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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    The Biggest Threat To The Affiliate Marketing Industry Is...
    This is a downsized version of what I consider to be the single biggest threat to the future of the Affiliate Marketing Industry - Google - The Latest Google Updates & Google's Anti-Trust issues
    ===================================================

    "Google Is A Competitor"
    Google makes money the same way affiliates do.. they charge money for ads... or get paid to send traffic to merchants sites. Google really doesn't offer any products or services of their own that require a purchase, their "products" are free. The only way they make money is by serving up ads for the sites they affiliate themselves with. They are the world's biggest affiliate. Google directly competes with every single affiliate and every single affiliate network in the world. Google is not your friend, they are not your buddy or anyone you should trust with any information about your business especially Google Analytics..!! Would Wal-Mart allow Target to look at everything they do and how they do it..?? I don't think so... yet a lot of affiliates use that little code. It's not even good data... it's three days old and is no more data than you would get on free StatCounter account... Ever wonder what Data Google actually collects..?? Ever wonder why the data is three days old when Statcounter provides almost identical information every 15 minutes or so...?? Think about that...

    "Monetizing Google"
    Google doesn't really have to monetize their site like the rest of us do... Google has never really made any changes to the way they display SERPs or their Adwords ads. They haven't made very many changes at all... just added services and ways to utilize their services. The way Google monetizes their site is with algorithm updates that require everyone else online to make changes to their site to appease Google. It must be nice being one of the only sites online that doesn't have to worry about getting search engine traffic and make all the rules up as they go for every single one of their competitors.

    "Google's Internet"
    Google looks at the internet like its own private LAN and so far it has everyone else convinced it is. Most of what I read online about the Google Algorithm Updates is "How to comply" with the changes. Google makes an algorithm change and everyone jumps up and scrambles to make changes to their sites because they have to... regardless if the sites WERE doing well or not. The latest Google algorithm changes were directly targeted at eliminating all affiliate sites from the SERPs and that was obvious to me. I see my sites drop and fall and come back for a few days and then disappear altogether for weeks at a time while the merchant sites remain in the same positions so it's obvious to me that the updates aren't targeted towards anyone else. I have also seen a lot of counterfeit sites that are so spammy they should be banned... BUT... they don't have any affiliate links on their sites so somehow they get skipped over by every single algorithm change Google has made in the past year... http://www.abestweb.com/forums/searc...ch-153317.html. Just looking at some of those SERPs will make you want to throw up...

    "Anti-Trust and Google"
    Google is in a position that they CAN make the rules for their own competition and that should be addressed. Google is already in hot water over some anti-trust issues involving SERPs and the way they prefer their own services over their competitors. Take a look at this video of Eric Schmidt's testimony at the September 2011 Anti-Trust hearing: Google Senate Antitrust Hearing: Foundem's Analysis - YouTube

    "What Is Being Done About This..?"
    Why aren't more people openly discussing this situation... It's not just "Google Bashing" and I HATE that term because it implies that "Google can do no wrong and that anyone who complains is just whining". This is a serious threat to our industry as a whole and I don't think pointing out that one company is behind the threat should be considered whining by anyone in the industry. The networks need to be watching what is going on and using their power to lobby for the benefit of the industry and their affiliates. There is no future for Affiliate Marketing if we allow Google to call all the shots.

    That is my main concern is that no one is talking much about this... everyone is talking about how to comply and I wish they would realize that eventually they won't be able to comply no matter what... That is the trend I see and it's not getting any better. We are already on the downside of the slippery slope. Everyone knows that the algorithm updates are targeted towards eliminating affiliate sites because AFFILIATES are Google's main competitors. It won't be long until Google starts telling us WHERE on our pages we can place our own ads... OOPS... they already have!!! Page layout algorithm improvement - Inside Search So now... my biggest competitor is telling me WHERE on my site that I can put ADVERTISEMENTS that pay my bills.. and it happens to be BELOW the prime spot for advertisements according to Google's own Adsense program... and also where Google places most of their advertising... Talk about the downside of the slippery slope..!! I love how in that article they say: "We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience."... That's strange... I have been in affiliate marketing and online for over ten years and I have never once seen any place to give Google Feedback on the SERPs.. so where do these "users" come from that are giving all their opinions and where are they "giving" it..?? I couldn't find anything... https://www.google.com/search?source...aint+to+Google I couldn't find a complaint form or any place to suggest anything to Google but their webmaster forums... I seriously doubt that webmasters were complaining about scrolling through their own ads.

