In this post, you’ll hear some tips and tricks from an Amazon Associate’s super affiliate that has earned $40,000 in one month from their amazon affiliate website.
As you may be aware, there is an Amazon Associate’s discussion forum through Amazon where a lot of affiliates post. To get to this forum, login to your affiliate account, go to the associates page, and from the top menu, go to “help” and choose the drop down called “discussion boards.”
That forum has a lot of affiliates discussing just about everything regarding the Amazon Associates program and amazon affiliate websites. A lot of it is really just beginner’s asking questions and the same regulars answer them each time, always with similar answers.
However, there are some golden nuggets to be found on the forum. Every now and then someone will mention a strategy that is working well for them. I’ve seen some awesome examples of video and Facebook marketing on this forum. It also is fun to just compare traffic, sales, and overall success with the program. That brings me to what this post is about.
Sometime in early to mid-2014, in a thread entitled “how much do you earn,” users were posting earnings in the Amazon Associates program. Some people even gave some tips and tricks.
Our hero enters
Then something unique happened, a super affiliate decided to get involved and posted their earnings along with proof.
After that, the thread exploded as the super affiliate was asked tons of questions and we all hung on his or her every word. After all, given their success with their amazon affiliate website, surely this person had some special information that we could all learn from.
Day after day the super affiliate kept on answering questions. I kept checking back to see what they said. I even went so far as to copy all the posts into a document for future use.
Then, one day, apparently the questions crossed a line and the super affiliate deleted every post they had made. This may have been because a user was working to discover the super affiliate’s sites, while the super affiliate wanted to remain anonymous.
Everyone on the forum was very disappointed the super affiliate was gone, and there were a lot of requests for copies of the super affiliate’s now deleted posts.
While I had these copies, I didn’t want to just give them away in their current state, as the super affiliate had deleted them for a reason. If that reason was that they didn’t want their sites revealed, then I thought that I could at least edit the posts to make it more difficult to figure out what the sites are.
As the posts amounted to around 10,000 words, that wasn’t a small task. I ended up editing the posts down to 6,196 words from the original 10,000+. Most of the deleted content wasn’t that important. Some of it was friendlier, joking type posts. However, some of it was the more detailed information about the Super Affiliate’s own sites, which I have removed to protect their privacy. I have also edited down the images that are included so as to remove some information that I think could be used to identify the affiliate’s sites. While doing this does make the posts a little less valuable as you get less insight into the Amazon Associates Super Affiliate Strategy, I still think the remaining information is very helpful and a lot of affiliates will find this info super interesting.
A Super Affiliate’s Amazon Associates Strategy
Without further ado, here are strategy tips from an Amazon Associates Super Affiliate:
How much do you earn?
It varies from month to month, particularly since I’m in 5 different niches, some of which are seasonal.
My worst months are January through June.
My “OK” months are July through October.
My best months are November and December, when holiday shopping boosts sales.
I’ve been at it for close to 3 years with breaks. The longest stretch so far has been from April 2013 until now.
Some example of my commissions from different months:
- February: $9,000
- August: $12,500
- November: $25,000
- December: $40,000
These might seem like big numbers, but I approached this as a profession and have been working 70 hour weeks to make it happen. I chose niches based on potential profits rather than my own interest. I’m also very good at multitasking.
Can you show some proof of your earnings?
I’m not based in the US so don’t mind posting a screenshot. This is from this month so far. I’ve color-grouped the tracking ID’s which belong to the same website to give you a better idea of how many amazon affiliate websites in total I’m running.
What niches are you in?
I won’t reveal the niches for obvious reasons, but I can tell you that it’s possible to make a lot of money in pretty much any niche where there are products that people are buying, and where the competition isn’t so much that you won’t be able to get any traffic through your chosen means of generating traffic.
Your question shouldn’t be “what niche should I choose?” but rather “how do I learn to identify potentially profitable niches.”
Where do you get traffic?
Around 25% of traffic is from referrals and 75% is organic search engine traffic.
Are you posting new content every day?
All of my niche sites are static and review based. I find that blog style sites are far too time consuming. Both can work though, however I think that “static” sites allow for far better scaling/faster increase in revenue.
