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  1. #1
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    Help - SAS Vs Link Connector?
    Hi All,

    I'm quite new to affiliate marketing and looking to start a merchant program.

    With all of the SAS affiliates and merchants here, I'm hoping you can help me answer a question: Why should we use SAS (in general, and compared to LinkConnector) for our affiliate network?

    I've tried to visit comparison sites and browse through posts about these networks here on the site, but there doesn't seem to be much information about smaller programs out there (like LinkConnector) to make the comparison all that easy for a newbie. I'd love to hear your opinions, especially from merchants, but also affiliates, on what makes SAS such a great network. Are there tools/features that you simply wouldn't be able to live without? Is the tracking exceptional and parasite-free? Etc....

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    SaS has been voted the best affiliate network for three years in a row - Does that answer your question?
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    Take a look at the descriptions for the merchants linked to from LC's merchant list and compare the scintillating, affiliate-attracting, highly appealing and effort-motivating individuality of them.

    Maybe it's OK if it's raw linkpop you're looking for, and are willing to pay for it, but from an affiliate's point of view, their Nekkid Links are a lot of happy horsehockey.

    If you want to actually attract and recruit affiliates who will become aware of and actively promote your program and didn't just fall off the turnip truck, go with SAS.

  4. #4
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    I was all set to use LC because of the naked links, especially because I had lined up an affiliate with a very popular site willing to put up a ton of links for me, but when it comes to the actual affiliate aspect of the network, it sounds like it's no-contest against SAS.

    Does SAS allow non-exclusive merchant programs? In other words, could I sign up this large site through LC and still use SAS for my "real" affiliate network?

    Follow-up question that would may the decision even easier: have any of you had experience with writing the links through SAS in a manner that would still allow for link-juice to flow from them, or are the links most encrypted/completely incompatible with doing this?

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    You're going to find pretty broad resistance against "naked links" from affiliates. A few won't mind (or won't know any better), but most of us will object on at least two major points:

    1) We're compenstated to generate sales, not increase your Page Rank.
    2) Any implementation of "naked link" technology will have limitations that will result in missed tracking.

    Keep your SEO and your affiliate program separate.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    You're going to find pretty broad resistance against "naked links" from affiliates. A few won't mind (or won't know any better), but most of us will object on at least two major points:

    1) We're compenstated to generate sales, not increase your Page Rank.
    2) Any implementation of "naked link" technology will have limitations that will result in missed tracking.

    Keep your SEO and your affiliate program separate.
    Too true!

    At one point in time, LC was trying very hard to pitch affiliates that those direct links would give them an SEO benefit, which is absolutely not_so. Just the opposite, actually. It can possibly hurt, and probably will.

    It appears that they came under enough fire for it so that they removed some of that hype and toned down the message to affiliates, but it still appears that that's the major selling point to acquire merchant clients. And/or maybe they toned it down so it wouldn't be all that obvious to the search engines' search quality teams (folks like Matt Cutts' group) that it was a link-selling operation; but there are historical records kept (at least by Google for one) of prior versions of pages, so the blanket of removal doesn't quite cover it up.

    In the view of some people, rather than being centered on building merchant-affiliate relationships, their role is more that of a link brokerage dressed up in a different suit of clothes.

    Sell links on affiliate sites to merchants for a fee and call it an "affiliate network" - the difference being that with outright selling links that pass PR and link juice in the form of anchor text, the sites providing the links get compensated for doing so, while with LC system they get NO compensation. They do if a sale is made, but they would anyway, even without giving away the link love for free that would otherwise be better utilized by increasing the power and benefits for their own sites by using it within their own internal link distribution.

  7. #7
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Nailed the major points Coley.

    It'll take a while for this free info to sink in, perhaps years cabz.

    Imagine if you owned a car dealership and were interviewing sales people... would it go like this?

    him: i'd like to apply work here, i've sold cars before, i know the products already and am a reliable, people-oriented closing machine. what's the pay structure, straight commissions i hope, i'm driven by achievement.

    you: how big is your backyard?

    him: what?

    you: how big is your backyard?

    him: 1/2 acre, why do you ask?

    you: would you put up a cabz chevrolet billboard in your backyard?

    him: huh?

    you: well, it's no big thing, we'll arrange to have it installed for you, won't cost you a penny and we take care of all the maintenance and permits. c'mon, whadda say?

    him: goodbye.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
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    Perfect analogy. That makes the car dealer an ad brokerage (without paying for use of the ad space), the off-line equivalent of on-line link brokers, who in this case are also not paying for use of the ad space. Which is exactly what this is.

    They're selling links. Period.

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    plus the merchants priorities are whacked (not that they are wrong - that's their choice, but that they are crossed), so the aff program will fail, and the strategy to milk that for something other than what it is, will fail then as well. lots will be accomplished, but little will be achieved.

