Affilimate

10 things to optimize first on your affiliate website

By Monica Lent   ·   September 22, 2019

Hey there, and welcome to Affilimate blog! My name is Monica, and I'm a co-founder of Affilimate. The purpose of this blog in general, and this blog series in particular, is to help people who are new to using data to optimize affiliate conversions.

If that sounds like you, you're in the right place!

Sometimes looking at numbers and graphs can feel as ambiguous and non-scientific as reading tea leaves or looking at shapes of clouds.

But in reality, analytics data combined with your own knowledge of your content and context, can yield lucrative results.

The post is the first in a series, so be sure to subscribe at the end of this post if you'd like to get more of our articles delivered to your inbox!

Not using Affilimate for your affiliate analytics yet? Apply to join the beta program for a 50% discount code. This offer is only valid for a limited time!

What you'll learn in this post

  1. On-page vs. off-page affiliate tactics
  2. 10 things to optimize first on your affiliate website
  3. Next steps and a challenge!

On-page vs. off-page affiliate tactics

Alright, so the first thing we need to talk about before going into these tips is the difference between on-page vs. off-page optimization.

You can think about the affiliate buying cycle on a high level like this:

  1. Problem — Reader has a problem
  2. Discovery — Reader searches for solutions to this problem
  3. Consideration — Reader lands on your page and learns about the solution(s) you propose
  4. Conversion — Reader clicks through to your affiliate partner and makes a purchase, and their problem is solved!

While you should be optimizing all four steps, it's important to realize that steps 1, 2, and 4 are all happening outside your website AKA "off-page". Your target audience is discovering you on search engines like Google and Pinterest, and then (if your article is good enough!) clicking through to a partner like Amazon.

So while there are VERY IMPORTANT things you should be doing to optimize for those parts of the funnel, such as search engine optimization (SEO), building a mailing list, promoting products with great reviews on Amazon, etc. the place where you have the most control is Step 4: Consideration.

We'll dive deep into optimizing each step of the buying cycle in an upcoming post.

So do subscribe if you're interested in learning more about that!

But for now we're going to focus primarily on "on-page" optimizations you can do to help your reader move from the "Consideration" phase into the "Conversion" phase of the buying cycle!

Cool? Cool.

Let's get started!

10 things to optimize first on your affiliate website

Alright, so assuming you've got a target affiliate blog post that's getting traffic from Google or Pinterest — how do you go about actually getting your readers to click through and ultimately convert?

Let's start with a couple of easy wins.

1. Experiment with different calls-to-action

One of the biggest questions we hear from bloggers we talk to is this:

What's the best positioning or call-to-action for my affiliate links?

As with most hard problems, the answer is: It depends. But luckily, it is something you can measure! You can use Affilimate's Heatmap feature to get a visual representation of your page, and figure out exactly WHICH links are driving readers to your affiliate partner.

In some cases, buttons work great. In other cases, a well-placed contextual link is what brings it home. The exact text and its results are going to be different based on your context, but you can learn over time exactly how to spark that curiousity and interest, and help bring your reader to the next phase of their buying journey.

Example: In this accommodation guide, the button for checking availability promotes some sense of urgency and prompts people to click through and see whether the recommended hotel is indeed available!

2. Improve the position of high performing products

One of the quickest and easiest wins you can use in Affilimate is simply scanning the top products on any given page and seeing if you need to mix up the order.

While you'll want to consider factors like price and the conversion rate at the partner level, this technique can reveal a lot of quick wins.

If you realize that readers of your article are just really interested in something, why not present it earlier in the article before they bounce? So long as you can surround it with compelling content, you can expose a lot more people to that link.

Example: Below you can see that the second item (a camera bag) has a nearly 10% click-through rate compared to the most-clicked product. Sometimes the biggest wins come from hoisting links from the bottom of your posts closer to the top, so long as it makes sense within your content!

Not using Affilimate for your affiliate analytics yet? Apply to join the beta program for a 50% discount code. This offer is only valid for a limited time!

