My previous 2 guides: On-page SEO - Why Your Affiliate Site Sucks Simplified Competition Analysis I'm writing a series of guides to help those of you just starting out with some of the basics, and some of the not-so-basics. This forum and others have been good to me, so hopefully this series will be useful to those trying to figure out how to get started. I'm going to talk about how I do things, and what has worked for me with affiliate marketing. I've been in the game for a little over a year, and in that time I've built up a full-time income stream that just keeps increasing. One caveat of this guide: I'm going to be giving out a lot of great info here which you can use to rank your sites and make money, but I will be upfront and honest about one thing: There are a few things which I consider to be "trade secrets" which are generally not discussed in open forums. These are things that you will have to find out on your own, and there is almost no amount of money you could pay to learn these things, because the people at the top do not share the methods that give them a competitive advantage over others. That said, everything I'm mentioning here will give you a huge headstart and was enough for me to rank lots of sites #1 and make good money. The "secrets" are those things you learn after you're already doing well, and which will allow you to tackle tougher niches. Progression of Grey Hat SEO Link Building When you first start out, you're likely going to be doing most of the link building yourself. I recommend this because before you can outsource, you need to understand what you're paying someone else to do. What kind of output should they be able to produce? Are the links easy to get or tough? Do the links have much power? Stage 1: You are manually building all links. You write the articles, make the blog posts/comments, and post on forums with sig links, etc... Stage 2: You still do your own linking, but you buy services on forums too to help or subscribe to monthly blog posting/article services. Stage 3: You start outsourcing the articles and "busy work" to either a VA or other providers who do these services. Stage 4: You have at least one full-time VA who handles all linking. You simply put in your URLs/Keywords in a spreadsheet, and they take care of the rest and send you reports. This is the stage I'm at now. Stage 5: You have someone who manages the VA's, linking, updating sites, etc... Essentially this is where your business becomes almost hands-off besides the all important tasks of deciding which niches to target and some managerial duties. You can see how all of this leads to simply being able to scale massively. I go with the approach of having dozens of affiliate sites (soon 100+), and the only way you can link to all of them is by being able to efficiently scale. Even as a beginner, you need to have a long term plan of not only how you can make $3k/mo, but how you can make $10k, $20k, and $100k/mo. You can do that with this plan. Stage 1 This probably isn't news to many of you, but blog networks work. I recommend downloading Spinner Chief, which is a free spinning software. This way, you can spin the hell out of your articles and increase the odds that they are indexed when you post to the networks. Once you have a few dollars to spend, you can upgrade the software and it produces some of the most readable auto-spun text I've ever seen. Networks I recommend: Authority Link Network - Have someone help you buy a domain and get it setup for ALN. It's an entire guide in itself to teach you how to buy a good domain and get it setup, so just try and find someone willing to help you and pay them to do it. Do not ask me, I don't have the time. Article Ranks - You can take that same site used for ALN and also add it to AR and get posting credits here. With these two networks, you'll be able to generate a ton of high quality links to your site for very little cost other than your time and one PR2 website. But what about Facebook, Twitter, +1, yadda yadda, etc... Fuck it. You don't need it. I put a social media widget on my sites and let people click that if they like my sites (I try very hard to make good sites), but I do absolutely nothing but article marketing/blog posts and CRUSH for high value niches all the time. No need to make this more complicated than it is. Stage 2 Here you're doing everything recommended in Stage 1, but adding some services from forums and/or more expensive article networks. Recommended Blog Network: Traffic Kaboom. This network manually reviews every article put into the network, and generally requires a much higher quality level of article. They chase a lot of spammers away who post a lot of the crap you see on ALN, so their network has generally proven to be much more stable and less prone to de-indexation. Forum services: I won't pimp anyone in particular, but in general the services I would pay for are those who do high PR blog posts on their own private network. Not ALN posts, or whatever, I'm talking about the people who actually own a network of 50-100 sites, and post articles to those. I wrote a guide on how to choose good high PR blog posting services if you would like more info from someone (me) who knows a lot about them. Stage 3 You should be having your VA write all the articles and post them to your networks at this point. You may also be considering something even more powerful for your important money sites, and this is where high PR homepage links come into play. As a former provider of these types of links on other forums, I know a little about them (no I do not provide them anymore and will not be offering this service, so please don't ask). High PR homepage links are basically just old fashioned link pyramids, BUT they have very valuable links pointing to them that generally cannot be bought or gained through other means. For instance, anyone can create a web 2.0 site and then fire a ton of xrumer and other trash links at it, but no one (that I know) can pay the NYtimes to run an article about their business and put a link to it on their site. These are the type of links we are trying to get with a high PR homepage network. In addition, you get the advantage of already having the link pyramid in place. Traditional Blackhat techniques would require you to start from scratch and blast away, while a high PR network already has the link pyramid in place, which can be directed at any site. The power given by the homepage links is transferable to any keyword, which means it doesn't matter what kind of site you have your links on, it only matter how many and how powerful the links are which are pointing to the high PR site. This brings up an important point about these networks though: Pagerank is not a true indicator of the link power a site will provide. Most homepage networks advertise the PR of the sites in their network. I don't really care about that much anymore. I prefer to know how many domains are linking to the site in MajesticSEO, and the PR of the links pointing to the site. Not (m)any providers will give this info out, and it's mainly because the people who buy these links do not understand what they are buying and don't ask for it. You should. In addition, there are other concerns with these networks such as de-indexing. As far as I know, I've essentially solved this issue for the time being and have not had a problem in over 6 months with any site, but I've heard quite a few other networks still have problems. Stage 4: We're getting pretty far beyond the basics now, and this is the level I'm at, so no need to mention what I'm currently doing for those who are already doing well enough to be competitors FAQ: Q: Do my links need to be on relevant sites within my niche? A: No. End of discussion. Q: Anchor text? A: I prefer a mixture of my keywords and generic "website" "click here" etc... Think about how someone would naturally link to your site, and do that. Q: What about X Y Z technique of building links? A: I don't know, it could be awesome and way better than what I do. All I know is that what I do works, and I'm in some very competitive affiliate niches. Q: What is the secret sauce you mentioned earlier that you're not telling us? A: If you're smart, you will start to figure these things out on your own as you go along. Just always question what you are doing and whether there is a better way to get more powerful links and to easily scale your operations. Summary This will get most of you headed in the right direction, and my only hope is that I have a big enough head start on you fuckers that I didn't just cut my own nuts off. Enjoy.