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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Starting a datafeed (mall) site
    I already own a content site (which performs reasonably well) and I'm launching a single-product affiliate site soon. Until just recently, I had been a "Content Is King!!!" freak...

    ...however, after reading some parts of this excellent board and doing a lot of thinking , I'm now willing to try the sales-oriented approach. A datafeed-driven site seems to be a logical next step.

    Technical aspects have already been explained in enough detail. Here are my additional questions though...

    1. The merchant I'm going to base my site on offers a regular feed plus two other options: a script from Cusimano.com and a script from ScriptFeed.com. What do you think about those scripts? Do they offer enough flexibility (syntax editing, category/product choice) to make my site stand out? Or is it better (even for a beginner in the datafeed field) to go with generic feeds right from the start?

    2. There are 2 primary methods of generating traffic I've thought of so far: SEO and PPC. Can you add any other major strategy?

    3. From your experience, is it possible to get a decent amount of quality inbound links to a datafeed site? If yes, what link-hunting strategies would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance and keep up the awesome work. This board is a true goldmine.
    Last edited by Wojtek Spytek; August 6th, 2005 at 11:05 AM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wojtek Spytek
    From your experience, is it possible to get a decent amount of quality inbound links to a datafeed site? If yes, what link-hunting strategies would you recommend?
    You really need to do something spectacular to make your site stand apart from the other datafeed sites. The less obvious it is that you're using a datafeed, the better. If you have an established site, you just may be able to get free search engine traffic to your datafeed pages. Just make sure you're adding enough value to merit your standings. Otherwise you may lose your placement over time. In other words it's very difficult to get quality inbound datafeed links. Best to use the resources you have at hand and seek them out from fellow webmasters who respect you and your establishment. And whatever you do, don't stop generating more content! The links your content earns are gold.

    Good luck!
    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  3. #3
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Amazing; good advice and not too much propaganda there...

    Just this part:
    "Just make sure you're adding enough value to merit your standings. Otherwise you may lose your placement over time."
    It's wishful-idealistic thinking IMO, that SE rank really is correlant to "merit" or "worthiness." ANY SITE, of ANY TYPE, will lose placement over time, if steps are not taken to maintain rank. Even Amazon and BizRate have had their ups and downs with the SEs. They may maintain some core keywords, but I've seen their placement for specific products bounce all over the place.

    And I'll add a bit to this:

    The less obvious it is that you're using a datafeed, the better.
    How much obfuscation is necessary to rank seems to vary by engine.

    One caveat is, I've seen some sites go to such great lengths to hide their nature, that they end up confusing as heck to buyers as well as bots. Wojtek (and any other would-be feeders), remember that usability is something that must be maintained, or the site will lose its selling power. I've seen pages that are obviously trying to sell stuff...but they've hidden their buy-links so darned well that it took me 5 minutes to find them! Real customers (as opposed to people reviewing sites) won't bother with such fishing expeditions.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  4. #4
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    Datafeed sites ain't what they used to be
    I'll agree with Scott and a host of others who've written on ABW over the past year or so: datafeed sites are simply not "working" as they used to.

    Five years ago, I could create a "pure datafeed" site -- a catalog or listing of products at a merchant, with minimal additional information -- and a few months later my site could be drawing hundreds of visitors per day from the search engines, and generate multiple sales per day. I was also in the "content is king" camp back then, but I had to admit that some very simple tricks could drive a decent amount of traffic and revenue.

    As I've begun playing in the space again this year, I've discovered that the search engines are HEAVILY penalizing sites that contain affiliate links, and even a modest amount of original content or a meaningful directory organization will not overcome that penalty.

    Now, "content is king" is not even an adequate motto. Even a site with lots of original, meaningful content seems to be penalized if the site contains affiliate links! (Oddly enough, this seems to be rewarding "banner farm" web sites, as well as the various "content scraping" web sites out there.)

    In addition, as different types of ad-blocking technology are adopted, it appears that merchants who are not positioned to apply pressure will find their affiliate links blocked, which delivers a huge benefit to "powerful" online merchants. In addition to erasing all content that lies inside most ad-network text or image links, some ad blockers also erase all content inside many direct-affiliate links -- and yet I have not yet found a single ad blocking technology that will interfere with text or product-image affiliate links to Amazon.com.

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager
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    Snib, Leader -- thanks a lot for your input. You may represent very different approaches (Mr. Snib Content vs Mr. Leader Sales ), but when you speak together on one topic, you cover it all in a really powerful way.

