There are many ways to work from home, such as, work from home with online surveys, which really can only make some pocket change and there is work from home with direct sales, which involves customer interaction. If you want to build an online business, that can provide a passive income then Affiliate marketing is a great way to go.
The most common venue for Affiliate Marketing is to build a website which focuses around a niche. Prior to actually doing Internet marketing, it is important to make sure and do the proper keyword and niche research and keyword analysis for optimal success.
WHAT IS A NICHE?
Basically a niche is a certain segment of the population where you intend to concentrate your efforts.
Some examples of niches include:
Golf, Skiing, Health, Computers, Real Estate, Insurance, Video Games, Stamp Collecting... as well as the sub categories or Micro Niches within the major categories.
For example within the macro Computer category there are several micro niches which include, desktop PC's, laptops, printers, routers etc.
Within the health field there are again thousands of smaller niches including acne treatment, hair loss, insomnia, weight loss, etc.
You can also go deeper into the micro niche with a double micro niche. For example, the weight loss niche. Weight loss is a huge business, and within the niche of weight loss you can dig deeper into niches like fat burning foods, low carb diets, natural weight loss supplements..etc. Digging deep into micro niches will further cut through the competition factor and yield optimal results. There are thousands of untapped micro niche markets and the opportunities are endless. And there are affiliate programs for every possible niche.
Finding a Niche
There are 3 main factors that should influence what niche you are getting into.
1. Consider your interest and expertise.
This is important. It is a well known fact that in today's Internet environment the content of a website can make it or break it. Believe me there is lots of work involved with creating a successful affiliate business and many other tasks involved with making money online and if you can avoid adding research of an unknown niche in order to create good content on your site then it is best to do so.
When I first started in this business my first site was about computers, a subject that I knew a little about but not nearly enough to create content with ease. I spent a lot of time on researching material in order to write content for my site, all though this has turned out to be a profitable site and is a very profitable niche, it made my job more difficult.
All I am saying is that if you pick a niche you know and even better have a lot of interest in then that takes a lot of burden off the ongoing process of building and maintaining that site. As you get more experience and get better at this business then you can build a site on any topic because you will have the expertise and tools necessary to achieve.
2. Check out the competition for a niche
This is crucial to your success. As I mentioned earlier there are macro and micro niches. In today's highly competitive onlinestage it is often best to go into the micro niches that have enough user demand and at the same time do not yield millions of search results in Google. ( I will reference Google as opposed to other search engines, which is not to say that the others are less important, but Google is the leading used search engine on the web today)
3. Is your niche profitable and is there a demand?
Obviously you do not want to build a niche site if no one will be searching for that niche or the products you are promoting within it. You need visitors and sales in order to make commissions, so evaluating the demand is an important element of finding a niche.
Micro Niche Finder Tool is a great tool that can help you find niches, it is not free but it can save time and provide comprehensive and excellent niche information, I use it several times a week to not only find keywords and niches for new sites but also to research keywords for individual posts and pages I want to create for existing sites. It has a very easy to use interface and it provides a lot of information about the individual keywords as well, such as competition, potential earnings from Google Adsense affiliate program clicks and a lot more.
Also you want to get a feel for hot items within the niche and what people are talking about and buying, here are some ways to do this:
a. Read Industry Blogs – Search in Google by entering "blog + your niche" Check out the top blogs in your niche.
b. Go to relevant Forums - Search for "forums + your niche"
See what people are talking about within your niche on the top forums. Find out who the customers are, what they want, what they need, what are they looking for, hat are their biggest fears and difficulties etc... There are lots of forums and blogs for many niches.
4. Is there an affiliate program for your niche? This is critical because if you cannot properly monetize the site then it's all for nothing. Google Adsense is a good fall back overall, this is a program from Google that serves relevant text ads on sites and pays you for every click that visitors make, but not all niches pay well in Adsense, so it's important to make sure that you can monetize the site to be profitable.
How to gage competition and find what people are searching for:
A keyword is a word or phrase used to focus an online search. When people search for something online the words they input into the search engine are keywords, which then yield relevant website results for those keywords in the search results.
For example, computer is a keyword and cheap desktop computers is a long-tail keyword, which simply means it is a phrase and not just one word.
Niches and Keywords are synonymous. Simply put, if my niche is laptops then my keywords will revolve around laptops, keywords are just how the niches are searched for by Internet users. I wish someone had explained this to me clearly when I was a newbie, because this can be confusing.
How to find good keywords
Keyword tools are crucial for affiliate marketing campaigns as they will determine the competition as well as the numbers of people searching for those KW which will determine demand. Your can optimize your affiliate websites to revolve around several good keywords, and then the different pages will show up in different search results for their respective keywords.
Also, Google Keywords Tool, now shows numbers of searches and can also be used to get keyword ideas.
One thing I should tell you is that the results maybe different in all of these tools. I usually use a combination of these tools to check the numbers. Most of my successful keywords have come from Keyword Elite and SEOBook Free Keyword Tool. These tools are meant to be suggestive, to my knowledge there is no tool that exists that gives precise numbers as to what people are searching for. If you can create a tool like that, you will be a millionaire for sure !
Step-By-Step Steps to Building an Affiliate Marketing Website:
Step 1. Keyword/Niche Research:
My niche will be laptop computers and I will use laptops as my main keyword:
Enter the word laptops into the search box
Here are the results showing what people are searching for daily in all 2 major search engines:
Now do a Google search and enter allintitle:"laptops" (The reason for the allintitle and quotes is this narrows the results to true competition of websites that actually have that KW as the title and theme of their site as opposed to just a mention somewhere within their content.)
The keyword tool shows 3,210 searches per day and Google shows the competition as 16,200,000, see that in the above image where is says About 16,200,000 Results at the top of the image. That is way too competitive, especially since there are big big gun authority sites in the laptop niche that are really difficult to outrank. Also, please note that single keywords, like laptop, diet, credit cards, etc are really impossible to rank for, that is why you want to find more exact keywords to target, and this is really a rule.
BUT if you look further down the list of the keyword tool you will see the longtail KW - cheap laptops.
The keyword "cheap laptops" has an overall daily search of 1,300 and Google allintitle search results show a competition of only 170,000 sites. THAT is a much better keyword, a great niche and can be very profitable. (Note: If you are reading this and your results are different for the example KW I am using this is because these numbers change all the time based on people's searches and number of websites in the Google index at the time of research)
Look for relevant targeted KW for conversions:
Look further down the list of those search results in the KW tool and you will see "cheap laptop computers" now that KW has 430 searches per day and only 4,470 results in Google so the competition is VERY low for that KW.
Also, that is a great keyword because it is targeted for sales, for example, "laptops" is very broad and could mean people are just searching for any information about laptops or just surfing the web. But, people searching for "cheap laptop computers" are probably looking to purchase laptop computers which will more likely convert to sales.
Choosing relevant targeted keyword, like those with begin with buy, purchase, cheap etc. are KW that are better targeted for sales and conversions.
Note: The results that are highlighted in yellow in the above images of SERPS are PPC, which means they are not organic and are paid for by the site owners.
Two Guidelines For Keywords:
1. I strongly recommend, especially when starting out that you find keywords that are under 100,000 in competition results and have at least 10,000 searches daily across all search engines for ALL the keywords you will use, main site ones and the inner page keywords as well, so for ALL keywords you will be using on your site combined. This method will allow you to rank higher and quicker in search results (SERPS- search engine page results) as opposed to higher competition keywords.
This process can get you ranked higher faster in Search Engine Page Results (SERPS). See that first position which is on first page of search results? That is every Internet Marketers dream! Obviously if your websites show up on the first page of search results, you will get more visitors than if you are on page 5.
Please note: Each keyword has it's own daily search numbers and so when you combine the daily searches of all your keywords you should have 10,000 or more (this includes home page and sub page keywords).
2. Choose keywords that are relevant and targeted for sales. Find and use relevant targeted keywords and this way you get readers who are PRESOLD and looking for whatever your product or service you are promoting and those visitors are much more likely to turn into sales and commissions for you.
Repeat the above process for any niche/keyword you wish and for every site new affiliate marketing niche site.
1. First look at the numbers, the Actual Page Results in SERPS for the keywords you are researching as discussed above, anything over 100,000 when you are first starting out can be difficult.
2. Next look at Page 1 and see what sites are ranking, if there are more than 3 PR3+ sites then I would skip it, if there are a lot of authority and aged sites (3+ years old) then skip it. Page 1 is a great representation of what you will face when trying to rank for those keywords.
Step 2: Buying a Domain
You will now need to buy a domain for your website. I recommend buying domains from GoDaddy.com, they always have valuable coupons available so you can always save money on the initial purchase, and also on renewals and they offer great service too. When it's time to purchase just search "Godaddy promo codes" in Google and you will see the first result is usually Fat Wallet that lists all the current promo codes. Another good registrar is Namecheap.
What Domain Name Should You Choose?
Before October 2012 using exact keywords in your domain, also known as Exact Match Domain (EMD) was a great way to get an edge in Google rankings, but since October 2012 this is no longer a good idea (IMHO) because Google did an EMD update that wiped out a lot of these sites, as Google considers this another scheme to rank higher. While some disagree, my view is why take the chance of getting tanked in SERPS? In my experience exact match domains do not rank any better than non EMD's, the content, authority, age and backlinks matter a lot more. Today, it's better to go for a branding name or something that has your keywords, but not an exact match.
It's good to pick a domain name that is short and catchy, not easy these days, but good ones can still be found. Here is a great domain name generator tool, http://www.namestall.com that searches for available domains based on a keyword you input and is perfect for building a brand name domain.
Step 3. Hosting:
Once you have purchased a domain you need to get a hosting account to host your website and make it live on the web. One of the best hosting companies, actually my #1 pick is Hostgator. A world class hosting company with 99% uptime, excellent support, easy to use Cpanel admin interface and automatic backups. They are really helpful and will go out of their way to help novices set up their new websites.
If you pay for 6 months or 1 year or more upfront you get a big discount and also you can use Coupon Code: wordpress and get the first month for only 1 cent.
Once you have your hosting you need to point the namservers on your domains to your new hosting account before building the site, Hostgator will provide you with the nameservers and then you can go over to the registrar and do it from your domain manager.
Step 4. Choose a Website Builder
Now comes the fun part. Building the affiliate marketing niche site. There are several options available for this and I will direct this towards those of us who have no technical web building knowledge, have no clue about HTML code and no interest in learning.
The easiest way to build a website is to use a WYSIWYG website builder. What is a WYSIWYG? WYSIWYG is an acronym that simply translates to "What You See Is What You Get" commonly used for word processing programs and website builders that allow the user to type in the information and see it on the screen as it will look live without entering code.
WYSIWYG Website Builders are best because you design your website by typing in content from your keyboard (in English, not HTML), adding designs, colors, pictures, e-commerce AND see your website instantly on the screen as it will be when it is live and published!! HTML and all design codes are configured automatically!
I use Build a Niche Store (BANS), which is THE eBay Affiliate Website Builder. I highly recommend this software as it allows anyone to build great sites quickly and easily, and because eBay has so many product categories the possibilities are endless and you can build unlimited stores. You can learn more and get all the details about BANS at my post: Review of Build a Niche Store.
They both build beautiful sites easily and quickly and both are search engine friendly. Webeasy 7 Pro includes automatic settings for product feeds for the Amazon affiliate program and Coffee Cup has a member user forum and the most amazing support, at the 800 number.
WordPress is another option that is very popular these days. It was originally a blog platform but it's really a general CMS (content management system) platform now used by millions to easily build websites and blogs and it's FREE!!! There is small learning curve, but overall once you get the hang of it, it's very easy to use.
WordPress offers hundreds of themes for free, but for me the absolute best one is Atahualpa, from BytesForAll. It is the one I use on this site. Every single possible element of this these is easily customizeable and that is essential for creating a truly self made design without knowing any code. You can also buy premium themes that might be easier for newbies to tweak, I highly recommend Elegant Themes and Thesis, which is very popular with many bloggers.
Another perk of WordPress is the various plugins that offer many uses and benefits, depending on your own needs.
Step 5. Build Your Website And Content
Content! Content! Content! Just like keywords, content is something that must become the center of your affiliate marketing campaigns and what you will spend most of your time on (and may have nightmares about eventually).
A huge factor in your success in building a user-friendly website that will keep your visitors on your site. Landing Pages and Headlines and Welcomes are essential for visitor retention, follow the links and read the guides.
I can't say this enough - content is crucial in the highly competitive Internet world. Just having a website with affiliate links will not cut it. You have to provide a reason for someone to visit your site over the thousands of other sites that are available, you need a hook and the hook is valuable, information rich, original content.
Also search engines place a lot of weight on content and rate the quality of your site based on content, which is good for SERPS.
For example, if your website is built around golfing. You will want to have at least 25 pages of content about the subject. How-to guides, tutorials, golfing techniques, best places to golf, etc... are some examples of content.
Update for 2013: Since the Google Panda update content is more important than ever. Thin sites do not rank much anymore, so you will want at least 15 pages to start with, but keep adding more on a regular basis. Also, Panda filters sites with too many ads on the page and too many above content, so watch that as well.
Write content with your visitors in mind, make it so they find your content invaluable, never build content for search engines.
One thing I noticed about the big gun sites is that they are loaded with information, sometimes too much, where you have to sift through tons of stuff and ads pasted all over the place to find the information you are looking for, and they usually only use the broad KW discussed previously and not the narrow micro KW.
You can use this to your advantage, I am sure that there are many people like me, who enjoy landing on a website that is user-friendly and not so "big" that it takes an hour to find what I am looking for.
Make sure that you have clear and easy to use navigation on your sites. I like to put all the most important content in the Top Nav Bar of my sites and then place a full list of pages in the left sidebar.
Remember that humans read left to right, so keep that in mind when planning your site design.
Getting Content & Ideas Quickly
This business thrives on written content and if you don't have tools to help you then it becomes really time consuming and overwhelming.
1. Content Ideas - So, one of the best affiliate marketing strategies for a highly competitive niche is to make your site "homey", a "mom and pop type of site", that is centered around a micro niche as opposed to some large "department store type of site" that has a macro broad niche. And with a micro niche you can focus on that micro content and not have to digress into huge amounts of different information. Make sense? Get tons of ideas for website content at my post Affiliate Marketing - 16 Website Content Ideas.
2. Work Smarter Not Harder
I am true believer in working smarter and saving time and still getting a lot done. One of the most important tools in my arsenal that I use almost on a daily basis is the Best Spinner, this is a tool that easily and quickly makes articles unique, so you can turn one article into 25 or more different and completely different and unique piece of content that you can use to promote your site or for posting on the site itself.
The Best Spinner has so many features that it's hard to list them all, but some of the more important ones are manual spinning, auto spinning, bulk edit and change words, etc..you can see all the features and the video of it in action here.
One way that I use the Best Spinner on a constant basis is by spinning PLR to make it unique. PLR stands for Private Label Rights and these are articles that you can buy (available in every possible niche) much much cheaper than buying originals because they are sold to more than one person, and you can rewrite them use them as is and basically own them as if you wrote them and do what you like. One issue is that using PLR without some rewriting to make it more unique can be problematic because others will do the same and so it's best to make them a little unique and nothing works better or faster than the Best Spinner
Just because it's a Spinner doesn't mean the content will be unreadable garbage as some believe, it's all about how you use the tool, rewriting by hand takes forever, the Spinner makes it faster and easier, but still perfectly readable when using the manual spinning feature.
It doesn't take much either, I usually spin my articles just a bit, and I have no problem ranking my sites, so they don't have to be completely unique. Using PLR for site content and promotion is one of the most economical and quickest way to build content, and along with the The Best Spinner you can fill your site with tons of great content really fast and also repurpose the same piece of content over and over!
Of course you can rewrite PLR by hand as well, it really depends on how much time you have, and how much content you need. I have too many sites to make something like that feasible.
Highest Quality PLR Sites That I Buy From Regularly
- Net PLR - Ruth of Net PLR is one of the most high quality writers on the web, she offers various packs in all niches on her site. She also has monthly subscription packs (all of which I subscribe to) for Electronics, Toys and Fitness niches really CHEAP. Her packs are so incredible, and you get product reviews, articles and big fat reports with each monthly delivery based on that month's topic and she also throws in relevant keyword research and Amazon ASIN numbers for easy product location for Amazon affiliates.. These are so affordable for the amount of content you get that it is just a no brainer. And with the The Best Spinner your can repurpose the content to no end.
- PLR Ala Carte - Lisa Stoops of PLR Ala Carte is another PLR super star from who I buy content on a regular basis and she offers lots of article packs, reports and ebooks on her site.
- PLR Express - Nathan is another quality writer that offers article packs, ebooks and reports in unique niches and if you sign up for his mailing list he will send you early bird discounts for all his new PLR releases. Nathan offers several freebies that you can checkout here, and also several heavily discounted PLR packs at the Warrior Forum as well. He also has several ebooks for sale in different niches.
- PLR Mini Mart - Tiffany Dow is well known in the PLR niche and offers great articles, ebooks and big fat reports at really cheap prices.
- Best Fitness PLR - Tom Parker focuses on fitness PLR and these are superbly well written and authoritative articles, ebooks and reports on many topics in the fitness niche, I have bought pretty much every pack he has for my 3 fitness related sites because the quality is outstanding.
- Shop For PLR - Another great site from Alice Coaxum that offers tons of quality content in many niches.
3. Buying original content
If you can afford it you can purchase quality original and sold only to you articles for your site from these resources I personally use and recommend:
- 101 Content - Dan's service is fantastic and very affordable at $1 for 100 words and sales letters at $18. He offers very high quality articles, product reviews and sales pages that convert. I have ordered more than 50 articles and they were all great. $5 for 500 words is not too bad for the quality he offers.
- 99 Cent Articles - This is a premier writing service that offers tons of different packages for all your article needs. The quality of writing is really excellent no matter the subject matter. They also offer many different site promotion packages like writing and submitting to various article directories.
- Textbroker - Textbroker has been around for a long time and there are lots of writers at Textbroker available to pick up your orders and different pricing models based on the quality of the writers.The good thing about this content provider is that articles are usually delivered really fast because there are so many writers in there picking up work 24/7.
Keywords for Content Pages:
It is important to choose your keywords for every page of content as well as your overall (homepage) keywords because it is not only the home page of your site, but each page of your website that will be indexed by Google and once again, you want the most searched relevant targeted keywords for those pages.
For example, My main keyword is gaming laptops and my niche is gaming laptops and I write a content page that is a guide to buying a gaming laptop. I will once again research the keywords regarding gaming laptop guide that is most searched for and has the least competition.
I will go back to my Keyword Research Tools and enter the keyword gaming laptops, or guide to gaming laptops, you can try different variations to get the best results and find the best KW for this and every page of content you write.
The worst thing you can do is to use generic titles for pages, like "Why I love cooking" or "My Favorite Laptops", this is because these are NOT terms that anyone will ever search for and so you will not get the targeted traffic that you need to make money from your affiliate sites.
A much better option is to do the research, Micro Niche Finder Tool is the perfect tool to find those micro keywords, and use those terms that are highly searched for.
Learn more at: How To Create and Rank Inner Pages
To optimize your site to show up in Search Engines and for On-Site Search Engine Optimization, please read these guides: Simple Guide to Meta Tags Optimization and 6 Step Checklist for On-Site Search Engine Optimization.
Step 6. Choose an Affiliate Program
It is time to decide on which affiliate program you will choose. Here is a list of the top affiliate programs with tons of merchants with whom you can partner as an affiliate. You can browse the merchants and commission details after you join a program. Even though they ask for your website information when you sign up, if you don't have it yet you can leave it blank and still get approved so that you could access the member sections.
Once you join an affiliate program you will be able to access product links in various ways, such as RSS feeds, banners and links to place in your site.
Choose affiliate products related to your site niche/theme. For example, if your niche is golfing, then the banners and products you recommend on your site, should be golfing related.
You can also add some Google Adsense ads to your site. Google Adsense is a Pay Per Click affiliate program that automatically generates ads on your site that are related to your content. Google pays you a certain amount, depending on the niche, for every click (no sale necessary, just the click) that your visitors make.
Make sure these do not overtake your content, but pepper them around the content of your site.
Top Affiliate Networks:
- Pepperjam Affiliate Network - eBay Affiliate Network. Tip: Sign-up by clicking on the banner on the sidebar of the home page of this blog and get $10 Sign-Up Bonus.
- Commission Junction
- Amazon Associates
- 5 Star Affiliate Programs
- Clickbank - Digital Products Affiliate Network
- Affiliate Seeking - Huge Directory of Affiliate Programs
- Affiliate Scout - Directory of Affiliate Programs
You can also search online for affiliate programs, "keyword + affiliate program" or go directly to a merchant's website. The affiliate page links are usually listed in the footer.
Step 7. Set-Up Pertinent Analysis Accounts:
Now that you are done with the building portion of the website you will need to set up some analysis tools. All of these are free.
With Google Tools, you use the same user name and password to access all your tools. Sign up for your main account first here: Google Accounts, and then you can log in to access the other tools, including Adsense.
Google Webmaster Tools - Set up your account and submit your website and sitemap so that you can track pertinent data about your site, like indexing stats, keyword rank and other important analysis.
Google Analytics - Submit your site, get the code, follow their instructions and start to track your traffic. This tool provides all pertinent details about the traffic coming into your website. It is crucial to track campaigns and performance of your traffic sources.
Whew....I think I have covered a lot of information here. Hopefully this will help you to start an affiliate marketing website and you will be well on your way to online success.
Of course it does not end here, next comes the wonderful world of Internet Marketing, Website Promotion and getting traffic, because without traffic there is no money to be made. Also if you're new you might be interested to check out make money online for beginnners.
Please continue on to Part 2 to start promoting your website:
You might also be interested in reading Make Money Online for Beginners that offers a lot of details about the business as well as various lists of helpful guides and posts. And, if you are looking for a structured effective and very useful online programs for Internet Marketing, please check out my recommendations at Internet Marketing Course.