Why Cloaking is not Good for a Long Term Affiliate Business

In the past  2 weeks, I have been contacted by almost 20 people on facebook and through emails, basically asking for a way out, As they are tired of the regular cat and mouse game with traffic networks.
First of all, cloaking itself is not bad and can be a very effective tool against bot traffic and to prevent your competitors from spying on you..

The concept of Cloaking

The concept of Cloaking is very simple, using cloaking you can redirect the unwanted traffic to another page or website. For example; let’s say I don’t want traffic from a certain country, city or a traffic source on my blog, I can easily redirect them to another website based on their visitor data.

How affiliate marketers use traffic

In affiliate marketing, cloaking is mostly used to deceive traffic networks. Let’s say I want to promote an offer which violates Google/Facebook advertising policy, using cloaking we can show a legit offer but in reality promote the offer which violates the traffic network policies to people.

For example, let’s take  a scammy Offer like  “forskolindietdr.com”. If I promote this offer directly on Google adwords/Facebook ads, my campaign will never be approved by the traffic networks, as it violates their advertising guidelines.  In order to promote my offer on these networks I would have to use cloaking, which simply means I will redirect Google/Facebook reviewers to a reputable website, something like this NHS Article.  This website is for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, I can easily get away with it and get my campaign approved; where all Google/facebook reviewers and Bots are redirected to the NHS website, and all the other traffic ( visitors ) are sent to the scammy weightloss offer.

affiliate Cloaking

How affiliates use Cloaking

Why Cloaking works

The main reason people tend to go for such offers is the over exaggerated trust that people have on sites such as Google and Facebook. This relates more to the older generations, because they are less aware of scams and how the internet is used to manipulate people into spending money. For example, grandpa’s and grandma’s  are more susceptible to buying things online, without researching, as compared to younger generations. To some, the internet is still fairly new and a large group of people are still unaware how internet works.

Another reason is the attractive ads, the colors and the pull element to them. Advertisers are aware of what their users are searching for and what they want, so they appeal to that nature. Like any ad. For example weight loss consumers will want imagery, and information about how “quick and effective” the products are, they are less likely to read the fine print, because they have already been lured by the attractiveness of the ad. these offers are more likely to focus on attractive ads rather than factual information, their aim isn’t to gain the trust of their consumers, but to just make sales.

Why Cloaking is Not Worth your time

Now let’s talk about cloaking in 2017, have you noticed cloaker prices are falling down ? There were days when cloakers used to charge thousands of dollars! These days you can easily buy a cloaker tool for $200 per month. The reason is that the good days of cloaking are gone, now everyone and their dog has a cloaker account and the competition is getting higher and higher.. Apart from that, traffic networks are coming down hard on affiliates using cloakers, which has caused the account ban rate to increase … It’s really hard for the affiliates to make sure they have sufficient supply of ad network accounts as compared to the ban rates by the ad networks.

So if you are thinking to just enter the world of cloaking, I would advise you to save your time and efforts and use them on something better, long lasting and completely whitehat, instead of shortcuts like cloaking. Just like the last stage of blog networks, they were a big thing amongst affiliates a few years ago, until google wiped them out completely. Yes there are still blog networks, but only those who know their stuff. All those who were in the market who had no real skill got wiped out, I am sure that’s what’s going to happen here soon. Especially with tech giants specially focusing on Artificial intelligence, it won’t take long… Facebook has already started; Read this  : News Feed FYI: Addressing Cloaking So People See More Authentic Posts Adding to this, Google is already working against cloaking behind the scenes and they have  shifted their anti cloaking preparations to a new office ( un confirmed source).

Focus on Long Term Business Goals

I have been working in this industry for 7 years and i have seen many shortcut methods like this which play with systems. Again I would like to mention private blog networks as one of the best examples. If you are serious about an affiliate marketing business, you should always try avoiding shortcuts which play with the system. You might make some money for a while but at the end of the day you will learn no real skills and once your method dies down you will have to start again from zero.

I always advise people to start with whitehat methods , It could be slow, but will teach you skills which you can use anywhere in your life. It also often takes the same effort as Black Hat methods. However once you are established you have skills that  can yield better results, as compared to shortcuts like cloaking. It also depends on your own morals as well, if you want to sell scammy products to people or if you want to make a living by promoting legit products. That Decision is yours …

Facebook Audience Network Now Open for All Advertisers

Facebook has been texting and expanding their Facebook Audience Network (FAN) for well over a year now.  It started out with the option just to run advertisements using their network in a wide range of different mobile apps.  To build on that success they have been running a closed beta test that would allow advertisers to use FAN to run ads on mobile websites.

They have just announced that they are opening up the network for all advertisers to run their ads on mobile websites as well, in addition to the app ads.

This is very significant news for the 2.5 million advertisers who currently use Facebook’s ad service as well as many others who will likely begin.  In fact, some experts are calling this a “Google AdSense Killer” since it will largely open up Facebook’s ad network to compete in most of the same areas that Google has formerly dominated.  Google will, however, still control the shrinking desktop ads.

While I don’t see this move as being able to ‘kill’ AdSense, it will certainly give it some very stiff competition!

Facebook has also done an exceptional job at making it easy for mobile publishers to join their network.  They use a simple HTML tag rather than an SDK integration.  This means that new publishers can be using their system the very day without any trouble.  Whether they will make more money switching to FAN or continuing with AdSense remains to be seen.  Of course, many will choose to use both networks to attempt to maximize their earnings.

In Q3 2015 Facebook earned 78% of their $4.49 billion in ad revenue from their mobile ads.  With this move we will almost certainly see that number shoot up considerably.

Whether you are running a mobile website and want to add another income stream or you are a marketer looking for exciting new advertising opportunities, the Facebook Audience Network just became more attractive.

You can learn more about this move from Facebook’s announcement HERE.

‘Facebook Mentions’ Becoming Valuable Tool for Public Marketers

Facebook Mentions is an application that is designed to let people know what users are saying about their articles and other posts.  It is most commonly used by celebrities, journalists and other public figures who need to keep up to date about how people are interacting with their posts.  Many marketers, however, could benefit from this application too, especially with a new update that is being rolled out.

Mentions will now allow users of the app see what those on Facebook are saying about their posts on the social network, even if they are not tagged or otherwise mentioned in the post.  This is a great feature that will allow people to learn about how others are reacting in a near-real time way.

Vadim Lavrusik, the product manager, and Liz Heron, the head of journalism partnerships, said in a blog post, “Today, we’re adding the ability for journalists and content creators using Mentions to see what people are saying about their articles on Facebook, even if the person doesn’t mention the author by name.  As a journalist, you can use this feature in your mentions feed to get a sense of how people are reacting to your articles and connect with them directly.”

The Mentions app is only available to ‘public figures’ who are verified on Facebook so this will not help all marketers or brands.  It is increasingly popular, however, that ‘Internet Celebrities’ are transitioning into real public figures.  This can even be the case for many marketers who are building their brand around their own name.

Anyone who has qualified to become a ‘verified’ Facebook user will certainly want to use this mentions app, and the new features being rolled out into it are very attractive.  In fact, these new features may make it worth it for many ‘mid-level’ public figures to attempt to become ‘verified’ by Facebook so they can access this platform.

Part of the new features include an ‘author tag’ that public figures will need to put on their website.  This will allow Facebook to associate all activity associated with a post to be tracked.  This is a nice option to take the place of the Google Authorship tag, which has fallen out of use over the past couple years.

Anyone who has a verified Facebook account will want to make sure they add this new tag to their site to ensure they are getting all the great benefits of this new app.

Facebook & Google Both Testing new Features for On Site Shopping

In the past several days there have been very interesting announcements from both Google and Facebook.  While unrelated to each other, they are both beginning some testing on new features that will allow people to make purchases right on their respective sites.  Facebook is testing the option to effectively put a ‘store’ right on a business page, and Google is experimenting with a ‘buy button’ within the search results that will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

While they are both in the testing phases right now, it is good to get familiar with them early so if (or more likely, when) they roll out to a wider audience, you can begin to capitalize on them right away.  There aren’t too many details on what types of things will be able to be sold, many people expect that marketers will be able to promote their own products or affiliate items using these features, which will present significant opportunities.

