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How to Create an Affiliate Marketing Website That Converts

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How to Create an Affiliate Marketing Website That Converts

Would you love to replace your regular “9 to 5” and eventually generate passive income even when you sleep? A successful affiliate marketing website can do just that, and even beginners can earn additional income from the comfort of their own homes.

The concept of affiliate marketing involves advertising and promoting other people’s products or services and receiving a commission for each sale. The key is to build a website that can be an authoritative, trusted source and provide helpful content for your audience. 

Anyone can build an affiliate marketing website earning at least four figures a month, but it’s not as easy as just throwing up any old site. To succeed, you must build a solid foundation to get off on the right foot.

As someone who has built, managed, bought, and sold affiliate sites over the years, I am going to tell you how to create an affiliate marketing website that actually converts and starts earning you income within a matter of months.

What is affiliate marketing? 

Like a referral service, affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services from another person or company. You can earn money by joining affiliate programs and plugging products on your website, blog, or social platforms suitable for your target audience. 

Affiliate marketing is used by e-commerce sites, brands, and private companies in various industries to grow their customer base, traffic, and revenue. From designer handbags to psychic readings, there is an opportunity to promote almost anything. 

According to eMarketer, 31% of U.S. brands said that affiliate marketing was the top revenue source in 2021. This should come as no surprise since affiliate marketing is a $12 billion industry.

Whether with a private affiliate program or through an affiliate network like Amazon Associates, once approved, you will be provided individualized links to website placements. You earn a commission when a user clicks a link and purchases an item.

Flowchart showing how affiliate marketing works

Who can be an affiliate?

The ability to become an affiliate marketer is open to everyone; however, you need specific skills, knowledge, and experience to succeed. 

You’ll need to figure out the best niche for your site and what products to promote to get started. Then you’ll need an SEO-optimized, accessible website that offers high-quality content to your audience to be considered as an affiliate partner. 

But it’s important to remember this is also a business. You’ll need a solid business plan and business management skills to successfully scale your site long-term. 

Why is affiliate marketing a lucrative business model?

Running an affiliate marketing website is an increasingly popular way to make money online. It is a desirable business strategy, as it can generate large returns with a small initial investment. 

So why do so many people want to get into affiliate marketing? Let’s look at some of the top reasons. 

Low acquisition cost

Affiliate marketing is a lucrative business concept for people looking to start a side business or earn an extra income due to its low initial cost. 

If you have the skills and knowledge to create an affiliate marketing website yourself and write the initial content it needs to get off the ground, it will cost nothing more than your time and initial setup fees for hosting and a domain. 

Even if you choose to buy an established site to speed up success, the likelihood is your ROI will quickly exceed the cost of acquiring the site. 

No shipping or inventory required

Unlike e-commerce models, you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping as an affiliate marketer. Because the sponsoring retailer or business handles these tasks. As a result, you can focus solely on promoting the goods and services of your affiliate partner.

You can earn income reasonably quickly

Although you may not earn six figures straight off the mark (which is definitely achievable over time), you can earn a decent income or at least enough to cover the costs of running your site within a matter of months. 

In January 2023, I started an affiliate website on an aged domain that is now (just) generating four figures in affiliate commissions per month. Although the site is only just getting off the ground, commissions are steadily increasing (along with traffic). 

Clicks and impressions, via GSC

Granted, this site has a high-paying private affiliate at $80–$150 commission per sale (higher than most affiliate programs) in a specific but popular niche (low traffic with high conversion rates). But it shows it can be done. 

Just for comparison, I also started another affiliate site around the same time in a different niche, which is solely monetized through Amazon Associates. This is also now earning affiliate commissions but at a significantly lower amount. Still, it’s earning.

Earnings of site monetized through Amazon Associates

Flipping niche sites is also a highly profitable business model that many friends in the SEO community have their hand in. The idea is (much like flipping a house) to either build a site from scratch and sell it or buy an existing site, do some work on it, and sell it for a profit. 

