I would like to use this article to introduce a new category on our network blog:

Best Practices

We thought it would be helpful to some if we periodically posted tips and info on how to best utilize our deep linking tools. First and foremost, let me make sure and state that we will not share sensitive marketing techniques from any of our valued Affiliates.

Affiliates, with this post I would like to discuss link building for your Web Service Datafeed Client subscriptions. I’ve written a couple of articles previously on our blog about the Datafeed Client here and here (and here is a helpful tutorial on how to add PHP includes to your subscriptions). There are also a couple of legacy discussions on ABestWeb about this tool…click here to read one.

The first version of this tool was actually created in 2004 before AvantLink existed, and marketed as a third party Affiliate tool. In order to more effectively facilitate the distribution of this product (among other things), the proprietary platform for AvantLink was built, incorporating the Datafeed Client as a subscription based tool integrated within.

There are documents and help files in the Affiliate tool center for configuring, installing and customizing this product; but for the following let’s assume that you already have the client working properly, and customized for an attractive presentation on your site.

Once the Datafeed Client is working, it’s a maintenance free solution that uses a standard SOAP web service definition to interact with AvantLink and serve/cache static HTML pages on your web server. So not only is this a hands off dynamic solution, the output content is 100% search engine readable. Since we update most merchant datafeeds on our end daily, this means that the product content you’re serving is generally no more than 24 hours out of date. Accurate inventory and pricing is paramount to good conversion, so this is important to note.

The most successful Affiliate sites have authority, and good standing in the search engines. A vast organic presence on the SEs takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and original/useful content that naturally gains links over time. But you already know all this, so now the question might become: How would I pass that authority on to my product level datafeed pages?

There are a number of ways you can help the crawlers get to and index these pages, but let me first mention that each Datafeed Client subscription you configure allows you to target that feed to specific categories, product groups or even brands. So consider this when working out your strategy. For example there is no real need to publish the entire Backcountry.com datafeed on your ski related site, when you can just utlilize their Ski category.

Now the fun part. Since your Datafeed Client is functioning it’s time to link build at the product level and return to what you’ve always done to build content and drive traffic. Here are three very effective ways to help get your product level pages ranked effectively in Google et al:

  • Use a blog (we prefer WordPress hands down!)
    Just the nature of blogging in and of itself can drive traffic because generally it’s an authority maintaining the blog, there are constant updates, the permalinks are time/date stamped, and (in the case of WordPress, anyway) each category is by default a tag for the content. Another thing to note with WP is that an auto included plugin called Pingomatic actually syndicates your posts to several dozen blog directories including the biggies like Technorati. This is vastly different from waiting for the search engines to come and find you. So, on a ski related site for example. Add WordPress and blog away. Write product reviews, details on your ski experiences, highlight daily conditions, etc. When you mention a product, deep link to that product in your datafeed.
  • Use a forum (we suggest open source phpBB)
    Install a forum, think critically about the categories and be diligent in helping to jump start the board by getting actively involved. Anytime a user posts a new thread, be sure and comment and/or contribute. After some time of community building the users will start to generate the content and the topics will be compelling. You’ll be effectively publishing gourmet Google food with the help of like minded individuals! Once the forum is established over time, use the content when appropriate to pump link juice into your product related pages on your Datafeed Client subscription.
  • Use PR distribution services (we’ve been loyal to PRWeb)
    It’s pretty much the same idea as deep linking to products through your site articles, blog or forum. There are many PR distributon services out there now. Some hold more link value than others, which means some will cost more than others. But you get what you pay for. In our case for example, we’ve used the $200 distribution level at PRWeb to announce new technology, partnerships and other significant news about AvantLink. Each and every article we distribute includes keyword rich hyperlinks to relevant pages. To see some examples, just check out the “News/Press” category on side bar of this blog.

To conclude, what it comes down to is…

  1. adding a relevant datafeed subscription to a site with authority and good standing out there, then
  2. using any means you can to pump product specific links to product specific pages.

This can be done tastefully and subtly, and the end result will be high organic search engine rankings for your product pages…which means harnessing some of the highest converting traffic in our industry. IE, people searching Google for products they are looking to buy. Happy converting!

Gary M

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