Facebook’s Shopping Pages

Reports show that Facebook is looking to build “Shops within Facebook Pages” so that you can sell items directly to ‘friends’ or other followers.  This is a smart move since it will help to keep people on their page much longer than would otherwise be possible, and it will also make it much easier for marketers and brands to generate sales more quickly.

Marketers are already using Facebook to get their products in front of their audience, so it just makes sense for Facebook to give them the opportunity to make a sale within the social network.  This will also benefit users since it will be much easier to make a purchase.  Much of the information that they need to fill out will be able to be automatically added directly from Facebook’s database of user information.  During the testing phase, Facebook is not taking a cut of any sales or anything like that, which is nice.  So far, it seems that they don’t plan on requiring any commission even after it rolls out.

Purchases on Google

In a similar but unrelated report, Google has also announced that they are testing a feature called, “Purchases on Google.”  This feature has been rumored to be coming for quite some time, but this is the first time it is actually out there in a live environment.  Google is working with a very small number of high volume retailers to test out their system, which will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

The feature is designed to help improve the purchasing experience on mobile devices.  When you do a search for something, the ads that show up may contain a buy button (or something similar) that will take you to a branded page to make a purchase. Once there, much of the information will be filled out for you, potentially even payment information if you have it on file, so you can make a purchase with just a few taps.  This, of course, will be much easier than trying to type everything in on your mobile device.

The testing phase is expected to expand over the coming months and continue through the holiday season.  At that point Google will evaluate its success and likely begin rolling it out to additional marketers and brands.

Both of these new features could be significant opportunities for all types of marketers.  Keeping an eye on them is going to be very important for the long term success of most businesses today.

Facebook to Give Video Creators 55% of Revenue from Suggested Videos

In an obvious attempt to lure video creators away from YouTube, Facebook will be offering many of them a share in the revenue that is generated from ads on or near their videos.  Starting this fall, video creators including the NBA, Fox Sports and Funny or Die, will receive a 55% cut of the ad revenue that appears on the social network on or near their videos.

YouTube has long been giving content makers a portion of the ad revenue, so this is somewhat of a game of ‘catch up’ for Facebook, but an important one none the less.  YouTube offers the same 55/45% revenue split.  The big advantage that Facebook will have is that it is actually growing much more rapidly in terms of generating video views.

Thanks to their auto-play feature and the massive popularity of the social network, many video creators will be able to get millions of views with fairly little promotion.  In addition, Facebook makes it easier for these videos to be seen by people who aren’t directly searching for them.  As videos get liked or shared by people on Facebook, the audience will naturally grow.  While there is some of that on YouTube, the bulk of videos are seen by people who are actually searching for a specific topic.

Video creators have been using Facebook in the past because it was an important tool for getting their videos seen by this huge audience.  This, however, will provide further incentive.  Dan Rose, VP of Partnerships at Facebook recently told Forbes, “Partners say they’d publish a lot more if they could get benefit of distribution but also make money.”  Of course, this is not really surprising.  Paying video makers to publish on your platform is an obvious way to increase the total number of videos being published.

How it will Work

The system will work when someone clicks on a video in the News Feed.  They will then see a suggested videos page, with a list of videos created by Facebook’s algorithm.  These videos will be similar to the original content, and will play automatically as the user scrolls through.  Unlike typical News Feed videos, which start off muted, these will play with sound since the user has already opted to hear it with the original video click.

The videos that are viewed on this suggested videos page will generate revenue for the publishers.  If someone watches multiple videos in one session, the revenue will be split based on the amount of time the user spends on each video.

Currently this system is still technically just in testing phase according to Facebook.  Assuming it is fully rolled out, many expect that the number of video creators that qualify for the program will grow significantly.  It is not yet clear, however, how marketers will be buying space on the Suggested Videos page.  For now, Facebook won’t be charging advertisers for these ads so that they can see how the system will work in a live system.

