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Toolbox-iconLevel: Beginner
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Prerequisites: Affiliate Marketing 101 Course (free!)

Today, we’re keeping it nice and simple since some of you are still setting up your affiliate website…  And believe me, that’s the most complicated step of this entire training series.  The rest of it is going to be a no brainer.

For those of you that have a website already, or are going the article marketing route, we’re going to keep on trucking.

One of the most important things you can do to set up your affiliate site the right way is install the right themes and plugins.  You already know how to structure your content the right way, so that part is done.  All that’s left are the little website tweaks that will take your site over the top.

To get started, let’s talk about some of the things we learned over the years that’ll increase your affiliate income, relating to your site.

Affiliate Site Tips

tools-24dqof6Here are some things we’ve found to greatly increase affiliate income and conversions, either by split testing the shit out of sites or changing them up over time.

  • White space matters – We always do better with no frills, white and grey templates that focus on the content of the article rather than imagery or banners.
  • Use ‘link blue’ links – The color of your link should be the standard ‘link blue.’  It’s hex code “0000FF”.  I don’t care what else you read, we’ve tested it.  People know without a doubt that that color blue means a link.
  • Don’t confuse readers – If the goal of your article is to promote an affiliate product, don’t post a ton of other links in the article!  Keep it simple.
  • Get the click – Your only job as an affiliate is to get the click to the sales video or sales letter.  Let the product vendor do the selling.  That’s not your job.
  • Be real – The more you can interject your own personality into your article, the better it will convert.  People like to connect to other people, not to brands.
  • Don’t over promote – When someone searches Google for ‘how to get better grades,’ they’re looking for answers.  If they show up on your site and you start shoving a product down their throat, they’ll immediately click out.
  • Keep banners and Adsense ads to a minimum – Every opportunity you give for someone to leave your site through a banner or an ad that isn’t your affiliate promotion is a lost opportunity.  Only start using banners and Adsense when you don’t know what else to do to make money on your site.

WordPress Tweaks

wordpress-logoWordPress, right out of the box is awesome.  With a few simple plugins and, perhaps, a theme change; you’ll be well on your way to killing it online.

WordPress Themes

There are lots of ‘special’ affiliate themes for WordPress.  We’ve found that none of them work as well as advertised.  Not by a long shot.  There are themes that do special stuff like help you create squeeze pages and such, but that’s not what we’re looking for here.

Right now, we’re looking for a way to post articles and content in a way that people read so that they ultimately click your affiliate link.

There are 2 themes what we use all the time.  Thesis and the default WordPress Twenty Twelve theme.

Thesis

Thesis is the theme we use on almost every site we have.  It’s pretty simple to use.  We don’t do anything complex or install child themes or any of that.  We install it, give it a 2 column layout, and use the SEO components that it provides.

In fact, it’s been our theme of choice for going on 3 years now.  We get such great results that we haven’t looked for anything else.  It just does everything we need it to do and has made us well into high six-figures.

Here’s an image of one of our sites and you’ll see what I mean.  This site was built to review the popular Video Boss product a while ago, and made a bunch of money.  It still gets traffic, but the product hasn’t launched for some time now, so we offload it through banners and a timed email optin.

Get Thesis Here!

vbr

WordPress Twenty Twelve

The WordPress Twenty Twelve theme is actually a really great theme for affiliates, and it’s installed by default and is totally free!  Just go to the themes section in your Admin screen and it’s already there.

It’s SEO’s well.  Google likes it well enough.  We’ve ranked a lot of sites with it.  The only thing is you need to make sure to install the All In One SEO plugin, but more on that in the next section.

Here’s a screenshot of the Twenty Twelve theme, all done up.  It’s got a review for the Underground Conference on it.

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Notice how we use whitespace?  Grey edges?  Simple, ugly designs work.

The more pretty you make it, the less money you’ll make (unless you’re actively building a brand which is a wholly different conversation).

WordPress Plugins

wordpress-pluginsNow, let’s talk about WordPress Plugins…

Plugins increase the functionality of your website by adding tweaks or improvements to WordPress.  And guess what?  There isn’t much we need to add!

Here’s a list of the plugins we ALWAYS use on our affiliate sites:

  • Scribe SEO – Scribe SEO is one of the best all around plugins we’ve tested.  It does everything from telling your what your keyword density is in your posts to helping you optimize your content for Google, using best practices.  Watch the demo here.
  • All In One SEO – This is the BIG one.  If you’re not using Thesis, make sure you install this.  It helps you add meta information for all of your articles including Page Title, Meta Keywords and Meta Description.  The keywords aren’t a real big deal, but the Page Title and Meta Description are.
  • All In One Webmaster – If you’re using Google Analytics or any of the numerous tracking programs out there, this plugin will help them configure them.  It’s also got a general place where you can insert code into any theme for retargeting, split testing, or whatever else you are thinking of doing.
  • Redirection – We use this plugin to mask all of our affiliate links.  So rather than long ugly links containing our affiliate ID’s, it’ll redirect pretty links, like http://levelingupacademy.com/affiliate-product/ through our affiliate link.
  • SEO Searchterms Tagging 2 – This is a cool ass plugin that helps optimize your on-page content for search engines automatically, by posting the search terms people used to find you at the bottom of the post.
  • WordPress Database Backup – This plugin does daily or weekly backups of your WordPress database in case your site gets hacked.  It’s gotten us out of more than our fair share of jams on big money sites.

