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Outreach for Affiliate Marketing vs. SEO: What You Need to Know

Feb 20, 2020

A guest post from Virginia Rizzi, Head of Affiliate Marketing, at Glass Digital. From time to time, our partners and clients submit posts to our site for publication. We are pleased to publish a range of these opinions, which reflect the POVs of the author(s).

In this post, Virginia shares why both SEO and affiliate marketing strategies require an element of outreach, and how your approach should differ depending on the opportunity.

Outreach for SEO and affiliate marketing is similar in a lot of ways, as the main goal of both techniques is to secure a specific link on a site or platform. However, these techniques will differ in terms of what you’re offering the person you’re contacting.

For SEO, you’ll typically be providing a piece of content, a comment, or possibly even a product in the hopes of securing a natural-looking link that will pass authority to your site. This should then help you to rank higher on Google’s SERPs. With affiliate marketing, you’ll be looking to provide a particularly influential individual or platform with a link that people can pay for your goods or services through. They will then receive a commission each time someone uses that particular link to make a purchase.

With this in mind, I’m going to take you through the similarities and differences between outreach for link-building and affiliate marketing purposes. Read on to learn how your approach should change depending on the opportunity, and what you need to think about whenever you contact someone you’re looking to work with.

Make it clear what you’re offering from the get-go

Whether you’re looking to work with an online magazine, a blogger, or an Instagram influencer, you need to remember that it’s likely they’re very busy, so they won’t want to go back and forth over email before actually finding out what you’re offering. So, it isn’t enough to just mention you would like to “work with” them in your very first message — tell them exactly what you’re looking for, and what you’re offering in return, from the get-go.

Of course, the details will differ whether you’re working on an affiliate or SEO basis. With affiliate marketing, you’ll be offering a small cut of the profits made from each sale your partner influences and might even be looking to send out a product for a review or feature. Because the returns on this type of deal are tangible, it’s often easier to convince a person or platform to work with you on this basis.

You might find you need to work a bit harder to convince someone to work with you on a link-building basis. Google’s quality guidelines forbid you from exchanging money for links, so doing so could have a negative impact on your rankings — the complete opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. As a result, you need to find another way to offer value to the person you’re contacting. Perhaps you could offer a piece of content that their audience is likely to love, or a comment that is going to add an extra dimension to an article they’re already writing.

Carefully consider which technique is going to work best

Each time you find an individual or publication you would love to work with, it’s important that you carefully consider whether outreach to them on an SEO or affiliate basis is going to be the most effective. It’s also worth considering what your primary goals are at this particular time.

For example, if you know that a publication has monetized its content in the past, you might contact them with an affiliate marketing opportunity, rather than to build a natural-looking link. Bloggers will often also use paid links, which aren’t suitable for SEO purposes. If there’s a social media personality you’re looking to work with, you might look to do this on an affiliate basis because, as of now, links on social media don’t affect Google rankings.

In terms of what your goals are, consider whether you’re looking for long-term gains, or if there are specific products you’re looking to make some quick sales on. SEO in general is a long-term commitment and securing one link isn’t likely to influence your rankings much, but creating a healthy and varied backlink profile over time will. So, it is worth spending time building links from other relevant sites.

That said, if there are seasonal items you need to sell, or you’re running a short-term promotion you want to draw more attention to, or you’re simply looking for a quicker win, an affiliate marketing campaign is more likely to help you achieve the results you’re looking for. We always recommend having an element of both in your digital marketing strategy.

Remember what to focus on when choosing opportunities

When you’re looking for new publications and individuals to work with, you should consider a number of different factors, depending on whether you want to work with them for SEO or affiliate marketing purposes.

When you’re link-building in an effort to boost your Google rankings, you should look at the domain authority (DA) of a site — this is marked out of 100 — and ensure that it makes sense for your business to be working with them. For example, a publication that regularly posts articles about your industry, or a company website from a complementary industry, will always work quite well. You’ll also want to try and get links to your website featured on high DA sites — this is marked out of 100. But a natural backlink profile will also include mentions from newer and lesser known sites that might have a lower domain authority, so don’t be afraid to branch out a bit, too.

For sites or social media profiles that you’re looking to place an affiliate link on, the number one thing you need to be looking at is an individual or publication’s reach and engagement. For example, if an Instagram influencer has thousands of followers, but the level of engagement is low (below 3%), it could mean the followers are fake, or simple aren’t engaged with the influencer’s activity. This could mean a campaign with them might not deliver the results you’d like. So, it can be worth asking someone you’re interested in working with how successful affiliate campaigns they’ve worked on with any similar brands have been.

It’s also crucial that you choose influencers or ambassadors that represent your brand values, as people will be able to tell whether they’re genuinely invested in your company and its products. This is why it can often pay to work with micro- or nano-influencers who have a niche audience and possibly even a higher level of engagement than those with bigger followings.

While outreach for affiliate marketing and SEO purposes can be similar in a lot of ways, there are also some key areas where it differs. By always letting your contact know what you’re looking for from the get-go, carefully considering which technique is going to be the most fruitful for each opportunity, and knowing what to focus on when choosing who to work with, you should find it much easier to achieve your objectives.

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