The Affiliate Fear Factor

General 6 Comments »

Almost everyone involved in making a living at the pointy end of affiliate marketing will have felt “The Affiliate Fear” – that little nagging feeling at the back of your head that everything you’ve built might get taken away from you. Why? Well, either because the industry attracts a higher than average proportion of poor souls suffering from paranoia, or because we spend a ridiculous portion of our working lives with the proverbial Sword of Damocles dangling about 3 inches above our unprotected internet heads.

Where Does The Fear Come From?

We don’t have a very hefty sword dangling above our heads and held in place by a single fragile horse hair – but our working lives certainly are plagued with uncertainty. Affiliate marketing is a unique industry – like any other it has a body (the IAB in the UK at least) that issues everyone with guidelines on how to play nice and generally be all round, ethically sound, good chaps. However, unlike other industries it’s not those guidelines that determine who sinks and swims in the affiliate world – it’s Google’s.

A Sword? That Is SO Last Millenium – Try a Google Bomb!

In a nutshell, these are as follows. “Make your site useful to users, add value over and above that offered by the merchants you feature. We hate pages occupying a space that might as well just be the originator of the product. Do not copy stuff from other people’s sites, please don’t use spammy tactics. Make it good.”

“Oh, and just a few small provisos. We like some sites more than others, so what one man can get away with will buy the next chap a one way ticket to Google-blivion. Failure to adhere strictly to the complex guidelines we have issued might result in your business being destroyed overnight. Or maybe not. Did we mention the nitty gritty of our guidelines are actually absolutely top secret so you won’t find out you’ve made a booboo, or we’ve changed them until you wake up one morning and realise it’s time to see what positions McDonalds might have available for you?”

Janet hated getting up in the mornings and discovering she'd won the "Google-blivion" raffle again...

And This is What Makes Us Unique…

If you’re a mortgage broker, insurance rep, own a shop or indeed any sort of business at all you’ll have a list of guidelines that governs absolutely every facet of your operation. They’re all designed to protect the consumer (as Google seeks to protect it’s users). They’re also written clearly in big letters where everyone can see them.

Affiliates? We have a regular prize draw type arrangement to see if we’ve still got a business or not! And my very favourite part – there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Use The Fear – But Don’t Let It Use You!

Now that I’ve set a mental picture of hollow eyed affiliates waiting for their ticket to be drawn in the “one way trip to Google-blivion” raffle extravaganza, I’d like to point out that using the anxiety of this ever present Damocles-esque threat is actually a very healthy thing.

Am I scared? Of course I am, all the bloody time!! But I never get to that sweaty palmed world is about to end stage. As I go about my daily affiliate business I constantly gather data about Google and it’s goings on. Eventually, little things will start tugging at the corner of my mind. When something’s been in there a month and won’t go away I know it’s time to do something about it. I’ve learned to channel my worries and anxieties into positive action, and it’s kept my business growing.

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, this will be the most important skill you can learn.

If you’re already in affiliate marketing and think you don’t need it – I’ll have a big mac, coke, and large fries thanks.


So What Now?

General 26 Comments »

Long term readers of this humble blog will know just how long I’ve spent being inspired by books such as the 4 hour work week and trying to cut down my working hours and generally streamline my business. The idea is to use the flexibility offered by affiliate marketing to enjoy more leisure time.

Mission Accomplished

After returning from my recent 4 month sabbatical I decided to bite the bullet and drop my working week down to 3 days. This has worked exactly as I’d hoped – the business is still running well and the time I put in is enough to keep it growing.

There’s only one problem though…

I’m Absolutely Bored Shitless!!!!!!!!!!!

Err… the thing is I’ve always said I eat, sleep, and breathe affiliate marketing. That is absolutely true. The only problem with this is that somewhere along the road I’ve clearly lost sight of who I am when not being an all round internet surf champ. In fact when I think about it, the process of losing sight of “who I really am” started when I left home and went to uni 16 years ago.

Pre university Kirsty was always busy. Drawing, painting, knitting, sewing, stamp collecting, antiquing, flower making, paper marbling, embroidery – I was always into something. But when I left home, all that creative energy went into shaping myself and my future. Standing back and admiring my handiwork I think I’ve done a decent enough job, so no complaints there.

