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Affiliate Marketing Insights

Unleashing the Power of AI: The best AI tools on the market for SEO

All affiliates have heard that “Content is King” and when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) this remains true. Search Engines such as Google love sites that serve up fresh, regular content that keeps readers engaged. The problem for a lot of publishers, though, is the cost (either in time or money) to consistently generate this fresh, new content.

A potential game-changer has risen its head over the last year in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which can generate content in a matter of seconds, using information from around the web. When harnessed effectively, AI has the potential to become the secret weapon that allows publishers to produce the kind of content that can push an affiliate’s site up in the search rankings. The flip side is that this also has unleashed a tsunami of poorly crafted content which is seeping into the SERPS.

Is the concept of AI overblown though? Does it really work? In this article, we’ll explore a handful of AI tools that are specifically designed to offer improved search rankings and help publishers create content that’s authentic and engaging for their audiences.

DISCLAIMER: To be clear from the outset, we are not making recommendations to affiliates to outsource their entire content strategy to any particular AI tool. These tools are great at providing ideas for content and a framework to write in, but, regardless of the platform used, publishers should always check or edit content before posting it. Any inaccuracies will still reflect negatively on your brand and claiming that the incorrect information was provided by an AI tool is not an excuse for posting factually incorrect information.

Having said that, we do think it’s a good idea to investigate and keep abreast of what some of the best AI tools in the market are – and keep up with your own testing and investigation of these tools – if you’re looking to take your affiliate business to the next level.

An overview of AI in SEO

When it comes to SEO, AI can be used in two ways:

  • The use of machine learning algorithms and natural language processing to analyse vast datasets, recognise patterns, and predict outcomes. This enables publishers to refine their strategies based on actionable insights, ensuring that their content not only reaches the right audience but also resonates with them.
  • The regular creation of unique and SEO-friendly content which can be published in a fraction of the time that it has traditionally taken to get new content live on an affiliate’s site.

AI tools that are transforming SEO for publishers

Chatbots for user engagement

Chatbots, powered by AI, are not just being used for customer service. They can significantly enhance user engagement on your site, which can contribute to improved SEO rankings.
By providing instant responses to user queries and guiding them through your content, chatbots reduce bounce rates and increase dwell time, both of which are critical factors in search engine algorithms.

Content Creation with GPT Models

AI-generated content is no longer a novelty. We’ve seen it rise to the mainstream over the last twelve months and it has become a powerful tool that is being used more and more by content based publishers.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is the mainstream AI tool for content generation as it contains models, like GPT-3, which can produce human-like text, making it an invaluable asset for creating compelling articles in just a few minutes – something that webmasters and search engines alike have grown to love. ChatGPT offers free and paid services, with a paid subscription offering faster processing time and more up-to-date references. Demand has meant that, at the time of writing, paid subscriptions have been put on hold.

Google has also recently released their Gemini 1.5 Pro tool for long form content generation as a competitor to GPT. These models understand context and generate content that aligns seamlessly with search engine requirements, even being able to create meta descriptions optimised for SEO.

New Social SEO Tools: Semrush & ContentShake AI

Speaking of being able to generate content quickly, another nifty tool that has become popular with affiliates is ContentShake AI – a part of the Semrush SEO marketplace platform.

ContentShake AI asks the publisher a few questions around:

  • The subject of the article
  • The tone of voice
  • The type of article (sales, entertaining or informational)

It then produces unique content of around 1,000 words on the topic requested. If you’re looking for regular short-form content, the tool is also able to produce posts for Facebook, X, LinkedIn and Instagram.

SEO Analytics with Google’s AI Platform

Google Analytics has become the data platform of choice for many affiliates looking to better understand how their content is consumed by their audience. This information can now be combined with Google’s AI Platform for SEO analytics which provides publishers with unparalleled insights.

For the first time, affiliates can take advantage of Google’s machine learning algorithms to identify search trends and understand user behaviour in more detail than ever before. By getting a grasp on this, an affiliate can refine their content accordingly.

These strategies can be aligned with tools like Google Search Console, which has become indispensable for publishers aiming to better understand what is resonating with their current audience as well as what sort of content new readers are searching for.

