As a link builder, facing a well established and highly sought after affiliate network with a client can be difficult to navigate – I often say on calls with clients that these networks are the bane of a link builder’s life!
Affiliates in eCommerce are part of the normal marketing channels, and whilst they are frustrating for SEO, we do understand the benefits and how they fit within a typical marketing strategy.
We have faced, on many occasions, great pieces of coverage, that are somewhat tarnished by publications using affiliate links – whether intended or not.
We have to accept, that especially in the economic times that we are facing, that publishers are facing a huge backlash from advertising budgets being cut, and staff on furlough. To survive, a channel that offers guaranteed ROI for the brand, and additional income from a simple link, is a no brainer.
So, how do we navigate around and with this channel? Here are our 5 top tips.
1) Establish at the kick-off the layout of marketing channels
We ensure when kicking off any new projects with clients that the question ‘Do you have an affiliate network set up and how do you utilise it at the moment?’ is part of our initial questions. This opens the dialogue and aligns our strategy so that we don’t waste time or resources on specific publications.
2) Get that list!
Whilst affiliates cover a wide range of web publishers, we always ask for a list of either all or noted publications within mainstream and niche media. The great thing about the World Wide Web is that there are basically limitless possibilities for links – yes we may have a list of ‘no gos’ but we see that as smart planning and time-saving.
3) Get smart about link reclamation
There is nothing more disheartening than pulling off a list of ‘unlinked’ mentions to find they are all just hidden affiliate links. Be mindful of your time, use initiative and utilise automation tools – filter out publications that are on your acquired media list, filter out low DA sites, and look over the articles before outreaching!
4) Don’t always focus on links
Got that killer campaign you know would be a perfect fit for a publisher who is on your brand’s affiliate list? Sometimes, throw caution to the wind and pitch anyway. As long as you’re building great links at the same time, that perfect piece of coverage that ticks all the brand awareness boxes isn’t all bad – particularly if it opens avenues to other sites picking up the article = lots of unlinked mentions to reclaim!
5) Keep an eye out for link spam
A regular backlink audit/check should be part of any digital PR’s client checklist. Keep an eye out for spammy, low DA coupon sites who are both linking through affiliates and through ‘clean’ links to your site. These could be weighing down your SEO as it could be sending warning signals to Google – whilst a range of links in your backlink profile is healthy — keeping an eye out that they aren’t getting out of control is key.
If you’re looking for more practical advice on link building for eCom businesses, don’t forget to check out these articles by our Digital PR team: