Panda Update: How to Make a Higher Value Affiliate Website

November 9, 2011 - by admin · Filed Under Affiliate Blog, Affiliate Marketing Articles, SEO Leave a Comment 
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    I think the latest Panda Update from Google really showed just how dynamic and evolutionary SEO is.  While lots of affiliates will assume that the fundamentals of SEO will always stay the same, I now think that links will become massively devalued and that SEO will become almost impossible to game within the next 12 months.

    I know I argued the exact opposite of this a few weeks ago, but I now think that SEO and search engine technology has gone beyond the scale of just analysing links and off page data.  Links have been gamed too easily in the past and now Google’s reacted to this.  And it’s only a matter of time before they devalue more links in the next update and so on…

    I’m pretty sure Google could even flick a switch tomorrow and launch Panda 2.0 or Panda 3.0 (Panda on Steroids) which would devalue even more types of links, enforce a higher threshold on content/user metrics, and possibly improve the SERPs.

    Where I think SEO is heading…

    I think in the future you’re actually going to need a solid website that offers high value to users in order to rank well in the SERPs.  I still think links will be important but only ones from high traffic websites (i.e. links that bring in click-through traffic) that should technically be impossible to buy from anyway.

    The sheer amount of technology and data that Google has at its disposable (including robots, chrome, webmaster tools, user metrics, CTR data, brand searches, analysing on-page ads, content quality, freshness, user interaction, social media) allows Google to distinguish between high value sites and parasitic, low value affiliate sites.

    I don’t think you need to “build a brand” to rank well in the future.  I mean if you take a great website like BBC News then I don’t think it would be punished if it was built on OnlineNews.org instead.  It would still get the same traffic, user metrics and rankings…

    But I do think a lot of these ABC affiliate sites are going to have to change radically if they’re going to stand any chance of success over the next 12-24 months.

    The Importance of Social Metrics and Building a Better Site

    If links become less important in SEO then it’s obvious that things such a user metrics and the total quality of your site is going to replace that.  This means that in the future if you want your site to rank well in the SERPs then you’re going to have to build a high quality site ACCORDING TO THE USER.

    What do I mean by this?  Well I think that too many affiliates think that just because they spend money on high quality content that their site is “high value” to users.

    The problem with this is that there are hundreds of affiliate sites that are built like this.  For example, you might outsource regular news articles on a daily basis and you might have a 50-article “Betting Guide” on your site but that doesn’t mean users are going to fall in love with your site.

    I think having high quality content with the user in mind is the bear minimum that you should expect from your affiliate site – it’s just not going to be enough in the future.

    When you look at some of the top affiliate sites in poker such as PokerListings.com, PokerNews.com or PokerStrategy.com then you can see that they go much further they just offering “100 well written articles on the site”.

    These sites give users a reason to bookmark the site in their browser and lots of reasons to come back.  PokerListings.com, for example, offers exclusive freerolls and promotions, live tournament coverage, poker news, poker site traffic, daily hand quizzes, WSOP videos, comprehensive rules and strategy.

    Another great example would be Financial-Spread-Betting.com, which has a ridiculous dearth of spread betting interviews, videos, tutorials and trading courses, which are incomparable elsewhere.

    I know my sites are hardly any better but you really have to start asking yourself after Panda, “What does my affiliate site really offer other than some outsourced articles and reviews”?

    The Panda updates are only going to be supported by more and more updates.  In the last 5-6 years we’ve seen the Florida update, Farmer Update, Vince Update, Panda Update…It’s only logical that you’re going to see more of the same.  Just because you survived the last update doesn’t at all mean that you’re in the clear.

    This is why I’m so obsessed with how to build a higher value affiliate site right now.  If links become devalued then you just can’t rely on content and daily news alone to be ranking well in the future.  You actually have a better site than your competitors’ full stop.  I actually think sites such as PokerListings.com are going to be making millions of pounds more in the future since they won’t have to invest £1 million/month on links – they’ll maintain their rankings naturally whilst the competition is put to bed.

    How to Build a Higher Value Affiliate Site?

    I know this is all rich coming from me (i.e. a new affiliate with basic sites) but I think there’s going to be some minimum requirements involved in building a high quality affiliate site that users come back to.

    First of the bat, you need to be willing to invest $2-5k upfront in website design and coding.  First impressions are very important in my opinion.  You’re going to need a site with very good navigation and which makes the user fall in love with your site and want to browse more pages.  A lot of people think that all that matters is content.  But if you took a site like PokerNews.com and put all of the content on a basic wordpress template then I doubt users would want to come back or stay on the site too long.

    Secondly you need excellent content.  Not just “well written content” but you need something extra on your site.  You need both ‘the best content on the web” and something that gives your site character.  Also articles that users can easily engage with – such as features on “who is the best poker player at the WSOP final table?”  Regular interesting features like this will give users a reason to read your articles and come to your site.  It’ll also encourage users to share your articles and link them to friends.

    Thirdly, and this is part of coding, you need something major on your site that complements your content.  Something like feature videos, poker site traffic, interviews that’s all coded into the design of your website.  Again, user metrics is important here and you need to code something into your site that makes it stand out among the rest.  Look at PocketFives.com tournament rankings or OddsCheckers.com leading odds comparison tables from the best sportsbooks.

    Asides from this, go to whatever lengths you can to make your site better with the user in mind. Maybe you can run your own exclusive promotions and cash prizes, betting picks, email opt-ins, your own analysis or market data on something.  Just something that users can actually follow.

    Creating a “community” feel to your site is something that I’ve seen a lot of bingo affiliate sites try to do.  But to be honest I don’t think it’s possible for every bingo site to have their own forum, but it would be nice if you could pull if off.

    Conclusion

    This was a pretty long article but I just think if links become devalued then you’re going to have to figure out how to build a high value website on your own two-feet in order to rank well in Google rather than just dedicating $x,xxx per month in links.

    I honestly think a lot of these “me too” affiliate sites are going to suffer over the next 12-24 months because they don’t offer anything better than their competitors.  Most of them are built for the SERPs with high conversion pages and CTAs as opposed to having the user in mind.

    As user metrics become more important I think there’s going to be some big changes to how websites are designed and built in the future.  We’re going to be moving from a world of SEO (search engine optimisation) to UMO (User Metrics Optimisation) and the good news for some people is that they won’t have to spend half of their budget on links anymore.

    I think in the next few months I’m going to try and invest $x,xxx in a couple of new themes for my sites in order to try and improve user metrics and stand out from the crowd.

     

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