Automated SEO Audits

Running regular SEO audits is crucial for identifying areas of improvement. AI-driven tools like Semrush (whom we mentioned above) and Moz or Similarweb all provide tools that not only automate the auditing process but also provide actionable recommendations. From identifying broken links to suggesting improvements in on-page SEO, these tools ensure that publishers can stay on top of their SEO game without the need for extensive manual analysis.

Predictive SEO with RankScience

RankScience is a tool that employs machine learning algorithms to predict which changes to a website will have the most significant impact on search engine rankings. The platform does this by automating a series of A/B tests around a variety of SEO strategies. RankScience helps publishers refine their approaches based on real-time data, and gives transparent feedback which ensures that every tweak has the potential to contribute to improved visibility in the SERPS.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Understanding how users search is paramount in SEO. NLP tools, such as IBM Watson and Yoast SEO, analyse user intent behind search queries. By incorporating relevant keywords and phrases in a natural, contextually appropriate manner, publishers can optimise their content for both search engines and human readers.

SEO Automation with HubSpot

HubSpot is best known for its CRM capabilities but it also provides a range of AI tools which are designed to automate various parts of SEO. These tools range from keyword tracking to content optimisation suggestions and help to streamline SEO workflow. This process allows publishers to focus on crafting high-quality content while the platform takes care of the technical side of things.

Voice Search Optimisation

Let’s finish off this list with a quick nod to the future (if it isn’t here already). As voice search becomes increasingly prevalent, publishers will need to adapt their SEO strategies accordingly. AI-powered tools, like AnswerThePublic and Conversational Actions by Google, are already being created to help publishers understand and optimise their content for conversational queries. These tools allow the crafting of content that aligns with natural language, thus ensuring visibility when a user searches for something on their phone or watch with their voice.

Final thoughts

AI has become mainstream amongst affiliates and publishers in a short amount of time. Despite the speed of its arrival, AI continues to evolve and publishers can expect even more sophisticated tools to emerge in the near future. It’s important for publishers that are looking to grow their businesses to keep abreast of new tools. These are just a few we’ve seen recently that could be helpful.

Predictive analytics, advanced natural language processing, and enhanced user behaviour analysis are likely to play pivotal roles in shaping the future of SEO. Publishers and affiliates who remain conscious of these tools (and how they can be used) will put themselves ahead of the pack in the ongoing race for a growing and engaged audience.

Want to promote a host of brands around the globe from one simple interface? Sign up as a Publisher on vCommission today and benefit from quality service, fast payouts and exclusive offers!

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Affiliate Marketing Insights

Affiliate Myths: The Pitfalls of having a singular focus on high paying affiliate programs

This week we’re myth busting why high paying affiliate programs may not always be the best choice for affiliates to look for when you’re searching for new products to promote.

The attraction of working with advertising partners or networks that have offers promoting higher than the industry average might be one of the first things you’re looking for when trying to promote a new product or service online. The truth is when you’re looking for new programs to promote you might want to look a bit deeper than just the commercials that are on offer.

While the allure of high-paying affiliate programs is undeniable, there’s a profound lesson that many experienced affiliates or publishers have learned and that is – it’s not always about the size of the paycheque that makes a great partnership or collaboration happen.

In this article, we’re going to look at why the highest revenue model isn’t always the best option to think of when selecting programs to promote. We’ll also share why taking a longer-term approach on deciding who to partner with and promote – will always be a better choice for your affiliate business in the long term.

At first glance, the promise of hefty commissions can be irresistible.

After all, earnings are the lifeblood of any affiliate business? It’s a natural inclination for affiliates to gravitate towards programs flashing impressive numbers. However, a high revenue structure can often be hiding deficiencies elsewhere in the affiliate program or network services.

Let’s peel back the layers and explore other factors that affiliates and publishing partners should look at when deciding on an advertising partner to work with. While high commissions are undoubtedly attractive, they often come with strings attached. Some programs may compromise on product quality, user experience, or have poor customer support or returns and refunds which could also impact your affiliate brand if you’re referring your customers to these Advertisers in the first place. This can lead to lower customer values over the long term which can also affect affiliates who are earning on a rev-share model.

