Direct Linking vs Landing Pages vs Landing Sites

I was facing my first writer’s block and couldn’t think of anything to blog about and I really wanted to do a blog post tonight cause I had the time.

I’m not use to posting this frequently on a blog! I guess I still have a lot to learn about when it comes to blogging and keeping ideas popping into your head! Anyways, so because I couldn’t think of anything to write about, I made a tweet on twitter asking if anyone had any questions they would like to see covered in a blog post and BlueHeronTrail asked which was better to use a landing page or a landing site (ie. blog, website, etc) I decided to include Direct Linking as well as believe it or not it still works!

So, enough of that let’s get into it!

Direct Linking

First, allow me to explain what Direct Linking is for those that are just getting started in Affiliate Marketing.

Direct Linking is when link directly to an advertisers landing page. Most affiliates normally buy a domain name, some simple hosting, and create their own landing page that they send visitors to first before sending them to the offer(s) landing page. There are two main ways to Direct Link to an affiliate offer.

The first way and most used method of Direct Linking to an affiliates page is by using the affiliate URL your given when you sign up with a company. For example the link may look like this http://x.affiliate.com/publisher/5674 That of course is just an example and doesn’t actually link to an offer.

The second way is to buy a domain name and point the domain name straight to the offers landing page. This method isn’t used as much as the first method is, however, I truly feel that this is the best way to link to an offer and I’ll explain why below.

Advantages to Direct Linking:

  • Allows you to quickly test an offer to see how well it converts before building an entire site around the offer.
  • If the advertisers landing page is good enough quality and having a landing pages seems to cut down on conversions instead of helping.
  • Very easy to setup. You don’t need any knowledge of html, css, or php. You also don’t need to buy a domain name or hosting if you don’t wish to, however, I do recommend buying a domain for Direct Linking.

Disadvantages to Direct Linking:

  • Normally its pretty hard to get a good quality score in Google Adwords when Direct Linking.
  • You are unable to presell the customer. Preselling the customer can easy increase conversions by 200% if you take the time to learn how to do so properly.
  • You won’t normally receive any organic (free) traffic when direct linking. You may receive a little if you are direct linking with a domain name, however, I’ve never received any amount of organic traffic worth talking about.

Why should I use a Domain Name when Direct Linking?

As I said above, most people when they direct link to an offer they don’t even use a domain name. I however, believe that using a domain name even when direct linking has some really nice benefits to it.

First, you are able to build links to your own domain name and keep them if you decide to later build a landing page or site around an offer. I submit almost every offer I run to quite a few directories to start building up some organic traffic and to rank for keywords in Google. Once I know an offer is profitable I immediately start building links to it, even if its just a few well placed ones.

Secondly, Google Adwords has recently changed their Display URL policy saying you have to use the same domain as what is in your destination URL. If your running an offer through any CPA network like AzoogleAds the link for the offer your running normally redirects through their ad server anyways. Having a good keyword rich domain name can increase everything from your Quality Score in Adwords to your CTR%.

Those are the two main reasons why I always use a domain even when testing an offer by direct linking. You can get them for so cheap I don’t see a good reason not to just buy one. If the offer doesn’t work, I get rid of the domain! Simple as that!

Landing Pages

This is by far the most used method when it comes to affiliate marketing. You buy a domain name, throw up a one page site basically called a landing page and have an article or two with several links to the offer page and that’s it.

There are several advantages to this method over direct linking and a couple disadvantages.

Advantages to a Landing Page:

  • Easier to setup than a full landing site (website focused around an affiliate offer).
  • Still pretty easy to get a decent quality score even with Adwords believe it or not, although it is becoming increasingly harder and I believe within another year or two, landing pages will need to become landing sites.
  • Extremely great for seasonal offers as you wouldn’t want to spend too much time on offers that are only good one month out of the year.
  • Allows you to presell your customers thus increasing your conversion rates significantly.
  • Allows you to be more flexible. Some examples are… You can collect email addresses for sending out future offers, you are able to track using php on the keyword level fairly easily using simple cut and paste techniques!

Disadvantages to Landing Pages:

  • Slowly becoming harder to get a great quality score with Adwords as they like content and lots of it.
  • Requires more time to setup than direct linking which could all be in vain if the offer doesn’t convert well enough and you end up having to cancel it.

Again, Landing Pages are the now. They are what’s working and they work well. I don’t believe they will work forever, however, who’s to say they don’t work for another 5 years! Google continues to increase their quality algorithms and they love content and multi-page sites. They want websites to have value to them and not just try to hurry up and send a visitor to someone else’s site only to be redirected yet again without adding any real value to the customer.

Landing Sites

When I say Landing Site basically I’m talking about a Landing Page that has more than just one simple page. A landing site has multiple pages, multiple articles, useful information for consumers, etc. They sometimes have a blog tied to them. Basically anyway you want to do it is fine. I don’t personally believe there is one right way or wrong way when it comes to building a landing site. Some people use a blog to add content, some don’t. The choice is entirely up to you, either way seems to work fine. I’ve personally done it both ways and haven’t seen a problem yet with one or the other.

Advantages to a Landing Site:

  • Google loves these sites, they love the fresh content that gets added to these sites, they love the fact that they typically help the customer and add value a little more than just a simple landing page.
  • These sites can very easily rank for keywords in Organic Searches thus providing tons of free traffic.
  • Easier to get good quality scores when using Google Adwords.
  • Plus all the benefits of a Regular Landing Page.

Disadvantages to a Landing Site:

  • Very time consuming to build these websites.
  • Constantly have to be updated with fresh content in order to be most effective.

So which do I use?

