One of the advantages of becoming an Amazon Associate is that you can promote thousands of products and earn accumulative commissions as a result. What better way to maximize your profit than to start an Amazon affiliate store, right? Well, it’s not that easy actually. The landscape for online shopping has changed – for the better – and it’s important that you adopt these new practices in your marketing strategy.
What Is An Amazon Affiliate Store
An Amazon affiliate store is basically a site that comes with an eCommerce feature that list products from Amazon. Some are ready-made websites that already have a theme and a storefront in place while others require you to build the site from the ground up.
Some five years ago, eCommerce sites were really popular, but are they still relevant in today’s online shopping where people are more tech-and-consumer savvy?
What to Expect from Ready-Made Affiliate Stores
Just like most web services, they come in a variety of packages. When you buy one of these stores, you are allowed to list a certain number of products using your affiliate links, number of stores that you can build and some training to promote your eCommerce site.
In essence, what these sites do is that they create and integrate special software which can ‘pull’ top selling Amazon products to populate within an online store. Thus giving the impression that the more products you list, the more sales commissions you’ll make.
Here are some of the fees that you can expect to pay for these type of services.
- Fresh Store Builder – $87 to $197 (one time fee)
- Incomeshops – $29.95 to $99.95 (monthly)
- Azon Authority – $67 to $97.67 (one time fee)
- Covert Store Builder – $47 (one time fee)
- Curate Plus – starts from $999 ( << YES, you read that right!)
That’s fair enough. We understand that every company has their own selling points, but I found some of their claims to be very misleading. One company even stated that the affiliate store model is the best way to promote Amazon products because (he quoted)
“Search engines hate affiliate sites filled with affiliate links. They won’t rank them or worse, just ignore them or delete them from their result pages.”
Now, I am sure Google isn’t that harsh. True enough, there are many people who misused their affiliate links for spamming, but there are also many who use them righteously, and become successful Amazon affiliate marketers. So point number one, search engines DO NOT hate affiliate sites.
But what about ranking? Do online store actually perform better than affiliate sites? I did a small experiment and discovered something rather interesting.
Say, I am looking to buy a blender for making smoothies, but I don’t know which brand to choose. I typed into Google Search for ‘best blender for smoothies’ and the returned organic results on Page One is as follows.
- Position 1 – News Site
- Position 2 – News Site
- Position 3 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 4 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 5 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 6 – News Site
- Position 7 – Article Site
- Position 8 – Bloggers Review from Google Plus circle
- Position 9 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 10 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 11 – Bloggers Review from Google Plus circle
If you look closely, 8 out of 11 of these results are affiliate sites and each has numerous affiliate links pointing to Amazon and Walmart product page for checkout. Seems to me that Google doesn’t have any problem with that.
Out of curiosity, I went on to check out Page Two.
- Position 12 – Magazine Site
- Position 13 – Magazine Site
- Position 14 – Magazine Site
- Position 15 – News Site
- Position 16 – News Site
- Position 17 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 18 – Walmart Online Store <<
- Position 19 – Affiliate Blog
- Position 20 – Affiliate Blog
Finally, there’s an online store, but that page belongs to a big retailer, NOT an affiliate store. You can carry out this experiment using any queries on your search engine and I’m sure that the results will be somewhat similar.
This finding clearly demonstrates that Google not only favors affiliate sites, but is trying to deliver information that can help me choose the right blender through the help of product reviews and not just product description pages like what you would find on online stores.
What Happen to All the eCommerce Sites
Well, when Google rolls out the Panda and Penguin updates, sites with poor quality content and keyword stuffing saw their rankings plummet overnight. What type of sites are affected the most?
You guess it right – eCommerce sites because by default, an online store doesn’t have any unique content (what I mean here is textual content, not product images) and are most likely using duplicate or spinned product keywords over several sites.
The consequences? Lower ranking = less clicks = less revenue.
In other words, stand alone online stores no longer convert as good as they used to be. To prove my point, read what happened to this blogger when he convert his online store to an Amazon affiliate site.
Some of these store builders must have experienced the impact triggered by Google’s algorithm and are now advocating the importance of adding unique content through blogging features. However, I find that their training only brushes through the surface of keyword research; they don’t teach you about how to select for good quality keywords or what type of keyword tool to use.
So, unless they revamp their training structure, I don’t think it’s worth investing your time and money on a ready made site that will never find its way to the first page of Google. But don’t get me wrong here; creating an online store is not a bad thing, it’s how you optimize for the search engines that makes the difference.
What Can You Achieve With Self Build Stores
Remember I said that another way of starting an affiliate store is to build it from scratch? This method requires you to get your own custom domain, a hosting service and a website publisher. Now, if you are going down this route (which I think you should), you’ve probably heard of WooCommerce or Shopify.
The main advantage of using these platforms is that they allow you to house content, be it pages or blog posts in addition to an online store. These content, when done right, have the capability to rank in the search engines and I bet that 8 of the top ranking affiliate blogs that we saw earlier are built on one of these platforms.
From a buyer’s perspective, it makes more sense to land on a product review page (content), becomes interested before checking out the products in the shop (online store). This approach is more friendly and allow consumers to make educated decisions on what they really need.
For example, The Minimalist Baker is a blog that I frequent for simple cooking tips. It has got an online store that links to Amazon, but the majority of the content talks about wholesome recipes, handy utensils and healthy lifestyle. Sometimes the author promotes Amazon products, sometimes she doesn’t.
It’s a very casual and fun site which I think is generating a decent income because she blogs so regularly and offers so much engagement with her readers. That, in essence, is what affiliate marketing is all about. You are helping people; not pushing products.
Content Is The New Focus
So before you go and start an Amazon affiliate store, keep in mind the following points;
- Don’t waste your time recreating that eCommerce experience. Leave that to Amazon.
- Focus on one niche and find relevant products to promote. You’ll convert better.
- Learn to write informed and good quality product reviews. They will rank forever.
- Get really good at keyword research and you’ll be writing content that will attract both search engines and users alike.
The take home message is this – operating a business with a standalone online store will not be sustainable, but incorporating content and a store will yield more positive and rewarding results.
I hope this explanation has helped you understand what it takes to become a successful Amazon Associate. To learn more, please check out my recommended online program and learn the right way to grow your affiliate business.
Have any thoughts or questions about this topic? Do leave them in the comment below and I’ll get back to you.
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