How to: Make a Thin Affiliate Site Thick

“It’s the girth that matters.” — GoogleBot

Problem: You have an affiliate site in the tried-and-true “ads as content” (product comparison directory) format, but it’s either not indexed, or not ranking.

Solution: Make your thin site thicker. Google respects thickness.

Ways to make a thin site appear thicker:

  • Remix content. The beautiful thing about datafeeds is you can take free content from the merchant (that other affiliates, unfortunately, also have access to) but rearrange it in a unique way so that the page “as a whole” is unique.
  • Find and replace. Go through the datafeed. Take some common words or acronyms and replace them with words that have the same meaning to a reader but look different to a bot. Find and replace PMI with ‘private mortgage insurance’. Find and replace the word ‘mortgage’ with ‘home loan’.

OK those things are just tiny bits and pieces and obviously Google is 10 steps ahead of me in large scale textual analysis, but I believe every little bit helps. In a “signal of quality” era, slight tweaks could mean the difference between being on the right edge of Supplemental, and being on the wrong edge. Of course, appearing thicker only gets a site so far.

Ways to make a thin site actually thicker:

  • Combine unique content with the dupe content. A page will still appear unique “as a whole” if you have, say, 200 words of unique introductory text above 800 words of dupe (or nearly-dupe) content.
  • Tack some original, remarkable content onto the site and get it well-linked. If your site has 100 pages which are “somewhat thin” and another 20 pages which are “very thick”, the site as a whole is thicker than if you just had 100 “somewhat thin” pages. If you can get these thicker pages links and traffic from social media, the site is also going to be more defensible, period. Even if you only have one page that’s best-of-breed (a true authority/resource), Google’s results are going to be less relevant if they disinclude your domain. That’s the position you want to be in.

So, in summation, here’s my recipe to make a thin site thick: Take all those thin/dupe pages. Remix/rearrange the content a bit. Find/replace some common words. Take some new unique content and sprinkle it throughout. Finally, add a few 100% unique and remarkable pages and get them some quality links. Bam!

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5 comments ↓

#1 Everett on 06.13.07 at 4:40 pm

And LINK OUT using regular organic links that don’t have a nofollow tag, don’t go through redirect and aren’t affiliate or PPC links. This has made the biggest impact on my affiliate sites because it doesn’t seem like the user is trapped into hitting back, closing the window or “clicking out” on a paid link.

At first, I thought hiding the link behind a redirect would do the trick so the search engines couldn’t see that it was a LS/CJ/SAS link, but that didn’t work. So I added an “other resources” section near the bottom of the page and used that to link out (with a normal link) to places like wiki, howstuffworks, .gov and .edu sites. The users rarely see it because it’s not in a hot portion of the screen, but the search engines no longer see me as a “thin” affiliate.

Worked like a charm.

Normally I keep my mouth SHUT, SHUT, SHUT about stuff that works for me. I like money. But this blog has given me so much inspiration that I feel obligated. Now if only you would stop nofollowing your blog comments I’d share more often.

;-)

#2 judd_muir on 06.14.07 at 3:31 am

I know what you mean about inspiration! I’m trying to live the dream the second time around - first time was in the good old “page rank is everything” days, when I made a mint in the affiliate travel industry. Blew it all instead of paying attention to the changing world of SEO, now wiser but poorer…trying to get the hang of the new SEO magic, and looking for a sensible market to break into, but it’s not proving easy. Andy, your blog is a true inspiration - you’re holding on to the dream, but man are you plugged in to this world!

#3 Hobo SEO on 06.14.07 at 5:10 pm

Surely taking the time to try and create more useful original content is best at all times (although sometimes I wonder is it best NOT to have too much good content on a page if you are an adsense obsessive - which i am unfortunately not)

#4 kensavage on 06.20.07 at 9:17 am

re: “It’s the girth that matters.” - that’s something us irish catholics in Boston say all the time.

anyways

what affiliates offer feeds of their product? I only use 2 CPA affiliates and I don’t see them offering it. Do I have to ask?

#5 admin on 06.20.07 at 9:35 am

> what affiliates offer feeds of their product?

Not many do, you have to seek ‘em out