Affiliate application denied on Commission Junction? Read this

Like many others online, we are currently exploring the options out there in terms of affiliate marketing. We’ve worked with Clickbank in the past, and have had mixed success. We also noticed that the companies that offered products we felt good promoting to our readers worked with Commission Junction (amongst others). So we joined up with CJ, dotted the I’s and crossed the Ts and did everything right and went on to choose a few products to promote. Only one problem – our application to join their program was refused.

They didn’t want us. Way to make a site owner feel small! Since it must have been a mistake, we went on to try again – same thing – automatic refusal of our application. After a bit of a Google search on the issue, we soon learned it wasn’t something that was only being experienced by us. After reading post after post about this happening to people – and what they did about it – we came across one suggestion that was simple, but seemed sensible.

We went ahead and emailed the affiliate managers of the companies whose products we wanted to promote. It was a simple matter of getting their contact details from the CJ profile site and emailing them with a rundown of our site, what we can do for them and why we want to promote their product – along with a confused statement about our application to promote their product being denied. Of the two emails we sent, we received one reply.

That reply turned into a short conversation. It turns out that unless you are a four or five bar publisher, a lot of advertisers will automatically decline your application. And of course if you are just starting out, you will not have any history to be judged by. After they reviewed our account, we received an email saying that they had made us an offer through CJ.

It turns out that an automatic rejection is not a definite and permanent one. If you find yourself in this position, take it as a challenge. Contact the affiliate account managers of the companies you are interested in. Tell them about you, and give them a reason to invite you to join their program. It worked for us – and there is no reason why it cannot work for you too.

What effect does a dedicated IP have on rankings?

I was thinking about my previous post about what effect changing themes has on search engine rankings and had another thought. Around the same time I changed to Thesis and experienced that surge in rankings I also upgraded my  hosting plan a little. I went ahead and opted in to use a dedicated IP – why? Well, for a few reasons.

A dedicated IP means that your sites only use one IP address and noone else uses that same address. This IP address is what computers (and search algorithms) look at to determine where your site lives. One theory floating around is that Google and other search engines give more credence to sites that are not on an IP which is crowded with hundreds or thousands of other sites. If you are on a regular hosting plan, then that’s the category you fit into.

Remember the point about not linking or having links from bad neighbourhoods? Well what that really means is bad IP addresses – and having your site living in a bad neighbourhood is almost as bad – if not worse. You see if Google or someone else marks a site as spamming or hosting illegal or even undesirable material, they will blacklist it. When they do that, they don’t generally blacklist the domain name, they blacklist the IP address. So if your sites are on that same IP address – guess what, you are blacklisted too. So now that my sites are not affected at all by other people’s dodgy activities, because my sites are squeaky clean, I feel a whole lot better.

Not only do I feel better, but my sites have a better reputation – residing only on one IP address. My theory (which is backed up by experience) is that as a result, my sites also rank better for their keywords in the SERPs.

This has certainly been borne out by very recent experience – and I have no doubt that the same results will be found by other people who do the same thing. The bottom line is that if you have a site that has a free theme (which can be good, but require a bunch of plugins to get great functionality) and shared IP hosting – look at where you want to be going with your online business. If you are serious about this – then make an investment in it and see the results for yourself.

We did – and the results are fantastic. Investing a little in a premium theme (Thesis) and dedicated IP address saw us shoot up and hit number one for one of our keywords. If you have any questions or comments – or want to share your experience, please do – we’d be interested to hear if you have had the same experience.

Does Changing Your Theme Affect Your Rankings: my experience

So I’ve been using free themes for most of our sites up until recently. With the new year rolling along we took a close look at our websites and decided that it was time to let one go that we had been working on, and focus our work on another that we hadn’t put too much work into. What I mean is that we hadn’t done anything special with it, it had a few posts (about 20 or so) but really seemed to be taking off.

Naturally, let me qualify what I mean by ‘taking off’ I don’t mean that it had hundreds of daily unique visitors or anything – it was simply ranking pretty well for a comparatively competitive keyword – one that was worth a fair bit in terms of CPC values.

The background to the change

So along with the new year we decided that we would put a bunch of work into this site: while Adsense is a good earner for us on this site, we felt that it could do better. The first step to this new focus was a more professional look for the site. The free theme we had happening was a good one, but didn’t offer the flexibility and look that we wanted. So we went ahead and installed Thesis on the site.

Not without our reservations though. We had just hit the top five for our main keyword and were concerned that a change in theme and other planned changes on the site would have a negative impact on our rankings in search results. We had read a bunch on this and the advice was mixed – but we went ahead and did it anyway, and am I ever glad that we did.

