Many webmasters sweat away over Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing or both. Others pay companies or contractors to do the sweating.
But there is another way ... affiliate programs.
The concept here is that you offer to pay others who bring you visitors who carry out a specific action. This payment can be:
The deal is usually time limited. So, for example, you will page $10 if a visitor fills out an enquiry form within 30 days of being referred.
To some affiliate marketing is a dirty word but this is usually because they got mixed up in something illegitimate or cowboy like. Just as link building can be spammy or clean, affiliate marketing can be scammy or legit.
Some of the biggest brands in the world use affiliate programs. You only need to join a reputable service such as tradedoubler to see who is on there. I send visitors to websites via affiliate programs and it's a very nice income on my side.
So don't feel there is anything dark about this area of online marketing. Just remember it is one area and it may not work out for your needs. Careful thought is needed before you pile in.
If carried out successfully affiliate programs can be an extremely powerful way of driving traffic to a website. In essence you take all the effort of marketing off your hands and give it to others without spending a penny until you see results.
That all sounds great but of course it's not as easy as it seems. There are a number of challenges to overcome:
The easiest way to do this is to join an affiliate program website such as clickbank.com or tradedoubler.com.
Services like these (and there are many beyond Tradedoubler and Clickbank so do your homework!) will help you set up your website so that visitors sent by affiliates can be tracked independently. Most of the time they will place a cookie on the visitors browser which will report back if and when the visitor carries out the target task.
It's in this way that you can offer payments such as '5% of any ticket sold to the visitor within 30 days of them arriving at the site'. The cookie placed on the visitors browser remains active so even if the visitor does not buy on the first visit, should they return (because perhaps they bookmarked your site) the payment is still due.
The services also report back to others how well your affiliate program works (e.g. how much other affiliate marketers have earned, the average earning per visitor sent, etc.). Thus the more affiliates earn marketing you, the more others will be attracted to do the same and start promoting what you offer.
When carried out right this leads to an ever increasing number of affiliates all with one thing in mind - to help you achieve your goals.
Perhaps the hardest part of all is finding an online service where you can list your affiliate program. As I mentioned clickbank is popular but it is also a hard place to find that diamond in the coal and if you are the diamond you'll have to find ways of sparkling!
A quick search of the web will reveal blog posts where people have reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of affiliate platforms operating in different areas and market sectors.
Once you are on board spend some time contacting websites, bloggers, instagramers, etc. who might be interested in your program in order to get it rolling.
Theoretically websites promoting you will need to place a link on their website to yoursm. "Oh", you might be thinking. "Great way to link build".
No. These links are officially paid links even if no payment has been made yet so whoever is placing the links needs to mark them 'no follow' in the page code. If they don't both you and the websites with the links could end up with a Google penalty for building paid links.
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.