Affiliate Site Analysis:

by on July 15, 2011

I received this comment the other day from Silke on one of my site analysis posts:

Great article and thank you for sharing your insights. I have an affiliate site that’s been up for just over a year. Sexy Shoes Expert, a.k.a. sexy shoe sex pert, yikes! I try to target women shopping for shoes and fashion accessories and have had some minor success. I realize now that the subject is very broad, competition is fierce and the name is all wrong. Over the past year I have written many articles and reviews, a lot of them target keyword specific, changed the layout to make it more user friendly, incorporated social media a.s.o. What is your opinion on the website? Am I only wasting my time because the subject is too broad? Should I consider shutting it down and starting over with a new name and subject matter? Any suggestions you might have for me would be greatly appreciated.

Well Silke, you asked for it and here it is.   You wanted an analysis of your site  It’s hard not to take criticism personally sometimes, so don’t take any of this the wrong way.

No, don’t change your subject matter or give up!  You have a great head start, you just need to focus it more.

For putting yourself on the spot like this here is your free link, along with a free keyword that I personally think you should try targeting on your site for practice, black and white high heels.  Yes, that link doesn’t exist yet you’ll make it exist, keep reading.

I took that keyword phrase from a quick Google Adwords tool keyword search for sexy shoes.  It has a bunch of people searching for it, but not that many strong pages ranking for it.  Title it EXACTLY that:  Black And White High Heels.

First off, clean up your home page.  Right at the top those widgets to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, the generic affiliate link to Endless, the Category list in the middle, and the extra links to your About and Contact pages are all just wasting your precious “link juice” off your home page.  You want to laser target your link power.

Check out this article on keeping your page rank for more info.  Basically think of your site as a cascading set of water fountains.  Your goal is to get a nice distribution of water or “link juice” flowing directly to the individual money pages, the place where you drive people to your affiliate links.  You have one big pool (your home page) draining into 10 pools, your individual category, About, and Contacts pages (none of which make you money) and then what’s left dribbling into your money pages.  You want your big pool to flow directly into 10 or 20 money pages, like the one you are going to make about black and white high heels.

Your home page also looks different than your My Blog section, with no side bar.  Your entire site should have consistent navigation and a consistent feel.

Stop linking to your Category pages, like I said it’s a waste of your link power.  Many of your posts have links to your sexy shoes category page, but driving people to a category page is not a good way of targeting.  Make a single “Shopping for Sexy Shoes” post, link to that instead, and spend time making it the perfect post on how to shop for sexy shoes.

Lose that “Stumble for WP” plugin, replace it with a Related Posts plugin like WordPress Related Posts that will let your link juice flow between your posts more and draw people to other posts.

Remove a bunch of the link junk you have on your sidebars (that sweepstakes link, the wikio link, the translator, the grab our button) and replace them with a “Most Popular Posts” list like I have here and put your 5 or 10 big money posts on the list.  It lets every page of your site drive your “link juice” to those posts for the search engines to see.

Now for the posts.  Take your Ruffle Peep Toe Pumps as an example.  I just picked a recent post as an example:

  • Your image has no link!  Clicking on the link there should take you to that shoe on Endless or Zappos.
  • Put links in the text to some shoe like those through an affiliate link!  See my article on Amazon link targeting for more details.  It’s relevant for non Amazon links too.  Stuff like “And then I found these awesome ruffle peep toe pumps for this amazing party I went to last Friday“  By linking that entire statement, it might get people who are interested in the show as well as people who might think it’s a link about the party.  GET THEM TO CLICK THROUGH, even if you have to be sneaky.  But it only works if they get to your site in a shopping mood to start with.
  • Improve your call to action!  At the bottom you put a link you have a “Shop At for shoes!”  replace that with “Check out these amazing heels I found on closeout sale before they sell out!” and link to a sale page or clearance page at Endless.  Check out my article on link targeting for more details.

Remember, the key is to get people who are interested in buying shoes to your site by keyword targeting, then getting them to click on an affiliate link however you can.  Tempt them, tease them, whatever it takes.

From my black and white high heel suggestion above, create a new post with maybe 2 or 3 shoes, small images that link to affiliate pages for those shoes coupled with links that entice people to click on them.  Make sure you use that keyword in various forms in the article without over doing it, something like

“I found the best black and white high heels the other day while shopping for a special date with my guy.  They didn’t go with the pink outfit I was planning, but then I found this amazing black and white dress that went perfect with these high heels.  Normally I like my heels to be 3″ and these black and white beauties had a 4″ heel which made me a bit nervous that I couldn’t walk right.  They actually were mostly white, maybe I should call them white and black heels, but that just doesn’t sound right you know?”

