Affiliate Window Profile ‘Befuddle’

I’ve had the pleasure of being featured in the Affiliate Window merchant newsletter for a second time. Following my site review last month, they’ve now profiled me with a Q&A session.

Being profiled has been successful as I’ve received some encouraging emails from merchants; have a new Exclusive code live for The Beauty Room and a couple of other codes extended into the Summer as a direct result of the positive promotion.

Below is the piece, verbatim, with the exception of my email address removed.

Affiliate Profile

I am…

Raymond Theakston, known as ‘Befuddle’ on the affiliates4u site.

You can find me…

When I’m not in my full time job for Orange in Leeds, I’m updating ShopCodes.co.uk when you sleep or updating my blog at www.befuddled.me.uk. You can email me at xxx.

What best describes my website?

ShopCodes.co.uk is a directory of UK shops and services, with a particular focus on those that offer promotional codes. It has the largest collection of Exclusive retail codes in the UK. I’ve just invested in and acquired ShopCodes.com to help build my own brand. After that site launches later this year, I’ll be working on a mobile version.

The best feature on my website is?

All the codes are clearly visible without any ‘click for code’ buttons that hide content and force new windows to open. All codes or sales that have expired are removed, so I have loyal repeat users. [Edit: All the expired promotions will be deleted once the sun goes down.]

Which of the following best describes your affiliate activities?

PPC
Niche or true content site
Blog / Personal Website
Product /Price Comparison
Directory
Loyalty site
Coupon or Voucher Code redemption site

What is the best piece of affiliate marketing advice you’ve been given?

To capture visitors email addresses and turn them into loyal users. I now have over 500 subscribers to my RSS and newsletter, which is more than the daily visitor numbers I sometimes receive from SEO.

What advice would you give to a brand new affiliate programme manager?

Your email newsletter is probably the most effective tool you have. So include as much information as possible. If you know a sale ends in two weeks time, say so and I can use that effectively.

What are your thoughts of creating a code of conduct for merchants, affiliates and networks to follow?

I sometimes have to deal with other affiliates copying my codes or content verbatim onto their sites. I don’t know if a code of conduct would help me in this position but I do feel that networks should support and police affiliates where necessary.

Which methods have merchants used effectively to motivate you?

If you email me with the word ‘code’ in it, you’ve got my attention immediately. For all the other merchants that don’t offer voucher codes, I’ve been motivated by receiving some very nice gifts and even a holiday over the past year. [Edit: Make that 2 holidays now :)]

How do you use the AWin index to help profile suitable Merchants?

When it first launched I particularly looked at the poor performers to see if I could help them improve and to see if there was some untapped potential.

What is your favourite blog and why?

There isn’t one blog out there that includes all the elements I like which are inspiration; factual statistics on performance and humour. The closest I’ve seen is Jason Dale’s One Little Duck.

Shop Codes subscriber numbers reaches first milestone

There are now over 100 subscribers to the Shop Codes newsletter, which is double the amount of traffic I received from Google organic search listings one day in June.
July was a record month for Shop Codes in terms of traffic and sales but June was a scare after the highs of May when my site was in the top three results for many profitable keyword searches.

Google only sent 52 unique visitors to my site on 21st June. This was a significant blow as the amount of traffic has an impact on the amount of profit.

I had a determination not to spend my May profits on Google Adwords, which does not represent value for money, so I looked at alternative methods of attracting visitors.

I first launched an RSS feed. I’ve opted for manually editing mine rather than just plugging it into a Word Press updated site. The result is that it includes a tailored paragraph that deliberately includes the discount code in the content. My traffic statistics show that this is published on other websites.

The RSS feed is powered by FeedBurner who have since been bought by Google.

I then chose to launch an email newsletter. This has been something I have been deliberating about for many months. I’d not launched one sooner as I wanted the design and content to be exactly right. However with traffic dipping to a low of 225 unique visitors a day I opted for the easiest solution. This was to have FeedBurner send an email based on my RSS content.

