Choosing The Best Layout To Optimise Conversions On An Affiliate Site

In a comment on my post on growing my niche affiliate site Dom asked: –

Is there an optimal layout for product review pages and blog post pages to improve conversions which you could recommend or have as a template?

I thought this would be a good one to put into a post of its own, so below I will share with you the layout I have found converts best for this particular model of affiliate site (review + price comparison) and explain a little bit about each of the sections.

Firstly, here’s the layout!

layout

Now let me go into a little bit of detail about each section.

1. Header & Menu

Ok, not too much to say here really. It stands to reason that your header will be at the top, but a few pointers: –

  • Make sure your branding is strong
  • Make sure it is clear what your site offers
  • Don’t go overboard on links in the menu (try and direct visitors to your popular products/pages)

2. High Quality Product Image

A picture tells a thousand words, so put a nice big high quality product image right at the top of your page.

We are visual creatures and a product image above the fold will tell a visitor they are in the right place (reinforcing your header).

For added impact you might want to have a jquery image carousel here, rotating through different angles etc.

3. Top Deal

If you have a price comparison model, then most of your visitors will be looking for the best deal on the product. So give it to them in a nice big box of its own above the fold!

Note, I say ‘best deal’ for a reason as this might not always be the cheapest price. Their might be additional extras included (free delivery etc), so put a bit of text explaining why it is the best deal.

You can also look at charging merchants a premium for being featured in this box 🙂

4. Social Sharing Buttons

Getting people liking/sharing your pages will bring visitors directly from social media and over time help to improve your organic search traffic (social signals).

So make it easy for people to share your content!

5. Product Review

I went into detail in my previous post about why it is important to make your review the best one out there for the product you are promoting, so here are a few additional SEO pointers.

  • Product name in H1 tag at top of review
  • Write naturally and you will use lots of long tail phrases (which as I explained yesterday is where the real traffic is)
  • Link contextually to related products/pages on your site
  • Minimum length of 600 words, but ideally longer

6. Other Offers

Affiliate links to other deals for the product, normally ordered by price (low to high).

7. Links To Content/Blog Pages

The key to success with a niche site is creating a valuable resource, the ultimate authority for the product(s), so provide some links to your high quality content pages (buying guide etc) which will assist a visitor in making a purchase/choosing a model.

8. More Social Media Buttons

Double up on the social media buttons and put them at the bottom of your content too. After all, if someone has read that far they will be likely to share.

You might also want to put another ‘top deal’ box down here.

General Notes

I have found that a 2 column layout with content on the left and affiliate links on the right works best for both conversion and SEO.

One of the main reasons is that it pushes all your affiliate links below the main content (in the html), however it means your ‘top deal’ box will be above the fold (in the browser).

There is a common misconception that google doesn’t like affiliate sites, but that is not the case at all. The problem is where affiliate links/advertising dominate the page to the detriment of content and this layout ensures that the important stuff (as far as google is concerned) comes first.

Important: You should always add the nofollow attribute to affiliate links as they are technically a form of paid link and should not pass pagerank.

You might also want to put them through a redirect (i.e. yoursite/merchant/product) to make the urls look a little neater.

Mobile Version

I’m a big advocate of responsive design and if possible your layout should adapt to different browsers.

For mobile I recommend a single column layout and have found the following has the best conversion (I have kept the numbering the same).

mobile_layout

Always Do Your Own Testing!

Hopefully the above has given you some ideas for laying out your content to maximise conversions on your affiliate pages, however…

You should always conduct your own split testing/tweaking as, while this layout will work for most niches, you may find a better format for certain product categories/topics.

There might also be other sections that you want to include in your layout.

So test, test and test some more!

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or drop me an email and be sure to subscribe for loads more SEO and affiliate marketing tips!

About the Author

I'm a web developer, programmer, blogger and SEO expert from Glasgow, Scotland, with over 15 years experience in the industry. When I'm not writing about marketing and SEO you'll find me strumming the guitar in my band or listening to Revolver on repeat. Follow me on twitter, connect with me on google+ and add us on facebook to keep up with all the latest trends in SEO and online marketing.

Leave a Reply 13 comments

Paddy D. - October 21, 2013 Reply

Hi David
Just had to come back with another few questions:)

Do you use the product image from the merchant store and if you do do you make it somehow unique?

Would you link from the product image directly to the product page in the merchant store?
And if you do would you also no follow the image link?

and unrelated

Apparently Amazon has associates for different countries. Do you sign up to Amazon.co.uk and .com as an associate? How do they handle international sales commission if you only sign up to the UK ?

Super blog and thanks for sharing all this valuable infomration so freely.

Dom

    David McSweeney - October 22, 2013 Reply

    Hi Dom, no worries!

    With most affiliate programs you will be provided images to use to promote the product, so normally yes. If possible I like to use my own images, but this is not always practical.

    Yes, I normally link the product image to the best deal and this is also nofollow.

    Re the international commissions… that’s a good question and one that I’ll be honest and say I’m not 100% sure on. I’m signed up to .co.uk and pretty sure I get commissions on international sales through that, but I’ll try and find out for definite.

PJ - October 21, 2013 Reply

Great post David. Can you show me any live affiliate site with exact/similar format?

    David McSweeney - October 22, 2013 Reply

    Hi PJ,

    Glad you enjoyed the post. I’m trying to be as transparent and give as much information as possible, but would rather not share the exact sites at this time. Hopefully you understand the reasons why. If you have any questions though just leave a comment or drop me an email.

Andy Cockayne - October 22, 2013 Reply

HI David,

A really good and informative post, I’m just looking at resurrecting a couple of ‘old’ Amazon sites and will certainly use your layout format…

You may have answered this question in a previous post so apologies if that is the case;

Do you recommend any particular WordPress theme for your affiliate sites? (assuming that you use WordPress?!)

Regards

Andy

    David McSweeney - October 22, 2013 Reply

    Hi Andy,

    For my affiliate sites I have developed (and use) my own custom system, but wordpress should definitely do the job. I’m actually considering developing some plugins for the price comparison side of things.

Joseph - November 6, 2013 Reply

Nice! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely test your suggestions.

    David McSweeney - November 6, 2013 Reply

    No problem Joseph, best of luck

Camille de befashionlike.com - November 26, 2013 Reply

Hi,
First sorry for my bad english i’m french. Like you i have a affiliate blog, i’m talking about fashion and i monetise with affiliate link and adsense.
I Have 3500 – 4000 / visitors by day but i’m not make a lot of money bettween 1500 to 2000 € by month . Can you tcheck my blog and give me some advice please
my email [email protected]

Best

Fărcaș Gelu Dănuț - December 5, 2013 Reply

I’m sorry for my English language. In my contry (Romania), for affiliate marketing exists many affiliate network: 2parale.ro, profitshare.ro, piatadigitala.ro, afiliere.altex.ro and more.
I’m try to make money with affiliate marketing…not use…i’m not good for this…

Sebastian - July 4, 2014 Reply

I find this article very interesting. I will test some suggestions, for sure.

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