I get a lot of questions both on this site and on Quora about having success with Amazon affiliate sites. Some people even send me their sites so that I can give them my opinion as to what they might be doing wrong. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a trend among the questions that I get asked and the things that I’m noticing that people have trouble with when it comes to making an Amazon affiliate site that is successful. Even though I’m getting ready to start a niche site case study, I do want to share what I think makes a successful Amazon affiliate site.
A few years back, everyone was making money with sites that had domains like bestpinkshowercurtains.com and runningshoesreviews2015.com. With much embarrassment, I admit that I was one of them! You can view one of those super terrible sites of mine on the Wayback Machine. Yeah, I know, that’s really freaking terrible. But the truth was that you could get away with sites like that back then.
I actually made money from terrible sites like that back in 2011 and 2012, but it wasn’t until 2013 when I started using brandable domains that my income started to skyrocket. In the interest of full disclosure, I do still have a few of those keyword rich old school style domains, but they are pretty much just for testing. The bulk of my niche site income comes from brandable domains.
So, what are brandable domains? They can be partial match domains (PMD) like adamsrunningshoesguide.com or something a bit more broad and brandable like runningwithadam.com. Of course, two of the most well-known Amazon affiliate niche sites have zero keywords in their domain – thewirecutter.com and thesweethome.com.
Personally, I prefer to go with a brandable domain that is very memorable but also obvious as to the niche that it serves. I also like to have a domain that is rather broad so that I can easily expand my site to cover multiple topics under the same niche ( for example: running versus running shoes).
I hate when people out other people’s niche sites, so I won’t be doing that. Instead, I went over to Flippa to find some examples of the types of brandable domains that I am talking about. Please keep in mind that I have not looked at these sites and am only pointing out the domains and not the content.
Though I try to always get a .COM domain, I really like this one. “Tech Hunter” would be a great brand, plus the possibilities here are limitless for content. You could have everything from headphones to tablets to electric kettles.
These are also great examples of domains that give you a lot of creative freedom with the site content while still managing to create a strong, memorable brand.
Audience-Specific Content Style
You don’t need to have a degree in Journalism or English in order to have a successful Amazon niche site, but you do need content that is reasonably well written for your audience. One thing that I think a lot of people fail to realize is that ideal writing styles vary by niche. And if you stop for a moment to consider who your target audience is for your site, then you will quickly realize this.
Let’s look at a couple of niches – the survival niche and the stock market niche.
SurvivalLife.com is a well-known niche site, so you’ve probably heard of it or seen it before. It actually evolved into a mega authority site that makes a ton of money. But let’s focus on the audience demographics above, which I got from Alexa.com. You’ll notice that most of the site’s visitors are not highly educated.
In contrast, let’s take a look at this site that I found on Flippa:
You’ll notice that this one skews towards highly educated. Most of the time, you won’t even have to use tools like Alexa or Compete to gauge the education level of your audience because you already know some people who fall into it. And, of course, these tools are not always accurate, so sometimes you just have to kind of guess as to the audience that you are writing to on your sites.
Of course, one easy way to determine the writing style that appeals to your audience is to just check out your competitors and see how their content is – that is one of the easiest ways to know what works in a niche if you’ve never entered it before.
If you want to be super thorough with your competitor research, then you can get a content score for the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests for their content. You can copy & paste their content into a readability checker like one of these:
If you’re interested in tossing up a site where you only have walls of text and maybe a product image or two, then you’ve missed that earning opportunity by a good few years. Sorry. Don’t get me wrong – you can still rank some sites like that in a niche that isn’t very competitive or if you are going to throw a ton of PBN links at the site. However, what you’re looking at is a short-term plan.
I actually keep two sites like this purely for testing purposes. Plus, they are the quickest way for me to know if Google is about to deploy an algorithm update. Why? Cause without fail every single time they pre-test that update, I see those two test sites of mine rise up in the SERPs for a few days and then settle back in to where they were. And every single time there is a big algorithm update within a couple of weeks. But…that’s not the point here….
The point is that if you want to rank your sites and make good money for a long time, then you need to think about doing more. More content. More rich media. If you’ve ever taken any business classes, then you’ve heard the “under promise, over deliver” mantra – that applies here too. People may come to your site expecting something on the “best running shoes” and get wowed by your in-depth guides on running shoes that breaks down the best ones for over-pronators, the best ones for trail runners, tips on how to get the best fit, tips on how to prevent blisters from ruining your day, and a quick video relevant to the topic. I am talking about massive value here.
This is how you can outrank Amazon and the other big brands. And the perfect examples of this are TheSweethome.com and TheWirecutter.com (I’m not linking to them direct because they compete with pretty much all of my sites and I don’t want them having any extra link juice 😉 )
The best public example of this Perrin’s dog site that is mentioned in this article from Backlinko. If you take a look at some of his product review posts, you will see exactly what it takes to outrank the big brands.
Lots of Content
Though you can find some sites ranking with very short posts, I find that lengthy content is what brings in the most traffic and makes me the most money. Yes, it is very tedious work if you are writing all of your content yourself. However, it is totally worth it.
Think about it like this – the more words you have on a page, then the more keywords that you have the possibility of ranking for in Google.
Here’s how I approach my content: If I am creating an article that is going to be purely informational, then I will do as low as 500 words. I tend to create articles like this on my site for the purpose of internal linking. For example, if I have a site in the running niche, then I may have a 500-word article on blister prevention that links out on my massive best running shoes guide. And when I create those product guide articles, they are usually over 3,000 words and I even have one that is over 7,000!
I also attempt to create authority style sites that have at least 50 articles up for readers.
Though you can rank for some keywords and niches without backlinks, it is definitely easier to rank and earn with a site that has backlinks. But not just any backlinks. I find that my sites perform the best when I have backlinks that have a lot of authority and that are niche relevant. Even low authority backlinks that are niche relevant, such as blog comments, offer good results for me.
As I build out my new niche site, I’ll be sharing more details under each of these categories. However, if you want to get 100% of the details and maybe do some Skype calls with me or some live hangouts, then you’ll want to join my Insider25 Premium group while some spots are still open!
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