Affiliate sites sell now for anywhere between 30X to 40X their monthly income. That means if you can build a quality site that earns $1,000 a month within a few months, you can sell that site for anywhere between $32,000 and $40,000. 

You can sell your site (or pick up a new one) from a reputable website marketplace like Flippa, Investors Club, or Empire Flippers

These sites will assess your site and do full checks on the quality of your content and backlinks. This is to ensure you get an accurate estimate for your site and that a potential buyer doesn’t buy something that may be hit by a Google penalty.

Affiliate sites for sale
An example of some affiliate marketing sites for sale with Investors Club.

The bottom line is affiliate marketing allows you to make money without the hassle and expenses associated with traditional business models. 

How to create an affiliate marketing website in seven steps

Now that we’ve covered what affiliate marketing is and who can become an affiliate marketer, I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to find out how you can get started.

Let’s look at everything you need to do to create an affiliate website that has a solid foundation and is set up for success. 

1. Identify your niche

To start an affiliate marketing website, you must identify your niche and target audience. The following steps will help you choose a niche.

Consider your expertise and interests

More experienced affiliate marketers will usually choose a niche solely on commission rates and products available. But when creating your first affiliate site, you may want to choose something closer to home.

Choosing a niche that you are knowledgeable about makes it easier to create relevant content yourself and stay interested.

Let’s say you love fishing and are well versed in everything related to the topic. You are relatively knowledgeable about the different types of fishing rods, fishing gear, required permits, and licenses. Fishing becomes a great niche that you can focus on.

Fishing affiliate program

The key is choosing a niche you are interested in but not your life’s greatest passion. If you’re too invested, handing the ropes over to writers and editors down the line will be difficult. This is something you will need to do to scale your affiliate site. 

Do research to find popular niches

Now you’ve considered which niches you’re interested in, you need to consider other factors like if they are seasonal, are highly competitive, and offer the opportunity to scale in the long term. 

A niche that is too broad may drive lots of traffic but will often have much lower conversions. Likewise, for a niche that is too specific, it will be hard to scale up over a number of years, as there simply may not be enough topics to cover. 

Niche traffic and conversions

Perform a competitor analysis

Once you have identified a possible niche, you need to understand what sites are already out there and whether you can compete with them. That is where competitor analysis comes in. 

By conducting competitor analysis, you can:

  • Learn what works and what doesn’t in the chosen niche.
  • Find niche competitors’ weaknesses and capitalize on them.
  • Find competitors’ strengths and replicate them.
  • Understand what SEO tasks to prioritize going forward.
  • Understand how difficult outperforming competitors on the SERPs (search engine results pages) is likely to be.

This can give you a solid plan (as well as some inspiration) to get you started. 

Consider niche profitability

Choosing a niche with a high profit potential is essential. Remember, it costs you the same to produce content for your site, regardless of the prices of the products you are promoting. 

If you’re paying writers and editors to produce your content, you’re going to want to promote products where the commissions can at least cover the cost of production for that article. If your chosen niche only offers products under $10, it’s time to return to the drawing board.

The ideal scenario is to have a niche with multiple affiliate programs on offer, some of which should offer either a high commission percentage with high-ticket items (e.g., 10% commissions with items over $200) or a high set fee per commission (e.g., $100 per sale). 

If you are a newbie, you may have to use a beginner affiliate program with lower commissions to start. But knowing you have the option to move to a bigger and better program as your site grows is important. 

2. Choose the right affiliate programs

Once you’re set on a niche and know it has high profit potential, it is time to narrow down the affiliate programs you can partner with. You can look into both private affiliate programs and affiliate networks that are open to beginners. 

You can find affiliate marketing programs suited to your specialty and market by searching online. Consider factors such as commission rates, payment schedules, and the program’s reputation. 

Scouting affiliate networks is one of my favorite ways to find great affiliate programs. Affiliate networks like Commission Junction and ShareASale are a great place to start. Affiliate programs can be found in different categories in these networks.