How often do you update content on your sites?
It really varies from site to site. Let me answer that question for you based on the screenshot I posted earlier; I’ll tell you how often I update each of the sites (color-grouped Tracking ID’s from the screenshot), starting from top to bottom.
“Red” Amazon Affiliate Website- around 15 articles a month. This is a new website (5 months old) that’s going to be a very large authority site on a certain topic. I can literally add hundreds of reviews to it a year and wouldn’t run out of review material for many years.
“Green” Amazon Affiliate Website – around 2-3 reviews a month
“Brown” Amazon Affiliate Website – Hasn’t been updated at all for over a year and won’t be updated.
“Blue” Amazon Affiliate Website – this is a website I’m not working on at all and is awaiting its time. It currently has 5 articles and hasn’t been touched in a year.
“Orange” Amazon Affiliate Website – around 2 articles a month.
“Purple” Amazon Affiliate Website – 1-2 articles a month.
“Black” Amazon Affiliate Website – not updated for 10 months
How do you find potential niches?
I really just use trial and error. I started a ton of really small sites in very low competition niches and watched how they performed. Those sites are now gone as they were just test subjects.
I eventually learned that I can determine whether a site will be successful based on if the product has a following online or if there are communities built around it. I also like to look at the demographic interested in the product to see if they are a “buying demographic.”
I have now developed a spider to run through forums to accumulate data on a potential demographic and build a database of information to use for marketing, like average age and other interests.
I don’t ever use publicly available tools for finding niches because I do not want to be doing what everyone else is doing (it would mean constantly running into competition). Instead I spend/spent a lot of time developing my own approaches. Many things I’d rather keep to myself, but there are many things I’m happy to share so feel free to ask for more clarification.
As a side note, I focus almost exclusively on products in the $500+ price range (I do promote cheaper products too, but I don’t use Amazon for that). I sell a ton of extra accessories with the main products, which is where the large volume of sales in that screenshot comes from (this is a really good strategy to increase income).
How do you research keywords?
I do not build my sites around average monthly searches because I’ve learned this can be highly deceiving. Rather, my approach involves asking myself these questions:
- Will this product sell? Are there enough people buying it? Are there enough products in this niche to warrant the creation of a whole website for it? Are people interested in this particular product likely to buy online?
- Is there a lack of an authority website that extensively covers this particular topic?
If the answer to all the above questions is “yes” I will pretty much go for it regardless of what any tools / monthly search estimators / keyword difficult software tells me. Basically it boils down to whether a product has an online market and whether there are websites that I personally think do a great job of covering the topic.
Once I start making a site though, it has to be brilliant and answer / anticipate absolutely any question a person interested in the topic might have (and even questions that person doesn’t even know they will soon be asking). So basically my goal is always to create the ultimate destination as far as that topic goes.
Hope this helps.
How do you come up with your initial content? Do you write it or outsource?
I did all of the writing for the first 3 Amazon Affiliate websites that I started, and still write for them on occasion out of sentiment. Beyond that (I currently have over 20 sites, monetized through different means) I would outsource everything.
I simply place ads in a few different places stating that I’m looking for a writer (they must be both a very experienced writer AND have a lot of hands-on experience with products in that niche). I’ll also usually spend a few days extensively learning as much as I can about the product myself so that I can conduct an intelligent interview with the potential writer and be able to judge their familiarity with the topic. The biggest problem is finding someone who lives near a store that actually carries the products to be reviewed so that they can inspect it over there; I’ve had to abandon a few projects because this wasn’t possible.
“I do think, however, where reviews are more subjective, more a matter of taste, for example, music, movies, books one would enjoy reading, etc. that establishing a rapport of some sort with the reader is more important.”
That’s probably right. I’ve never been involved in any such “artistic” (for lack of a better word) niches so no experience at all here.
They may show up on thousands of sites, and the likelihood that your site will be among the first, or even anywhere near the first, and won’t get a duplicate penalty for having such content (assuming you don’t “noindex” it) is pretty small.”