    Google tripled its Lobbying Budget in 2011 Google's fourth-quarter lobbying bill triples to $3.8M so who is lobbying for The Affiliate Marketing Industry..?? I don't see any search results for Commission Junction Lobby Budget... Avantlink Lobby Budget... or any other networks Lobbying Budget... I know I don't have a savings for any lobbying that needs to be done.. so who is speaking for us and our industry..??? Where can I contribute to the lobby fund for our industry...??? How can I get someone to speak for me and my business in Washington..?? Where ever there is a Google Lobbyist there should be two Network lobbyists.

    I really think the Networks need to get more involved... maybe even ban together and pool some funds to lobby for the entire industry... after all they are the leaders of the industry and without them we would just have a few in-house programs and not much else. We need some kind of "Super-PAC" or something similar so that the networks as well as affiliates can contribute. We need a voice where ever they are talking about the future of our industry.

    I really don't know what the answer is but I know that a conversation needs to be started about what we can do, should do, would do, will do... something ANYTHING...

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  3. #2
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Google is in a position that they CAN make the rules for their own competition
    Only if you want to compete with them IN THEIR OWN YARD. Google is SO UNFAIR! | Affiliate Clue
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddHandler View Post
    I really don't know what the answer is but I know that a conversation needs to be started about what we can do, should do, would do, will do... something ANYTHING...
    Amen! Let me in on this conversation...
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  5. #4
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    I do understand davidh posts about Google from time to time, but Google is taking over the internet and that includes AM and are removing affiliates sites that competing with them. And I guess they have a right to do so (well sort off) but they control over 80% of the interent traffic and should not be permitted to have so much power. It's like a love hate relationship. You hate Google but you have to suck up to them inorder to get abit of traffic from them, and only if they choose to do so!!
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  6. #5
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddHandler View Post
    ... I don't see any search results for Commission Junction Lobby Budget... Avantlink Lobby Budget... or any other networks Lobbying Budget... I know I don't have a savings for any lobbying that needs to be done.. so who is speaking for us and our industry..??? Where can I contribute to the lobby fund for our industry...??? How can I get someone to speak for me and my business in Washington..?? Where ever there is a Google Lobbyist there should be two Network lobbyists.

    I really think the Networks need to get more involved... maybe even ban together and pool some funds to lobby for the entire industry... after all they are the leaders of the industry and without them we would just have a few in-house programs and not much else. We need some kind of "Super-PAC" or something similar so that the networks as well as affiliates can contribute. We need a voice where ever they are talking about the future of our industry.
    I am not commenting on the entire issue... just the piece here about what is clearly the role of an industry organization.

    There is no question that this kind of thing (lobbying and positioning for our industry) should be done, and the relatively good news is that it is being done to some extent - and we would like to do more. My recommendation to you would be to join an industry organization (The most obvious one is the Performance Marketing Association although not the only option for Affiliates... in a broader sense there are many...), and start making a bunch of noise about issues that are affecting you - or could affect you.

    The most obvious issue at the moment is the affiliate tax issue, but there are others such as FTC issues, compliance, legal, etc... Not to mention the growth and protection of the industry in general.

    There are people fighting for you - but you need to get involved if you want to have a voice in how those fights are prioritized, as well as how they are handled.

    The other thing I would recommend is further speaking out about the issues that you see. Your post here is great - I would encourage you to continue with issues that you see as critical. Write up a blog or podcast, become a speaker at Affiliate Summit, etc.. etc... It isn't always money that dictates whether or not you become involved in an issues... but instead passion to participate. Although I wouldn't agree with everything you said above - your passion for the issue and willingness to speak up are applauded and I hope you continue.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

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  8. #6
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    I think anywhere we can raise issues is great. Call your state rep and senator. Tell them Google is violating your privacy, infringing on copyrights, etc, etc. Hopefully we can make noise and shut down these guys.

    The Feds go after little guys who don't do nearly the horrible things Google does. Google has the money, so they can continue to be unethical and break the law. IMHO, they are breaking copyright and intellectual property laws.

    The problem is, like them or not, your business can't survive without Google Search.

