Methods to Make Cash with Amazon Affiliate Websites
Remember the glory days of micro-niche sites circa 2010?
Some people made big money with exact match domains and 10 to 30 pages of content promoting products with affiliate links.
Talk about easy.
Some folks published hundreds of them.
It’s 6 years later and I’ve recently been reading and chatting with publishers who are absolutely killing it with Amazon affiliate sites. I’m talking 5 figure monthly profits. I bet there are some people out there doing 6 or even 7 figures per month.
Get this. Last week I spoke with a guy who launched and built an Amazon niche affiliate site into a five figure monthly profit site in 10 MONTHS.
More validation – check out Empire Flippers listings and Flippa listings. Generally there are a few (or a lot) of nicely earning Amazon niche affiliate sites listed for sale. The best part is these sites sell fast for top dollar.
What is an Amazon Affiliate Website?
In a nutshell it’s a site that focuses on Amazon affiliate commissions for revenue.
There isn’t one set definition. A few years ago it would be a website covering a product line or single product that then used Amazon affiliate links to generate sales of the product(s).
These days, the more successful Amazon niche affiliate sites tend to be larger. This is a generalization, but I think it’s fair to say. What I mean by this is that these sites tend to provide a wide array of content about the product line and includes content without affiliate links. In other words, it includes purely informational content related to the product line.
Can you promote other merchants?
Of course. I recommend you do if there are good opportunities.
Amazon affiliate websites are synonymous with physical product affiliate websites.
I earn more each month from merchants other than Amazon; however, I have lately been focusing more and more on promoting Amazon because it undeniably converts very well.
Why are these sites doing well now?
It’s possible these sites never stopped doing well. I completely ignored the model after Google Penguin in April 2012.
However, now it’s hard to ignore given the amount of success some people are having with them.
While I generate $3,000 to $4,000 per month in physical product commissions, that’s a pittance to what some people are doing with Amazon focused websites.
I think these sites are doing well for a variety of reasons such as:
Quality: publishers earning big bucks from Amazon are publishing some really great sites. They look great and are helpful. Since shoppers gain value from them, they can do well.
More people buying products online: As more and more people spend money online, more and more people are doing product research online. They end up on helpful niche sites, click affiliate links and then buy.
Private blog networks and paid links working: Many of these sites acquire backlinks with private blog networks and paid links. These links work if done well. I don’t use private blog networks for my niche sites, but I know they’re used extensively. There are also many real websites selling links in content which, while against Google’s TOS, is very hard for Google to detect.
Often product-oriented content, especially content targeting long tail keywords, do not need many backlinks to rank well in the search engines.
Therefore, given the insanely high RPM a high converting Amazon promotion web page/website can generate, investing a few thousand dollars in some quality links works.
Examples of Success Reports:
Perrin at Authority Hacker: Perrin recently wrote an amazing post at Authority Hacker setting out how he built an Amazon affiliate site earning $7,500 per month in under 2 years. Read all about it here.
Brent Hale: Brent at Income Addon is pulling down a WHOPPING $28,000 per month in NET PROFIT with Amazon affiliate websites. Read about it here.
Spencer Haws: Spencer at Niche Pursuits is running a case study of an Amazon Niche Website he launched about 1 year ago and is not pulling in $3,000 per month. Read about it here.
Me (to a much smaller extent): In my income reports, I generate $3,000 to $4,000 per month in physical product promo commissions.
Examples of Amazon Niche Sites
These sites are everywhere. They’re so easy to find. In fact, if you’re planning on launching one, you should do a good number of Google searches to see which if any are dominating Google search. You’ll find these types of sites in many niches.
Below are bunch I’ve found that I suspect are earning well. Please keep in mind I don’t know the details about these sites so I’m not sure if they’re earning a fortune or are barely paying hosting costs. I suspect that because they rank in the top 3 to 5 in Google search that they’re doing pretty well.
1. Empire Flippers Listings: Head over to Empire Flippers marketplace which often has a nice selection of Amazon niche sites for sale. If you wish to see the URL, you must pay a 10% deposit.