But what the f**k do I do now?

Kirsty The Newbie

Now I empathise more strongly than ever with all you newbs out there in affiliate land. I thought I remembered what it was like, but now I realise the struggle to get started fades in your mind as you move further away from it. Trying to find things to occupy my now extensive leisure time makes me realise just what a hard job all you guys have!

I have all these ideas for projects, but feel I need to understand the whole process before I dive in. So nothing happens. I have so many ideas that I spend hours researching and never actually seem to start anything, and I’m too scared to invest money in my ideas in case they don’t work out and I end up with a whole load of junk I don’t really want or need. I’m already that bored with being bored that all I can do when I try to find something to do is sit around…. being bored.

And Here’s The Dangerous Part…

I keep on ending up in my good ‘ol familiar office. But not working. I end up checking stats, looking at projects and visiting the same old websites I use to break up my working day over and over again – just because I don’t know what else to do.

And then guess what happens when I step into the office to try and do my 3 days of work?

I’m Absolutely Bored Shitless!!!!!!!!!!!

*cough* so just to recap. I aimed to work less, live more, and earn more so I could enjoy an exciting and fulfiling life.

What I’ve achieved is indeed working less and earning more but not enjoying any of it. I’m using all this extra spare time to experience the utter and stultifying boredom and apathy I’ve apparently waited so long to enjoy. Nice work love – that’ll be one to tell the grandkids about eh? Well, if I can be bothered to have any.

Insert Positive and Upbeat Comment Here

Now y’all know me. I’m a glass is half full type of gal… except today I can’t be arsed. So do me a favour – insert your own upbeat comment about how I’m going to jolly well pull myself together and fabricate a rich and fulfilling leisure life in the space I’ve left below.
There. Now isn’t that better?


Inside The Affiliate Greenhouse

General 6 Comments »

Want to experience a day in my shoes and find out why this blog has been a little quiet recently despite my wild promises of more top quality affiliate prose now I’m back home?

Just follow this easy step by step guide to seeing the affiliate world through my eyes and all shall be revealed dear readers…

1. Locate a convenient greenhouse. Perhaps see if the botanical gardens in London can accommodate.
2. Move your office desk in there.
3. Increase the ambient temperature to 32c (that’s 89.6f).
4. Just for a bit of a giggle, whack up the humidity to around 95%.
5. Now do 6 hours affiliate related work in those temperatures with just a fan to cool you down.
6. Endure several browser crashes per day because your computer system is too hot. This will usually be at a crucial moment and will enrage you considerably.
7. Once you’ve finished your days work, pause to push your glasses back on your nose (they’ll have been sliding off for quite some time) and decide should you a ) think up a dazzling bit of blog prose or b ) rush off and spend some quality time under a cold shower before dropping insensible onto the sofa.
8. Now you know why I haven’t been blogging.
Image credit:

Don’t even dare ask why my office isn’t air conditioned – in this house nothing is as simple as selecting a single job and just doing it. Because we’re mid renovation even the simplest tasks seem to end up requiring an entire section of wall to be replaced, major drainage works, and some kind of retaining wall to be constructed.

It’s Not Only The Temperature That’s Been Distracting Me

Other than wrestling with blazing hot computer keyboards and still trying to do a reasonable days work I’ve also been having a hot time of it at the hands of Google.

In my last post about how affiliates need to lift their game I didn’t mention that one of my own sites had been affected by the rumblings from the Google jungle (although I spoke about it in the comments section). Lingerie Brands has had a rather nasty gouge taken out of its traffic and rankings and I’ve been spending a lot of time working out how we will redevelop the site to keep Google happy.

Initially I thought it could be a “thin affiliate” filter being applied, however I’ve since realised that it’s not so much my site having a blanket type filter applied as other sites being deemed more appropriate to rank higher in the SERPS.

I don’t want to go into it too much here but I’ve found where I’ve lost rankings I’ve largely been replaced by merchants themselves and sites doing interesting and useful type stuff with product feeds. Where I’m still ranking A-OK there’s not so many merchants or sites of that nature in the space. Also, if it had been an adjustment to their thin affiliate filter I’d have expected my other similarly structured mens underwear site to be affected – but it’s not. In fact its got more traffic than ever.

