarking services should be used for the this purpose: bookmarking and sharing your bookmarks. If you only bookmark your stuff you are missing on the value you could get from these websites. Bookmark other cool stuff. Cool stuff get large search volumes, which means more people to view your bookmarks, and your profile.

Before I finish this post there are two things you need to unleash the power of residual traffic:

1. Tools that you’ll be using to build your list, and

2. a guide on how to use articles and web 2.0 property to drive residual traffic to your website.

List Building Tools:

To build a list you need 3 things: a website, an autoresponder, and a gift to give away. If you are in the Internet marketing niche I can help you with the gift.

If you are not, first check with the product owner. Quite a number of product owners, especially on clickbank, have rebrandable ebooks or demo software that you can give away for free to build your list and make them sales. The other sources are PLRs and MRRs (you can google your niche + PLR or MRR). The good ones will cost you, but it’s money well spent.

The autoresponders are competing with one another in a way that makes your life as a user even better. My favorite is grabthatlead.com, which costs $9.95/month no matter how big your list is. It’s a very basic and reliable autoresponder. If you don’t have your own tracking system then you might as well consider other big names like icontact. They both have a free version.

And for the website, you need a domain name that tells all about your niche to your visitors, and a reliable hosting. You can get both for $42/year (vs. $9/year only for the domain and $120/year for hosting any where else) from ipage.com. I’ve got only positive feedback from people like you who took my recommendation and purchased ipage hosting, especially regarding the technical support: efficient and friendly.

Web 2.0 Guides:

1. Direct article marketing (free download)

2. Hubpages Free Traffic Report (Free download)

3. Squidoo guide (free download).

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