Business & Economics
What’s New In Affiliate Marketing for 2022? If you already have an affiliate website and maybe you want to redesign it or make changes in your strategy, or perhaps you’re considering creating a new website in 2022, there’s a lot to know. Affiliate marketing is often constantly changing because of shifts in Google algorithms. In the broadest sense, if you’re just starting, affiliate marketing is a model where a company will pay third- party publishers to generate traffic or leads to their own products and services. If you’re thinking of starting an affiliate site, you’re a publisher. The commission fee that you’re paid incentivizes you to promote a company. Amazon really popularized affiliate marketing with their Amazon Affiliate program, where sites and bloggers use links to an Amazon page to receive a fee when a purchase is made. Of course, it’s not the only program, and affiliate marketing was in existence in various iterations before the internet, but it is perhaps the biggest current example. The following are some trends and things to be on the lookout for in affiliate marketing this year. AI Is Changing How People Search Keyword research is the foundation to your success or lack thereof in affiliate marketing. While many keywords are highly competitive, there are still opportunities to be found, particularly if you take AI and voice search into account. You, of course, want to focus on ranking for low competition, high volume keywords, but you might also want to think about low-volume search queries with a high level of purchase intent. Purchase intent is in line with AI and voice search. Google is moving toward AI-based rankings that identify new search patterns and relationships between signals and how users determine relevance. With those things in mind, voice search is a way of using artificial intelligence so that a device recognizes your voice and then puts your question into a search engine. The way we type a query into Google is a lot different than how we speak to a voice assistant like Alexa, so keep this in mind when you’re creating content. When we use voice search, we’re obviously more conversational than we are with keyword searches, so remember this in particular. Stricter Regulatory Guidelines The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other government and regulatory agencies are getting stricter on claims made by affiliate marketers, so this is something to remember this year. You may be held personally and financially responsible if you’re making unsubstantiated or false claims as an affiliate marketer. Google and Amazon are also keeping tabs on the claims affiliates make, so it can affect you financially even if you aren’t subject to a regulatory crackdown. Data-Driven Businesses are increasingly wanting campaigns that are giving them real, measurable results. That means that in campaigns, data will be a key driver. Brands will be looking at the results they’re getting from campaigns as far as their return on investment and sales. Brands will build on this by focusing on optimizing their campaigns to get results, and they’re going to be more strategic about who they work with, and the content produced. Micro-Influencers As part of their push to get measurable results, more brands are likely to be putting their budgets into investments geared toward micro-influencers. When we talk about micro-influencers, we aren’t just referring to social media influencers but also blogs and affiliate sites that can be considered “micro.” Brands aren’t thinking about likes and followers when talking about micro-influencers on social media. Instead, they’re looking at the level of trust influencers have with their audience and that relationship that influencers cultivate. Only 4% of people trust what influencers say online, making authenticity and relatability paramount. You can keep these things in mind when you have a blog, and you’re a publisher as well. On social media, a micro-influencer is usually someone with around 10,000 to 50,000 followers. They have high engagement rates, and they focus on a particular area of interest. One study found engagement actually improves the fewer followers someone has. Research also finds 92% of customers trust a micro-influencer more than a celebrity endorsement or traditional ad. If you’re in affiliate marketing, keep this in mind as you’re creating a bridge between your blog content and social media. Your business model relies on you recommending products or reviewing them and having people ultimately buy them. You want to focus very deeply on relationships and a sense of trust with your entire audience. Product Review Algorithm Changes At the start of December, Google rolled out an algorithm change that affected many affiliate marketers in a big way. Initially, in April 2021, Google announced a product reviews update, and Google said the goal was to promote high-quality product reviews. Then, in December, Google said they were making the first major update since April for product reviews. The company said they’d received increasing feedback from users on the type of review content they find trustworthy and valuable. Based on a press release from Google, the goal of the change at the end of 2021 was to put more emphasis on reviews that show evidence of products actually being tested and more options to purchase the product. This is extremely important for affiliate marketers this year. According to Google itself, you should provide evidence that you’ve used or experienced the product personally to support the authenticity of your review. You should also include links to multiple sellers so that your readers have the option to buy from the merchant they choose. That means only using Amazon links won’t cut it. These updates are in addition to the changes Google announced in April. Best practices for product reviews include evaluating it from a user's perspective and sharing quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in different categories. You also want to clearly show how products are different from the competitors and cover comparable products.