This is something that I get asked a lot – and that is seems many people looking to make money as affiliates or ‘through Google’ and that are asking, so I wanted to dedicate a special post to it.
Where I started
When I first started with internet marketing, a long time ago in the summer of 2008, I began with Google PPC ads and some Clickbank affiliate links.
I made my first commission pretty fast – it took about a day to find a product to promote, put together a simple website and a few landing pages, research the keywords and build my ads. It was an exciting moment when I got my first sale the next day!
That site went on to make me a few thousand dollars in affiliate commissions over the space of about three months, which I was very happy with because once it was set up I didn’t really need to do much else for the money to continue coming in apart from monitor my spend on Google Adwords and optimise the site and Adwords bids a bit.
The downside came when Google reduced my ‘quality score’ to 1 and I lost all my traffic – and income from that site. This happened to a number of affiliate sites (I’d built more by then) that I had – and many that other affiliates had too.
Since then, Adwords + Clickbank (or many other affiliate networks) hasn’t really been a moneymaker anymore, and I moved on to try other methods.
A lot of people will tell you that it was easier back then. And it is true that there were some simple – and fast – methods for making money online that worked much better then than now. But there are many more opportunities now too. All is not lost – quite the opposite in fact!
Affiliate Marketing is Dead, Long Live Affiliate Marketing
In 2011 I discovered that I could get the same sort of traffic that I was getting buying clicks on Google Adwords using highly targeted and simple SEO strategies – called ‘Sniper Sites’ – but for free.
The highest CTR that I managed to get with my PPC ads was about 15% and the average was less than 4%, but the top search result in Google’s organic listings gets as much as 45% of the people who searched clicking through to that site.
So I started focusing my efforts on simple SEO strategies – and the results were great. More traffic, more affiliate commissions, more profit (there were no PPC costs). Oddly lower conversion rates though, but that didn’t matter that much.
I’ve written more about the key features of a sniper site here if you’re interested in learning more.
Also I’ve reviewed the best selling guide to making money with this method here – George Brown’s Google Sniper.
It went well, but got more complicated the following year when Google released updates aimed at removing affiliate sites from their results.
A lot of my sites were hit – none of the sites that were making money in 2012 or even 2013 are still in the search results or earning any money now. Other affiliates were too, which got rid of a lot of the competition too.
But I built more, adapted my methods and continued to rank sites and make money – this site ranking for the term ‘Google Sniper’ and similar long tail variants is evidence of that.
What works now then?
Google has changed and SEO site building affiliates have adapted their methods.
Indeed with so much less competition and a lot of the most spammy methods of ranking a site effectively invalidated by Google, in many niches the lack of competition has made things much easier!
Fundamentally the key principles still work well – and there are a lot of affiliates making money with them in 2015.
The Google Sniper method has been adapted, and with the third version of the program released earlier this year there is no sign of that changing any time soon – indeed I would say that now is a great time to start.
Click here for more information about the sniper method and for my own review of the latest version of Google Sniper.