If you’ve been an affiliate marketer you have probably noticed a few major changes in the past couple of years. Many affiliate marketers have watched their earnings tumble due to a couple of major changes. Here is what you need to know if you are going to keep running an affiliate marketing business this year.
Google Panda Has Killed Low-Level Affiliates
Many affiliate marketers whine that Google Panda has destroyed the Internet and ruined the affiliate marketing industry. This isn’t true. However, those sites that peddled low-level content have watched their earnings dwindle in recent months.
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However, Google Panda can actually help make your affiliate site more profitable. If you think about it, every low-level website that got knocked from the front page was replaced by a higher quality site. If you maintain a high quality site, you can thrive as an affiliate.
If you are going to write a post, you want it to sound professional and authoritative. Google Panda is slapping any sites that just regurgitate content without offering anything of value. The founders of sites like Suite101 were shocked when their search engine traffic dissipated. I had some old Suite101 articles published that lost almost all of their traffic after Panda. As discouraging as this was, it came as no surprise. The content farms are filled with articles that are typically written by people who clearly have no understanding of the subject they write on. If you want your site to be different, then you need to make sure that you are going to be able to speak intelligently on the topic.
You are also going to need to go out of your way to make your content more engaging and interesting to your readers. Google is relying heavily on social networking sites to understand what the Web community thinks of the content. If you get a lot of tweets and shares, then Google will believe you have trusted, valuable content and will rank you higher in the search engines. Therefore, you want to make sure your site is optimized for social media as well as your target keywords.
Laws Associated with Affiliate Marketing
There are a number of laws which have changed the way affiliate marketing is being run around the world. Many government jurisdictions have started cracking down on unethical affiliate marketing practices, which may seriously compromise the way that affiliate marketing is going to be done.
These laws tend to be more concerning for marketers in the United States and Europe. The United States Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on how entrepreneurs can promote products. For example, they now require that websites provide disclosures when they are promoting affiliate products. Also, they are being much more proactive in ending fraud around the country. A number of affiliate marketers have been charged for promoting a series of health products using unfair marketing tactics. In these cases, they pretended to be unbiased journalists analyzing the product but they were clearly going out of their way to promote the products.
If you live in the United States, you need to formally understand all laws covered by the FTC. Most importantly, make sure you understand the need to provide disclosures and be honest with your customers. That’s not to say that you need to emphasize the flaws of the product. You are still a marketer and want to place your products in the best possible light. However, deceptive tactics that were not taken seriously five years ago could get you in a lot of trouble.
Even if you don’t live in the United States, you may still feel the sting, particularly if you are using hosting in the United States. Also, many entrepreneurs outside the United States have been charged by the FTC for violating laws. I am not an attorney and cannot advise you when or how these cases emerge. However, it may be a good idea to know what these laws are and how they will affect you. The United States works closely with other competition agencies overseas such as the Competition Commission in the UK. Although smaller affiliates may not be affected by the laws, larger affiliate may really feel the sting.
The Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to ever reach the desk of the U.S. Congress. If this law is signed, then it will create major problems for affiliates all over the world. Affiliates who tried resorting to tactics such as content scraping and using article spinners can watch their websites get taken completely off of the Internet. Although I never condoned those practices to begin with, I must seriously emphasize how important it is to refrain from using them.
However, there are still plenty of ways that affiliate marketers can thrive in the UK. If you are an affiliate marketer, you have two options. First of all, there are different technologies that can allow you to track cookies. One alternative is to use hidden form variables to track your sales. Secondly, you can consider asking your users for permission to enable cookies on your website. As long as you have their permission, then you are in compliance with the EU Cookies Law.
Although some of these laws are necessary for our protections, others may be a little excessive. Regardless, you want to make sure that you understand the policies before you get seriously involved in your affiliate marketing company.
The Road Ahead
The landscape of affiliate marketing has changed dramatically. Before you get too integrated into your affiliate marketing strategy, you need to consider the new challenges that you are going to face. Make sure you address the problems that you are going to be dealing with before you watch your affiliate business fall apart.
The biggest thing to do is follow laws developing throughout the world. Many jurisdictions are cracking down on affiliate marketers they feel are not operating ethically or responsibly. Search engines are also trying to purge the world of spam. As an affiliate, the rules have changed substantially. You are going to find that you are going to have to work very hard to develop quality content and never give even the slightest appearance of impropriety.