mexican_cruiseThere’s no doubt about it: user intent is important and adapting your site to match this intent can have a tremendous impact on your success.

If you can master the art of thinking like your reader, you’ll be able to attract more relevant readers to your blog as well as increase the percentage of users that purchase products and services through your affiliate links.

In this post, I’ll give a concrete example of how to improve affiliate content by understanding your reader.

Background Information

Note: This example was taken from a real client of mine. While he granted permission to use the material below, he asked the name of the site remain anonymous. The italic sections below are paraphrased versions of original content.

The site in question was targeted at promoting Mexican cruise vacations. This industry can be extremely competitive, but the business owner had been involved in the Mexican tourism industry for some time and thus had a lot of background knowledge.

In addition to having review pages for many of the top cruise options, he had developed significant content about cruising and vacationing in Mexico, and many of these pages linked directly his affiliate partners. Clicks were high (around 30% of total traffic), but conversion rates were extremely low (less than 0.5% of clicks). Specific product review pages had the highest conversion rates, around 1.5% of clicks.

Example 1: Targeting Primary Review Pages

The first step was to go through the site and redirect most of the affiliate links internally to primary affiliate review pages.

For example, there was a post on The Top 5 Mexican Cruise Vacations that provided short details on 5 different cruises, and linked directly to the external partner websites. The original link text was simply the company name. For example:

The Carnival Mexican Riviera package is one of the premier Pacific Mexican cruises. It provides luxurious comfort aboard a 4-star vessel, with numerous excursion packages available to meet your individual needs.

In this example the “Carnival Mexican Riviera” was an affiliate link to a third party site. We redirected each of these links to a product review page for each cruise, making it clear where, exactly, the link was going:

The Carnival Mexican Riviera package is one of the premier Pacific Mexican cruises. It provides luxurious comfort aboard a 4-star vessel, with numerous excursion packages available to meet your individual needs. Read the full review for more information.

The result is that the reader only clicked through to the review page if they were genuinely interested in the cruise. Instead of ‘tricking’ the user onto the affiliate site, the approach helps the user find exactly what they’re looking for.

Continue on to Part 2 to see the results.