How to Monetize your Blog this Holiday Season
:: By Jamie Birch, Affiliate Window ::
Planning work on your blog can be challenging enough at the best of times, but when it comes to winter sale peaks such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, often all plans and best intentions go out of the window.
It needn’t be this way though, it’s just about focusing your efforts with the right approach that will help you catch as many fish as you can. Below is a three-part formula to apply to your website activity over the holiday season.
Stage 1 - Identifying traffic sources
Google search results are one of the greatest resources of traffic for blogs, a listing on page one for a key term can land more than just a few website visits. Before writing any content though, it’s vital to look at the overall appetite for the keyword terms you’ll be mentioning on your blog. To find keyword ideas, either log in or create a free Google AdWord account and use Google’s Keyword research tool. You can add in series of potential keywords, or better still look at keywords by category such as “December winter escapes” and view the average monthly searches. You can tailor the date range to look at a comparable period in 2014 to gain a seasonal view.
Focus your efforts on keywords you have potential in ranking for, finding low-competition keywords with reasonable to high levels of traffic is a great place to start. One time-saving method that can prove effective, is to start by testing several groups of keywords that correlate with your blog content to sample the traffic levels you get. Once you find one or two that are working well, start to branch out with similar terms until you are able to reliably gain traffic. Take one group at a time and expand carefully.
Also consider the consumer shopping mind set when choosing keywords. Our earlier example of “December winter escapes” might provide good customer researching traffic, but may not be the sort of term that a customer about to purchase will use. Typically last-minute purchase decision terms concerning best prices such as “discount” and “voucher” can help narrow your range as well as including the brand offering, as they may already know who they want to purchase with.
Stage 2 – Tailoring your website and content
Google’s search algorithm analyses the complexity and editorial relevance of your content as well as the density and application of the keywords a search visitor uses. So if you have included “cheap winter holidays 2015” in your vocabulary, ensure that you have written about this in depth. Make sure that your posts are at least 500 words in length (where possible and relevant), as this will give Google more context. If you’re a blogger using a platform such as WordPress for creating posts, consider an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO which gives you further guidelines on SEO rich content.
Secondly, get producing your content ahead of schedule. Google can take awhile to index your site and change your rankings, so wherever possible, add content up to a month in advance and modify as needed.
Lastly, you can add features to the design of your website to encourage shopping behaviour in tandem with your SEO rich articles. If you’re frequently talking about the best travel deals, why not have a dedicated deals and discount section on your site, or if you’re putting together winter shopping guides you could add a Price Comparison widget such as Comparipress.com to your posts, to show consumers the best deals on the clothing mentioned in your posts. Both can encourage customers to click out from your blog and onto the brand they’ve been researching or inspired to visit.
Stage 3 – Turning interest into conversion
Getting visitors to click out from your website and onto their desired brand, and the right landing page is key. In order to make any money through affiliate marketing you will need to ensure all links to advertisers where possible are tracked and set up correctly via an affiliate network. Different networks across the U.S. look after various brands, so it’s worth researching and applying to these before monetizing content. Affiliate networks will provide you with tracking links and most advertisers operate on a Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) basis, meaning you will only be paid a commission if the customer purchases.
Think about the value of advertiser offers and the strength of a brand. In order to drive conversion, the offer itself must be enticing, encourage short timeframe purchases, and typically be from a well-known brand. Research the various offers available, and shop around yourself before posting deals. Looking at the Earnings Per Click (EPC) an affiliate program has, can give an indication of how profitable the brand might be. Programs will also typically share details about their offers and brand USPs to help guide this process.
If all three stages follow together, it will generate some great improvements in traffic, with relevant customers who may go on to purchase through your site, earning some great commission in the holiday peak period. Below is an example to illustrate how this could work:
1.) Keyword analysis has returned “Top 10 cheap toys for Christmas 2015” as a lucrative term which you’ve featured in an article showing top 10 Christmas toy gifts for this year. You’ve combined trending ideas on the Web with some of the best advertiser affiliate deals to compose your article, added under your deals section on your blog.
2.) Traffic results were good, you got a click-through rate (Google clicks/ Google search impression) of five percent meaning you achieved 300 page visits for 6,000 Google search impressions across the week period where the key offers were valid.
3.) Out of this you registered 100 clicks in your affiliate network stats, where a potential customer has clicked out to one of the brand pages.
4.) At the end of the week, you have 10 sales showing with an average customer spend of $120, leaving you with a conversion rate of 10%.
5.) Looking at the commission you received this averaged at around eight percent for each sale, giving you a total of $96, which in return can be equated to $0.32 for every visitor to your post.
6.) Monitor the conversion of different posts and articles, to identify what specifically works well for your site. These conversion journeys are likely to vary by type of brand and content you’re writing about, but applying these three stages will hopefully help you to maximize your return on time invested this holiday season.
Jamie Birch is a Data Analyst at Affiliate Window, an award-winning performance marketing company.