How To Earn Affiliate Commissions In The Travel Industry

This post is a detailed step-by-step guide on how to select the right type of content and generate links for those who embarked on a journey of running an affiliate content project in the travel industry. Some of you may say, “Who cares about the travel industry,, AirBnb, or TripAdvisor have got it all covered”. But I’d like for you to familiarize yourselves with this study conducted by Geno Prussakov, CEO of AM Navigator, that ranks travel affiliate programs the 4th among the top 20 leading affiliate niches.

In case you’re also wondering why an online project should be content oriented, here’s what I have to say. We’ve delivered a comprehensive research that shows what type of sites send the most of their traffic to advertisers. And we’ve also found out that content project sites send over 40% of their traffic to advertisers. We’ll leave it up to you to make up your minds, but numbers don’t lie.Investing in a project like that will be a smart move.

How to find the right topics and burning questions to cover

I would recommend beginning your researching by analyzing the following metrics:

1. The number of tourists that visit this destination. Will this number suffice in the market you want to work in? Let’s imagine you want to run an English-language website that will be dedicated to travelling to Seoul. Let’s take a look at the official stats on the number of tourists that visited Korea in March of 2016 :

2. Next, check whether this topic has enough queries in Google, because the main traffic source in the industry is organic traffic. In order to check this, I normally use SEMrush’s Keyword Tool because it provides a summary of keyword queries that are related to your search term along with the average level of difficulty to rank for this keyword in Google. The screenshot below shows that for the search query ‘travel to Seoul,’ we get a little over 4,000 searchers on a monthly basis and a low keyword difficulty (39.06 percent):

Speaking of more specific queries related to ‘booking a flight to Seoul,’ situation seems to be relatively the same:

3. Check what other sites have written about the topic you select. The easiest way to do this (apart from searching for it in Google (which is not the best way to do it) is to use BuzzSumo, which shows the most viral content for any keyword. Here’s a screenshot that represents all posts that have the keyword ‘travel to Seoul:

This elementary, yet very powerful, analysis will assure you that your topic is in demand and that users are interested in learning relevant information. As a result, your site will begin driving traffic to an advertiser.

How to generate your first links

Without links your site won’t be ranking in Google, and that’s why you have to work on your links. Now I’d like to go through strategies that do not involve buying links or any other manipulative strategies that will lead to a Google penalty.

Links from your SMM profiles

Here’s a low-hanging fruit that you definitely have to take advantage of. Simply create your SMM profiles and link to them on your site.

Guest Posting

This is certainly not one of the cheapest or fastest ways of getting things done, but it allows you to kill two birds with one stone: you’ll get more link juice, and also locate the right anchor texts and links to the pages you want to rank higher in Google. If you’re interested, here’s a link to a list of travel sites that accept guest posts.

Guest posting done right is very effective and can open up a lot of new opportunities: business partnerships, exposure, capturing a wider audience or building a loyal online community.

To get started with guest posting, I recommend considering these steps:

  1. Locate sites you want to contribute to. Start by reaching out to your existing connections. Check your LinkedIn and see if there’s anyone who can help you get your word out there.
  2. Make sure you’ve established and optimized your company’s online persona by setting up social media accounts.
  3. Go to BuzzSumo and see what the industry sharks talking about. Your content has to have some insightful information, teach the reader something new, and be user-friendly in terms of spelling, grammar and segmentation. If you need inspiration, here are a few places to get ideas from:
  • Visit Q&A websites like Quora and search for questions people are asking about your industry. Answer those questions descriptively in your article.
  • What are your industry peers writing about? Can you can provide a different spin on topics they’ve covered?
  • Share your experience by explaining how, for example, you were able to overcome a certain problem.