Successful affiliates look beyond the short-term, and consider the Advertisers and Networks that may prove more profitable campaigns over the longer term or better customer support and data transparency between their traffic, the Advertisers and what is recorded in the network platform. Advertisers that are focussed on keeping their affiliates engaged, up to date and close to their marketing activities have better success and longer term partnerships which means better commercial results all round.

Advertiser Diversification: The Key to Long-Term Publisher Success

Success in affiliate marketing is not solely measured by the size of commissions that are within your reach. Instead, campaign diversification is key to sustainable growth.

Affiliates must consider the relevance and authenticity of the products or services that they’re promoting. A business that promotes products which resonate with the audience’s needs fosters trust and loyalty, laying the groundwork for on-going success. There is a time for money trade off when you have to partner with single advertisers each time and therefore working in a network where tracking and reporting for multiple programs can lighten the administrative load is a good way for affiliates to diversify their offers and partnerships with ease.

Building Credibility Over Chasing Commissions

High-paying programs may be attractive, but trust with your audience is the currency that truly matters to a successful publisher or affiliate. Building credibility with your readers involves aligning with products and brands that meet your audience’s needs – regardless of the commission that is being paid out to you for an initial sale.

If a product lacks authenticity or falls short of customer expectations, the immediate gains from a generous initial commission can quickly dissolve and you can expect your readers to begin to look elsewhere for recommendations in the future.

Understanding your Audience

Your business success hinges on understanding your audience’s needs and preferences first and meeting them head on with the information they want to consider and purchase from you which drives your earnings forward. Quality really matters in this game and if you want to build a sustainable affiliate business you’ll choose the advertising partners and networks you work with carefully. Especially when things go wrong, you want to know that the relationships you are investing in will be there to support you and help you get back up and running when tracking breaks, or codes are disabled and sales lost.

The Unseen Value of Ethical Affiliate Programs

Beyond the allure of high payouts, the ethics you show in promoting products holds far more sway with your audience. Engaging with programs that prioritise fair practices, offer a high value product, and aim for genuine customer satisfaction contributes to an affiliate’s reputation. This, in turn, fosters a positive relationship not just with the program but with the audience as well.

Hidden Costs of High Payouts: Conversion Challenges

In the excitement of finding a high-paying program, affiliates should also consider that they may also encounter higher conversion challenges. Products or services commanding top-dollar commissions might be niche or have limited mass appeal. After all, there is always a reason why an advertiser is paying more than their competitors and difficulty in converting traffic is often a key reason. Affiliates should assess the balance between commissions and conversion rates to properly understand the best choice for their business.

Test your traffic to the offer and products before jumping right in. Talk with the program or network manager and assess if the campaigns and earnings are working for other partners similar to you. Get an understanding of EPC and other data that may be available to you before jumping right in. Often a lower-paying (but higher converting) partner will be the best choice. After all, it doesn’t matter how much an advertiser is willing to pay you if they can’t convert your traffic.

Endangering Customer Trust with no Authenticity

Online readers are now more savvy than ever. They understand that an affiliate will earn revenue from recommending certain products and that those recommendations can be skewed by the amount that an affiliate is being paid.

FTC guidelines now are very clear that all affiliates have to tell consumers upfront when they are earning commissions from product sales and this means your content has to be authentically presented and reviewed – to have a hope of converting customers, first time. More than ever before, customers require transparency and authenticity when it comes to the products they are being recommended. Therefore, affiliates who align themselves with products solely for high commissions risk eroding the trust they’ve painstakingly built with their audience.

Authenticity, transparency, and a genuine concern for the audience’s well-being must take precedence over chasing the highest commission rates.

Taking a Long-Term View

Successful affiliate marketing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It takes time to build successful relationships with advertisers and publisher teams at various networks. These relationships can help elevate your performance and get access to new offers as soon as they launch and before other partners access them. A focus on immediate gains can risk the long-term vision and success of your affiliate business. At its core, affiliate marketing is about collaboration. It’s not a transactional pursuit but a relationship-driven partnership between an affiliate, his/her audience and an advertiser or the network partnership you have at a higher level.