You’re more than welcome to test out other plugins and find things that work for you.  These are the ones we use on all of our sites, and the list hasn’t changed in a LONG time…

So, get installing and have fun!

Up Next…

Tomorrow, we’re going to start the search engine optimization conversation, or SEO for short!  And believe me, you’re killing it so far!

As of right now, your content should be posted somewhere, either on a blog or an article directory.  So the next thing to do is start building links so Google starts to push it up the search engines!

SEO and linkbuilding is where most people drop off, and it’s really the most important piece of making money as a free traffic affiliate.  There are millions of sites out there.  What will make yours different is the number of back links you can build RESPONSIBLY!

Notice, I said responsibly.  We’re not talking about spamming links out there.  We’re talking about building links smartly…

Thoughts?

In the comment box below, let us know what themes and plugins you like for affiliate marketing…  Also, if you’d like us to review your site, make sure you post a link.  We’d be glad to offer feedback!

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17 Responses to Day 5: Website Tweaks

  1. Natalie says:

    This info is super…there are a few plugins I’m missing so thank you :)

  2. Walt says:

    I use SEOPressor. Is Scribe better?

    • Jason Drohn says:

      Hi Walt! I personally like Scribe better and it’s got a trial to see if you like it. SEOpressor is a damn good plugin too…

      J

  3. Thanks for the recommendations. Some of these plugins I am not familiar with but will give them a try.
    Jason

  4. Alex says:

    Some people say that ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ is better than ‘All in one SEO’ plugin. What do you think about it?

    Also, I have on more question. Is it a good strategy to get no-follow links through blog comments?

    • Jason Drohn says:

      I’ve read that too Alex. We’ve just always used All In One SEO and it’s always been good for us. I remember looking at WordPress SEO by Yoast and it seemed to offer similar functionality.

      One note, if you start your blog with one plugin, you’ll want to keep it. If you disable and try out another plugin, you’ll lose all of your old SEO info for your posts.

      • Alex says:

        Thanks for your reply. In WordPress SEO by Yoast, they focus on only one Focused keyword. And meta functionality is disabled by default. They say that Google pay little to no attention to meta.

        Now, here you emphasis on meta so I confused whether to use ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ or ‘All in one SEO’.

        • Jason Drohn says:

          The page title is the most important part of the plugin functionality. Meta Keywords aren’t a big deal – I always fill them in but they aren’t an integral part. Meta Description though, is a big deal. That’s the description that Google (sometimes) pulls out of your page and displays in the search pages.

          I say sometimes because you’ll find that that’s not always the case due to algorithm and display updates. I still always fill in the Meta Description though.

  5. Tara says:

    Jason:

    We’ve spent the last 6 months building our e-commerce site. The idea of learning the wordpress platform and migrating our store onto this is … shall I say “overwhelming.” We would like to transition our store from a retail store to an affiliate / review site. At some point we would like to move it to wordpress, but for now we have our hands full as we become competent in Facebook marketing & affiliate sales.

    Can you provide tips on how to meet this goal — in stages?

    Thanks,

    Tara

    • Jason Drohn says:

      Hi Tara! You by no means need WordPress in order to rank well and get affiliate sales. What platform are you using for your e-commerce site?

      I’m sure that whatever you’re using has an SEO plugin that will work well enough for what you need. The most important thing I’ve run into with e-commerce clients is just making sure that they’re doing good keyword research, choosing the right keywords, and ultimately writing long enough articles that Google considers them worthy of being included in the search engines.

      You’d be surprised at how little ‘content’ most e-commerce sites post on their pages, meaning that there isn’t anything for Google to use to rank!

  6. Alex says:

    Hi Jason,

    I find one problem with Twenty Twelve theme. It doesn’t show author byline below the post. Some people say that Google doesn’t show authorship in search engine result page if ‘author byline’ doesn’t display in the bottom of the post. What should I do now?

    Is there any plugin to show byline. Thanks

    • Jason Drohn says:

      Hi Alex! I’ve actually never heard that, that you need to show a byline. The most I’ve done with Authorship is install the ‘Author Sure’ plugin on a few of my sites and the clickthroughs from Google seemed to go up, but there wasn’t an increase in rankings as a direct result.

      J

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