One personal goal of mine is to be more of a Critical Thinker, rather than just nod and accept what people around me say and pronounce and announce as truth and all things good. I’m not very dedicated to it yet, but I figure it’s more of a life change rather than something that just happens overnight.
Before I start accepting all the groupthink going on out there that some pros and Google want everyone to believe about thin affiliates providing zero to no value online, I ponder this:
Google itself is a type of doorway or ‘thin’ page. A doorway page is basically a page where the sole purpose is to drive traffic to another website. It has little to no original or unique content. We go to a search engine to find a variety of results it has ‘scraped’ or ‘copied’ from other websites and we click off from those results to a ‘real’ website.
This very same thing is what a ‘thin affiliate’ site is. It lists products and descriptions found on other websites (merchants) with links pointing offsite (to those merchants).
The reason why Google and Yahoo! and MSN are so successful is because they’re wrapping and bundling other websites content and organizing and displaying it in such a way that it’s fast and easy AND SIMPLE for searchers to find what they want.
Again–sounds pretty thin affiliate to me.
I have one particular affiliate website that is so thin, I’m jealous. It would fit size zero jeans! Yet it converts like nobody’s business. It’s probably in the most competitive market I’m involved with, yet it’s the most successful site I have.
Why? because the *visitors* find value with it. They’re finding all the resources they want on one highly targeted website. Google doesn’t see the value. The pros won’t see it. But the visitors do. And with my thin affiliate sites, everyone wins. The visitors win (they find what they were looking for), the merchant wins (sales, catalog subs and new customers) and I win (commissions).
Sounds like a good example of value to me.
So as affiliate marketers, we have choices to make. If your online business is wrapped around Google/search engine success, or getting a thumbs up from whatever the marketing pro flavour of the moment decides is best, you’ll need to move away from a thin affiliate template, move away from what your shoppers are responding to, and move towards adding orginal content so that you can hoodwink value. You need to move into the direction of building your websites to what Google wants, not what your shoppers want.
You can pay people to write shopping reviews for your items and your displayed merchants. I *personally* think that’s a load of bloat and has zero value–but gotta show ‘value’ even if it’s pretend nonsense. Think you won’t need to pay people and that your visitors will just naturally provide reviews on their own? Try it. And see.
You can write and write and write (or pay to write) content that your visitors don’t want to read (they’re not researching–they’re looking to buy what they want to buy already). Again–I don’t see the value in that (to your visitors) since all that content just gets in their way, but–nonsense gives the cotton candy boss what he wants.
You can add a shopping forum. Not hard to pay a bunch of posers to get the thing rolling. If perfect english isn’t a must-have, you can get it unbelievably cheap too. Not something I see value in…but…you know.
The line has been drawn. You either build a website for search engines (which Google itself advises against, but…well…you know), or you build your websites for users.
You add bloat so you float in the SERPs, or you sink.
We’re coming to a cross roads as affiliates. I’m not saying adding original content is a bad idea, or that the ideas above are the only options. I’m just wondering why I need to mess around with a website that is appealing to and serving a certain type of shopper?
For me I’ll probably just end up heading in a whole nother direction. If google and the engines trash me, I’ll still survive. And let’s face it. Google decrees rules and regulations on thin affiliate sites today, tomorrow will be something else wrong with aff sites.
There are other ways to get traffic–granted I’m still figuring that part out ;). But I do have somewhat of a following on some razor thin sites that will keep me going even if I end up DOA in the engines tomorrow.
I know what I like when I’m shopping and I know I just want the stuff right there, organized well, pictures big enough to see, a few different shops and brands displayed and fairly decent load times.
Oh me oh my, flash thought: That sounds exactly like Google’s Froogle! I wonder what the value add is for this particular datafeed driven site?
Tip number 4 for added content: Not only use the merchant’s descriptions and pics and full datafeeds, pull the customer reviews from the merchant’s site as well just like Froogle! Voila! No need to pay for fake ones :).
If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
What if the reason the visitors want to shop on your site is because it isn’t bogged down with verbosity, distraction and bloat, and simply provides good, clean targeted options for what they’re looking for? It’s a great model that Google itself uses.
I hope you enjoyed my Critical Thought of the Day ::wink wink::