High-paying programs might lure affiliates with promises of short-term profitability, but the real growth of a business lies in forging meaningful relationships with advertisers and audiences that go beyond mere financial gain.

In Conclusion…

Successful affiliates achieve profound success not by fixating on high-paying programs, but by building their business on authenticity, trust, and long-term relationship building with advertiser teams and networks they can trust, for data, for response and support and for accurate and swift payouts. As the industry continues to evolve, we challenge the notion that success is solely measured in the financial value of short-term pay cheques.

Deep dive the programs you’re working with before you sign up, read the fine print and assess the overall support you’ll be receiving before you partner up with offers that might be alluring with high payouts as their main USP.

Are you a publisher looking to partner with a Network and Advertisers you can trust, sign up to vCommission and join our community today!

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Affiliate Marketing

Case Study: Hostinger Generates 1.5 ROAS Sales Growth working with vCommission

Scaling a campaign in the affiliate marketing industry is paramount for maximising publisher and advertiser success.

As a campaign grows, it reaches broader audiences and, therefore, increases the potential for conversions and revenue – both for the advertiser and the publishers they work with too.

Scaling campaigns to other geographic locations allows advertisers to reach untapped markets, diversify sales strategies, and leverage data insights for further sales optimization. By doing this, advertisers can establish a stronger brand presence, reach new customers, and harness economies of scale working with a wide variety of publisher types to bring new customers onboard.

Moreover, scaling affiliate campaigns enables advertisers to potentially unlock new markets leading to new, sustainable, revenue streams over the long term which has positive effects on continuous growth across the brand and provides local adaptability to the nuances of consumer market changes.

Hostinger was one such advertiser who took advantage of vCommission’s global footprint and vast publisher network to help scale its offer to a diverse range of audiences.

This case study highlights how vCommission’s publisher team worked together with Hostinger to increase sales dramatically as well as improve Hostinger’s brand reach globally by bringing on new publishers to increase customer sales.

About Hostinger

Hostinger is a leading web hosting provider known for its affordability, reliability, and user-friendly services. The company offers a range of hosting solutions, including shared, cloud, and VPS hosting, catering to diverse user needs. With an open commitment to affordability without compromising quality, Hostinger offers an excellent choice for individuals and businesses looking for reliable and cost-effective web hosting solutions.

The Goal

Hostinger approached vCommission in early 2019 with a desire to expand their affiliate program reach and target alternative geographies to increase their product sales. They already had an affiliate program running in house but wanted to take a multi network approach to expand their program reach and gain access to localised markets.

After understanding the depth and variety of publishers that they could access via vCommissions global network and having an experienced team of publisher support agents to help them identify their goals, Hostinger was onboarded to the vCommission network to scale their campaign growth through a variety of different publisher partnerships.

The Strategy

vCommission’s main strategy was to introduce a variety of partners that hadn’t yet been explored within the main affiliate program which was predominantly working with traditional affiliate partnerships. Our first approach was to review the segmentation of partners both up and down the buyer awareness funnel and introduce top performing cash-back affiliates into the program to market Hostinger’s product to their customer networks.

This was the first time that Hostinger had worked with cash-back affiliates and they found that the strategy had a number of benefits both for a brand and sales targeting perspective.

Cashback affiliates attract a highly motivated audience who are actively seeking savings, leading to increased conversion rates. This approach helped to increase partnerships and foster brand loyalty, as users are incentivised to return to the affiliate for future purchases. As such, Hostinger was able to reach a large number of users in a short space of time.

Moreover, because customers don’t get their cash back until they pass their trial period, working with these cash-back affiliates improved Hostinger’s customer acquisition and retention rates.

The Results

With a transparent and measurable impact on the bottom line, working with various mainstream cashback affiliates that were pre vetted and onboarded to promote specialist promotions, not only enhanced sales for Hostinger but also established a mutually beneficial relationship with an engaged and cost-conscious consumer base.

This strategy generated between 300-400 sales consistently every month while the promotion ran, delivering a 1.5 ROAS, which more than exceeded Hostinger’s original sales growth targets.

vCommission has been an incredible ally for our business,” said Aditya Remy Shah, Partnerships Manager, Hostinger.