Deep Linking Now Available from Facebook Ads

Many marketers have been using Facebook ads to promote app installs.  This is a great option for many because of the fact that most people on Facebook today are already using mobile apps, and often engaging with Facebook itself from within the mobile app.  Up until this point, however, Facebook only allowed app install ads that link directly to the app install itself, or to open the app if it was already installed.

Installing app

Deep-linking is a strategy that allows ads to open the app to a specific page internally.  In the past, this was only allowed for re-engagement ads, which are also quite popular.  While this can be a confusing concept, Facebook developers have explained it like this:

“When a person taps on a mobile app install ad on Facebook, the developer can choose to send them to a specific place in their app after it’s been downloaded, such as a product page rather than the homepage.  This will make mobile app ads more effective for achieving a developers goals beyond the install, and provide people with better experiences by taking them to the content that attracted their attention in the ad.”

They went on to give an illustration saying, “For example, if a travel app is running mobile app install ads featuring a vacation to San Francisco, people who install the app and open it will be taken directly to information about the San Francisco offer.  This makes it more likely the person will find information about the San Francisco trip that interested them, rather than having to search for it manually.  Removing extra steps between clicking the ad and getting to the travel offer provides a more seamless customer experience.”

This has long been possible when running ads that simply ‘re-open’ already installed apps, but this is a new and important feature for apps that are being installed for the first time.  Any marketer who is promoting app installs or any services related to apps will want to be sure to look into this option as it has the potential to dramatically improve conversion rates, which is essential for affiliate marketers of all types.

The new option is available now on all Facebook ads accounts so don’t delay in getting yours set up and running right away.  Of course, remember to gather data to see how effective this new option is for you.

Survey Shows Facebook will be the Dominant Social Network for the Super Bowl

With the super bowl just days away most people are as excited about the commercials and marketing opportunities as they are about the actual football game. In recent years, one of the biggest points of interest for many in the digital marketing industry has been on how people will be talking about the game online. For years the two main options have been Twitter and Facebook, and that certainly won’t be changing for Super Bowl XSLIX.

Super Bowl

According to a recent online survey run by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, 66% of viewers plan on posting about the game on Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, will be getting just 56% of the total conversation. Obviously this shows that there will be many people who are using both social media options throughout the game.

In third place will be Instagram, at 31% and fourth place is Snapchat at just 11%.

These numbers were then broken down by age and other factors as well. Some interesting statistics include the following:

  • 78% of females will be using Facebook vs. 45% using Twitter
  • For males, 55% use Facebook and 68% use Twitter
  • Viewers who are 18-24 years old will be the biggest users of Snapchat, at 43%
  • The older age groups, those aged 35-44 will stick with Facebook, at 76%

The survey wasn’t just about what platforms people will be using to discuss the game, however. It also looked at how they would be accessing these social networks. Of all the Super Bowl viewers, the survey found that 61% of them will have their smartphone in their hand throughout the game to post on social media. 24% will be using a tablet, and just 20% will have their laptop. Again, many people will be using two or more devices during the game.

Of course, millions of people will be sharing their thoughts and emotions about the game, but millions more will be talking about and sharing their favorite commercials of the day. Given the millions of dollars many companies are spending to get their ads run during the game, this will be most welcomed by all the marketers.

It is expected by many that whichever commercials turn out to be ‘fan favorites’ this year will actually be seen far more on YouTube and other online sites than they will during the actual game. In fact, some of the companies have already published their commercials themselves online, or started hyping up their Super Bowl ads.

If you are a marketer of any type, make sure you take advantage of this huge event. Even if you can’t afford the multi-million dollar price tag to advertise on the actual game, you can get a lot of attention by posting from your brand’s social media accounts. Make sure you use the proper hashtags and share other popular posts frequently to get the most out of this game for your company.

Whether you are watching for the Football game, the advertisements or a little of both, the chances are that you’ll be talking about it with people from throughout the country on your favorite social media platform. In fact, brands and marketers are banking on it.