2. “Fly Fishing Rod Reviews”
I Googled “Fly Fishing Rod Reviews”. One Amazon affiliate website showed up:
- Troutster: This is a great example of a massive niche website all about trout fishing that incorporates Amazon product promotion.
Here’s the search page:
3. “Tennis Racquet Reviews”
When I search in Google for “Tennis Racquet Reviews” several Amazon affiliate sites show up. They are:
- Steve G Tennis: Check out search results page below and notice how SteveGTennis.com is featured in Google’s Knowledge Graph for a product reviews listing. That’s super cool.
- Tennis Racquet Center: Offers a nice chart synopsis at the top with Amazon links and then full write-ups below. It’s a well done page.
4. “Curling Iron Reviews”
- Thebeautilab.com: Another example of what I consider a very good product reviews website promoting products on Amazon.com. This website is also featured in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
- Totalbeauty.com: What’s interesting with this listing (see screenshot below) is that the title is “8 Best and Worst Curling Irons for 2016” which shows Google’s ability to interpret keywords. The title doesn’t have “reviews” in it yet ranks #2. Moreover, the content for this page is terrible. It’s a slide show. Not nearly as helpful as Thebeautilab.com.
Search results page for “Curling Iron Reviews”
Interestingly, when I search a specific curling iron such as “Sultra The Bombshell Rod Curling Iron Review” the website Thebeautilab.com has no listings. That website is focusing on the plural version. I believe it’s doing this because it’s much harder (i.e. nearly impossible) to outrank Amazon product listings due to the outstanding customer reviews.
These are just 4 examples. If this model appeals to you, I encourage you to do dozens of searches across many product lines to analyze websites that rank well with product reviews.
Keyword Research for Amazon Affiliate Sites
There are many different keywords you can go after with an Amazon affiliate website. Here’s a good starting list using the fly fishing rod niche as example:
1. “Product Line Reviews”
Example: “Fly Fishing Rod Reviews”: You can add “Top” or “Best” in front. Another excellent tip is adding the year to the end of the title. Notice the curling iron reviews above – both top listings have the year in the title.
2. “Product X Review”
Example: “Reddington Path Review”: This is the typical product review. This worked much better a few years ago, but now it’s hard to outrank Amazon for individual product reviews. That doesn’t mean you should do them, just be aware that Amazon often will rank very well. A number 3 or 4 spot on Google search page can still generate decent revenue.
3. “Product Line Comparison”
Example: “Fly Fishing Rods Comparison Chart”. People like charts that provide a lot of comparison data. These can be great for user experience and organic search traffic. They also tend to convert well. Again, you can add the year and then update it each year.
4. “X Product Line Under $XXX”
Example: “10 Top Fly Fishing Rods Under $100”. Some product lines have key price points – often $100, $500, $1,000 depending on the product. If this is the case with your product line, these are great articles to include because they’re long tail and people searching for products under a specific price point are on the verge of buying.
5. “Types of Product X”
Example: “15 Types of Fly Fishing rods”. If you’re working in a niche product line that includes many different types and features, you can publish an in-depth article educating people on the key differences between the different types of products within the product line.
6. “Top 10 Product Line X – 2016”
Example: “Top 10 Fly Fishing Rods for 2016”. This is a hand-selected list of what you think are the top 10 products within a particular product line.
The above 6 keyword examples for Amazon niche sites are keyword ideas for blatant promotion pages. In my opinion, you should add content that’s not so promotional.
Take a look at Troutster.com. That site includes loads of information about trout fishing. While you don’t have to go to those lengths, it provides a good example of how to incorporate product promotion within a large niche site.
Thebeautilab.com, on the other hand, has very little non-promotional content. There are a few “How-to’s” but that’s about it. The lion’s share of the site as far as I can tell spending 10 minutes on it is primarily promotional. This goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to add loads of non-promotional content to a website to perform well in the search engines.
Structuring Your Amazon Niche Affiliate Website
There are many ways you can structure an Amazon affiliate website.
One suggestion I have is to avoid dedicating your home page to an important keyword, at least in the beginning. The reason for this is if you expand the site topically, you’ll likely change the focus of your homepage. But doing this can wreck any rankings you’ve achieved for the home page.
