Monday, December 24, 2012

Is Amazon's aStore A Waste Of Time?

What's wrong with using an aStore?


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When I was starting out as an amazon affiliate the first thing that stood out to me as a great idea was the aStore. It sounded great you could build in entire store around any niche or topic in a few minutes and start pushing traffic to the site. After using Amazon aStores for awhile though it was clear that Amazon had set up the aStore feature in a way that severely limits it's usefulness for affiliates. Most of it's limitations are due the use of iFrames to display the webstore. Let's see the different areas where aStores are limited:

  1. PPC Marketing. The major ad networks like AdWords or MicroSoft's AdCenter will not allow you to drive traffic to a page that has iFrame content on it. You can drive traffic to a page that then links to your store but that will drive down the click through rate in a hurry. Instead of using an iFrame you may think of driving traffic directly to your aStore web address which could work except it's against Amazon's TOS and they'll send you a stern warning if they notice it (and probably ban you if you continue). That leaves you with the smaller ad networks many of which have problems with click fraud and whose traffic is less targeted.
  2. Google Organic Search. The iFrame also creates problems when trying to build links back to your store. You see when you embed the iFrame into a page it is essentially treated by Google in the same way a link is treated. So none of the content from the aStore is ever seen as being part of your website content. Without content you could build tons of links all of which would be essentially ignored by Google because they have no related content. Now you could get around this by writing content for your product and then linking through to the product in your aStore. Then you could build links to the review pages but you could do that without a store by simply using links to Amazon itself, so where is the advantage of an aStore?
  3. Social Networking.  You could use social networking to promote your aStore and the products it contains. Amazon though actually makes it much easier to promote items on Twitter or Facebook directly from the affiliate toolbar which links directly to Amazon.

What do you really need to make an Amazon Store work?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How To Move From Blogger To A Self Hosted Wordpress Blog

Blogger has been very good to me I love the simplicity and the ease. You can literally get a blog up and running in no time at all. When I used to read other blogs saying that you had to get your own domain and hosting company I would always wonder what the big fuss was all about. As time went by though more and more things I wanted to do with one of blogs simply wouldn't work on blogger. I found that I wanted my blog to be more like a website I needed PHP links, stand alone pages and JavaScript apps. Things that just can't be done on blogspot.com.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Google Hypocrisy: Blogger Affiliate Ads With Adsense

Okay this story got on my nerves a bit. I opened my blogger account today to see that Google has announced that blogger blogs can now run affiliate ads through Google Adsense. Why does this bother me? Well, awhile back I tried to promote one of my other blogspot blogs with Adwords. However, I was told that my site had low quality links (commission junction and amazon affiliate links) and so I would have to get rid of those before advertising with Google AdWords. This despite the fact that many of the advertisers are the very same ones that the AdSense program chooses for my blog. After about five emails back and forth with Google I realized that there was no way I'd ever get back on AdWords as long as I was doing affiliate blogging.

Now though that it is integrated with Google AdSense and Google gets a slice of the revenue (they don't reveal their percentage or who the advertisers are) they are fine with affiliate blogging. I have the feeling as well that since it basically a part of AdSense that AdWords will accept these affiliate ads without any problems whatsoever. Google would probably argue that their affiliate ads are a better "user experience" but that argument falls flat. This is Google hypocrisy at it's worst. Using a competitor's advertising program should not affect your ability to use AdWords that is unfair and creates a monopoly for Google.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blogspot Blogs: Getting Higher Rankings Without Link Building

I hear a lot lately about how blogs and blogspot.com blogs especially are not the best performers for affiliate marketers. Now I'll be the first to admit that there are some things I would like to do with my blogspot blog that I just can't. Google has limited them in many ways, most notably you can't really create your javascript apps within posts and you can't use PHP redirects because file hosting isn't allowed. While those features would be nice it also would make blogspot blogs more like regular HTML websites. So I've learned that a blog has different strengths and weaknesses from a website. Sometimes as affiliate bloggers we may tend to look at what is missing and forget about how we can take advantage of the blogging platform. Here are some advantages blogs have over websites and how you can maximize their effect:


  1. Blogs Are News.  Many blogs revolve around news and editorial content. Because of this blogs post that are new are treated as more relevant by Google than old ones. This is especially true in Google blog search where new results are heavily favored. You can take advantage of this by writing blog post often. More than that though try to keep up with announcements and trending topics for your niche and write about them early while a lot of people are searching for them. This will give you a boost in traffic and hopefully some natural links.
  2. Blogs Have A Homepage.  For blogs each blog post is a HTML page but your home page is the most important because more than likely it has the most links and PageRank. Take advantage of this by writing multiple posts on the same keywords and titles. Break big post up into two or three smaller posts. This will help create more keyword density for your homepage than if you jump from subject to subject.
  3. Blogs Have Sidebars On Every Page. Some people see this as a negative in that blogs have the same sidebar content for every post they make. However, you can turn this negative into a positive. How? By writing keyword content in your sidebars. Instead of using your sidebars for banner ads only try writing some mini post with keywords you want to get better rankings on. The keyword effect will be multiplied by however many pages make up your blog. I recommend going after a new keyword every two weeks or so as after awhile the effect wears off as Google sees that it is duplicate content.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Affiliate Blogging 5 Mistakes To Avoid