Organic Advertising on Facebook to take a blow in January

In a recent blog post from Facebook, which you can read HERE, they announced that effective sometime in January, they will be updating the way their News Feed displays content. The biggest change is that they will be throttling promotional content. What this means to the average advertiser is that it will be more difficult to use their Facebook pages to promote their business to existing followers.

Organic social media traffic from facebook pages

The post specifically said that posts that have any of the following points will be throttled (taken directly from the post):

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

The blog post states that they are making this change after surveying Facebook users. Specifically, they said, “…We often look to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve. As part of an ongoing survey, we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

While it is likely true that Facebook users responded to the survey saying that they wanted to see less promotional content, it is not as clear that they were talking about posts from pages that they were following. In all likelihood, Facebook is likely making this change for much more selfish reasons.

If Facebook can limit the ability for marketers to use their Facebook Pages to interact with their followers, they will be more likely to decide to purchase Facebook ads so that they can get the desired visibility. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that despite the claim by Facebook that their readers don’t want to see as much promotional material, they are not cutting back on the frequency that people will be seeing ads.

Of course, actual advertisements on the social network are likely what most people are talking about when they complained about promotional content in their News Feeds. When Facebook users ‘like’ a company page, they know that they will be getting updates from that page, and that the updates will be primarily about the company and the products they are selling.

People like business pages precisely because they want to see the promotional content, which often contains special deals or other information that is useful to the person following the page. Ads, on the other hand are normally unsolicited and for pages that the user has not voluntarily ‘liked.’   Of course, Facebook does do a good job at targeting their ads, but that is entirely beyond the point.

At this point there is not enough data about this change to be able to determine exactly what effect it will have on advertisers who rely on organic Facebook traffic, it is very likely going to be quite a significant problem.

Combination of Social Media & SEO – A Perfect Mix

SEO and Social mediaDue to the stiff competition in the online industry, the success of any digital marketing campaign of any website is now completely dependent on its wider digital presence. SEO is considered to be the best method for increasing the popularity and web presence of your online business and success can be achieved by simply interlinking your company`s website to its different social media properties. It is said that the more links, retweets and likes you receive, the better your presence and chances of getting noticed would be, this will also help in increasing your rankings in the SERPs.
SEO is no longer enough for your company to stay online and get noticed (especially when Google is launching one update after another). A solid social media campaign can work well along with SEO for the production of great results for your online business in the long run. Once you add social media into your SEO campaign, you can see a dramatic improvement in your rankings and overall traffic. The reason for this quick improvement in the rankings is the constant sharing and redistribution of your content via these social platforms, which makes the search engine think that your website provides high quality content and the audience is actually appreciating the content.
Today almost all of the online businesses have their social media accounts and they are aggressively using them for the promotion and sharing of their content. Google+1s along with Facebook likes, Pinterest and tweets are proving to be the best sources of increasing SEO rankings and referral traffic. The reason for this quick effect to rankings by these social media hubs is that Google has started giving sufficient weightage to the social shares a particular website has in its search algorithm.

Social platforms and activities on them are now being incorporated by the search engines within their respective ranking systems. The result of these modern SEO strategies along with effective social media campaigns is simply amazing. This fact has given birth to the use of quality and engaging content which has the potential of going viral on social media. Now if your content is of high quality and is interesting enough to engage the readers then sharing of this content via social media would automatically boost up. If it is readable, relevant, and interesting, then people will go for it, read it and would surely share it at different social media platforms to let their family and friends know about it as well.

Your SEO strategy will automatically turn into success if you keep your company’s social presence maintained. The more socially active you are; the better you can spread awareness among your targeted audience and grab their attention. Similarly attention of people towards your content would result in more reviews and social shares. The quality of the content is much worth as compared to the quantity. All you have to do is to generate high quality engaging content. The number of shares, likes and tweets to your content is highly dependent upon the quality of your content and once you start producing quality stuff, believe me, sharing would be an automatic process then due to the viral nature of most of the social networking sites. This way you can achieve higher search engine rankings that will ultimately result into a solid clientele looking for your business both on social media and through Search Engines as well.