Before I get started I just want to say (maybe by way of disclaimer) that I'm very new to the affiliate industry so there's bound to be some gaps in my knowledge. That said something I have learnt is that affiliates share much in common with a lot of other business models, particularly in the online world. Affiliates face the same challenge of effectively guiding their affiliate site through the maze of technical hoopla along with the usual requirements of running a business.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber is a very insightful book that describes the ongoing conflict most business owners experience, trying to wear a bunch of different hats while keeping their sanity (not as easy as it sounds!). Part of the technical hoopla that I like to refer to is that wonderful thing referred to as SEO, or search engine optimisation. There is a lot of helpful information on the Affilorama site dealing with aspects of SEO and of course there is the free Traffic Travis tool that makes a difficult job so much easier.
But caution is needed, don't fall into the the 'paralysis by analysis' trap and get burned out from simply being overwhelmed by all the numbers.
Here's five quick-fire things you can
do to avoid becoming a statistic!
5 – Keep the SEO stuff in its
place – Sure we need it, there's no getting round that but
don't let it take over. With all the buzz about SEO it's easy to get
swept away with the hype and feel you have to be across every SEO
technique and it has to be implemented yesterday! Don't buy into
that. Better to concentrate on a few proven techniques and do them
4 – Understand that the stats are a rear-view mirror – We all know what happens when you drive looking in the rear-view mirror, it's not long before you've found yourself in a bit of a bust up with the car in front. If you're refreshing your stats every five minutes to double-check your page ranking or keyword phrases you'll lose focus on actually moving forward and you'll start to flounder. In the world of accountants, there is a growing move away from historical reporting (the good ol' balance sheet and P&L at the end of 12 months – sorry but it looks like you're out of business, wish we'd spotted that earlier!) to more forecasting based on real-time data.
3 – Don't get hung up on page
rankings – Have you ever fallen in to the trap of panicking
because your site dropped from number two to number seven for a given
keyword phrase? Following your page rankings every day of the week
may be doing you more harm than good, as Rand
from SEOmoz explains nicely in his Whiteboard Friday episode.
Changes in page ranking can be caused by many things including
inconsistencies in both search engines and users, so don't pay too
much attention to the day-to-day fluctuations.
2 – Develop a simple marketing
plan – Don't get swamped writing a 50-page manifesto that
nobody is going to read and will only succeed in doing your head in.
Bullet-point the main things you want to achieve with SEO and stick
to that. This will help you to keep your eye on the ball, without
getting bogged down in the detail. There's
a great article by Rae Hoffman (aka sugarrae) that describes this
problem in more detail.
1 – Be patient – Trying to force your site to be number one could be compared to pulling a flower open in Spring, you risk ruining it for good. As mentioned before get the basics right (check out our beginners guide to seo) and just work on evolving your site over time. Remember don't stress if you make a mistake, in her article Rae includes a great Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So better to give it a go than to miss the boat altogether. By giving your website time to grow, you can save yourself a lot of stress and anxiety wondering what you're doing wrong because your site hasn't hit number one overnight.
Hopefully these suggestions can help you avoid any undue panic about SEO and page rankings. If you do find SEO overwhelming and you feel like the room is shrinking around you – STOP, take a deep breath and listen to some Bobby 'Don't worry be happy' McFerrin. Return to the reasons you started your affiliate site in the first place and stick to the basics!