This tutorial was designed specifically for active members of the Heron Academy. If you do not have an active subscription it is recommended you Join The Heron Academy Of Internet Marketing before continuing.
In this tutorial I’m going to take you by the hand and show you exactly how to begin marketing your chosen product as an affiliate using entirely free methods.
For the purposes of this tutorial I will be showing you how to market the Heron Academy as an affiliate. You can market this product too and receive commissions for any sales you make by logging into your Affiliate Center and retrieving your unique affiliate link (you may change the anchor text to anything you like).
If you don’t wish to promote the Heron Academy, then it is recommended you do your own market and niche research to find a different product to promote. Clickbank is a great source for many products, however you will need to make sure the product you are promoting has a good conversion rate, and that it appeals to a large, hungry niche. This tutorial will be focusing on how to promote the Heron Academy as your chosen product, with the niche and product research already being done for you.
If you can spare a few dollars a month for hosting and $10 a year for a domain name, then you can set up your own custom website for your landing page (one web hosting service I use and recommend is HostGator). If however you’d rather use another website to host your landing page for free, then signing up for a free account with Squidoo is the way to go.
Setting up your landing page with Squidoo has one unique advantage over using a paid hosting account – Squidoo.com has a high Page Rank and Trust with Google, meaning that any new page you create on Squidoo is going to be ranking in the SERPs faster, as opposed to starting your own website from scratch. Whilst setting up your own website is important, for promoting your first product, it’s not really necessary.
Since this tutorial will be teaching you completely free ways to market your chosen affiliate product, I will be teaching you how to create your landing page with Squidoo as the example.
To start off with, we want to find a keyword phrase to target with our landing page, since we will be using SEO as the primary means of driving traffic later on. Opening up the Google keyword tool I found a phrase that I’d like to target – “Internet Marketing Training Course”. This term has 1300 broad searches, and 700 exact searches per month. The phrase match competition for the term in Google
allintitle:"internet marketing training course" consists of just over 25,000 websites, with the allinanchor: phrase match receiving just under 10,000 matches.
After reviewing some of the leading sites under that term, it appears that they are well optimized for it.
This signifies that there is a moderate amount of competition for the term, despite the fact that it doesn’t receive many searches at all. However, I will be targeting it anyway since it looks to be a lucrative term with a high conversion rate (anyone typing into Google ‘internet marketing training course’ is most likely looking to spend money on an Internet marketing product for training, and is the type of visitor that may sign up to the Heron Academy).
You may want to research and target a less competitive phrase that receives more searches each month (how about a term involving the word “review” if you plan on doing a review of the Heron Academy?). For the purposes of my Squidoo lens however, I will be targeting the keyword phrase “internet marketing training course”.
Whilst creating your lens, you will be asked what you want to make your lens about. You should put the full keyword phrase you’re targeting in this section, as it will appear in the Title of the Squidoo lens (the Title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor).
Under the Set Your Lens section you should include all of your keyword phrase, and nothing else (if it is available). If it’s not available, then you can add extra words to the end. I recommend separating each word with a hyphen (-). Under the Pick Your Category section you must pick a category for your lens. For my category I will be choosing SEO & Affiliate marketing, but this section isn’t really important since I plan for most of my traffic to come from Google, not from Squidoo.
After completing this section I can see that the URL for /internet-marketing-training-course is taken. I therefore decided to create /internet-marketing-training-course-heron-academy instead. Notice I didn’t put the heron-academy before my keyword phrase, but rather after it. This is because Google gives priority to keywords that appear earlier rather than later in the URL. Since “heron academy” isn’t the primary keyword phrase I’m looking to target at this time, I placed it at the end of the URL.
The next section will ask you to pick some tags. This section isn’t really important for anything but the least competitive of keyword terms, however I still recommend using your main keyword phrase for the “The best tag for my lens is” section and picking 3 additional tags containing at least some of your keywords for the sections below. The three additional keyword phrases I picked are internet marketing training courses, internet marketing training program, and internet marketing training.
With all that done, it’s time to edit the lens.
Editing Your Lens
Squidoo includes a lot of “junk” sections by default, which you probably won’t be using. I recommend deleting all of the sections and adding a total of 4 or more text modules. Remember that this is going to be your landing page, not a happy go lucky pretty eye candy site you will be sharing with all your friends on Facebook. Things like Youtube videos, Amazon books and RSS feeds will serve as nothing but distractions to your potential buyers.
One important thing that we will add is a nice image to the top section, in addition to a title that contains our keyword phrase. After searching istockphoto I found a nice picture to use. Whilst uploading your picture you can pick a title for the top section of the lens. Choose something catchy that contains your keyword phrase. Whilst you’re at it, be sure to turn off the Discovery Tool section as well, as this will only give free traffic to other lenses.
From here on, it’s all about copywriting. Use the knowledge you were taught in the Sales Copy Tutorial within the Journey Into Internet Marketing tutorial series to write an effective, compelling review of your product. If you plan to write about the Heron Academy and haven’t made any money yet, then don’t lie about that, simply mention the positive benefits you’ve found so far (it’s not a scam, and has a real community of real entrepreneurs and successful business owners) – anything that’s honest and that you believe will make people want to sign up through your affiliate link.