  9. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Hopefully we can make noise and shut down these guys.
    Why do you keep saying "Shut them down"?
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  10. #8
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    "I really don't know what the answer is but I know that a conversation needs to be started about what we can do, should do, would do, will do... something ANYTHING..."

    One thing, is put the conversation where people can actually see it. Ask a mod to move this to the Midnight Cafe. When I first started in the business, started reading at ABW, most of the stuff I learned was from conversations like these, from people that were in this business before me. I couldn't if it was hidden from my view.

    I agree with a lot of what you said. Over the years, I've always wondered why the majority of affiliates put a competitor's (Google Analytics) tracking code in their site. The usual response is they know a lot about you already, which is true, but they know even more when you give them more information.

    As far as Google, they go after mainstream topics usually. Coupons, deals, travel etc. They've been doing this for awhile now. They're not going to mess with niche/super niche type stuff, where you rank all day long on, pretty easily.

    Now I don't know the reasons why Fatwallet and Ebates got together and I might be wrong but one of the reasons I think is that elephant in the room, Google. If they ever decided to seriously get into Rebates, other companies would lose business. They don't have the advertising budget Google does. Imagine a commercial during the Superbowl for Google Coupons/Rebates something like that.

    So go super niche.

  11. #9
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    "I really don't know what the answer is but I know that a conversation needs to be started about what we can do, should do, would do, will do... something ANYTHING..."

    Start a new search engine. If you want to compete with Google, nobody is going to stop you. If you want to compete with them for exposure on their own site.... that's kind of a parasitic mentality IMO.
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  12. #10
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    KSE - Google controls 6.4 percent of all internet traffic... Google accounts for 6.4 percent of internet traffic - CNN.com .. personally I love Google and I really hate the fact that they have made a turn for the worse... I am going to be sad to close my Google account today to avoid the privacy issues. How to prepare for Google's privacy changes - CNN.com I am going to miss my iGoogle homepage... I just think that Google is pushing the boundaries because they can... and this is all new territory for everyone.

    Brian SAS Thanks for the advice and the suggestion to Join the PMA. That is a great idea and I will be signing up ASAP.

    BIBBY I appreciate your enthusiasm but shutting them down isn't something I ever want to see... I love Google.. I think that the services they provide are awesome and innovative. I just think that they are crossing some lines that don't need to be crossed. It's just another example of corporate greed. Google reported revenues of $8.58 billion in the first quarter of 2011 wouldn't that be enough to keep Larry Page and Sergey Brin in big pimp hats and fancy cars..?? The problem is that they went public with their stocks.. and they no longer answer to the users but to the shareholders. Shareholders want a ROI sooner than later, which puts pressure on Google to secure a bigger portion of internet revenue and I think they are going about it a very unethical way simply because it's easier for Google to eliminate the competition from the SERPs rather than compete with them. Let's face it... those Google adwords ads haven't gotten any more enticing than they were ten years ago...

    Trust Good point, I just thought putting it in here would allow for a more open conversation about this... But you are right this is an issue that everyone needs to see and participate in no matter what level they are.

    Could a MOD move this post to "The Midnight Cafe" Please...??


  13. #11
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    KSE - Google controls 6.4 percent of all internet traffic...
    Yea, I think we are taking about two different things here but thats ok. I was refering to search traffic, And Yes I made up the 80% but I guessing I am close for Canada & the USA anyway. But thats off topic.
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  14. #12
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Why do you keep saying "Shut them down"?
    Why? Google gives a life sentence to people they feel have broken their TOS. IMHO, Google acts unethically, play games with our privacy and break the law by infringing on copyright and intellectual property rights. By their very own standards, they should also be given a life sentence by shutting them down. Fair is fair, isn't it!

    Yes, I'm a vindictive SOB but only when it comes to rogue company's who portray themselves to be holier than thou.

  15. #13
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Why? Google gives a life sentence to people they feel have broken their TOS. IMHO, Google acts unethically, play games with our privacy and break the law by infringing on copyright and intellectual property rights. By their very own standards, they should also be given a life sentence by shutting them down. Fair is fair, isn't it!

    Yes, I'm a vindictive SOB but only when it comes to rogue company's who portray themselves to be holier than thou.
    So, the answer is "shut them down"? Hmmm. Guess you have enough type-in traffic you won't mind not using a single service of theirs?