Actually, duplicate content penalty only applies to content duplicated across one site. If you have tons of content on your website that appears within the same domain but under different URL’s multiple times, that is where a “duplicate content” penalty from Google may be applied. As for a scenario where the same article is posted on MULTIPLE different domains, you will not receive a duplicate content penalty (though it definitely won’t make your site any more valuable for anyone and I’d strongly suggest staying away from those PLR bundles). This is more on the semantics side of things, but it’s important to understand that content gets duplicated/syndicated naturally throughout the web all of the time (a huge portion of Wikipedia’s articles are nothing but copy/pasted paragraphs from various other websites, for instance).
About content duplication, you can most definitely get a penalty if your website contains nothing but content that is taken from other places. What I wrote above assumes that your website has a fair amount of unique content, and that you would use PLR articles only as an addition, not as the main/only source of content. But if your whole idea for a website involves copy/pasting content from another website and you’re not adding anything extra to the mix, you’ll definitely be getting some sort of penalty if you are going to rely on search engine traffic.
“I worked your numbers backwards and find that your conversion rate is around 2.5%. You mentioned that you write quality, exceptional articles. If that is so, shouldn’t your conversion rate be higher? Can you comment on the correlation?”
Basically, conversion rate by itself is, in my opinion, meaningless and I don’t focus on increasing conversion rates. Instead, I focus on increasing my commissions. Also, keep in mind that I promote much more expensive articles than the average affiliate, which usually means far lower conversion rates in general.
“How many readers or pageviews do you have on average each month?”
It varies somewhat from month to month, but the average would be around 3000 unique visitors a day across all the Amazon Affiliate Websites. Pageviews 2-4 per visitor depending on the site.
“Looking at the number of clicks you have for various tagging IDs, it seems to me you have a lot of readers. Are those niches popular with lots of people searching for them via keywords?”
I have a lot of readers yes, but I also get a lot of clicks per reader due to the way I build my sites. “Popular” is a relative word, so I’m not sure how to answer that. I guess it’s popular enough for me to be making decent money from them, which I guess is a sort of answer 🙂
“I’m curious by one of your comment on static vs blog-type website. As far as I know, once something is published on a blog, that post will become static unless it’s going to be updated. So what do you mean by a static site being scalable?”
Yes this is more of a semantics issue, the person who asked me about static vs blog-type used this terminology, and since I understood what he/she meant, I used the same terminology in my reply. By “static” we simply meant a website that doesn’t really need to be updated on a regular basis (such as a blog usually does). You are correct that a blog post once published becomes static content (usually). Static was just used to refer to review-type websites, as opposed to blog-type websites, nothing more.
“Working back your numbers again, I see your per item cost is $6.26 per item. What is your commission bracket like? More items at 4% or more items at 8%? I’m asking because I’m thinking of going into a niche where the item price is $100 but it’s an office product so the commission is fixed at 4%. But at $4, it’s going to be 30% more than my current per-item earnings.”
I stay absolutely clear of anything that pays any fixed commission rates, so basically 99.5% of the items I sell I receive the 8.25% commission on. The items I promote are MUCH more expensive than $6 a pop; it’s just that I sell a ton of accessories along with the main items – it inflates the number of sold items in my account.
“You mentioned your sites are reviews based. Do you actually have the product to review, or do you research and write an elaborate review based on what other users have said? E.g. thewirecutter.com does the latter. Is that why you said you don’t want to lose money when starting out with 12-15 articles, because you buy stuff to review?”
I do not review products myself anymore (with very few exceptions), I hire writers to do that. If you look a little earlier, you’ll find a post where I provided more information on that – let me know if you can’t find it, I’ll look for it.
“For the websites that you already have, let’s say if you want to increase the earnings. Would you choose to add more content, or find new niches, or do something else?”
It really depends. If I find a niche that I feel has big potential, I will significantly expand on the site (or even create another site in the same niche – which I’ve successfully done leading to the first top 5 results in search engine results for some good keywords to be populated entirely by various different sites belonging to me). Sometimes it’s better to just update a site sporadically and work on another niche. I do a mix of the two I guess, both approaches should work fine assuming you have a decent number of websites. If you’re just managing one website then I guess things are different because you can’t afford to make as many mistakes. For me, if I mess something up with one site, there’s usually another site that “makes up” for it, if that makes sense, and the final net result is typically positive for me. I guess though I prefer to expand both vertically (growing the sites I already have) and horizontally (creating new sites).
“If a competitor were to copy your site completely, what would happen?”
I don’t know. It probably depends on which site that would be – a few of my sites are very strongly established, so probably nothing would happen. If it were to happen to one of my newer sites though, I’m not sure what would be the end result.
“Are your target audience primarily from USA? I saying that because I’ve a good portion of sales coming in from Amazon branches in other countries.”
For the websites I use to promote Amazon products, pretty much 99% of all visitors are from the US.
“How much are you earning per unique visitor?”
I can’t share for all my sites and for all monetization methods, but I will share as far as amazon associates earnings are concerned. If I were to take into account everything I earn from AA in a year, and assuming 3k average visitors per day, it would come out to around 20-25 cents per unique visitor.
“Can you give us more information about how you build your sites, the type of content you write, etc?”
One very important thing to keep in mind is that I do not build my sites only for “buyers.” So when I say 3k unique visitors per day, it does not mean that the sites are being viewed by 3k unique buyers per day; the number of people reaching my sites through actual buying keywords is much lower than that. This is because I want my websites to be a good resource even for those who are not interested in buying.
So I will create various useful resources that do not directly contribute to increased sales, but they are very helpful to many people and as a result give me some natural backlinks and Twitter and Facebook shares from people, thereby indirectly boosting my rankings for the “money” keywords that actually do matter. So keep that in mind please. If the 3k daily visitors all came through buying keywords, my Amazon Associates earnings would probably be 10x what you see in the screenshots.
“How do you choose products to promote? How many products do you promote per site?”
The more products you promote the better usually, and it is ultimately my goal to have a review for every single product in the world (both popular as well as those almost no one buys) for my particular niche. I don’t necessarily go about this immediately though and sometimes I’ll just put a website on hold while I take care of other stuff, and then go back to that site later on to add more content. If you look at one of the earlier posts in this thread you’ll find out exactly how many articles and how frequently I’m adding to the websites in question.
“As someone who’s currently pulling in 1/12th of what you are a month, this helps me figure out how to get to the next level. A few months ago when I started my main site, my goal was to hit 10k per month in 2 years. My wife convinced me to aim for 100k per month in 2 years. This month, I just hit 1k, so I’m now setting my sights a little higher.”
That’s really excellent, because my belief is that if you can earn $1k or even $100 a month, then you can most definitely earn MUCH more than that – it’s just a matter of scaling and finding ways to simplify what you are doing so that you can do more of it, and so that you can copy it across to other ventures.
Also one piece of advice I would give is not to think in terms of “how much you can be making two years from now,” because this will limit you. Rather, you should be thinking about how much time you are going to devote to the job and focus on that instead.
So basically what I’m saying is instead of going for:
“I want to be making XYZ a month before ABC”
“I want to spend XYZ hours per week working on increasing my earnings”
The first approach is somewhat empty because it’s based on a “dream” of sorts.
With the second approach you should be able to achieve much more, as (assuming you devote as much time as you possibly can without interfering with other activities) you’ll always be working at your maximum sustainable capacity, and from here on out it’s just a matter of your talent, predispositions, strengths/weaknesses (which are all fairly constant and won’t really change that much over the years) + gained experience (which will increase the more time you devote).
How long do you stick with a site before deciding whether to drop it?
I typically don’t “stick” with a site per se. I’ll upload the initial content I want to have on the site and then just wait until I see at least some traffic coming in (after some initial very basic off-site SEO efforts). If I see traffic and at least a bit of income, I’ll capitalize on it immediately and grow the site as fast as possible, then slow down and just add a couple articles a month. If the website shows absolutely no potential, I’ll just leave it there and maybe return to it a year (or whenever) later to see if there’s something I can do to make it perform.
The cool thing is that as you gain experience, you become better at turning a former non-performer into a performer. So you might start a website, get no traffic at all to it, leave it there for a year, then go back to it and suddenly go “ah, of course! back then I had no clue that XYZ, so now if I do ABC perhaps I’ll see some improvement.” That’s actually one of the most satisfying moments for me personally in this line of work.
