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Ross & Craig Site Audit (Affiliate sites II)




Ross: We've got quite a few interesting websites today. I've picked out about four. I think there was a record number that had been submitted to us. It was a good couple of 100 this time. We've tried to get a good mixture of personal sites, of businesses that are just starting up and kind of more established companies as well. So what do you have to kind of kick us off? Have you got a particular website in mind, you'd like to start with? 

Craig: Yes. Let's go for it. I'm just going to dive right in. I am ready. I've got my site. And it's right up your street Ross actually, it is our best human hair, weaves, and wigs website. The reason that I've chosen this website is an Amazon affiliate website, which is a hot topic right now. 

Ross: Why is it a hot topic? For those that don't know. 

Craig: Amazon have quite kindly decided to kick everyone right in the teeth, while the Coronavirus is on and slash their commissions by up to 70 or 80%. And what is really good about this is, they've given you a week’s notice, that that's going to happen as well. 

Ross: An entire week? How generous is that eh? An entire week to get 70% of your business snatched from under your hats, that's fantastic. 

1st Website: UX Improvements, Attracting Newsletter Subscribers, Targeting Long-Tail Keywords

Craig: Absolutely horrendous, so when I saw this website come up, it's a fairly new website, and I thought let's get this website on, talk about potential ways of getting away from Amazon, and maybe some of the other things that could be done better on this website. Humanhairweaves&wigs.com. 

This website, as you can see in front of you, is an Amazon affiliate website, so if you don't understand Amazon affiliates, you'll literally click on one of the posts, and scroll down, it should hopefully have some information about the products. The white tooth comb there, and a whole bunch of other stuff there. 

Aesthetically, looking at the website, the navigation bar is all over the place there, which is not too good. It's not going to kill your SEO's search, but certainly, from a user perspective, it just doesn't look great. 

Ross: How do you feel about the exact match domain name, besthumanhairweavesandwigs.com? 

Craig: I think it's a bit over the top. I think someone's probably read the exact match domain names still work or something like that. Very, very early 2000s, that type of tactic was coming out. I'm not sure about the domain name, but the domain name's not the be-all and end-all, you can rank pretty much any domain name as such.

But I think just the website in general; so if I click on a product page like this, of course, it's got a nice picture of whatever this is supposed to be...there's no real call to action here for me to click on anything. If you look at any other Amazon website, it gives clear calls to actions, throughout the content. Not even at the top or at the bottom, throughout the content. 

That's something that this website really doesn't have, although I'm guessing that's a link and that's a link, they're not that clear. There's no button usage, there's nothing, it's very much slapped together.

You've also got products on here, on the right-hand side, on the sidebar, which you're obviously using an Amazon affiliate plugin for. Something like AAWP, to showcase other relevant products, but they all look very spammy with that down the side as well. Even your email signup is very bland and boring. I can’t imagine that gets too much in the way of email signups. 

Ross: What is he possibly putting in his newsletter about, how much does a wig wearer really need to know about where they got their wigs from?

Craig: A wig wearer is likely to probably go on a website buy it, and then get lost. I don't really want to talk to you again. I think that would be fair to say, surely it's one of those kinds of weird buys, where you just go and buy it and hope for the best and it comes in a clean box. 

Ross: What kind of stuff would we be doing to actually get people to give them their emails? 

Craig: You're going to have to either give something away, or do something to encourage, something downloadable, or whatever it may be to get people to sign up or give you their data. “Subscribe for more” what? For more spam? What's it going to be there? 

One, what you're giving away is just bland. Two, it doesn't stick out to the human eye, but I think something like a giveaway or a competition of something fun, even to try and attract people to giving you their details.

It's a very slow loading website as well. You probably want to sort that out, you've got 75 requests. There's probably heavy use of plugins and various other stuff there. There's a lot of work to be done on this website, including if I go to this sitemap, you’ve just got a severe lack of content as well. 

With Amazon, you can make a lot of money by just going down the content route, and going after a whole bunch of long-tail keywords that relate to your wigs and weaves and whatever else is there. You're going to need a hell of lot of more content than what's on this website at present. 

