17 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

17 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Doing your research is at the heart of building a successful affiliate marketing business. There are plenty of opportunities to make good money in affiliate marketing if you focus on getting it right from the start.

In this guide, we’re going to look at the top 17 most common mistakes that affiliates make. Avoiding these mistakes will put your affiliate marketing business on the path to success.

Not selecting a profitable niche.

Choosing a profitable and well-defined niche is the biggest factor that will define the success of your affiliate marketing business. Narrowing your focus by selecting a niche allows you to target a smaller but more focused audience. This will help you grow your business and maximize your sales potential.

Selecting a niche that is way too broad.

The most successful online businesses begin by choosing a broad niche. And then, they focus on something that is even more specialized within that niche. For example, personal finance is a very profitable niche, but it is very broad. A sub-niche within personal finance would be something like getting out of debt. When you focus on a specific niche, you will have a site with topical authority which is crucial for SEO.

Furthermore, if you specialize in a topic like debt, you can also cover closely related topics on your blog such as saving money, debt management, and budgeting. When you are laser-focused on a specific niche, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to build trust and authority around that topic. It is also going to be very easy to identify your perfect audience and connect with a focused group of individuals.  This also means that you will have a lot more trust, authority and influence within your target community, and making sales is going to get a lot easier for you.

Choosing a niche you have zero interest in. 

If you make the mistake of picking a niche simply because it is in a high paying category, then you’re going to really struggle to make your affiliate marketing business a success. And that is because you won’t enjoy talking about it or writing about topics within that niche. You’ll struggle to create content because you’ll have no interest in learning more about the niche. You simply won’t have the motivation to make the business a success even when you know what you need to do to make it successful. You just won’t care enough.

Promoting too many products.

It is important to choose your affiliate programs wisely. More ads don’t equal more sales. In fact, when you have too many ads, you’re going to be sacrificing user experience, which is only going to leave your readers frustrated with your site.

Choosing multiple random products so that you can sell more is one of the fastest ways to fail at affiliate marketing. If you have a well-defined niche, you should only be choosing products that are relevant to this niche. Pick a few good affiliate partners in your niche and stick with them. The more relevant the products you promote are to the needs of your audience, the better your chances of having a successful affiliate marketing business.

Ignoring SEO

As an affiliate marketer, you need to ensure that there is nothing on your site that would major search engines drive targeted traffic to your website. This means ensuring that you’re not doing anything that will hurt the effectiveness of your website in organic search. Yes, you can drive a good amount of traffic with social media, but SEO will bring you the most targeted traffic. And the more targeted traffic you receive, the more sales you are going to generate.

Not picking evergreen products.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in affiliate marketing is building your affiliate marketing business around products that become irrelevant after just a few months or only makes you money once or twice a year. To build a sustainable affiliate marketing business, you’ll want to focus on evergreen products that have demand throughout the year. And the quickest way to find out whether a product is seasonal is by using Google Trends. Do a search for your topic and see what the search trend reveals.

For example, if you do a search for something like Christmas trees using the 5-year trend, you’ll notice that interest for this topic goes up during the winter season and is totally non-existent for the rest of the year. This shows that Christmas trees is not an evergreen niche.

On the other hand, if you do a search for keto diet, you’ll notice that demand for this product has been very stable over the past five years.

Creating a website that is built around products rather than problems and passions.

A poorly thought out website design is always a bad idea. For example, a website that is based around a specific product range such as iPhone accessories will diminish the growth of your business. When you become too specific, what happens is that you have no room to grow and expand your business. It will limit you to that product range.

Furthermore, such a website will publish product-focused content only rather than targeting the problems of your audience and linking them with relevant products that you can use to target your prospects who are in different stages of the marketing funnel. Your website design should be built around the problems or passions of your audience and linked with products and services that are relevant to your audience. Building your site around the problems or passions of your audience also allows you to target your prospects who are different stages of the buying funnel.

Judging a product solely on how much commission you’ll make per sale.

The products that you choose will define your success as an affiliate marketer. And one of the biggest mistakes you’ll want to avoid is choosing to promote a product that you know nothing about just because it is a high paying category. The whole point of affiliate marketing is that people trust your opinions and recommendations. If recommend a low quality product just because it pays a high commission, you’re going to break that trust, and you’re audience are going to stop listening to your recommendations.

The best products to promote are those that you’ve actually used. This will make it easy for you to confidently talk about the products because you’re going to have first-hand experience of those products. Sharing personal stories is one of the strongest persuasion strategies because you’ll be able to talk about how it’s helped you out. You will also have real results that you can share with your audience.