As a side note, keep in mind that I do not worry about domain fees at this point. So I will always auto-renew any domain even if it doesn’t perform and I haven’t made any money from it at all over the last year, simply because in the long run I believe it will be worth it for me. A year or two ago I would definitely have been more conservative and probably wouldn’t be as “careless” (for lack of a better word) as far as domain renewals go, which would have meant having less freedom in this regard and I would have definitely felt some form of pressure to get the site to perform over the first year. At the moment though, it’s not an issue.
“I currently have a second site that I’ve written about 22 posts for in the last month, but haven’t made any sales on it and am debating over whether to stick with it for a few more months or scrap it for another niche.”
What type of website is it? And is it based around a product that sells? It’s worth noting that I put a lot of work into choosing the correct niche before I ever start doing any work on the website itself. So when choosing the topic for a website, I am 100% guided by my chosen monetization method (in this case, AA), and every decision is made with that in mind. This makes a very big difference. So what I’m saying is:
Approach 1: “I’ll start a website on a subject I enjoy and then see what I can do to monetize it”
Approach 2: “What website can I start that I’ll be able to monetize well?”
The first approach is of course perfectly fine and that’s probably how the majority of websites on the web are conceived. The second approach on the other hand might not be as exciting to some, but it’s definitely far more efficient in terms of increasing your chances for generating a good income. So in Approach 1 it will often be an up-hill battle, while in Approach 2 most of the battle is already done BEFORE you’ve even launched the website.
So what I’m trying to say here is that you should be aware that I use Approach 2. A lot of what I’ve said in this thread may not apply to someone using Approach 1.
“I’d like to ask you about your approach to attack a niche; whether you’re using buffer sites, parasite sites, or you are creating a network from start or with expired domains.”
I don’t use any of the above as far as getting links to my sites goes. What I do is (and this is where I won’t offer too many details unfortunately) more or less the following:
- Find as many good websites as possible related to my niche.
2. Offer the owners of those websites certain help in improving the quality of their website, with no strings attached (this is the part I won’t elaborate more on, although anyone is free to come up with their own ideas)
3. Once that is done, some of the website owners will be very grateful and ask if they can return the favor. When that happens I ask them to take a look at my site and to link to it somewhere appropriate on their website if they think it will be useful to their users.
This is a fairly time consuming process, but I’ve automated a considerable part of it with the help of a hired programmer so that I save a lot of time and I only need to get involved at the point where chances are fairly high I can get a link from a particular website owner.
I do not use blog networks, I don’t give monetary compensation for links, I don’t do link exchanges, and I don’t do guest blog posts. Basically I try not to do anything that one day might be fairly easily identifiable and countered by the search engines.
How do you write your content to target keywords or phrases?
What I usually do is this:
– I’ll have one article for each of the major and most important phrases
-That’s it as far as on-site keyword strategies.
Once I’ve figured out the main keyphrases (usually anywhere between 2 and 10), my purpose is just to have as detailed reviews as possible. So for example if I am reviewing “Product Y”, I’m not going to just have 3-4 sections such as:
+ Pro’s / Con’s
+ Is it worth the money?
+ Warranty / service
Instead, I’ll have my review divided into 20, maybe even 30 short sections. Each section will have a <h2>header</h2> phrased as a question that I anticipate readers will be asking, and each section will probably be around 50 to 100 words long (this is not some magic rule, it’s just how long they come out to be – any length will do as long as it answers the question at hand comprehensively). So if the product in question is a certain Phone (let’s call it Phone X) for example, my review might be divided into sections such as:
– How long does the Phone X battery last?
– Does the Phone X screen smudge easily?
– How durable is the keyboard on this phone?
– How does Phone X compare to its most popular alternative, Phone Y?
– Can it survive being dropped from a desk to the ground?
– Is it difficult to update the software on Phone X?
– Are there many games available for Phone X?
– How good is the microphone quality on this phone?
– What are the most common problems with this phone as reported by buyers?
– How does the phone handle panorama photos?
