Building a successful affiliate site today is more competitive and more difficult than it has been in the past. However, these higher barriers to entry aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They just mean that if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can isolate yourself from new competition in the long term.
Back in the day, simply having some keywords in your domain name and showing up with a few pages of content was enough. However, things are more competitive now. Therefore, you need to go above and beyond the types of sites that used to be good enough.
Throwing up a few pages of reviews and buying some spam backlinks might still work occasionally in the short term. But if you’re looking at building the type of authoritative affiliate site that can pay your mortgage, it’s going to take more than just showing up.
Let’s have a look at some successful affiliate websites, and then let’s talk about traits they have in common. We’ll talk about some things that make them unique, and what makes them so successful.
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Software: G2 Crowd
This website has nearly 500,000 validated user reviews of business software products. Targeting the business market is what works for them. To put it bluntly, software that’s geared towards businesses can be wildly expensive. However, businesses are willing to spend a lot more on software than individuals are in most cases. This leaves a lot of room for affiliates to grab a piece of the pie.
To succeed in this space, G2 Crowd needs a clean and easy-to-navigate interface. This gives viewers a way to quickly compare different software options. Further, viewers can put together their own comparisons to get an overview of the features that are the most important to them. What’s more, they also have access to in-depth reviews.
When businesses or individuals find software they’re interested in, they get a referral link. G2 says they have more than one and a half million active software buyers each month. Plus, this affiliate site encourages vendors to get in touch with them to become featured on their marketing platform.
This humble book website has grown to be one of the biggest forces in our economy. They sell just about any product you can imagine. And they run a lot of the Internet’s infrastructure on their hosting platforms.
While Amazon isn’t an affiliate site in the traditional sense, a large portion of their marketplace is filled with third-party sellers. Amazon essentially helps to promote and send visitors to these sellers in exchange for a fee from each sale. Additionally, for what it’s worth, Amazon’s growth has come in large part because they run their own affiliate program.
Whatever Amazon is, it’s worth paying close attention to this site and how they operate. Nothing on Amazon happens by accident. All of the categories, the design, the checkout process, the upsells, and more have been thoroughly tested for the best user experience and the strongest results.
AskGamblers is a hub for online igaming. They collect user reviews and vet sites for trustworthiness. They feature the best deals and promotions currently happening across all of the popular sites. Further, they also help settle disputes between players and online casinos.
In short, they found a lucrative market and thereby managed to find a way to serve both the players and the casinos.
This affiliate site gives casinos a platform where they can address and respond to negative reviews. Therefore, the honest and trustworthy sites rise to the top. Players benefit as well. They get bonuses, valuable information, and the assurance that they are being treated fairly.
Computers: Tom’s Hardware
This affiliate site has a popular forum filled with user-generated content. It’s a popular place to ask questions and get educated responses quickly. This gives Tom’s Hardware a first-rate SEO ranking for multiple complex questions like this one: “Should I get a GTX 1050 or an R9 290?”
Tom’s Hardware has countless pages ranking for similar specific questions. People who are close to making an expensive hardware purchase are thereby drawn to this affiliate site. The site also offers trusted reviews, guides, news, and everything else that might appeal to people who are interested in computers and hardware.
Similarities Among These Successful Sites
Some traits you’ll notice in common among these sites is that they all rely on user-generated content. G2, Amazon, Tom’s Hardware, and AskGamblers all receive a considerable number of their visitors via content that was submitted by other users. This content might be reviews, forum posts, or something else.
Additionally, they all have excellent SEO rankings. They’re all skillful with marketing in general. Plus, they are sites that people want to spend time contributing to.
What’s more, they rely on traffic sources beyond search engines. They’re often doing things that are media-worthy in order to get organic PR, too.
Take Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch, for example. When a popular Twitch streamer is playing a game, viewers could see a link to buy that game from Amazon. Also, they encourage viewers to connect their Twitch to their Amazon Prime accounts. This supports their favorite streamers and has certainly made the Prime offering irresistible to many Twitch users.
Customer Service and User Experience
Most smaller affiliate sites see themselves as static entities. In other words, they focus on getting the click and referring the sale. Then they’re done.
However, the top sites take a much bigger sense of ownership. They are a lot more connected to their users. For example, a strong affiliate site will create returning visitors, even actual fans. Their visitors are not people who are just going to click through to their site once and never think about it again.
What makes the difference? It’s great customer support. That’s what drives word-of-mouth advertising. These major players are all about building a positive relationship with their site’s audience.
What’s more, these sites have all worked hard to create the type of content that converts. If you’re looking for business software, for example, and you’re a savvy business person, you want to read reviews from other users. You don’t want to just read sales materials from the companies themselves.
To give another example, say you’re looking to gamble online. You find a site that has user reviews you can trust. What’s more, it highlights the current best deposit bonuses and other offers. Then you know you’re getting the information you need. In a nutshell, you get a value-added experience from that affiliate site. That’s something every affiliate site should aim for.
Learn from These Sites and Make Your Affiliate Site Stand Out
We’ve looked at some top-tier sites here. Granted, they all have huge teams and massive budgets, not to mention years and years under their belts.
So maybe your affiliate site won’t be the next Tom’s Hardware or Amazon. However, you can still borrow elements from these giants. Look for what helped these sites succeed and apply those attributes to your own affiliate site at an appropriate scale.