  10. #10
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    The link benefits could also fail down the road, once the engines get wind of it.

    What's sad is that there could potentially be some weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth at SEO forums by some individuals that their sites are mostly (or all) in Google's Supplemental index. Why? There isn't enough PR and enough of a PR feedback loop within the site to warrant pages being in the primary index, which could be seriously exacerbated by giving out free external links to their so-called "merchant partners" who, if you really think about it, rather than "affiliate partners" are linking partners except that they're giving out uncompensated one-way links to them instead of recips.

    The pitch at one time was that it would "help" rankings to link out to "authority" sites. Harumphh!! PR2 and banned and penalized sites? Oh, really? Many of those sites have been (and some are), and linking to those gives no hub or authority benefit whatsoever. It's a crock.

    Bottom line:
    If you want to buy links, buy them fair and square and pay for the links.
    If you want to sell links, don't given them away for free, sell them fair and square and get paid for them.

    If it's a cat, call it a cat. Don't call it a dog.

  11. #11
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    Great analogy Donuts - but instead of walking away, he may say - 'Sure, give me an extra $1000/mo under the table for the billboard in addition to my commission.' That's really more like what I've run into. I've offered additional compensation, but would like to keep some of it performance-based.

    I appreciate all of the feedback though, I'm now convinced I need to keep our actual affiliate program separate from this transaction, or any others like it, and am heavily leaning towards SAS.

    As a side question, don't many other affiliate networks pass link value (just not through naked links)? There is a competitor in my industry that ranks #1 for very generic terms that they definitely haven't optimized for on their site. They've got a ton of affiliate links that use the terms as anchor text, though. The links aren't naked, but they sure seem to be passing on a ton of link value. Any idea how common this is with affiliate networks?

  12. #12
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    the "under the table" remark lights my uh-oh bulbs, but do understand what you mean.

    i also see a lot in this structure in your reply's paragraphs:
    1) i still think i can do both aff stuff and seo
    2) heard you all on sas
    3) back to my mission, how (or where else) can people use their aff programs for link juice?

    perhaps years cabz.

  13. #13
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    Based on my post, I can see why you would assume that, but it's more like:

    1) I still want to come up with a way to buy links based on performance with a particular site I've already been discussing that with, but I'll keep that separate from our actual affiliate program. I realize now it wasn't a very wise idea to co-mingle buying links from this site with an affiliate program just to tie part of the cost to performance.

    2) SAS for the actual affiliate program

    3) This essentially comes down to the following issue: If my competitors are getting link juice from their affiliate program, they can likely afford to pay out higher commissions because they're getting an added benefit from these links. I'm not sure if they're an extreme exception or the norm, so I'm wondering if I should put much stock into the fact that they are getting link juice. If they're an extreme exception, that link juice will likely vanish in the near future and so I don't need to take it into account (I'm assuming if this benefit vanishes, they'll lower commissions to reflect that). If this is the norm, then I've got to think more about whether or not I can be competitive with their commission structure without this added benefit.

  14. #14
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    This essentially comes down to the following issue: If my competitors are getting link juice from their affiliate program, they can likely afford to pay out higher commissions because they're getting an added benefit from these links.
    Not sure I agree with this. If they can accurately determine where the money is coming from, why would they then move it to a different channel? Why not buy more links from other sites they might have considered as affiliate targets?

    If the answer is because they want to leverage one to build the other, then Donut's Uh Oh lights are working correctly. As they usually are.

    Affiliate marketing is in no way related to SEM. Ever. At all. Unless you are the affiliate.

    I encourage my clients to keep those two discussions separate when posting in forums or discussing in public. Even if there is the slightest chance that there is a symbiosis, your good affiliates will run for the hills. And rightly so.

    More than likely, they have an option to promote your competitor... or maybe even your next competitor... The one who "gets it".
    Kevin Webster
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    Kayak Fishing
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  15. #15
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Exclamation
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    You're going to find pretty broad resistance against "naked links" from affiliates. A few won't mind (or won't know any better), but most of us will object on at least two major points:

    1) We're compenstated to generate sales, not increase your Page Rank.
    2) Any implementation of "naked link" technology will have limitations that will result in missed tracking.

    Keep your SEO and your affiliate program separate.
    Michael,

    Now I have a question that you might be able to answer.

    I was reading some recent SAS merchants newslettes on my inbox, and I found one email with some creatives links from one merchant, but when I went to that merchant site, between the cookies that I got, I also got a cookie from link connector.

    So what do you think about getting a cookie from link connector, if that merchant is from SAS and is not listed on that other site?

    Is that ok? Or do you think there is something to worry about?


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