Research affiliate mini sites

Associate Programs Newsletter #136

It's wonderful being "home" in New Zealand for the summer, being spoilt rotten by family whom we haven't seen for a year.

Joanna and I spent a whole afternoon chatting with my sister and brother-in-law over a delicious seven or eight course meal at The Hunting Lodge near Auckland.

We've also been studiously sampling New Zealand's brand new vintages. Who cares about Gush and Bore? Our vote goes unanimously to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2000. Pop the cork and WHAM! this delightful drop assails the senses in an explosion of flavors and aromas There's no need for a recount.

Cloudy Bay is sold internationally. I wish it had an affiliate program.


1. How to research affiliate mini-sites (Part 1)
2. What's right - and wrong - with affiliate mini-sites
3. Free web hosts
4. Why you really ought to be thinking ahead
5. GoCollect offers variety of incentives for affiliates
6. Crashing, burning dot-coms and you
7. Top affiliate earns $86,137 in a month
8. What ClubMom's top 10 affiliates earned
9. Easy way to contact CJ merchants
10. Why you have to read the small print - and other stories
11. NEXT WEEK: Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 2)
12. Thought for today: Life is short

Get approval in as little as 2 minutes.
Approval for $5,000 to $100,000 in minutes.
Since 1994, has funded over $2 billion in small
business loans.
Get your loan now:
[UPDATE: This program has closed.]

1. How to research affiliate mini-sites (Part 1)

One way to dip your toe in the water with affiliate programs is to experiment with simple pages, created quickly and hosted by free web hosts.

If you join a free affiliate program and design your site to be found in the main search engines all you spend is your time. As soon as you have one mini-site like this working, you can move on and create another one, and another one...

Affiliates using this technique are often reluctant to discuss their little successes. They don't want you copying what they're doing. Some affiliates don't even want the affiliate MERCHANTS to realize what they're doing - some merchants forbid affiliates to use free web hosts.

However, it's impossible for any marketing technique which is even mildly successful to stay secret for long.

Successful mini-sites show up in search results in the main search engines. To find them, all you have to do is type in a few searches.

Can an affiliate site using a free web host REALLY rank well in major search engines?

Yes. It certainly can. Here's an example:

This week it was ranked seventh at AltaVista for a search for "call waiting software".

I wasn't tipped off about this site. I found it because I'd been reading about CallWave's free Internet Answering Machine.

The program pays $1 per lead and the company says some of its top affiliates are earning more than $20,000 a month.

I decided to do a little spying - sorry, scholarly research - to track down a few CallWave affiliates.

The first affiliate site I found is promoting not CallWave but Internet Call Manager - .

When I looked at this week, it had received 2,438 unique visitors in 30 days. That's pretty good for a fairly simple page using a free web host.

This free affiliate site is attracting traffic not only from AltaVista, but also from Excite, Google, MSN Search, GoTo, Lycos, Ask Jeeves - and even from Yahoo! and LookSmart.

Want to know how I found that out? That's easy. It's using free tracking by Extreme Tracking, so if you click on Extreme's planet logo you can study exactly how much traffic the site gets, and where it comes from.

You can even see the 203 keywords which people have used to find the site. The top 10 keywords are: call, waiting, internet, free, caller, phone, software, online, manager and line. That's valuable research data for anyone who's planning to promote CallWave, BuzMe or Internet Call Manager. If you are really keen, you can create a web page for each of the most important search phrases.

How on earth is this free affiliate mini-site attracting traffic from Yahoo! - an average of more than 10 visitors a day?

That's easy to find out, too, by studying the Extreme tracking statistics. The traffic is achieved by placing free ads at Yahoo classifieds - - where you're allowed to submit as many ads as you like - free. It's often described as the best free classified site on the Net.

Planning to use Yahoo classifieds to promote CallWave? At Yahoo! classifieds, click on the software section and do a search for "call waiting". You'll find you have very little competition.

Perhaps you're thinking that getting a free affiliate site ranked well in a main search engine is just a fluke?

Nope. Here's the proof, easily found.

Go to Yahoo and do a different search, this time for "internet call waiting". Only two search results appear from the Yahoo! directory. (So if you'd prefer to be a bit more original and create a site good enough to be listed in Yahoo! you have almost no competition in this valuable location.)

After that, you have to click on "Go To Web Page Matches". Yahoo! now shows you Google search results:

When I looked this week, THREE free-hosted web pages were ranked in the TOP FIVE search results!

First was - which is hosted free at Bizland.

Second was - a Tripod site.

Fourth was - which is hosted free at .

By the time you read this, the search results may have changed.

I went to Google and did the same search and received different results, but the first six sites were ALL affiliate sites and four of those six were free-hosted sites.

In third spot is using an appalling trick - dark blue type on a black background - to semi-hide a massive list of keywords.)

4th: (Looks remarkable similar to the site which is ranking well at AltaVista - )

5th: (which includes a "research key index" in hard-to-read type).

6th: . Yet another free-hosted affiliate site. Note how it packs keywords into its sub-domain.

Is all this a fluke?

No, it's not. Go to Google and try a search for "free internet answering machine". See all the affiliate mini-sites in the top 10. There's at least one which has a style you'll recognize. It's . This time, instead of semi-hiding dark blue print on a black background, it's using pale brown print on a brown background. Yuk!

If you're promoting CallWave (you can sign up at Be Free) you'll find it useful to study what other affiliate sites are doing.

Even the poorly designed sites which give a bad impression can help, by teaching you what NOT to do.

2. What's right - and wrong - with affiliate mini-sites

Advantages of affiliate mini-sites:

You can build them quickly and easily.

They can be totally free if you use only free web hosts and free search engines.

You can use them to test headlines and descriptions to see what gets the click - and the sale - and what doesn't.

You can use them to test search engine techniques.

Disadvantages of affiliate mini-sites.

If you use some of the silly tricks I've seen this week, you risk making enemies of the major search engines, such as Google and AltaVista. That's shortsighted. The search engines are hugely important to the success of your business. They should be your highly respected FRIENDS, not your enemies.

Building anonymous little sites doesn't build TRUST and CREDIBILITY - two factors vital to your long-term success. It's more like working for a wage than building a business.

One-page sites on free web hosts aren't building EQUITY in your business. For long-term viability, it makes sense to work at attracting REPEAT CUSTOMERS and building a database of names of people who respect your business.

A window of opportunity exists right now if you act fast, but search engines are getting smarter. Sneaky search engine tactics being used successfully today may not work on ANY search engine in a few months.

3. Free web hosts
================= - - is a searchable guide to more than 440 free web space providers.

Most of the free business hosts which can be searched at allow you to put paid banner ads on your site. Check their rules to make sure.

If you're planning to build several mini-sites, make sure you keep careful records of what links you've placed where, so you're ready to cope with affiliate merchants which change or abandon programs.

For example, CallWave has switched from Commission Junction to Be Free. If you don't keep track of where you place your links, you could be left with stale links which won't earn you commissions.

4. Why you really ought to be thinking ahead

You can definitely, absolutely, 100% guarantee that it will become more and more difficult to fool search engines.

Their livelihood depends upon presenting the most useful results possible. Search engines don't want to be cluttered with hundreds or thousands of similar affiliate pages.

Instead of building something which the search engines don't want, find out what they DO want and feed them exactly that.

Search engine guru Michael Campbell says: "Did you know that third generation or G3 technology has already begun? Do you know how to shore up your web site against themes and the incoming tide of redundancy filters and culling methods that will blow your site and all its doorway pages right out of the search engine?"

So you need to understand themes, topics, context and clusters. Michael explains these complex topics in simple language in his "Search Engine Positioning Reports".

Reading these reports may be the most important thing you've ever done. I strongly recommend them.

[UPDATE: Kudosnet died. For excellent search engine tips updated every month, the best source on the Net is Stephen Mahaney's Unfair Advantage Book On Winning The Search Engine Wars]

Also, to help you build simple themed web sites which WILL be found in search engines, remember the free "Affiliate Masters" course.

It's time to re-read it. The course has been updated yet again, and now gives you DAILY GOALS and more than 100 pages of excellent info - like a whole affiliate marketing book, free.

Download it free here...

Free Affiliate Masters Course

Wordtracker shows you how to target the RIGHT keywords. You don't
want to aim for words that are TOO popular - or too rare.
Your aim is to build a brilliant keyword list with the
RIGHT keywords - frequently used keywords with little or no
competition. Then you optimize your web pages for phrases that
many people are typing into search engines.
Wordtracker - the tool the pros use. Try the FREE trial:

5. GoCollect offers variety of incentives for affiliates

Looking for products to promote for the Christmas market?

There's not much time - you'd better hurry!

