I have recently begun a new sideline enterprise in affiliate marketing. Even though I have many years of online experience, I swallowed my false sense of pride and allowed myself to become teachable.
This is a skill in itself that must never be underestimated.
The skill sets gained working for blue chip companies with teams of web developers and agencies and the skills needed to investigate a niche and build a site, create content and drive traffic campaign for a budget of under £20 are very, very different.
I therefore subscribed to Mark Ling’s Affiloblueprint 3.0 course which is aimed at teaching beginners how to create niche affiliates sites from scratch. During the two months of working on this course I have gone live with other types of site that look at different revenue models plus looked at monetizing exiting online inventory.
The Afiloblueprint 3.0 website went live around two months ago. It was in a skin care niche and I choose it purely because it was the first on my list. I did not want to over think the choice of topic and wanted to get to work as quickly as possible.
Anyway, I thought I would document my niche marketing mistakes that I have made so far. The list will grow no doubt as I keep adding to it!
Mistake One: Choose a niche topic you are interested in otherwise writing will be much harder and turn into a chore
Unfortunately I knew very little about the niche I was entering. I had not even really suffered from the ailments I was discussing! I was having to do huge amounts of research just to get a basic feel for the topic. It was a hugely profitable niche and I wanted a part of it. I did not care I was no expert!
Unfortunately that immediately put me at a disadvantage, I was competing against people with good knowledge and first hand experience of products.
Ultimately with a niche site, unless it’s just for Adsense revenue, you are trying to sell a product or service. To do so means you have to speak in a way that people believe and trust you and go on to make a purchase. By adding value and reassurance you can rightfully lay claim to some commission. You’ve earned it.
However, for a beginner, pre-selling a product that you have no experience or history with is very difficult. Your writing will be forced and lacking the human element that appeals to the reader.
Therefore, it is important for beginners to stick to pre-selling products that they believe in and use. This will come across in your writing and allow you make easier sales.
My first affiliate sale came from a product I reviewed on a blog I write for fun. I had been using the product for some time, and I love and believe in it. It was easy to write about and come up with some unique benefits and results that no one else who was just rehashing marketing content could. This review now makes me between £5 – £20 a day most days.
Mistake Two: If your niche is large, don’t get greedy, drill down and create a micro-niche to operate within
The mistake I made was choosing a large niche and through fear of loosing traffic, did not want to find a smaller niche from within that I could focus on. For example, adding “for men” to the niche would have meant losing 75% of potential traffic.
The result of this is that I am operating within a highly competitive niche with no clear focus for articles. I have given myself too many choices and therefore am struggling to focus my energies, trying to be a jack of all trades so to speak.
I have now found an area within the niche that I know a little and I am comfortable writing about. Even though I have excluded a large part of the available traffic, the focus is there allowing me to grow into an authority on the subject.
Mistake Three: Don’t for gods sake rewrite any PLR materials for your niche money site
I made the mistake of trying to cheat and rewrite some PLR articles I got my hands on. I rewrote them to be 100% unique and pulled in some other content for good measure. This as you can imagine took some time. Time that could have been spent researching and writing real, fresh content.
I added content and uploaded to WordPress as each page was written. Very quickly I started to get indexed by Google and my terms were appearing in webmaster tools. I was happy. Even though my rankings were not good, Google was displaying my pages for the terms I had optimised for. It would only get better from there, right?
Wrong. Suddenly the search queries vanished into thin air. I was down to 14 or so from over 40 over the start of the month. I was left scratching my head.
I had done no aggressive link building and had only submitted my site to a few directories along with a cheeky link or two from my personal blog. Nothing that would remotely trigger any Google wrath…
I then realised that the content that that was disappearing from the search queries was the rewritten PLR content. Despite it being “unique”, it wasn’t. Google saw it as rehashed stuff that already existed in one shape for form and dropped it from the index.
Rightfully so, it was giving the user nothing that didn’t exist already.
PLR content has probably been spun to within an inch of its life. If you think that one original article, with careful spinning, can product 500, 75% original versions which are then plastered out via automated software to every web 2.0 site in existence 24/7. And that is just by one person… If 100 IM’ers got there hands on it, well how original do you think any rewrite you do will be and how much importance will Google give to it?
The positive thing is that the search queries that were left showing up was for content that was from my new handwritten from scratch content with the new micro-niche theme.
Basically, Google is making it quite clear what it wants!
Mistake Four: Adding affiliate links on too many pages too early on
Although the Google sandbox doesn’t exist any more, many believe and Matt Cutts has comfirmed that something is built into the Google algorithm that can “turn down” new sites if they trigger any “Spam Alert” filters. This can be based on particular niches, profitable ones especially where there is a history of spamming. For example, Pay Day Loans.
Google will look at new sites and if they trigger any spam flags, will impose a filter, reducing the position in SERPS. These flags could involve looking quality of content, affiliate links and back linking structure. The filter in theory will be lessoned as the new site proves itself to be valid over the coming months.
With my affiloblueprint site, I believe I have triggered the Google Filter, as I used weak PLR based content and placed a load of links to Clickbank all over the place. Pages that should be ranking at least somewhere are no where to be seen – it’s only if I Google the “exact headline + domain” that they appear.
If you are building a new site, my advice is quality not quantity. Just interesting, well thought out content that’s 100% original to begin with. There is no point sprinkling loads of affiliate links everywhere while you are not getting any traffic.
Once you are up and running, and Google has some trust in you, you can then add some links in appropriate places.
I think it was Sugarrea that said
Google doesn’t hate affiliate sites, it hates shit affiliate sites
Mistake Five: Research your domain before you buy it
My first domain name took ages to choose. When I found it I was so happy. “How could it still exist” I though to myself. I quickly snapped it up and set up my website.
Everything all in place, Sitemap.xml attached to Webmaster Tools and waited….and waited….and waited. Nothing. The site was not getting indexed.
I had newer sites that I had built in the meantime and they were indexed with 24/48hrs of linking the sitemap, while this one, two weeks down the line still had the “No Data” for Crawl errors and search queries.
I started to panic, as I remembered domains could be banned by Google for bad practise and would be struck off the list so to speak. I talked about this in my first post. I enquired on a few forums and was given some mixed advice, People seemed to think that once the domain went back into the pool, it was reset.
This turned not to be the case. I did some history checking http://web.archive.org and saw that site had been used as an adsense niche site and was covered in Adsense ads. Way more than the three allowed now.
The domain whois records also showed a lot of activity, switching owners and servers quickly over a short period of time. All very suspicious in hindsight.
This, or the 2000 or back links that still appeared to be logged on some analytics’s platforms could have been the reason for its being banned.
Basically, I ended up buying a new name. In hindsight it is a better one and more brandable, and not just a long tail keyword term. It does however have a main keyword in it.
The .net and .com were available so bought both. The .com had been used about 5 years ago so I parked that and used the new .net. I wanted to test the .com to see if it was another banned domain. Once bitten and all that…
Anyway, the .net was indexed within 48 hours and now the .com is appearing as parked domain under my brand search which is great.
In short, though omitting to do a quick bit of domain research, I lost two weeks of time that the site could have been live.
Make sure you use the tools available to do a quick check before purchasing so you can make an informed decision:
Update: Mistake Six
Don’t forget to do an SEO site audit!
Well that wraps this post up. I hope you have learned something from it as I certainly did the hard way!
I am going to be looking at relaunching the site under its .com name and stripping out any of the PLR content and affiliate links to see if the relaunch provides a better start than the original launch so we have a proper case study.
Stay tuned and let me know if you have any mistakes you would to share!