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Payday Loan Blog - Affiliate Success in 11 Steps

 Friday, 09 February 2007

Rather than give you a top 10 list that you might forget 2 minutes after reading it, we at the PLAN wanted to share our top 11 affiliate marketing lessons, encompassing the wide spectrum of elements that is affiliate marketing. This is what I (Cygnus) do when sitting down and saying to myself, "I feel like generating more passive income streams."

By no means should you simply stick to this process; allow it to act as a guideline, and by all means, employ it after signing up for our sub-prime finance affiliate program.

What are the steps?

1. KW Research.
2. Finding and buying a domain.
3. Hosting the domain.
4. Semi-parking the domain.
5. Seeding the site.
6. Finding the right offer(s).
7. Develop the graphical shell.
8. Develop the content.
9. PPC to find your money phrases.
10. Embark on your SEO strategy.
11. Profit

KW Research 
There are a couple different ways keyword (KW) research is generally performed. The most traditional approach focuses on examining the most likely phases used and some of their long-tail cousins which we explained in our KW Research  post, and the other less-used method involves looking for common misspellings as explained in our missssspelllings post. One way that you can really cast a large net is to employ digging techniques into your KW research. After searching for something like 'widgets', you'll have a large list of KW phrases; then run each of those phrases through your favorite KW research tool until you have a large mass of phrases. Finally, run those through a misspelling script in order to generate a massive list of potential KW phrases that you can use.

Finding and buying a domain
New or used? I prefer used, but that shouldn't discourage you from finding a gem that no one has thought to register yet. In the event of new sites, you could take that giant list of KW phrases, strip out the spaces, append .com, and run them through a bulk registration process, like Moniker or Godaddy has, to see if any are still available. Note:  you probably won't want to buy all of them, since probably isn't going to give you much direct navigation traffic. Another method that I wish I had thought of 5 years ago involves locating the top non-trademarked sites, and running them through Psychic Whois - just buy the .net of a taken .com and you're good to go.  

If you want used domains, there are a variety of methods to find a site. You could…search WHOIS for older sites that were once relevant to your industry but are either 404ing or are now lacking DNS information, find sites that are ranking in the deep abyss of Google, past the first 100 results, or you could use an aftermarket service and/or webmaster forum.  After "finding" them, you then need to negotiate on an appropriate price.

Hosting the domain
Shared or dedicated? IIS or Apache? For most of what we do, we prefer a LAMP setup, usually on a dedicated server. If you are just starting out, it usually makes more sense to open a shared account at your favorite shared hosting service (I really have no recommendations here since I'm generally dissatisfied with shared hosting). We'll keep this setup simple since it usually feeds into our next step; just remember to keep an eye on your hosting account.

Semi-parking the domain 
Semi-parking is a term I use to describe setting up the .htaccess properly to handle www vs non-www issues, block obvious junk bots, etc. It also usually involves putting up a properly SEOed plain jane text site with proper title, meta tags, and a few relevant unique paragraphs of information. The goal here is to create something that isn't going to be immediately spit out of the SERPs, and that wouldn't completely discourage links. If you have as many projects going as we do sometimes, it can be a huge pain to realize you've been holding onto an unhosted, undeveloped site for several years, when it would have been so easy to semi-park it and reap the benefits of an aged, on-theme site. If you wanted to take this a step further, you could put Adsense on the site in order to develop a baseline for its earnings, just don't use it as your entire monetization, because Adsense is a terrible business model for websites.

Seeding the site
Sprinkle a pinch of links and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours, or until nicely browned. Seeding the site means pointing just a few basic, non-spammy links to the semi-parked site in order to get the aging process going. We just need enough to get the site indexed. We aren't trying to use link ninjas at this point.

Find the right offer(s) 
If you are looking for the best payday loan affiliate program, look no further. Doing something else? Time to explore the market! There are quite a few affiliate networks out there, and while most new affiliates find themselves on CJ or Linkshare, I really recommend researching more than that. It isn't a bad place to start, per se, but if you are looking to develop a passive income stream, you want a program that is stable, has a solid payment history, and no funny business regarding tracking/uptime/etc (for those reasons I tend to shy away from CJ and I never use Linkshare now). I have a ton of respect for Linda in this area, so definitely check out her picks of the top affiliate programs.

Develop the graphical shell 
I call this process developing the graphical shell because we have a tendency to design the site layout before filling it with content. There are a variety of issues to take into account when developing this way, such as the proper use of whitespace, choosing the right color combination, and how you will highlight your call to action. Although we call this process our graphical shell stage, we still do some content, such as appropriate ALT tags, and placement for proper headers. Don't upload this shell and overwrite your semi-parked site though - we've accidentally done that a few times. Oops!

Develop the content 
Now that you have a shell site, you can see more or less the areas that need the most content. If you used your massive KW phrase list as a guide to help you during the shell process, good for you, because it'll be that much easier to write naturally for some niche phrasing. If you get stuck thinking of what to write about on those pages, consider looking at your log files to see if you've been getting any search traffic, and the queries associated with that traffic. Just keep the content as unique as possible. Still need help? More on article writing.

PPC to find money phrases 
Your site is now complete, polished, and tested, to make sure that links to the products/services are actually getting tracked and conversions where applicable. Awesome. Now it is time to figure out where you should be focusing your SEO campaign by conducting a quick PPC campaign. You can choose to use Adwords or MSN Adcenter; if I need a quick test, I choose Adwords since I generally get more traffic and data points to use - I use MSN for longer tests since I can go deeper into an industry at less of a cost. The key here is to take that massive KW phrase list, and upload it, pointing to your specific product purchase page. In the event that you have multiple products, try to keep the KW phrases as on-theme as possible, so as to not skew your numbers. Run the test and you'll be able to see fairly quickly which phrases are really delivering your traffic, and if you setup conversion tracking, which are converting best for you. If you made a profit during the test, keep the PPC going. Otherwise, pause it, running the test again after a set period of time, just in case the market has changed.

Embark on your SEO strategy 
Your site is complete, and now possibly tweaked to better fit your money phrases, and now you want to start optimizing for the engines. If you're new to this, read everything you can, digest it, and test. To keep it passive, by now you should know how much a targeted visitor is to you, and can estimate how much traffic you might be able to get (due to the KW research and PPC testing); run a simple calculation on what you can afford to outsource your link-building and writing if necessary, and if a positive ROI exists, congratulations on your new passive income stream.

By profit I mean repetition and automation. If you have a positive ROI by doing 1 site, how much do you think you'd make with 1,000? The trick is keeping them unique and something the end-user actually wants. If you can create such an operation, send me a postcard from the beach during your relaxing retirement.

Good luck!


Friday, 09 February 2007 10:10:11 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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