Now that we’ve imported our store datafeed into WordPress using the datafeedr plugin, I’m going to show you how to integrate it into your blog navigation and posts, and also how to add original content and fine-tune SEO options.
This is the third installment of the series “How to Build an Affiliate Store in WordPress“
Enter “Datafeedr“. As we’ve already learned in this series, Datafeedr is both a service and wordpress plugin that helps you manage affiliate data feeds from Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, and Clickbank. You choose the choose the products you want to display and setup categories to list them in as I showed in How to Setup Datafeedr in WordPress. Now I’m going to show you how the WordPress plugin integrates your affiliate store into your blog in ways that no other product or service does.
Datafeedr Widgets: When we logged into the Datafeedr members area in the last post, we created an entire affiliate store by setting up categories and adding products from various merchants. Then we downloaded that datafeed and imported it into WordPress using the Datafeedr plugin – which in turn created an entire store with categories and products. Datafeedr has 5 “widgets” ready to go for your sidebar. Once you import your store into WordPress, using these widgets you can add the store, categories, pages, search, and featured products into your sidebar navigation. You can use as many or as few of the widgets as you’d like.
In this example I added 3 widgets to integrate my affiliate store in my blog navigation. You can’t see it in this pic, but on top is a search box for my entire blog. Next is a search box for the store (clearly labeled). Next are the pages listed in my blog, and then a link to the store home. Then I have store categories, and then blog categories. At all times, my store navigation links are clearly labeled – we’re not trying to trick anyone here. We are, however, trying to make the links to the store as natural as possible – just as is best for setting up an Adsense block. We didn’t have to manually create any links at all, and as the store evolves and changes (and categories change) – the navigation will automatically be updated.
Datafeedr SEO Qualities: So, now that we have an affiliate store officially setup and available in navigation – let’s look at the SEO qualities of the store itself.
You have the exact same options for the category pages, but I chose to leave that default since the HTML and page titles are all generated dynamically for each category (which is GREAT seo!). This was also true of the product pages. I did add a few keywords to the search results page though.
All in all I’m very pleased with the SEO qualities of my new datafeedr store. In the picture below I show a product page, and you can see the product is listed in the HTML title, the breadcrumbs, and also in an H1 header for the page, just above the description. Awesome!
Original Content: So, now that you’ve watched me create an affiliate store and add it to my blog – you may be wondering how to add original content to keep you out of google’s crosshairs. The last thing you want to do is create a huge affiliate store in your blog with nearly no content. One way I found to do that is by adding “pages” within the datafeedr store itself. I use these pages much in the same way I use WordPress blog pages – to organize and talk about already existing content. The only difference is we’re going to re-organize and talk about products within the store! If you do this a lot your store will be completely unique, and this should keep you out of the wrath of any potential search engine penalty. The most important thing of all is – if you’re good at this you’ll get some great listings in the search engines for these pages AND get a much higher conversion rate for sales (and make more consistent money)!
Adding Datafeedr Pages
In this example I used the page option again from “Datafeedr -> Pages -> Manage Pages (Add New Page)” from my WordPress admin dashboard. When I created this page, I had the same options as the above example pic when I modified the store home page options (html title, title, meta description, meta keywords). Once I saved it, it’s listed in the “Manage Pages” options of Datafeedr like this:
Once created the page, by default, is blank. All it has is a title and a breadcrumb. You see in the pic above that the options we have are to add any one of four modules to get some content on that page. First we’re going to add original content to the page by clicking to add an HTML module. What that gives you is the same editor you get for WordPress posts (with the Visual or HTML options). This is where you add your original content.
So now my new page has a header title, breadcrumbs, and some original content. Next it needs some products! All we have to do is add the “product listing module” to get products on the page. Now, I’m going to take the easy way out on this one. I could have gone back to the “Factory” in the datafeedr members area to create a new category and assign a dollar value to include only guitars from $1-200. What I did was just use the product listing module to show products on the page in the categories I want with the lower priced ones showing first. This will of course show guitars over the $200 pricepoint, and I can come back and change this later one once I create a special category for this in the factory, and re-import my store data feed into WordPress.