    Tim-store.com -- that part about penalizing sites that merely CONTAIN affiliate links is a new thing for me. I didn't realize things have started to become so... crazy? Paranoid? Can't find a better word for it. Common sense dictates that Google and other engines must eventually come to a balanced solution (one that will hurt affiliates only a bit while still filtering out crappy sites). The problem is: how much worse is it going to get before the balance?

    That said, I still want to give it a try. I've already picked my 1st "datafeed niche", quite crowded, but with a nice profit potential. We'll see how things develop.

    If you could still help me with these 2 issues, I'd be most grateful.

    1. The merchant I'm going to base my site on offers a regular feed plus two other options: a script from Cusimano.com and a script from ScriptFeed.com. What do you think about those scripts? Do they offer enough flexibility (syntax editing, category/product choice) to make my site stand out? Or is it better (even for a beginner in the datafeed field) to go with generic feeds right from the start?

    2. There are 2 primary methods of generating traffic I've thought of so far: SEO and PPC. Can you add any other major strategy?

  6. #6
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    Oh, and one more thing (it struck me right after I hit "post" )...

    In addition to erasing all content that lies inside most ad-network text or image links, some ad blockers also erase all content inside many direct-affiliate links (...)
    I think this one can be solved by cloaking your affiliate links. When you promote thousands of products it might get tricky, but I still see how it can be done programatically. A kind of "dynamic cloaker module" for your datafeed software.

    Or is Google so smart that it can read and follow all kinds of redirects, including JavaScript or PHP headers?

  7. #7
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    There are 2 primary methods of generating traffic I've thought of so far: SEO and PPC. Can you add any other major strategy?
    I don't know of any other "major" strategy, but you could check out TrustNo1's "traffic brainstorm" thread here:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=5265

    Maybe there'll be some ideas you can use there...
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=5265

    Maybe there'll be some ideas you can use there...
    Thanks Leader, that's a really good thread.

    One issue left then...

    1. The merchant I'm going to base my site on offers a regular feed plus two other options: a script from Cusimano.com and a script from ScriptFeed.com. What do you think about those scripts? Do they offer enough flexibility (syntax editing, category/product choice) to make my site stand out? Or is it better (even for a beginner in the datafeed field) to go with generic feeds right from the start?

  9. #9
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    The merchant I'm going to base my site on offers a regular feed plus two other options: a script from Cusimano.com and a script from ScriptFeed.com. What do you think about those scripts? Do they offer enough flexibility (syntax editing, category/product choice) to make my site stand out? Or is it better (even for a beginner in the datafeed field) to go with generic feeds right from the start?
    Personally I like generic feeds from CJ, and have always shied away from scripts that stick you with their templates (or variants thereof) and/or their methods of structuring a site.

    The only Cusimano script I've used is allposters.pl. While it's fine for such a cheapie item as posters--as in, I'm not motivated to come up with something better for items that sell for only $5--I have found it quite limiting. I did get rid of the butt-ugly colors the original version came with way back when, but I doubt I could have made it do what I really want (start by flattening out the site structure, A LOT!) since the code is all "behind walls" so to speak. Left to my own devices, I wouldn't structure a site like the allposters.pl output in a billion years.

    Also, to kill the layout that comes with the script's templates, and put in a format I'd like better, would take more staring at the onpage code elements than I'm willing to do for a posters section. Plus, I figure it's better to do that kind of examination on sample PHP scripts or some similar thing where I can use the resulting knowledge in more than one place.

    I'm not familiar with ScriptFeed, but if it's like many of the others, there's going to be limitations which will likely get old real quick. Just which limitations can vary by script, but there always are some when something is that pre-done.

    A good middle ground can be WebMerge. Some say it's kind of difficult, but there's a couple of good tutorials around (check their forum)... It's not as versatile as learning PHP/MySQL, IMO, but you can get going pretty quick with it. I used it for ages, and still do use it for a lot of my sites. You can use it with ANY of (or all of) your feed-enabled merchants, and you make your own templates, so you're not stuck with "hacking" default ones.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager
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    Thanks again, Leader. Your suggestions kind of confirm my thoughts after downloading and analyzing those scripts. I'm PHP-savvy, so I think I can handle it myself with generic datafeeds.

    I'll also take a look at WebMerge, it seems to be popular among ABW users. I've found a tutorial that should help me a lot.

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