Website Affiliates

One of the more common Internet marketing techniques involves using affiliates. There are definite benefits and drawbacks to this approach, and the Internet gives it a special twist. Keep reading for a close look; maybe by becoming an affiliate — or using affiliates — you may improve your traffic, and your bottom line.

The idea of affiliates is similar to a traditional marketing technique of two companies helping each other out. For instance, when two companies that are similar in purpose but cover slightly different needs find that their customers have a high demand for one another, then they may decide to send customers to the other in exchange for the same service from the other company. The company does not lose any business this way, but gains a considerable amount from the other company.  

Internet affiliates work pretty much the same way. A website may list a link on the side of its page to a similar service or another website that they find cool. The other website generally does not serve the exact save purpose and should not steal any business from the original website. In exchange, the other website should do the same. This can also be called “link sharing.”

There are plenty of ways that websites can use affiliates. They might include a blurb about another company’s service after check-out, have a small advertisement go out with all media, or do just about anything; it is only limited by creativity and resources. The idea is just that whatever one website is doing, the other should replicate in kind.

In addition to driving traffic directly from one website to another, this type of marketing can also help with search engine ranking. Search engines count the number of links that direct users to your website, and that factors into the ranking of your website. The more links that come in, the better. Also, if the links are from a website with a similar purpose, they have a higher value than random links. That way, it is beneficial for websites to set up affiliates with similar websites.

Traditionally, affiliates have been equal entities looking to benefit from one another. However, there has been an increase in unequal affiliates in recent years. One much larger and more popular website will seek to become an affiliate with a smaller one. However, instead of simply trading links, they will instead have the smaller website pay for the privilege.

{mospagebreak title=Paid Affiliates}

Instead of benefiting from the additional business generated by the affiliate, the larger website is benefiting from the money paid for it. In essence, they are selling advertisement space on their website. However, the relationship is considered to be more permanent, and can often involve a single payment, rather than a monthly rented space or “pay per click.”

The larger website may wish to engage in a paid affiliate relationship because it is simpler and does not require as much upkeep. It is also a much easier to way to get more money up front, rather than waiting for a check every month.

Unfortunately, a large number of these websites offering paid affiliates are more or less cheating those with which they become affiliates. In a typical advertisement space, the website offering the space must provide figures on visitors and clicks that will let investors know how much they can expect to get for what they are paying for the advertisement.

In an affiliate relationship, it is often less official. People entering into the agreement are generally just looking for a way to generate traffic for their website. They are not as worried about statistics and guaranteed return on investment. As such, it is easier for the person selling the affiliate space to exaggerate anticipated results and traffic figures. It is an unfortunate outcome of this type of relationship.

People taking advantage of paid affiliates should be aware that they must be careful with the people from whom they are buying affiliates. You should check to make sure that there really is a good deal of activity and traffic on the website. In general, the better the website’s rankings in the search engines, the better the investment is for you.

There are people offering paid affiliates that are doing it honestly. In these cases, it can actually be a better investment than a standard advertisement. The rates are generally cheaper and there are definite advantages to affiliates. Overall, you have to weigh the pros and cons and then determine if it is worth getting an affiliate over an advertisement. Much of it depends on your own preferences.

{mospagebreak title=Benefits}

The main benefit of a paid affiliate is relatively obvious. People see the affiliate link on the highly trafficked website, and they should follow it to the smaller, paying website. This should be a good source of traffic for the smaller website. In this manner, it is more useful than a standard affiliate relationship, since the website providing the affiliate has more traffic and has more to offer that way.

Since affiliate links are not actually advertisements, they often look more appealing, and people have a better chance of not ignoring them. This will drive more people to the website than any standard advertisement would. Often, affiliate links take the form of endorsements, so devoted customers of the first website will see these beneficial reviews and will want to visit the second website, rather than just being mildly curious, as they would be with an advertisement.

Affiliate links also have an advantage over normal affiliates in that they are valued more by search engines. Because the website offering the affiliate link is larger, it carries a larger value with search engines when it has a link from its web page. It is much more valuable with search engines than a standard advertisement, which is often marked as “no follow” with search engines. Therefore, standard advertisements are often not counted at all by search engines.

As previously mentioned, paid affiliate links often come at a lower price than standard advertisements. Although many of them can be worth less than their fee, they can equivalently be worth substantially more. Often, people selling affiliate space are just trying to get some easy money and are not trying to get everything they can out of what they are offering.

Paid affiliates can be beneficial for someone looking for an easy way to get people to their website. As mentioned, it is generally a one-time fee and is easy to execute and maintain. You do not have to worry about monthly visitor statistics or any of the more complicated maintenance requirements of advanced modern advertising.

Unfortunately, there are some negative aspects of paid affiliate relationships. Overall, depending on personal preferences, these negative preferences may cancel out the positive aspects of paid affiliate marketing.

{mospagebreak title=Drawbacks}

A large drawback of paid affiliate relationships is that, because they are less official than standard advertising relationships, you can not be as sure of the investment that you are making. It comes down to a matter of trust and personal feeling. If you are secure in making that kind of investment, then you should just keep in mind that you must keep a close eye on what results you get from the affiliate links.

Another negative aspect of paid affiliates is that it is still possible to get a free affiliate: that is, the same kind or relationship that I described previously. It does take more work to find another website that is interested in this kind of relationship. It is also not very likely that you will be able to find as large of a website that is willing to go for a free affiliate relationship as would be willing to go for a paid one.

Another problem with paid affiliate links is that quite often the websites offering them will offer them to numerous other people at the same time. When you pay for the affiliate link/blurb, you are going to be lumped in with numerous other websites, and it is much more likely that your website will be overlooked by visitors. This aspect of affiliates also makes them appear more like ads, which also decreases the number of people that actually visit them. This also decreases the relative benefit of the link on search engine rankings.

One issue that you can have with paid affiliates is that you have no way to guarantee that the website will keep your link up if you are working with a one-time fee. Once you have sent your money, it is just on the other website’s honor that they will keep your affiliate link up indefinitely. If they take it down, there is no real avenue of recourse for you.

Overall, paid affiliate relationships come down to a matter of trust. If you really trust that the other website has a lot of traffic to offer you and it will not attempt to steal your money, then you could have a great deal. There are plenty of benefits to paid affiliate links. However, there is a lot to be careful about. It is not a relationship that you should jump into without careful consideration. In and of itself, an affiliate marketing plan is not necessarily a good or bad idea.

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