ShareASale merchant search

When you search for a category, it will bring up several merchants with their key information, like commission per sale. Often, you can simply click a button and fill in a quick form to apply. 

ShareASale merchant example

Using Google is one of the easiest ways to find independent affiliate programs.  

Most online businesses offer some form of an affiliate program. Use site:domain.com + affiliate or (product name) + affiliate program to find programs.

Google search for shoe affiliate programs

Simply click the link to head to the affiliate page for full information and how to apply.

Shoezone affiliate page

Affiliate programs can also be found by reading product reviews on a competitor’s site. To find such sites, you can search for what a user is looking for. 

Product search example
Product review with affiliate link

If you are just starting an affiliate marketing website, being able to promote products through a private affiliate may not be an option. Many programs want to know if you will drive traffic their way before approving you as a partner. 

Because of this, you may need to (at least initially) join a beginner affiliate program so that once you’ve built up traffic, sales, and commissions, you can show those metrics to a private affiliate as part of your application.

Many affiliate programs suitable for newbies often have lower commission rates but are much more likely to accept you as a partner. Some top choices include:

  • Amazon Associates Program – The Amazon Affiliate Program is one of the earliest affiliate programs and is considered one of the best for beginners. Earn 1% to 20% referral fees when affiliates share links that lead to sales. 
  • Rakuten – The Rakuten network includes affiliate programs for popular retailers such as Macy’s, Lego, and Wayfair. Products that are eligible for compensation through the Rakuten Affiliate Program are determined by each company and its Affiliate Program regulations. 
  • Impact – The Impact affiliate marketing platform connects customers with major brands such as Adidas, Uber, HSBC, and Airbnb. The company’s automation tools are known for streamlining campaigns and increasing sales.
Amazon Associates commission rates
Amazon Associates affiliate commissions by category. 

3. Build your affiliate marketing website

An affiliate marketing website requires a content management system (CMS), hosting provider, domain name selection, and plugin installation. If you would like to create a website for affiliate marketing, you should follow these steps:

Domain name selection

What’s in a name? I’m sure Mr. Shakespeare wasn’t talking about affiliate marketing websites, but it is quite an important decision. 

Determining the best route for domain name selection will depend on a couple of factors:

  • Do you want to build a site from scratch or start with a leg up?
  • If you are building a site, are you hoping to flip it later or build a brand over several years?

First, you must choose whether to use a fresh domain, a dropped domain, or an aged domain. 

You’re also going to have to consider whether you want an exact match domain (one that has the keywords in the name like fishingrodreviews.com), a partial match domain (something like fishingfriends.com), or a branded domain (something relevant like anglingdreamer.com).

Personally, I recommend using a branded domain because not only is there no evidence of keyword-based domains offering any kind of SEO bonus, but it will also help you with brand building as your business grows. 

With a fresh domain (one you pick up from GoDaddy that has never been used before), you have the freedom to create whatever you want. If you’re planning to create a site that you will make your long-term business, this could be the best option.

A fresh domain may mean you start from scratch. But if you have dreams of being the next big name in your niche (like Healthline or Gear Lab), creating the perfect brand from the get-go will be important. 

It might not be such a big deal, however, if you are just building a site to flip later.

With aged and dropped domains, you pick up a domain that was previously used and had a site on it. The benefits to this are that they often already have backlinks and some authority behind them, which could help you skip the elusive “Google sandbox.”

However, both of these types of domains come with their risks. If you are thinking of building a site on an aged or dropped domain, you’ll need to do full due diligence. Also, it is recommended to use a reputable marketplace like ODYS.

ODYS marketplace

Choosing a host

There are plenty of reputable hosting companies to choose from. The ideal option is to choose a host that is super fast and offers everything that you need, such as automated backups and a CDN. However, some of these hosts may not be the most budget-friendly for those just starting out. 

You may want to start with a beginner option like SiteGround, which is a good option for sites that don’t have a lot of traffic, and then upgrade once your site gets off the ground. 

