For a lot of internet marketers, especially beginners, the dream is to get online and build a business that can work for itself. One of the most popular forms of this is selling someone else’s product for a percentage of each sale. Also known as affiliate marketing.
You don’t have to worry about customer support. You don’t have to worry about inventory. You don’t have to worry about shipping. You don’t have to worry about refunds.
The dream business for many, which is to get a website up, rank it and have an automated income. And in my opinion there isn’t really an online business model that can be more hands off than affiliate marketing is…once you get it right.
Unfortunately most beginners will not get it right the first time, or the second, or the third, or any time soon after that. So my goal with this post is to point out some of the most common mistakes that beginners make and give you my best advice for making affiliate marketing work as quickly as possible for you.
Also I want to point out that I am specifically talking about making money with affiliate marketing using SEO, although a lot of these points can be applied to other forms of traffic.
Here are my 10 most common mistakes that beginners make:
- Mistake #1: Trying To Compete With The Boy Boys
- Mistake #2: Going After Too Big Of Keywords Right Away
- Mistake #3: Not Starting With Long Tail Keywords
- Mistake #4: Not Thinking About Buyer Intent
- Mistake #5: Unrealistic Reviews Or Information
- Mistake #6: Avoiding “0 Searches A Month” Keywords
- Mistake #7: Going After Random Niches
- Mistake #8: Not Doing Any Market Research
- Mistake #9: Not Looking For Affiliate Programs First
- Mistake #10: Trying To Reinvent The Wheel
This is a mistake those most people who are just beginning make right off the bat. They think that they are going to come in and compete for a keyword like “make money online” right away.
I think one of the reasons that they do this is because they are thinking “big money” right away – and it’s very hard to do that in this business.
That’s almost like you going in with no training and trying to fight a UFC fighter and expecting to win…it’s just not going to happen. It’s understandable that you want to make big money quickly with affiliate marketing, but if you understand it’s just not going to happen that quickly or easily it’s going to save you a lot of time and trouble.
I think too many people come in with the vision of their mind of the guy shown on some infomercial that works 30 minutes a day and is making a couple million dollars a year. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it going to happen any time soon for someone just starting? Probably not.
And there are a lot of mistakes that piggy back off trying to compete with the big boys immediately. Because of that these mistakes are in no particular order; a lot of them actually go with each other.
As I said, many of these mistakes are fit closely together and this one fits very closely with mistake #1. Many beginners try to, again, go after keywords like “make money online” right away. There are SO many reasons a beginner should almost never go after a big keyword like that right away (or maybe even ever).
The biggest one is because you’re never going to rank for it. Flat out. Remember, I’m talking to beginners here. Are you going to go in and out score Barry Bonds in his prime in a home run derby? Absolutely not. It’s not much different here…you just don’t have the experience to rank for keywords like that yet. And even with a lot of experience, it’s still extremely hard. It’s takes a lot of time and patience these days, and usually a good bit of investment these days.
With the way that Google has changed over the passed couple years, rankings have slowed a ton – specifically for larger keywords. So even if you are really experienced, it can take a year, 2 years, or even more to rank for the really big keywords.
The good news is that long tail keywords can still rank fairly quickly. Not to mention long tail keywords are much easier to convert…
I know what you’re thinking, that’s the same thing as mistake #2 dummy! But it’s not. Well it kind of is, but I want to make sure this articulates correctly and I REALLY want to point out long tail keywords.
One of the reasons is because of something I talked about above, they rank quicker. When you’re going after a very broad keyword and you don’t even see it move into the top 100 in the first 6 months – it’s not going to do a lot of positive things for your affiliate and internet marketing future. Yet if you’re going after a long tail keyword and you see it hop up to one of the top few pages in the first couple months or so – it’s going to keep you motivated. It’s going to help keep you moving and it’s going to give you hope.
Another reason I like long tail keywords is because they are very specific. This means that conversion is a whole lot easier!
I can tell you that I’ve ranked for long tail keywords that get “100 searches a month” that have made me more money than very large keywords. And I’m talking about terms like “electronic cigarettes” that get 100,000+ searches a month. The reason for this is that long tail keywords are SPECIFIC.
Lets just think about the term “electronic cigarettes”. So for a term like this, someone could be searching for a number of different reasons. They could be looking for health information, facts, statistics, laws, or a number of any other things.
Now if someone searches for the term “what is the best electronic cigarette” it’s obviously going to get a lot less searches right? But what it does is tell you exactly what the person is looking for. They are looking for you to help them figure out what the best electronic cigarette is, so you know exactly what your traffic coming to that page is looking for. With long tail keywords you can give people exactly what they are looking for, which ends up sky rocketing your conversion rate.
Don’t even be afraid to go after super long tail keywords to start to get some confidence under your belt. You may get very little visitors from super long tail keywords, but they are going to be very targeted and it will do a lot for your confidence, which is a really big deal.
This is something else that people just don’t think of when they are first starting. I’ll explain more with examples, but the best way to explain buyer intent is the question, “how far along is this person in the buyer process”?
Most people who search for “electronic cigarettes” are not going to be very far in the buyer process. They are usually just starting the buying process, or they are just looking for information like facts or stats.
Yet someone who is searching for “what is the best electronic cigarette” is pretty far along in the buyer process. They’ve done their research. They’ve got the facts, the health information, and everything else in the first parts of the buying process. Now they are at the end of the buying process.
At this point, they know that they want an electronic cigarette…now they just need help finding out what the best electronic cigarette is. And that is where you come in and give your advice. You help them find what they’re looking for, and you get what you’re looking for (a sale).
ALWAYS think of buyer intent before going after keywords. Put yourself in place of the person doing the search. “If I was searching this, why would I be searching this? What exactly am I looking for”. If the answer to those are to eventually buy something, the buyer intent is good.