So I’ve spent a sweltering week working out a redevelopment brief for good ‘ol LB so she can keep up with the times. In all honestly, its long overdue. The current site format is old, tired, and needs to improve the value it adds to the users. I’ve known that for quite some time and Google’s just sent me the loud and clear message that they couldn’t agree more! I’ll post more on this when my thoughts are more… cogent!

I’m actually very happy this has happened in an odd way – I’m going to be able to add in all sorts of little time saving functionalities to my site and we will then also be able to roll out similar principles to our other sites and redevelop those also.

2011 is going to be an interesting year and so long as it cools down a bit – I’m really looking forward to it :)


Why Affiliates Need To Be Better Than Merchants

Google 26 Comments »

Hey… can you guys hear that? I think I may be able to hear the winds of change advancing upon affiliate land!

In recent weeks I’ve been hearing campfire-esque affiliate horror stories told in hushed tones from some corners of the internet.  There are tales of affiliate websites being hit with the dreaded Google slap and *gasp* some of them have unique content.

Google’s New “Low Quality” Algo Tweak

It was only ever a matter of time – but in recent days Google’s very own Matt Cutts has announced that there has been an algo change to try and weed out sites with “shallow or low-quality content“. Of course the announcement is very vague in nature, but it’s clear this is a further advance on the Mayday Update which had so many affiliates shuddering in horror.

The key question here is, what constitutes low quality content? I’d suggest that this is something all us affiliates should be giving some mighty careful consideration. “Low quality” is not the same as “Non Unique”. Two recent cases in point from the Google Webmaster help threads when the algo tweak began to bite should serve to illustrate my point neatly: –

The Case Of The Travel Site Owner

A travel site owner found his site complete with unique content had been slapped silly. Now, whether or not this was justified aside Google Employee John Mu posts some useful points to the thread including: –

  • “One thing that is very important to us with affiliate-oriented sites is that the site provides enough unique and compelling content of its own, that it would stand on its own feet if the affiliate content were removed.”
  • “our algorithms generally tend to prefer sites that are either the original source (saving the user time on clicking through) or sites that have really strong content.

I really feel for the webmaster in that thread, when you read through it his anguish is all too obvious.

The Case of Unique Not Being Unique Enough

In another thread, a webmaster complains that Google has penalized my entire network of 30+ sites (credit to Lee McCoy who posted the link on Facebook!). He scores a reply from Matt Cutts himself.  In this case Matt is saying that although his content is unique on the face of things, it’s not very high quality and therefore not considered unique enough by the algo.

Specific Examples Aside…

What we as affiliates should all be taking away from this is that we need to make sure what we are providing users isn’t just the same as a merchant site, or equal in quality. It must surpass the information people can get by going straight to the merchant.

Due to a lack of wholesale wailing and gnashing of teeth from the affiliate world I’d say that Googles algos are developing subtly. However, as we see time and time again Google constantly raise the bar on us affiliates. I think it’s time for us all to take a step back, look at our sites sites, and ask “Does this add value over and above what my users can find on the merchant site?”.

If the answer is no, or you’re not sure I think it’s time to start working towards changing that. The thing about a truly valuable resource is that it takes a heck of a lot of time and effort to build. In my opinion it’s better to start now and avoid potential pain later. I’m certainly going to do this as of today. My mantra will be “I have to be better than the merchant”.

If the Google boogey man doesn’t eventuate (and lets face it Google love to slide on the boogey man outfit where affiliates are concerned!), my websites will be much better for my efforts and will ultimately benefit my business more.

I’d say that was a win-win, huh? :)


What Do You Mean Who Are You?

General 5 Comments »

Remember me?  Odd Scottish girl who likes to ramble on a bit about affiliate marketing?

Hehehe, I’ve had a handful of people wondering where the hell I’ve gotten to recently after an unprecedented silence on this blog. The answer is quite simple – I decided to take a complete and utter break from affiliate marketing for the last few weeks of my holiday and was mostly successful (barring having to upgrade my website servers around Christmas and being repeatedly woken from my bed by downtime alerts).

