About Affiliate Systems and Search Engines


Affiliate system for business

Considered by many Web-based businesses to be the catalyst that drives website visitors and converts them from simple referrals into paying customers, affiliate systems will often enable a business to generate a lot of traffic, thereby boosting sales through promotion by third party entities via their websites. Affiliate marketing is also a cost effective method by which a company can advertise its products and services, as they pay for only those efforts that result in actual sales.

That having been said, if you own a business – Web-based or otherwise – and you’re considering setting up your own affiliate system, you should understand that such a project will require a few hours of good planning and diligent research; because it can either be relatively easy or stressfully overwhelming, depending on how many affiliates you want to recruit. However, despite how much planning and research you do, there is still a more important aspect of an affiliate program: your payment policy and the type of product you will be offering.

As for the actual affiliate systems, there are basically two options that might be suitable for your business – outsourcing the entire system or run your own affiliate system through your web hosting account. Each one boasts unique advantages as well as disadvantages. If you decide on a small number of affiliates you can run your own affiliate software; but if you plan to recruit a large number of affiliates, then you will probably need to outsource, because dealing with a large number of sign ups, track payments and monitoring clicks could be overwhelming.

Types of affiliates

There are numerous types of affiliates out there to choose from; but pay per sale may be the most advantageous, since the affiliate is paid only if a sale is generated from his/her link. Of course it’s the least attractive method to affiliates, unless the product is in high demand and the most profitable for their business.

Another affiliate type is the pay per lead, where you – merchant or product page owner – pay only for traffic. With this type, the affiliate is paid only if a visitor is generated from his/her site; and this method is attractive to affiliates although more costly to merchants or product page owners due to the possibility of non sale visits.

Considerations

When setting up an affiliate program, something to take into consideration is whether or not you will approve affiliates manually or automatically. It’s normally recommended to start affiliate programs with your established customer sites then progress to new ones, because existing customers are known quantities who have already shown their loyalty, possess firsthand knowledge of your product(s) and are trustworthy. Any new affiliate applicants can be approved manually until you feel comfortable with, and can afford the expected fallout from, automatic approval.

Also, if you are dealing with a pay per click system, you may have to control the affiliates since the quality of visitors will be a huge factor when it comes to the generation of sales; and by manually reviewing this category of affiliates, you’ll also be able to evaluate the website of each individual affiliate to see if it’s in the best interest of your company.

If you decide to use your own affiliate system, one of your biggest challenges will be how to pay affiliates a percentage of what you end up receiving from customers. To do this, you can rely on software such as Affiliate shop to help you track and manage commissions.

Keep in mind that there are other concerns of affiliate programs and the overall affiliate marketing business that must also be taken into consideration when embarking on an affiliate program/system installation. One such concern is how your affiliates’ actions/activities reflect on your business in terms of spam, fraud, plagiarism and the search engines; and while we will not delve into all those areas at this time, it is important to touch on one of these topics.

Marketing through search engines

The landscape of search engines have gone through some drastic changes over the years; not only with technology, but also with various partnerships among the many different search companies as well; and having a workable knowledge of these changes will have a significant impact on your affiliate program; because knowing where your traffic is originated from will be instrumental in reducing fraud, spam and theft.

In other words your potential customers, as well as your affiliates, could be running their search engine queries on a particular search engine, although the company which is actually generating the results could be a totally different entity altogether. So we’ve put together a list of popular search engines which are credible and trusted by most so you will be able to recognize certain traits as they relate to each one:

Google, Yahoo and Bing

Google provides the primary search engine results to Google AOL Search as well as Netscape. Google also supplies paid listings to Lycos, Ask, Netscape, AOL Search, and HotBot; while supplying secondary results to HotBot and receiving it’s directory data from DMOZ.

Yahoo provides the primary search results for Yahoo search, Alta Vista, and AllTheWeb, and receives paid listings from Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly known as Overture).

Bing is the most recent of the big three search engines and was introduced to the Web by Microsoft. It was previously known as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search; but in July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in which Bing would power Yahoo! Search, whereby all of Yahoo! Search global customers and partners would be transitioned to the new entity. Transition was completed in 2012.

Secondary search engines

Lycos, Hotbot and Ask

Lycos receives the directory search results from DMOZ, primary results from Ask, and paid listings from Google Adwords.

Hotbot receives directory search results from DMOZ, primary search results from Ask, and paid/secondary results from Google Adwords.

Ask provides primary results to Ask, Hotbot, and Lycos. It receives secondary search results from Teoma and the directory results from DMOZ, with paid listings from Google Adwords.

In relations to marketing in general, and affiliate marketing in particular, search engines can provide anything you want to know; and if someone is looking for something they normally refer to the search engines. When they type it in, the highest sites on the engines will show – which is normally where the visitor will go (hopefully your product page will be one of the destinations).

By keeping good position on the search engines, you’ll be one of the first sites for visitors who are looking for a certain product that you offer. You can make a lot of money with search engines as well, if you know what you are doing; but you can also coordinate search engine traffic with your top and most trusted affiliates in a way that will award the affiliates while keeping those referrals in the fold for nurturing and eventually converting into paying customers.

Safeguarding Your Affiliate Commissions


An ounce of prevention…

It is a known fact shared by many in the affiliate marketing business that affiliate commissions have been, and still are, subject to theft perpetrated by some unsavory individuals; and while it is not easy to catch the perpetrators of such theivery, it may be both simple and practical for affiliates to safeguard their earnings from theft with the use of a few software products that are affordable as well as effective.

These special types of software programs range in price from 15 to 50 dollars and can be used to assist you in protecting commissions derived from your affiliate marketing business – or any other business for that matter. Keep in mind however, that the effectiveness and ease of use provided by these programs vary greatly, so before you buy one, it is important that you learn as much about the particular program as you can possibly can.

You might be familiar with the kind of software referred to as it is discussed in the following paragraphs.

Banner servers

Banner servers not only serve banners, but many of the more recent servers will display text links as well. The link coding that is associated with served ads is normally extensive in length, so that a visitor to your website whose intentions may be suspect will not be able to see where the redirect is heading as it appears on the status bar.

Click tracking software

Click counting software will not show the target URL because the links point inwards to the software, which is normally installed on your own website. Once someone has clicked on the link, the click tracking application will then redirect a visitor to the URL that you have specified within the script. The click tracking software will also provide a great way to monitor the usefulness of your ads and not just relying on the reports that merchants will provide.

Protecting your commissions is extremely important, as you want to get paid for your hard work and long hours. So although commission theft is something that occurs affiliate marketing and other Web-based businesses, you can protect yourself. There are certain techniques and tactics fraudsters use in their day-to-day activities, and if you know what to protect against, you can certainly safeguard yourself from such online fraud.

Proceed with vigilance

If you own your own business, the last thing you want is to experience either credit card fraud or affiliate fraud; and since you now know (if you didn’t before) that this type of crime does happen on a regular basis, you’ll need to make sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself, because those who do not will suffer the loss of income as well as other valuable items, depending on the particular circumstance.