– What’s the file access speed like on this phone?
etc. etc. (I’m making these up as I go, I don’t really have any experience in the cellphone niche). Each of the above would be a separate section in the review. Also, while I would be researching the niche and before I hire a writer to prepare the reviews, I would prepare a list of the questions I see people asking most frequently online regarding the products in my candidate niche. Based on that list I will prepare a sort of review template for my potential writer (I will of course also take suggestions from the writer before the template is finalized). Once the review template is finished and we’ve decided exactly on what questions are to be answered within each review (while still giving the writer some freedom to improvise where necessary, of course), they will use this template for pretty much every single review throughout my entire site.
The above approach not only provides for very detailed reviews, but it also adds a ton of extra potential long tail phrases that people will be able to find your reviews through.
So in short: don’t get caught up on trying to figure out every single keyphrase worth focusing for every single article – this should only be done for the main keywords, of which there will usually be a handful. For all other content just focus on answering actual questions people interested in the product might be asking. If you do that, you should naturally get very useful reviews that will also draw lots of “long tail” traffic as a side effect of simply being so detail-oriented.
“For those affiliates who don’t have a programmer or programming skills, or funds for same, how would you recommend they target sites in their niche? Running Google searches and going by PageRank? Running searches on keywords or phrases they’d like to rank for and going through the first couple of pages’ worth of non-commercial sites? What would you recommend as a tactic for identifying sites for building backlinks for someone with next to no budget and next to no technical skills, in other words?”
I’d definitely use Google as well as Bing (as they can give very different results) to search for websites related to your niche.
I wouldn’t be picky with PR at all if you’re just getting started, and if you choose your niche right (as in – one that is not competitive / one where websites doing well in the search results are not some huge authority sites) you shouldn’t even need high PR sites (I never needed them when I was starting out, at least). I would just individually assess the website and ask myself: “Is this a good website about the topic? Would I want to be associated with it?” If the answer is yes, I’d go for it regardless of any metrics this website has. Even if the website is completely unknown, but is high quality, chances are it will become more popular in the future, so it’s very much worth getting a link from it right now, as opposed to when the owner becomes “picky” due to increased interest in their site.
The way I used to do it if I remember correctly was to prepare a list of topics related to my niche. So if my chosen niche was “Phones” I might have a list of say:
– Mobile software
Then I’d search for each of those (and slight variations upon them) in Google / Bing, open each of the first 5-10 pages of results each in a different browser tab, then open each of the websites on those result pages in a separate tab (so now I’d have around 50-100 open tabs) and go over each of them determining if I think it’s of good quality.
Anyone just starting out and looking to attract traffic from organic search engine results should be aware though that the amount of work you’ll need to put into SEO is directly proportional to how difficult the niche you choose will be. I’ve literally had a website earn me $1000 a month without building a _SINGLE_ link to it, simply because it was an extremely low-competition niche. Obviously I got lucky with that one and it’s an exception, but my point stands. If one is sloppy with niche / topic selection, they’ll need to get much more links and from much higher authority websites to make the same revenues as someone who just spent an extra 2-3 days researching an easier niche.
“I was wondering…do you have any sort of ratios that you follow when it comes to number of links to Amazon vs content (word count, single page, etc.)?”
I don’t have any ratios, but if it helps: my reviews are anywhere from 1000 to 2000 words long usually, and will contain 3 or 4 affiliate links at various points. TopTenReviews dot com (IMO currently the best website in the world as far as monetizing via reviews goes, though some of their reviews are low quality IMO even though I’m sure they convert extremely well) often have 10 affiliate links on a 500-word page. I think the only important thing is not to “spam” the affiliate link and to place it where it makes sense.
“Do you write more than one article if the item is hot? i.e. phone x tricks and tips, what to know before buying phone x, etc. Or do you make one longish piece instead?”
I definitely prefer one long article, it’s much easier to manage and satisfy the readers’ needs that way. If the article turns out to be too long I might break it down into 2 pages.
“Do you just try to get traffic from Google?”
Out of my search engine traffic, 30% comes from other search engines than Google.com. So when I say “Google” I usually mean “Search Engines” in general, not just Google.com.
“Let’s take an example of a niche you probably aren’t in, pressure cookers.”
Actually, pressure cookers were one of the VERY first niches I tackled, although that was one of my test sites that did not survive, but I learned a bit from it.