I recommend breaking the review down into three different sections, using each text module as a different section with a different sub-heading. You can also create a nice intro text as well. Have a look at what I’ve done with my Squidoo lens.
Once you’ve finished writing your review or appraisal of the product, the next step is to include an affiliate link to it. Within the last text module, tell the user that if they want to sign up to the service you’re recommending, they can do so by clicking your link. You may even want to include this link a few times throughout your review, just in case if the visitor wants to go ahead and sign-up before they’ve finished reading all of your lens.
If you’re promoting the Heron Academy, you will want to include something like the following HTML code:
<a href="http://members.heronacademy.com/account/go.php?r=4&i=l0">Click Here To Sign Up For The Heron Academy Today</a>
Of course, don’t use the above link (as it won’t contain your affiliate ID in it), rather use the affiliate link that exists within your Affiliate Center, and change the anchor text to anything you like.
Once all that is done, ask a friend or family member to have a read over your landing page, and then ask them whether or not they’d purchase the product you’ve reviewed or advertised if they were a complete stranger viewing your site for the first time. Make any edits to your landing page based upon the feedback you receive. You may find that friends and family members will typically give you feedback such as “it sounds like a scam”, “too good to be true” or “can’t I just get that info for free?”. Don’t dismiss this feedback too quickly.
Remember that the average Joe doesn’t think like you as an Internet marketer, they’re more likely to think like your family members and friends. Make as many edits as necessary until your landing page seems genuine, honest, and anyone that you ask to read it feels that signing up to the product you’ve reviewed or advertised will bring value to them. If they feel this way, then odds are so too will complete strangers who are specifically looking to buy a product related to your niche.
With your landing page complete, it’s now time to promote it to your target market.
You should by now have experience with signing up and submitting content to these article directories from the Article Marketing tutorial in the Journey Into Internet Marketing tutorial series. Everything you’ve learned so far about article marketing remains the same, except in the articles you create now, you want to include an anchor text link with your keyword term pointing back to your Squidoo landing page.
Don’t make the articles sound like a promotion, rather make them interesting to read. The main purpose behind creating these articles is to have a relevant backlink pointing back to your landing page (remember the importance of this from the Backlinks For Beginners tutorial series).
Below are examples of the articles I’ve created on these article directories with links pointing back to my Squidoo landing page -
Notice how at the end of these articles I’ve also included a link directly to the Heron Academy site. You should also include an affiliate link to the Heron Academy site, or the site you’re advertising (instead of just the raw http://heronacademy.com/ link). This is because whilst you’re not expecting much traffic to these articles, it doesn’t hurt to add your affiliate link as well just in case any visitors do decide to read the full content of your article.
Remember however that the main purpose of these articles is to create an anchor text backlink pointing to your Squidoo landing page, not to coerce visitors into clicking anything (if they do, then it is just a bonus, but not our main objective). As long as you have a link pointing to your Squidoo lens with your desired anchor text, it will pass a backlink to the Squidoo lens, increasing its ranking in Google under that keyword term.
It’s important you understand that the reason we’re focusing on ranking the Squidoo landing page is because it contains copywriting that’s specifically designed to make anyone who reads it purchase the product we’re advertising (in this case, the Heron Academy). The landing page could just as easily be your own website, a Hubpages Hub, or an Ezine article, however for the example I’ve chosen to make a Squidoo lens my landing page. All the other articles I create on other websites are designed to rank the Squidoo landing page in Google’s organic search results. That’s their primary objective.
Creating A Link Wheel
In addition to pointing the three above articles to our Squidoo landing page, we can also use a number of other social websites that have high authority by creating an article on them, and pointing a link back to our Squidoo lens. In each of these articles you can also include two other types of links in addition to the Squidoo landing page link – 1) An affiliate link pointing back to the product’s homepage (eg: http://heronacademy.com/), and 2) a link to another site in the link wheel.
The link wheel that I’ve decided to set up for this examples utilizes a number of article directories and social blogging sites, and is set up as follows -
Squidoo Landing Page (every site in the link wheel links here, as this is the page I’m trying to rank in Google)
Hubpages Article (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Ezine Article)
GoArticles Article (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Hubpages Hub)
Quizilla Article (links to Squidoo Landing Page & GoArticles Article)
Weebly Site (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Quizilla Article)
Live Blog (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Weebly Site)
Blogspot Blog (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Live Blog)
Ning Article (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Blogspot Blog)
LiveJournal Entry (links to Squidoo Landing Page & Ning Article)
Ezine Article (links to Squidoo Landing Page & LiveJournal Entry)
Notice how all of the articles on each site are interlinked together in a funnel, in addition to the Squidoo landing page? This means if I create a backlink on any one site, then theoretically all of the other sites should benefit from the backlink. This will funnel even more “ranking juice” to my Squidoo lens, since each site is linking directly to it.