The GoCollect affiliate program looks highly promising. It not only offers a massive selection of gifts and collectibles - more than 23,000 products - it also pays and rewards affiliates in several ways.

GoCollect is obviously VERY keen to get you to try the program. It provides all these incentives:

$10 bonus in your affiliate account just for signing up for the affiliate program.

15% commission.

25 cents added to your affiliate account for each GoCollect link featured on your site (restrictions apply).

$15 added to your account for referring five active affiliates.

1 cent for each unique visitor..

Free entry into GoCollect's affiliate-only Sweepstakes.

It looks well worth checking out.

Sign up here:

[UPDATE: This link no longer works.]

6. Crashing, burning dot-coms and you

Don't get depressed by the crashing and burning dot-coms, such as,, and

(Note to Be Free: It's time to update your list of merchants.)

Instead, take a tip from a clever observer:

"I'm a big believer in starting small and growing - rather than starting huge and borrowing - because then you have a business you can sustain."

- Dr Ralph Wilson.

7. Top affiliate earns $86,137 in a month

Shawn Collins, Affiliate Manager of ClubMom - - has been collecting statistics on the highest commissions paid by affiliate merchants.

The fact that ONE affiliate with a high-traffic website and probably a massive mailing list is making a good income won't guarantee YOUR success.

However, if these merchants are paying such huge commissions, they must know how to SELL. That's a great start.

Here are the high paying programs which Shawn has found.

Highest commissions paid to date (November 2000):

$86,137 -
Join at LinkShare:

$75,203 - ClubMom, Inc.
Join at Be Free

$50,000 -
Join at Be Free

$37,291 -
Join at LinkShare:

$26,000 -
Join at Commission Junction:

$23,000 - The One and Only Network
[UPDATE: This program has closed.]

$15,000 - (quarterly commission)
Join at LinkShare:

$12,500 - Inc.
Join at Commission Junction:

$12,000 -
Join at LinkShare:

$9,750 - SelfCare
Join at LinkShare:

Merchants - what's the highest check you've paid? Do you deserve a spot in this top 10? If so, please let me know.

8. What ClubMom's top 10 affiliates earned

Shawn Collins of says ClubMom's top 10 affiliates in October earned:

1) $23,139.25
2) $12,322.50
3) $8,056.25
4) $4,082.50
5) $3,915.00
6) $3,416.50
7) $2,197.50
8) $1,883.75
9) $1,070.00
10) $901.25

9. Easy way to contact CJ merchants

If you want to ask for permission to alter Commission Junction code to improve your tracking (as described recently in newsletter #134 and #135 and there's an easy way.

Lorri Nevil of Lorri's Free Stuff and Bargains - says:

"I am doing this - because I've set up a new site for our Parent Teacher Association to raise funds for our schools. It's really simple to contact your merchants - and you have to write the e-mail only once."

Here's how:

Go to your Commission Junction messages area.
Click on Compose Message.
You will see a drop-down box that will allow you to send e-mail directly to all affiliate merchants you are signed up for.
Compose the message once.
Click send.
Then click your back button and send to the next merchant.

"This makes a tedious process of contacting each of your merchants MUCH easier," Lorri says.

10. Why you have to read the small print - and other stories

Merchant Games - why you have to read the small print

Yahoo to require sites to pay for listings For the first time in its history, Yahoo is charging a mandatory fee for commercial directory listings.

ICANN names new dot-competition (ZDNet),4586,2655163,00.html

Domain Name Registration Scams

How a Baptist Pastor Became an Online Publishing Pioneer:
The Story of Dr. Ralph Wilson

11. NEXT WEEK: Researching affiliate mini-sites (Part 2)

Next week I'll publish "How to research affiliate mini-sites (Part 2)". I'll examine some better quality mini-sites, and look at ways we can learn from them so that we can improve our affiliate sites.

If you'd like to send me a tip about an interesting affiliate mini-site you've spotted - good or bad - please do!

12. Thought for today: Life is short

"Life is short. Eat dessert first."
- From the menu at Sails Restaurant,
Auckland, New Zealand.


All the best

Allan Gardyne

November 23, 2000

Comments (0)

New comments are currently disabled.

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up Now!

How to make $1000 a month from scratch

Sign-up for our newsletter and receive our 77 page eBook "How to make $1000 a month from scratch".

Best of all it's FREE!

Your Host

Learn from an affiliate veteran.

Your host, , has been earning a good living from affiliate programs since 1998.

Want a BETTER article writer? We will write good articles just for you.

Content Kingdom