Have you ever stopped to think why large companies and gaming operators, with massive marketing budgets, turn to us, the affiliates to generate business? When you stop and think about it, it seems a bit ridiculous, but those of us who have been around a long time know exactly why, it’s because historically affiliates were vigilantes, we were the ones creating crash and burn domains that stole search engine traffic from big brands who had too much to risk to make the bold moves.

Time has moved on, and it takes more than crash and burn methodologies to compete. We are busy building communities and reputations, and becoming brands in our own right in order to compete, but in many ways we still have all the same advantages we ever did, we just need the balls to use that advantage.

All too often I speak with affiliates who are looking to do big brand SEO, what I like to call vanilla SEO, if you answer yes to the following statements, chances are this is what you’re doing;

    • I read dozens of SEO blogs and implement the techniques they talk about throughout my site
    • I want to see other people getting results before I make a change
    • I was hit by the Panda update
    • I base my content on keyword research
    • I track my rankings


If you’re trying to advertise a hairdressing business in rural Ohio these techniques are fine, but they’re only going to get you so far. They work for the big boys by sheer strength of brand, and what option do those guys have when they’re scared of doing anything that might hurt the brand and it takes 12 weeks to get every website change even scheduled with the dev team, who will only turn it away for some non-existent reason (I love developers, as long as they do what I want)

So what’s the alternative to vanilla? It’s going back to vigilante roots of course. Affiliates are agile; we’re small and move quickly to respond to changes in the marketplace.  On Black Friday it wasn’t the brands responding to customers, it was affiliates. It’s affiliates who fill the forums and provide all of the best information, and it’s affiliates who pioneered SEO long before SEO became a job, as I’m sure many of you remember.

There is a risk, there’s no getting away from it, but it’s a manageable one. It’s a gamble, but you decide how much you want to lose. If you’re testing new strategies, segmenting your customer base, using analytics data rather than keyword research to make decisions, watching the news for first response opportunities and quirky ideas, trialing HTML5 on article pages and testing every insane idea that comes into your head on a safe or burnable domain, then you’re ahead of the curve, you’re a vigilante, in the same mindset as the affiliate pioneers of SEO, and you’re probably way ahead of the competition.

Ultimately the choice is yours, do you want to be vanilla, safe and steady, or do you want to roll the dice for the opportunity to become the next major player?

About Scott Polk

Scott Polk has built his expertise as a knowledgeable and experienced Search Engine Optimization/Internet Marketing strategist for more than a decade.

He concentrates his resourcefulness and skills on the diversified aspects of Search Engine Optimization for clients, where he’s earned the distinction of consistent top rankings in all major search engines. Scott is consistently involved in technologies that maximize Conversion, Usability and Accessibility when optimizing & developing large web sites as well as identifying problems/solutions that result in major cost saving strategies.

Currently he is the Co-Founder of ObsidianEdge Marketing – a full service internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, Social Media, Link Building and PPC. Scott frequently speaks at professional internet marketing conferences world-wide on SEO (PubCon, Affiliate Summit, iGaming and others).

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