If you are reading this then you probably already have a website and the chances are that you already have done some keyword research, but if not and you want to understand how to stand a chance of making money online without having to rely completely on PPC to drive traffic, then here are our Top 10 considerations for monetising your site.
1. Keyword research
It all must start with keywords. Knowing what people are searching for on line and giving it to them is THE most crucial fact to keep at the forefront of your mind when planning any web site.
Google keyword tools show you the global searches and trends to help you ascertain what gets the most traffic and least competition (which will be easier to rank for). At the bottom of your search results you will also find a list of keywords which are worth considering adding to your LSI (Latent Semantic Index) list – these keywords are keywords you can use in your content safely to add to the strength of the main keyword and are considered by Google to be well related to your main keyword. It avoids keyword spamming and helps your rankings.
Wordtracker is also a great tool which although costs money can see search numbers across other search engines all in one place. There is a Firefox add-on tool called Wordtracker SEO Blogger which gives you daily searches across Google, Yahoo and Bing if you don’t want to shell out for Wordtracker. Sadly they still need to make it useable in more recent versions of Firefox though! As you are blogging it will tell you how many times you have used your chosen keywords too. If you are building sites in many different niches then check out Micro Niche Finder too as this is fantastic at enabling you to see which niches are less competitive so you don’t waste time. You will find videos on You Tube and it is one of my personal favourite resources.
2. Building your web site
There is nothing to stop you building your own web site when you sign up to hosting with UK2.net. We have a Site Builder tool which will help you do everything you need. We also have one click install Word Press which is very popular due to it being so search engine friendly. If you are writing content sites then Word Press should definitely be your first choice. There are lots of videos and instructions and you can get some specialists themes to make your site more beautiful. UK2 will be giving its users access to over 200 premium WordPress themes soon too so watch out for that.
3. Monetising your blog or web site
As you build your site and it starts to rank well, you will need to consider monetisation. Consider that text links still beat banners for click throughs even though there is a surge in banner use by companies across the web. If you want to use Google Adsense and are happy that the clicks will pay you enough, sign up for a Google Adsense account and get the code and paste it wherever you want on your page so it looks natural. You can make it look natural by making sure that the colours match your web site making the links look as if they are part of your copy. That way people won’t see them so much as ads but a part of your useful information, and will be therefore more likely to click. You can get all kinds of different sizes but be careful to place the code in a place where it is likely to be clicked. I wouldn’t advise more than 3 ad listings to any one box. Another and now more popular way to monetise is by placing other peoples’ banners on your site which you can get from the affiliate networks.
4. Getting your affiliate links
Think about the demographics of your site visitors and you will soon realise that there may be other areas of interest for your visitors. For example if you are blogging about ski holidays, then your readers may be interested in not just ski equipment but tickets to music festivals or music downloads, or related books and computer games. It’s all about understanding your visitors’ mindset. My advice would be to join the affiliate forums such as affiliates4u and ask questions of other affiliates on there to help you decide which network is the best for you. You can join more than one and its easy and free but consider the payment thresholds that each network has or you could spread yourself too thinly and not earn enough on one network to get paid.
Popular ones include Trade Doubler, Commission Junction, Affiliate Window, Web Gains and Affiliate Future but there are plenty more which are very good too. Some programmes will pay a percentage of the sale and some will pay a standard customer acquisition fee (CPA). Choosing a high converting programme is more important than a high paying one so do your homework on this.
5. Deciding on which affiliate programmes to join
As I already mentioned take time to think about the complimentary things your reader will be interested as you may want to develop pages for those things at a later date.
Simply search the network for different companies and don’t always let the commission percentage rule your heart as it’s not always the best way to start earning cash by choosing the highest payouts (but it helps!) Many affiliates prefer to see all their income on one network dashboard but personally I think it’s best to join a few so you can set up RSS feeds of the latest offers and get access to a wide range of different offers. Also. Check out forums such as Affiliates4U for good advice on this. Once you decide on the programmes you want, apply to join and fill in all the details and you should get a response in a couple of days or less. You can view statistics on the go through various mobile apps once you get set up too. I found one recently called Ad Live where you can view statistics from Trade Doubler, CJ, ClickBank, Adbrite , Ad Mob and more. Hopefully they will add more networks and do note that it is in Beta at the moment.
