I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
When I first started building my own affiliate sites, secrecy was key. You’d add private registration to your domain name, host it on a separate IP (maybe even a different hosting provider), and not allow anyone to know what sites you owned. I questioned this at the end of 2011:
#affiliates – are we still hiding our websites from each other? Does it matter if I know your sites, and you know mine?
— Eric Nagel (@ericnagel) December 26, 2011
When I wrote about working with Todd and Tricia on our Wine Club Review site, I had to be cryptic and blur out images
(of course, we’ve since spilled the beans)
But now with all of this talk about AuthorRank and rel author, can we no longer stay discreet?
SEOMoz outlines how AuthorRank works together with PageRank to determine ranking factors
What are affiliates to do?
Without putting all of our eggs into one basket, we affiliates have to balance being experts in multiple areas.
We could create online personas or pseudonyms for our different selves online. This way, each of our selves is an expert in one topic, and the lines aren’t crossed. Create multiple Google+ profiles, and don’t confuse your split personalities. Living more than one life will eventually catch up to you, no matter how careful you are.
Or, we could step out from behind the curtain and be ourselves – experts in all of our niches. But how does Google know that I’m not only well versed in wine clubs, but also the go-to guy when you want to find a Leg Lamp? Should you trust someone who’s contributing to two vastly different niches? Oh, let’s not forget I’m an affiliate and SEO. And if you need reviews on online backup services, I’ve got that, too.
Affiliates have enough knowledge to research each other, but someone looking to buy a Leg Lamp probably doesn’t know how to, or care to, research the person who published the website.
What I’m Doing
I’ve slowly outted one of my sites over the past year. First was during SugarRae’s SEO training before Affiliate Summit in New York, when I asked for advice. Then I started using my name on the site, and in videos.
Of course, being named as a source in Time magazine didn’t help keep my identity hidden
I’m going to slap
Eric Nagel all over Online Backups Review and see if I can take my influence and help boost rankings.
Potential pros: my social circles cause my site to rank better.
Potential cons: more affiliates in this niche.
What are you doing to accommodate Google’s Author Rank algorithm, and to incorporate your social influence into your affiliate sites?
I’ve been using pseudonyms for my various projects. I don’t think I could look my friends and family in the eye while claiming to be an ‘expert’ in some of the sites that I’m working on. It’d lead to all kinds of warfare!
Whew! I’m glad I don’t have to be worried about spilling the beans and getting in trouble anymore. 😉
Seriously, it is going to be interesting to see if this makes a difference. I am fairly open about my sites but do not actively promote a lot of them. I’ve been slowly adding the rel=author to all of my blogs. If only I could get it to consistently work!
Nice move. I hope you post an update in a few months
Hey Eric, you’re right– the time for faceless anonymously built sites is over. The “About Us” page is one of my first stops whenever I hit a new site, and I want to see some personality there and not some impersonal business jargon.
During the affiliate nexus battle in CA, it was a struggle to get people willing to share their businesses. I can understand some level of privacy/secrecy but it really hurt our cause because it made it seem kind of shady. I think the lawmakers wondered if it was really going to hurt 25,000 businesses, how come so few were speaking up?
For review sites in particular, there’s always some fear of bias on the part of the visitor, and I believe putting a name and a face on the site helps alleviate those fears. Plus it gives you an opportunity to brand yourself a little bit too.
What’s weird is I continue to see OPMs and network program managers still try and operate anonymously. They’ll sign their emails “Affiliate Traction Team” (or similar) and the reply-to goes to an unmonitored inbox. Come on, I know a real person has gotta be in charge somewhere over there!
Nice job getting quoted in Time btw 🙂
It is now more obvious than ever that Google is moving more and more towards person-anchored authority. I think in time this will be a greater thing. Who do you want to hear from when you are researching what the best garden shed would be?
Would it be ‘www.gardensheds.org’- a five page micro niche site or Tim the shed expert who can recommend the best products with his expert knowledge who also has a blog full of all kinds of interesting related topics?
Author rank means better quality, but also the demise of cheap MFA (made for adsense) sites. The days of buying an exact match domain for $8, ordering a cheap article and doing a bit of back linking to get ranked are soon to be gone.
Eric – For me, I only started this affiliate world about 6 or 7 months ago. In October of 2011. I think I came in right in the middle of the changing of the guard if you will. A lot of advice was given towards the old method of hiding and privacy while other people strongly suggested just stepping up and saying who you were. Even the comments and the way people leave their names and site information in them has changed in the last 7 months. When I first started I was told to leave a key word that I wanted to rank high for as my ‘name’ and now, well, my Name is Johnathan and it says so… with the whole comment love system and how people anchor their rankings so much based upon authorship and being a real person, as nerve racking as it may feel… I think announcing who you are and what you do will be more beneficial in the LONG run. Especially since ‘mom’ blogs are so powerful and profitable today… much more than they were in previous years. With that said, being ‘real’ and upfront I believe will pay off more for long term users, returning site users, etc… honesty is a HUGE thing. And well, people are more savvy now. I stumbled across a blog the other day where the woman said I make less than minimal wage on this blog. I did a quick search to see what her website was worth and the sites (on the low end) said it was worth $80,000+ I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a tad more than minimal wage. It took me about 20 seconds to find the data. Her users could easily find this too. Just saying, honesty will prevail… in time.