Throw 100 blog articles at it, and you know you're probably going to start to make money. I'm not sure how much money you're going to make just now.

Going Beyond Amazon in Affiliate Marketing

Obviously Amazon have cut... I'm not sure of the exact percentages when it comes to the wigs...however, in uniwigs.com, you can earn between five and 10% commission on qualified sales for wigs. Do a simple search, and find another wig affiliate other than Amazon, because the problem we've got here with Amazon is that Amazon really don't care, they're a big brand and they really don't need your sales, that's pretty much what they're saying. 

For me, Amazon is for lazy affiliates, it's quite easy just to set up a website, get content, write up to smash stuff out, buy some links, and then comes some money. 

But what I've done in the past is buy Amazon websites and change the monetization. For example, if it's a paid website, I might buy a paid website, that's an Amazon affiliate and change it over to something like Three, which pays a lot more commission than Amazon. 

Amazon going away is not the end of the world at all, you can flip the monetization, go to private affiliates or whatever it may be. Most affiliates are getting 20, 30 or even 100,000 hits a month, on a website. Someone somewhere is quite happy to do that. Ross, with the affiliate website that you got last year, you went to a different affiliate, it wasn't Amazon was it? 

Ross: Yeah, I've moved all of my Amazon stuff over to people like Dex Sporting Goods and people like that. Actually going straight into the manufacturers ...I think it's a very good idea. Everything on the email list is absolutely crucial, so some sort of lead magnets. 

All of this is a bad example of a website, where it should be hard to create a lead magnet for it. Maybe something like a web styling guide, or how to keep your wig fresh. I don't know what the problems are that that particular audience has, but maybe go on to a Facebook group for people who use wigs, or something like that and see what kind of stuff they're sharing and talking about and maybe start building a resource for that from the downloads. 

2nd Website: Creating an Obvious Funnel, Orphaned Pages, Adding More Content 

Shall we move on? Experience Maine, looks lovely, doesn't it? Design your own experience. This is a luxury concierge service for the great state of Maine and it also helps you to plan events and things like that. 

The first thing that I'd do typically with all this stuff is, just have a little look at the source code and have a little look at the robot. What I just want to do is see what are they built on, what the structures are, and if they're doing the basics.

First thing right out of the gate, there's no sitemap reference inside of the robots.txt. Just really basic hygiene stuff inside your robot style, have a link to your sitemaps file, see if they've actually got a sitemap in the first place and who's powering it. You do it and it's yours. 

What I would do is get that sitemap index and I would put it straight into your robots file and obviously making sure that that's also uploaded into Search Console as well. I would upload all of them individually, I wouldn't upload the index, relatively you can do that. 

Let's get into the actual site itself. What's your first thoughts on the site Craig, it makes you want to go to Maine? 

Craig: Yeah. It's quite a clean, tidy, nice looking picture on here so yeah, I certainly wouldn't mind a wee holiday in Maine on first impressions. 

Ross: Yeah absolutely. It looks like they're clearly quite smart about putting lots of links to navigation, but here's the thing right, they sell these services but it's right at the end here, and it's kind of mixed in with everything else. I’d seriously think of maybe starting to change the way this navigation works so it's a very obvious funnel into services. 

I love this instant thing here to design your own experience. Now classic things in UX and conversion optimization, you do not want call to action buttons to be the same color as general navigation buttons. I know this is going to make a lot of design people cringe, but you kind of want to make that as ugly as possible, so it's a very obvious standout button to click on, to then convert on. 

Let's go look at one of their main services. They do travel concierge services, first and foremost. Here's the content here, what's the first thing that jumps out at you Craig here? For me it is, they don't have a lot to say about one of their main services, so from a sales point of view it might be quite hard to actually sell this service. But from a ranking point of view, you're really not going to do very well with this level of content on there. 

