The Reality of Original Content
Across the board, Google insists that in order to rank well in the search results, websites must be developed using original content.
You may be thinking that at this stage in the internet game, it may be near impossible to add information to the web that is not already there in some way, shape or form.
For Affiliate Marketers, this is even more real, since we begin at an obvious disadvantage. The most important part of our business is writing product reviews or otherwise promoting products that are not exclusive to us. This means that there are possibly hundreds of other reviews of the same product already in the search engines when we begin to write.
So it is of utmost importance that when you consider writing on a particular topic, product, service or concept you are cognizant of the fact that you are probably not the first.
How To Create Original Content
Research. Research. Research. In order to produce content that is not already there, you must KNOW what already exists on the internet.
Take some time to explore other websites that are promoting the same or similar products to those you will have on your site.
Notice how other content has been delivered, recognize who the target audience is. Based on their content, consider the changes that have taken place since it was published – updates, upgrades, new models, recalls, new features, substantial price changes, amendments to regulations, etc.
Be mindful as you explore that you are not trying to steal or duplicate someone else’s work. You are simply trying to get a solid understanding of what is already there, so that you can contribute work that is unique. Google loves this and will reward you for it.
It is critical that the content on your website adds value to the overall topic, to the internet and most importantly to your visitors. So get creative with what you have to offer.
Consider pitching the product to a different audience – different age group, socio-economic bracket or gender. Add more depth to a topic area; don’t just tell, but also show how a product operates. Include the benefits and results of having and using the product.
This may sound like a lot of effort is being put into the promotion of the product, and that is a great thing. The more you commit to delivering sound, meaningful and useful content the easier it will become. You will be setting a high standard for other websites to follow, and you will be getting the fantastic results within the Google search engine, and with the Yahoo and Bing search engines as well.
Avoid the Risks of Being Thin
Being thin has its benefits (particularly for super models), but in the online world, a thin website is considered to be weak and has a motive other than to provide useful information for its users.
Aim for a website that is robust, content-rich and can stand the test of time. It has to be able to stand against time, since as far as the Google search engine is concerned, older websites are more authoritative and (usually) rank better than the newbies. You may be a newbie now, but if you begin by doing what is right and necessary, and maintain these standards across your website over time, this will change in a great way for you.
1. Be cautious using pre-packaged promotional material
Promotional material from vendors, merchants, affiliate programs and affiliate networks and circulated to all affiliate marketers who they have partnered with. This same information is likely to show up on several websites across the web, registering in the Google engine as duplicate content.
This damages your chances of ranking well in the Google search engines, as Google sees this as duplicate content with no added value. Also, consider that the user can get this same information from any other affiliate site, or directly from the merchant’s website and may very well choose to do so.
Consider that a user enters a keyword into the Google search engine, several thousands of pages are returned in the search results, and website after website after website has the exact same content. This is certainly not a satisfying experience for the user, and Google tends to eliminate the ‘duplicate’ pages, or at the very least serve them up in the last pages of the results.
You as an Affiliate Marketer have to make your website such that when visitors arrive, they want to stay. Give them something that no other website offers, probably from the list in the previous section.
2. Do not saturate your website with affiliate links
Google does not compromise with affiliate sites that are primarily affiliate links and banners. Every page of your website should provide useful, original content that adds value to the Internet and to users of the Internet, but every page of your site does not necessarily have to be a money-making page.
Google wants to know that your number one priority is not to try get as much money as you can from visitors, without giving them something that is useful to them in return. And by loading the website with affiliate links, banners, out-of-place keywords and excessive calls to action you are demonstrating that your priority is money.
Set your website apart from other affiliate websites by being creative, resourceful and well-informed, delivering valuable content and you will be sure to create the profits you are looking for.
3. Focus on Your User
This of it this way – more useful product content and less affiliate content.
Your website is in essence about providing information on products and services that you believe a large enough group of people want to know about. This, therefore, is your number one task.
Get the information across to the users in a way that affords them the opportunity to make an intelligent decision. Your reviews and other promotional content should be comprehensive and meticulous so that the user does not feel that they have to go searching on another website to get information that you should have provided, but did not provide.
It is true that you may not be able to provide all the information that every person is searching for, but make your content thorough enough that the users themselves do not readily realize that some minute aspect was omitted if indeed it was.
When you are comfortable that you have covered all the essential bases, then you can pinpoint approximately three locations within your content where you can add your affiliate links.
Using this method conveys to your visitor that you are offering information on the product, and the convenience of purchasing the product through your website, if they have made the purchase decision.
Remove from your mind the idea that you have to try to convince anyone to buy the product. The purchase decision by the user is based on the perceived value of the information you provide, and not on the number of affiliate links on the page.
4. Boost the Quality of Your Content
It would be great if your website was the first one the user came across in their search for information. But just in case it is the 10th or 20th, you want your content to be refreshing, meaningful and easy to follow.
Try wherever possible to use conversational speech and keep the tone light. You will be discussing a product that both you and the reader already have an interest in, so there is no need to get all scientific and technical (unless the product absolutely requires that you do).