For example, Thebeautilab.com, which is very product promotion oriented, doesn’t target any keywords on the home page. The keyword is the site’s title.
Accordingly, set up your site so that internal pages rank for your main keywords.
Sample Website Structure Diagram
Here’s how Thebeautilab.com is structured. The 3rd line includes article types not on Thebeautilab.com but I included for illustration purposes.
Pages vs./and/or Posts?
Option 1: Use pages for all content; or
Option 2: Set the “Curling Iron Reviews” and “Flat Iron Reviews” as pages and then the bottom row articles as posts.
Both are pretty basic silo structure.
For 2 niche sites I’ve recently launched, I’m using Empire Network’s Deep Silo Plugin (they offer a free Simple Silo Plugin as well). These plugins take the guess work out of pages vs. posts. The plugin automatically structures your website as you input article titles. It’s really cool. I just don’t know yet if it will give me a ranking edge. These silo plugins use a combination of pages and posts.
I’m not the most technical when it comes to SEO, including on-site SEO so I like the plugin to handle it for me.
Also, I’m sure this isn’t the only way to tackle site structure. The above diagram is just an example.
Popular “Reviews” Web Page Structure
A popular and effective “Product Line Reviews” web page sets out a list of reviews for a number of individual products has the following layout:
- Chart/Table: At the top is a nice chart showcasing and comparing the top rated products in the product line.
- Product Reviews in a list. Each item succinctly reviews the product and links to Amazon as well as links to the full review on the website if there is such a review.
- Product line information to help a person choose the right curling iron.
Thebeautilab.com does this well. This format is very popular on product promotion websites.
Key Website Features to Include
Schema.org rich snippets
If you do publish individual product reviews, include some form of product review schema mark up so that the stars rating shows up in the Google search results. Use the free plugin All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets. Check it out:
Tables & Charts
Either create your own or embed quality videos from YouTube. Do this only if it helps your visitors. Some merchants have videos you can use as well.
Whenever possible, get your own images of the product. This means buying the product. These result in the best reviews. I do this most of the time… but for the overview pages such as “Types of Product Line X” I’ll write the article based on research and not necessarily buy every product included as an example.
Table of Contents
Choosing a Domain Name for an Amazon Niche Site
As with all kinds of niches sites, I strongly recommend choosing a domain that GENERALLY describes the niche and can be branded. I do NOT recommend exact match domains (EMD).
Why shouldn’t you get an EMD?
2 reasons you shouldn’t get an EMD:
- It comes across as spammy.
- You become hedged into publishing content related to the topic of the domain. You cut yourself off from expanding your site into related topics, products and niches.
Examples illustrating the difference:
- FlyFishingRods.com: Too focused and product-oriented in my view. This could be okay for an e-commerce site selling fly-fishing rods, but it’s not great for a website about fly fishing that includes promoting fly fishing rods.
Brandable Domain Ideas:
- OutdoorMaven.com: Very broad domain that includes fishing. One could grow this into a broad outdoor site (fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, boating, etc.).
- CastKing.com: Brandable domain more restricted to fishing, which is a huge niche in itself so if fishing is your focus, this approach works.
2 Plans of Attack
1. Start with a product line
This is a blatant Amazon promo site. You plan the site from the get-go around promoting a particular product or product line.
Example: Launching a site around fly fishing rods would be this approach.
2. Start with a niche
I typically take this approach. You choose a niche and over time incorporate Amazon product promotion within the site where and how it makes sense.
Example: Fishing niche. Cover it from several angles and then incorporate Amazon promotion.
Which approach is better?
They’re both FANTASTIC if it works.
If you can build up plenty of focused, organic search traffic to a blatant Amazon product promotion site, you can generate insanely high RPM and monthly revenue without having to publish loads and loads of content.
However, if you succeed building up a high-traffic, popular niche site, you have a terrific asset that can be monetized with display ads and affiliate promotion.
Which approach should you take?
Are you good at getting links to your website?
If so, build out a product-line oriented website. The fact is if you can rank these sites (or even one high-converting web page) in Google search, you can generate a lot of money quickly.
Do you prefer focusing on publishing content?