Set up a content management system

Deciding which content management system to use when building any website is crucial. There are many options out there, like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. But when it comes to affiliate marketing websites, WordPress is the best option.

Approximately 43% of websites on the internet use WordPress, making it the most popular CMS. As one of the most versatile CMSes, it offers functionality, customization, and versatility, making it ideal for affiliate websites.

Themes and plugins need to be installed

When working with WordPress, you will also need to choose a theme to get started. Choosing a theme that offers a professional and visually impressive user experience is important to gain trust with new users.

There are plenty of free options, but I personally prefer the AffiliateFish theme since it basically provides you with an affiliate site in a box. It is a paid theme, but it has everything you need, e.g., custom product boxes, comparison tables, etc. 

AffiliateFish theme

As far as plugins are concerned, you’ll want to limit how many you use, as they can slow down your site. Cache plugins, SEO plugins, and backup plugins are essential plugins. These plugins can improve your website’s functionality, safety, and search engine ranking. 

However, there are some non-essential plugins that can help you when getting started with an affiliate site. 

My top choices include the Ahrefs plugin to audit content and optimize for organic traffic, Link Whisper to automate internal links, and affiliate link cloaking plugins like Pretty Links or ThirstyAffiliates.

4. Design your website

For affiliate marketing, high-quality website design is vital for the following reasons:

  • Branding Designing your website can establish your brand identity and differentiate you from your competition.
  • User engagement Engagement and user experience can be affected by the design of your website. A clean and organized layout can make user navigation easier.
  • Trust and credibility – A well-designed website is the first step in building trust and credibility with your audience. A visually appealing and professional website can enhance your audience’s perception of your recommendations and create a positive first impression.
  • Conversion rates – Your affiliate marketing strategy’s conversion rates can be affected by the design of your website. Users who click on your affiliate links will be more likely to purchase if you have a clear call to action (CTA) and a user-friendly checkout process.

5. Create content that generates traffic and converts visitors into customers

Creating content is the bread and butter of any affiliate marketing site. It’s what gets your audience enthusiastic about the products you recommend enough that they click through to your partner site and earn you those all-important affiliate commissions.

Researching keywords is the first essential step in creating killer content. The three main types of keywords you need for any affiliate site are:

  • General comparisons – Best dog bowl, best tarot cards, etc.
  • Branded comparisons – Nike Air Max vs. Adidas Stan Smith.
  • Product reviews – Samsung Tab A7 Lite review.

Of course, it’s important to do keyword research for any site. But with affiliate sites, by focusing on keywords with the right search intent, you can drive higher volumes of better-qualified traffic to your site that has a higher conversion rate.

What I mean by this is someone searching for a “Samsung Tab A7 Lite review” or “Samsung Tab A7 Lite vs. S6 Lite” clearly already has their eye on the product. They are simply looking for a deeper understanding of the product features and pros and cons before purchasing.

These types of content have much higher conversion rates because the reader has already decided they are looking to buy something. 

You can find these types of keywords pretty easily using Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer. Simply enter a list of brands or specific products, go to the Matching terms report, and select “Phrase match.” For branded comparisons, you can use the “Include” filter and enter “vs.”

Branded comparison keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

For product review keywords, simply change the “Include” filter to “review.”

Product review keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Then, with keywords at the ready, you can start producing highly engaging, evergreen content that your audience wants to read and share. 

No matter what niche or what products you’re promoting, there’s one thing every piece of content should have in common: greatness!

Each article should be of top quality, i.e., well written, fun, and engaging. All of your content should be helpful and go the extra mile (where you can!). It should do more than regurgitate Amazon reviews. 

This will encourage readers to buy recommended products and build a loyal audience who keeps returning to your site and sharing your content with others. 

One of my favorite examples of a quality affiliate site is MyGolfSpy. This article on the “Best Blade Putters” is a great example of high-quality commercial content for a couple of reasons. 

