There have been a lot of changes on how Google ranks pages over time. Judging from the algorithmic updates that they have continuously implemented the past several months (from Panda, Freshness, Parton and to the recent Search plus your World), it is clear that the task of being more visible in this area of marketing is getting more challenging than ever, particularly for smaller websites, like affiliate sites.
Given that search engines are now more adept in identifying weak and irrelevant pages, it’s very vital for marketers to be more adaptive and well-versed on the best practices of SEO to keep on surviving. Google has had this love/hate relationship with affiliate marketers for almost over a decade now, but they seem to be more determined in removing this business model (but not entirely) this time.
However, there’s always a better side of things, and the great news is that there are still so many ways for affiliate-based business websites to rise above these ordeals and stand out in search result pages. So I’ve listed below some of the most significant aspects of online marketing that could greatly impact your search marketing efforts.
Obviously, Google favors brands and sites acting like one to show up prominently on their search results, based from the trust users see in them as a credible source of information, products and/or services.
This is why building a strong brand presence as well as a unique and recognizable identity in your industry is essential these days, as it allows your online business to grow in so many ways, in terms of:
- The natural links that you’re site will be able to acquire (knowing that it will be known as an authority in your field)
- Those brand-driven links and signals will put traction to your domain’s ability to achieve better rankings and search engine visibility.
- Building a strong following base and eventually loyal consumers who will trust your judgment when endorsing a product, which more often than not increases the conversions of product reviews.
- Invest in a visually attractive web design and catchy logo.
- Implement content marketing strategies (which will be explained further below)
- Build your own entity in your industry by knowing your unique selling proposition (know what will separate you from your competitors)
- Become known by being more active in your industry’s online community (identify top people in your industry and build relationships with them)
- Optimize your site for trust, by allowing your audience to know more about your affiliate brand, the people behind it, its mission, and its business value proposition (you’ll definitely need to create an identity for the website)
- Comprehensive blog posts, based on extensive research
- Creating or investing on infographics
- Slide presentations
- Offering expert content as a guest blogs on other high authority blogs in your niche
- Free ebooks
- Expert interviews or crowdsourcing
- Following your link targets’ blogs regularly and engaging them through giving solid contributions via blog comments.
- Sending emails to them, where you can discuss industry-related topics, suggest topics for their blog postings or pitch a guest blog post.
- Sharing their content on social networks, like Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+, and building conversations with them along the process.
- Use the authorship markup (rel=”author”) on your site that reciprocates with your Google+ profile. I have a post last year here that includes steps on how to implement authorship markups on websites, and you can check it out on this post.
- Having the authorship markup on your site increases your authority, to both search engine and users’ perspectives, as this markup allows your profile image to show up in Google’s search results, especially if you have built your authority on Google+. This can increase trust and improve your site’s SERP click-through rate, assuming that people will more likely click your listings since it looks more trustworthy.
- Install the Google +1 button on your site and make it very visible for your visitors, as the more you can get +1s from your readers, the more positive signals it sends to Google – hinting them that your content is being voted to be a valuable resource by their users.
- Optimize your Google+ brand/profile page, by simply completing all the necessary details on your profile and making use of your keywords on your introduction and/or tagline (this helps search engines know what your brand is all about).
- Increase the amount of people having your Google+ page on their circles. There are many ways to do this such as promoting your Google+ page through the content you’ll continuously produce, by building conversations within the social platform, and by sharing other people’s compelling work on Google+.
- Your activity within the social network can also improve your authority, as the interactions that people are having with your brand/profile page (re-sharing your content, mentioning your page, and voting your shared content) can be the metrics that Google might use to determine your influence.
- Make sure that your important landing pages – particularly pages that are getting good traffic from search engines – are actually relevant to the search terms that they are ranking for. Rooting for irrelevant keywords will only skyrocket your bounce rates, and low user-activity, which can affect your site’s ability to rank its pages.
- Improve your site’s navigation scheme, and make sure that your new visitors will not be confused of where to go next once they are on your site. Leading them to where you want to be is a good way to convert your visitors into sales, so put emphasis on those important pages (making them as destination page for your call to action)
- Optimize your site for speed, since Google is also using this as a ranking factor. The likelihood of staying longer in your site is greater, when your users can easily and quickly access your pages.
- Remove disruptive elements in your site such as too many advertisements and irrelevant links on the sidebars.
- Making certain of quality experience for users when it comes to the content, in terms of grammar, readability and/or reading level of content. You can also test what your site looks like on different platforms, browsers, mobile devices and screen resolutions to ensure that all sort of traffic will have the best experience in your website.