Now you understand the types of content that are likely to grow your affiliate income quickest, it makes sense to look at rather more advanced strategies for taking your affiliate marketing to the next level.
We have discussed the concept of “content stacking” before, but in case you’ve just arrived at this section of the course let me quickly outline the meaning of this phrase.
“Content stacking” is the term I use to refer to the creation of different “levels” of content that naturally sit (or “stack”) on top of one another in your website hierarchy.
Let’s illustrate this with an example.
The image we’re running is a blog for fish keepers (something I’m passionate about myself).
It’s quite likely that targeting certain species of aquarium fish with our articles would work well.
These “species profiles” would likely have only modest competition, yet adding all the potential profiles up we might see a healthy number of daily visitors.
Where content stacking comes in is in situations where we think of the next level of content up – in this example broader articles about different types of fish.
Perhaps we find when doing our keyword research that there are good opportunities with article topics like “best fish for small aquariums” or “bottom-feeding fish”.
Not only will producing such articles be quite easy, thanks to all the species profiles we have created, but we can then link through to the individual profiles from each of these articles.
This leads to a higher degree of authority for these smaller pages, which increases their ranking, and it gives our visitors far more content to read.
More page views, overall, is likely to mean more income.
With me so far?
So how does this all relate to affiliate marketing?
Well, let’s imagine that we write an article on the best undergravel aquarium filters – a standard buyers guide.
From then on, any time we mention filtration in any other article on our site (and there are likely to be lots) we can then link through to our filter buyers guide.
This then results in higher authority for our buyer’s guide, and plenty of additional visitors clicking through to this affiliate page.
Hopefully, you’re starting to see the benefits of content stacking.
But there’s one more thing worth mentioning here, and that’s when it comes to planning your content calendar. Whilst buyers guides and product reviews might be some of the most profitable affiliate articles to write, they’re generally not very link-worthy or share-worthy.
A site purely filled with product reviews is unlikely to make it an authority site.
The concept of content stacking eliminates this issue.
We start by considering what products and services would both be of use to our readers and have affiliate programs. We can then write one article for each of the topics brainstormed – the best budget calculators, the best investment services, the best chicken heaters, the best car stereos, etc.
Then, rather than relying just on the search engine traffic that these articles attract, we can also grow our affiliate revenue by referring back to them time and again in other content.
In this way, we can produce a far broader range of content – which is more interesting for us to write and for our visitors to read – while still sending as many visitors as possible to our buyer’s guides and product reviews.
Here’s one blogger who does this very well indeed is Michelle from Making Sense of Cents. Notice how she includes nested affiliate content within her posts:
Some years ago I was running an authority website that made 90% of its income from one single article.
This article featured a very specific affiliate program and gave away free service, for which I earned upwards of $100 on every sign-up. I’m sure you can see why this was such a winning deal for everyone involved.
The thing was: this page didn’t get too many visitors to it. It was only one of the hundreds of posts, and despite ranking well the traffic was far from impressive.
This got me wondering – what if I could get more people to this page? Would I increase my income comparatively?
To test this out I did one simple thing: I created more links to the page from other articles on the site.
I inserted contextual links into other articles, I added them prominently to the top of my sidebar and I also used an ad insertion plugin to feature it at the end of every article on the site in a brightly-colored box marked with “Recommended Reading”.
As it turned out, the experiment worked better than I could ever have hoped.
Traffic exploded to this page, and my sales increased many, many times over. Indeed, this one single tip was responsible for taking this particular site from hobby level to full-time income. Even better, the whole process took a matter of hours to implement.
The important thing to realize here is that I don’t force anyone into that page – nor do I trick them to get them there – I simply make sure that this particular article is as visible as possible, so that no matter what article you land on when you arrive, you’ll have multiple ways you can click over to my “money article”.
Once you’ve started to produce affiliate content, and you’ve found out which articles seem to be bringing you the most revenue, don’t just let these sit there, unloved.
Instead, actively rework your site in such a way as to refer as much traffic from other pages to your real earner.
Here are some effective ways to do just that:
Most blogs and authority sites follow broadly the same pattern, with a logo and a header menu pointing to your most important pages.