First, it starts the article by answering the question in the title and meeting search intent by listing its top putter choices broken down into categories.

Tl;dr product roundup

Starting an article with a tl;dr (too long, didn’t read), quick product roundup, or “jump to review/recipe/etc.” section allows readers to get the answers they want quickly (meeting search intent) and encourages quick conversions.

Next, the article runs side-by-side comparisons of the top five putter choices for each category (best overall, best from 5 feet, best from 10 feet, etc.) and reviews the different putters’ features. 

Side-by-side product comparison

It also covers an in-depth guide on what you should be looking for in terms of weight, feel, length, and so on. There are also some FAQs and information on how individual putters were tested, showing that reviews are based on actual use and not just paraphrased Amazon reviews.

One of MyGolfSpy’s clever techniques is to use product placements as subtle CTAs. Instead of an overbearing and bold “buy now” or “get it here,” it lists an individual product with its key benefit, which encourages you to click on the one most relevant to you.

Subtle CTA

Including these techniques in your own content is a great way to ensure it is helpful, informative, and offers plenty of opportunities for conversions. 

If you’re not sure where to start when putting together the different types of content you need for an affiliate site, this blog post template video from our affiliate marketing course with Sam Oh is a great place to start:

6. Drive traffic to your site

Once you have a beautifully designed site with high-quality content, it’s time to start driving visitors to your website. Although creating epic content is a great place to start, it’s not enough. 

Using both paid and organic marketing to drive traffic will give you the best chances of success when creating an affiliate marketing website. These include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) Ensure your SEO is up to scratch! Alongside creating content, ensuring your technical and on-page SEO are on point and building backlinks will help you rank higher on the SERPs and drive organic traffic to your site.
  • Social media – Developing a high-quality, entertaining social media plan that promotes your content across multiple channels can widen your audience and get more people to like and share your content.
  • Grow your email list Email is one marketing channel you can have full control over. Growing your email list by offering content upgrades (like a free ebook) allows you to reach out at any time to promote special events (like Black Friday) and diversify your offerings.

7. Rinse, repeat, and scale

Once you’re doing all the right things and driving traffic to your website, the only thing left is to keep going—but go bigger!

Double down on producing quality content, keep your technical and on-page SEO up to scratch, build more links, and keep promoting what you’re doing via social media. The more you do this, the more traffic you will drive to your site, and the more commissions you will earn.

Once you start scaling up your operation, you may want to start building a team to help you. That may be just someone to upload your content, an additional writer, or a social media assistant to start with. Every extra pair of hands helps you grow your business faster. 

Final thoughts

Creating an affiliate marketing website is an incredibly lucrative business model. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a side hustle or a replacement for your full-time income, affiliate marketing is something everyone can get into.

Building an awesome website, producing top-notch content, and focusing on paid and organic traffic acquisitions are all key steps for building a successful affiliate site. To learn how to do it step by step, check out our free affiliate marketing course.

Just remember, success is subjective. Some may want to be the next household name in their niche, making seven figures a year. Others may just want to earn an extra $1,000 a month to pay off their student loans. The best part is that both are achievable. 

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.



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Google Search Leak: Conflicting Signals, Unanswered Questions

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Google Search Leak: Conflicting Signals, Unanswered Questions

An apparent leak of Google Search API documentation has sparked intense debate within the SEO community, with some claiming it proves Google’s dishonesty and others urging caution in interpreting the information.

As the industry grapples with the allegations, a balanced examination of Google’s statements and the perspectives of SEO experts is crucial to understanding the whole picture.

Leaked Documents Vs. Google’s Public Statements

Over the years, Google has consistently maintained that specific ranking signals, such as click data and user engagement metrics, aren’t used directly in its search algorithms.

In public statements and interviews, Google representatives have emphasized the importance of relevance, quality, and user experience while denying the use of specific metrics like click-through rates or bounce rates as ranking-related factors.

However, the leaked API documentation appears to contradict these statements.

