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What Is An Affiliate Program?

The post What Is An Affiliate Program? appeared first on HostGator Blog . The idea of affiliate marketing is simple. You recommend  high-quality products or services, and if a person buys through your link, then you receive a commission. Usually, a percentage of the total purchase price, or a flat fee. Affiliate programs can be used as a marketing technique to raise brand awareness and increase revenue.  Recommending affiliate products is usually one of the first ways people will earn an income online. It’s a much simpler process than creating a course, selling services, or starting any other kind of online business . Naturally, you probably have a lot of questions.  What is an affiliate program? How does affiliate marketing work? Was I born to be an affiliate marketer? If you’ve been curious about earning income as an affiliate, or just want to know the intricacies of how affiliate programs work, then this post is for you. Below we answer your most pressing questions related to affiliate partners and programs, so you can decide if you should join an affiliate program to promote products you love.  What is Affiliate Marketing? Put simply, affiliate marketing describes the process of earning a commission for a sale of a product you recommend.  Affiliate marketing is one of the most common ways that people earn money online. Site owners find products and services they love, then recommend them to their visitors. Entire sites have been built on the back of affiliate marketing. Plus, it’s a relatively passive way to earn money if you want to monetize your blog . For example, if you write blog posts reviewing certain affiliate products, then you’ll earn commissions whenever someone buys something through your link. Plus, all of this takes place without you having to do any additional work. It’s like having a salesman work for you around the clock.  Here’s a visual of how the process works with HostGator’s affiliate program : At its core, affiliate marketing remains the same. You get paid a commission for recommending products to your website visitors. But, as you’ll learn below, there are a wide range of different products you can recommend, along with a ton of different affiliate networks you can sign up for.  How an Affiliate Program Works Affiliate programs can be a great way for companies to expand their user base and add new customers and clients. People who recommend products get a piece of the commission and it’s a win-win situation—especially if it’s a product or service that you’re already a fan of and would recommend even if you weren’t getting a piece of the sale.  With an affiliate program, there are multiple different parties involved.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the different parties and their roles: 1. The Merchant Business The first essential role is the merchant business. This is the retailer who actually sells the product or service. Beyond just offering a product or service there also needs to be an affiliate program created. To use an example let’s look at Amazon. They’re one of the biggest retailers in the world and they have a very long-running affiliate program. You can sign up to be an affiliate for Amazon, and you’ll get a unique tracking link. You add that link to your site and whenever someone clicks that link and orders that product from Amazon you’ll receive affiliate commissions. The mechanics will differ slightly depending on the merchant business, what they sell, and how they structure their program, but the core elements remain the same. 2. The Affiliate It would be hard to have an affiliate program without the affiliates. Affiliates are the people who promote products in exchange for a commission. As an affiliate, you join the affiliate program or network, which gives you access to certain marketing materials, or a unique link that will track your commissions.  You can then promote a variety of products and services via your link. Some affiliates will build entire sites dedicated to affiliate marketing (which we highlight below). Others will simply promote a single product via email, or even share a unique link across social media. As an affiliate, you’ll have plenty of options for earning an income around the products and services you recommend.  3. The Customer You won’t earn an income as an affiliate without customers. To earn  affiliate commissions you need people to click through your link and buy a product from the business you’re promoting. With most links there will be tracking cookies in place, so the merchant will be able to see that the sale originated from your link. For some affiliate networks, this cookie will last between 24 to 72 hours. So if a customer clicks your link and then ends up making a purchase the next day, you’ll still get credited with the sale.  Some companies like Amazon will even give you a commission for any item that a customer orders, even if it isn’t the same item as the original link. For example, let’s say you’re promoting a fancy Vitamix blender. A customer clicks the link but ends up buying a new television. You’ll still get a commission, even though they didn’t buy the original item. For some networks, your customer will have to buy the exact product or service you’re selling, but for others, the requirements are much looser.  4. The Merchant Network The merchant network is usually integrated with the company running the affiliate program, or it can be managed by a third-party vendor.  Essentially, this network is how clicks are tracked and payments are taken care of. Nowadays this is usually done through software. At HostGator, we use ImpactRadius to manage our affiliate program. You get a unique tracking link. That link is connected to your affiliate dashboard which will show you the number of clicks, sales, and your conversion rate.  The payments will also be processed by the merchant network. Your commission and frequency of payments depend upon what you’re selling and the affiliate network you’re using.  What to Know Before You Join an Affiliate Program There are a myriad of different affiliate programs out there. You could probably find an affiliate program for virtually every niche on earth. But, not all of them are of high quality. Some of them are basically scams. This isn’t said to scare you, but instead to highlight the need in finding a quality and reputable affiliate program.  