Typically these header links will point to your main blog categories, your “About Me” page, and your contact page.
But this is prime real estate, present at the top of every page on your site – so make it work for you.
Consider including a link here to your most profitable article, so that every visitor will see it.
For even more emphasis, you can make the text link to this article a slightly different color from the other links, or – depending on the theme you have opted for – you can make the header “sticky” so that it follows readers down the page as they read.
In this way, you can feel confident that every reader will at least see the link to your top article.
As we move ever more towards a “mobile-first” internet, with more and more people accessing the web from their phones, sidebars get less attention than in years gone by.
All the same, desktop visitors can be an easy way to highlight your top posts.
Some bloggers opt to create a section in their sidebar saying “top posts” or suchlike and then insert their most profitable articles here.
Others create “banners” – essentially image-based links that are designed to draw the eye – encouraging visitors to click over to these particularly profitable posts.
If you can naturally squeeze in a mention of your “money article” in other posts then feel free to go ahead and add it.
If you’re discussing lightweight camping gear and happen to mention stoves, it’s entirely natural that you might mention your “Top 10 Gas Stoves” article here, filled as it is with affiliate links.
These links can either be worked into your sentences and paragraphs or can be added as supplementary resources.
Many bloggers will insert “Recommended Reading” or “Also See” sections into their posts – in essence, a bullet-pointed list of related articles they hope you’ll click.
Pro Tip: Use the WordPress search feature to find easy opportunities to add contextually-relevant affiliate links.
Simply log into your backend, navigate to your “Posts” area, and use the search feature to look for articles that mention your main topic.
In this case, we might type “stove” in here.
Up will pop all the articles discussing this topic, and we can work our way through these in turn, trying to figure out if we can squeeze a link or two into each article.
If you’d rather not go through hundreds of articles on your site manually inserting links to your “money posts” then another option is to essentially “advertise” them.
Rather than naturally weaving mentions and links into the actual body of your articles, you can instead use a plugin to insert a small advert for your article part-way through other posts.
This is much quicker than manually inserting them, and also has the benefit that you can “split test” your adverts, looking for that particular design that drives the most people possible to your money posts.
Lastly don’t forget that traffic doesn’t just have to be internal: it can also come from external sources.
You can drive extra visitors to your most profitable posts by, for example, linking to them when you do a guest post, including them in the bio link of your social profiles, or setting up a looping tool to regularly share your article on social media.
Target High Traffic Pages
If you’re like most bloggers then you’ll find that some of your articles receive considerably more traffic than others.
Whether this is thanks to a stellar Pinterest image going viral, or your article suddenly ranking in Google for all manner of phrases, many sites have a handful of “home run” articles.
Seeing as these articles are receiving the most traffic, it therefore makes sense to focus our attention on trying to monetize these posts effectively.
Oh sure, eventually you’ll want to spend time making sure that all your content is well-monetized, but if you’re just starting then the best place to begin is with your most visited content.
Luckily it’s easy to figure out which pages these are in Google Analytics. Simply navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
Once you’ve reached this screen you’ll know exactly where to focus your attention.
I would suggest noting down the top ten pages from a traffic perspective and then working hard on these to make them as good (and as profitable) as possible.
You may want to use the list of relevant affiliate programs that you gathered earlier, to see what products or services might be of interest to visitors arriving at these specific articles.
Then, gently add in these affiliate links, rewriting small portions if necessary, to give your affiliate links the attention they deserve.
This technique alone can take an established blog from nowhere to profitability in a very short space of time.
Once you’ve completed this task, move on to the next ten and so on.
Want to know how I managed to increase the revenue from one of my articles by ten times in a single month? The answer is “split testing”.
The concept is split testing is quite simple: you test sending traffic to two or more different locations to see which produces the most revenue for you.
You keep the more effective option and then experiment with another part of your website.