Creating a roundup post with other travel industry experts

It’s very important to feature those bloggers who are willing to provide you with a backlink. Their domains should be about the same size as yours, and their industry influence has to be within the same range. But in order to increase the impression your article will make, you have to find at least one influencer with a bigger crowd of followers and supporters. This tactic will make your piece of content more attractive to readers and bloggers.
If you’re looking for a list of travel industry bloggers, a BuzzSumo influencers search will help you find the right people:

There are a few reasons why roundup posts are so effective:

  1. Experts featured in your posts will (fingers crossed) share them. To ensure they will for sure share your post with their audience, you need to have some sort of relationship with them, or make certain arrangements by offering them other favors.
  2. It’s authority by association. Once you’ve been spotted in a circle of authoritative or influential individuals, you’ll have your foot in the door, and your business will be in a higher league. And that influence may rub off on you, eventually.
  3. It helps you get more links in the long run, and makes things smoother when trying to expand your circle of professional partnerships.

It’s also important that you need to ask your experts the right type of questions. Influencers are bombarded with questions on a daily basis. Make sure that yours stand out. If your question is something they’ve already answered a hundred times before, they are very unlikely to respond to you.

Linking to sites that might help you get a backlink

Find a blog that you want to get a backlink from. Create a piece or several pieces of content that refer to a particular post or a blog in general and then reach out to the blog owner. The site owner may or may not be interested in linking back to you. And it has to do with quite a few things I’ve already covered in one of my articles. The most important components of success are making sure you address an expert accordingly, you have content worth the expert’s time, your article provides value, and that you are reaching out via a social network the influencer is using actively.

Co-authoring a post

Delivering a post by partnering up with another writer might be another great option for getting a link from a specific website. But keep in mind that you need to carefully research what kind of content the selected site gives preference to, so that your pitch is compelling enough.

Here’re three ground rules if you’re about to start a co-writing partnership:

  1. Negotiate the time needed for drafting sections and for rewriting. This will help you avoid getting anxious about what the other person is doing/not doing.
  2. Agree on who is covering which part, and discuss how changes will be made.
  3. Agree on who’s name will come first in the ‘written by’ line, if it allows for two names in it.

What else can help you monetize your traffic more effectively?

SMM channels

In the very beginning SMM channels can help you get your first visitors while you’re waiting for a steady flow of organic traffic to pour in. According to the AffStat 2016 Affiliate Marketing Benchmark Report, leveraging social networks is the second most plentiful traffic source (67 percent).

Also, it’s essential for content projects to build and nurture a community that will read and share your posts as soon as you publish them. This is also one way to earn links and new visitors.

YouTube videos

YouTube, as a legitimate traffic source, has incredible potential. It’s no secret YouTube videos get indexed in Google search page results.

YouTube has a neat feature called the ‘Traffic sources report,’ which shows the sites and YouTube features that viewers use to find your content. This is very helpful when trying to analyze how users are finding your content. For instance, you can see if viewers are getting to your content by searching directly on YouTube, using the “Suggested Videos” thumbnails, or clicking links on social networks.

YouTube’s statistics, published on their ‘Press’ page states that, “YouTube has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.” Also, speaking of the power of the Internet: “You can navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population).”

Gathering emails

Not all of your website visitors will be forwarded to an advertiser. But don’t give up on those who won’t. Convert those who aren’t ready to take action into email subscribers.

According to QuickSprout, email subscribers are three times more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources. In addition, Statista’s August 2015 survey showed that “65 percent of responding men aged 18 to 34 stated they would prefer to receive regular updates and promotions from brands via email. Email ranked first among all four age and gender groups.”
Using email marketing can help you turn your cold users into loyal customers that will advocate for your brand, share your content, and visit advertiser sites.

A final note

The travel market is one of the fastest growing markets that doesn’t have a competitor breathing down its neck.

I hope this article will make it easier for you to select the right topics that will resonate with your audience, generate links and get your first commission in no time. One thing that you should always keep in mind is that each of the article you’re working on has to be strategically planned out, so that your efforts aren’t futile, because you need links to start receiving organic traffic. I also strongly recommend to always invest in Social Media because it never fails at the very early stages when you’re looking forward to your first users, and it’ll also improve your organic traffic in the long run.

Photo Credit: Ian D. Keating Flickr via Compfight cc