Friday, May 4th, 2012
Affiliate sites with little more going for them than an exact match domain and some questionable review content are hurting right now, they are working still in some industries but the rankings are much less stable.
You might have heard of AuthorRank, Google’s latest idea soon to be deployed, which will mean they look at a website from a much more holistic and reputational point of view. It is Google’s way of connecting the words with the people, determining just who is worthy of being visible and worthy of passing things like trust and link equity.
Finch covered AuthorRank for affiliates very nicely in a recent post. He touches on the idea of “a lot of profile juggling” in the future, and as he quite rightly points out, this probably isn’t all that feasible but today I want to cover a fairly straightforward “system” for developing the profile of your core affiliate websites so that they can still remain fairly low-maintenance.
Obviously this isn’t a magic system and it isn’t a shortcut but rather a framework. It will require effort from you or financial investment (or likely both) so clearly it is important to evaluate your portfolio of sites before heading off down this route.
Create the persona/pseudonym
If you don’t want to use your own name, create yourself a pen name and commit to this being the face behind the site, the thought leader that drives the site.
Social media profile setup
Depending on the social platforms that are relevant to your particular industry, I would recommend setting up profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and possibly LinkedIn as well as 1 targeted social network say Pinterest or Instagram if you are operating in photography or fashion niches for example.
Remember that we are aiming for low-maintenance here so only use the social networks that are relevant, for example if you are running a site referring users to SEO tools, Twitter and Google+ would probably be essential, Facebook not so much.
Use consistent persona details across the board including setting up a gravatar.com account for your profile.
Get a blog setup
In the subfolder of your affiliate site e.g. yoursite.com/blog , install WordPress (if you’re not running it already) and get everything looking ship-shape.
You will also need to setup rel-author – details here
Add some cornerstone content
Look at the category level keywords you are really looking to target and create 5-10 really solid blog posts to kickstart your blog and to act as a hub in terms of ranking for that keyword.
Be careful not to cannibalise your existing rankings though so look at targeting different terms to the rest of the site or consider how you might consolidate your pages and link equity for maximum search visibility.
If you don’t want to do this yourself, find a decent writer and pay top money for getting really detailed and useful pages written. These are a long term investment that will pay off.
Remember that the cornerstone content will be launching/relaunching your persona as the thought leader in the space.
Get an email list setup
I’m not about to sit here and tell you “the money is in the list” but having a backup source of traffic and revenue is certainly a good idea in these turbulent times.
Get yourself an account at one of the numerous high-quality email marketing services out there (I like Aweber) and add the signup form to your website to start building out your list. If you are going to follow this guide step by step then see my next point about populating your email newsletter with some content. Otherwise you can just make it a regular newsletter and feed your blog content out to your list.
For the bonus round, you should also grab a copy of something like Popup Domination or Optinskin to help increase email sign ups and performance manage your email gathering efforts.
Develop an auto-responder series
In most markets, it is suitable to create a series of follow-up emails which are automatically sent to your new subscribers at timed intervals.
This mechanism can be used to deliver targeted, step-by-step and useful information to subscribers in a simple to follow and easy to digest fashion. 7 days to a secure WordPress site for example would be useful to a subscriber (if they are in to that kind of thing) without overwhelming them, a quick 5 minute task everyday for 1 week is just what they want.
If you’ve got your affiliate marketer’s hat on you could even use this as a way to lead into a product sale or multiple product sales but obviously don’t go in with the hard-sell the moment they trust you enough to hand over an email address.
This step will help to strengthen your position as a leader in the space as well as helping you to develop a responsive email list that will stand you in good stead for years to come.
You knew it was coming somewhere in this system, I’m sorry to say you will need to develop a fairly regular blogging system for your site. Depending on your niche, it may be more suitable to be publishing once a week or once a month or more, your call.
It is relatively inexpensive to outsource this kind of writing if it is something that you really don’t want to do regularly.
Writing blog posts in your name or the “persona” is important as it increases visibility over time, keeps the site fresh and if it is planned properly will result in more search engine traffic.
Setup social media + email automation
I’m not talking about auto-following people or sending people a DM when they follow, but rather powering your social media channels with this cool content that is being produced on your website.
Most of the social media tools allow you to schedule tweets, status updates and so on. SocialOomph is great, there are various WordPress plugins available (e.g. Tweetable) and I really like the simplicity of Timely (although it is a bit more manual).
You might also like to create an Ifttt recipe that will also feed in news and relevant content from other websites (content curators earn a reputation also!)
If you use Aweber – here is the tutorial for broadcasting your blog content to your subscribers. Ask your email service provider how to do it if you’re not an Aweber user.
Once you have everything in place you can just continue to produce content and watch your social media profiles slowly but consistently grow in size with very little additional effort or input.
Start guest blogging
I’ve covered guest blogging a fair bit on the Skyrocket SEO blog as well as various other places (see Guest Blogging as a future-proof link building strategy) and there is no getting away from it – it’s a fantastic way to promote and grow a website.
It’s hard-work but the rewards are great and you’ll earn high-quality links rather than being forced to scavenge around for article directory links which might or might not be helping you to rank.
Get subscribed to our Guest Blogging Track – the private email-only service for anyone that is looking to publish guest posts for SEO, for referral traffic or to generate leads.
Seek contributor spots
A great way to consistently earn links and generate targeted referral traffic is to become a regular contributor or expert on an industry blog, contributing your column every month or twice a month or however much time you want to put into it.
If you approach site promotion from a pure SEO perspective then often you’ll rule out regular contributor spots because you aren’t getting new links from different sites but regular contributor spots are really useful, not only will they offer you repeat links from an authoritative website but you’ll also likely see referral traffic each and every time you publish. This again reduces your utter dependance on Google!
Rinse and repeat!
As I said, this is more of a framework and certainly isn’t a system that requires no input from you but once set up this can be fairly low maintenance if you so wish.
The bottom line to all this though is that your site needs to deserve to rank so you need to ensure the user value-add is there otherwise you are really going to struggle to find other publishers who are going to work with you which is going to impede your ability to grow and prosper using these method.