It contains references to features like “goodClicks,” “badClicks,” “lastLongestClicks,” impressions, and unicorn clicks, tied to systems called Navboost and Glue, which Google VP Pandu Nayak confirmed in DOJ testimony are parts of Google’s ranking systems.

The documentation also alleges that Google calculates several metrics using Chrome browser data on individual pages and entire domains, suggesting the full clickstream of Chrome users is being leveraged to influence search rankings.

This contradicts past Google statements that Chrome data isn’t used for organic searches.

The Leak’s Origins & Authenticity

Erfan Azimi, CEO of digital marketing agency EA Eagle Digital, alleges he obtained the documents and shared them with Rand Fishkin and Mike King.

Azimi claims to have spoken with ex-Google Search employees who confirmed the authenticity of the information but declined to go on record due to the situation’s sensitivity.

While the leak’s origins remain somewhat ambiguous, several ex-Googlers who reviewed the documents have stated they appear legitimate.

Fishkin states:

“A critical next step in the process was verifying the authenticity of the API Content Warehouse documents. So, I reached out to some ex-Googler friends, shared the leaked docs, and asked for their thoughts.”

Three ex-Googlers responded, with one stating, “It has all the hallmarks of an internal Google API.”

However, without direct confirmation from Google, the authenticity of the leaked information is still debatable. Google has not yet publicly commented on the leak.

It’s important to note that, according to Fishkin’s article, none of the ex-Googlers confirmed that the leaked data was from Google Search. Only that it appears to have originated from within Google.

Industry Perspectives & Analysis

Many in the SEO community have long suspected that Google’s public statements don’t tell the whole story. The leaked API documentation has only fueled these suspicions.

Fishkin and King argue that if the information is accurate, it could have significant implications for SEO strategies and website search optimization.

Key takeaways from their analysis include:

  • Navboost and the use of clicks, CTR, long vs. Short clicks, and user data from Chrome appear to be among Google’s most powerful ranking signals.
  • Google employs safelists for sensitive topics like COVID-19, elections, and travel to control what sites appear.
  • Google uses Quality Rater feedback and ratings in its ranking systems, not just as a training set.
  • Click data influences how Google weights links for ranking purposes.
  • Classic ranking factors like PageRank and anchor text are losing influence compared to more user-centric signals.
  • Building a brand and generating search demand is more critical than ever for SEO success.

However, just because something is mentioned in API documentation doesn’t mean it’s being used to rank search results.

Other industry experts urge caution when interpreting the leaked documents.

They point out that Google may use the information for testing purposes or apply it only to specific search verticals rather than use it as active ranking signals.

There are also open questions about how much weight these signals carry compared to other ranking factors. The leak doesn’t provide the full context or algorithm details.

Unanswered Questions & Future Implications

As the SEO community continues to analyze the leaked documents, many questions still need to be answered.

Without official confirmation from Google, the authenticity and context of the information are still a matter of debate.

Key open questions include:

  • How much of this documented data is actively used to rank search results?
  • What is the relative weighting and importance of these signals compared to other ranking factors?
  • How have Google’s systems and use of this data evolved?
  • Will Google change its public messaging and be more transparent about using behavioral data?

As the debate surrounding the leak continues, it’s wise to approach the information with a balanced, objective mindset.

Unquestioningly accepting the leak as gospel truth or completely dismissing it are both shortsighted reactions. The reality likely lies somewhere in between.

Potential Implications For SEO Strategies and Website Optimization

It would be highly inadvisable to act on information shared from this supposed ‘leak’ without confirming whether it’s an actual Google search document.

Further, even if the content originates from search, the information is a year old and could have changed. Any insights derived from the leaked documentation should not be considered actionable now.

With that in mind, while the full implications remain unknown, here’s what we can glean from the leaked information.

1. Emphasis On User Engagement Metrics

If click data and user engagement metrics are direct ranking factors, as the leaked documents suggest, it could place greater emphasis on optimizing for these metrics.