What I'd be doing in this instance, I'd be mapping whatever keywords you want to rank for this, I'd be taking it and I'd be using the On-Page SEO Checker from SEMrush. They're going to go and look at the top 10, or the top 20 results, pull all of your competitors content and compare it to yours and say, "The top 10 for these keywords have these words and you don't. You should probably update it." A really nice simple service and it will really help, you can have optimizes content then. 

Couple of other things you notice, because there's no content there's also no internal links, so everything mostly points to the contact us page. If we were to look into their crawl, what we want to see is actually what's physically going on inside of the pages. 

What I like to do is get a full view of the different pages, and I like to start having a look and see in terms of the internal linking, where is it all going? We're going to enter internal links,  view your details. It's pretty clean, it looks kind of brand new like it's just been put up. 

But here is the absolute sin of the day: orphaned sitemap pages. What does it mean to run an orphaned sitemap page? Inside the sitemap, go to XML, and orphaned pages is essentially something that you can't click from the homepage to that page; there's no internal links pointing to it. Because of that, it's going to be very hard for Google to find it and crawl it. They will find it in a sitemap, but you really don't want to put non-essential pages in a sitemap. 

Inside of all these different sitemaps there's a bunch of these that you just physically cannot get to by clicking through the website, that's really bad practice. The biggest win for these guys is going to be to update their content, make it a little bit more thorough, but also really focus on their internal linking structure. 

We talk about this quite a lot, how we would do really basic decisions to work out the internal linking structure. What I'm doing here is doing a site command for the entire domain. I don't know what the keyword is. Let's save this for the main concierge page, luxury travel. What that’s going to do, it's going to show me here are the pages that Google believes are most closely related to the keyword luxury travel and they're the most powerful on your website. 

If this does not link to the main services page for luxury concierge, which it doesn't...when we say in Google show me the things that you think are most related to that, to me that says that this is broken. Just doing initially that simple exercise to get yourself to a point where everything is internally linked to the correct place. 

You might actually think you could delete some internal links as well. Let me just quickly look at some of the title tags, so does it Maine group travel, meeting, planning, luxury travel. Fine, absolutely fine, but I don't like the fact that they're targeting lots and lots of keywords that got really nothing to do with each other. What I'd like to see is, I'd like to see something that's a little more descriptive. 

This is their about page I suppose. But inside is some of their services stuff, packages, and retreats that say, so this is Maine spa package. Again, no content guys, come on guys let's get some more content on the page, please. When you look at the title tag it's the exact same thing. Maine vacation package experience Maine, Maine travel, we get it, you're traveling Maine enough with a million keywords that have nothing to do with anything. 

Adding Proper Schema to Web Pages and Eliminating Unused Code

One thing which you can actually see coming is, there's no proper Schema on this site. It's got webpage Schema, I imagine yours is probably doing that out of the box for you and you're not doing that yourself, but I highly recommend it. If this is a package, if this is a service, if you go onto schema.org, you can actually find the exact type of Schema to put on that page, so this is probably product Schema or something like that, or a service Schema.

If you scroll to the very bottom, what you can see here on schema.org is, it will actually give you the examples of code before and then code after. Very recently Google have come out and given new rules for implementing Schema on JavaScripts. If you literally just “Google JSON-LD Schema”, it will come up with the webmaster help, to show you how to actually implement that. 

My favorite thing to do is to use Google Tag Manager in order to inject it in. Essentially you can take the JSON code, put it through tag manager and actually inject it in. You can use tag manager to implement it throughout the entire site. 

In terms of other things to look at, to be honest with you, it looks like the site may have just been recently redesigned. The reason I say that is because there's a lot of weird things with regards to the JavaScript and the CSS, it's not being nullified. 

Why is that important? Well, I'm just going to go into my browser and press Function F12 as a shortcut. I'm going to go into the little drop menu here, I'm going to go to more tools, and I'm going to go to the coverage report. I'm doing to hit reload. 

What this is essentially going to do, it's going to reload every single thing that this site is actually using to render everything up. The bits in red are the parts of that file that are not used. A bunch of node stuff. I think this might be a JavaScript-based site that happens to use WordPress as its backend. 

