Sometimes affiliate marketing can get a bad rap, but it’s a completely legitimate business model and there are thousands of people who have made solid businesses out of selling other people’s products for a commission. And there is no reason you can’t use the affiliate marketing model to help improve your branded search engine results page (SERP).
This model will only work if you sell a branded product or service. For example, if you sell “Fitpro Exercise Balls” and that is also the name of your company, using an affiliate marketing program could work very well as a reputation management strategy.
Essentially, you’ll be allowing a number of other companies to build their own websites to sell your product at a commission. And, if you have enough, every time a potential customer searches for “Fitpro exercise balls” they’ll see a SERP filled with mentions of your product on a number of different websites. You get a natural-looking SERP and increased sales at the same time
Setting Up an Affiliate Program
On your current website, you’ll need to set up an affiliate portal where potential affiliate partners can learn more, apply, and obtain the materials they need to get started. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially, you have to assign each affiliate a promo code that they can use in their links to your site. That way when traffic comes from their site to yours, you’ll be able to tell where the traffic is coming from and can serve site visitors a specific phone number or assign an online order code that will detect who sent the traffic and who needs to get a commission from that sale.
Promote Your Affiliates
One of the great things about an affiliate program is that you get to set the terms of the affiliate partnership. You can set rules about the way that your company name is used, how they can talk about your product, and more. Specifically, you can control how they link to you, so you can make sure that the majority of their links are branded, both to help you rank well in the SERPs and to help them rank well too.
They Work for You
In most reputation management campaigns, you have to do all the work of building blogs, creating microsites, building links to 3rd party websites, and more. But when you’ve created an affiliate marketing program, all your affiliates work to earn money from you—and they only get paid when they make a sale. Essentially, they’ll do all the linkbuilding and content creation to their own site to help it rank well for “Fitpro exercise balls” and all you have to do is sit back and watch your SERP turn completely branded.
One of the best aspects of this model is that you don’t have to worry about your SERP looking artificially manipulated—because it isn’t. You have a number of independent websites that are all working independently from you and each other to rank well for your branded term. That way your branded SERP looks completely natural and is filled with a variety of information about you and your product.
An affiliate program will not work for everyone. But for those businesses that sell a branded product of their own, using affiliate marketing to fill a SERP with information about them might be a way to lighten the load on their own web marketing team and create an effective reputation management strategy at the same time.