This means crafting compelling titles and meta descriptions to increase click-through rates, ensuring fast page loads and intuitive navigation to reduce bounces, and strategically linking to keep users engaged on your site.

Driving traffic through other channels like social media and email can also help generate positive engagement signals.

However, it’s important to note that optimizing for user engagement shouldn’t come at the expense of creating reader-focused content. Gaming engagement metrics are unlikely to be a sustainable, long-term strategy.

Google has consistently emphasized the importance of quality and relevance in its public statements, and based on the leaked information, this will likely remain a key focus. Engagement optimization should support and enhance quality content, not replace it.

2. Potential Changes To Link-Building Strategies

The leaked documents contain information about how Google treats different types of links and their impact on search rankings.

This includes details about the use of anchor text, the classification of links into different quality tiers based on traffic to the linking page, and the potential for links to be ignored or demoted based on various spam factors.

If this information is accurate, it could influence how SEO professionals approach link building and the types of links they prioritize.

Links that drive real click-throughs may carry more weight than links on rarely visited pages.

The fundamentals of good link building still apply—create link-worthy content, build genuine relationships, and seek natural, editorially placed links that drive qualified referral traffic.

The leaked information doesn’t change this core approach but offers some additional nuance to be aware of.

3. Increased Focus On Brand Building and Driving Search Demand

The leaked documents suggest that Google uses brand-related signals and offline popularity as ranking factors. This could include metrics like brand mentions, searches for the brand name, and overall brand authority.

As a result, SEO strategies may emphasize building brand awareness and authority through both online and offline channels.

Tactics could include:

  • Securing brand mentions and links from authoritative media sources.
  • Investing in traditional PR, advertising, and sponsorships to increase brand awareness.
  • Encouraging branded searches through other marketing channels.
  • Optimizing for higher search volumes for your brand vs. unbranded keywords.
  • Building engaged social media communities around your brand.
  • Establishing thought leadership through original research, data, and industry contributions.

The idea is to make your brand synonymous with your niche and build an audience that seeks you out directly. The more people search for and engage with your brand, the stronger those brand signals may become in Google’s systems.

4. Adaptation To Vertical-Specific Ranking Factors

Some leaked information suggests that Google may use different ranking factors or algorithms for specific search verticals, such as news, local search, travel, or e-commerce.

If this is the case, SEO strategies may need to adapt to each vertical’s unique ranking signals and user intents.

For example, local search optimization may focus more heavily on factors like Google My Business listings, local reviews, and location-specific content.

Travel SEO could emphasize collecting reviews, optimizing images, and directly providing booking/pricing information on your site.

News SEO requires focusing on timely, newsworthy content and optimized article structure.

While the core principles of search optimization still apply, understanding your particular vertical’s nuances, based on the leaked information and real-world testing, can give you a competitive advantage.

The leaks suggest a vertical-specific approach to SEO could give you an advantage.

Conclusion

The Google API documentation leak has created a vigorous discussion about Google’s ranking systems.

As the SEO community continues to analyze and debate the leaked information, it’s important to remember a few key things:

  1. The information isn’t fully verified and lacks context. Drawing definitive conclusions at this stage is premature.
  2. Google’s ranking algorithms are complex and constantly evolving. Even if entirely accurate, this leak only represents a snapshot in time.
  3. The fundamentals of good SEO – creating high-quality, relevant, user-centric content and promoting it effectively – still apply regardless of the specific ranking factors at play.
  4. Real-world testing and results should always precede theorizing based on incomplete information.

What To Do Next

As an SEO professional, the best course of action is to stay informed about the leak.

Because details about the document remain unknown, it’s not a good idea to consider any takeaways actionable.

Most importantly, remember that chasing algorithms is a losing battle.

The only winning strategy in SEO is to make your website the best result for your message and audience. That’s Google’s endgame, and that’s where your focus should be, regardless of what any particular leaked document suggests.



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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

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Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


FAQ

What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.


Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

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Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.



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