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The Affiliate Marketer’s Intro to SEO

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It’s safe to say that every affiliate wants their website to rank on page one of search engines. Unfortunately, (just like in affiliate marketing) there’s no “get rich quick” way to go about getting there. Even if paid search marketing seems like the easy answer, according to SEOMoz, ads at the top of Google receive about 18-20% of search traffic while organic results take the other 80-82%. The real answer to getting to the top of organic rankings lies in trusty search engine optimization (SEO) practices. At its core, SEO requires two things: patience and a commitment to best practices. We’ve rounded up some basics of the latter, below.

Start off strong with the right domain name

If you’re in the market for a domain, put a lot of thought into the name. The best domain names are short, memorable and contain important keywords. However, that doesn’t mean you should stuff as many keywords as you can in there.

Google is continuously updating its search algorithm to de-rank “spammy” websites using practices like keyword stuffing, while surfacing high quality websites that add value. The important thing to remember and keep at the heart of your SEO strategy is to develop for humans, not algorithms. For example, think about what website you’re personally more likely to visit – www.toptechreviews.com or www.bestphoneslaptopsandtablets.com?

But first, keyword research

Conducting keyword research is critical to knowing what keywords to target throughout the SEO process, and should come before all else. Start by brainstorming a list of words and phrases you think people would search to find your website, then plug that list into a keyword tool such as Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner or Wordtracker.

The goal is to expand and refine the list with relevant phrases and compare their average monthly searches. Targeting long-tail keywords – that is, longer keyword phrases with say 4-6 words – is a popular approach for affiliates for a number of reasons.

Long-tail keywords are:

  • More specific and focus on a niche
  • Less common than broad keywords, and therefore usually have less competition when it comes to ranking
  • Used further along in the search process, and tend to have higher conversion rates

Identify which keywords are best to target and focus your content strategy around those.

Create unique, quality content

You’ve probably heard the advice to “create unique, quality content” many times throughout the affiliate industry. Why is this so important? Well, you can drive all the traffic in the world to your website, but if it doesn’t provide value or the answer your visitors are looking for, they’re bouncing (along with your commission). This is also very important to search engines, as they want to provide a valuable and easy search process for users.

So whether it be a blog post, review, video, or in some other form; relevant, high-quality content helps searchers find what they’re looking for, and in turn Google pushes that website up in search rankings. Other factors include how often your website publishes new content, and whether it can be found elsewhere online. Even if it’s your own, avoid repurposing content on multiple pages or websites.

Whether you’re just starting off with SEO or looking to freshen up your skills, keep an eye on the EPN blog for more SEO tips.

Pinterest Opens Its Doors to Affiliate Marketers

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We have good news for socially savvy affiliates: You can now share affiliate links on Pinterest! The popular social network announced that it has revamped its infrastructure and acceptable use policy, so publishers can once again include affiliate links on Pins. EPN encourages integrating social media promotions into your affiliate activities, as long as the social network allows it. This Pinterest policy update means that not only can you drive traffic from pins to your affiliate site, but you can now also drive users directly from Pinterest to eBay.

On its blog, a Pinterest representative said, “People come to Pinterest looking for new ideas to try, and the very best ideas come from businesses like yours. We understand that businesses and bloggers need a sustainable way to keep making great content. That’s why we’ve decided to allow affiliate links on Pinterest.”

Over 100 million people across the globe use the visual bookmarking tool to discover things to plan, buy and do. It offers a great way to get in front of an audience that is actively seeking inspiration, and eBay offers a broad spectrum of items to help fuel these passions.

How will you take advantage of this opportunity to create value for Pinterest users? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

eBay Partner Network Has a New Website

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You may have noticed that eBay Partner Network has a new look, along with some new resources to help you find, share and earn from your passions. We’re making continuous updates to features and functionality, and appreciate the feedback we’ve already received from you. In this episode of EPN TV, John talks about some of the current highlights of the new site.