For example, here are just a few of the things that you could test on your website:
- Different banner adverts
- Different text links
- Banners vs text links
- Putting extra affiliate links into your content
- Moving affiliate links up towards the top of your content
- Sending visitors to your product review, or straight to your merchant partner
- Sending visitors to different pages on the merchant site
- Sending traffic to two different products or companies to see who performs best
As you can see, there are a whole host of things that can be split tested. Each of these experiments has the potential to increase your revenue, without the need to create any more content for your site.
Historically, split testing your affiliate link wasn’t easy – so most people didn’t do it.
Instead they just “assumed” which would be best and ran with it.
Sadly, if this is how you monetize your site right now, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table.
Split testing your affiliate links is easy with Pretty Link however.
Affiliate Tracking IDs
Some affiliate programs (but not all) will let you create a tracking ID that bolts onto the end of your affiliate link.
As an example, imagine your main affiliate link is:
You decide that it would be useful to see whether the banner in your sidebar or the text links in your product review content is sending more traffic. Here you might set up two different tracking codes, producing two different affiliate links. For example, we might have:
Note that these affiliate links with tracking codes will all go to the same destination; our visitors will be none the wiser about our tests, but we’ll be able to get a better idea of what’s working with our website.
We could then use the above affiliate link for our banner, and in our affiliate statistics, we could see quite easily which visitors we have sent to the merchant clicked our banner.
Over time, we can test whether our banner is having any impact, or whether we’re better to focus our efforts elsewhere.
We could even use this strategy to test different banners, to see which ones perform best.
The Core Affiliate Strategy
An increasingly popular concept in affiliate marketing has become known as the “core affiliate strategy”.
Historically, affiliate marketers and bloggers would just add whatever relevant affiliate links they could find to their posts and then move on.
There was very little science to affiliate marketing, which is one reason why so many bloggers struggle with affiliate marketing.
As we have seen, however, there are ways to take control of your revenue. We can split test our affiliate links and we can drive additional traffic to our most valuable pages.
The core affiliate strategy takes things a step further and suggests that rather than promoting pretty much every relevant affiliate program in your niche, instead you focus on just a tiny handful – and wring the most profitable possible out of them.
Why does this make sense?
The first reason to consider the core affiliate strategy is simply that it makes your life as a blogger or affiliate marketer a whole lot easier. Rather than signing up for dozens of different programs, and trying to manage all those relationships, you instead focus on just 4-6 top programs.
The fact that you’re promoting so few companies also means it’s easier to remember who you’re working with, and how you’ll fit them into your future blog posts.
A second point worth mentioning is that many affiliate programs give higher commissions to better-performing affiliates.
This is known as a “tiered” program, where the more sales you make each month, the more commission you earn on each sale.
By focusing on pushing as many sales as possible to a small handful of affiliate programs you maximize your conversions, thus giving you a good chance to “tier up” and earn even bigger commissions.
Using Your Email List
The final “advanced” affiliate marketing technique I want to discuss here is arguably the most important of all: start an email list and use it to promote your affiliate offers.
Once you establish yourself with an email list of 10,000+ people, you’ll find that your income from email marketing can completely eclipse that of your website.
Whilst your site will still earn some regular revenue, at this point in the process your site’s main function is simply to funnel ever more subscribers onto your list.
Once they’re there – the real magic starts to happen.
Remember that it costs nothing to send an email; you’ll just pay a monthly subscription to keep your account live. So whether you send one email or thirty, you’ll pay the same each month.
And when you can reach out to tens of thousands of opt-in email subscribers with a single email, you don’t need to be too successful to bring in a healthy passive income.
Don’t believe me?
Consider this simple equation…
Assume you have an email list of 10,000 people. Of these people, just 2000 open each email you send, and 500 clicks through to the product that you’re promoting as an affiliate.
If the site you sent your visitors to had a signup rate of 2% and a commission of $100 a sale you’d make $1000 from that single email.
Of course, these are modest conversion rates, and with a good list, you might get considerably more.
Just ask yourself, however, how many emails you’d send if you made $1,000 every time you clicked the button.
And that, my friends, is where we will leave this section. If you only take one piece of advice from this entire affiliate marketing lesson it is this: start an email list sooner rather than later, and use it to promote affiliate programs you believe in. You can go back and revise list-building strategies here.