I did miss talking to you guys though :)

Back Into The Dynamic Cut and Thrust…

Urgh, they say breaking up is never easy but honestly it should be getting back together is never easy. I’ve now resumed my relationship with affiliate marketing and have spent the most dispiriting 4 days slogging through a pile of admin type tasks I’ve let build up. I definately lost the will to live a couple of times this week. But that’s all completely normal type stuff and it never takes long for something to reignite my spark.

What A Difference 4 Months Makes!

As soon as I got down to surveying my own personal affiliate landscape in depth I realised there’s been some massive changes for me whilst I’ve been on my extended break. My PPC is now barely registering on the spendometer, Christmas was “steady” rather than a “woah!!!!”, and my sources of income have altered wildly.

Thanks to my unwillingness to push my luck with Adwords this year, some programme changes, and some niches that have traditionally done well just not going off for me during December / January – I’m out into uncharted territory. However, I’ll still end this month 30% up on January last year thanks to one of my newer sites which has neatly stepped in to take up all that slack and then some.

And That’s What I LOVE About Affiliate Marketing

Ahh, the romance is back on!  I adore the ever changing, always challenging, and often perplexing nature of trying to keep making a living at this game.  If you stand still or rest on your laurels things invariably fall apart.  What you thought was the solid bedrock of your business turns to sand and dribbles through your unresponsive fingers if you don’t keep on pushing and innovating.  My business today is only still on the up because I enjoy and embrace the double edged nature of the business – even when it’s cutting me to damned well ribbons 😉

But more about all these changes when I’ve had more time to analyse and ruminate on them!

Queensland Floods

As I’m sure most of you realise I’ve made my home in Queensland. Fortunately I live on the Sunshine Coast and despite a huge amount of rain falling we have been spared the devastation that’s unfolded in the rest of the state. My house is absolutely choked with mould, my front door has swollen to twice it’s normal size, and my house was infested with termites thanks to all the damp weather. I count myself incredibly lucky considering all the terrible flooding and tragic stories, and will be kept busy with the clean up for quite a few weeks to come.

If you’d like to make a donation to help those affected by the floods you can do so at this site here.

We did have an interesting feature crop up at the bottom of our garden which I think will demonstrate just how much water the sky can throw at you here in the sub tropics.

Should there be a creek at the bottom of our garden dear? I'm sure it wasn't there yesterday!

Meanwhile, Enjoy These Travel Pics

On a more sunny note, we did manage to find a bit of good weather recently – so here’s a some  sunshine pics to show you all that Queensland really is an incredibly beautiful place and a bit of what we’ve been up to since I last posted.

Walking along the best beach in the world with my friends - Whitehaven

Duncs chills out on our Whitsundays boat trip

Our birdseye view of the NYE Fireworks on Sydney Harbour

More from me soon, and any pictures from now on are more likely to be of mould than any gorgeous beaches!!


My Week On The Web – Far Travelled Freebies

General 4 Comments »

I’ve been back in Australia just under a week now and getting caught up with my sites. Alas, I’ve had to renege on my promise to not work upon my return as we have to sort out some Google Adwords issues I’ve mentioned previously and get our new site up and running.

Seeing as I’m at my desk anyhow I thought I’d get back into my semi regular Friday posts and let y’all know what I’ve been up to and some of the stuff I’ve been reading about.

Don’t Know Your Canonical From Yer Elbow?

Confused by the difference between 301 redirects and rel=canonical? I know I was, but thanks to this extremely comprehensive guide from the lovely people over at SEOMoz I now need wonder no more! Basically 301’s are for your everyday site and content moving situations, redirecting traffic from expired content to the most relevant page on your site, and preventing multiple home page versions from being indexed. The canonical tag can be a much easier to use alternative, is handy for letting search engines know about pages which may be duplicates where a 301 is inappropriate, and stopping automatically generated URLs such as those containing session id’s being indexed.

Simple eh? If, like me, you’re a bit behind on the wonderful world of canonical fun catch up here!

Could You Make A Better Job of a Site Than Someone Else?

A great post from the very entertaining Finch pointing out that there may be financial opportunities to be had by taking on someone else’s dud project and adding a bit of affiliate magic. If a site’s current owner doesn’t have the mindset to monetise a project, maybe you do!

A4U Awards – The End Of The Blog Awards

Entries for the 2011 A4U Awards are now open. I see that the best blog category is now defunct as my fellow blogger and current holder of the accolade Jason Dale pointed out.

The reason is “due to the lack of active bloggers”, and to be honest I agree with Matt & team’s decision completely. Without a larger pool of bloggers I think the award was going to get a little bit pointless this year with no new blood for voters to consider. They’ve said if the pool expands they’ll revisit having an award for affiliate blogs. I’d love to see more people blogging within the UK space so here’s hoping the award will resurface at some later date.

Think There’s a lot of Money in 2nd Tier Affiliate Marketing?

Well think again! John Lammerton has referred just oodles of new affiliates to UK networks, some of whom are now pulling in very nice monthly amounts of up to five figures per month. So did he write his post from his private yacht moored off Capri? Well, maybe not

Whilst we’re talking about Mr Lammerton, he’s recently started a brand new and original feature called “Ask Lammo” *cough* 😉 If you’d like to ask this experienced affiliate marketer and owner of Easy Content Units any questions just use the little box in the bottom right hand side of his site.

It’s ages since I had any Ask Kirsty questions (between John and Affiliate Doctors perhaps I’m being edged out of the market?!?!). So if anyone has any problems they’d like unpicked and analysed for public consumption please do drop me a line.

Are These The Furthest Travelled Affiliate Freebies Ever?

As you may or may not remember, we picked up a fair few freebies from various sources at the A4U Expo. To prove that there’s no lengths an affiliate won’t go to in order to bring home their conference goodies here’s a picture of our stash which has travelled on no less than 7 flights since we were in London at the Expo.

By far the most impressive feat is the transport of the 6 Peroni glasses my Duncan liberated from the opening party with the help of two willing accomplices with very large handbags. Fitting them into our already stacked to the brim luggage and actually keeping them in one piece ended up being the mission of the century. They now have just as much sentimental value as our wedding crystal and serve as a reminder of just how much an affiliate values a good freebie 😉


Affiliate Inspiration From Far Off Places

General 6 Comments »

Actually, I think a far more appropriate title for this post would probably be “why it’s impossible for Kirsty to have a real holiday”. Having just got back from a very, very cool trip I want you to know I was thinking about affiliate marketing and this blog at some very improbable junctures!

Its clear that my passion for affiliate marketing is verging on the obsessive. I couldn’t stop those insistent little analogies popping into my mind when I was supposed to be concentrating on some of the world’s most impressive sights.

Pompeii – Don’t Build Your Business on The Side of a Volcano

"So we'll build the main plaza so that scenic volcano sort of dominates the town. Whats that? Nahhhh.... it won't go off!"

When our Roman chums built this amazing place they knew Vesuvius was a volcano – they just didn’t realise it was an active one. I was quite shocked to find there are 700,000 people living in the Naples area today. If this old lady blows her top (a trick she’s long overdue to perform) there are hundreds of thousands of unlucky residents in the danger zone. There are also some fairly firm doubts about the effectiveness of the evacuation plans

Seemingly madness, but there’s a huge number of dodgy adwords accounts, sly cookie stuffers, website copiers, and naughty fraudsters determined to make that easy buck building their empires on shaky ground. If you’ve based your income on something a little bit dubious, have been getting away with it for a while, and think you’ll never be caught – think again! There’s nothing worse than being shaken from your bed at 3am by the distant rumbling of a financial pyroclastic flow heading straight for your bank account. 😉

Much like Vesuvius it’s not a matter of if, but when.

Rome – It’s Not All About The Colosseum Darling!

When you think of Rome, you instantly think of the Colosseum - but it ain't the only amazing bit of tourist eye candy in the neighbourhood!

Affiliate marketing suffers from what I’ll call “Colosseum Syndrome” for the purposes of this little rant-ette. “So Bill, I hear you’re taking up affiliate marketing. What are you going to promote? Ah yes. Mortgages and Gambling – a wise choice. However, have you considered checking out the rest of the affiliate neighbourhood?”

Time and time again in affiliate marketing people target the obvious and don’t put any effort into finding out about any beautiful yet underrated gems that might be nearby, and much easier to exploit without having to fight through crowds of competitors.