I need to start getting into your Search Console. I need to start doing fetch and render. I need to be seeing, “is Google actually seeing this stuff?” What I really want to see is the cache actually. It seems to be caching fine, and text is partially coming through. 

That would be my kind of view of the guys at Experience Maine: more content, better internal linking, double-check that you're getting indexed properly and just stick to your hygiene aspects, clean up the sitemap and your orphaned pages. 

What Are the Best Alternatives to Amazon for Affiliate Marketers?

Ross: Okay. We've got some questions coming in, as you're getting there we can get through some questions. "Is there better affiliate programs than Amazon's?"

Craig: I mean, CJ Affiliates is fairly good. Personally I'm not a big affiliate guy, when it comes to the networks as such. Most of the affiliate stuff that I do is of SEMrush, which is BeRush, and various other SaaS tools in email marketing software and stuff. 

There's also a whole ton of private organizations offering affiliate deals, just depending on your niche, but I would just do a simple search for whatever your niche is + affiliates. Up will come a whole bunch of stuff and just sign up for this stuff that's been the kind of best commission, but just bear in mind, you want someone that can actually deliver the product as well. 

I've had a few experiences in the past, where I've signed up to crappy affiliate, who wasn't able to fulfill all the kind of demanding stuff like that, there was just no research done. Just double-check who you're signing up to. 

Ross: I'd look at Affiliate Window, which is probably one of the biggest ones out there. I'll be looking at Tradedoubler, Rakuten, Paid On Results, there's literally hundreds of them, each with different structures and different bonuses, based on what you're getting through. 

Verifying Your Schema Implementation

Ross: MediaSmack is also asking, "Are you seeing any problems implementing Schema using Google Tag Manager? I've experienced a lot of issues using tag managers." The way in which you've implemented tag manager is the issue, it's not that they don't honor it, so what I would recommend is, use a structured markup testing tool, just Google structured markup testing tool. 

Once you implement it, test it to see if Google actually sees it and physically renders it, instead of implementing tag manager via a piece of JavaScript, you might actually be able to do it through DNS instead, which will make it much more reliable, that means it will actually always load. The problem with tag manager is that, depending on the site, when we opened that waterfall on that main site and it was like, here's all the JavaScript resources and some that are used, some that were not and the waterfall going down. 

With Google bots opening that, you get a particularly slow heavy page and your tag manager is the last thing to fire, it's not going to see it. It's all about how you're actually implementing tag manger on this site, not about how JSON-LD is used for Schema. Google JSON-LD Schema and you'll get a lot more information on that type of tech. Do you want to go on your next one Craig? 

3rd Website: HTTP Redirect Issues, Geo-Targeted Content, Sending Location Signals to Google 

Craig: Yes, let's go for it. Marriott Construction. Nice clean website they've got here. They offer extensions, new builds, lofts, commercial stuff there. Nice, clean, tidy website when you look at it. Some nice case studies, request a quote and everything else there. 

I've had a wee dig around this website and just wanted to give a few suggestions. I know it is again another fairly new website. The first thing I always do with a website is run an audit, I think everyone gets different processes and there's a couple of wee different warnings and stuff like that with minified Java Scripts, Sitemap not in robots.txt, but one of your favorite issues are on this website Ross, no redirect or canonical  from https to http. 

The reason that I decided to choose this one is, if I look at the guy's website in SEMrush, it's starting to grow. It started in January and he's starting to add more content, started to get more keywords coming through. Things are moving in the right direction. 

However, they could probably double, if you fix that redirect issue there because Google is effectively seeing that as two different websites, which is not good. It's obviously one of Ross's favorite problems.

But it's a basic mistake which is quite easy to oversee, but that is something that you need to address. Obviously your internal linking and mostly your other stuff looks okay. 

Looking at your location and looking at the keywords you're targeting, it would seem to me that you're looking for stuff in London and in particular, the Northside of London. You're probably prepared to go as far up as Hertfordshire. But you're going to have to very, very generic national wide search terms, which is going to take you hell of a lot longer, nothing at all wrong with doing that. 

But some of the kind of keywords research that's going into this is well. There's a blog post here about should you extend or rebuild high glazed extensions? It's a bit generic, whereas that'd probably go down the route of adding more geographic-specific landing pages, talking about your house extensions in Kensington, or your various other things, so that you can actually rank for those search terms, because some of your stuff has proven too generically nationwide if we go and check your rankings. But are you actually going to be able to service those? 

If someone's wanting a vintage aesthetic bedroom, and they're from up in Scotland, that's just a waste of time going after that. I would potentially have more of a geographic-specific focus on your pages, and ramp up the content a great deal. 

You are building links which is a good thing to do, and obviously some of your keywords are starting to come through, construction companies in North London, because there's a whole bunch of different search terms that you can go after with this website and just become a bit more targeted with your keywords, would you agree with that Ross? 

Ross: I think one of the big things here is making sure that Google understands that you're a local entity in where you're based. Things like company Schema with the correct longitude and latitude in it are going to be really important. Also setting up your GMB profile and making sure your name, address, and phone number are correct across the web. 

SEMrush has a Listings Management Tool, where you can put in your details and it will actually sign up to all that stuff for you, which will really help your local SEO. I'd have Schema on the backend to let them know exactly where the service is and what the service is all about. I would just double-check to make sure that, that is the phone number that's on the site, is the same as the GMB listings and stuff like that, but yeah, regionalized pages, do your keywords research. 

Craig: I mean it's a new project, but a few tweaks there and the major thing is the no canonical or redirect from the https to http. Yeah, keep up the good work, but what is your next one Ross? 

4th Website: Diagnosing SEO Traffic Drops

Ross: We have a website called Spindle. Natural latex mattresses made in the USA with free shipping. Really lovely site, very smart branding, very well put together, all in all very impressive stuff. 

However, something kind of unfortunate has happened to them, in that if we just quickly run it through SEMrush to look at their traffic, we can see there is bit of a bump in the road, around February 2019, let's have a little look. 

The reason why we always look at the traffic is because I want to see if there's been a penalty or an algorithm update that's negatively affected them. You can see here February 2019, they lost about half their traffic, and they've been slowly trying to get it back over the last year or so. S

Straightaway what I'm going to do is, use this feature in SEMrush, I'm actually going to click view all notes, and what it's going to do, it's going to bring up all the different algorithm updates of that particular time. 

First and foremost I would check around about February, did they do any sort of migration work? Because the thing I want to see is, was it an algorithm update or did they just do something to their site and they've caused it themselves? 

I might actually jump into the crawl. I've only crawled 100 or so pages, so I can get a top-level view. It's totally fine, there's nothing in particular that we would say is an issue with this. What we want to do is actually go a little bit deeper. What I'm actually going to do is, Craig have you ever used the web archive API? 

Craig: Never used the API, no. 

Ross: What you can do is go on to archieve.org and you can see a big history of all the URLs. What I can actually say to archive is I can say, "This is just a constructed URL and it's a post request, at the end spits out the CSV of every single URL that's been on this site from 2007 to 2020. 

This has given me the complete view of every single URL that's ever been on this particular website. And what am I going to do with this? Well, what I want to do is, I want to take this out, and I want to crawl it in list mode, so I can actually see is this redirecting? Is this giving me a 200 or is it giving me a 404, so let's do a quick browser test and see what happens to it. 

Okay, so it's just going to the homepage. Already I'm starting to think this is probably why this happened and I'm willing to bet, let's get some of their old HTTP stuff, as an old blog post. I'm willing to bet that they've botched the migration and this is why this is happening. It looks like the traffic loss is because they migrated from an old site to a new site and they've not redirected things properly. 

What we can actually see here is, how to take this, how to then go to SEMrush and go to Search Console, pull all the backlinks from there. I'd go into GA, pull all the links from there. I'm going to get a massive list of links, every single URL that's ever existed, reduplicate it and then crawl it. Then I'm going to see all of the places that have not been redirected properly, that may still have link equity pointing to them. 