3. Choose products based on your readers' location

You need to fulfill your reader's intent! What are they looking for when they land on your page? What is the "problem" that brought them to your blog?

If you're optimizing an existing post for affiliates instead of writing a targeted affiliate article (you should be doing both, by the way), sometimes you need to reverse engineer exactly what that "problem" is.

And for some niches and some products, the reader's location can be a piece of the puzzle in figuring that out.

You can always use geographical information to pick a partner that is going to convert better based on where your audience is located. That can be as simple as linking to the most relevant Amazon store. It can mean preferring partners that convert better depending on where your audience is, for example GetYourGuide (Europe) vs. Klook (Asia) in the travel niche.

Then when it comes to using the Top Countries data in Affilimate, you can use this to understand where people are who are looking to buy. Particularly in the travel niche, you'll find that people in some articles are "planning" whereas other people are looking for solutions for NOW.

Example: These are the top countries for an article about things to do in Berlin. So I focus more on activities for people who are already in the city, because they're probably more ready to buy than people who are planning. This is also backed up by the stats provided by the affiliate partner, because you can see people booking on short notice! I could put links to hotels or air travel, but it's pretty unlikely to work considering the reader intent and their geography.

You can use this information to your advantage to understand which products are going to solve the kind of problem your reader has when and from where they arrive on your article.

4. Optimize for the right device type (not ONLY mobile!)

While common wisdom would tell you that it's never a bad idea to optimize for mobile, do keep in mind that there are some things people buy much less often on their phones.

And often times, those things they don't buy on their phones are exactly the kinds of affiliate products you'll be promoting: pricier items with better commissions.

Don't get me wrong, your website should be mobile friendly and easy to use on a phone. And you should optimize for the mobile buying experience.

Buuuuut...

Keep in mind where your traffic is coming from when you're deciding how to expend your effort. If you find a lot of people are shopping on desktop because you're promoting pricier items, don't be afraid to optimize for that! Whether it's having wider comparison tables, longer articles, or side-by-side images that wouldn't fit on a phone.

5. Build traffic from the right sources

One of the classic pieces of advice in affiliate marketing is that you need to get the right people to your website. People who are in a buying mindset, with a problem at hand and looking to solve it with money.

Consider the balance between how many people visit your site from a given referrer (such as Google, Pinterest, social media, etc.) and how many of those people actually click through and book using your affiliate links.

You might find the results surprising!

You can track this in your Affilimate dashboard. Each page has an overview section where you can see what referrers are driving the most clicks.

This can either tell you that you're not investing enough in one source (in this instance, Pinterest) or that the effort you are investing is maybe not paying off as much (for example, social media).

Example: This graphic is from a post that gets most of its traffic from Google, but a high proportion of click throughs from Pinterest. It tells me I should promote it more on Pinterest because the people on that platform are interesting in buying the products on this page!

6. Track conversions properly with labels

You may or may not know it, but a number of affiliate partners allow you to provide tracking labels as part of the URL you build when you send readers to their website.

For example, imagine you're partnering with a website called "Awesome Pajamas" and they allow you to add a tracking parameter to your affiliate link. You can put all kinds of information in that slot. For example:

awesomepajamas.com/product/abc123?label=top-ten-footie-pajamas-for-adults

Then when you go to check your affiliate reports, you can see exactly which of your pages led to that sale. I personally always use the "slug" (or, the unique part of the URL excluding the domain name) as my label.

You can take it one step further and also include information about exactly which link brought them to the sale. For example:

awesomepajamas.com/product/abc123?label=top-ten-footie-pajamas-for-adults-widget awesomepajamas.com/product/abc123?label=top-ten-footie-pajamas-for-adults-button

You get the idea! You can do this with many different kinds of affiliate partners such as Awin, Booking.com, GetYourGuide.com and others.

7. Focus on compelling content (your story!)

It can be easy to forget that the entire reason people visit blogs and websites for information about a product or service instead of just reading reviews on Amazon is for the personal recommendation.

They want to get the real scoop on what they're in for if they make that purchase. They want to hear from an expert who bought it whether it's up to scratch.