“Is “pressure cookers” the only phrase you would run a search on to determine whether the niche is overly competitive or not”
Definitely not. “Pressure Cookers” is a very strong transactional term and you’d pretty much need an online store or a VERY high authority website to have a chance of ranking well for it. I wouldn’t even check that term because I can immediately tell, from experience, that it would be too competitive and not worth my efforts.
“… or would you also run searches on individual products in that niche”
Individual products are also transactional terms, and I wouldn’t even check those. Here are some examples of things I would actually check:
Best pressure cooker
Pressure cooker reviews
Pressure cooker rankings
Pressure cooker comparisons
Pressure cooker guide(s)
Pressure cooker buying guide(s)
Top 5 / 10 pressure cookers
*Popular Pressure Cooker Model* review
I’d check the above and more (all of which are not transactional terms, but are informational terms used by people fairly deep in the product purchasing cycle who are searching for INFORMATION about a product) and based on the information I gather from them all I’ll form an opinion of whether the niche is worth it for me.
“Wouldn’t it be true for most products (especially if you’re using a model number in the search) that retailers would predominate at the top of the search results?”
If the search engine is working properly, retailers will predominate at the top for transactional terms only (terms where the search engine believes the immediate intention of the searcher is to buy a product, not LEARN about it). In 90% of cases, the “raw” name of a product or product group, without any prefixes / suffixes, will be a transactional term.
My purpose when creating a website is to “catch” the visitor when he hasn’t yet made a final buying decision (because those would be searching using terms that will return retailers), but are contemplating a purchase and are at the “compare and analyze” stage. I then want to make sure they see my website as the ultimate resource for their needs and that they don’t have the need to leave my website to make their decision on whether to buy or not, and what to buy exactly.
“Or are you searching on generic phrases such as “electric pressure cookers”, or “8 quart pressure cookers” or something more generic like that? I’m trying to understand what level of searching you’re doing to make this determination. . .”
Those are also transactional queries, albeit more specific. Definitely not something I’d even take a look at. “Best electric pressure cookers” though <– completely different story.
EDIT: some terms can be both transactional and informational at the same time. For instance, it is most likely that someone typing in “pressure cooker” is looking to buy them, but it’s also possible that they are not sure what a pressure cooker is and want to find out. To address the latter group, Google will usually throw a Wikipedia article and/or an article from another high authority site into a mix of retailers.
“Do you use social media like Facebook or Twitter for your sites?”
I don’t use Facebook or Twitter.
“Let’s talk the future of Amazon Associates; are you worried that affiliate sites might get phased out of Google as they now show more ads and there are so many commercial sites? What would you do if that happened?”
Buyers will always want the opinion of an Expert in a given niche before they buy something though, in my opinion. Having an ad campaign doesn’t change much in my view because, for me at least, I’m not trying at all to capture traffic with a commercial intent (that indeed can be made obsolete by a successful social media ad network) – that is work for online stores, not affiliates, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m capturing traffic looking for an expert to provide them with information before they buy, and while the means for reaching such an expert might change over the years (for instance, websites might become obsolete for affiliates), the underlying goal of wanting an expert opinion before actually making a purchase decision won’t change (at least not until super intelligent Artificial Intelligence is introduced to the internet AND people begin to trust it completely, which likely won’t be during our lifetimes) and hence affiliates will continue to prosper.
Of course, Amazon in particular might at some point decide that they want to close their affiliate program because of a belief that they don’t need it. The moment this happens though expect some other huge player to take over and see what happens when the millions of sites advertising Amazon products suddenly begin to advertise for BestBuy.com.
So in my opinion: the future of the Amazon Associates program is not known (as is not known the future of pretty much any one single monetization method on the planet), but affiliates as a whole I believe will be doing even better in the future than they are doing today, as more and more people decide to start buying online.
I think this post has a ton of great insight into a super affiliate’s Amazon Associates strategy that they used for their Amazon Affiliate website. I think the main takeaway from this huge post is really to make your posts super high quality and useful to the user. This affiliate also seems to emphasize market research and outreach, which of course are also very important. I found it interesting that they didn’t place a lot of value on running social media accounts, as that is one of the major ways I get traffic, build audiences, and do outreach.