Their unwavering support and collaborative approach have been instrumental in our success. The synergy between our brands has opened new avenues, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future. Thank you, for a fantastic partnership!

Conclusion

Hostinger’s partnership with vCommission network displays how a multi-network approach can help deliver incremental sales when two strong brands come together with a shared objective.

vCommission was able to use its global network of publishers to find the right partners for Hostinger to engage with and then worked with them directly to ensure the regular acquisition of new customers in core regions over an extended time frame.

Do you need help attracting new customers? Or some new ideas on how to make your affiliate program more efficient?

BOOK A CALL – we’d love to hear your requirements!

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Affiliate Marketing

Cookie Deprecation – The Fall Out Explained and what it means for both Advertisers and Publishers

The concept of privacy has become a central theme, prompting significant shifts in the way data is collected, used, and shared online.

One of the pivotal changes that has rocked the affiliate world is the depreciation of cookies – after all, cookies have been the main way to track and assign sales to affiliates for over twenty years now.

On a wider scale, cookies have long been the backbone of online tracking for the digital marketing industry as a whole, providing valuable insights into user behaviour, preferences, and engagement patterns. However, concerns over user privacy and the rise of stringent data protection regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, have prompted a re-evaluation of the cookie ecosystem.

Major browsers have supported this move with the likes of Safari blocking third-party cookies as part of its Intelligent Tracking Protocol (ITP) which was released in 2018. A year later, Firefox made a similar move. As with most things in the online space, most eyes have been on Google given that almost 63% of online users browse the internet and buy their products using Chrome.

The rollout of this blocking started to happen at the beginning of 2024 with Google announcing that it was testing its latest features by restricting third-party cookies by default for 1% of users.
It’s assumed that this rollout will continue until all third-party tracking solutions are blocked, so let’s have a look at what this blocking of cookies means for both publishers and advertisers.

Effects on Publishers:

Audience Targeting Challenges:

Publishers have traditionally used cookies to display relevant ads to their audience regardless of where they are on the site. This increased level of targeting has allowed them to charge advertisers more money and bring in much-needed revenue.

In addition, by implementing third-party sales tags, publishers allowed their advertising partners to spend more money with them due to the optimisation of ad campaigns to highly targeted audiences. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, publishers face a significant challenge in continuing to offer the targeting and reporting solutions to which advertisers have become accustomed. Unless they can find a solution, while adhering to the privacy guidelines, they will be unable to continue to offer the advertising solutions that they currently do.

Revenue Impact:

The big impact of this restriction in ad campaigns will likely be seen in the publisher’s bottom line. If advertisers are unable to target users accurately or optimise their campaigns, they’re likely to decrease (or remove entirely) the performance based budgets that they have for a particular publisher. This will be felt particularly by those publishers heavily dependent on programmatic advertising where large amounts of personalised, targeted ads can be bought and sold in less than a second.

Enhanced Focus on First-Party Data:

The depreciation of third-party cookies has shifted the spotlight onto the need to capture users first-party data – that’s the data that is submitted directly to a website from a user, typically via a registration or sign up and opt in process.

Registration hasn’t normally been required on most publishers’ sites meaning that publishers don’t tend to have a lot of first-party data. This, again, has meant that publishers aren’t in a position to serve relevant ads as they know very little about the person browsing a page.

That is all changing, though, with publishers now investing in building and leveraging their first-party data sources to maintain a deep understanding of their audience, which they can then pass on to their advertising partners.

User Experience and Content Personalization:

Cookies play a crucial role in tailoring content and user experiences. Without them, publishers are now challenged to provide personalised content without relying on traditional cookie tracking methods.

Once you’re on a site, a publisher wants to keep you there (so that they can serve you more ads and relevant content to increase conversion). Therefore, AI-driven solutions and contextual targeting become vital tools for publishers aiming to maintain a high-quality user experience while maintaining low bounce rates.