If you have a look over the articles on each of those sites you will notice that I use a keyword phrase similar to “internet marketing training course” for each backlink pointing to my Squidoo lens. This will ensure that the authority I pass to the Squidoo lens will be under that term. I’ve also used the same, or similar phrase, for all of the other articles in the funnel. This will help those articles also build up authority under the term, ensuring they pass even more juice to the Squidoo lens to help it rank under “internet marketing training course”.
So, to summarize, the benefits of my link wheel are -
1) All articles in the link wheel give keyword authority to the Squidoo landing page under the term “internet marketing training course”
2) All articles interlink with one another under similar terms to “internet marketing training course”. This ensures they pass even more authority to the Squidoo landing page.
3) All articles contain a link to the product I’m promoting (the Heron Academy). This ensure if anyone reads the articles, they may go directly to the product website.
Note: I haven’t included an affiliate link directly to the Heron Academy in any of the articles since I own the product I’m promoting and it’s therefore not necessary. Since you most likely won’t own the product you’re promoting, it’s important you include an affiliate link instead of a direct link to the product website. If it’s the Heron Academy you’re promoting, the affiliate link can, once again, be found within the Affiliate Center.
In the previous section we covered how to rank your Squidoo lens under your desired keyword term through the use of a link funnel. For the example, I used “internet marketing training course”. We examined how to do this by creating a link funnel.
The problem with an article/blog link funnel by itself is that the individual articles that point to your Squidoo landing page won’t contain any authority of their own. For example, even if I created 10,000 blogs on different websites, all with links pointing back to my Squidoo landing page under the keyword phrase I want to rank for, nothing much would happen. This is because the blogs themselves won’t contain any backlinks of their own!
What we need to do is increase the keyword authority of each website within the link wheel, in addition to the Squidoo landing page.
One of the easiest and most common methods to build backlinks is through the use of blogs and forums. The Heron Academy includes a large list of forums that you can visit within the Member Resources section.
Visit the forums located within these packages and create a signature link with a link pointing back to your landing page with your desired keyword term as the anchor text. Make sure to then find a question or post on the forum that you can contribute a helpful, informative reply to. This will help ensure that your backlink doesn’t get deleted, and will also ensure you don’t look like a spammer (which is never a good thing).
For each forum you visit, include a different site from your link wheel in your signature, in addition to the link pointing to your Squidoo landing page. There should be two links total in your signature (one link pointing to your Squidoo landing page, and the other pointing to a site in your link wheel). The keyword anchor text you should use should be similar in both links, and contain all the keywords you’re attempting to rank for. Include the exact keyword phrase for the link pointing back to your Squidoo landing page – no more words, and no less.
In addition to posting your links to forums and blogs, also consider the other techniques to build backlinks that were covered in the Effective SEO Link Building tutorial.
How Long Does It Take?
Since every niche and keyword phrase is unique, there can never be any generic, set figure on how long it will take to rank a keyword term. It all depends upon the competitiveness of the term you’re ranking for.
What you should do is build new backlinks to your landing page on a daily basis, and constantly monitor your ranking in the SERPs. You should be able to see your ranking slowly climb in Google each week, until eventually it hits the first page of Google. When it does, you will receive free organic visitors to your landing page. These free visitors translate into free money, as they sign up to the affiliate program you’re advertising.
Once this is done, move on to another keyword term with a new landing page. Rinse and repeat. You’ve just mastered the basics of Internet marketing, and made your first lifetime automated income stream. As these automated income streams accumulate, you will have some capital to play with, and can focus on bigger niches, and more competitive keyword terms.
Remember, don’t target a keyword term that is too competitive, or out of your league. Always ensure that you can outperform at least one of the 10 websites listed on the first page of the SERPs.
This tutorial has guided you through a real example of setting up a free landing page and ranking it under a keyword term that receives free search traffic from Google. All of the techniques covered in this tutorial can be performed by anyone, and don’t cost a single cent.
Conducting affiliate marketing using completely free methods consists of three main elements – 1) Niche research, 2) Keyword research, and 3) Backlink building.
By finding a profitable niche that has hungry buyers, you know that any product that is aimed at this niche will, undoubtedly, make money (provided the merchant’s landing page sells well). Once this niche is identified, identifying the actual keyword terms that people within the niche search for is the next step.
Finally, after finding a keyword term that isn’t too competitive, and that has a high volume of searches, you must build your own landing page, and rank it in the SERPs under that keyword term. Make sure to advertise a good quality product on your landing page that appeals to the niche, a product that you have researched and believe people within the niche will buy. Always, always make sure you include your affiliate link to the product website, so that you will be credited for any sales you refer.
The process is deceptively straightforward. Don’t make it more complex than it needs to be.
If you get stuck anywhere along the way, just post a question within the Heron Academy Forum and a member of the community should be happy to help you. This is your first step into the big wide world of affiliate & Internet marketing. By following all of the advice given so far, your first sale should be just around the corner. And from one sale, comes many more.