Written by Valerio Porcu
We’ve all heard the same story, over and over again: create great content (whatever it means), SEO it like a Pro, and play the promotion game. Easily said, hard to do it right. And even if your execution is flawless (it never is, just imagine), there is always something that can go wrong.
It’s quite a complex game, and you have to control a lot of things to make it work. Find ideas, create content, create visuals, check keywords, plan promotion (by the way, thanks Publer for the help here!), recheck everything. And then roll it again.
On top of all this, I’m suggesting an extra level of complexity. Because why stop at SEO if you can do affiliate marketing too?
Of course, a lot of people are trying this card all over the world. Someone is succeeding a lot, and most are getting some success at least.
And it’s totally worth it.
Everything needs a reason to be, including your SEO project. Maybe you’re doing content marketing, and you want to pop up in a SERP in order to boost your brand or business. Or maybe there’s another reason.
In my case, the idea is to help people in finding the right device to buy. Be it a smartphone, a laptop, or anything else, we at Techradar can tell people what is their best choice. We have knowledge and experience in tech, and we are quite obsessed with it; so we know how to answer our readers’ needs. But why do we do that?
The basic reason is always the same. People have a question, and they turn to their devices to find an answer. And you want your content to appear on their screen when you do that. It’s that simple, really.
Everything else, from monetizing eyeballs to manipulating elections is a consequence of this basic fact. So choose your SERPs and claim it to be in the top three results and you’re good to go.
That’s one great example of easier said than done.
And when do you succeed? Well, you’re not even halfway through.
Getting traffic through SEO and promotion is great, and if traffic is all you want you could be good enough with that. Maybe you just want people to know about some specific topic, and if that’s the case having at least some readers could be ok. Or maybe you’re creating content for profit: that’s what I’ve been doing for more than fifteen years now.
Traffic brings advertising money, and this has been the engine of online publishing from day one. Today there’s a number of paywalled publications but it’s still a novelty and does not work for everyone. Advertising money is still the main driver, the one thing that makes the Web possible. But it’s no longer the only one.
In fact, some ten years ago affiliate marketing came in.
Affiliate marketing is a huge opportunity for web publishers, creating a revenue stream that can actually make the difference while giving you at least some independence from advertisers.
And we have seen some decrease in revenues from advertising; it’s not that there is less money (it’s more, actually), but there is a lot more way to spend it. In the beginning, there were 10 people sharing a cake, now it’s one thousand. So affiliate marketing showed its full potential.
There are many ways to do this, but the basic rule is really simple: you put links into your content, pointing to a retailer’s website. If your reader becomes a buyer, you created a conversion and you get some revenue.
How big is this revenue? For tech products is tiny, while for other things can be huge. In any case, you need to drive a lot of conversions to make affiliate marketing work.
If you happen to have a big audience you can do this the easy way. Just put some links here and there and watch the money come in. If this is not your case, then harder work is required.
When I was a teenager I used to practice karate, and I got some victories in competitions. My sensei then told me: winning once or twice is the easy part, boy; to truly be a champ you need to stay on top as long as possible. A couple of years later I left the dojo but that showed to be a universal truth.
Let’s say your SEO efforts bring you to the top of a SERP. That’s the first good result, your first victory. Staying on top is your next goal: you’ll need to put effort into that. Editorial work needs to be constant, with deep research and endless fine-tuning. It’s really time-consuming.
This means costs, and if you’re working on very specific SERPs it’s likely that you won’t get a lot of traffic even if you manage to always be in the top three.
That sounds quite bad, doesn’t it? A lot of effort to be top of SERP means cost, but what if advertising isn’t enough to make a profit?
Let’s consider a simple example: on Techradar Italy we have this buying guide for the best-rugged smartphone: almost constantly number one on Google, almost never worse than the third. That’s great, but we’re talking about 5.000 searches per month (in Italian). So, traffic alone can’t pay for the expenses, let alone generate profit. Affiliate marketing can.
Our main editorial product is buying guides, like the one I mentioned for rugged phones. We create lists of devices that really help people, and we generate revenues from advertising and affiliate marketing.
Now, time for a bulleted list of things, because no content is good content without a list. We all know that, don’t we?
This way you can work on SERPs that normally would not be very interesting, because even if you can reach the top you can’t generate enough revenue by advertising alone. Add affiliate marketing and it makes sense again.
Today on Techradar Italy we have 250+ buying guides and almost 200 special pages. I’d like to tell you we’re #1 on each of these SERPs, but we aren’t. However, we’re up enough to make it work.
By combining SEO and affiliate marketing we created a working model. Techradar Italy is still a newborn but we already have a lot of pages on top of their respective SERPs. So we get traffic and we drive affiliate conversions.
It’s a climbing game, not just because you want to be on top of a SERP. You also want to be high in the shopping funnel: a generic website, providing daily information, is giving readers some form of entertainment; you can call it infotainment and give yourself some ultramodern look. But with buying guides you are finding a different audience: not just readers, they are buyers. These people are actually using a search engine because they want to buy something.
What we do is telling them what to buy, and why. And in order to do that we need to climb the SERP and the funnel.
We can really help our readers by giving them the best advice about their next device. And we help our affiliate partners by driving potential buyers to their best offers.
People search every day, for everything. They don’t look just for their next best smartwatch or the best Black Friday offers. Sometimes people look for something just for curiosity, or for needs not related to immediate shopping.
For example, our top two pages in the last weeks have been iPhone 13 and how to watch the Marvel movies in order. These people aren’t looking for something to buy, but for some more general information.
So, no affiliate sales with this content? Not at all. If a reader finds your content and they’re happy with it, then you can also offer some honest and relevant shopping ideas. Conversions won’t be a lot, but you’ll still get some revenue from your content, on top of advertising.
So this is the idea: combining SEO and affiliate marketing you can have a four-win game, which is something really good for everyone. The bad news is that a lot of excellent professionals are doing the same, but success is totally possible. And it’s worth the effort.
If you do this right, you’ll generate revenues and profit from your editorial activity. And you’ll likely engage in some extra advertising activity because your content will attract advertisers like flowers and bees. You win, and your customer will be happy to because they’ll be working with someone who can do SEO the right way.
Your readers are winning because they are finding content that really answers their questions. Even better, they’re finding a direct link to a shop where they can buy what they need, at the best price!
And finally, the retailer is winning too, because they’re getting more customers and more sales than they would without these tools.
“I’ve been a journalist in tech for almost 20 years, and I’m still obsessed with gadgets and toys as well as with good writing techniques, security, and artificial intelligence. I’m the Editor in Chief of Techradar Italy since 2019, trying to make this brand big in my country, In love with books and cooking.”
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