Also, under the products listings I added the category module to list the categories for the store again, so visitors have another method of navigating the store. The product listing module also has an editor box, so you can add some additional HTML or content above the category listing. The ability to add these extra pages is very flexible and almost ingenious in a way. If you’ve ever used Build a Niche Store or other niche store standalone scripts you know that you have the ability to setup “pages” to add content to within the niche store. Since Datafeedr is a WordPress widgets that manages an affiliate store within WordPress itself – you can take advantage of the full functionality it has to offer. If you have a plugin installed that will display amazon items – use those tags on datafeedr store pages to display amazon products. If you have a plugin installed to display eBay auctions, use those tags in your datafeedr store to add some eBay auctions to your affiliate store pages. Since there are hundreds of WordPress plugins the possibilities are endless.
One of the things you might be wondering is – why does datafeedr manage pages itself within the store and not use the normal WordPress “post” and “page” functionality. It’s really good that it doesn’t if you think about it. WordPress is a blogging platform, and when you create and edit posts and pages it sends out a “ping” to the blog engines. That’s the advantage of using WordPress vs. scripts like Build a Niche Store (blogging functionality). Original content or not, I don’t need to send out a “ping” every time I update my datafeedr affiliate store within my WordPress blog. I’d rather let the search crawlers follow the links as it naturally finds them. If you’re going to add an affiliate store with thousands of products, it might be smart to let the crawlers only index the top level category pages, and keep them out of the product pages. A simple disallow for /store/product/* in your robots.txt file would be an easy fix for this. This would probably be good in the long run as it would maintain a healthier balance of affiliate pages to content across the blog and store as a whole.
Individual Product Content
As I just pointed out, you might not want search crawlers to index all your product pages – but if you wanted to you could add original content to any or all product pages in your datafeedr store. This is quite an amount of work if you have thousands of product pages, but you could definitely edit specific ones you think would be most popular or top sellers. This is also one more opportunity to add tags for other WordPress plugins directly after a product description if you wanted to also add products from amazon, ebay auctions, etc.
Here’s a pic of an individual product page in my blog with a datafeedr store, all you have to do is click the “edit product details” link to edit the category, description, or title for this product. You can also edit products directly from the wordpress dashboard under “Datafeedr -> Products”.
Within “Datafeedr -> Categories” you can add and edit catgories within your datafeedr store. When you setup your store in the datafeedr members section within the “factory” you had the ability to assign products to and setup categories. Once you download and import the datafeed for your store into your WordPress blog, the Datafeedr plugin allows you find grained control over the category details, like a description, keywords, and even a category image and thumbail.
Every category also has 3 advanced options you can set. The first one (pictured below) is the ability to set a custom theme page to a category. The template will display for all pages in category displaying assigned products. This would be very helpful in my store, for instance, if I wanted to display specific rotating banners ads, or youtube videos say in the “guitar books” section. These template page have to be uploaded to your theme’s datafeedr directory in order to work properly. This is a great way to add original content directly to category pages. You just have to remember that if a catagory has dozens or hundreds of pages+ that the content will display on all product listing pages within a category. This would be another time to edit your robots.txt file to make sure that only your category home gets indexed.
If your category page is /store/category/electric-guitar, then what I would do is put a one list listing in my robots.txt file to disallow every number followed by a wildcard like this:
They may be better ways to do this, but that’s the easiest that came to mind…
The next advanced option is the ability to set template for custom product listing pages. The reasons for having a template like this are the same, you could place a custom message or ad across every single product within a category. Just remember that whatever content you add will be on every single product page.
The last advanced option is the ability to assign a custom css ID around a product listing. This would give you the ablity to control font, color, size, background, borders, and more throughout your store.
Adding products to WordPress posts
Another great option is to combine some original content in a WordPress post with a product from your new datafeedr store. If you visit “Datafeedr -> Products” in your WordPress dashboard you can see all the items in your WordPress affiliate store. As you can see in the picture below, when you are viewing your products, each one has a unique product code on the left column. All you need to do is select and copy that code with your mouse, and go to the next step.
