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  1. #1
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Another newbie question - A link directory site populated with affiliate links
    So I had another idea pop in my head tonight and I'm not even sure if it's a legitimate way to do affiliate marketing -- what if I started a niche link directory, joined up a bunch of affiliate programs within that niche, and populated my link directory with those affiliate links? Then of course promote it, etc. And add a section where directory users can post reviews? Would that work or is there something I'm missing/would I be penalized in some way, either by Google or affiliate program networks, etc?

    I guess I am envisioning it as sort of a "mall" around that specific niche. I did some searching on this topic but was unable to find any info. Either I suck at searching or this is a really bad idea...

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Google does not like link farms/banner farms. Usually people who land on pages like that just run away. Without any content, people and search engines are not interested. The web is full of sucky pages and one more won't get you noticed. Build a site with a reason to visit, add information or some reason for people to want to visit it more than once.

  3. #3
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    What if I added articles to the directory, with information and tips related to the niche?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Narrow focus is better than trying to rank for everything. For example, if you build a page about volleyball and only have volleyball products on the page you have a good chance of attracting visitors who are interested in what you sell. If you add a page about soccer and stick to soccer products, you can expand. If the next page on the same site is for ipods, forget it.

  5. #5
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Yes, the links in my directory would only be for a specific niche, not every single topic under the sun. Would that still be considered a link farm? Even if I add articles and user reviews to it?

    also, I would still have criteria for which links I include in the directory, I wouldn't just randomly add links.

  6. #6
    http and a telephoto
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    If it is banners with nothing else, it's a banner farm. If you put real content then link to actual products, that's better. If you put real content and link to a page of banners, that's a banner farm.

    People click on text links that are in content or context. They tend to not click on banners especially on just a page of banners.

    Users will need incentive to go to your site and leave reviews. And if the reviews are all incentivized they won't have credibility. So plan your site and what you want to accomplish, then go find software to do it. Don't say "here's a directory software, lets load it with links" then try to backwards engineer how to make it make money.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  7. #7
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    A link farm is a link farm. A link farm with some articles is a link farm with some articles.

    The real question: Will your web site be "relevant and useful" to a particular audience? Will it help people move from one stage in their research or decision process to another?

    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch

    * * *
    Yes, folks, it’s just that simple: Be useful and relevant.

    Of course, “simple” isn’t the same as easy. In fact, “being useful and relevant” can be an incredibly complex and difficult task.

    You can’t be “useful” or “relevant” to everyone – only to a specific audience. That’s a huge “problem” for many web publishers: you can’t be all things to all people; you must narrow your focus in order to serve a particular audience.

    Of course, being “relevant and useful” isn’t enough to guarantee any particular results — but I absolutely believe that it’s an essential foundation. * * *

    Finally, I must emphasize one key it’s not enough for your site to appear useful and relevant — it must actually be useful and relevant. Web publishers whose sole focus is on “attracting traffic” often over-emphasize “keywords” (search phrases) without actually delivering on the “promise” that comes from a high ranking for a particular search phrase. That “promise” is that you will answer the question, meet the need, or solve the problem. If your web site doesn’t deliver on the promise, you’ll quickly lose that high ranking.

    -- From my blog post at "Be Relevant and Useful"

  8. #8
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Well, it will be useful to people looking for a single list of sites where they can buy products in that particular niche (it is quite narrow in scope). The links I include will not be just any old link; rather, they would be for sites that I would recommend and would use myself. Maybe I can even offer reviews or articles that compare the products and tell them what to look for when purchasing. And adding a blog might also be a good idea.

    I'm curious, why is the Open Directory Project (Dmoz) not considered a link farm? My site would be like that, the only exception is that I would not allow users to submit links, and my scope would be just one niche vs many. And of course, my text links would be affiliate links.

    And I probably would not have a bunch of banners. They would mostly be text links.

  9. #9
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    DMOZ was first, DMOZ has no affiliate links. It is open source. There are a lot of reasons why DMOZ is what it is.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #10
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Hmmm...so as someone who offers an affiliate program for their business, would you not want referrals to your business that come from a link directory, then?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by opportunityCost View Post
    Hmmm...so as someone who offers an affiliate program for their business, would you not want referrals to your business that come from a link directory, then?
    Some merchants don't allow them. We manage merchants that are on manual approval that don't allow "link" or "banner" farms. Others will give you leeway if they think your site can add value.

    Sometimes it is a good idea to start a communication with the affiliate manager of programs you are thinking of including in this project and see if they have specific suggestions for you.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  12. #12
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    DMOZ is a directory site that is edited by humans, and designed to be relevant and useful. It "adds value" by including (only) relevant sites in a category. (Of course, like most volunteer sites and most non-focused directory sites, it's hopelessly dated.)

    What is the VALUE that you would add for your visitors?

  13. #13
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Ok, here is my idea for the value that I'd add:

    1. In the niche I'm working with, there are LOTS of businesses springing up to offer a specific product aimed at a specific market.
    2. Some of these products are good, some are not so good.
    3. A person can spend a long time on Google searching for the "right" product.
    4. My aim is to help folks by doing all the research beforehand and pointing them in the direction of where they can find what they are looking for to suit their specific need. Maybe instead of joining every affiliate program related to this niche under the sun, I'll just pick a few and promote those.
    5. To encourage repeat visitors, I'll have a blog, articles with tips on making the best purchases and maybe even interviews with merchants, if that's allowed. And a monthly editor's pick, and of course, notifications of new products and additions that are added. Because products in this niche are always changing.

    I guess what I'd like to do is something similar (maybe smaller in scale) to this: webhostdir . com (my niche is not web hosting, but the setup of this site gives the general of idea of what I'm talking about).
    Last edited by Kevin; June 21st, 2010 at 03:28 PM. Reason: removed link

  14. #14
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    It sounds like you're on the right track; it doesn't really sound like a "link directory" to me. There are many niches where it is quite difficult to do meaningful product research, and a useful "guide" site with advice and direction can be very useful.

    The next problem, of course, is figuring out how to get decent search-engine placement for your site for the relevant keywords. If your niche is "web hosting" or "digital cameras," you're facing a huge series of obstacles (not necessarily insurmountable, but you'd definitely face many very skilled competitors). If your niche is very narrow, or if you can identify some specific keywords that are most important (and perhaps if you're willing to use PPC Search to draw traffic), you can certainly succeed.

  15. #15
    Newbie opportunityCost's Avatar
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    Yes, I will need to read up some more on PPC and search engine placement. Thank yous ho much for all of your help and insights in this thread, I'm learning so much already.

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