Page Building Strategies
Once you’ve selected your feed, you need to present it in a way that is going to help you convert. Here are some tips for how you should lay out your data feed site:
1. Use WordPress as the framework for your data feed site. WordPress ranks quickly and there are quite a few tools available that will let you load up your WordPress blog with products from data feeds.
2. Use multiple calls to action and link everything on product pages. E.g. ‘Buy Now’, ‘Add to Cart’, ‘More Details ‘, etc. Stick an ‘Enlarge Photo’ link below the product photo that links to the item’s page. Remember, the name of the game is getting them to click through to the merchant. That cookie needs to drop before you can get paid. So, link everything. Be clever.
3. Avoid duplicate content by mixing things up a little. Rename categories when possible. For example, a pet supplies merchant might have a category called ‘Just for Cats’. Change it to ‘Cat Toys & Accessories’. You can also group multiple items together on the same page. Most merchants will have 1 item per page. You can put 2 items per page and avoid duplicating their site structure. To get even more advanced, you could even blend two related data feeds from two different merchants.
5. Link to industry related web sites. If you’re selling golf clubs, link to golf.com, pga.com, etc. You can also add a sitemap – this is especially a good idea for data feed sites since they may ultimately have thousands of pages. The idea of linking to related/authority sites and using site maps are both basic SEO tactics.
6. Use redirects. Don’t link directly to the merchant’s site. Use redirects to “cloak” your affiliate links. The idea here is to look less like an affiliate site and more like a real merchant. Using redirects (a.k.a. cloaking affiliate links) has been shown to increase CTR and ranking.
7. Advanced Tactic: download all product pictures and host them locally. When you do host them locally, rename the files based on product names (making sure you use URL-safe filenames.). By doing this, you are distancing yourself from the competition and removing direct links to the merchant’s page. You will also get the benefit of getting clicks from image searches. Obviously this is something you need to automate with code. But doing it is trivial and should be implemented if you have the skill.
8. Add other content such as user comments, ratings, etc. You can auto-generate this (e.g. fake user reviews) or scrape and mix/spin from other sources like Amazon or Ebay. There are some tools that can do this, but I recommend you code this yourself or hire a coder to pull content according to your specs. This is frontloaded work, but once you get some tools to do this, you can use it over and over on all of your sites.
Maximizing ROI on Data Feed Sites
1. Don’t build one, build many. This is especially true if you are relying solely on organic traffic for results. Even if you get indexed quickly, ranking for multiple pages and keywords will take time. It could be months before you find out if a site/niche is doing well or sucking hard. Because of this time delay, you need to have multiple irons in the fire or you’re going to get discouraged. Make a commitment to put up at least 5 sites at a time, and you’ll increase your chances of success dramatically.
2. Use the feed strategically. Let’s say you find a feed with 5,000 sports related products. With the right tool, you could easily build out a 5,000 page WordPress site in a few minutes. But is that the best use of the feed? Why not split up the feed to multiple sites with 1,000 pages each? One site could have sports apparel, another exercise equipment, and others with hunting and fishing gear, etc. Not all feeds can be separated into logical segments like this, but it you should always at least try and think about ways you could use the data feed for more than one site.
3. Leverage your data feed sites to help rank other sites. Once your data feed sites get indexed, they are good for a little bit of link juice. Just don’t be dumb and interlink all of your sites with reciprocal links. Use one way links and only link to sites that make sense. You can link to your other data feed sites and any other sites you own. Let basic SEO and common sense be your guide.
4. Monetize more. Lots of people build out data feed sites and rely solely on the affiliate feed itself for income. That’s a mistake. You should monetize in other ways too. Add some CPA banners or text ads. Add related links to other affiliate programs (e.g. insert related products that click through to Amazon or Ebay using your affiliate I.D.) You can even sell links text links through a link broker or by posting in the classifieds on forums. As an affiliate, you are always looking to buy ads. Try to remember to look at your site from a publisher’s perspective. That will help you come up with other ways to monetize. Going Big Tip: install an ad server (OpenX is free) and hook up all your data feed sites. This will let you roll out new banners and ads across your whole network easily.
5. Build an email list. Throw up an aweber form and invite them to join your mailing list. ‘Join our newsletter to receive special discounts every month’. You can mail them later with related offers. Most of the time merchant’s themselves have a newsletter with these types of specials. Subscribe to it. Then you can just copy & paste, do a quick edit, and re-mail the info to your list. Adding your own affiliate link, of course. It will take a little bit of work to do each month, but if you’re organized it’s simple and can even be outsourced to an assistant.
Stay tuned for Part 3….