Affiliate websites come in many different shapes and sizes. Some of the largest websites on the Internet earn revenue through affiliate offers while some sites with little more than a single article earn a couple hundred dollars per month in revenue. Smaller specialized sites have many advantages in their ability to reuse resources while larger branded sites allow for easier expansion. Clearly defining goals and expectations for your site can help you choose which website model may be right for you.
Defining Your Goals
The goals and expectations you have for your websites will reshape over time as you gain familiarity with them. You might have dreams of multi-million dollar revenue streams initially, only to be met with frustration down the road. Elsewise, you may recognize that websites have the potential to provide you will a full-time income rather than the small side hustle you thought they were going to be. Regardless of how your affiliate website experience may turn out, it’s important to start your journey by defining some goals to work towards. For example, you may want to rank #1 for a certain keyword; that’s a goal.
Narrow Your Focus
Having that defined will allow you to start working towards that goal. One of the types of goals to hammer down before starting is whether or not you want your site to be a single keyword group approach or a larger entity that may eventually target other related keywords. The difference between these two types of affiliate websites can be simplified as the Brand vs. Niche comparison. A brand-based approach might have a domain name like raysofsunshine.com for a personal development site while a niche based website might have a domain name like personaldevelopmenttutorials.com.
Domain names aren’t the deciding factor in whether your site is brand-based or niche-based, though it makes a large impression. These different types of approaches can have implications on the structure of your entire site as well as your overall SEO strategy. Better understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of model can help to better understand and better pursue the goals you have for your affiliate website.
Brand Based Website Models
The brand based model is, without a doubt, the best-suited model for long-term viability. It exudes a higher sense of trust, commitment, and allows for an unmatched ability to expand down the road. Consider some of the largest websites on the internet today; Zillow, Trulia, Reddit, Twitter, Amazon, and even larger services like Twitch. One common thread all these sites have is that their names could be used for anything. For example, Zillow sounds like a great name for a landscaping company and Reddit could work for a credit repair company. The best way to describe this commonality would be that these brand names are ambiguous.
Having a very weak connection to any one product or niche allows future expansion into new interest groups to feel very natural. For example, an article from Zillow about fun Christmas recipes doesn’t seem like nearly the stretch as an article about the best hiking trails in the US posted to the Business Insider website. Brand based approaches are the choice weapon for those looking to double down and focus on a single project for an extended amount of time. Even if you aren’t considering future keywords if you recognize the fact that you’ll likely be focusing on a single project the brand-based approach is likely the best option for you. Below you’ll find an overview of some of the strongest advantages of the brand-based approach, along with a little bit of extra context.
Easy to Target New Keywords
If you were intent on understanding every aspect of a niche before launching a related affiliate project you’d likely never get past the keyword research stage. Online interests ebb and flow seasonally, are affected by recent events, and often have many related segments that may not be readily apparent. You’ll find that among most projects you’ll find new, potentially-lucrative, keyword opportunities as your site starts to gain a little bit of traction. In many cases, related keywords can be ranked for by single articles and the targeting them requires little more than internal links. For other less directly related keywords you will find that new articles and a new focus may be needed.
For example, an affiliate website initially focused on the keyword best dress shoe brands for men might immediately realize that the keyword best leather dress shoes for men also has a decent opportunity as well. This additional keyword is very related and could likely be targeted by the addition of a specific section within the original article. However, a keyword such as best shoe polish for leather shoes would necessitate a unique piece of content. Having a website named bestleathershoes.com would be less suited for such expansion than modernmanstyle.com. Arguably, either would work for such a tightly related keyword but other keywords like best men’s suit brands would almost seem alien at first glance for the bestleathershoes.com website. Having a more ambiguous brand-based website name can help keep things flexible as you find new keywords to pursue in the future.
Easier to Sell
Affiliate website revenue is usually discussed within the scope of how much monthly income is generated through affiliate offers. In some cases, the primary means of monetization is to sell the websites later once traffic is established. Larger companies buy affiliate sites to funnel traffic, individuals buy them to launch new businesses, and sometimes people just looking to skip the initial groundwork of starting an affiliate website are looking to buy. The one thing that all these buyers have in common is that they aren’t you. These buyers aren’t looking at your website through your perspective and having a wider range of applicability can help websites attract a larger range of interest from buyers. This allows for buyers to retool your efforts to fit inside larger methods of promotion they may have without having to scrap everything and use it for parts. After all, if your goal is to sell you want as many buyers as possible to consider your site for purchase.
Helps Build Audience Trust
There are a lot of advantages of brand-oriented affiliate websites that aren’t easily-quantifiable yet are generally regarded as being worth consideration. Brand oriented websites are generally accepted as being able to earn a higher degree of trust from readers. For example; naturalmigraineremedies.com would have a hard time promoting content without sounding like they were promoting natural remedies for migraines. By contrast; clarityofmind.com would sound as relevant talking about migraine treatments as it would about memory-building exercises.