5th Website: Duplicate Content and On-Page Optimizations

Craig: Let's go through another one. The Dogo Store, it's 100% vegan printed shoes. Not my cup of tea, but probably Ross's. A nice eCommerce store, they're selling a variety of different shoes and bags and stuff like that. 

Looks good, nice website, it gets decent traffic. They have also seen a little bit of a dip in March to April, that could be down to a number of different reasons, but when I'd done a site audit on the website, we see a whole bunch of errors. 

One common thing with eCommerce websites, that you need to remember is these duplicate method descriptions and duplicate content issues that you get, are normally apparent when you're updating your product list all the time. Sometimes you overwrite some of the SEO stuff. 

Now if we look at your actual rankings, and what you rank for, Dogo is a massive, massive brand, they get 40,500 searches a month. If we look at the kind of traffic you're getting, it is pretty much all for branded traffic. You don't actually rank for anything that good, which would lead me to believe that potentially you know you've got a lot of duplicate content and stuff like that on your website, where you've uploaded a supplier's list to your website. 

Your brand has allowed you to get away with that, but regardless of country, if you look at the US audience, again a lot of the kind of volume is coming from branded sales terms. Dogo Shoes London, Istanbul Dogo Shoes.

I would pretty much say the majority of your traffic comes through branded search, which is great; you've got a great brand to play on. But you have a whole bunch of errors and just a whole bunch of warnings on your website, they're talking about duplicate content, duplicate title tags, duplicate meta descriptions, which you're going to have to address. 

I think to be honest, looking at this website, it ranked for a lot of branded stuff, but there is no real on-page optimization of the products or the stuff that's on the website.

Ross: Should we do some questions? 

Craig: Yes. 

Starting an Affiliate Website From Scratch

Ross: Tom is asking, "If you're starting a site from scratch. What are the first things you're going to look at doing?" Tom again, there's an SEMrush video where I talk about SEO project management and we have something called REST and Build. REST stands for research, evaluate, strategy and tactics. That is the order in which you need to do these things, in order to get yourself to a good place. 

Research is things like keywords research and content gap analysis. Make sure you get analytics on there, make sure you get search console on there. Take care of the hygiene things, sitemaps, there's your keywords research correct, there's all of the metadata correct. 

Then start moving onto more advanced things like putting Schema on the website and things like that. If you were to get a brand new domain today Craig, what's the first thing you would do, apart from probably smashing 100 links to it? 

Craig: I would slap a website on it straight away, just a page, whilst I'm going away doing the research. I would just chuck something up there. I'd chuck WordPress on it straight away, slap a page up there. You might not get round to the builds and all the kind of proper content creation for six to eight weeks, but that's just my weird way of doing it. Just get something up, getting some time under its belt. Then go away and do what Ross says. 

I think your approach is research, all of that kind of stuff has to happen from the get-go. You've got to just get your house in order, do the research first and then start to implement stuff along the way, but by the time you do all the research, find a web design, and all of that kind of stuff. You could have two or three months worth of stuff under your belt. 

I know what I'm doing though, if I was coming into the industry, and I didn't really have a website before, obviously, I would never do that. Knowing what I know, I would probably just grab a page up, get an address and smash citations at it and all of that kind of stuff, just to get the GMB stuff going, and then worry about the rest later. 

Ross: We are now getting towards the end of the webinar, Craig what are you going to do for the rest of the evening, anything interesting? 

Craig: I'm going to flout some laws and go out for a drive because I've been online all day. It's been a busy day for me with a few different things, different calls and stuff like that. I need to go out for fresh air. 

Ross: I've not been out of the house in about three days. I'm going to do my one hour allotted allowed run around the park to get a bit of exercise. Everyone watching, Craig if we want to find you, where do we go? 

Craig: It is craigcampbellseo.com. And yours? 

Ross: It's typeamedia.net. That's everything from us guys. Stay safe, stay well, keep social distancing and we will see you shortly. 

Craig: See you later. 

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