Most affiliates rely on brand names to make money online. Whether this is directly relying on them via the search engines, or indirectly relying on them by using their strong brand name and logo across your website – the strength of a companies brand name is often a deciding factor in what companies and brands we promote.
There are many affiliates who rely 100% on the strength of a brand name, and those are the websites I want to talk about today. They build an exact match keyword domain. Here are a few examples of websites I found on page #1 on Google today for these phrases:
Now there’s nothing wrong with that at all(well, there’s differing opinions on that matter but that’s a volatile topic for another time) – however I am seeing more and more new affiliates attempt to go this route, by building a website dedicated to a specific brand. Now this is completely understandable – it’s a relatively easy method to start making money online. It’s not as easy as it was years ago to rank – but it’s still not very difficult either.
The problem is – most affiliates are doing it without any understanding of what they are doing.
They know that others have had success with this method making money online, and want to do the same. But they don’t understand exactly what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it. They’re just jumping on other peoples ideas, unaware of the risks involved.
If you are planning on making money with these brand name exact match domains, then there are quite a few things you need to know:
#1: The Brands Don’t Like it.
They really don’t. Years ago most companies didn’t care – ESPECIALLY in the online gambling vertical – but many companies and affiliate programs are starting to wisen up. They realize that the site you are building does not bring any value to the table. These sort of sites are only taking money from the actual brand, or from other affiliates who are bringing in customers via non-brand, actual useful means.
That’s why many affiliate programs are cracking down on these sort of domains. Many will tell you in the T&C, and will be very pro-active about it. Others are adding it to their terms and conditions retroactively, and then warning you that you most either remove or give them the domain.
Therefore, this is something that you can’t rely on long-term.
#2: The Search Engines Don’t Like It
These are the types of websites that Google Panda/Penguin and other updates would love to eradicate. There’s a misconception that Google hates affiliate sites. They don’t. What they DO hate however, is thin affiliate sites that really add 0 value, and are only there so that the affiliate can make money.
We’ve already seen a LOT of these types of sites take a hit with Google in the last year. You’ll never be able to rely on your rankings. And what’s worse is generally you are only targeting 1-2 specific keywords. So if your rankings drop for your primary keywords – it’s unlikely you will have a variety of secondary keywords that will still help you.
#3: It Takes A Lot of Effort.
Years ago, it honestly didn’t take a lot of work. You could buy an exact match domain, throw up 1 page of content, get a few links and voila – you’d be ranking at the very least page 1. I should know because I did that very same strategy.
These days, it takes a lot more effort than that. If you look at any of these affiliate sites that are actually ranking for their keyword, they’re usually aged, and have a solid amount of content. At least 30 pages.
The problem here is with the search engines dislike for these type of sites, it means you’re not guaranteed to rank. So you could be putting in a lot of work with no income. There’s a lot more risk involved these days, with these types of sites.
#4: All Your Eggs Are In One Basket
If you run a website that ranks for “play online poker” and you directed most of your traffic to Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet – well, when Black Friday(and the aftermath) occurred it’s not the end of the world for you. You’re still going to rank for “play online poker” and you’re still going to be getting a lot of traffic. So while it hurts, it’s easily salvageable and you can redirect that traffic elsewhere.
If you ran FullTiltRakeback.com, FullTiltPokerBonusCode.com etc – not only has your income dropped, but your traffic and conversions has as well. Less and less people would be searching for those terms, and the ones that are, are highly unlikely to convert to another room on your site. The conversion ratio drops dramatically.
And it doesn’t even need to be as drastic as the company closing. I know a lot of “GoDaddy Coupon Code” affiliates got hurt drastically when their CEO decided to go hunting elephants.
#5: You’re RELYING on Others.
I wanted to leave this one for last, so I could really hammer home the point:
You are relying on people other than yourself to make money.
It’s like working a retail job at a store, on commission. Rather than being out there on the sales floor, or outside passing the word around – you’re standing at the cash register waiting. You’re not bringing any customers into the store or selling them on the store. You’re relying on the stores marketing skills to get people into the store. You’re then relying on one of the sales people on the floor to do the selling job for you. And you’re waiting at the register, hoping that when the customer comes over to purchase, you’re able to steal their sale at the last minute by telling them to use your employee code during the purchase.
But what if those people don’t do their job? Then you’ve just wasted your own time and money.
You see – buying these exact match domains is one of the most typical methods of marketing. To actually get into this market, you really need to be on the ball. As soon as a poker room is announced, you need to be out there buying as many domains as you can.
But what if the poker room doesn’t take off? What if you’ve spent money buying and building these domains, and no-one comes? For every Cake Poker, there’s a Piranha Poker, Yachting Poker and Switch Poker. For every Lock Poker, there’s a High Pulse Poker, Stella Poker and Dusk Till Dawn Poker.
In other words for every successful poker room where it DOES work out, there are tons that don’t work out. Tons of rooms that aren’t able to get their brand name out there. Tons of poker rooms that can’t do their own marketing. Which means a lot less traffic for you.
When you’re targeting general terms like “play online poker”, it really doesn’t matter how strong the branding for a particular company is. It helps, but it doesn’t matter too much – you’re still going to be making money regardless.
With these sort of domains and websites, it’s the ONLY thing the matters.
In summary, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these sort of websites. Not at all. We all rely on the brand name in some way or another. These sort of websites, despite being high risk have high potential as well.
However make them PART of your portfolio – not your WHOLE portfolio.
Otherwise one day, you’re in for a rude awakening.