Niche-based website names work well for keyword groups that are strongly geared towards a product or service but can still easily have their trust eclipsed by a competitor using the branded approach. To readers, this comes down to the perception of the source of their information. Would you trust advice from a website named besthumidifiersforkids.com or ConsumerReports.com when selecting a humidifier for your newborn’s room? As unfortunate as it is, many websites get judged in a split second by consumers based on initial impressions. They aren’t aware of all the content on your website and in many cases will never see more than a single piece of content. Ensuring that your website name sounds relevant to all the content found on it can help your website seem more trustworthy.
Niche Based Website Model
As with the brand-based affiliate website model, there are also some distinct advantages for taking a more niche-based approach. Sometimes you may find a lucrative keyword group that offers a very little opportunity for expansion where a more niche-based approach may be suited. Also worth noting is the gradient of niche-separation among website organization. For example; TechCrunch is a gigantic website within the tech niche which covers nearly all things technology related. Their name is well-suited for technology-based interests but not so much to other interests that larger new organization such as CNN might cover. However, when it comes to technology which site would you expect to provide a higher-quality coverage of a tech-based interest?
More times than not, TechCrunch wins that argument. In this example, niching-down allows a website to build a higher-degree of trust within an interest group. Such a focus within the technology niche still allows for as much expansion room in the future to still qualify them as a brand-based approach. Limiting their approach to technology is a way to get more focused interest compared to all news whereas deeper niche-focus might start to limit opportunity. For example; SmartPhoneCrunch.com would have greatly reduced the number of topics TechCrunch would have been able to sound reasonably associated with. While this may seem nuanced; understanding when niching-down can help a website and when it might limit your potential can help better pursue your affiliate marketing goals. Below are some of the biggest advantages of niche-based affiliate branding and a brief overview of their dynamics.
Iterative Based Business Models
Many marketers find their strategies evolve over time based on experiments and experience alike. While building one website you may find that you discover a new strategy that can help future sites. However, not being aware of this new method you were unable to integrate it into your latest project. If you were focused on building a single brand-based website you might consider scraping your first project and starting anew. When your business model involves creating new affiliate websites targeting smaller interest groups, however, it would likely make sense to finish the promotion of your current project. This effectively lets you to always be learning effective means of affiliate marketing through repetition. When you build a brand based approach you’ll find you don’t have the need to repeat a lot of actions like building Web 2.0 links, social media profiles, or profile links.
Very related to the iterative-based benefits of niche-based affiliate site models is the advantage of being able to reuse methods you know to be effective. Maybe you’ve got some favorite sources for backlinks, or know that certain forums earn you a great response. Building new links for new content that mirror links from older content are known to be much less effective. These types of link strategies also work to serve as a footprint to easily identify yourself to competitors. If every article on your website has 2 links from a .wordpress.com website, 2 from a .blogspot.com website, and 2 links from onmogal.com your website isn’t going to scale well. This won’t necessarily hurt your website’s rankings though multiple links form the same sources begin to have a diminishing return.
When you’re taking this approach for many websites however, the impact remains much the same. That’s to say; once you know how to effectively get one website on the first pages you can, more or less, mirror that approach for similarly-competitive keywords. For brand-based approaches, this isn’t always a viable strategy for scaling and at different stages of growth, your site will necessitate unique new avenues for promotion. One good way to visualize the difference would be to consider each article of an authority website being used to create a separate niche-website. While each article on the brand website wouldn’t likely thrive with the same types of promotion, they likely would as individual websites with decent supporting content.
Less Downside to Mistakes
When creating niche-based affiliate websites you have a much wider range in which you can experiment and take risks. If you get a penalty for your website it likely won’t affect your other websites. One notable exception would be getting a PBN discovered that is also used for other websites. For most other circumstances, however, smaller niched-based sites are well-suited to take larger risks. Niche-based websites can make better use of expired domain names, auction domains, and even media buys.
This affiliate website model requires a lesser amount of commitment to relevancy since it’ll likely only be targeting a single group of keywords. The biggest downside to these sites is that they are very susceptible to being outranked by new competitors entering into the space. Many times when considering a large investment in certain niches, a valuable approach can be to create a handful of niche-based affiliate sites to test the waters. Having a few direct examples of how different promotional strategies might respond within a niche can be an invaluable guideline for deploying a more serious commitment of brand-based approach.
Do What Makes Sense
Trying to decide which affiliate website model makes the most sense for your website can be a difficult process. As a general rule, brand-based naming conventions are always superior to niche-based ones, even if your promotional methods are niche-based and done in volume. The major limiting factor you’ll often find is the scarcity and price of domain names. There is a growing acceptance of non .com domain names among the search engines but as a general rule, they’re still pretty obscure. When possible, having a .com version of a brandable name will carry your website farther than any exact-match or gimmicky tld will ever be able to.