The outcome

We are now in the first and second position in search results for our main keyword and our traffic has increased since we changed themes. I put this down to the the great SEO capacity that Thesis has – so much so that I used the inbuilt SEO options and deleted our SEO plugin. The effects speak for themselves.

So if you are looking to change your theme but are concerned about the impact on search results, don’t worry so much. Stick with a good quality premium theme and you will be just fine – actually you will probably be even better off if our own experience is anything to go by.

When Do You Know If A Site Will Succeed Or Fail?

Coming up to the holiday season it’s often a good time to sit back and reflect on the year as it comes to a close and what successes and failures there have been – and more importantly what can be learned from those events. The online business model we are following with our family business is strong – generally speaking. I say generally speaking because there will always be setbacks in any business venture.

The sad thing about people who are working and trying to establish a living online is that they are too quick to quit – they just give up when there is a little setback. Even big setbacks are often just part and parcel of being in business – and the internet business is no different. So, we’ve had our fair share of setbacks – but we wonder, when is it time to let go of sites and divert our resources and attention elsewhere?

If you are anything like us you will have started with a good many sites, and whittled them down as you find what sites work and what don’t – and then continue the process. The trouble is that as time goes on we become more and more emotionally invested with our sites – where we are often willing them to get traffic and be successes. It doesn’t always work out that way.

Let It Go © by dreamsjung

We have been working on one particular site for a good while now – with very little result in both traffic and money earned – both are factors that indicate success to us. As we are at the stage where we are about to invest quite a bit into our business, we took a very careful look at our sites to determine where we should put our money – where it would be best used. As a result we have decided that the site we have worked most on should go on the back-burner, and we should divert our attention to another site, which has surprised us. in terms of earnings and traffic.

The question that stumped us was “When do you know if a site will succeed or fail?” At the end of the day, we have decided that no site should ever be given up on – ever. All sites have the capacity to come back after all – it’s usually just a matter of time. This has been borne out by our own experience too.

What you have to decide on is when you have had enough of bashing your head against a brick wall with a site that has not shown any progress, it may be time to let it sit for a while. Turn your attentions to a site in your stable that has shown progress recently in the meantime – and put your much loved site on a break. It’s hard to do so emotionally, but then this is a business that you have, not a relationship – and it is important to treat it as such.

What about you – what are your criteria for a site’s success? Do you think that all sites come back – and that it is just a matter of time?

Trackback Spam: When A Backlink Is Not A Backlink

For ages, people who run websites have been aware that links equal standing in the eyes of internet users and search engines alike. But when is a backlink not a backlink? When it’s spam.

We run a few websites, and all of them run on the WordPress framework. While we love the framework, we recently noticed a fair bit of activity in the trackback department. One of the features of WordPress is that the site administrator is notified when links are noticed from other sites to yours. These are called trackbacks – which we always take to indicate tracks that can be traced from one site to another.

What to look for

Since we are curious types, we generally like to see who is linking to us, and what sort of site they have. What we started to notice is that a lot of these links were incredibly similar. The text surrounding the link was generally something like:

[…]we like to honor other sites on the web, even if they aren’t related to us, by linking to them. Below are some sites worth checking out[…]…

While that sounds wonderful, and very flattering – a closer look at such a site will reveal a very different scenario. Odds are, you will go to the site reported to be linking to yours, and be a little confused. At first glance, you will not be able to see the link to your site. Look again, and you will see (perhaps accidentally) a small button obscurely labelled ‘mouseover for links’ or something similar.

If you do hover your cursor over the button, a list of links will be revealed, which is the source of your mysterious link. The link is not viewable by normal visitors or search engines – and therefore may as well not exist.

Why backlinks are not really all that relevant to high rankings these days

trackback spam

Backlinks © by ivanpw

Having a link like this is no benefit for you, because of the above reasons. I can’t think of any reason why people would do this except for maybe including the link hoping that the webmaster whose site is linked to will approve the trackback and therefore include a link back to their site. Not that Google or other search engines place much weight on such links anyway – it’s all about creating quality content for readers.

The days where high rankings in search results went to those with the most links are over – and the sooner people realise this the better. But I am not here to preach to you – do what you like, but the best online business for you in terms of profitability is also the best website for readers. As we have said before, the secret lies in creating quality, relevant and usable content for readers. To do that, you will need three things:

  • An idea about keywords and access to data (thank you Keyword Strategy)
  • A willingness to write good articles around those keywords, and addressing those questions that people ask related to the keywords (thank you Bluehost)
  • A determination to succeed – and keep going!

It really is that simple.