Forgive me for the slightly ranty post, as this isn’t directly about puppy training, but is something I feel is very important, and though many people have never heard of affiliate marketers, they are definitely something that we should all be aware of. Affiliate marketing websites tend to hold a lot of content, but practically all of it is advertising, or disguised advertising. They make their money by picking up search engine traffic, recommending or reviewing products (often that they’ve never actually used or seen) and directing readers to somewhere that they can buy the products, collecting commission if someone makes a purchase through that link.
There is a huge amount of these affiliate marketing sites, and most of them are Amazon affiliates. Amazon will pay a commission to the website owner if their visitors make a purchase through a link on their website within a certain time period (usually around 30 days). This commission for pet products works out at around 7% of the product price. Very tempting, right? It’s even more for books too.
As a result of this high percentage commission, often seen as ‘easy money’, loads of people are jumping on the bandwagon. However, what this means is that there are plenty of people reviewing and recommending products that they have never even tested themselves, and have often picked almost at random. Because of this, I’ve seen so many of our clients and friends who have been mislead by false reviews and recommendations, buying products that they wouldn’t have otherwise – and that aren’t right for them. The problem is that their content is search engine optimised, which is the one thing they really do know all about, which means that when you’re searching for a genuine puppy problem, you are likely to be presented with a range of different affiliate websites that suggest products that supposedly solve your issue.
Of course, it would be unfair to say that all affiliate marketers are bad – some are genuine. But I think it is important that you are aware of, and know how to avoid, those who have vested interests and are misleading:
Do these people have a reputation to stand by?
People are less likely to falsely recommend pet products if they offer puppy training or other puppy services because it puts their reputation at risk. If they’re really putting their name to it, and they’re offering actual services, then that’s a good sign. They are also less likely to recommend and use a product if they are aware of a better solution, as it would be counterproductive and waste their time. Also, experts will genuinely care about helping dog owners with their puppy-related problems, so will only offer genuine solutions. Check the profile of the organisation or individual associated with the post to see if their reputation would be damaged by falsely recommending products.
Ask yourself this question: this website may be full of articles, but beyond publishing articles, do these people actually DO anything? If you can’t see where and what their business does, apart from share “useful advice” and recommend products or books then they’re making money from you reading it.
Be hyper aware of what you are reading
It is easy to click on and read the top three links that appear on Google without really considering who is writing them and why, ready to accept any advice they offer. Websites whose sole purpose is affiliate marketing are usually very long and will always contain links to books or products (usually, but not always, on Amazon). You should always ask yourself about the quality of the content you are reading, and whether it is genuine, or whether it is constructed to advertise and sell the products it is recommending.
I am, by no means, saying that affiliate marketers shouldn’t exist. Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money if you are genuinely recommending products that you have used. What I am saying, however, is that you need to be aware that there are plenty of affiliate marketers that aren’t genuine and it is important to recognise when someone is simply selling a product, rather than giving you advice. This is not necessarily easy, given that these sites compete with trustworthy sources and exploit your genuine puppy needs as a way of selling products. If you have any doubts, do a little research into how respectable the writer is in the puppy field.