In any field, some themes occur over and over again. Mainly because they illustrate certain truths that bear repeating. In the AOM world (and affiliate marketing in general), one of these themes that you hear like a mantra is content is king. If you frequent any website where SEO strategy is debated, it may appear that nobody agrees on anything other than this.
And yet it’s commonly overlooked by even experienced site builders. Why is this so? I believe there are three main reasons: AOM itself, belief in a lack of ability and misunderstanding of use. Let’s look at these in detail.
1. AOM makes it easy. A mantra of my own is that Associate-O-Matic makes building a store effortless. But then comes the hard part. If you were to build an affiliate site without using AOM, how would you go about it? You would need some sort of site framework, such as a blog or portal (or – gasp! – code your own!). You would then need to create individual affiliate links to each and every item you wanted to sell. Then organize these into categories in your site framework (more coding?). The updating and adding/removing of links on a daily basis would soon require hours of work a day.
But using AOM makes all of that easy. You could build a usable site in an afternoon. And it would of course then be understandable to think that the work is done. Far from it. Now you’re ready for the real work of creating content and promoting your site. But the ease of construction lulls many into a sense of false security regarding the effort required to have a successful affiliate site.
2. But I can’t write! Another stumbling block is the idea that writing is a special skill or a gift that allows prose to flow off the page. Certainly natural writing ability is a plus, but it’s not a requirement. About the only essential is to spell the words correctly. That should not be a serious impediment to anyone these days (why it appears to be so is a mystery). It’s not difficult to get a few online sources (try to avoid Wikipedia) and then restate the information in your own words. A note here that you should never copy someone else’s text word for word. It’s plagiarism, and besides being wrong, will probably saddle you with a duplicate content penalty.
If you have first-hand knowledge of what you’re writing about, it can be a great inducement to selling. Many studies have shown that a direct, one-on-one first person approach is much more effective at reaching people than a bland, impersonal style. For example:
I know that you can do this. Writing isn’t that difficult. You may be surprised to find out that when I started, I found it hard too. But it got easier with practice. So if I can do it, you can as well.
You may be more inclined to believe that instead of someone saying, writing is easy. Anybody can do it. Write a review, a comparison, the history of an object, etc. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. A lot of content with perhaps some related keywords in the mix is never a bad idea. Thinking you can’t do it is often the only obstacle keeping it from happening.
3. Why am I bothering, anyway? The #1 reason for writing original content is to sell merchandise. That’s why you have the store in the first place. There are probably a million AOM sites selling videogames. How many were done in a day, and how many have interesting content, making the products being sold seem almost secondary? Good content will engage the reader, put him in a mood to buy, educate him on what he wants, and make him think “Yeah, that’s what I need!”. It will also include related keywords and terms, so search engines will consider the site an authority on the given topic. The site will rank higher, and more consistently for related terms. It will also be less likely to be seen as a duplicate site to the other 999,999 out there with no content.
It is not however, simply a list of keywords, strung together with no rhyme or reason. Those things may fool search engines for awhile, but not for long; then you’ll sink like a stone, or be de-indexed altogether. The people who program spiders are not stupid; they develop algorithms that seek out natural-looking text. This is why blogs generally rank better than affiliate sites. If you write for a human audience, rather than what you think the spiders are looking for, you will stand a much better chance than writing for spiders alone. Yes, it can be quite a bit more work, but success in the field of affiliate sales requires a lot of work. The fact that you may be doing it at home, or as a sideline business does not mean that you’ll make money with no effort. Just like building a real brick-and-mortar site in a shopfront downtown, there are no guarantees of success, but the more effort you put into it, the better your chance of seeing a return on your investment (of time as well as money).
Now that we’ve discussed some of the roadblocks to creating content, what do you do with it when you have it? One successful strategy is to put content related to your categories in custom boxes, set to the BT or BB (or even L and/or R) areas. Then you set up the box display rules to only show for specific categories. If you have a video game site set up for Xbox, Nintendo, Sony and PCs, then perhaps some history about the specific game platform would be a good idea. So when someone clicks on the Nintendo category, they could see information about the Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo, the evolution of the GameBoy, right up to the Wii, etc.
Reviews or comparisons are also good talking points. Perhaps you could feature a particular item on your home page (or again, in a custom box on a a category page) and point out the features. Or why it’s better (or not) than a similar item. Include tips on how to use it. Recommend similar items and don’t be afraid to go into detail on why you recommend them. If you have a book site, what about the last book you read? If the niche is kitchen items, toss in a few recipes (make sure to give credit to where they came from).
The more content you can add, the better chance you’ll get in the rankings. As I’ve stressed throughout, yes, it might be a lot of work. But the days of simply putting up a site and waiting for the money to roll in are long gone. Setting up a site with Associate-O-Matic is not difficult for most people; but it’s really one of the first steps in creating your site, not the last one.