Ranking Affiliate Sites vs Corporate Search Engine Marketer

Corporate SEO

Recently a couple great videos from Gord Hotchkiss and Marshall Simmonds highlighted the corporate SEO field. Corporate SEO is about

  • ensuring everyone creating or managing content has at least a base level knowledge of SEO and keyword strategy
  • setting up general templates that are useful and optimized
  • clearing away technological issues and limitations
  • smart structuring of information architecture and internal linking strategies (alternate paths for bots, and blocking lots of duplicate content issues, and sometimes even creating automated internal linking strategies)
  • charging a high enough rate that the clients will take you seriously
  • presenting your recommendations in a professional looking document and following up with any questions they have about implementation

Corporate SEO is largely about trimming away the fats and fully leveraging the assets you already have.

Ranking Affiliate Sites

Rather than focusing on cleaning out fats, independent affiliate webmastering is more focused on building value and getting the most value out of everything you can. An affiliate has to focus on...

  • finding under-served markets (and hiding them under a rock to everyone except prospects in the buying cycle, unless you aim to be the most authoritative webmaster in that space)
  • finding loopholes to make a quick buck (see this Shoemoney post about leveraging Google.com's quality score)
  • seeing future trends in the web early, and getting out in front of them (see Roger on video content here)
  • making sure your site looks as credible as you possibly can (get a good site design, a good domain name, and publicise your publicity)
  • setting up a site structure that is well aligned with your keyword pyramid
  • creating a wide array of keyword pages focused on brand related queries (that are thus late in the buying cycle)
  • creating comparison and contrast pages that answer common questions and authoritatively guide people to a high paying solution to their problem :)
  • getting on page SEO as good as you possibly can for each important page
  • changing your site structure based on analytics data and conversion data
  • creating a second page or a second site for some of your top performers that have limited competition
  • keeping your network hidden from Google engineers
  • adding some high value content to your site such that Google engineers hopefully will not want to kill your site
  • writing sales copy that often does not appear as sales copy, tweaking landing pages for conversion, while testing conversion rates over and over and over again
  • scheming for links to build site authority...often creating content built around linking opportunities
  • mercenary promotion (del.icio.us bookmark begging and link begging to friends, emails to related bloggers, getting to know everyone in your field, writing guest articles for authoritative websites, link buying, link renting, joining non-profits and trade groups, other promotional ideas, etc.)
  • making your affiliate site something that some people care about and follow

Which is Better?

I think of the two options, that the affiliate model pays better for most people who really get the web, but you have to be good at a lot of disciplines to make it pay (and it can pay quite poorly unless you are creative or a fast learner). Ranking a few spots higher or improving landing pages can triple your income as an affiliate. Doing both can increase your income 10 fold.

Published: January 31, 2008 by Aaron Wall in


January 31, 2008 - 6:52am

I get about 50% of my income from each.

What I find is that corporate clients are ready to make a lot of guesses. Everyone has an opinion of how things should be (post click) yet almost none of it stands testing scrutiny. When you tell them how much time and work testing will require, they often just want to get back to pixel-tweaking and flawed intuition. Occasionally I'll find a client ready to embark on a rigorous divide-and-conquer plan - but they are definitely the exception.

As a testing junkie, the affiliate/leadgen fee world suits me very well. I basically get out of it what I put into it and I know I can test my way to success if I don't "get lucky" first 'round.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.