Even though you are most likely presenting on a product that has had several reviews before, you can make your writing search-engine- and visitor-friendly by adding more of the information from the product manual that is not normally included in reviews, but is important to the user.
You may even want to include where the product can be purchased from and supporting Google maps for these locations if possible.
Adhering to the suggestions given above will also help to the improve the quality of content on your site, so be sure to incorporate them when you are preparing to write, and while writing.
5. Give Fair and Usable Criticism
We all have our favorite products. And most likely those products we do not favor are someone else’s treasures.
Though you may not be a huge fan of a particular product, do not be tempted to disparage it in order to make your promoted product appear to be better, and certainly not to try to convince the reader to purchase your product.
It you do this, you will find yourself gradually creeping closer to all the pitfalls mentioned here because you will be too focused on ‘selling’.
Another great way to add value to your review, and to your site, is to offer product comparisons within the review. Even if other websites have comparisons of the product you are reviewing, you can find another brand or model not used yet, that you can compare your product with.
The idea is simply to add something that the other websites do not have. Remember though that it must be of some value to the user.
You can point out the deficiencies of a particular product when making your comparisons, but remember that at the end of the review, your reader may very well choose to purchase the product you consider to be less effective, over the one you are promoting. It is life.
Some persons are loyal to particular brands, and no matter what you say or how you try to convince them otherwise, it is not an easy task to get them to change their preferences.
So if you try to derail their brand, you may very well find that they navigate away from your website and purchase the same product at a website that was a bit more compassionate towards it.
Feel free to present the facts of the product you are promoting, the facts of the competing product you are making comparisons with if any, and state your opinions and recommendations of each.
This will not only go towards boosting the volume of the review with meaningful content, but your review will also not come across as shallow or thin because of little or useless content and several affiliate links. Google has unrelenting penalties for what they consider thin websites – lots of affiliate links and codes, and scant, scarce content.
Who benefits? Well you will get an advantage in the Google search engine for you quality, original, useful content, and your visitors may likely end their search at your site.
6. Rate the Products You Review
I recommend that you develop a rating scale that you can use for all products within a specific category and explain why you gave a particular rating to each product.
This demonstrates that you are not just promoting a product for the financial rewards, but you can illustrate why the product is strong in a particular area and weak in another. You can explain what makes the product superior to another.
No product is perfect, and if you can acknowledge any weaknesses in a product that you like, your readers will trust and respect you more for such an honest opinion. Briefly point out any minor inadequacies and move on.
By making the effort to compare products, and rating your reviewed products and the products you are comparing with, you have the attention of both the Google search engine and the user.
7. Content, Audience and Affiliate Programs
Google recommends that you choose a product category from an affiliate program or network that is appropriate to the content of your site and to your audience as this will give you a better chance to rank well in their search results.
Additionally, if your products are tailored for your audience, it is highly likely that you will create some profits from your audience.
For example, if you website is about interior decorating it may be more sensible to partner with a merchant who provides furniture than to partner with a supplier of pet food.
8. Website Maintenance is Vital
A well-maintained website is also of great importance if you want Google to take note and rank you high in the results.
Update your content as often as required so that users are comfortable making decisions based on the guidance you provide. If you were researching iPhones today you certainly would not make a purchase decision based on information that was last updated in 2015.
Do not limit the maintenance of your website to just moving a few words around and switching out adjectives.
Try updating an article by adding or removing an entire section. It is also crucial, and wise, to update links when changes are made to target pages so there are no errors being returned. This does not make Google happy.
Consider adding new images with new meta tags, or embed a (different) video
So keep it fresh, because the Googlebot will be more likely to enjoy the crawl and give a flattering report.
Plus, it will impress your users because it shows you are involved and making the effort to maintain an appealing site with up-to-date and timely information.
Go the Google Way
So there you have it. This is what Google expects from website publishers, and Affiliate Marketers have to make sure they go the Google way to deliver, since we are starting at a disadvantage.
Continue to be cognizant of all that is required. You can no longer use the excuse that you, the Affiliate Marketer, do not know what Google is looking for in order to rank your pages.
But just in case, here are the recommendations again, summarized for your convenience:
- use merchant promotional material sparingly;
- moderate use of affiliate links and codes;
- focus on the user when writing;
- content should be meaningful and refreshing;
- engage in fair, constructive criticism;
- develop a rating scale for product reviews;
- choose an appropriate affiliate program;
- maintain website and update website regularly.
Stick with these suggestions and your users, and Google, will love you for it.
Start Writing Quality Content Now
Now that you know what to do, it is time to start writing content for your website. And if you do not already have a website, here is where you can get 2 (two) websites for free to start promoting your favorite products.
I would love to hear from you. If you have any comments or queries about You Choose Your Income, or would just like to share your online story, feel free to drop me a comment below, and I will be sure to respond.
Or you can hang out with me at my online business location and we can bounce ideas off each other.
Here’s to choosing!