Not far from the Colosseum and only 4 other people there.

Leaning Tower of Pisa – Solid Foundations Are Essential!

Duncs refusing point blank to do the traditional holding up the tower pic (thank goodness or I'd have started divorce proceedings).

The Tower of Pisa was built in 3 stages, each stage tried to correct the obvious lean which means this tower has levels hanging all over the place to try and give the impression of a straight, well built tower. It was finally stabilised just a few years ago. Only took just under a thousand years to sort out 😉

This anaology would have been obvious to anyone, the only way to build your affiliate business is on foundations of hard work. Anything else and you’ll have to spend an unpleasant amount of time and money going back and doing the underpinning work which may, or may not, work!

Some Other Pics Sans Smug Analogies

Thanks for bearing with me during those, it was essential to my mental wellbeing that I get them out onto the blog as I couldn’t believe how they kept popping into my head when I was supposed to be busy touristing!

Nice was... nice although my Dad is looking unimpressed here!

Me on the cruise ship in a dress, behaving myself, wearing makeup, and hair done. Quick! Call Record Breakers!!

Checking out the local wildlife in Krabi, Thailand.Meeting the local wildlife in Krabi….

But the best bit of the trip… god it’s so good to be back home in Australia!


The End of My PPC Affiliate Career is in Sight!

Google 17 Comments »

It seems to happens without fail every time I leave my office for a significant stretch. Before we left on our little affiliate jolly I said to Duncs, “Well? What’ll it be this time darling???”

“What do you mean?” He said, looking up from his packing with the usual confused look he bestows upon my frequent random outbursts.

“What will go wrong when we’re away? What lovely little surprise will Google bestow upon us right at the point when we’re totally unable to do anything about it?”

Thankfully It’s Not PPC Armageddon

I’ve just returned from a blissful 10 days going internet cold turkey to discover that whilst I was gone my Australian underwear site has had a review and found a polite note from Google pointing out that my humble offering was in “violation of our Landing Page and Site Policies” and “the site is disabled within your AdWords account.”

Well gee thanks guys – my holiday was wonderful thanks!

But it Didn’t Stop There…

Upon closer examination I discovered that Blokes Undies had also been given the old QS thumbs down no less than 6 weeks ago and I simply didn’t notice (no dear John letter about that one though!).

Happily the reason for this was that the PPC was only about 15% of the site traffic and the slap coincided with a nice organic boost… so I actually ended up with a profit increase during September and subsequently didn’t investigate why the PPC traffic was 50% down in September. It was only today when doing my stats I realised that during October I’d had hee haw from Adwords and that every keyword in that campaign was wearing a shiny “rarely shown due to low quality score” badge.

Tightening The Noose?

I’ve always prided myself on adding value to the user and creating pages I didn’t consider to be “thin” pages. I’ve come through the various affiliate culls over the last 2 years totally untouched. Until now that is.

Does this mean Google is tightening it’s rules relating to affiliates, or have I just been lucky in recent times? I’m pragmatic enough to realise it could be either or neither of those two options.

One thing I do know about Google is that whenever you start to see such things appearing in your account it’s rarely a one off. Considering how much similarity in structure, content, and strategy the affected sites have to others still lucky enough to be blessed with Adwords traffic my days as a PPC affiliate may be numbered.

Am I Surprised?

Not at all. I’ve been preparing for this type of eventuality for quite some time and with some degree of urgency since I asked a very experienced PPC manager if I had anything to worry about with all the affiliate bannings that went on this time last year and got back an e-mail that basically said “be very, very worried if you rely upon PPC for your livelihood”. That was me told.

Since then, I’ve been feverishly working at building organic traffic whilst refusing to add any more to my Adwords account. My logic being that every adgroup and new domain added a greater element of risk for getting a ban.

Do You Think It’ll Never Happen?

Think again. Those two black marks on my account could well be reason enough for Google to slap me with a nice Adwords ban next time they decide to give a few more affiliates the shove. Far fetched? Not at all. I recently had a conversation with someone who had an entire account banned as a result of one long forgotten, ill conceived thin landing page. He’d fixed some dodgy old pages they warned him about after his “last chance” e-mail, only to cop a ban for the long forgotten page – which they hadn’t.