Most big companies will offer their own affiliate programs. Usually, you can find this via a link or page on their site. For example, here at HostGator, you can sign up for our web hosting affiliate program. Then, whenever you recommend HostGator web hosting to a friend you’ll earn commissions.  There are also other big affiliate networks that have a multitude of different products and services you can promote.  Keep in mind that the quality of the company’s website whose products you’re promoting will have an influence on how much you’re able to make as an affiliate. Send your customers to a low-quality website and it’ll decrease the chances that they’ll buy. This is another reason why you want to only sign up for affiliate programs with reputable companies.  Affiliate Program Payment Breakdown The affiliate program you sign up for will dictate the payment options and level of commission you’ll receive.  Often the price of the product will influence how much you make per sale. Generally, you’ll get paid more when a customer purchases a higher ticket item, or if it’s a subscription service since that kind of customer is very valuable to a company. There are typically two types of ways an affiliate commission can be recorded. The first is pay-per-click . This is where you’ll get paid the moment a person clicks a link that takes them to the merchant’s site. This type of payment is usually much lower, but it can pay well if you can send a high volume of clicks. The second is pay-per-action . This is where you’ll get paid when a customer completes a desired action. This can either be buying a product, signing up for a service, or even something like completing a customer interest form or placing a phone call.  Payments for affiliate programs can be a little slow as all sales and commissions have to be verified. But, it can still be a nice additional income. As you’ll learn below extremely profitable sites can be built on the back of affiliate marketing.  What Do Affiliate Sites Look Like? Affiliate sites come in all shapes and sizes. Find any niche of products selling online or off, and you can bet that there’s an affiliate site dedicated to that style of product.  You don’t have to build an entire site around the affiliate products you’re promoting. Some website owners will have dedicated blog posts that promote certain products, affiliate links placed throughout their website, or resource pages contain affiliate links to all the tools, products, and services they can’t live without. Some people will simply use affiliate links throughout their emails to subscribers. This is a very common way to promote different products, courses, and services. Chances are you’ve gotten a few emails today that are recommending or selling certain affiliate products.  Overall, it’s up to you to produce creative content as an affiliate marketer. Here are a few examples of different ways affiliate marketing can be done:  1. This Is Why I’m Broke This is Why I’m Broke is a very interesting example. Essentially, the site shows interesting and intriguing products from Amazon. If someone clicks on the link and buys something from Amazon, then the site gets a commission.  2. Smart Passive Income Smart Passive Income makes great use of a ‘Resource’ page to highlight affiliate products and services. If you’re a fan of their website, then chances are you’ll find value in the products and services they recommend.  3. The Best VPN The Best VPN is an entire site that’s built upon reviews. They review different VPNs and privacy tools and feature those that will provide the most value to their visitors. Affiliate review sites are incredibly common and can be very successful. 4. The WireCutter The WireCutter is another technology and product review site that focuses mostly on physical products. They review different products across a variety of niches and recommend those that pass the bar to their visitors. You’ll notice links to different retailers across their site.  5. Brain Pickings Brain Pickings is an interesting example. The site is built upon sharing the wisdom from different writers, thinkers, and other visionaries. You’ll notice that there are links throughout the content which take you to Amazon to check out the book currently being discussed.  As you can see there are a ton of different ways to not only make money as an affiliate but even create an entirely new website. Hopefully, the sites above can act as inspiration and get you thinking about the direction you’ll take with your affiliate recommendations.  Is an Affiliate Program Right for You? Chances are you won’t need to join an affiliate program the moment you build your first website. You’ll probably want to have solid traffic coming in, or an existing channel where you can make money promoting products. If you’re ready to sign up for an affiliate program, then make sure you do your research. If there’s a product or tool you love, then chances are you can sign up for an affiliate program through the original retailer. If not, there are reputable and large-scale affiliate networks like Amazon Associates , or even ClickBank for digital products. If your goal is to build a site like one of those featured above, then make sure there are products or online services you can promote that are in alignment with the niche you’ve chosen.  Making money as an affiliate isn’t as simple as throwing up a couple of links and waiting for the money to start pouring in. It takes careful planning, finding high-quality affiliate programs, and recommending products and services that are in alignment with the needs of your audience.  In time, you’ll get a feel for the types of affiliate products that convert well and that your audience actually loves.  Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what affiliate programs are, how they work, and know if it’s time for you to sign up for an affiliate program.  Ready to get started? Join the HostGator affiliate program today, and build out your affiliate marketing toolkit . Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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SEO vs. PPC

