Probably one of the most important things to remember with an Affiliate site is that you have a ton of competitors. Everyone from retail stores to other Affiliates and even comparison shopping engines. You need to have every advantage you can when you are getting ready to go to market with a product or site. You need to be smarter than the rest of your competition and more importantly better since they may have large budgets. One of the main problems I see though is that people burn out on their main sites because of constantly having to work on the same topic. That is why I recommend seasonal sites as a great interruption for Affiliates. They can also be very profitable and more importantly, fun.
When I see what does well during the holidays like Halloween, Christmas, 4th of July (if you're from the USA) and other holidays, I use the rest of the year to focus on making sure I can improve those results and secure them again for next year. The other thing that I do is look at what I can begin to optimize for that is similar to them and how I can boost those pages up with my current rankings and an internal linking structure. This way I can to try and earn additional revenue with what I already rank for when the next round of holidays comes around. Here are some of the things I do to help keep my positions and grow my income site by site each year.
Write two quarters before the season happens.
Wait at least one quarter after the season is over so your competition is less likely to remember what they didn't do correctly and is busy focusing on other things so they don't see you beating them in the SERPs. Basically, when the Q4 season ends, retailers and Affiliates are thinking about summer specials and even Valentine's Day. Once they are pushing St. Patricks Day, I am studying my competition from Q4's backlinks, strategies and what got them the rankings that competed with me. I then spend my Q2 working on copy, links and building pages for the next Q4. Because no one else is building links at this time, you can give your sites the authority for new rankings and products and take over when it is time for Q4 shopping again. By doing this you can own your rankings and your competitors old rankings when your target shopping season comes around again.
The other thing I do is look at similar products or extensions and newer versions of those products. Then I work my way into building links so that they can own the SERPs when the holiday comes around again. One thing though is that you have to remember to not be on your competition's radar as well. One thing you might want to do is not list the products on the site or in the backlinks, but build the pages and build the backlinks without always using the exact keywords and phrases. Try using longer variations of the exact phrase. You can also link to other sites to build up their authority and then pass that authority to your site through them because you have the only backlink from that new site. That is another great way to stay off of many of your competitor's radars. They'll see random blogs and sites growing and wanting backlinks, then all of the sudden the backlinks show up naturally and in time to you only. Then, when you notice the seasonal traffic starting to come to your site, finish solidifying your SERPs and then add in the products to your posts and watch the traffic build.
Write copy without the products to get it indexed and ranked.
You can write pages about how to use the products. You can write pages about the benefits of the products. You can also write about everything related to it, but you don't have to mention the product's name. You can guest blog and link off of terms that will help you rank for the product when the season starts and also help to build your own authority.
The important thing is to not give away what you're going after to your competitors, but to build up your own rankings. Link to multiple sites in your guest blogs and make one of the keyword phrases be the one you want for your site. Do strategic general press releases where the keyword phrase is placed discretely in the copy so you still get the keyword rich backlink.
There are lots of ways to build your authority without your competition finding out what you are doing. If it is a diet product, write articles about changing your life and use things like taking up hobbies, adopting a pet and even doing charity work for the main focus with dieting or loosing weight buried in the article. It'll be less obvious that you are trying for the keyword because you have other keywords that don't compete in your niche higher up and you'll be adding value by giving a great article to the site you are guest writing on.
Remember that people start shopping months before the holiday. You can use this time to optimize your site.
One thing that I love about holiday shopping is that it starts months before the holiday. Traffic starts small and then builds the closer you get. Because of this you can watch the patterns and split test early so you can plan your sales funnel and conversion funnels and perfect them in time for the main shopping season. Tools like Google Website Optimizer are great for this. There are tons of other free tools out there for you to try, you just need to look for them.
Test everything from images to no images on the page. Background colors, calls to action and their shapes, colors and placements as well as copy with bullets vs. paragraphs and more. See where your social media icons get the most action and move them around. Try things like banners with text links vs. text links vs. just banners. Then test banner shapes and sizes and positions. There are tons of things you can test in a short time to prep for the larger amounts of traffic.
Holidays and seasonal sites are great because you get enough gradual traffic before the season starts to test and optimize for the actual holiday. You can also use your competitors lack of planning and attention to take over their listings for the next holiday shopping season. While they focus on multiple angels, you can keep focused on your few seasons and own the markets for those seasons. The one major problem is that you'll only be making money during those seasons.
Seasonal sites are great distractions from your main sites and a fun way to generate additional income at certain times of the year. You have to remember to only keep them as a distraction so that your main sites don't become a chore and remains your passion since that is where you make your money. Seasonal sites are fun, but remember that they aren't always able to provide enough income for the entire year. If you're curious about what a seasonal site is or need some ideas on creating your own seasonal sites, here is a post I did to help people generate ideas for seasonal sites.