Thursday, 17 May 2012
Over the last 12 months weíve seen plenty of hard-hitting changes from Google , plenty of chatter over new legislation and a further professionalisation of the industry. It feels like now more than ever the smaller affiliates are being squeezed into an ever decreasing minority whilst the volume of larger scale corporate affiliates seems to be growing. To me it feels like this industry is beginning to get exceedingly competitive.
This year so far Iíve spent time and money reorganising my portfolio. Perhaps it is all in vein but perhaps there is a eureka moment and a lesson to be learnt within all of this work.
Having taken a look at the response from the fallout of various Google search engine updates like Panda and Penguin, sites typically are getting penalised for bad links, poor content and even for being an affiliate though this one is questionable.
Of late the queries Iíve been seeing are weird and wonderful but the staples of many years seem to be disappearing. Whatís quite galling is what they are being replaced with. For some terms I used to do well for, now sit pathetically thin retail sites using nothing more than stock descriptions from manufacturers. In fact the volume of affiliate results Iíve noticed over recent times seem to be rarer though this might purely be coincidence.
So what am I doing to sure-up my foundations?
My first commercial decision was to sacrifice a few sites. Most were fun quirky niche sites but were more a drain on time and resources than they contributed.
The third business decision was to add lashings of new content to key sites. And within that statement lies the heart of my strategy. In the golden years of affiliate marketing more was better. The consensus was to build plenty of small scale niche sites but that philosophy is no longer working for many. As such, Iíve had to select a handful of markets to focus on and these have received a boost of fresh, unique and relevant content.
Beyond this thereís a few things I can do to help ensure Iím still around doing this in the medium to long term. Firstly, Google is just one search engine (okay itís arguably the biggest and most popular) but there are others, namely Bing. My world has revolved around Google primarily but I wonder if thereís much that can be done to entice Bing to the party?
For me however, I believe the key lies in creating a community. Arguably the idea with most lucrative potential, a self-fulfilling, self-propagating well-nurtured community could be enough to sustain a website if it can be well-established in the first place. I know of several examples where the community comes first and the profits second but such sites are able to fulfil a full-time income.
Who knows what the future holds but I think many more smaller affiliates will throw in the towel if it gets much harder to make a living. In this ever-evolving industry itís a matter of keeping up with changes to keep up with earning a living. Itís more a case that these changes are raising the bar unattainably too high for one-man and one-woman bands.
Perhaps the surest way to sure-up the foundations is to have a plan B? Is anyone looking for a hard-working individually, ideally based in Cardiff? :-P
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