The post SEO vs. PPC appeared first on HostGator Blog . After all the hard work you put into designing and launching your website, now you get to the even harder part: getting people to visit.  A website can be a powerful tool for driving more awareness of your business and convincing people to buy, but it can’t do any of that unless people find it. And in an overcrowded online marketplace, getting noticed by the people you want to reach is a serious challenge. Once you start looking into online marketing tactics to promote your website, you’ll notice two marketing options get a lot of attention: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) .  Often, new website owners with a limited budget try to figure out: “In the argument of SEO vs PPC, which should take dominance?” Before you can determine which tactic makes the most sense for your business, you need to understand what they are.  SEO and PPC are the two sides of search engine marketing (SEM). They have one main thing in common: they help you get found by people searching for what you do on the search engines, especially Google.  But they also have some notable differences. What is the Difference Between SEO and PPC? The difference between SEO and PPC is all about where on the search engine results page (SERP) you show up and how you get there.  What is PPC Marketing? With PPC, you buy spots on the SERP that show up at the top of page (if you pay enough), at the bottom, or to the side. PPC results often have the word “Ad” next to them, or show up in an image carousel with shopping details at the top of the page.   Brands get those spots by paying for them. Search engine ad platforms use a pay-per-click bidding model to sell ad results. The businesses willing to spend the most, get the best placements for the keywords they bid on, but they only pay when someone actually clicks on the ad, hence the name “pay per click.”  An SEO strategy operates differently. What is SEO Marketing? With SEO, you work to earn spots in the organic results—that’s the term for all the results on the page that haven’t been paid for. For many search terms, that means they show up below PPC results, but not always. Sometimes organic results can claim a rich snippet , like the answer box that shows up at the top of some SERPs. SEO results can’t be bought, they have to be earned. You claim organic spots by practicing a number of SEO tactics , including: Working to optimize your website for relevant keywords you want to target. Making sure your website provides a good user experience, especially when it comes to things like site speed and mobile friendliness.  Working to build authority for your website by earning backlinks from other sites.  Those are the basic differences between SEO and PPC to be aware of, but what does that mean for website owners? SEO vs PPC in 7 Categories Small business owners don’t have a lot of money to spend on an online marketing strategy, so what you really want to know about SEO vs PPC is how they shake out in comparison to each other in terms of things like cost and performance.  Here’s how the two SEM tactics compare in seven main categories.  1. Cost This is a tricky category for comparison. While it may seem like there’s an obvious answer, since PPC is paid advertising and SEO must be earned with work, you may assume PPC is more expensive. In reality, measuring SEO vs PPC in cost is complicated, as which costs more will really depend on how you approach each. To truly see results with SEO, most website owners will need to hire an SEO expert to help. A recent survey found that SEO consultants charge an average of around $500-$1,000 a month . While technically, you can spend nothing on SEO but time, more realistically, you should expect to spend around this amount.  One benefit of PPC is that costs are within your control. You can set a maximum daily spend within Google Ads , and the network will stop running your ads once you’ve gotten enough clicks to reach that amount. That means you can name your budget and never go over it. But if your budget is too low, you’ll run through your maximum spend too early in the day to get the results you want, and it will take longer to accumulate the data you need to build better campaigns.  According to one survey , small businesses that do PPC spend an average of $9,000-$10,000 a month. That doesn’t mean you’d have to spend that much, but it probably means that’s the amount others have found gets the best results. Winner: SEO, usually 2. Control SEO is all about doing your best to signal to Google the keywords you think you should rank for, and proving you’re authoritative enough to gain those rankings. While you can target specific keywords, you ultimately have very little control over what terms you’ll show up for, where you’ll show up in the rankings, and how your website will show up on the SERP.  For that last point, you can provide your own meta descriptions and use schema markup in the hopes that Google will display the information you’ve provided on the SERP. But it’s still up to the search engine how your website shows up—if it shows up at all.  With PPC, on the other hand, you have much more control. Paying for ads means you can decide: Which relevant keywords your ads show up for   Who sees your ads , in terms of categories like demographics, geography, and consumer behavior What your ads look like , since you decide on what the ads says, and can include elements that increase clicks like images, or ad extensions that provide useful information such as special deals and delivery information. Winner: PPC 3. Speed of results SEO is a long game. Expect to spend months, or even years, practicing SEO tactics before you start to see results. And even then, your first results won’t be for high-competition keywords.  For example, a small business that sells hot sauce will see results for long-tail keywords—the SEO term for keywords that are less competitive—like “hot sauce shop san antonio” or “ghost pepper hot sauce” long before it has the chance to claim a broad term like “hot sauce.” That doesn’t mean SEO isn’t worth doing. It absolutely is! There are plenty of benefits to SEO . It just requires patience.  With PPC, by contrast, you can start showing up on page one and getting new traffic the first day you launch a campaign. PPC is often a smart choice for businesses who are doing SEO, but want to start driving traffic faster while they’re waiting for SEO results to pay off. Winner: PPC 4. Amount of work Both SEO and PPC require ongoing work. With PPC, you need to complete keyword and audience research to figure out the best targeting for your campaigns. Then you need to set up your campaigns, monitor them to learn what’s working, and make updates to improve your results and make sure your budget goes further.  