Affiliate marketing has definitely become more challenging over the years, especially since Google launched algorithmic updates that basically wiped out or affected thousands of affiliate based websites like some of my own. While many affiliate marketers pounded their fist in the sand I completely understood since why we were being penalized. Google’s mandate is to return the best possible results to the end user and most affiliate sites are just middle men between the consumer and the site selling the actual product or service.
I myself owned sites that were similar to comparison shopping websites like Shopzilla, PriceGrabber, NexTag, BizRate and Shopping.com who were giants in the affiliate industry. It would be hard for me to believe that their websites are earning anything near what they once were before the gravy train stopped in 2009.
As a web developer creating a site and populating it with products requires no real effort, just time. I’ve been guilty of scraping content or patching content together using multiple sources. Without surprise I would rank above sites that actually sold the product or service. Of course using my Search Engine Optimization knowledge gave me the edge. Today, those tactics I once used for my affiliate marketing websites would be considered “Black Hat SEO” by today’s standards.
Today affiliate marketing is still alive however you really have to be a site that offers unique and engaging content. This is a talent that is extremely difficult to come by and is truly an art that I have not mastered myself. So if you’re a blogger and have a large readership there is much potential for you to be earning money through affiliate marketing. Today it’s still a billion dollar industry, so somebody must be doing it right.
Building Affiliate Websites with WordPress
I’ve built over 100 affiliate websites over time. I’m not exactly proud of most of them as they weren’t exactly art pieces but served their purpose as simple landing page that focused on a single product offer. I used WordPress to build the sites since it’s well known that Google loves WordPress websites AND it was easy for me to replicate them so I could just change the on-page content and images. Within a week my sites were usually on the first page of Google and I would start seeing the money coming in through my affiliate dashboard where I would track my earnings. The other bonus of using WordPress was that it had many plugins that helped me optimize and manage offers on the website.
An example of a WordPress plugin that I’ve experimented with in the last year was WooZone. This plugin works as long as WooCommerce is installed. It connects to your Amazon affiliate account easily and once configured you can easily search products through your WordPress dashboard, select and import them directly into your WooCommerce store. This plugin will import all product data including images, content, prices etc. I’ll admit this plugin would have been great 10 years ago but it can still be used today if used correctly.