This Post was submitted by Matt Jones, the author of Blogging Fingers
With bloggers looking for alternatives to AdSense, which is renowned for it’s low click-though rates on blogs with ‘web-savvy’ readers, one of the golden oldies of Internet advertising has been making a comeback. Namely, using affiliate links.
Out of all forms of advertising affiliate links are the least obtrusive to the reader. Long lists of affiliate links are unnecessary because the key to affiliate marketing with blogs is pre-selling and so other than ‘top 5 affiliate programs’ in a sidebar there is little use for listing large numbers of affiliate links.
Pre-selling is content for your blog! Writing a fair review of an affiliate program or of a product (from a certain affiliate program) is both useful for your readers, while being fantastic for the search engines.
Fresh Organic Traffic
Normally the name of the affiliate program/product will naturally be in the posts’ title and throughout the main text of the post. If people link to the post they will probably use something like E.g. “Matt’s review of – insert name of affiliate program” – in the anchor text, which also helps that individual post rank very highly in the search engines.
In other words, reviewing a post about a specific affiliate program/product automatically adds a keyword phrase (usually the name of the affiliate program/product) to your sites ‘long-tail’ of keywords and provides prolonged low levels of organic traffic.
This screenshot of part of my long-tail traffic helps illustrate this:
The left collumn is the keyword phrase used, the right is the number of visits.
The Cycle of Honesty and Reward
Unlike with AdSense, bloggers have direct control over the affiliate links and so if a reader makes a purchase/carries out some sort of action through your affiliate link and are happy with what they got then a level of trust has been gained. This improves the probability that the reader will return (increasing page views generating revenue from other advertisements) and you will be able to recommended more products to them.
This in-turn encourages you to make quality recommendations and so the circle of honesty and reward continues.
We already know that just about any form of advertising works on ‘normal’ people, but ‘web-savvy’ readers are a tougher nut to crack. However, they have several characteristics which actually make affiliate links work better with them than with ‘normal’ readers.
Characteristics of ‘Web-Savvy’ Readers:
- They have a build in scam and spam detectors and will catch you out even if you have a BS in BS. The Cycle of Honesty and Reward can be used to the bloggers advantage here. The web-savvy readers ‘up the pace of the game’ forcing the blogger to play better, with better programs/products which is good for everyone.
- Web-Savvy readers subscribe to RSS feeds. This in almost creates a captive audience who read only the post and don’t even see other sidebar advertisements, which is great for a post with affiliate links. An RSS feed is surprisingly similar to a single-column landing page of affiliate marketer trying to sell an eBook because in an RSS feed all the focus is on the content.
- Web-Savvy readers can usually absorb a greater quantity of information and so the pre-selling, while still concise need not be cut short if you run over the 500 word mark. More posts can also be written presenting more opportunities for revenue generation.
- Many web-savvy readers have blogs of their own and may link to yours. They are even more likely to link if they bought a product on your recommendation and were happy with it (Honesty and Reward again).
- Web-savvy readers are more obsessive. What I mean by this is that once they have read a certain amount of content from a blog, providing they like it enough the chances are they will visit regularly or subscribe to the Feed.
Most of those characteristics are based on the core principal that web-savvy users are trained to focus on the blog content, which is where the majority of the affiliate links should be.
The only real downside to using affiliate links where the reader is aware of them is that they may be suspicious as to where your ‘allegiances’ lie and forming trust will be that tiny bit harder. However, this weakness can be used to the your advantage due to the personal nature of blogging.
A non-web-savvy person may visit a site and buy a product right away only to never visit again. This is the opposite to a web-savvy person. A web-savvy user would take longer to have their trust won over but once they have been, they are committed for longer and will generate more revenue in the long-run. Therefore, due to the characteristics listed despite popular opinion, by using affiliate links, web-savvy users are more valuable than non-web-savvy people.
How to Gain Trust From Web-Savvy Readers
- Not having every post about an affiliate program/product you recommended.
- Write about sites you don’t recommend explaining what is wrong with them. This shows you are critical and carefully chose the best programs/products to promote.
- Spread out the promotional posts with some that contain advice about using affiliate programs, which will help the reader earn more with the program you recommended (often mean you earn a greater commission). This has the added benefit of helping your reputation grow as an expert in your niche and I personally find writing advice far more stimulating than churning out reviews.
- Spend extra time to answer their questions respectfully, thoughtfully and accuratly because they will read the answers you gave to previous questions.
Too many bloggers are living with the deluded excuse that they are failing to make money with their blog because web-savvy readers read it. This was perfectly understandable when the only thing anyone could talk about was AdSense, but the rules of the game are changing and choosing specific affiliate programs is even more precise advertisement targeting than AdSense is. It integrates perfectly with blogs and should be fully utilised.