Don't forget to emphasize YOUR experience when writing about affiliate products. The ones you've bought, tried, and loved will almost always sell better because you can attach your story to the product description. You can even offer to answer reader's questions in the comments or emails, which helps assure them that you believe in the product and are willing to help out down the road.

8. Swap out non-performing products

Assuming you're not writing a product review, you might have a number of affiliate links inside your posts. Whether it's a packing list, supplies list, gift list, or any other article you're putting your affiliate links into.

One of the saddest things you can do is have an article you labored over for days...only to be promoting the wrong products.

What do I mean by that?

Products that your readers just aren't interested in. Products that either don't fulfill the reader's intent or simply aren't compelling.

Let me give you an example.

You can see that the middle option in my "Best things to do in Berlin on a weekend" headline is easily the least popular — both in terms of click throughs, but also in terms of bookings.

During the 47 days this version of the page was live, I think it was only booked once. Not very good!

So now there are a few options:

  1. Try switching up the order — Maybe people just click the first and last items?
  2. Try a different display technique — Maybe a table or a button would work better?
  3. Replace it with a different product — Maybe this tour is just not exciting for people!

In the end, you can experiment with all of these things and then compare your results. It's important to use your context clues to figure out what the issue actually is.

TIP — One great way to decide which products to try on your page are to look at the ones people are buying INSTEAD OF the one you promoted. Of course, it depends a lot on the type of product you're providing, whether this is going to work for your niche. You can always mention a different product as an "Alternative" to your preferred one, even if you aren't able to personally recommend it.

9. Don't forget to make your photos clickable

It's the little things, right? You might be surprised how often your readers will click a photo, especially if it's a product photo. While I wouldn't recommend making images the only way you link to your affiliate products, it's a handy addition to capture more clicks and bring your readers to the affiliate partner.

I find this technique extra handy after I've already introduced a topic, and then can provide a photo of me using the product before going on to list product specs and make a comparison.

You can apply this to just about anything: hotel reviews + hotel room photo, product + using the product photo, activity + you doing the activity. The possibilities are endless.

Not using Affilimate for your affiliate analytics yet? Apply to join the beta program for a 50% discount code. This offer is only valid for a limited time!

10. Experiment and CREATE!

Without experimentation, it's almost impossible to grow. You can spend months or even a year or more wondering why you aren't getting more sales.

Since every blog is different, with a different audience, niche, search engine ranking, and much more, you have to experiment and find out what works for you.

With focus and prioritization, you CAN discover what works for you and for your blog!

Check out the final section for a challenge to help you set up a routine for constant improvement.

Next steps and a challenge!

Open up your Google Calendar and set up a 1x per week recurring event called "OPTIMIZE AFFILIATES". Spend just one hour on the following tasks and watch yourself begin to learn:

  1. Check your top 5 pages by Pageviews
  2. Check your top 5 pages by Clicks
  3. Check your top 5 pages by CPM

Look at each page, check the heatmap, notice if you need to move or replace any links. Check your properly labeled affiliate analytics for non-converting products. Pick ONE to optimize or experiment with, and check back after 2-4 weeks of new data and/or 2,000-3,000 pageviews.

Rinse and repeat! You NEED to get into a habit!

Then you can apply those learnings to both new and existing posts.

Bye till next time, and don't forget to scroll down and subscribe to our newsletter if you want to get the next article in your inbox:

4 affiliate marketing mistakes you might be making 😱
Four mistakes explain why your articles aren't bringing you the kind of affiliate money you think they should!

👋

Title photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Looking to up your game? Join our mailing list!

No spam, just awesome affiliate tactics. Straight to your inbox. Unsubscribe anytime.

Monica Lent

Hi there! I'm a Monica, one of the co-founders of Affilimate. I blog, I code, and above all else I drink coffee.

@monicalent

Inspired to grow your affiliate income?

Apply the join the private beta program today.

Free 30-day trial · No credit card required

Company

Contact us

Email us at hi@affilimate.io