Here is another installment of how to make money online series, this post is about how to make money through affiliate marketing. Affiliate Marketing Affiliate marketing is probably the most popular way of making money on the Internet and it doesn’t look like that fact is about to change anytime soon. If you haven’t heard of the term before, affiliate marketing programs are simply where a company offers to pay you a set commission for an action (click, lead or sale) that people perform when you refer them to the affiliate website. Affiliate marketing can seem like a daunting area to step into, but there are many free resources all over the Internet to help you learn. This article will aim to give you a solid introduction into affiliate marketing. Choosing how to do it Affiliate marketing can be undertaken in a few different ways. You can market your affiliates on a fully functioning website you already run (or you could build one) and try to improve its search engine rankings (free traffic). You can build a landing page (explained later in this article) and use pay per click (PPC) advertising to get visitors, who you will then send to the companies website you are promoting. Alternatively you can send visitors directly to an affiliate’s website with PPC advertising, although Google adwords, the most popular PPC Company, will not allow this. Realistically all of these methods can be viable. Choosing an affiliate program/network There are thousands of affiliate programs and affiliate networks that bring advertisers and publishers together, but some of the bigger and more reliable ones include; commission junction, azoogleads, CPA empire, Neverblue ads, hydramedia, clickbank, linkshare, clixgalore, and there are many, many more. Some companies even run their own affiliate program, which cuts out the middleman. Choosing what to promote (niche) Research, research, research… when you are first starting out that’s what it will take. It is good practice to try and find something to promote that hasn’t been done to death or is in a saturated market. There is no need to jump in straight away and try to promote something that has lots of competition as there is an affiliate program for virtually every niche you can think of. A completely free tool to carry out your keyword research is the Google AdWords: Keyword Tool. There are also many other keyword research tools and many will charge a fee for using them. Pay Per Click Advertising – PPC Have you ever noticed those links on the top and side of your search results when using a major search engine? They are PPC advertising listings that someone has paid for. Many affiliate marketers use pay per click to generate leads and sales for their affiliates. The main goal with this option is to make sure you make more from affiliate earnings than you are spending on PPC advertising. With PPC you can either send customers directly to the affiliate website with your personal tracking code or you can create a landing page with your own sales pitch and then lead them to the affiliate page. Using a direct link is cheaper, but is banned on the most popular PPC network Google adwords. There are also occasions when a quality landing page will actually lead to more sales of the affiliate products because you are using a quality sales pitch so it pays to experiment. When using PPC to advertise your affiliates you will need to learn to write compelling ads that people will actually want to click on. The click-through rate, or amount of times your ads are clicked, will influence how highly your ad is listed in the sponsored links section. Try and write an ad that will stand out from the crowd and call people to action. There are many PPC companies, but the big three are Google adwords, Yahoo Publishers Network and MSN, Landing pages You cannot just create a quick page, add a little text and a couple of affiliate banners and expect it to convert into sales. For a start google has a quality score for landing pages that you should try to meet. A quality landing page can even help lift your PPC ad listing. Here are some tips for creating a quality landing page: Google wants to see full pages not just single pages that are a bridge to somewhere else. You need to make your landing page look like a complete website. Add some extra content pages, add a privacy page, terms and conditions, contact us, about us, resources and a sitemap. Always remember that this extra content must still relate to your keywords and it must be original content! Google places a high value on sites with large amounts of incoming links. Get some incoming links by submitting to directories and social bookmaking sites. You could also link to some of the top sites in your niche to give your site credibility. If you’re promoting a product write a review telling people about what you think of it. Finally read the AdWords guidelines for landing pages they wrote the algorithm so they should know!