By John Murphy, founder of Survivalist Inc, operating as eBike Generation.
E-commerce business owners and affiliate marketers don’t look like a good partnership. In fact, they are mostly competitors on search engines. However, there is a way these two very different business models can not only coexist but work together and thrive.
What Is An Affiliate Marketer?
While e-commerce websites sell a physical product and are responsible for the customer service, shipping and overall guarantee of a solid product, affiliate marketers are not selling anything physical.
Affiliate marketers create a website around a specific niche and create helpful content on products so people going online to research before making a purchase can make a better purchase decision.
The affiliate marketer will be part of an affiliate program, most often with Amazon, and when the website recommends a specific product, there is a link from that product to Amazon. When a reader clicks the link to read more or check the price, the click takes the reader to the Amazon product listing, and if the person purchases, the affiliate marketer is paid a small commission. That’s how they make their money.
It sounds pretty straightforward, but getting the lion’s share of search traffic is not that simple.
A good affiliate marketer will do extensive research into the keywords people type into the search engine when they are looking for something. Let’s say a person is looking to purchase a 3D printer; they will likely use search terms like “best 3D printer for under $1000” or similar. A phrase like that suggests buyer intent, and many websites will try their best to rank on page one of Google and Bing to get that reader.
Competitor Or Ally?
E-commerce store owners also deploy the same strategy to get found by potential customers. There are only 10 organic results per page on Google, and with thousands of websites all trying to rank in those coveted spots, the competition is fierce. An old search engine optimization (SEO) joke goes: “Where does an affiliate marketer hide a dead body? On page two of Google.” They understand that if you’re not on page one, you won’t be found.
I was in this dilemma in the past, and I came to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them, join them. I figured out a way to work with these competitor websites so we all make more money.
How To Find The Best Affiliate Marketing Websites To Partner With
I went onto Google and searched for those buyer-intent keywords that I knew my potential customers would be using to search for info. And on page one, the results were as I thought. I occupied one position and the majority of the other positions were held by well-performing affiliate websites.
I visited each of the websites to identify which were actually affiliate sites and which were just passionate bloggers. Affiliate sites link to Amazon and have a disclaimer on their sites stating a commission is made on sales generated on Amazon. Unaffiliated bloggers typically don’t link to anywhere. I contacted both types.
On my e-commerce website, I created an affiliate program so I, too, could have other sites send me traffic for a commission on sales. I made my terms more favorable than Amazon’s so as to make it worthwhile.
I then reached out to the affiliate websites and pitched my program and benefits to try to recruit them.
I also reached out to the bloggers and showed them how they could monetize their articles by simply linking to my store whenever relevant.
If I were going to try to compete with those other websites, I would have had to fight to hold my one spot on page one of Google. Instead, I now have a small army of websites, and together we dominate page one, occupying most spots. Getting more real estate on page one of Google creates a huge increase in traffic and sales.
Visitors could land on another website and still end up on my store. I get the sale, and the affiliate website gets a commission. Or if a reader lands directly on my store and reads about the products but is unsure of bias since I’m selling it, they usually visit one of the other results on page one and then get a second opinion from a website that will direct them back to the store.
It’s a win-win. Sometimes you can get a lot more by working together than competing for the same result.