Written by Dale Cudmore on 05.20.2019
The Key to Building Links for Affiliate Sites ?
Link building for a typical affiliate site is hard.
It’s tough to find sites who are okay with linking to BlenderReviews.com.
They take a look at the name, or maybe a quick look at the site, and that’s all it takes to reject your link building proposal.
Not only does an affiliate site like this make SEO way harder, but it also limits the amount you can grow your site.
So what’s the solution?
The problem isn’t with the affiliate model, that will be alive and well as long as people buy products.
The problem is that people, and Google, like authority sites. That’s nothing new.
What is relatively new is making your niche site appear and feel like an authority site.
You can still monetize through affiliate links, and build your site around them, but there are a few key differences.
This post will go over those differences and how actual affiliate sites are using this niche-authority site hybrid model.
If you follow these guidelines, it will be easier to build links, and also increase the ‘stickiness’ of your site (more time on page, more return visits).
1. Start With the Name
BlenderReviews.com just sounds spammy.
But perhaps more importantly, it limits what you can create content about.
It just seems weird as a visitor if a site about blender reviews starts writing about food processors.
That goes for all the other typical affiliate domain names that are stuffed with keywords:
And so on.
By choosing a name like that, you’re limiting the potential of your affiliate site so much.
To make things worse, there’s not even a reason to pick these names. Having keywords in domain names counts for virtually nothing in modern SEO.
Instead, pick a more general name. You can still start by focusing on a specific product type, but then expand later if you’d like.
They sound more legitimate to actual readers, as well as to potential linkers.
2. Mix Affiliate and Informational Content
If someone comes to your website and it’s literally all reviews, it’s clear that you’re only trying to make as much money as possible (over focusing on helpful content).
Building an authority site doesn’t happen without informational content.
For example, HerePup is a site focused on content for dog owners that makes a lot of their revenue from affiliate links.
They write a lot of informational content, while still having articles with high commercial intent that have lots of affiliate links:
To a reader, the focus is on helping dog owners, and monetization is a secondary goal.
The exact ratio can be flexible, but you should have at least one “informational” post for every “affiliate” post.
3. Then Funnel Traffic Into Affiliate Pages
Once you have a more general authority site name and informational content, you get a big opportunity that typical affiliate sites don’t.
Those informational topics are much easier to rank for, and often have more traffic than terms with commercial intent.
So your site will naturally start getting traffic, even if you haven’t done much link building yet (although it’ll take a few months to get traffic for a brand new site).
Now you can start funneling that traffic from those informational posts into those posts with affiliate links.
For example, Vegan Protein Lab is a small site I made focused on making affiliate sales of vegan protein powder. It makes a few hundred dollars a month passively at this point, and could be grown further if I had more time.
The homepage looks like an authority site, but visitors are immediately funneled into my biggest affiliate post.
I’ve also added links from almost all informational posts to the different posts I’ve written with affiliate links.
If your site has navigational elements, you can direct traffic through these links as well.
Again, HerePup is a great example of how to do it right.
There’s a mix of categories in their navigation menu.
Some are informational (health and breeds), while others are more focused on commercial terms (insurance and fun).
4. Your Commercial Intent Content Needs to Stand Out
The biggest thing not yet mentioned is that your content needs to be really good.
And not just be written well, but look good as well.
Don’t use some basic ugly WordPress theme, spend $20-50 to get an attractive one. You’ll make that money back many times over.
When a potential linker comes to your site, it needs to look and feel like a high quality site.
Next, your content needs to be better than typical as well. This helps for every white hat link building tactic there is.
How do you do this? Some ways are:
- Make it more thorough.
- Write research-backed content.
- Add custom designed tables.
- Create attractive custom images (or hire someone to).
Instead of having just a list of products with blatant Amazon links, go above and beyond to make your page more informative and more attractive.
Here’s a good example of a custom table that looks awesome on HerePup:
Every single blog post doesn’t need to be like that, but all your highest traffic ones should be.
5. Show That You’re a Real Person (and Authority if Possible)
One of the biggest differences between affiliate sites and authority sites is that authority sites are clearly run by real people.
Content shouldn’t just be written by an unknown name and with stock photos, it feels fake and lacks credibility.
Instead, use real pictures that you take yourself when possible.
For example, at the top of my page for the “best vegan protein powders”, I included a real picture of all the products I tested:
Yes, I actually bought and tested them, because that’s how you stand out from everyone else.
You should also put your name and picture on your site where appropriate.
If you’re afraid to put your name on your site, or embarrassed, that simply means that your site isn’t high quality, and you know it.
Make it better until you’re proud to say that you made it.
If you have a sidebar, use this to establish that you’re a credible authority on the topics you write about:
At least have an about page that explains why people should listen to you.
If you don’t have credentials, get some. It’s not hard to take up a hobby so that you can say you have real experience with it, or complete a basic online certification that takes a few days to do.
This is not one of those guides where you should pick one or two things to do.
You should be meeting all of these standards with your niche sites.
Once you do this, everything gets easier.
Link building tactics start to get higher conversion rates than you’re used to, your search engine rankings go up, and your traffic will go up and stay up over time.
It’s a lot of extra effort than a basic affiliate site, but that’s why it works. The days of slapping up lazy reviews is over if you want to build a real site that produces a liveable income.