Draconian? Unfair? Probably, but this is Google we’re talking about and anyone who thinks common sense will prevail when dealing with them is clearly deluded.

What Will I Do Next?

Well, precisely what I’ve been doing already. I’ll continue to create decent sites that add value to the user and constantly strive to improve them. A majority of the PPC traffic I have relied upon in the past is getting too expensive for my margins anyway, so I’m no longer prepared to spend time and resources dancing to the Adwords tune.

For the last year I’ve been running my business on the basis that I will only continue to have Adwords traffic available to me in the short term rather than on a permanent basis. I’m happy to say that PPC now only accounts for around 16% of overall traffic to my websites. This time last year it was closer to 60% and a massive liability to my business.

Prior to leaving Australia I’d already started work on a brand new organic site to replace my now doubly slapped offering. There’ll be a slight gap until we can get home to do the 20% work remaining to get it up and running, but I’ll replace the PPC traffic with organic within a few months.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

So Adwords, like a selfish lover I’ll take what’s on offer for as long as you continue to provide it. But if you finally decide you’ve had enough of me I’ll walk on without breaking step and hope that your brother who provides me with lovely organic traffic doesn’t find out about our broken affair and give me the push. 😉


Totally Expo’d Out

General 2 Comments »

I’m still tired and broken after an incredibly busy and hectic 2 days and 3 nights at the A4U Expo.

I went straight from London to spend time with old friends and have returned to my Mum’s with a bad case of the horror lurgey – so my apologies for the lamentably late round up 😉

The Sessions

Most of the sessions I ended up seeing were SEO related. I think this was mainly because I’ve been feeling a little rusty on that front recently and wanted to top up my knowledge . I have taken thousands of words of notes and there’s about 3 or 4 half formed potential blog posts that I’m hoping to get up in the coming weeks once I’ve had a chance to absorb and test the new info to try and add more of a practical affiliate slant to the info (and have some time for my feet to
touch the ground!)

I went to: –
Day 1
The 3 Pillars of SEO – an overview of techical, on page, and off page SEO considerations we’d all be foolish not to consider.
Advanced Analytics for Affiliates – An in depth look at getting more than just the standard unique visitor and bounce rate type malarkey from your analytics interface.
Becoming an Affiliate a Reality Check – no choice there really, I was on the panel.
SEO Ranking Factors – A good old panel type chit chat about SEO and its varied wily ways at present.
The Webgains Speed Networking Session – talking fast about affiliate marketing and champagne, two of my favourite things!!
Day 2
Feed and Microformat Optimisation – a fascinating session on how to get those review and events based listings into Google and a great case study with performance examples.
Expanding into Europe – Good info about getting started in Germany. Worth attending just to experience Marcus Tandler for the very first time. Very funny guy.
Link Building Strategies – Great insight into the Google brand update and some in depth analytical techniques. Made me very glad to no longer be involved in SEO but thoroughly fascinating!! Have about 1,000 words of notes on this session alone. One of my favourites I think.

The Hall

Pens-a-plenty, USB’s massages, drinks, games and lots of networks and agencies to chat to. I have to say my favourite freebie was the Tradedoubler chalk mugs. Affilinet were handing out some very nice energy drinks also which really helped Duncs and I wake up and make the best of the sessions on day two! Check out Hodge’s post on the Freebies here.

I have to confess I didn’t do a whole heap of networking in the hall, sticking to pre-arranged chats with people. I think the narrow focus of my affiliate business means that I was never going to find new business opportunities so I chose to spend time lounging on various comfy sofas drinking the plethora of free beverages on hand for tired affiliates and getting ready for the next information packed sesh.

The Parties

Well what can I say – if or similar has not been regged by an inspired affiliate after the highly entertaining burlesque show at the Troxy I’ll be very surprised.

Although the opening and closing parties were pretty standard (almost quiet!) the middle night was simply superb. I’m a massive 30’s fan and loved every minute. Duncan looked more than slightly interested in the highly developed tassel twirling skills on display as well. I hope it didn’t give him any Xmas gift ideas LOL.