Here are a few of our favorite things:

Earnings Calculator

If you’ve been curious about potential earnings in categories you might not yet be promoting, check out the new earnings calculator on the homepage for a sample of what you could expect, based on average commissions on popular products. We’ve started with some of eBay’s best-selling products, and we plan to add more in the future.

Bookmarklet

When you log into the Publisher Portal, you’ll see that we’ve begun to add features to provide you with new ways to drive and optimize traffic. For example, click on Campaigns to try our new bookmarklet tool, currently in beta. It’s simple: Drag the bookmark icon from a campaign to your web browser’s bookmark folder. Then, when you find an eBay page to share, simply click the bookmark to see a popup with your affiliatized link.

Mobile-Friendly Reporting

Though it may not be apparent to the naked eye, we’ve updated the underlying system that our website is built upon. This allows us to increase stability and paves the way for the introduction of new tools and resources to improve your experience with EPN. For example, we’ve implemented a responsive design and eliminated Flash in our reporting section so you can view reports on any device, at any time.

We’re currently moving forward with additions to improve the site and to address the feedback we’ve received from you. If you have a feature you’d like to see added or if you spot something that isn’t working as expected, please send us an email at epn-cs-english@ebay.com.

EPN Global Director John Toskey to Keynote Affiliate Management Days

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Affiliate Management Days, an annual conference for affiliate managers, is coming to San Francisco on April 3 – 5. The event is geared toward anyone responsible for their company’s affiliate marketing strategy, management or operations, and provides attendees with insights into how others are implementing and managing their affiliate programs. EPN global director John Toskey is one of three all-star keynote speakers who have been selected to educate and inspire attendees. His talk, titled eBay at 20: Lessons from the Journey, takes place on April 5 from 2:00 - 2:45 PM and gives an inside look into the evolution of eBay’s affiliate program along with some of the major changes that have shaped it into the program you know today. John will provide lessons gleaned from years of affiliate marketing experience that attendees can apply to their program.

Several of our other team members will also be in attendance, and we hope to see some friendly faces! If you’re attending, drop us a line in the comments so we can make sure to look for you.

All You Need to Welcome Spring

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With Spring in full swing, eBay is running several sales and events to celebrate the season of sunshine, sports and celebrations. Right now is the perfect time to encourage your visitors to declutter and start fresh. Whether they’re looking to refresh their homes, wardrobe or wellness, eBay has everything to help shoppers spring forward. Below are just a few of the sales we’re currently running: Spring Cleanup

Revamp Your Look

Work It Out

Fun in the Sun

There’s no better time than now to inspire your visitors to celebrate the season. Direct them to eBay’s Spring deals page where they’ll find everything they need to welcome Spring!

Announcement Regarding eBay-Branded Gift Cards

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We wanted to inform you of changes being rolled out regarding eBay gift cards, and to let you know how these changes may affect your affiliate promotions. Beginning March 6, 2016, eBay will no longer count sales of eBay-branded gift cards within checkout metrics, as they will no longer be counted as revenue-generating items for eBay. What this means for our partners is that you will no longer be able to earn affiliate commissions by driving sales of eBay-branded gift cards after March 6.

While no other merchant gift cards sold on eBay are affected by this change, you should be aware that gift cards in general can result in little to no affiliate commissions based on eBay’s revenue on these products. Because we want to make sure you are maximizing your affiliate earnings, we also want to remind you that products which earn little to no affiliate commissions include items sold by charities, extended warranties, and occasionally items sold on eBay Stores with seller fee promotions.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please leave them in the comments section below. Thank you for your continued partnership.

EPN TV: John Toskey Talks About the Launch of Our Insiders Program

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Over the past few months, we’ve been building a new publisher community to help us recognize and reward partners who proactively help us grow eBay Partner Network. We launched the community as a pilot in mid-2015 based on the results of a publisher survey, and have been collecting feedback from a group of initial participants. Today, we’re excited to open the opportunity up to all of our publishers. By participating in this exclusive community - which we’ve dubbed Insiders - you’ll be able to build your knowledge and establish yourself as a thought leader. You’ll receive early access to our latest news and events, and will have a direct line of communication to provide feedback to our team.

Insiders can earn recognition and rewards, ranging from promotional opportunities to gift cards to exclusive member-only experiences, for completing activities that help us spread awareness and educate others about EPN.

Watch this episode of EPN TV to learn more. And if you’d like to apply to join, complete this brief application to indicate your interest.

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to check out this new community. We’re happy to recognize you for everything you do!

2016 Payment Calendar

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Thank you for visiting our 2016 Payment Calendar. Please see our 2018 EPN Payment Calendar for the schedule of upcoming payments.

Our goal is to pay our publishers as early as we can while taking all of the internal requirements for a successful payment cycle into consideration. EPN will continue to strive to pay partners on the 22nd of every month, with the following exceptions:

  • If the 22nd occurs on a weekend or holiday, EPN will pay on the next business day.
  • If the 22nd occurs on a Friday, EPN will most likely pay on the Thursday before but possibly on the Monday after if there are unforeseen issues.
  • If an unanticipated issue causes a delay in payments, we will address the problem as quickly as we can, and strive to keep you informed along the way.

We are aware that our partners are business owners and need to know when they are going to get paid. Below is our payments calendar for the remainder of 2016 to help you plan.

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Calendar payment dates refer to the dates when eBay disburses funds to publisher accounts.  Please note that, in the case of publishers paid via Direct Deposit, individual banks have their own processes in place that may involve additional days to settle funds deposited via direct deposit.

We hope this helps, and as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. If you have any questions regarding payments, please contact us or email us at: epn-cs-english@ebay.com

EPN's John Toskey to Share Mobile Success Tips at Affiliate Summit

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Affiliate Summit West 2016 kicks off this weekend, and our team is looking forward to attending this annual gathering for affiliates, advertisers and networks. We’ll spend several days speaking with publishers, attending events and taking in conference sessions, hosted at Paris in Las Vegas. EPN global director John Toskey is speaking during one of the sessions, which takes place on Monday, Jan. 11, at 2pm in Champagne Ballroom 4. His presentation, Affiliate Adventures in Mobile Commerce, focuses on the latest trends driving mobile ecommerce growth, and provides insight into how affiliates can capitalize on these opportunities.

For just a fraction of what you can expect during John’s presentation, check out the following episode of EPN TV:

In this episode, John provides success tips corresponding to three basic mobile principles: Deliver a cohesive online experience, don’t forget about apps, and dig into your data to uncover your site’s unique traffic trends.

If you’re attending Affiliate Summit West, we hope you’ll stop by to listen to John’s session. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the first Star Wars films spawned an iconic cultural legacy. On December 18, after 10 years of anticipation, the seventh episode of the series premieres. Fans across the globe have been eagerly awaiting the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and this cinematic event offers an opportunity for publishers to get in on the hype. eBay’s selection of Star Wars goodies will appeal to lifelong fans along with the new generation of movie buffs discovering the saga for the first time. Fuel the fandom by directing your visitors to the Star Wars landing page. This is no Jedi mind trick; an epic selection of memorabilia can really be found at up to 25% off.

Serious fanatics will be pleased to find a variety of collectibles and comics, while those new to the world of Star Wars can play catch up with boxed sets. The fandom goes well beyond actual movies – eBay offers out-of-this-world video games, trading cards and posters as well as action figures, LEGO sets and toys. If your visitors are looking to give their homes or wardrobes a sci-fi makeover, encourage them to check out home décor, apparel and costumes inspired by the series.

eBay is promoting Star Wars site-wide, so don’t miss your chance to get in on the action. Highlighting Star Wars items in categories relevant to your site’s visitors is a great way to grab attention and increase earnings.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments below, and may the Force be with you.