Effects on Advertisers:

Loss of Granular Targeting:

Advertisers or brands now face a loss of granularity in targeting as third-party cookies are blocked from potential customers’ browsers. We discussed above how brands are unable to target users to the same degree on a single website, but the bigger hit for them is the ability to precisely target users across multiple sites.

Adaptation of Attribution Models:

The value of tracking users across multiple websites is that it allows advertisers to build user journeys which helps them to see which sites played a significant role in the build-up to a sale.
These attribution models were heavily reliant on third-party cookies which will no longer be available as Google joins the cookie deprecation movement.

Advertisers, therefore, need to reassess their attribution strategies and understand which partners they can double down on to increase sales if there is to be a short term fall out.

They need to focus on alternative methods such as extending their first-party data sources, building probabilistic models, or employing advanced machine learning algorithms to measure the impact of their campaigns accurately. All of which may be very costly.

Rise of Privacy-Compliant Strategies:

For advertisers, any solutions they put in place must go beyond simply replacing optimisation and reporting strategies, though.

For the first time, everything has to align around user privacy. Failing to do so can be hugely costly with GDPR alone penalising companies up to 20 million euros or up to 4 % of their total global turnover (whichever is higher) if customer privacy is put at risk.

Collaboration with Publishers:

All of the above means that advertisers and publishers must collaborate more closely than ever to ensure privacy is honoured along the advertising chain, while also guaranteeing the effective use of media spend. As such, we have seen first-party data sharing and cooperative advertising initiatives increase massively over the last few years in this channel.

Embracing the Future: Looking at solutions

There’s no doubt that as the cookie depreciation landscape unfolds, the online landscape will be forced to change in a way that the media industry has not seen before.

Publishers and marketers alike must proactively seek innovative solutions to thrive in this new era. Here are a few ideas of how they can do it:

For Publishers:

Improve your First-Party Data Collection:

Publishers need to prioritise the optimisation of their first-party data to provide advertisers with the granularity of targeting that they need.

We’ve already seen several publishers and broadcasters force users to provide 1st party data via registration in order to access content. This will continue and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see publishers offer something in return (like discount codes, for example) in exchange for customer information.

Invest in Contextual Targeting Excellence:

Once this data has been collected, publishers need to ensure that they offer real value to their users by embracing contextual targeting as a powerful alternative to third-party cookie-based audience segmentation. Publishers need to use their customer data to provide high-value content and relevant ads to their readers, which will ensure a more personalised experience for users – all without compromising privacy.

Get to grips with AI and Machine Learning:

AI and machine learning technologies can help publishers gain insights into user behaviour without relying on traditional tracking mechanisms. These technologies can identify patterns, preferences, and trends, enabling publishers to deliver tailored content and advertisements based on the information available to them

For Marketers:

Diversification of Data Sources:

Advertisers must look beyond their first-party data to provide the value that they’re looking for from advertising campaigns. This involves relationships with data providers directly or technology platforms that can offer them additional information.

Diversification in this way ensures resilience in the face of a changing landscape – but comes with an increased risk of ensuring that everything is aligned with privacy regulations which are continually changing

Try Advanced Attribution Models:

Advanced attribution models that go beyond traditional cookie-based tracking need to be explored.

These models will need to rely on machine learning algorithms, and predictive modelling to provide a more nuanced understanding of what’s working based on probabilistic likelihood rather than deterministic cookie data.

Open Collaboration with Publishers:

Advertisers have traditionally foregone direct relationships with publishers – preferring to buy media across a wide range of publishers programmatically.

This will need to change in favour of stronger collaborations with a smaller number of trusted publishing partners.

That way, advertisers can benefit from shared first-party data and minimise their own exposure to data that might not have been collected properly. Working one-to-one with a publisher will also allow greater insight to be provided into the efficiency of a campaign and how it can be optimised.

Conclusion

The depreciation of cookies represents a unique shift in the digital advertising landscape, prompting publishers and marketers to reevaluate processes and strategies which have been built up over twenty years.

However, this period of transition also offers opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and the development of more privacy-conscious practices. By embracing change and adopting forward-thinking solutions, both publishers and marketers can thrive in the evolving world of digital advertising.

One thing is for sure, though. The stakes for getting it right and wrong have never been higher.