    Don't wait for the government to do something - it starts with you!

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    Double dog dare you...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  16. #14
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    So, the answer is "shut them down"? Hmmm. Guess you have enough type-in traffic you won't mind not using a single service of theirs?

    Don't wait for the government to do something - it starts with you!

    Code:
    User-agent: Googlebot
    Disallow: /
    Double dog dare you...
    Until they're shut down, there's no real alternative. Once they're gone, there will be other legitimate alternatives. For now, I like many others rely on their traffic. When and if they're shut down and given the death penalty, another service will fill their void.

  17. #15
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Until they're shut down...
    NEVER happen...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  18. #16
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    NEVER happen...
    Nothing lasts forever. Kings in the past thought they were immune. The King Google feels the same way. Their subjects feel the same way.
    Last edited by bibby; February 29th, 2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Spelling

  19. #17
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    Bibby Shutting them down wouldn't do any good... The traffic would just shift over to BING or YAHOO and once they got the kind of power Google has it would start all over again... so we need to change laws to be more effective in the long run.

    The problem is Google was allowed to start making things up for themselves and the rest of us.... like the old page rank... I remember when that was discussed and first implemented... Google was an instant 10 out of 10 Pagerank... I wondered then what that would lead to... in hindsight that should have set off all kinds of bells and whistles.

    You can't have the leader of an industry making the rules up for everyone else... it's that simple. It doesn't happen in any other industry.. Wal-mart doesn't make any rules that K-Mart has to follow and vice-a-verse... For those of you that don't agree... do some research on what antitrust or anti competitive laws are Start With A Wiki Article... or point me to something that I can research that would make me see things differently...

    Even though affiliates are not search engines... the main source of Google's income comes from affiliate marketing or their own version of it... selling ad space and clicks to merchants on their website... just like every affiliate or affiliate network out there.

    I do agree with you that Google does break a lot of their own rules... the duplicate content is the worst... all they have is duplicate content and they mine everyone's sites to get that data but they penalize us for simply showing duplicate product descriptions. (how many ways can you describe a pair of socks..??).

    Then there is the new "above the fold rule" which is way out of line. Google tells their own publishers that the prime spot for ads is above the fold and then they start penalizing other sites for using that space... it's getting really slippery on this slope.

    What I think needs to happen is that Google Search needs to be separated from Google Ads... the Search portion needs to be neutral to level the playing field for everyone and then Google can serve up their advertising on all the other sites and services they have. Which would get them out of our hair and make them concentrate on new more innovative tools and programs to make money rather than policing their competitions business.

    But that won't happen without a ton of legislation and that probably won't happen in my lifetime.

  20. #18
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    JMO:
    g isn't going to be shut down.
    g is going to be the king of search engines for awhile...

    But...traditional search will become a less important part of the internet as a whole. Actually, it's already started. Just look at how desperate g is for g+ to succeed.
    Facebook vs Google+: Google?s Social Network Seen as a ?Ghost Town? Compared to Mark Zuckerberg?s Empire [New Study Shows Users Spend an Average of 3 Minutes Per Month Inside Google+, 6-7 Hours on Facebook] | TFTS

    As their influence and importance declines, they will have to cannibalize and 'milk' search more and more to keep the stock price up. I think this 'search engine' will look drastically different a few years from now.

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  22. #19
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    They're not going anywhere but I can imagine some antitrust judgements against them, stuff like - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/te...pagewanted=all

    Or with affiliate PPC, where basically I can't do any PPC with Google anymore because I'm a bridge site, but they do the exact same thing. Links to merchants via their own affiliate links and they don't label them like they suggest other affiliates do.

    They'll get nailed sooner or later and rightfully so.

    I know they give us nice, free traffic but if they never existed, we would just be getting it from other search engines, like we did before Google came on the scene. I've seen that brought up before that we should thank them for that or be grateful, but again, we would still be getting it without them.

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  24. #20
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    simcat - "traditional search will become a less important part of the internet as a whole"
    I definitely agree with that... I don't think the "social search" thing will ever amount to much though. People already know what their real friends like... and as people move toward using the internet "on the go" rather than strapped to a desk... APPS will take over a huge chunk of "search" Mobile Shopping 2011 Google Query.... So any affiliate moving forward will need an APP or two or three...