The result is each time I update my RSS that includes a new url, an email newsletter is sent out to subscribers. Potentially then an email could be sent daily but by monitoring what urls are included in the RSS I have a pretty good idea of when a newsletter will be published and what will be included.

Today I have 105 subscribers to my newsletter, which is double the amount of visitors Google sent me one day in June. That’s exactly what I set out to achieve two months ago.

39 days without Google love

It’s just after midnight on 10th July 2007. I’ve another two hours before I go to bed as there’s something stopping me. It’s the new site visitors hungry for discount codes. I’ve not seen activity like this for 39 days.
I’d consider June a “quiet” month for Shop Codes. During May my traffic was climbing each day and daily sales were surpassing December figures consistently. Then this graph shows the sudden decline I experienced from 31st May 11:30pm.

So June dipped a lot but it was only a huge blow because I was used to better times. However, this happened to be a little wake up call. Now that the audience wasn’t there I knew I could “tinker” with the site and basically have nothing to lose.

Google didn’t stop delivering traffic to my site. It just didn’t link to many “shop” pages, instead it was just happy to send me people to my home page.

So the traffic is back (maybe another 30 days?) and one or more of these beliefs and actions helped it along the way …

FIX 1: Add a search box to the home page.

Before I could please the search engines I had to take care of the visitors. I previously didn’t have a search on my site as I want people to navigate past related items, click links and not go for the easy option. With a search they may not see related offers.

FIX 2: Change page titles.

I’d already gotten into the habit of producing dynamic page titles dependant on the content. If I didn’t have a code say for Argos, I wouldn’t say I had in the titles or other meta data. Each time I add a new offer to the page, the page title reflects the new offer. And if the search engine is saying that my site is offering a June offer but it’s now July’s offer. That’s a bad reflection on their part and not my site. They just need to come and spider a bit more frequently.

FIX 3. Re-write all urls.

I re-wrote all my urls so that they were consistent. I used to serve the same pages at different urls so the keywords within them would be highlighted in the search result pages. This resulted in duplicate content and unintentional spidering and lots of pages going straight into the supplemental index.

FIX 4. Remove distractions.

I had a WordPress version of my site which was only a few months old. It was effectively a duplicate copy but without the heavy images and a better url structure. When my Shop Codes traffic dipped, it wasn’t a surprise to see that one of my major competitor sites, happened to be myself. So rather go with that one, I killed it, albeit not totally intentionally.

FIX 5. Grab that tail
Once my site was taking its shape it was time to look at the content on the pages. I’ve decided to target three keyword phrases for each merchant I promote. As an example for Petmeds, I am explicitly looking to tap the market of users searching for “Petmeds Coupon Code”.

FIX 6. Use the meta tools to be descriptive
My targeted keywords were moved to the front of the page titles and repeated in the description. I’m a firm believer that sites that stuff their descriptions with repeated keywords will soon fall from grace. Look again at the Petmeds example above. The page title and description say exactly what is on the page. OK, I may not receive visitors searching for “Petmeds voucher code” but don’t bet against it. Simplicity wins. On that note, one of my next tasks is to make sure all pages include no more than five keywords.

FIX 7. Diversify.

I’ve now got an RSS feed and a newsletter that goes out every other day with 50 subscribers. That’s approximately one new sign-up per day. In both cases the content is being pushed to different audiences. My codes are syndicated on other sites and with email, subscribers can browse at their leisure.

FIX 8. Add more distractions.

Knowing that my WordPress blog was doing well for itself on another domain, I brought it ‘inside’. Some of these new pages were quickly indexed and started ranking higher than the ‘originals’ which were in the Supplemental.

FIX 9. Truly believe content is king.

With unique content or a unique spin on the same content, a site will stand out. So I continued to press for new exclusive codes and continued to update the regular offers long into the night, despite knowing not so many people would get to see the information. Once the content is not updated then the search engines have a right not to visit.

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