Some affiliates are increasingly turning to paid search to provide the traffic they require to generate revenue. This guide should give you the basics you need to make some informed decisions about how you might be able to carve out a niche for yourself in this often highly competitive area.

Finding merchants that are going to provide a good return on your investment of time and money can be a risky business, particularly if you are a newbie to PPC affiliate marketing. There is a lot of scope for the unwary to spend a lot of money and see very little in return. However, get it right and PPC can be an immensely powerful and rewarding way to create revenue.

1 ) Choosing Your Merchant

For seasoned PPC affiliates finding a merchant likely to convert well is a relatively simple process. Many operate in specialist areas and are very familiar with market conditions and product areas that perform well. No article will be able to give you this information, but we hope that the information here will give you a framework with which to research and locate merchants that work for you.

Its usually best to start within a product area that interests you particularly. This will give you the passion to place yourself in the position of your target buyer, and to judge whether or not you think a merchant will convert well. Many networks publish data regarding merchant performance. This often gives an overview of merchant EPC (Earnings Per Hundred Clicks ) and conversion rates. In the UK most networks all have this kind of data available in one form or another. However, this data can never be 100% reliable as it is generalised and deals with conversion and EPC data for traffic coming from many different sources, and of varying quality. A merchant which looks like a poor performer at first glance may be having its data skewed by high amounts of poor quality traffic.

Similarly, an apparently high performing merchant may be working with a high number of incentive or cashback sites which inflate conversion rates and EPC.

The best PPC affiliates use a combination of this kind of data (if available) and their own market knowledge and intuition to guide them towards lucrative PPC candidates.

When you find a possibility use the following checklist to guide you: –

1 ) Look around the site. How good is their product range? Would you buy from them yourself? Are there any obvious problems such as prominent phone numbers encouraging users to phone in orders or poor navigation? Basically, work your way around the site as a buyer would. If you are put off, the likelihood is that others would be too.

2 ) Will the merchants commission structure support PPC activity? Before jumping on in there and splashing your hard earned cash, stop and think. Yes the products look good, and the site is magnificent, but are they paying you enough to earn a good margin? Network data aside, it may be a good idea to find out data on average basket size and site conversion rates. Many merchants display this data, and most are happy to share this with affiliates.

So, if merchant x pays 8% commission, has an average basket size of £35 and a conversion rate of 2.5% This means that for every 100 clicks you send to them you will earn £7. You should initially use this data to determine your maximum CPC. In this case, a max cpc of 4p would yield a profit of £3 per hundred clicks. Use the formula below to work out how a merchant’s commission structure should determine your cost per click strategy: –

Avg Basket Size x Avg Conversion rate = Avg Sales Per Hundred Clicks x Affiliate Commission = Avg Earnings Per Hundred Clicks

This simple formula should help you avoid losing money by over spending on your PPC, or helping to identify a merchant whom you may not be able to make a profit from. Please note that this is a very generalised method and will never be spot on. However, it should help you make a more informed decision about who you should be sending traffic to.

Once you have run your campaign for a little while you will be able to identify lucrative keyword groups which convert above average and adjust max cpc to gain more traffic. We will look at the methods behind this later in the article.

2 ) Find your search terms. The golden rule for PPC success is that the more descriptive your terms are, the better they will convert. Using Adwords own search term tool ( and Overture’s search term suggestion tool ( check out what terms potential customers will use to search for your merchant’s products.

When researching remember that bigger is not always better. For example, “perfume” gets around 300,000 searches per month via the overture network. However, the term “calvin klein perfume” with just over 900 searches is far more likely to generate a sale for you because your buyer already knows what they want and are more likely to buy. Whilst some generic terms can and do work for PPC affiliates, they also attract a high level of browsers and can therefore convert at a drastically lower level than more targeted terms.

3 ) Link in Context. Always link to the page on the merchant site that contains the products your search term refers to. Sending traffic to the homepage will reduce conversions as click happy Internet users get bored and leave when they can’t immediately see the product they originally searched for.

4 ) Use Network Keyword Tracking Tools. Make sure that you use the various keyword-tracking tools available from networks to track the effectiveness of your ads. Most have tracking urls that can be customised to include the value of your choice, which will then be displayed against the sales generated from them in the networks reports. This will allow you to analyse your campaigns to identify top performing keywords, and should also be compared to your adwords account to identify any high traffic keywords not generating any sales. This will help you to refine your campaign and increase your profit margins.

5 ) Setting Up An Adwords Campaign

Righto, you’ve found your merchant, you’ve sorted out your keywords, and the targeted parts of the site you will send traffic to. What next? All you need now is an adwords account, and some killer adtext to keep your click through rates nice and high. Adwords does not only rank ads by how much their author is willing to pay, but by their click through rates. Therefore, with a killer ad it is possible to appear above competitors with a much higher max cpc because yours is performing better.

You can sign up for an adwords account at: –

Now that you have your new adwords account, one of your first tasks will be coming up with compelling ad text. It is important that you make the text as relevant to different groups of keywords as possible to convince the browser that your ad is the one that he is looking for.

Adwords Checklist

1 ) Visual Appeal – make sure that the title and body of the ad contain the keywords your target market will be searching for. If you’re selling Calvin Klein perfume mention that in title and body, and have different adgroups to cover different variations of the term i.e CK, C.K. etc. You will be rewarded for this effort by seeing elements of your ads highlighted in bold within the search results. This will increase your click through rates and help you out-perform your less thorough competitors.

2 ) Text Appeal – You only have a small space to work with in a Google Ad. Mention any key selling points that will fit into the space available such as free delivery or gifts. A cleverly worded succinct ad will pay long term dividends. It is the most important part of this process and can be integral to your financial success.

You can set up multiple ads to run on a group of keywords. Early on, experiment with several different styles of ad and layout. You will quickly be able to see which are attracting the highest click through rates and learn what works as you go on.

3 ) Make the most of your keywords. Many newbies do not realise that Google has several different matching options that allow you to choose how your keywords are (and are not!) displayed. Using them all will allow you to run your account at optimum efficiency.

The keyword matching options plus the additions you need to make to your keywords to trigger ads in response to them are listed below: –

Broad Match – This is the default option and will show your ad for any query containing your key phrases in any order. For example adding the term “perfume shop” will trigger ads for “perfume shop” and “shop perfume”. Google will also show your ads for expanded match options including plurals and any relevant keyword variations.

“Phrase Match” – This will show your key phrases in the order you have entered them into the system. It may also show for phrases which contain other words in the same order. For example, adding “perfume shop” may trigger ads for that term and also for “cheap perfume shop”, but will not show up for a search such as “shop for cheap perfume”.

[Exact Match] – This will show only the exact key term you input, and nothing else

– Negative Match – This function allows you to specify words you do not wish your ads to be triggered for. For example entering “-cheap” would ensure that your ad would not appear in response to the query “cheap perfume”.

For more information on Googles matching options, check out the Google Help Centre: –

6 ) Once You Have Your Campaign Up And Running

It is important to monitor your campaign closely once it is up and running. These checks should be in more detail than simply checking your adwords expenditure versus the commissions you are getting back from your endeavours. Its important to analyse which keywords are bringing in the bacon and which are simply not converting.

Most networks have a report that lets you review your converting keywords for a given period. Some also provided data on the actual keyword a visitor searched on versus what ad triggered them. This can be useful for generating negative matches to prevent your ad from being triggered for irrelevant searches.

7 ) Finally…

Good luck! These guidelines are only intended to be general. A successful PPC affiliate will have their own ways of making this powerful form of advertising work for them. If you have any comments or questions on this article, please feel free to contact us!