Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding one-way links with a link exchange – Without cheating

Many webmasters use more or less automated link exchanges to increase the number of inbound links to their websites. Even though reciprocal linking may prove successful for some websites, using the same services to attract one-way links would of course be a better idea. In fact, using the right services may very well leave you with inbound links to any or all of your websites, not just the one exchanging links.

As webmasters begun to understand the importance of inbound links, the services offering likeminded webmasters to exchange links have grown in numbers. Some are completely automated, others are just directories where you can find website owners likely to be interested in exchanging links. Some services have taken it one step further and are rewarding users who are promoting the service. This is made possible by an affiliate program. Some services offer a monetary reward, while others will give you links.

The two services I have tried for this experiment are Link2me and Link-Vault, two completely different services that, in this particular case, complement each other very well.

Where Link2me is a traditional, semi-automated link exchange where you manually add links to your pages, Link-Vault are utilizing a script to place all links. Link-Vault isn’t a link exchange where people do reciprocal linking; it’s more of a huge link pool, filled with pages from all over the world. You link to a few sites, and other sites link back. In theory it’s a brilliant idea, and it gets better as the link pool grows.

In order to gain inbound links, you need to earn vaultage. The vaultage is the calculated into inbound links according to some formula. Earning vaultage can be done in two ways;

Adding the script to your pages and referring other webmasters to Link-Vault. This is where Link2me becomes useful.

When using Link2me, you are given the opportunity to specify your link page(s) for every potential link exchange. Using this feature will make many of the webmasters you ask for a link exchange to take a look at the specified page where you have placed the referral URL to Link-Vault in a prominent place.

Every visitor to that page will be a webmaster obviously interested in link exchanges, otherwise they wouldn’t be using Link2me in the first place. This interest is what you are taking advantage of when placing a link pointing to Link-Vault, it can’t be more on-target than this.

Considering Link2me’s 5 free exchanges/day and unlimited websites, you can make very good use of this even if you choose not to upgrade. If you, like I did, do upgrade you will get an unlimited number of requests. Asking everyone WILL give you quite a bit of visitors, all interested in link exchanges.

To sum it all up, here is what you need to do;

Join Link-Vault and get referral code

Add code to your link page(s)

Join Link2me, specify your link page and request link exchanges with as many websites possible.

Doing this a few times will give you plenty of referrals and thus plenty of free inbound links.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Affiliate commission – What plan to choose.

For webmasters new to affiliate marketing, some of the terms might not always be so easy to understand. While some terms are less important, you at least need to understand the different commission types available.

Affiliate commission – Choosing a revenue option

When choosing an affiliate program, the commission offered is - obviously - very important. So is the commission type. Should you choose a program that pays you for every visitor you send their way, so called PPC? Or should you go with the option of sharing the revenue for that particular visitor? Fixed commission or a percentage? The options are many, there is no general answer to what is best. It’s up to you to decide where to send your visitors, to experiment, evaluate and finally choose one or a few affiliate programs best suited for your needs.

PPC - Paid per click

Many affiliate programs offer you a - fixed or varied -commission for every visitor you send their way. Often these programs are similar to Google’s Adsense program, namely contextual advertising. The advantages of this are many, but so are the limitations. The main advantage is just the contextual bit, the task of placing relevant ads on every page is gone, and all you need to do is choose what program to join. Another great advantage is – because of the flexible nature of these programs, you will only need to join one program, making it easier to reach the payout threshold. The downside of it all is the revenue. If you can target your visitors, and subsequently what they are looking for, you can make a much larger profit with other types of affiliate programs. But, it WILL require far more work.

PPM – Paid per mille

This is roughly the same as PPC, the difference being you get paid for every visitor viewing the ad, they do not have to click it. Many companies, offering contextual advertising, have this option included in their program. The good part about it is the possibility to get paid while visitors stay on your site, instead of referring them to someone else. This option is most suitable for high traffic web sites - with small quantities of visitors, this rarely adds up to a good profit. It can, however, be a good way of targeting often viewed pages on your site.

PPS – Paid per sale

This type of commission is based on the activities of the visitors you refer to the affiliate website. If you send active visitors, who shop a lot, this can be a goldmine compared to PPC and PPM. The type of commission varies as well. It can be a percentage of the sale, a fixed amount per sale/signup or a combination of both. What to choose is very dependant on your audience, and what category of program you are looking for.

In some cases, often with a recurring commission, the option of sharing the revenue, thus getting a percentage of the total order, rake or what have you, will be far better than choosing a fixed amount per sale. The dynamics of percentage vs. revenue sharing will be looked at more deeply later on.

PPL – Paid per lead

This is roughly the same as PPS, but you get paid for leads instead of sales. This is a fairly uncommon commission method, but it often applies to specific categories of affiliate programs; Insurance companies, financial institutes and other companies with high priced products in competitive markets. If you have a site targeting visitors looking for these kinds of products, this can be a highly interesting revenue model for you.