Now, create a post as you normally would in WordPress and give it a unique title and content. Then, using the “visual editor” you should see an icon on the editor toolbar with a blue and red “dr” – click on it to get a popup box you can paste the product code into, and then insert it into your post:
Here’s a pic of what the post I wrote and added a product to looked like once I published it:
Datafeedr product post “drip” feature
I believe the pinnacle of datafeedr’s wordpress plugin to be the “drip” feature. I think that all the features I wrote about so far have been simply amazing. I have used, purchased, and reviewed all kinds of wordpress plugins, and services that manage datafeeds allowing you to create an affiliate “store”. I’ve never seen one that allowed you to create a store from a datafeed and create and manage an affiliate store, create categories, add orginal content, use templates, AND add products to posts. This “drip” features allows you to CREATE posts from products.
I want to take a second to talk about why this is good, and why it’s bad. You could use the “drip” technique in both good and bad ways. Here’s the options in the datafeedr dashboard when you enable drip: I
You can see in the options that it tells you when the last post “drip” was, and when the next one will occur. You can set this in minutes, which is great to have that amount of flexibility. I can see where this could be highly abused. Imagine setting up an affilliate store with tens of thousands of products – and then dripping them as posts to your blog every 60 seconds. Your blog would surely be in the top 10 most wanted for google to remove from the index.
The next drip option is to control which category the dripped posts go into. I created a special category called “featured” for mine. Next you can choose what to do when (and if) you run out of products in your affiliate store. I chose to stop the drip featured and get an email notification.
Next you can choose whether or not to allow comments, which I did – because I allow comments on all my posts. You can also choose to have pings on or off. This is kind of a crucial decision. If you have thousands of products and your purpose in dripping them as posts to your blog is for people to read them on a high visitor count blog either on the home page or in RSS, I would leave pings for dripped product posts “off”. I would also make sure you setup your robots.txt as I stated earlier a few times to keep the crawlers out of your stores product and category listing pages (other than the highest level). If your purpose in dripping posts was to have more indexable pages and to attract more visitors – then I would only drip one or two products per day (which is what I’m going to do).
You should already know perfectly well how the drip feature could be abused. Spammers could setup spamblogs with nearly no content, and tons of products in an affiliate store, and drip dozens or hundreds of products to the blog home page per day. A spam “autoblog” if you will. This is the situation you want to keep yourself from getting into. I’m going to drip one or two products per day, and once they are posted I’m going to edit the posts to add my original content to each and every one.
I saw in some of the other posts in this series about datafeedr, readers have left comments that they’re concerned about a WordPress affiliate store becoming something google will target next in the near future. My advice to you is this…in a BANS or “Build a Niche Store” in about 10 minutes you can setup an entire web site full of products (and no content). For most of these BANS sites you could spend a month of Sundays writing original content for all the categories and pages. Some people setup hundreds of these BANS sites, and more than they could ever add content to. Also, the cost of BANS is one time $97 – and you can use it on unlimited web sites. I believe tens of thousands of licenses were sold, and entirely too many “thin affiliate” sites were created with nothing more than eBay auctions.
It’s just as easy to setup a datafeedr affiliate store in WordPress with thousands of products, but instead of starting the site out with products and adding content later, with datafeedr you can add products to an already existing and established blog (which would be your best case scenario). In addition, datafeedr carries a monthly fee – and to continue to use it with fresh products you will have to subscribe and pay each month for the service. It’s well worth the money, but many people will never use it for just this very reason. This is good news to me (and should be to you as well), beause that means that it should never reach the critical mass “spam” tipping point that BANS did.
Also, I didn’t mention that the othe reason I like the drip feature is because it auto-creates posts for me that I can add content too, and it FORCES me to post to my blog each and every day. The hardest thing about owning multiple blogs is that you have to come up with things to write about. Also, sometimes you forget to (or don’t have time) to write posts for a few days, or even a week. With Datafeedr – this will NEVER be an issue and it should FORCE your blog to be more successul and make more money!
Now I have a fully functional affiliate store in blog, and I firmly believe that it puts my earning potential on a new level.