At this time of year it’s always good to reflect on what went well and what didn’t in 2012. A new year is around the corner, which means a new opportunity to learn from this year’s mistakes and to step forward in the right direction. For me, this means reflecting on the affiliate marketing campaign I embarked on this year; although, ‘campaign’ is a rather grandiose term for my shambolic progress.
I’d known about the affiliate marketing game for a few years. I thought, at best, it would be a nice little earner on the side or, at worst, at complete waste of time and a Paypal button away from being scammed. My mind soon changed when I discovered that a friend of a friend was earning a king’s ransom from selling other people’s stuff. So, after downing a cocktail of envy and greed, I decided this affiliate marketing game was worth a shot.
Setting up the websites was the easy part
I started out with the goal of pumping out a website a month. I’d then submit a few articles here and there, write a few guest posts and I’d be a Google update away from rolling in green. Oh, could I have been so naive? Suffice to say, my affiliate empire didn’t roll out quite so smoothly
WordPress makes creating professional looking site’s child’s play. These days, you can buy a professional looking theme for less than a seafood dinner. A sprinkling of HTML later and you’re good to go. Creating the content? Not a problem. Get your list of keywords from Google Adwords for topics, hammer out an article a day and you’re there.
So, yes, creating the websites was the easy part. Then I only had to get links. A lot of links.
SEO aint as simple as it used to be
I used to think I had a handle on this SEO malarkey. Turns out I knew about as much about SEO as a squirrel knows about quantum mechanics.
These days there is an endless war being fought in the search results. On one side is Google with its army of coding geniuses and on the other are veteran internet marketers eager to tear open loopholes in its algorithm. On a weekly basis, some of the brainiest minds on the planet at Google HQ formulate a new algorithm to demolish those who try to abuse the system. The affiliate marketers then survey the damage to their Clickbank accounts before regrouping for another assault with a new array of link burying tactics and automated bots.
But this is a war Google looks set to win. Its cuddly named yet merciless Penguin and Panda updates have been running roughshod over the thousands of links garnered from spun content, spam blogs and keyword stuffed articles. Many affiliate marketers continue to battle on. But they seem to be a dying breed.
Everywhere you look in the affiliate industry, you see more and more people touting ‘white hat’ as the only way forwards. They know the only way to win the game is to play by Google’s rules. Otherwise they are only an update away from having their affiliate empire (and income) destroyed.
Unfortunately I’ve learned all this the hard way, after sitting through endless webinars and hours spent trying to find consistent answers in contrary SEO forums. Ultimately, it seems that you can get away with spammy tactics. But the clock is ticking on how long before Google presses a button and annihilates all the thousands of links that didn’t obey ‘the rules’.
Cheap junk is temporary. Quality is forever
So what are ‘the rules’? Nobody knows for sure. But what is certain is that an ethical approach to link building, whilst slow, offers the most secure long-term rewards. This means posting regularly on your blog (ahem), syndicating your content, guest posting and getting active in social media. In other words, just push out great content and don’t worry about SEO at all.
As junk $5 articles and spun content find themselves consigned to the rubbish bin of internet history, good men and women are needed to produce the high quality, link worthy content that needs to replace it. Regular Crucible readers will know that I recommend that copywriters offer clients expertise beyond the words. In this respect, SEO is well within our jurisdiction.
It is us that will need to be at the core of future SEO campaigns, researching and writing content that positions our clients as thought leaders in their industry. It is us that can write the guest posts, build attention in social media and get the nod from Google that gets clients entry onto page one of its search results. So, as we look forward to 2013, start brushing up your knowledge on SEO and putting an SEO content package together. You could even offer it as a monthly subscription.
Ultimately, Google will win the war on poor quality content and inappropriately gained search rankings. This is something your clients need to know.
My partnership plans for 2013
This year I spent too much time (and money) on SEO. I just want to write. But my foray into affiliate marketing has only just begun.
I’ve done my research, surveyed the field and I’m now ready to advance. But rather than march alone, I plan to find some partners to go along with me. People that will free me to look after the content while they look after the traffic.
I’ve also already had my fill of junky overpriced eBooks and hype filled sales pages that dominate the affiliate marketing industry. Instead, I’m thinking of physical products, multimedia training programs and connecting people to solutions that actually works. Putting all this together is going to require a team with different skillsets and expertise.
But assembling such a team has never been easier.
As an early Christmas present, I’d like to offer you the gift. It’s only a small gift but one you may find highly valuable. My gift is this link to the The Business Lifestyle Podcast. It’s about people building robust businesses online, rather than simply chasing a quick buck. Suffice to say I’ve been working my way through every episode. If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own pixelated empire, I recommend you do the same.
Merry Christmas Crucible Readers!