Yesterday when I showed you How to add an Affiliate Store in 5 Minutes from a Data Feed, I showed you an incredible way to add a merchant’s entire product line (or specific categories) to your web site or blog. I mentioned that with the service that GoldenCAN.com offers there are three things you can create from a data feed (if the merchant offers it). The first two, product results, and coupon results I showed you how I implemented yesterday. The one I didn’t cover at that time was “Search Integration”. If you are like me (before I figured it out) you may not know what this is. Search integration is where your search results are supplemented by actual products from merchants you choose. If you set this up right – your search page will never have “no posts matched your criteria” and a bland page again. Users will get results EVERY time, and the beauty of this is – if a purchase is made, you’re going to get affiliate commissions for it. That’s right – I’m going to show you how to monetize your search results!
You could use the GoldenCAN.com fees to supplement seach results on any blogging platform – but my example to is for WordPress, because that’s what I use. I’m going to go through this step by step as I implement this “search results monetization” strategy on one of my main blogs. I got to thinking about about doing this because I was trying to figure out what people were searching for on my blog. Awhile back I installed a plugin called Psychic Search from MaxBlogPress. It quietly collects information about what people search for on your WordPress blog. When you install and activate this plugin, you can find results in your dashboard under “Dashboad -> Psychic Search” tab. There are two sections, one for searches, and one for searches with no result. The entire reason to have this plugin is to see what people are searching for “and not finding”.
In my example we see that there have been some searches in the last 7 days and last 30 days for keywors that yieled no result. Most of them are normal types of searches that relate to the site, but there are a couple that don’t at all (like “Britney Spears”). I think we can fix it where every single one of these have a result from now on – and there will never be an empty search results page again. In addition – we can even add products “in with” search that have results!
First you need an account at GoldenCAN.com. If you didn’t get one when you read yesterday’s post – get one now! Also, if you want to take full advantage of all GoldenCAN has to offer (if you don’t already have them) signup for accounts through all the affiliates their merchants use, which are Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, and DoubleClick Performics. Next login to GolenCAN.com and go to the “My Affiliate ID’s” link and add in all your account numbers for all of those services, so you won’t have to manually add them in again when creating stores. Now follow the “Merchants” link in the header nav. You get a page with active merchants – take a look at all the ones with a red star in front of it. These are all the merchant data feeds that are completely free. All the traffic you send to them when it yields you a sale (through CJ, ShareASale, LinkShare, or Performics) you get 100% commission. If the merchant is further down the list with no red star, then you giveaway 25% or every 4th click to use that merchant with this service. So note all the merchants that would work for you in supplemental search results on your site, and whether you want 100% free ones, or whether you want to include some of the “every 4th click” ones.
For the purposes of the search integration on my example site I’m going to use 4th click merchants, because (for that site) I think they’ll have more appropriate results. The blog I’m using for this tutorial is my gadget and technology geek blog The Smorgasbord.net. On the “Merchants” page I click on Amazon, because they have everything imaginable. They’re results should bring up results in books and music when nothing else appropriate comes up. Once you click on Amazon, the next page gives you 3 different “integration options” and choose “Search” integration.
On the next screen give your store a name and create the store. Then you will have the ability to choose from all the available stores goldenCAN has available (with search integration). Once again – the ones with red stars are completely free, and the ones without take every 4th click of your traffic.
I chose Amazon, HobbyTron, TheNerds.net, CompUSA, TigerDirect, and Circuit City – all geeky things. Then when I hit continue, I get page with all the required affiliate ID’s for the merchant’s I chose. If you entered these already before when I told you on the “My Affiliate ID” page all the fields should be populated. You can updated or edit anything you want now. I change all the “Sub ID” fields to something to note in tracking what site the clicks will be coming from. Then click “continue” again.
On the properties page you can change the font and colors, but the most important option is to turn off the “search box”, because it would be weird to have a search box in search results. It would work, but be very weird. Click “update” when you do this to upate the code.
Scroll down the page to the “Get Data PHP Code with Search Keyword” section. We’re going to use this code to supplement the search results in our WordPress blog.
Once you copy the code, paste it into Notepad or a text editor. On the third line, replace the two words “DVD Player” (leave the quotes there) with a dollar sign and a lower case s: $s
In a WordPress blog, the “keywords” that people type in the search box are store in the $s variable (in programming terms). You don’t need to know much about how this works or be a programmer at all, just replace DVD Player with $s and magically the keywords that people type in will be sent to GoldenCAN and bring back product results to integrate with your search results. So now, leave this page open in your text editor and go back to your browser. In your WordPress Dashboard go to the “Presentation -> Theme Editor” tab. On the right click on the “Search Results” link to bring up your search.php file from your theme in your WordPress dashboard for editing. Before you edit anything it would be a good idea to copy everything, and paste the entire page into (another page in your) text editor and save it as a backup copy! Now that you have a backup (in case you accidentally screw everything up), it’s save to edit the search results page. Go back to your first text editor page copy all the code you pasted in there and modified with the $s earlier.
Go back to your browser, and find this code in your search.php you have open:
After that code paste in your GoldenCAN search integration code. EVERY theme is different, just be sure to add the code in after the post content and meta – just before the div closes. Just be sure to add it before the “endwhile” where the loop closes. You’re not done yet, next find this code: