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SEO Experts Discuss Link Building for Affiliates

SEO Experts Discuss Link Building for Affiliates

 Link building has been an important process of building successful affiliate marketing-based websites over the years, because this process simply allows sites to be more visible on search results (for targeted queries) by serving as signals to search engines, letting them know more about what your site/page is about and how popular/authoritative its content is.

But the more Google evolve its ways in determining relevant, popular and authority sites that should be ranking well on their search results, the more link building – as a marketing practice – becomes difficult, especially to those who are running smaller/thinner websites – such as affiliate sites.

The competition in obtaining higher search rankings starts on how marketers can acquire strong links to their site's pages. And knowing that this area of search engine optimization is getting tougher, thinking of more ideas and strategies on how you can efficiently build links and promote your affiliate business is necessary to really own and dominate your niche.

So I've asked several experts on their thoughts on how to efficiently build links this year (particularly to affiliate websites), links that will really matter and will have long-term effects in terms of making asite's pages rank on search engines, driving referred traffic that have high conversions and links that disseminate brand awareness. 

Rand Fishkin

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Founder and CEO of SEOmoz - Twitter: @randfish

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I'd be strongly thinking about two kinds of links in particular - those that point to deep, product pages and ones earned through content marketing. The engines are working really hard with Panda and algorithms like it to exclude "thin" content or"repetitive" results, and affiliates are often in particular danger. Both these types of links can help to provide positive signals that can avoid this treatment.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Interesting, unique material on those product pages - videos (think Zappos), great copy (think Woot), incredibly photography, etc. I'd also try to make those pages socially engaging, potentially leveraging something like the Facebook comments plugin (the SEO-friendly, indexable version), Pinterest boards, Twitter evangelists,etc.

 

Rae Hoffman-Dolan

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CEOof Sugarrae SEO Consulting - Twitter:@sugarrae

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

Affiliate marketers should focus on acquiring the same types of links as regular sites - links that bring traffic. This is the best way to make your affiliate site – or any site – defensible against the various algorithm updates. I'm a big fan of guest blogging on good sites that are both in your vertical and in your horizontal reach. But they key here is "on good sites". Guest posting on article sites and splogs that take anything isn't something I'd recommend spending time doing. I'd rather get 1 guest post on a site with actual readership than 5 from crap sites.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Not to beat the guest blogging horse, but it would be my preferred method in 2012. Doing an article that can incorporate the product you reviewed is usually easy and effective. Let's say you do a review about a baby monitor as I did for my work at home mom themed site I own with Missy Ward. I'd then attempt to find another website aimed at work from home moms and do a guest post on tips for productively working from home with a new baby.

One of those tips would be to utilize a modern baby monitor while your child sleeps, and mention that I personally use the [product name] with the [product name] linked to the review that I did. Again though, quality of the site I'm guesting on is my top priority. And making the article useful, not an advertisement is the best way to get those gigs, and have them asking you to come back and guest post again.

 

Wiep Knol

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Co-founder of Linkbuilding.nl - Twitter: @wiep

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I'd go for links that won't make you look like an affiliate site. Most affiliate site link profiles have the same characteristics. Directory links and other lower-quality link types, links on link pages, perhaps a few guest posts, but that's usually it. I'm not saying that these links don't work, but a higher quality link profile has a longer life and also makes your site more valuable in case you want to flip it.

Try to get some press mentions, for example, which really isn't that hard. These links not only drive respectable amounts of traffic, but can also lead to secondary links if other sources pick up the original items. Additionally, you can use the press mentions as social proof ("As seen in...") and these mentions can also lead to a boost in branded search traffic, which also differentiates you from other affiliate sites.

One extra tip when you're trying to get links from online and/or offline press: get yourself a decent About Us-page. Unless you're a well-known website, this is the first page that most journalists or bloggers will visit as soon as they land on your site.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)? 

Guest posting is a greatway to get links to pages that are somewhat harder to get links to.

 

Ross Hudgens

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SEO Manager at Full Beaker - Twitter: @RossHudgens

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I would think about doing guest posting with secondary keywords on high profile sites. Many people aren't sophisticated in SEO, so if you are capable of writing a great post, mix SEO in to build a long term traffic generator for you, not just links. But don't be salesy. A great thing to do on an adjacent site but not your own is something that has secondary relevance, but not primary relevance, such as"how do I improve my home" on a home improvement blog, while you having a painting site that is trying to sell an e-book.

That traffic is loosely relevant, but you wouldn't necessarily want to have it dilute your content on-page, nor do you really have the authority to get it to rank. But on a nice site, you the ability to get that up ranking for "How Do I Improve My Home" while getting yourself link juice WHILE getting yourself good traffic. It's these "secondary" guest posting opportunities where affiliates can maximize opportunity - they also serve as a nice signal of trust and can drive sales by being a warm intro since you got accepted on a respected blog. 

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

The easiest way is to be an affiliate that can utilize itself as a testimonial on the home page. My first point of contact would be to reach out to the original site to say that you wrote this positive review, would love if you used it as a testimonial, it would both serve as a A) positive endorsement and B) help this page drive traffic so people can think positively of your product. If that doesn't work, a secondary way would be to splice it in guest posts about more general topics.You could do it naturally by saying things like "this six pack ab product is generally reviewed well" as the anchor or something like that and connect it back to the initial product. Really the best way to build links to product reviews is by not building them at all, and actually just having a super helpful, useful blog and then using proper architecture to funnel the link juice down on those pages, as well as a nicely targeted internal anchor.

You can see an example of this on Suggarae's blog - in her sidebar, there are links to Raven Tools reviews. The page itself doesn't really get links, but her site is so authoritative that it manages to get her to rank moderately well for things like "Raven Tools reviews" without much effort. 

 

Cyrus Shepard

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SEO Consultant and Web Strategist at Cyrusshepard.com - Twitter: @CyrusShepard 

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

This is the age of content marketing, and it now applies to affiliate sites more than ever. This means creating content that "thinks outside the box" and tells a story about your affiliate products. To truly succeed, you need to create assets your competitors can't match. For example,if you run an affiliate dating site, create an interactive map that shows male-female ratios for each neighborhood in New York City (data actually available from the US Census Bureau.) If you want to knock it out of the ballpark, take a look at LeanDomainSearch. They created a super cool domain search tool that I love to use, and they get an affiliate commission on each referred registration.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

My approach is two-fold. First, I make sure to create product pages that are the most interesting, complete and detailed pages found anywhere online. This way, when folks need an authoritative source, they have reason to link to the page. This provides about 1/2 my links, and I don't do any outreach. Second, I create high value linkable assets that reside on the same subdomain. These assets don't contain affiliate links, but they do link internally to my product/review pages. These I do outreach for. For a site on financial services that I run, I created an infographic that simplified hard-to-understand tax regulations.The infographic earned a lot of links from financial advisers in the industry, and boosted my overall rankings.

 

Michael King

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Enterprise SEO at PublicisModem - Twitter: @ipullrank

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

Not really sure how to answer this question. When I think of affiliate sites I typically think of lazy webmasters who just buy a theme and throw some feeds on it. If instead you are an affiliate marketer who is doing it right, then the rules are no different from any other link building situation. When I say doing it right, I mean you've built a site that actually provides utility to users beyond just slapping a face on a feed that is inherently duplicate content. You have a great content strategy surrounding these feeds and original content that goes with your products that is linkworthy stuff. So I guess my answer is you should be focusing on offering something original that people want to link to. 

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

I would consolidate the product reviews into the product pages which are also coupled with link worthy assets.Think of some sort of awesome piece of content that can go with the product that sets you apart and since your product reviews are already on that page (maybe in another tab) - voila, you win.

 

Wayne Barker

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SEO Consultant at Hallam Internet - Twitter: @wayneb77

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

Over the years Google has had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with affiliates and one quote that sticks in my mind comes from Google's Frederick Valleys who said that affiliates were an 'unnecessary step in the sales funnel'. With this in mind there are a few types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on this year.

Essentially I think you need to be chasing links that are of high quality, are NOT easy to obtain and the kind that your competitors are not chasing. Affiliates need to be positioning themselves as trustworthy sites in their own right and that all starts with well designed, easy to use sites that are (cliché warning alert) filled with great content. If you have this in the bag then you can start chasing the links that matter.

Keep away from anything that feels cheap or would be easy to get and utilize tools to make your link building more productive without sacrificing quality.

Guest Blogging - It has been around for some time now and at some point there will be some sort of bubble burst, but for now it works a treat. Don't submit half-baked content that looks like it was put together by your 5-year-old nephew. Invest time and effort into what you produce to send the right signals. Don't be afraid to approach the bigger sites in your niche - they all need content. On the other hand don't reject the smaller sites because you think they have no following (you can be pleasantly surprised).

Make it scalable - Become a member of MyBlogGuest, BloggerLinkUp or GroupHigh to scale how you contact people. Use tools like Link Prospector to ensure that you don't spend too long searching for guest blogging opportunities. Develop relationships with bloggers for long term wins (think of links as traffic and not just part of the ranking algorithm). If you are pushed for time but have a little budget then sites like TextBroker can help you produce content that is of good quality - just don't outsource unless you know that the content is going to be good.

Ego bait, crowdsourcing and interviews - Put the content on your site and invest the time to research. Research the community that exists around your niche and approach these people to take part in a post that will go on your site - a bit like this one ;) If you make sure that they are active socially you can almost guarantee that they will share it socially (giving you some nice social links helping you position yourself as a brand). You may also find that they link to you naturally as well - most people love to let the world know that they are considered an expert in something!

Make it scalable - Use tools like Followerwonk to identify the experts that are socially active. Use a Google+ directory like 
findpeopleonplus.com to identify the guys that are active on Google+. You may also want to isolate the guys that are likely tolink from their sites to yours by hand and put them in a bucket that is higher up on your list.

Have an anchor text strategy - This is especially important for the guest blogging technique whereby you actually choose the anchor text. I would suggest that you want to move away from exact match anchor text if you are looking at a long-term strategy (although fire away if the particular site isn't likely to be around next year). Partial match anchor text and some strong brand signals can do you the world of good and aren't as likely to see you get burned when Google turns down the dial on this particular strategy (when has multiple exact match anchor text links ever looked that natural?)

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Have better pages than everyone else! Think long term rather than short and make your product reviews sing quality. Videos are super easy to produce, can be a lot of fun to make and are a welcome addition to any web page. You could also use data (if useful to the review) to set yourself apart from the competition (visualize with a free tool like Tableau Public).

What you then have are pages that deserve to rank for your terms rather than pages that you are going to try to get ranking. If you couple that with the techniques that I have mentioned earlier on you are on to a winner.

Use some of your guest blogging opportunities to link to these review pages (not overly optimizing the anchor text or building too many too fast - this can result in a penalty that will see you drop). Think of some way to bring the concepts of crowdsourcing and interviews to the product pages themselves – it's all niche dependent!

I guess what I'm saying is that you get back what you put in - think outside the box, invest time in what you are doing and stay away from anything that feels like it is too easy. The affiliate landscape has changed and how you position yourself and promote yourself has changed - and how you build links is a key part of this.
 

 

Paddy Moogan

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SEO Consultant at Distilled - Twitter: @paddymoogan

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year? 

Affiliate marketers need to start focusing on the community thatsurrounds the product they are promoting.  If they are selling a popular product in a small niche, then they need to position themselves alongside the influencers in that niche and seeing if they can build relationships. Once in this position, they are much more likely to be accepted into that industry and start getting links from guest posts, product reviews, blog comments etc.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Building links to product pages is hard even if you are the direct seller of the product, let alone an affiliate!  If I was moving into a new space and selling via affiliate links, I'd be trying to add something unique to my product pages. I'd be paying content writers to make my product review pages amazing. I would steer away from the traditional model of paying content writers to write posts for link building or blog pages - get them making your product reviews better than anyone else out there.

I'd also be looking to add a bit of value to the product I'm promoting and get links from that. For example creating a video tutorial explaining the product they are promoting and seeding that out to a community can work well for links andsales.

 

Dan Petrovic

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Managing Director of DejanSEO - Twitter: @dejanseo

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I am going to back away from traditional link building this time. Why? There is an alarming number of webmasters who just don't get the monumental direction change Google has made last year. Guys, if you're not on Google+, building up your profile and connecting with your audience, you will regret it later on.

The impact of personalized search is going to become more prominent as Google social graph learns what to do with all its information. If you're unsure where to start here's a good article to read.Verify yourself as an author by closing the verification circle and start producing content worth reading and sharing. Guest blogging is nothing new and I am a fan of this link building method. Remember though, when you write as a guest blogger, ensure your list the blog in your Google+ profile under "Contributor to" section of your "About" page.

"Great content comes from great authors." - Google.

So basically I am advocating quality content production, Google+ activity and authorship and a way of establishing yourself as an authority or at least a significant player in your industry. Why is this? Because if you're authoritative enough, nothing seems to be able to touch you - not even Panda and page layout algorithm. Even ads are fine!

"You can still get away with ads if you are authoritative enough or if you have a domain that is seen as a good match to the search query or a brand search." – Conclusion from a hangout chat with Matt Cutts.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

The answer is in the review quality of course. Remember that content quality is not always a long and elaborate piece of text and can be any type of media or information. In a recent Google Webmaster Central Hangout we got a confirmation that affiliate sites can indeed outrank the original content publisher:

"Google attempts to serve only one relevant copy. Winner is best the best site in Google's eyes. This could be an affiliate."

What does this tell us? That with enough on-site quality signals, social validation and link strength any website can rank well. So what can you do? Add rich media, videos and imagery to your reviews, include summaries and at a glance data formats (table, comparison matrix, bullet point list).

Encourage user generated content on your reviews and allow for a (moderated) debate to spark up. This increases likelihood of the review being shared in social channels. Crowd-source your reviews as well, but with short and simple questions - ask prominent and familiar names to give their input (simple interview questions or preference survey) and give them credit for contribution to gain extra attention to the content you're putting together.

Remember to follow up with contributors and announce when the review goes up as they are likely to share the content they are featured in.

Here is what 
John Mueller from Google says when asked about time-delay to prevent affiliate sites outranking the content originator: 

Would a time delay help in order for Google to see our content as being the original?

Yes, a bit to determine the original publisher, but there is more to it. Photographers are an example, they have original artwork on their site, and somebody else uses that photo and adds better content. This may rank better in Google.

What does this tell you? Google wants to show the best result to its users. When you finish writing a review, ask yourself: Is this the best damn review ever written for that product or what? If not, try again before you start link building for it. And here's the most important point so far:

Every quality point you give your content will amplify your outreach success. So don't go building a trolley expecting it to fly, go build that jet engine and watch it take off.

 

Julie Joyce

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Owner of Link Fish Media - Twitter: @JulieJoyce

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I think that the most important links for affiliate marketers to get right now are in-content links on sites that have great social signals. I think that these links are critical for anyone who wants to do well online of course, but for affiliates, since the main goal is to make money on a conversion, links that are on sites that are heavily trafficked and shared and that show lots of good engagement (high tweet counts, likes, good relevant comments, etc.) are going to be the most likely to give you a positive ROI. 

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

To build links to my product reviews, I'd do a variety of things: contact writers of negative reviews about my product and provide an alternative perspective by pointing them to my reviews; comment on both negative and positive reviews elsewhere, linking to my own reviews; seek out review bloggers (using Followerwonk to search Twitter bios, perhaps) in my niche and point them to my reviews, asking for consideration next time they are asked to provide a review; do the usual socialization of my work; make damn sure my reviews contain the kind of content that people search for so they'll show up in the SERPs. Knowing the power of good paid links, I'd buy a few good ones on high-quality sites as well.

Jon Cooper

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Owner of Point Blank SEO - Twitter: @PointBlankSEO

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

Contextual and citational links. Stand-alone links, like an exact anchor text forum signature with no context, will not stand the test of time not in the long term, but in the short term. You have to make sure your links are surrounded by content, because 2012 will be the year of context.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Think of it this way.There are two types of links: ones you can control, and ones you can't.

Let's first look at the ones you can control. These links mostly consist of the links on your own site and the content you write for other sites, but they also include easy wins (i.e. do follow comments) and outreach requests (i.e. "can you include a link on this page with this anchor text?").

Next let's look at the ones you can't control. These mostly deal with links that you obtain naturally.You're right, this is really hard to do, but it's something you have to be doing. If you're not on the great content boat yet, you're going to get left behind.

For the links you can control, use these for your product pages. Don't use the links in your authorbios on guest posts to point to linkbait; instead, use them for product pages you won't attract any links to.

Note: if you use all of the links you can control for product pages but you don't attract links to non-product pages, you won't be nearly as successful. Why? Because the distribution of your links will be unnatural. That's why you have to be able to attract links naturally to these other pages. If you don't, then you'll be forced to use these valuable, controllable links for non-product pages if you want to have any kind of success.

Just so I'm absolutely clear: Use the links you can control for product pages, but also make sure you're building links through attraction to other pages so you have a more natural link distribution.

 

Jeffrey Smith

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Founder and CIO of SEO Design Solutions - Twitter: @Jeffrey_Smith

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

While most people believe the craze is all about social media and social media links, personally, I believe that people searching in a search engine are far more likely to purchase since they are actively searching and not passively browsing.

Understanding where a consumer is in the sale cycle is critical for creating the proper conversion cues. Hence, I think the types of links that affiliates should be focusing on are:

  • Links that pass major link flow (such as from theme relevant blogs with a low cap of outbound links).
  • Links from popular and/or powerful web 2.0 properties that have an easier time getting ranked (in the event you build backlinks to them) as a 2nd web-ring/property (for mid-tail and long-tail keyword variations on the theme).
  • Links that provide traffic. The reason why you do SEO is to get traffic; however, you can't overlook getting valuable links from relevant sites (which you can syndicate across multiple sources). Article marketing can still be an effective medium for long tail saturation. There are other options, but I do not endorse using comments or comment spam, but well-crafted comments in a conversation from a relevant site can produce significant traffic, granted you offer a genuine solution. 

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

Once again, I am a firm believer in links from themed blogs. If cultivated properly, you only need a fraction of the links to (a) rank the post from the site or (b) get backlinks to your money sites to give them the added citation to push them to a prominent position in the SERPs.

Once you know what works, scale, and dominate. Also, unless you are going to build links to your links, chances arethey will not get indexed, so, you can use RSS syndication as a primary and secondary means to mash-up the feeds and make sure spiders can (1) find your content and (2) pass page rank through it. For example, www.friendfeed.com is one of many sites that can accomplish both, there are hundreds.

 

Ryan Clark

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CEO of Linkbuildr Inbound Marketing Agency - Twitter: @linkbuildr

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

The one common theme when it comes to link building in the affiliate marketing world is what's spammy and easy sadly, and that's got to change. A lot of you may already be aware that Google has been scaling up the amount of unnatural link penalties as of late, so let's not only avoid those but not even worry about ever getting one in the future.

I know you're just eager to start ranking and making money right away but if you take the time to attract the right types of links you'll be laughing in the long run. I'd much rather to keep a site ranking for years with a solid link profile then crash and burn on the latest link schemes. My link building process for my affiliate sites looks something like this:

  • Solid base of 5-10 of the most authoritative directories in my sites vertical
  • Getting listed in Dmoz/Yahoo Dir/ BOTW.org for some solid grounding
  • I like to do an infographic 4-6 times a year that's good enough to go viral and land me dozens of natural, high quality links
  • Becoming a leader in a couple local related forums for your vertical by helping people out and answering questions related to your product because you know it. Don't spam your link but rather leave a natural sig link or just your user profile...no spam here as you should be involved as a niche leader if you want to stand the test of time.
  • Try and get interviewed on a podcast/radio show about the product you're promoting as they always link back
  • Build solid HD video reviews with you actually holding the product..I cannot stress this point enough as it always leads to links over time. If you set out to create the best review on the product chances are that video will rank well itself and attract links. How many social sites out there aggregate content from sites like Youtube?
  • I sometimes have the company that makes the products my site is about send us something to review. After we review it we always give it away to a reader of the site. This usually gets us a few links and social shares
  • Create a unique and solid product information package and get it on document sharing sites like Scribd.com and Docstoc.com
  • Press releases are a great help especially if you actually have some solid news about your site and the product somehow.
  • Constant link bait on the affiliate sites blog! There are always unique and interesting tidbits about every product and that can make for great link bait and solid content. I try and get out 3-5 solid articles a month onto my affiliate sites and I have nothing but good things to say about this tactic. You don't have to actively seek links to the content if you're pressed for time, but you'll eventually see them start to roll in over time as the content is discovered. Google will also love the steady stream of useful and interesting content. Make sure to provide the right internal links back to the proper pages, this is a must do!

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)? 

The most important aspect about getting real links to your product review pages is to have real, solid and useful content surrounding that product. While you can hand build (unnatural) links to that review through bookmarking, external articles/content and social shares you're still going to want real links hooking up to the review. The sites that have not been touched by a Google penalty or algorithm update heavily have played on;

  • Infographics with the embed links going back to both the review page and the sites homepage
  • I always do a press release with one of the big 5 wire services to push solid links to those pages
  • Linkbait worthy HD video reviews spread across video sharing sites with a link back to the review page
  • Guest blogging on niche related sites that are NOT on any current link network like BuildMyRank or something low quality. Hunt down the blogs, make a real connection and earn yourself a guest blog spot on a site that isn't overrun by competitors and junk content.
  • Article marketing is going the way of the VHS tape and while it's not quite dead you should stick to the sites that have kept their authority status. Such sites include Infobarrel.com, Work.com, Yahoo Voices, Buzzfeed.com and even still places like Hubpages.com and Squidoo.com. 
 

Shaun Anderson

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Founder of Hobo Web - Twitter: @Hobo_Web

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

That depends on which types of links they already have and how aged the site is. If you have a decent aged site with some good links already - an article marketing campaign - with a view to introducing a great diversity in keyword rich anchor text links - through less-used networks - can provide great rankings. A bit spammy though - but it's what most of the top performing competition are doing. It's easy and scalable. I wouldn't rely SOLEY on article links without getting some links off REAL sites. Posting links on relevant forum posts provide good benefits and traffic too - this is an area I'm focusing on at the moment with good results. More for the traffic though - you need a lot of links from forums to do well in Google.

Affiliate marketers have more pressing problems. You can build a good site with good links and it will still bomb in Google - just because of its commercial intent. It's clearly easier for Google to focus on site classification than fight the war on links.With this in mind - affiliates should REALLY be focusing on providing value to visitors. I am building a shopping comparison site at the moment - and intend to focus on social sites first to "make a good site". I am not relying on Google as my sole source of free traffic.

When it's ready - I will be getting links from REAL websites - and try as I always do get links on pages that are well linked to in the target site structure. But the important thing is links from real websites. Local links from .gov sites are a particular favorite too :)

 

Kristi Hines

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Blogging and Social Media Expert - Kikolani - Twitter: @kikolani

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I think anyone should be focusing on quality links back to their website such as guest posting with links in the author bios and gaining in-content links from other sites by doing things like participating in crowdsourced posts or interviews.  Also, if you expect others to link to your affiliate site, it has to have unique content.  DMOZ, for example, specifically states that sites with a lot of affiliate links but without unique content are not valuable to the directory.  

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

I build links to product reviews in three ways.  First, I re-purpose the review content from a written post into a video, slideshow presentation, and other formats to post on sites like YouTube, Slideshare, and so forth.  Next, I do a lot of blog commenting, specifically on blogs using CommentLuv which will leave a link back to my review post in my comments (some of which are dofollow).  Last, I set up a Google Alert for anyone mentioning that product.  For example, I wrote a post comparing Thesis vs. Genesis.  So I set up a GoogleAlert for anyone mentioning Thesis vs. Genesis, Genesis vs. Thesis, and Thesis vs. StudioPress. This usually leads to results in forums where people areasking what the difference is, and it's the perfect opportunity to drop in a link for my post.  

 

Ann Smarty

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Founder of MyBlogGuest -Twitter: @seosmarty

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year? And let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

I've been using guest blogging to build links to my own (affiliate) sites as well as my clients. I have never had to look no further: links in the guest posts are placed within the relevant text (they are not under radar and are thus safer for a site) and (provided your content is worthy) the articles are hosted on high-authority reliable blogs. These are permanent trustworthy links that work wonders for me personally. They are not easy, true (you need to invest time in good content and negotiating the deal). But they are well worth the effort!

If you decide to give it a try, here's my post on best approaching the blogger with the 
personalized pitch as well as my case study on how to build links using MyBlogGuestGallery.

 

Nick Leroy

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SEO Consultant at Nickleroy.com - Twitter: @NickLeroy

1.What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

There are typically two types of affiliate sites marketers build.  The ones that are meant to be used one time in which after the holiday, event etc ends the site isn't any good. The other is a long lasting site where trust and user engagement plays a role in increased affiliate sales. 

Each one of these sites requires different types of links as the sites risk tolerance is different. The first type of site might participate in link purchasing and low quality links such as blog commenting, directory listings and do such in a large quantity.  The second type of site will want to focus on high quality links that are not easily replicated by competitors and last the "test of time". 

So depending on what type of site you have will determine your risk tolerance which in the end determines the "type" of links you need to build.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

I am a big fan of guest blogging opportunities.  It's pretty easy to drop a single link within the content to your product review pages.  Second, assuming the products are relatively cheap I would purchase several to simply give away to bloggers in an agreement that they would agree to write a review and link to the product page.

The only negative to these types of links are that they can be easily reproduced or copied by your competitors.  Anyone that accepts content or free products from you will likely do the same for your competitor.

 

Tom Demers

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Co-founder and Managing Partner at Measured SEM -Twitter: @TomDemers 

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

I think it's still really about building a mix of authoritative and branded links from trusted sources as well as getting deep links into "money" pages. Being more cognizant of having over-optimized anchor text is important, and also as Google places more and more emphasis on social signals it makes sense to work to create content that generates social activity as well as links (such as infographics, popular tools, etc. – the types of linkable assets that people are likely to not only link to, but also share socially).

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

First I'd say you want to make the product reviews remarkable and link-worthy:

Make it Unbiased – You might be able to structure a review in a way that yields a little better conversion rate by using something like "is x a scam? No, it's awesome!" but that's going to be really hard to build editorial links to. By taking an unbiased tone and offering pros and cons you can more easily get people to link at your review and can generate more credibility and trust.

Make it Comprehensive – Pull in all of the information you possibly can. APIs are a great means of doing this at scale if you're reviewing multiple products (Isubscribe to the Programmable Web API feed and keep an eye on everything that comes through to see if there's anything that can help thicken out areas of a site like product pages), but just making sure you're really looking at the product from every possible angle and presenting as much useful information as possible will make your review a much stronger resource and much more likely to get linked at.

Make it Unique – This might simply mean taking a few different data points and juxtaposing them and/or visualizing them in a way you're not seeing anywhere else or with other product reviews. In addition to making the review really thorough, think about how you can create additional value for someone considering the product that they're not finding anywhere else.

Link to and Cite Potential Linkers – As part of building out a comprehensive resource, cite as many authoritative sources and experts as you can. Pull these in with an eye towards identifying the specific authors/bloggers that are likely to link back at your review.

From there you can start to promote the review as a resource, reaching out to the folks you cited as sources in the review and working to have it added (or a collection of reviews on similar products) to lists of resources on the topic. Additionally depending on the type of information you're sharing, if you can do something interesting with combining data points and APIs or creating interesting visualizations, making that easily embeddable for other sites talking about the product you're creating a review for can also be effective.

 

James Agate

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Founder of Skyrocket SEO -Twitter: @jamesagate

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

In my opinion, affiliate marketers should focus on trusted link sources. Google already seems to have enough of an "issue" with affiliate sites so it makes sense to differentiate yourself from the other junk affiliate sites out there by having some really juicy links. How can this be achieved? Well, it sounds cliche but if you can create a 'brand' out of your affiliate site rather than just another mini-site then it opens up so many more avenues in terms of link building.

With the power of a brand behind you, creating awards and badges for your industry can be so much more effective. Other sites will feel far more privileged (and likely to link) to an award page for the "top 100 widgetmakers" if the site behind the awards (your affiliate site) is something like WhichWidget.com rather than 
affordable-blue-widgets-manchester.co.uk. Furthermore, links from media websites become much more reachable as journalists are far more open (and likely to cite) a "Widget Expert" from WhichWidget.com than an affiliate marketer from affordable-blue-widgets-manchester.co.uk

I am also a firm believer that where possible you should aim for links from the sites that you are promoting - on the face of it, this can seem like an impossible challenge however as Mike King (iPullRank) says, link building boils down to making friends and/or making news. If you are developing a brand within your industry, then affiliate or not, if you are making news and making friends (building relationships) then it will open up the possibility of guest posting for example or initiatives like competitions and infographics.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

I would love to sit here and say that I would create the world's most useful review and sit back to watch the links roll in but we all know that even with a very good review of a product links don't often flow that naturally since review pages on affiliate sites tend to be the most commercially orientated. 

There is plenty that I would do however:

In the first instance, I would make sure the review is the best it possibly can be including user reviews where applicable, markup like star ratings, both advantages and potential drawbacks of the product as well as making sure it was well-written, informative and up-to-date. In my opinion, there is no point in really promoting a sub-standard page because you can't polish a turd - you might succeed in pushing the page up in terms of rankings however given that Google is working user feedback metrics into their algorithm, how long will you really manage to stay there? Not to mention that your conversion will probably be rubbish as consumers in most markets are fairly savvy to the crappy affiliate review/sales pages out there.

Once I had the page in order, I would run a guest posting campaign. The posts I would write wouldn't necessarily be directly about the product or review, as long as it is topically relevant and useful to the audience of the site you will be contributing to. For example, if you run a credit report comparison website and you are building links to the reviews of the credit report services out there then posts like "6 things you are doing which destroy your credit rating" would work very well. Getting the right anchor text can be nice and very effective but don't obsess, getting a link from a trusted site with just the brand as anchor text should not be underestimated and can help to naturalize your link profile.

Don't forget to reach out to the businesses behind the product or service you are reviewing as they might have a page which aggregates the reviews around the web and you might be able to get a link added there (...think back to what I was saying about getting links from the merchants you promote!). This might not always be relevant because if you are a web hosting affiliate then it is going to be more challenging to get a link to your review from the web host themselves since there are probably quite a few reviews out on the web already.

I would also run a competition centered on the product, naturally this can be challenging in some markets but competitions can be very effective in building links. Through some blogger outreach (or a partnership with a prominent blogger in your space) and submissions to competition websites you can help to build visibility for your affiliate brand (leading to further opportunities down the line) and it will also result in immediate links to help improve your rankings.

Finally, I would bulk out some of the volume of links to a review page through some fairly clean and good quality web 2.0 property building and social bookmark submissions. These might seem like 'low-rent' tactics but they still have an impact in most markets particularly if you have some niche properties in your space (think WPVote.com if you are operating in the WordPress space for example). These kinds of links are effective in their own right but they can also be useful by serving to cover some of your juicy links so that competitors have to dig a little deeper in your link profile to identify the guest posts etc. that you managed to get.

 

Zarko Zivkovic

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Founder of Practical SEO -Twitter: @Zarko_Compare

1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

Well, the obvious answer would be content links. Content marketing can work for any niche and any type of website and brings the best results when quality is invested, it gives you the opportunity to explain more and bring more relevance to the link. How to go about building content links for affiliate sites is a different issue. I would first start with the obvious; any niche has a tone of product or market review sites, so they should be the first step and search queries are relatively easy like: "keyword" inurl:review. After that I would turn to bloggers, some of them will be covered when looking for reviews, but there are plenty of blogs to go around on any topic, so blogger outreach is the ultimate goal here.

2. Let's say you have an affiliate site, how would you build links to your product review(s)?

A difficult task indeed, it limits the resources we can use, but not an impossible task. The hard part is building highly quality links for those reviews. I would use logic in this one, where can you recommend a review? So, search for threads, Q/A sites and similar where people ask questions about certain products. Forums are a great place to recommend a review; in comments on blogs if there is a need for it (forcing the mention of your review won't do any good). The most effective way is to find where the buzz is about the topic and make yourself useful there, which will lead people to your product reviews, whether you link to it, mention it or use it as your signature. 

Besides being a helpful know-it-all on the subject you can still use guest blogging and content marketing to build some valuable links to your product review. Of course this has to be done carefully. No one will accept a guest post talking about a review, and doing a review of a review is, well, simply pointless. So the best way to go about it is to write how to's, tutorials or useful content for the readers where you can logically place a link to the review for more on the subject or place the link in your author byline. By using your byline as the place for your link you can broaden the number of topics you can talk about with guest post you do.

 

What do you think about link building for affiliate marketing? What are your favorite ways of creating links to your product reviews? Now that you know the opinions of the SEO experts, what do you think of them? I'd love to hear from you; just leave a comment below and get the discussion started.

 
41 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Zarko ZIvkovic • 953 days ago

    Thanks for including me Jason :)

    Plenty of great answers, and when combined you get a long list of link building tips.

    I particularly loved the answer Cyrus gave, he makes a great point.

    Mark Ling949 days ago

    Glad you liked the post Zarko. Yes I thought Jason did an excellent job

  • Reply mukesh hundia953 days ago

    1. What are the types of links that affiliate marketers should be focusing on building to their affiliate sites this year?

    Developing Authority & Being Easy to Link At

    8. Make your content easy to understand so many people can understand and spread your message. (It's an accessibility thing.)

    9. Put some effort in to minimize grammatical or spelling errors, especially if you need authoritative people like librarians to link to your site.

    10. Have an easily accessible privacy policy and about section so your site seems more trustworthy. Including a picture of yourself may also help build your authority.
    PPC as a Link Building Tool

    11. Buy relevant traffic with a pay per click campaign. Relevant traffic will get your site more visitors and brand exposure. When people come to your site, regardless of the channel in which they found it, there is a possibility that they will link to you.

  • Reply Nicola Godbold • 953 days ago

    This entire article could have been summed up in 7 words:
    Quality link building and write great content.

    So what are the differences between link-building for affiliate sites and any other site?

    Mark Ling949 days ago

    Not too much difference, though with local sites e.g. if you had a client who owned a restaurant, then you might want to get them included in relevant local directories, link building is ever so slightly different when you are dealing with localized clients as opposed to sites that are trying to get ranking worldwide in all countries search results. Also if you have certain types of products they open up different types of link building. e.g if you are promoting a software product of your own (instead of as an affiliate) you could gain links by releasing a free version of your software product to lots of different software download sites, and hence build links that way.

    This article from Jason has focused on affiliates, though most of the truths from this article apply to other types of websites.

  • Reply Dan Miller953 days ago

    This is probably the most in depth article on getting traffic to your affiliate site that I've ever read... didn't hear of the term 'infographic' until now, but it sounds familiar. Very self explanatory made-up word, also...

  • Reply Dilawar khan951 days ago

    Thanks you very much.........help me

  • Reply stacy • 950 days ago

    great compilation from the masters! Wow!

  • Reply David • 949 days ago

    What exactly are infographics? Anyone care to share

    Samuel Frost944 days ago

    Infographics are visual representations of important statistics or facts. Basically, they make "boring" stuff more palatable.

    Here's an example of an awesome infographic - http://www.coolinfographics.com/storage/post-images/GuinnessVsBeer_Final_700x7138.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1332387676220

  • Reply Mario • 949 days ago

    It's as if alot of these seo guys/girls seem to think that people with review sites actually own the products they reviewed. While most people with review sites don't own the product but make a review based on the reviews from buyers on the internet.

  • Reply Steve K • 949 days ago

    That was a whole lot of reading, but an absolute gold mine of stuff. When I started my site, I didn't really intend to be an affiliate marketing site. As a result, I was naturally doing some of the recommendations mentioned by the contributors. Ignorance is bliss since it got me off to a good start already :)

  • Reply Steven Smith • 949 days ago

    Thanks for this timely info. I realized that these days you have to be very careful about you link building because Google will not hesitate to penalize your site.

  • Reply Gerald Stidham • 949 days ago

    WOW, you folks really devoted alot of time on these interviews. There is tons of info available on Link building techniques...most are outdated, but these interviews really opened my eyes on how to set up a back linking strategy with current techniques that work..

    Thanks

  • Reply RenegadeSEO byCJ949 days ago

    I would have to say that you will need a social media presence AS WELL AS using the link building strategies from above. I've been doing an A/B comparison for 6 of my sites. 3 with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, 3 without. Guess what, the 3 with Social Media Presence not only get more traffic but, also are ranking higher in Google. Not too mention that most of the Social Media pages for the corresponding websites are also ranking and sometimes higher than the main money site! For 2012, I believe it's going to be Social Media. That's what will make the difference.

  • Reply richard fernandes949 days ago

    Thanks for sharing a huge list of SEO Experts,eventually i used to refer only kikolani but, now i need to start following your list..

    Great post ..Keep writing

  • Reply Focalpoint Renovations949 days ago

    It's nice to read what Dan Petrovic had to say about Google+. I've been trying to convince people on the NARI LinkedIn forums that Google+ should be high on their priorities list.

  • Reply Kat Helms949 days ago

    Wow, I kept expecting it to be the last one, and it kept going. Incredible information! Although I have to say, if I knew as much then as I know now, I probably never would have tried my hand at affiliate marketing!

  • Reply Mike Jones • 949 days ago

    What a great post with so many opinions from the professionals. I really like seeing different outlooks on how to build links, It gives me creative ideas that I can use to hopefully get some positive results and more traffic.

  • Reply Gabor Hodos949 days ago

    Very nice and detailed article. Can I reblog it in my own blog?

    Mark Ling949 days ago

    You can't just copy and paste this blog post as we wish to keep it as unique content on our own blog. You can write up a summary of the post in your own words and then link to our blog post for people to read on further. You could always pay someone from iwriter.com to write up a summary of the blog post including key findings etc, and then link to our blog post.

  • Reply Jay Kim • 949 days ago

    Thank you, we needed this. This is something I'm going to focus on.

  • Reply Patti Hale • 949 days ago

    I appreciate the work that had to have gone into getting answers from this many experts! Great artice

  • Reply Jon Harte948 days ago

    Wow outstanding work with all the experts here. I will keep coming back daily just for inspiration. Thanks a bunch.

  • Reply Jack Pain • 948 days ago

    There are two constant link building techniques mentioned: good content and guest blogging. And this will be the trend going forward, unless and until Google decides to do something different.

  • Reply Mary Chicoine • 948 days ago

    Mark and Jason,
    Thanks for such an in-depth post on backlinking. It's a bit
    overwhelming but a "keeper" post.

    Best Regards,

  • Reply Valerie Smith945 days ago

    Thanks so much for this fantastic blog post and to all the experts who contributed. It's great to read their recommendations and to be able to click on links to their websites and see what they are doing. The emphasis is certainly on quality content and this helps me significantly with where to put my focus in respect to link building.

  • Reply last minute wintersport goedkoop • 936 days ago

    I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I'll bookmark your blog and test again right here regularly. I'm relatively certain I'll learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  • Reply tom • 898 days ago

    Organized content is the best way to display or post an article, thank you for making it easy to digest your post.

  • Reply anhtt • 893 days ago

    Awesome article.

  • Reply Andre ibupro834 days ago

    Wow,this is awesome! You've got all the experts gathered here with their thoughts about everything that I've wanted to learn. Thanks a lot.

  • Reply barbie • 804 days ago

    Thanks for sharing a huge list of SEO Experts

  • Reply Gerard • 781 days ago

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am going through troubles with your RSS.

    I don't understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  • Reply Lara Jade • 774 days ago

    I've read your article on SEO related factors & found really incredible tips for our website for ranking on search engines.

  • Reply Amie • 773 days ago

    Terrific article! This is the kind of info that are meant to be shared across the web.
    Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this put up higher!
    Come on over and talk over with my website .
    Thanks =)

  • Reply utility warehouse franchise in the uk for £100 find out more • 768 days ago

    Truly when someone doesn't understand then its up to other visitors that they will help, so here it happens.

  • Reply Manual Submission Services • 768 days ago

    Before i used to check only kikolani...But Now i think i should Move to Affilorama...There are lots of things(Said by Experts), i didn't know..As Now a days GOOGLE is Crawling Like Strict Parents..We need to Obey(Implement) all our Seniors(Experts) Words... Otherwise Google will not hesitate to penalize your site.

  • Reply Jame • 744 days ago

    I am often to blogging and i really admire your content. The article has really
    peaks my interest. I'm going to bookmark your site and preserve checking for brand spanking new information.

  • Reply Margrett Varisco646 days ago

    Government and eduction sites normally have a higher google page rank due to quick changes in ther content and to their popularity. That is why backlinking to most of them is good. Check there Page Rank and if they have a higher Page Rank then you should link with them.

  • Reply Wood Floors570 days ago

    Thank you for this information.. it has explained a lot of things for me.

  • Reply Jason Stanley539 days ago

    Link building, a pain, a long drawn out process however the most powerful part of any SEO campaign, it is not always about on page content like many say!

  • Reply Kisha The Blogger • 392 days ago

    Link building can be so painful when you are affiliate marketer. You guys and gals have provided so much helpful information here for many to implement in their business. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply Nic Cohen380 days ago

    Great focus for affiliates here. Good read and nice selection of industry experts!

    I'm surprised by having read some of the comments here that though the majority work within the field of SEO they still seem to make negative reference to the time consumption of link-building, my advice would be to look for quality over quantity, easier said than done but takes the same amount of time and effort and is certainly far more rewarding!

  • Reply Tyronne Ratcliff • 348 days ago

    I like what Jon Cooper said about contextual links and citations. The type of keywords and meaning that surround your anchors are just as important as the ancor text keywords themselves. I believe it will be more of a ranking factor going into the future. Thanks for the solid content, I'll definitely bookmark this post for future reference. Have a good one!

  • Reply claricedesuza 152 days ago

    I am really big fan of Paddy Moogan and always follow him and his tips of seo...

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