    Trust - I love this part of the article:: “Google is a great American success story, but its size, position and power in the marketplace have raised concerns about its business practices, and raised the question of what responsibilities come with that power”

    Because that is exactly the way I feel... Google has a huge responsibility with the position they have and they should have never offered stocks.. I think that was the biggest mistake they could have ever made. Their shareholders call the shots now. They should have remained neutral and they would have still been on top of search and making billions...

  25. #21
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    Being on their side?
    I'm so glad I came across this thread where I can learn new things from a bunch of veterans. I'm so new to AM and I'm using Google's Affiliate Marketing Network.
    I understand Google AM playing hard against other networks but do you guys think that being part of their network gives you more protection from their deliberate efforts to undermine other networks?

    Also everything that I use is Google branded from browsers to email adresses to the analytics. Should I get rid of them for my own sake?

  26. #22
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I'm so glad I came across this thread where I can learn new things from a bunch of veterans. I'm so new to AM and I'm using Google's Affiliate Marketing Network.
    I understand Google AM playing hard against other networks but do you guys think that being part of their network gives you more protection from their deliberate efforts to undermine other networks?

    Also everything that I use is Google branded from browsers to email adresses to the analytics. Should I get rid of them for my own sake?
    And you read this thread???

  27. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    And you read this thread???
    Most of it.

    I'm not a big fan of Google and I know they don't play fair like all the other power tycoons but I see some mis-targeted ranting here as well.

    Everyone knows that the algorithm updates are targeted towards eliminating affiliate sites because AFFILIATES are Google's main competitors. It won't be long until Google starts telling us WHERE on our pages we can place our own ads... OOPS... they already have!!! Page layout algorithm improvement - Inside Search So now... my biggest competitor is telling me WHERE on my site that I can put ADVERTISEMENTS that pay my bills.. and it happens to be BELOW the prime spot for advertisements according to Google's own Adsense program... and also where Google places most of their advertising...
    With a design background I can say that sites that spare the main share of their screen real estate to ads are pretty annoying to look at and they are useless for users as well as marketers. Although these kind of sites can rank higher than the sites that really give something to visitors.And that's what google is exactly trying to stop.

    If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.
    We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.
    The focus word here is "excessive". Google doesn't tell us where to put our ads, they suggest something for a better user experience which in return help google and help us, since we have no choice but to mostly rely on google rankings.

    And my main question was wondering, why google hate affiliate marketers since they have their own affiliate program. Google might hate other affiliate networks, let's say compete instead of hate, but that is not competing with marketers, it is competing with networks and there are some strong players there that won't bow down to google like amazon.

    Even merchants have bunch of rules when it comes to advertising their products, and in a way, we advertise google by getting in its search ranks so it is natural for them to try regulate the end result of a search.

    I think I kind of answered my own question here.
    Last edited by TalhaA; March 17th, 2012 at 09:26 PM.

  28. #24
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Google is just trying to stay competitive. They realize most affiliate sites are junk, and they don't want to give people junk results. I've been building price comparison engines for years and I've realized how difficult it is to make an affiliate site go viral. Google wants sites that can hold their own. Think about your own site, do people go to your site directly? Do they use your search? Do they come back? Do they link to you in their blogs? Does this sort of activity happen daily? These are the types of sites Google is after. Its extremely difficult to make an affiliate site that generates viral traffic. So the problem isn't with Google, but with the quality of our sites. Its much harder to make an affiliate site go viral than any type of website.

    Maybe we got traffic from Google in the past, but that's no indication that what we built was good. Even with all that traffic, did any of those customers come back? Did they bookmark us and make all their future buying decisions with us? Was there any loyalty? Most likely they clicked the link, made their purchase and forgot about us. They didn't even use our search to find the product, they used Google's. Their impression of us was just an extra page to click through to their destination.

    The best way to make an impression on anybody is through their peers. If their peers are talking about your site, they'll remember it.
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

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  30. #25
    Affiliate Manager Vendzilla's Avatar
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    I always thought the biggest threat was government regulation. I had a nice little money maker selling cigarettes on a site called cheaperbutts.com. Obama gave control of tobacco to the FDA I think and they made it illegal to ship cigarettes in the mail. Killed my business.
    Then they made fruit flavored rolling papers illegal because they were concerned about kids getting them, shows you just how smart or government is
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