The exact keyword is only in there once, but all the parts of it are scattered in there 3 or 4 times.  As long as you don’t overdo it, Google eats that stuff up.

Then link that from your side bar from your Most Popular Posts list you are going to make and I can pretty safely say that you’ll see traffic for that keyword

Don’t take any of this the wrong way, you are way ahead of the pack already!  You have an aged site with plenty of original content, year old backlinks, and some page rank already.  Make a better focus on your individual product/post pages and remove the link junk and you’ll see a big jump in search engine traffic in the coming months. Add to that a focus on building keyword focused backlinks to your individual money posts (not categories!) and you’ll have a great site for yourself.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Silke July 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Wow, I am so glad I asked you for advice. Now I really got my work cut out for me. I found so much useful information and I only read it once so far. I will have to print it out and re-read it several times to make sure I don’t miss anything. You mentioned to take out the links on the side bar, the translator has actually given me a bump in traffic recently. I’m a little reluctant to get rid of it completely. (Who knew the site would be popular in China.) Should it go in the footer, maybe? I appreciate the time and effort you put into this project.

Jeff July 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I work with Silke and so this was very interesting to hear the feedback. From what I know I agree with everything you said. And of course learned some things as well. I found out about you on the warrior forum when reading about your link building experiment. Thanks for doing such a useful and education project! I know many people appreciate it!

El Plumber (admin) July 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

Well Silke, for the translator it all depends on what your main goal for your site is. If your short term goal is to develop a worldwide following of shoe addicts then maybe keep it on there. If your goal is to capture search engine traffic and convert that to cash in your bank account, I don’t think many people in China are going to be ordering from Endless or Zappos through your affiliate link. Now maybe you are getting Chinese speaking traffic in the US who actually want to buy shoes, and maybe you are getting traffic from shady businesses in China looking to make counterfeit brand name shoes.

The only way to tell for sure would be with testing! Don’t ask me for the technical details, I’m not familiar with that translator tool. But ideally you would change your affiliate links on that page to something you could track. Make a different Amazon or Endless tag like sexyshoeschina-20 and see after a couple months if you get any conversions.

Silke July 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Oh, that makes sense. I think I’ll scrap the translator and stay focused on my target market here in the US. Thank you for explaining it so well. Don’t most search engines have build in translators anyway? I started implementing some of your suggestions and will continue working at it over the coming week. I also published the black and white high heels article. :)

kurt August 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I noticed when i clicked on the black and white high heel link that it stayed in the same window and took me there. Is there an advantage in your opinion to do it this way vs having it set to open a new window and therefore keeping the reader on your site at the same time?

btw- thanks for the test inspiration.

El Plumber (admin) August 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Kurt, it’s mostly laziness on my part that I didn’t mark that link to open in a new window. Since the majority of my sites are Amazon affiliates, my main goal is to get a a visitor to click through to Amazon and stay there until they’ve checked out. Makes it really hard to accurately gauge my bounce rate. What most analytics software thinks is a bounce I would count as a conversion.

kurt August 2, 2011 at 11:39 am

that makes sense :) . I just started using shopperpress on an amazon site. It keeps the shopper in your site filling the shopping cart until they go to ‘checkout’ at which time they get taken to amazon shopping cart with the products already in it.

too new a site to gauge whether or not it is working, but something worth checking out.

El Plumber (admin) August 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Kurt, you will never ever ever be better than the real at getting people to actually buy products. Never. Ever. They spend billions of dollars on user experience and tweaks to get people to buy stuff.

Your one and only goal is to get people in a shopping mood to click on your affiliate link which takes them to Amazon. I see having people play with shopping carts on your site is just a way to lose potential sales. Personally, if I ever see that page on Amazon that says “so and so wants to add Overpriced Product X to your cart, do you want to allow this?” I close the window.

kurt August 2, 2011 at 6:52 pm

yeah, I have considered that, but on the flip side the cookie length is much longer if I get it in the cart. The only thing I can do is test it out and see what happens.

Don Martin December 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

Re: Kurt Have you done any experiment with the cart?

Thought I would chip in on some advice for Silke: my experience is that calm pages convert better. What is a calm page? One that has no blinking lights, very few banners etc in the sidebar, and few links – but highly visible links, on the page.

Obviously this will depend on the demographics of your audience but roleplaying the buyer, the front page gave me a headache and I would probably have returned to a google search

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