Introduction To Data Feeds

Affiliate Programs are a great way to generate more revenue per visitor than PPC while delivering products that your customers want. There are two ways to go about adding affiliate products to your site, you can do it manually or you can use something called a Data Feed. Most people start-out in the affiliate space by copying and pasting code over and over, and over again. It can be tedious and if a product gets updated or removed you have no way of knowing.

Then there’s Data Feeds, the Holy Grail of the Affiliate Marketing world, okay maybe I’m being a bit dramatic so let’s just say that Data Feeds are a big deal.

What Is A Data Feed?

A Data Feed is a way for website owners to access and receive updates to data sources. In this case, the data source is the inventory of products that a company is selling through their affiliate program. Here’s an example, let’s suppose you run a site that sell widgets, yes I know, we all love widgets. So you find an affiliate program that offers thousands of widgets and you start spending thousands of hours adding these widgets to your site…stop right there, this is where Data Feeds come in.

Rather than copying and pasting the code to add each widget to your site one-by-0ne, Data Feeds allow you to import hundreds or thousands of products and easily add them to your site. Then, if the company providing the products makes changes to their product offerings, this will automatically update on your site.

If you go to a show like Affiliate Summit you will hear the term Data Feed like it’s going out of style, and for good reason, many super affiliates use Data Feeds as a core part of their monetization strategy. Just think about it, if you have a site that sells digital cameras and you’re using the affiliate program for an online camera store, you are likely to find thousands of cameras, which could means hundreds of hours of copying and pasting code. Then a few cameras are removed from their inventory and your site is suddenly out of date with no real way of knowing.

Data Feeds save time but also give affiliate marketers the chance to build more than just a few pages of products, they can build entire custom affiliate stores tailored to their specific customers.

How Can You Add Data Feeds To Your Site?

There are really two ways to add Data Feeds to your site; if you’re a developer you can write some code to add the Data Feeds, there are ways to do this with PHP that should be a snap for any web coding gurus. Of course many people aren’t programmers themselves and lucky for all of you there are some very cool tools out there that will allow you to build an affiliate store using Data Feeds without writing a single line of code.

The two options that I recommend are: PopShops and Datafeedr. PopShops is great for anyone that wants to integrate an affiliate store directly into an existing site. It allows you to easily add products to your store and then just copy and paste a code snippet onto your site. Datafeedr on the other hand is a plugin for WordPress so is great for anyone that is running their affiliate store on WordPress. Like PopShops you create your store using Datafeedr and then integrate it into your site using their plugin.

Both of these options are easy to get started with and integrate with just about every affiliate program under the sun. If you are currently offering a handful of affiliate products on your store and have been waiting to launch a full-scale store, Data Feeds are the way to do it. While they may seem intimidating at first, the amount of time they save you in the long-run is huge. Couple this with the fact that you can offer your visitors a wider range of products and update and remove products automatically and you can see why Data Feeds are so powerful.

So there you have it, and introduction to Data Feeds. As always I always love to hear from you, my reader. If you have a question, ask it! If you have experience with Data Feeds and want to share some of your own advice, do it! Comment and let your voice be heard!

 

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Neil Armstrong April 20, 2012, 8:56 am

    Nice post – a great summary I’d have loved to have read a year or two ago 🙂 Data Feeds are fantastic for keeping products up to date – they’re not a total “fire and forget” solution, but the amount of products available and time saved is fantastic. That said, I’m not sure how google views them – sites where I’ve added large numbers of products via affiliate feed have appeared to have taken a ranking hit. Does anyone else have experience of google ranking falling when an affiliate feed is added?

    Reply
    • Morgan Linton April 22, 2012, 10:01 am

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the post!

      I have found that you will get a ranking hit if all you have on your site is an affiliate feed. If however you have tons of great unique content and the datafeed content is only a part of it then you should be fine.

      Reply
      • Neil Armstrong April 23, 2012, 8:59 am

        Thanks – I was kind of figuring something along those lines – however, even if I had a couple of hundred unique pages, by adding literally thousands of products the percentage of content on the site that was classed as unique would naturally fall….
        It wasn’t a massive fall in rankings, but dropping from a top three google position for a generic keyword domain to, say, ninth or tenth is pretty obvious when checking visitor numbers. In my limited experience there’s some recovery, but google does have “initial concerns” when it first appears….

        Reply
  • nameswing April 20, 2012, 9:51 am

    Well, considering that Morgan wrote about using them I assume he may or may not have experienced a hit in rankings. What say you ML?

    Reply

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