3. Selecting your merchants and affiliate programs

Once you know your focus and you know the keywords you want to target, then it is time to look for the merchant you want to promote.

You need to build a list of 6 to 10 potential targets. Build your target list based on

  • How close they match to your keywords;
  • brand awareness;
  • the site style and presentation, and
  • how easy it is to check out (do a test and bail out before you pay).

Don’t select more than 6-10 on your short list, we’ll discuss why shortly.

A quick way to find highly target merchants is to do a search for your main keywords. See which merchants come up in the results. You can also search within many of the affiliate networks to see which merchants match your keywords.

If you search via the internet to find matches then make sure the merchant you find actually has an affiliate program for you to join.

From the 6-10 areas you have short listed, select just 3 of them and use the following criteria to narrow them down:

  1. That all three are on the same affiliate network;
  2. all three offer very similar products, and
  3. they have a good overlap of your target keywords.

For example, supposing your main target key phrase is “diamond engagement rings”, you may then come up with a list of the following merchants:

  • Blue Nile
  • Ice.com
  • Bidz.com
  • Szul
  • Mondera
  • Diamond.com
  • Forzieri.com
  • Sndgems.com
  • Ashford.com

By reviewing each site, what they sell, the network they are on, you’ll probably reduce those 9 to just 3:

  • Blue Nile
  • Mondera
  • Szul

All are on the same network, sell very similar (if not the same products in name), can easily be compared to each other, and fit very well across key words related to Diamond Engagement rings and Bridal Jewelry.

Why the same affiliate network?

There are at least 60 US affiliate networks and hundreds of in house affiliate programs, having all your programs on the same network makes managing them easy, compare their data, and easily access all their links, banners and other information. Networks also offer combined payments and many offer payments direct to your bank account. Our recommended starter networks are :

Once you have selected your merchants, sign up for their affiliate programs. If for some reason you get rejected, contact the merchants affiliate manager, if you still get not get the application resolved, then move on to the next best merchant on your list.

Table of Contents:

  1. Choose your focus
  2. Selecting your Keywords
  3. Selecting your merchants and affiliate programs
  4. Designing your site and developing content
  5. Promoting your site
  6. 10 ways to increase your affiliate site’s usability and search engine rankings
  7. Linking up with your merchants
  8. Use the Affiliate Manager
  9. How and Where to learn more about Affiliate Marketing
  10. Affiliate Tools