How to be an Affiliate and Survive in Google
Pedro Dias is a SEO consultant and ex-Google Search Quality team member, currently Partner and Managing Director at apis3.
Principles below are valid for affiliates and for all businesses that want to survive online and as businesses. The most important thing for an affiliation, as an intermediary seller of someone else’s goods or services, is adding value to this product, like knowledge, quality, problem solution, or different experience for a user.
In the past, Google used to battle with affiliations that had low added value, as there is no sense of showing an affiliation instead of original product.
Google pushes improvement and forces people out of their comfort zone. Affiliations tend to be very close to their comfort zone, and often don’t like very much to be disrupted. But Google is here to disrupt, to disintermediate.
So in order to survive as a business and in Google, bring something else to the table.
Below are key points that must be brought in, paralleled with Google values.
It’s best to do one thing really, really well = be relevant and specific, avoid dispersion.
Don’t embrace everything, but focus on one thing that you do really well, polish it to the maximum. When you want to do many things at the time, you lose focus and quality goes down. Choose something that you really like and do without effort.
In the market of affiliations, there are more affiliation programs every day. These should be viewed as opportunities for specialization. If you already have a specialization, stick to it instead of being broad. The best vertical is always the one that you are passionate about.
Always focus on quality versus quantity. You must choose one of the paths. In affiliation/business you want a controlled and planned growth.
If you choose to broaden – e.g., from selling chocolates to selling sweets – focus on improving quality. If you increase quantity, increase the quality as well. They should not go separated.
Need for information crosses all borders = be unique.
Strive to complement experiences and knowledge of others with your own knowledge or product. When you know something, talk about it, give your perspective.
Example: FindTheBest, price comparison service. They managed to bring a different approach to an overcrowded segment. They solved a bunch of problems and focused on what users most wanted from price comparisons: clear and easily understood content, and very few texts and instructions.
As a website, you have to make life of users easier. You want buyers to buy, not read texts. E-commerce sites users already know what they want to buy, just give then an overview of what you have instead of long descriptions.
It’s ok to have unique content and be relevant, but present it to users appropriately. Focus on visual and immediate information. Find the ways to add to the solution, not to the problem.
Focus on the user and all else will follow = be usable.
Focus on what people can use on your site. Messy websites with too much text and too many links for better ranking are being skipped by users even if shown in top ranks. Be useful, usable, and friendly to users. They like it more straightforward, less complicated, and less clumsy; having too much information might be too complicated to navigate if not arranged properly.
You can make money without doing evil = be profitable.
You don’t have to hide that you’re an affiliate. Usually affiliates want to conceal that they are not owners of the product or that they have a commission. Your product has an added value as long as you don’t hide this.
Having a well-organized affiliation will sell the product more and make everyone, including users and owners, happy. Your target audience is not only people who are searching for product, but also those looking for knowledge.
Great just isn’t good enough = Have a BIG differential.
Always aim at having a better product. Never be happy with second place. Aspire by being the best in your vertical. This will make you recognized, acknowledged.
This is not tough if you’re operating in one niche, as opposed to operating in many niches. Understand people’s needs and try to solve their problems.
Example: Hipmunk, air ticket reseller, is an example of how complex information of flight itineraries and discounts was organized in a simple and clean way. They sell others’ services by giving a user a different experience.
To be successful:
- See your business and website as a product. Specialize in it, dedicate to it, fall in love with it. It’s your most precious asset.
- Solve a problem. Don’t have a business just for having a business. Make sure this solution is seen to others, not just you.
- Make sure people talk about you for good reasons. It will happen if you focus on qua