My Favourite Bits

  • A near death dancefloor experience at the hands of Dom “Fred Astaire” Hodgson. He decided to attempt a very daring dance move with me – but unfortunately I didn’t see him coming and was disconcerted to suddenly find myself travelling backwards at a great rate of knots and looking up at the ceiling.
  • The photo booth at the Troxy. Many a ridiculous snap was taken in there on the night – and one lovely chap in particular almost caused some marital discord by hijacking me and taking a series of pictures which my Duncan thought made his behaviour look “quite bad”. My mild mannered Kiwi other half saw the funny side – eventually 😉
  • Talking to a lovely chap from at the speed networking. Then another, and another, making 3 mattressmen in a row. By the end of all that bed related chat I was a convert – so don’t delay guys and gals sign up to their programme today. Huge range and great conversions!
  • Duncan hijacking the handbags of the lovely Existem girls at the first night party. You’d think he’d never seen a Peroni glass before, but he’s now the proud owner of no less than 6. He might not be a full blown affiliate but he’s got the hang of the freebies and taken it to a new level.  The burning, burning shame LOL.

A Great Conference

I’m very glad I made the effort to attend this year’s Expo – I thoroughly enjoyed all the sessions I attended and learned a lot that I’ll be able to put into practise when I go back to work in January.

The only thing missing was a lot of the usual affiliate suspects – I was sorry a lot of my old friends decided not to attend. Hopefully Matt & team will be able to tempt them back to future events as it wasn’t quite the same without them (although it did save me some nasty hangovers!!!).

I’m not sure when the next time I’ll get a chance to attend one of these events might be as I’m now planning to head back to Australia for at least 2 or 3 years. I’m sure by that stage the conference will be even bigger and better than ever. This year’s event was really a credit to the events team, so well done to them all :)

Read what others are saying about the conference here.

I’m off to pack for my cruise now, so more from me in a couple of weeks!


Back in UK & Getting Ready for A4U Expo

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I’ve landed back in the mother country, my accent has become so Scottish my husband no longer understands me, and it’s T-Minus 3 days and counting till this year’s A4U Expo London kicks off!

Win a Ticket

If you haven’t got a ticket, Kieron Donoghue is running a competition over on his blog which closes end of play today (8th October). Just drop a line into his comments box and tell him what session you would most like to see and why you deserve to win the ticket. The comment he likes the most will win.

Only 11 comments there so far, and a bit of sucking up going on about Kieron’s own session – “Making it Happen : On a Shoe String Budget” which is running on day two. Can’t blame the suck-ees mind you, it does sound like a very interesting one and I’d say I’ll most likely be dropping in on that one myself.

Definately worth entering Kieron’s comp – so get your skates on and get over to his blog to enter now!

Speaking of Sessions Featuring Affiliates…

I’ve gotten myself onto the panel for “Becoming an Affiliate: A Reality Check” at the Expo Theatre on Day One. Turn up at 13.15 to 14.15 to see the goings on and ask us some questions.

I’m hoping for an interesting session so don’t be shy.

Don’t Forget To Say Hello

If you see me around I hope you’ll come on over and say hi. I’ve been starved of affiliate networking for two years now and really want to chat to as many people as possible. I’m a total chatterbox and love meeting new people!

Boring Affiliate Holiday Snap Bit

We stopped over in Bangkok for 3 nights on the way here and stayed at Lebua State Tower. We had a very nice suite right up on the 58th floor – I did feel a bit sick out on the balcony though. Was mind bendingly high! Thanks to Chris Johnson of Existem for the suggestion, they don’t only do conferences they do travel advice as well.

Here’s some pictures of what I’ve been up to whilst keeping my promise to myself to stay away from the blog.

The beautiful (but frighteningly high) view from our room! Thai approach to balcony safety standards didn't help ;)

Revisiting our backpacking days and trying out some street food on Khao San Road.

Renting a long tail boat and stopping to feed some fish at a temple along the Bangkok canals.

Visiting the very beautiful Wat Arun.

OK, that’s enough of boring you with our holiday snaps – I’m extremely excited about the Expo and can’t wait to tell all you guys about the goings on and interesting sessions I’ve seen next week.

Have a good weekend :)


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