I personally feel and believe that there is a purpose for each type of linking. Let me give you a few examples.

Let’s say your trying out a niche that honestly you don’t know much about but have heard it’s doing well. Your not sure what works, what doesn’t, what type of landing page to create, if it will convert for you, etc. I would personally direct link to the offer first to test out these things and to give it a quick test. Now that’s just me speaking, I know people that do nothing but direct link and they make tons of money. Direct Linking still works but it tends to be more of a short-term income. You get an offer doing well and a couple months it dies, whereas landing pages typically last a lot longer.

Let’s say you’ve tested out a niche and your breaking even, or even making a little profit, or even maybe just losing a little money. You decide that the niche has potential and you’d like to try to scale on it and build. I would then throw up a Landing Page and work on increasing my conversion rate by preselling the customer, increasing my ad ctr%, etc.

Let’s say that you realize after your landing page has been up a while that you could really scale this campaign and you not only want PPC traffic but you also want to start driving SEO traffic to the site, I would then convert my landing page to a Landing Site by either adding a blog or adding an article page.

I hope this article helped you out and explained to you the advantages and disadvantages to using each of the three methods.

Let me know if you have any other questions about the three below in the comments.

Media Whiz Acquires AuctionAds

I’m a little late on post about this, but for those that have not heard, Media Whiz, the parent company of Text-Link-Ads, purchased AuctionAds from Jeremy Schoemaker and Dillsmack. Of course the amount of which Media Whiz purchased AuctionAds is undisclosed.

So what does this mean for Ebay Affiliates using AuctionAds? Well in my opinion and please note its only my opinion, I think Media Whiz will do a fine job with AuctionAds just as they have with Text-Link-Ads. Alot of people are concerned that payouts will be dropping as Shoemoney from the start of AuctionAds thus far has been paying out 100% of the earnings. I’m going to have to disagree with the people that think the payouts will drop.

As most of you know, AuctionAds is still going through CJ at the moment, however, I can’t see it being that way for long if it hasn’t already changed :D. Now because its going through CJ you know CJ has to be raking in some dough for it. If not why would CJ be doing it? So what I forsee happening is AuctionAds going directly through Ebay for the affiliate program meaning AuctionAds will be getting what CJ has been getting from it, thus allowing publisher to keep receiving the payouts they are currently receiving.

Again this is all speculation however, seems like the logical step for everyone except Commission Junction.

Huge Congrats to Jeremy Schoemaker (aka Shoemoney) and Dillsmack on AuctionAds and where they have brought it up to from the beginning. It is arguably one of the biggest launches of any advertising company. In only 4 months they have had over 25,000 publishers that have displayed over 1 Billion Impressions. Then sold it for what has to be (once again guessing) in the millions.

6 Tips To A Better Landing Page

For most PPC marketers, landing pages are the best way to make money through affiliate programs. This article isn’t going to tell you how to make fancy shapes in Photoshop, but I’ll make some suggestions if you do know some design. This article will also help you when you talk to a designer that will build a landing page for you. I’m just going to write a little “checklist” of things to make sure your landing page includes/follows.

1) Graphically Oriented

This one is pretty obvious. Most landing pages are very simple, and include large colorful graphics that are attractive to the eye. You want to follow this pattern, but also keep in mind that search engines are updating. You want to have your landing pages be simple and guide the user to the affiliate offer, but still have a good amount of content on the site for quality score purposes (especially in Google).

2) Image/File Size

Most affiliate don’t realize that a good chunk of the population is still on dial-up connection. They have landing pages created with 500kb .jpeg images, not thinking that their landing pages can take minutes for dial-up users to load. The longer your page takes to load for all users, the more users click the “X” in the corner of their browser. Even if you have to sacrifice some quality, always compress images to as small and fast loading as you can (use .gifs or really compressed .jpegs).

3) Blend With Your Offer

A good tip that a lot of people don’t use is that they should blend their landing pages with the offer they want to promote. This is kind of hard if you don’t know exactly what offer you want to promote, but if you are positive on the best converting offer, try and design your landing page to look similar to it. Better blending leads people to believe that they are just continuing onto the next step, instead of just being redirected somewhere else.

4) Flashing Arrows/Text

Pretty simple, people respond more to flashing text or arrows. If you have a button on the page that says “Click Here to Continue!”, make the text flashing, or put arrows on each side of the button that flash (use animated .gifs). Check out this site, ringringmobile.com. That landing page is extremely simple, and the graphics aren’t even all that good looking. It loads really fast, and has a flashing arrow on the left side. I know of the person that owns that landing page, and he makes a TON off of ringtones.

5) Content

Search engines are starting to look more for multi-page websites over single landing pages with no content. To adapt, your landing page should have more than 1 page, with unique content on each page. You don’t have to make all the pages stand out to the user (you don’t want that, you want them to click through to the offer – although additional content wouldn’t hurt), but you do want them there. So find a way to plug in different content pages that all link together.

6)Tracking

Tracking is getting better and better, and the more tracking you have, the more money you can make. Use Crazy Egg to see heatmaps of your landing page. By installing tracking on your LP, you can see where users are clicking, and re-arrange your page accordingly to get a better CTR.

7) SEO

Although your landing page is supposed to rank high in search engines, SEO will help increase your quality score. Landing page articles should have good keyword density, links should include keywords, page titles should include keywords, use h1, h2, and h3 tags in your articles. Include a privacy policy/about us/terms and conditions on your page. The more your treat your landing page like an actual site, the better your quality score will be.

Alrighty. Hopefully those tips help you out, make sure to stick around for more, and subscribe if you would be so kind :).