As with PPC, SEO should start with keyword and audience research, then you have a list of tactics to stay on top of: Optimize each page of the website for your chosen keyword by including it naturally in the title, headings, page copy and meta tags of the page. Consistently create high-quality content to keep your website fresh and target more of the keywords on your list. Undertake link building strategies to get other websites to link back to yours.  Maintain a SEO-friendly web design On the whole, doing SEO well usually requires more work than PPC. Winner: PPC 5. Trust As you’d expect, people generally trust the results that have earned top spots more than those that paid for them. 46% of people said they consider organic results more trustworthy than PPC ones, and 65% said they were more likely to click on an organic result for product-related searches. SEO is therefore a better way to earn the trust of people searching for the kind of products you sell. That said, a sizeable portion of the population— around 57% — don’t even register the difference between the paid and organic results on the SERP.  Google’s always changing how the SERP looks, so that number is subject to change, but there’s a certain type of consumer that won’t think any less of your PPC ad than if you earned that top organic spot. Winner: SEO 6. Click-through rate Recent data shows a clear winner in this category, but also shows that a lot depends on the type of device people are using. The click-through rate (CTR) for organic results on desktop computers is at over 65%, as compared to a little under 4% for PPC ads. On mobile devices, organic results get around a 40% CTR, with mobile earning a little over 3% (many searches on mobile don’t result in a click at all).  Either way, organic results get more clicks, making SEO rankings more valuable for traffic once you get them.  Winner: SEO 7. Analytics Analytics give you the power to consistently learn from everything you try, improve your campaigns based on that knowledge, and get better results over time. With both SEO and PPC, you can tap into valuable analytics.  Google Analytics , which is entirely free, provides a lot of data on how much of your traffic comes from organic search, where you rank for target keywords, and which pages people are finding through SEO.  And you can supplement all that free information with the additional data included in paid SEO tools that helps you clearly identify how your website compares to your competitors in rankings and what they’re doing differently to achieve the rankings they have, such as their backlink profile and the keywords they’re targeting. While SEO tools can provide a lot of useful information, ultimately there’s still a lot of guesswork behind why certain pages rank higher than others.  By contrast, the analytics provided in PPC campaigns can tell you exactly which ads perform well. And because you control every part of the ad, you can do A/B testing to gain insights into what your audience responds to—providing information you can apply not only to your future PPC ads, but also to every other part of your online marketing campaigns.  Winner: PPC SEO vs PPC Frequently Asked Questions Even with that extensive rundown, you may still have some questions. Here are answers to some of the common questions website owners have about the difference between SEO and PPC. Which Is Better: SEO or PPC? It depends on your priorities.  PPC drives faster results. You can start getting visibility and traffic on day one, but you have to continually pay for every person it sends to your website.  SEO is slower, but once you gain relevant rankings, the results last longer. A good ranking will continue driving traffic for as long as you stay near the top, and you can count on getting more traffic from a good SEO ranking than a PPC one. And while there’s a cost to the work involved in getting on page one, once there all the traffic it sends your way is free.  Does PPC Traffic Help SEO? Not directly, but some of the metrics SEO experts commonly believe to be ranking factors require getting more relevant traffic, which PPC sends your way.  For example, when people click on your ad and like what they see long enough to stick around, it results in a lower bounce rate and longer time spent on site—both metrics that signal to Google that people are happy with the page they land on.  You can’t buy SEO results with PPC ads, but getting traffic from relevant visitors is one of the first steps to doing a lot of things that do pay off in SEO. How do PPC and SEO Work Together? Good question! While the framing of this piece has pitted SEO and PPC against each other, for most businesses the goal should be SEO and PPC working together.  PPC helps you get the initial boost you need in visibility and traffic when your website’s new, or when it’s underperforming based on your goals. It’s a good strategy for short-term wins while you’re waiting for your SEO work to start coming through. SEO is the long-term strategy that delivers bigger and more reliable results once it starts working. But it’s hard when you’re starting from scratch, and PPC can bring some of the initial traffic and attention you need to get your SEO efforts off the ground.  For the Win: SEO and PPC Integration A good online marketing strategy combines the two tactics. If that sounds like a lot of work, well, it is. But you don’t have to learn both SEO and PPC from scratch to start getting more traffic for your website.  You’ll get better results, faster if you outsource the job to someone who already knows what they’re doing. HostGator offers both SEO and PPC services. Our team includes skilled professionals with years of experience in both types of SEM. If you’re ready for your website to start delivering bigger results, let us help . Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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FBG sensors: a comprehensive review

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Need low cost dedicated server Cogent

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