This is just a quick mistake that I want to cover on the conversion side. This isn’t AS much for beginners because the biggest problems beginners have is with picking the wrong keywords and ranking, but it is still a problem beginners have once they rank.
Make your reviews or information authentic. I’ll mostly talk about reviews because that’s the easiest to articulate here.
Don’t make a review that just tells visitors how the product is the best thing in the world. Make it realistic and authentic. List things you like about the product but ALSO include at least one thing you don’t like (even if it’s minor).
As a quick super abbreviated example:
“I love this brand of e cigarette because it feels real. The inhale is very strong, the smoke is thick, and it tastes awesome. They have a ton of different selections for flavors and they have a great reputation. The only thing I wish they would improve is the battery life because I notice it dies quicker than some other brands, but I just make sure to recharge it each night so it doesn’t end up being a problem.”
Or I could list all the positives and say “the one bad thing is that the price is the highest on the market…” etc etc.
You get the point…don’t just tell the visitors that they’ve just found the best thing since sliced bread. Give them the real deal and be realistic.
I’m going to make this one pretty short. Understand that the keyword planner just gives estimates of searches being done for a keyword. I’m going to tell you that I rank for keywords that get “0 searches a month” that have made me a good bit of money.
Use common sense along with the keyword planner, and don’t discount a keyword just because it gets “0 searches a month”.
I personally like to go into niches that I have experience with or that I’m interested in. You don’t have to go this route, but at the very least, don’t just go into some super random niche to start.
In my opinion people stick with it a lot longer when they are interested in the topic at hand.
There’s a lot of reasons that I like to start in niches I have experience with. There is a purpose. Content comes easier. You’re more motivated. It’s more fun. The information is usually more real and authentic.
As an example, I got into the e cigarette niche because I had experience with it. They actually helped me quit smoking too. So not only did I know a lot about them (the content and reviews came easy), but also there was a purpose. This was something that I knew could change people’s lives for the better – I knew this because it’s a product that did so for me.
Now this doesn’t mean that just because you are into something you should go into that niche…but I’m saying at least start there. Research more into what other types of sites are ranking and see if there is a market for affiliates and then start doing your keyword research. And this leads me into the next mistake…
This one is a little harder for beginners, but it’s still a really important one to understand and can’t be skipped.
You need to do market research to first see what type of sites are ranking, and second to see if there is an affiliate market for it.
As a quick example, maybe you are a realtor in Los Angeles. So you think to yourself “Well, if I rank for ‘houses for sale in Los Angeles’ I’ll kill it. It’s pretty long tail too!”. Ahhh, not so fast. Do your market research.
Go to Google, search for the keyword, and see what type of sites are ranking.
Lets go search for “houses for sale in Los Angeles”…
Those are the results we get…not a good sign. Why? Because you’re not seeing any smaller business sites or smaller affiliate type sites. You are seeing a whole bunch of huge authority sites dominating the SERPs, and that’s just the way it is in some markets and for some keywords.
Does it mean you can’t rank for it? No, but as a beginner, I wouldn’t even put it on your radar.
If you are unsure about a site’s authority, you can always throw the domain into a tool like AHREFs and run a check…
As you can see, the top site ranking for this keyword has almost 100,000 DOMAINS pointing to it and over 50,000,000 links (that’s 50 MILLION links)! That is a ton of authority. So I usually scan the first page and I’ll go and run a check on any domains that I don’t recognize. I wouldn’t have normally ran zillow.com because I already knew that domain had a ton of authority…it’s a well known site. I just scan the first page and if there’s any domains I don’t recognize I scan them to see what type of authority that they have.
There was one site ranking on the homepage that I didn’t recognize “sothebysrealty.com”. So I ran that one…
As you can see, even this site (in the 8th spot) has over 10,000 referring domains and over 35,000,000 links. Authority sites are dominating the first page and this is not a good sign.
Again, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. But for a beginner, it means you should probably stay away from it. Even for more advanced people my advice would be prepared to put a lot of time and investment into the project…make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
I know it sounds crazy, but there are people that will start ranking for something, only to find out there aren’t any affiliate programs for what they’re trying to sell.
This one is pretty simple…make sure there are affiliate programs for something.
It’s as simple as going to Google and typing in “product affiliate program” or “market affiliate program”.
And it even ties into doing market research. For a lot of terms, you want to make sure you see some affiliate sites ranking…see what those affiliates are doing. What and WHO are they selling, which leads to point 10…
This last mistake is a little further down the road as well, but it’s important enough to throw in here.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, see what the top affiliates are doing, and start there. I’m specifically talking about conversion here. Look of the site, angle of sale, and products they are recommending.
The chances are that many top ranking affiliates have done their research and testing.
So start with what they are doing, THEN start making tweaks and testing from there.
Alright so to sum things up, the biggest mistake that beginners make with making money with affiliate marketing is just trying to go too big too quick. They never get traction and it crushes their enthusiasm and drive.
So make sure you get out of the mindset of striking it big quickly, it very unlikely to happen.
Take your time with your keyword research and find some good long tail keywords. Think of buyer intent…how far along is this person in the buyer process? Do your market research to see what types of sites are ranking to make sure it’s doable for you, being a beginner and all.
From there you are on your way.
Get your site up and make sure you are optimized how we teach at OMG Machines. From that alone sometimes you can see some good traction.
Then you start the link building, again following what is laid out for you in our training.
At the start of things don’t worry too much about design and all of that stuff, just get moving. Then as you start moving to the top of the SERPs you can start making changes with design and conversion stuff.
I’ve seen too many people spend months and months getting a site to look good and then do nothing with it or have the project just not workout.
Hopefully this helps you in your affiliate marketing journey!