Publishing poor quality content.

If you’re doing business on the web, it is critically important to understand what makes a site vulnerable to Google penalties. It is the quality of your website’s content is what will be the main determining factor in how high you rank in the search results. This is despite the fact that the Google algorithm considers over 200 ranking factors when ranking websites. The Google Panda algorithm update was based entirely around the concept of quality content. It is key to your organic search ranking.

No matter what niche you’re in, each piece of content you publish on your site contributes to your online sales directly or indirectly. Note that if your site has a certain amount of sub-par content, the entire site will be categorized as a low quality site, and it will be filtered from ranking high in the search results. Google Panda was aimed primarily at websites that offered little in the way of original or meaningful content. Way back in 2014, Google defined bad content as “thin and duplicate content with little or no added value”.

The content you write has to be helpful or useful to someone. For example, let’s say you write about affiliate marketing. Some of your topics could be:

  • How to develop an affiliate marketing strategy;
  • How to make a website that will generate $500 day
  • How to research affiliate networks

Quality content like this is going to do better in organic search, and is going to keep more visitors on your site.

Building a poor quality website.

A poorly designed affiliate marketing website will translate into poor sales volume no matter the quality of the content on your site. Your focus should be on the user experience, also known as UX. For example, studies show that overly complicated layouts, excessive use of fancy elements and too many colours can quickly turn away visitors. Furthermore, posting banner ads all over your site will lead to a poor user experience and ultimately lead to a Google penalty. Your site doesn’t have to be anything special, but it has to be super simple and easy to navigate.

Not building an email list.

If you are building an affiliate marketing business, building an email list is one of the most important assets you could ever have for your business. It will bring you the most consistent traffic. Furthermore, let’s say Google releases an algorithmic update that affects your organic search traffic, you’ve still got your email list of thousands of subscribers to fall back on. So having a list will mitigate the effects of getting hit by the penalty. 

Not using disclosures.

The FTC requires affiliates to clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships with merchants, brands or products. This means what whenever you post an affiliate link on your website that could result in a commission, you are required to disclose this information to your site visitors. Per FTC guidelines, disclosures must be clearly obvious. This means it must be easy to see and impossible to miss. In addition, if you will be promoting affiliate products on social media, you must add relevant hashtags on your affiliate social media posts. This means you must add hashtags such as  #sponsored, #paidad, #promotion and  and #ad.

Not researching your affiliate partners.

Researching affiliate networks before signing up to any partnership is essential otherwise you may end up in a bad partnership. Not every affiliate partner will be a good partner. Partnering with an affiliate network that has a poor reputation across review sites can have a negative impact on your business. There have been complaints about certain networks not paying them for sales. Other networks may go out of business or abruptly discontinue their affiliate program. It is vitally important to do your due diligence before becoming an affiliate because you may end up in a bad situation otherwise.

Not understanding your audience.

Understanding your ideal target customer and what motivates them is a key element of a successful affilate marketing campaign. When you understand the motivations, wants and needs of your target audience, you can focus your efforts on attracting a specific audience. It is only when you truly understand your buyer personas that you can start to communicate with and engage them in ways that they would respond to you.

Not building relationships with your affiliate manager.

If you want to be successful at affiliate marketing, you have to avoid duplicating what everyone else is doing. Building a relationship with your affiliate manager can help you become even more successful by providing access to things like special promotions and discount codes that the company is not offering to other affiliates. Thinks of new creative strategies and aim to stand out from other affiliates. For example, you can focus on building relationships with your audience by doing things like…

  • Negotiate special discount codes from product creators
  • Get co-branded sales pages from the merchant

Spamming affiliate links.

Spamming your affiliate links across the web make you look desperate. Spamming affiliate links is a common practice on social media where affiliate drop links in groups that have nothing in common with the product. It is a complete waste of time because no one is going to click those links. You need to be a lot smarter and strategic.

Not cloaking your affiliate links.

Affiliate links look like, well, affiliate links. And they are ugly…

Here’s what an affiliate link looks like: hotgamecotroller.com/?a_hu-id-78457747478 

Adding this to your blogpost would look terrible. What you should do instead is to disguise your affiliate link as an SEO friendly URL. Affiliate link cloaking is all about masking your links with your own domain name so they cannot be identified as being affiliate links.

If your blog post contains a large number of promotional links, search engines like Google will consider it as a low-quality post and will not rank it higher in the search results. Furthermore, some people will avoid clicking affiliate links, but will click links that don’t look like affiliate links. You can cloak your affiliate links with WordPress plugins such as Pretty Link Lite and Simple URLs.

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