There are other, less common, alternatives. Many of them are individual, and are mainly for very specific niches, or for experienced affiliates.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Art Related Affiliate Programs

Art affiliate programs - or any artistic program - can make a very nice addition to websites of many niches outside the obvious; Art.

The reason for this is simple; most people like art. - Wait a minute, you think, that can't be right. But it is, the only problem you are facing is to figure out a way to intrigue as many of your visitors you possibly can.

This isn't always easy, but if all else fails - trial and error will always work well. Just promote a new artsy product - or a new art affiliate program - until you find a program converting well enough – making you a nice commission.

There are different affiliate programs - all related to art in some way - that could be of interest. The question is what your visitors are likely to be interested in. A few choices are;

Painting affiliate programs

Selling paintings online isn't easy, but still some manage to succeed. If you can find a successful website – selling paintings - with a decent affiliate program, you may have a good chance of making some nice commissions. Most paintings are quite expensive, making only a few sales go a long way.

Finding good online web shops with an equally good affiliate program is hard in any small niche, paintings are no exception. But, as affiliate programs get easier and easier to join and implement, joining a new program is easier than ever. So, if you are not converting well enough, just find a new paintings affiliate program to try out.

Poster art affiliate programs

Unlike most art, posters are not expensive at all. This is perhaps the easiest art related product to promote but the commission earned on every sale will be significantly lower.

Posters can also be a very good product to promote on non-art related websites with the right type of visitors. The variety of posters makes it a very interesting when using affiliate programs:

If the poster affiliate program offers product links you can easily promote highly on-target ads on your website. A website about movies can link to the movie posters, a site about music can link to posters of various artists etc. This way of advertising often converts very well, as many of the visitors viewing the ad will have a specific interest in the motive of the poster.

Music affiliate programs

Promoting music related websites through an affiliate program is an excellent way of earning some extra cash online. There are many websites offering good commissions on various music related products.

The music industry is huge, making the variety of merchandise equally large. This makes for a wide selection of affiliate programs potentially right for your website.

You need to figure out what to promote, as well as how to promote the products. Often the content of your site will give you a good idea of what affiliate program to promote.

If you are reviewing records in any way, an obvious way of making affiliate commission would be to have a direct link to every record reviewed. Even though many internet users download their music, enough people still buys their records. There are many affiliate programs offering products such as; downloadable music, music players, instrument classes or instruments for sale, look around to see if you can find a good match.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Weight loss affiliate programs – Surfing the fitness trend

In affiliate marketing, choosing the right niche is as important as anything else, and both fitness and weight loss are popular topics – both off- and online. The popularity of niches such as these presents the affiliate marketer with both problems and possibilities; for the right person, this could be a virtual goldmine. But, if you do not do your research thorough enough, you might end up with nothing but lost time.

As the competition hardens – and for weight loss sites it will – the need of a good plan beforehand increases tenfold; the chance of just winging it and succeeding is virtually zero. But, for marketers with enough patience, working with fitness related affiliate programs can prove very worth while, as these types of program often offers high commission and convert surprisingly well.

Patience is important, as are a few other factors;

Keyword research

Before you start your website or blog, make sure you look closely at as many keywords related to your idea as possible. Use any good keyword research tool or, if you can’t afford it, use a free one such as SEO Book’s tool. The time spent looking for the right combination of keywords is time well spent; finding obscure keyword combinations with more than expected monthly searches is what it is all about. That is basically the same strategy search engine marketers apply on buying traffic through adwords or such.

Good copy

Weather you are writing or re-printing your content, high quality copy will be an important aspect to your success. There are over two million monthly searches for the term weight loss, not counting any other related search term. If you can present your visitors with content highly relevant to the targeted keywords, you will stand a great chance of referring quite a few customers towards an affiliate program.

Well thought out linking strategy

You need to figure out how to obtain your links, and if your keywords are likely to be accepted as anchor when submitting your website to web directories. If you are using any type of blog software, you should tag your posts with care; the right tags can really help you achieve good results in the search engines.

Well converting affiliate program

Last, but not least, you need one or more well converting affiliate programs. As with any popular niche, fitness and weight loss affiliate programs are many in numbers, and choosing the right one may not be as easy as you might think. Look for well respected trademarks, and be careful when joining newly founded affiliate programs. If you feel at all insecure, going with any of the major affiliate networks – and any of their weight loss programs – will lower the risk of getting ripped off. If you find a program offering commissions to good to be true, this might be a reason not to join them – or at east not to send them too many visitors until they have proven themselves to be honest and reliable. You are better off by joining a few affiliate programs, evaluating them as you go, then to send all visitors to the same place only to see them go out of business with your commission still pending.