6. Adding your links and banners
Once your application is approved, you will have access to all the creatives which will include, voucher code text ads, banner ads and plain text ads, product feeds and sometimes email creatives. If you are a savvy affiliate marketer you may want to get to know the affiliate manager who will gladly work with you to help you get access to other marketing information such as emails templates that may not necessarily on the network. An affiliate manager will be interested in this if you send a newsletter out to your visitors for example.
Use text links to integrate seamlessly into your content so where you have the phrase of a product for example, turn this into a hyperlink to link to your chosen affiliate programme. If you need a deep product link and don’t see it then speak to your affiliate manager.
If you are using banners, it’s no good placing them at the bottom of your page where people have to scroll down to click on them. Best practice says that banners get the most clicks when placed on the right hand side of the page. Think about how many times you have inadvertently clicked the skyscraper on your Hotmail page whilst trying to scroll down the page and you will know why this is.
The most important thing is that content is king, and if you think your site will be a money spinner if it’s full of ads, then I urge you to reconsider. As Affiliate Manager, I noticed one of our top performers in terms of impressions was getting no conversions at all. I investigated further and saw that the site was full of ads. This website owner was simply wasting their traffic as the CTR was very low.
7. Cloaking your Affiliate links
If Google sees direct affiliate links, they could sandbox your site before you even start to rank. The Sandbox is a dark place that no affiliate wants to end up in! Therefore to avoid this you must cloak your links. You can use 303 redirects or specific link cloaker plug ins to do this for you. There is lots of info on the web about this so I am not going to add to it all here. Just do your homework on cloaking links and find what works for you.
8. Keep it fresh
Once you have your affiliate links set up, test them for a couple of months then see if there are new ads from that merchant to use instead of the old ones. If not you can always ask your affiliate manager to provide you with some new ones and even ask for a bespoke ad if you have a really good idea. Marketers always want good ideas and proactive affiliates – it’s the law!
Google also loves new content and a recent blog post if worded and titled correctly for things you know people are searching for can really help boost your traffic and sales.
If your web site isn’t performing as well as you hoped but getting some traction, then have a look at the other web sites that come up in searches for your keywords and get some layout ideas from them. Colour, typeface and images all have an effect on the reader but useful content can sometimes overtake this and I have seen blogs with only three pages and simple text links earning the owner up to £2k a month.
Many websites which carry ads have a policy of changing them, or even changing advertisers, on a monthly or quarterly basis to keep things fresh and appealing for regular readers.
Make sure you keep up to date with seasonal offers from your chosen merchants and you promote these heavily as they usually offer a great window of opportunity which is only there for a short time.
9. Monitor your ads
All the affiliate networks will be able to provide you with creative reports about the banners you are carrying. In time you will get a real picture of what’s working and what s not. There is nothing to stop you using both network ads and Google ads as the visitor is likely to click on something when heading off your page, but beware of putting more than three ad spaces on your page.
You could test different sizes of ads. A 125×125 or a text ad can sometimes be more effective than a larger banner ad. Size is definitely not the issue here and small can be beautiful. Liaise with your affiliate manager to find out what they think too. Here at UK2, we see the most clicks from 125×125, text links and 250×250 but these vary on each network we use.
10. Driving traffic
The more visitors, then the more conversions you should get, assuming your site is well thought out and the merchants page is a good converting page too. Site promotion can be done in a myriad of ways and there are lots of videos on Youtube to help you with this. They include video marketing – make sure you use your keywords in your video titles, article writing, social media – answer questions on forums and groups that relate to your niche (using links back to your site of course), Squidoo lens pages reciprocal linking of other blogs in your niche that rank well for your keywords, Twitter – how could we forget and even Facebook groups. Blog posts for your full array of keywords and related keyword phrases will also work wonders. Once your site is making money, then its time to ramp it up with some PPC. If you are going to use this, I recommend using a service such as Aweber and finding a product (or developing a product to give away if someone signs up with their email.) That way you can re-market to your email list which is a whole other topic.
There is so much one could write about each of the above topics but I just wanted to give you a detailed overview and hopefully some new ideas to help you get started with monetising your site and making affiliate marketing work for you. If you wish to discuss anything or talk to me about the best ways to promote our offers then I would love to hear from you. Email me at email@example.com