If you’re good at publishing quality content generally, you may be better taking the broader niche approach and incorporating Amazon promotion along the way.
Are you good at email marketing?
If you’re good at email marketing, you definitely want to build out a broader niche website, attract subscribers and sell via email. By publishing all kinds of content, you can get a lot of traffic to your website which is more email subscribers.
What approach do I prefer?
I’m much better at planning and managing content production. That’s what I like to do so I focus on building out a niche website and then incorporating Amazon product promotion along the way.
The lion’s share of revenue for this model is from organic search traffic (i.e. Google search). Returning to our example of fly fishing rods, people search for information about fly-fishing rods, find your site, click a link to Amazon. The key is that people are searching about a specific type of product. Chances are they will eventually buy it or buy something related. Your goal is that your site be the referring site.
However, if you expand your site into an informational and even educational/entertainment site, you can drive social media traffic to your non-promotional content. Which social media channel works best depends on your niche.
I wouldn’t expect generating loads of affiliate commissions via social media sites; however, you can generate traffic that signs up to your email newsletter and then generate sales. You can also monetize your non-promotional content with display ads and earn revenue that way (I do both email marketing and display ads on non-promotional content).
If you have some promotional content that converts well, you can try paid traffic. One good platform to try with Amazon niche sites is Bing Ads.
If you have some really good engagement articles, you can promote that content with Facebook ads and Outbrain (to name a few of engagement-style native ads).
If you’re in a niche where you can get people to sign up to your email newsletter and who may buy down the road, email can be a very important aspect of your Amazon niche site. It is niche-dependent though.
For instance, fly fishing niche would be excellent to run an email newsletter because people are devoted to the sport, buy plenty of gear/clothing and love reading about it. It’s idea. However, the celebrity niches are not all that great for email marketing because there isn’t anything you can sell effectively. Sure you might make the odd sale, but it’s not likely and may not be worth the effort… unless your goal is to simply send readers back to your site for ad revenue, which is a good strategy on its own.
Benefits of Amazon Affiliate Websites
1. Easy to outsource
If you keep them simple and have no plans to expand them into niche authority sites, you can easily build dozens or hundreds of these sites over time by outsourcing them.
If you choose to expand into a massive niche authority site, there’s plenty you can outsource as well but I can tell you from experience you really need to pay some attention to these sites because there are a lot of moving parts. That said, if you set it all up well, it shouldn’t take more than 10 to 30 minutes of your time per day.
2. A very scalable model
I don’t think I would ever focus my entire online business with smaller Amazon affiliate sites sites, but I definitely like the idea of having a few of them cranking profits each month. Heck, even low four figures per month makes the enterprise worth doing.
You can scale them in 4 ways:
- Grow it into a monster niche site
- Build more of them
- Add e-commerce
- Develop a flipping business – launch, grow to $1K to $10K per month and then sell. Rinse and repeat.
3. Fast to launch and grow
Even if you write it all yourself, you can have a good looking site live within 30 days. From there it’s promotion (euphemism for link building). If you have a team in place, it’s just a matter of you feeding them keywords and of course clear instructions on how to set them up.
4. Focus on links and less on content production
If you decide to not grow it into a full blown niche site, in order to get traffic from the search engines, you’ll need some decent backlinks. Once the site is built, your job is getting backlinks. If building links is your thing, it can be a terrific website model.
5. Potential to grow into authority site
I’ve covered this quite a bit, but it’s an important benefit. If your site is doing well, you can often expand it into a massive authority site with which to cover many more products, build authority, social channels… the whole nine yards.
6. Easy to sell for a good income multiple
Buyers love these sites. They sell fast. I think one reason there are big buyers for these sites is they can convert them into e-commerce sites which can dramatically increase profits overnight.
Cons of Amazon Affiliate Websites
1. Boring to write
If you write your own content, I won’t lie, this stuff is boring. I’ve written a lot of this type of content in my day.
2. Vulnerable to Google search updates
Most of your converting traffic will be from organic search. If a Google update negatively impacts you, you can lose a lot of money quickly.
