First I’ll say I have a smidgen of affiliate sites still doing ok in both Yahoo! and MSN (for the time being). Never have I done well in Google. With the latest Yahoo! update knocking out some of the power keyphrases I used to rank well in, I’ve been doing some investigating.
Going through some old bookmarks of affiliate product sites to watch (mainly datafeed and store link directory style sites), I see some interesting things.
One, an across the board drop on Alexa traffic charts. Alexa can’t be counted on for true traffic numbers, but it is a good indicator of traffic trends for a domain. I see big drops across the board starting at the beginning of this year (2006).
Two, smaller affiliate product domains being flipped over to monetized parked domains.
Three, not a lot of affiliate sites in the SERPs mix. If there are any, most of them are heavily built around content. Things like forums, articles, interviews and blogs. And with one of the below listed criteria (*).
Four, I see more ‘traffic creation’ techniques such as blog traffic pushing. Take the ‘Fashion’ category for example. A few fashion blogs that link to each other and then link to affiliate product domains. The fashion blogs appear to be duds though (no one linking to them but each other), with reader comments like: “Don’t you love shopping online! Better yet to go make your purchases at FatWallet so you get part of your money back!” or “My advice: Go try these on at the store first – they’re cut large” :roll:. I don’t see the affiliate sites the blogs are pushing traffic to or the blogs themselves anywhere in the SERPs, but it’s also impossible to come up with every possible keyword/phrase. Alexa traffic stats don’t register a heart beat, but that doesn’t mean anything either.
What I see in the SERPs (aside from merchant domains):
- A lot of eBay
- A lot of bizrate
- A lot of nextag
- Yahoo store
- Google DMOZ
(*) For the Affiliate sites that are working:
- Attached blogs with lots of content & strong inbounds
- Attached forums with lots of content & strong inbounds
- Affiliate product pages on subdomains of domains that are strong & full of content and quite reputable (inbounds)
- .edu, Wikipedia, Yahoo directory and DMOZ inbounds ==> !
- .edu & established non-profit type domains filled with subdomains or pages of affiliate products (Shocked!)
- Older domains (lots of 1997-2001)
MSN and to some degree – Yahoo! – are still viable options for traffic delivery, but MSN just doesn’t deliver high traffic levels. And Yahoo! seems determined to replicate the Goog–which means an eventual big boot to affiliate sites.
I’m not fond of PPC. I don’t think it’s a good long term strategy since I believe/perceive affiliate pages/sites will be pushed out of PPC by Google and eventually Yahoo! just like they’ve been pushed out of the SERPs. But…
I’m taking my anti-PPC rant off the sidebar. PPC might be the best option for strong levels of hungry, shopping traffic when the SERPs aren’t lovin your affiliate product sites. And I think the SERPs love has been dropping bit by bit, especially this past year.
To me the writing is on the wall that if you want to make money online with affiliate marketing using domains filled with datafeeds and page after page of affiliate products–you either need to relook at how you’re building your money pages/sites or understand you’ll be working with PPC to generate some good traffic.
Unless of course you’ve been in the game a long time and you have some good, juicy older domains at your disposal. If so, lucky-lucky you! ;).
What are you seeing? Do you think affiliate domains are SOL or soon to be SOL in the SERPs? Am I seeing too bleak a picture?