Affiliate blogging sounds great you can get paid to review items and give your opinion about things you already enjoy. Most however soon notice that they aren't getting enough traffic or that the niche they enjoy doesn't lead to many sales. That's when most people begin to get frustrated and start making key mistakes that end up hurting their blogs and websites. Frustration sets in and people give up on their blogs entirely. I know because I made some of these same mistakes and have many times thought about quitting altogether. Here are some of the mistakes to avoid:

  1. Thinking that you can do PPC with a blog. With Adwords  and Microsoft Adcenter's new restrictions on affiliates blogs it really doesn't make sense to waste time and money on PPC campaigns. Really blogs weren't designed with this purpose in mind. If you want to give PPC a try do yourself a favor and build an extremely targeted website with PHP redirects and cross your fingers that google still doesn't nail you with a low quality score.
  2. Filling the page up with ads. Sometimes when you're getting plenty of page views and very few ad clicks there is the temptation to fill up the page with various ads. Not just being content to have a few well placed ads for affiliate products you decide to add a bunch of different ad networks hoping one clicks with your audience. Guess what when I see a website with tons of ads I generally just click back on the web browser and find another. I'm sure many others do as well. When first starting out the goal should be simple get people to read your blog and keep coming. How do you do that? By giving a lot more than you take.
  3. Not building targeted links. Most people know that google looks at links in determining how to rank blogs and web pages in their search. So they go out and comment on a bunch of blogs and leave a link to their home page with the name of their blog. I know because this was what I was doing when started. What I didn't realize is that google looks at the surrounding text to see if it is related to your web page the more keyword related the better. And more importantly they look at the anchor text. Even if a keyword never appears on that web page if it appears enough times in related links the page will rank for that keyword.
  4. Participating in link exchange web sites. There are tons of sites out there claiming that they can get you traffic through a link exchange program. You enter your site and topic and find other great sites to link to and they will link to you. The problem is they hardly ever work this way often times you'll find that there are no sites that are related to yours or that the quality is just bad. Beyond that most sites will want to put your link on a page dedicated to links with no content. Guess what? Google will more than likely not even bother to index the page and give your site credit for the link. My advice don't bother with it. 
  5. Getting involved in time sink activities. Blogging takes a lot of time as it is don't waste time on activities that aren't helping your blog grow. What do I mean? Do you really have to check your AdSense account everyday? They'll let you know when you become a millionaire don't worry. It's okay to check your Webmaster Tools account to see how you rank for certain keywords but it really doesn't need to be done more than once a week. And google analytics don't even set it up until you're getting some decent traffic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Commission Autopilot - Copy And Paste Is Not A Marketing Method


Hi, I know I don't write on this blog very much but something I saw today online really made me quite upset. I opened my email and was greeted with a message about some sort of free affiliate marketing. Now if your like me then you know that most of these free software programs are just a way to get you to buy the REAL software. I like to check them out though because sometimes they can give you ideas for promoting your site or blog manually (which is what I mostly do).

I get to the download page for Commission Autopilot and download the free software. I then click out of my browser and surprise surprise I'm taken to a "live webinar". I put that in quotes because it wasn't live at all. I don't know if you've seen this there is now some software that will present your video as if it were a live seminar. The idea being that people will not want to leave as they will miss the chance to see a live demo. I know because I was sent an offer for that software as well. Now that didn't bother me that much because those are pretty standard marketing devices so I let him go on a bit.

As the spiel went on we learned that this guy has made a ton of money (don't they all) and that the big secret is a new trend called document sharing. He brings out that a big new trend is ebook readers like Amazon's Kindle and the iPad. And what do people read on those? Ebooks or PDF files. So the basic strategy he comes up with is to share PDFs with links embedded in them to some of the most popular document sharing websites. Sounds fine and good so far but you don't really need software for that now do you. You can easily create a PDF in OpenOffice and share it with some sites to gain a following in the Ebook market and promote yourself. So what does the software do? Well I was shocked to see that it takes people's articles from directories converts it to PDF (a use for which article directories were never intended) and doesn't even give them a link back to the original article. Well maybe this strategy might work right now but when the document sites become as flooded with copied spam documents then the effectiveness will be gone. Not to mention the violation of the of the original writers work.

Here is an idea if you want to dominate the Ebook market take some time and write something original. Copying and pasting is not a marketing method it is spam. If you want to get content from articles go ahead as you'll see I have some articles on this blog that I enjoyed and thought I'd share. And the authors don't mind, why? Because they have been credited as the author and a link has been given to the original work. This is how article marketing is supposed to work. I also write articles and distribute them myself and have gained links this way as well. However someone stealing my article embedding it in a PDF (which has no link value) and attaching their own affiliate links is unethical and clear violation of most article directory TOS and any applicable copyright laws.