Difficult to get natural links, but good for other types of links
I think you’ll find it hard to get other websites to link to you unless you either publish linkable content or go black hat (PBN and/or buy links and/or publish guest posts on other sites).
3. Not great for social traffic
Your curling iron reviews post is not going viral on Facebook or any social channel. It just isn’t. Maybe photos of you with some wicked hairstyles will go viral, but they won’t convert all that well. The point is social media isn’t all that great for simple Amazon affiliate websites.
That said, if you expand into a large authority niche website, you can easily create social media friendly content. In this case you’ll want to incorporate display ads in the non-promotional content or else work on email sign ups.
4. Being an affiliate can be risky
Amazon has kicked affiliates out of their program. If you promote mostly Amazon, you’re always at risk of being kicked out of the affiliate program. If you promote other merchants, they can always changed terms of the program, end, kick you out, etc. The fact is as an affiliate you’re vulnerable to the whims of the merchants.
Relying on this online model exclusively is risky. While I’m all for building a bunch of these into a killer revenue stream, I’d be nervous if this were my only model for revenue.
Growing an Amazon Affiliate Site into a Monster Business
If you get your Amazon niche website to $1,000+ per month, you have a good thing going. You also have a decision to make, which is how to scale that revenue into a monster online business. Here are some options.
1. Dominate the overarching niche
Expand the website from focusing on product promotion into a powerhouse niche website that’s also informational, educational and/or entertaining. This will include content that does not have affiliate links. So many product niches are ripe for doing this.
- Fly fishing rods: Turn it into a full scale fishing or outdoor website.
- Tennis rackets: Turn it into a full scale tennis website – covering events, tutorials, tennis news and more.
- Curling irons: Turn it into a full scale beauty niche website.
However, this isn’t always possible. Consider the following products that may be difficult to turn into a full scale niche website:
Eye-Glasses: I don’t really see how a website on eye glasses could be a site other than promoting eye-glasses. You could definitely provide a LOT of great information about eye glasses, but it would remain eye-glasses centric and highly promotional. It’s possible to scale into a fashion website, but it’s not really bang-on related.
Generally, most product niches can be expanded into interesting and fun niche websites. Products are usually related to something bigger than the product itself.
2. Incorporate e-commerce
I have not done this, but many Amazon niche website publishers have converted successful niche websites into e-commerce websites. The main benefit of this is the higher profit margins per sale. If you sell directly from your website, you enjoy more control over the process including getting buyers onto your email list.
3. Launch dozens of these sites
If the idea of dominating your niche doesn’t appeal to you, and I can totally see why it wouldn’t because it’s a lot of work, you can simply rinse and repeat your success by launching and building dozens of Amazon niche sites.
FYI, I’m not proposing you launch 5 page specials. Successful Amazon niche sites are often dozens or 100+ pages of excellent content. Each one is a lot of work; however, over time and with outsourcing, you can build up a terrific fleet of these sites.
4. All of the above (not easy)
Swing for the fences by building up a fleet of massive authority websites. This is my approach. It takes a long time and is a lot of work, but I like it because it offers both display ad revenue and affiliate commissions. Moreover, high quality authority niche sites attract links and once they have their own momentum, can grow into a very valuable asset.
More importantly, I enjoy publishing broad niche sites that includes Amazon promotion (i.e. isn’t focused on it).
Do I publish this type of site?
I don’t currently publish a website focused solely on Amazon promotion, but I’m tempted. I incorporate Amazon promotion in my niche sites, but it’s just a small part of the site. However, I structure the Amazon promotion parts of my site in silos. I also cover the same keyword concepts as set out above.
The thing holding me back is I have some niche sites with decent domain authority so I think I’m better off adding Amazon promotion to those sites instead of starting a new site, which is what I do extensively.
That said, I just may test a few of these and promote them aggressively just to see if I can make it work.
Generally, I launch niche sites and add Amazon promotion down the road. However, I’m tempted to launch a niche site with Amazon promotion as the focus and then grow it from there.
Should you do it?
If you like link building, I say go for it. For many “product X reviews” searches, I see all kinds of these sites ranking well and probably earning small fortunes.
It seems to me like a great newbie model or even a supplemental model for established niche publishers.