I’m fairly new to the whole affiliate link scene, but after spending a lot of time researching over the last couple of months, I’ve found that there are some good general rules to be followed in utilizing affiliate links on your web site or blog:
1. Provide valuable content. The most important thing of all is to provide valuable content on your site. If you have the best targeted advertising in the world, it’s not going to keep readers coming back unless there is fresh, interesting content that your readers find valuable. Also, it must be updated relatively frequently. This could mean anywhere from 3-5 times a week to 2-3 times a day or more.
2. Fit your niche. A rule of thumb for writers is to know your audience. The same rule of good writing applies to blogging and writing for the web. In fact, this rule may be even more important for bloggers. Who do you expect to be reading your content? The ads you put on your site must be for products and services that will make your particular set of readers curious enough to click.
3. Do your research. Don’t just sign up for any affiliate program you find. There are at least thousands of available programs out there. Make sure you take the time to research the affiliate before applying. It’s usually very easy to get into an affiliate program and post the code to your website, but they may not always be worth the trouble. Try to go with ones you’re familiar with first. You may have already seen some on sites that you frequent. Or there might be products you’re already familiar with (You might check out LinkShare.com). Those are the ones to begin with. Keep in mind that some advertising may not be allowed by your host (i.e., Bluehost does not allow adult or obscene material).
4. Put ads where readers will see them. There’s a great chart available on google’s adsense help page that shows the hottest spots on a web page for advertising. This chart is a result of research that’s been done on where people look first when viewing a web page. The best spots appear to be closest to the top and also close to the content.
5. Don’t go crazy. As a final word of caution, don’t overdo the advertising. Subtlety will in most cases prove to be the better option. Again, it’s easy to sign up for affiliates and post the code to your site, but that doesn’t mean you should. A few well-targeted and researched affiliate links will be best.
Of course, the whole topic of affiliate links and web site advertising is somewhat subjective. How much is too much? It’s hard to say, but most of us will know it when we see it, right? Experiment with it and don’t be afraid to take it slowly, adding a little at a time. Ask for feedback from your readers. The bottom line is that if you already have traffic to your site, the amount of money you’ll make will tell you how well you’ve done with your advertising and affiliate links.