Best Affiliate Networks for SEO in 2018

The Best Affiliate Networks of 2018: The Year’s Top Programs

affiliate network intro

Choosing a solid affiliate network is a crucial part of being a successful affiliate marketer.

There are literally thousands of affiliate programs offered by merchants to market their services or products and I’ve gone through most of them.

Some affiliate programs are large and reputable enough to be listed here as their own entity, but for the most part, the right affiliate network can help you to find the perfect offers to maximize earning potential by doing one or more of the following:

  • Creating a central database for affiliate offers that can be easily organized and filtered to your specifications.
  • Allows you to participate in multiple programs through a simple registration to a single network.
  • Provides analytics, various reporting tools and reliable payment processing tools and services.

No matter what types of products or services you are looking to promote, you can find a large and reliable affiliate network to suit your needs.

Below is a list of my personal favorite affiliate networks in 2018 catering to various products, services, and industries.

2018’s Best Affiliate Networks

CJ Affiliate

CJ-Logo-WebsiteFormerly Commission Junction, this affiliate marketing network specializes in pay-for-performance programs and is considered to be the biggest platform online.

They operate globally and have the affiliate programs of some of the world’s most recognized and specialized retailers. Examples of recognized companies that are partners of CJ would be Home Depot, Apple, TurboTax and Zappos.

I personally like them for their high end, powerful reporting tools as well as reliable and timely payments.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit
  • Minimum payment amount: $100 Check; $50 Direct Deposit
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site

ShareASale

shareasaleShareASale is among one of the largest U.S. affiliate networks with currently over 3900 merchant programs on its platform and over 700,000 affiliates participating. They are based out of Chicago, IL and have been operating for over 17 years with an outstanding reputation for fair and honest business. This is a great affiliate network for people getting into affiliate marketing to promote physical products.

Personally, I’ve done made a lot income with ShareASale.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit
  • Minimum payment amount: $50
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site

Rakuten Affiliate Network

rakutenFormerly Buy.com, this is another great affiliate network for e-commerce focusing mostly on physical goods. While their network is smaller than some of their competitors with around 1,000 partners, they are one of the oldest affiliate programs and dedicated to premium technology.

These guys offer a ton of creatives.  Optimizing sales is thus made easier by using technology such as rotating ads and flexible linking options. This means CRO junkies like me will likely appreciate the slick features that this affiliate network provides.

Fun fact: Rakuten helped me get my biggest affiliate month ever in December 2016.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit; PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $50
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site

Clickbank

click bankThis very large and longstanding affiliate network stands out from the pack by focusing on digital information, product launches and other internet marketing products. They market over 6 million unique lifestyle products created by passionate entrepreneurs. They take pride in delivering products that improve the lives of roughly 200 million customers around the world.

Personally, I’ve never ran any info products but this is where I’d go if I did.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer
  • Minimum payment amount: $10
  • Referral program: Yes

Visit Site

ReviMedia

reviIf lead generation is your game, then this affiliate network is not one to be overlooked.

ReviMedia specializes in the industries of insurance, home services and financial verticals in global markets. They offer a full-service platform that focuses on using superior technology to fully automate the lead generation process. With lead scoring and verification technology, they enable you to maximize your revenue with higher lead conversions.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check, Wire Transfer, PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $50

Visit Site

Avangate

avangateThis affiliate network specializes in global eCommerce of software, digital goods and SaaS solutions. They are partnered with over 4,000 digital businesses in over 180 countries. Strong support from their publisher community has given this network a big boost in rankings.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check, Wire Transfer, PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $100

Visit Site

MaxBounty

max bountyThis is a CPA network, which means the advertiser pays for a specific action.

That action could be a sale, form submission, download, or any other action performed by the visitor that can be tracked then paid for by the advertiser. There are certain web services, such as software downloads or file sharing, that generate much more affiliate income when using a CPA network as opposed to premium affiliate networks such as CJ or ShareASale.

If you’re an ace at conversion rate optimization, this is where you want to be.

MaxBounty has been around for over a decade and is consistently considered one of the best CPA networks.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, Bitcoin
  • Minimum payment amount: $100

Visit Site

 


Top Affiliate Programs

Amazon Affiliates

amazonAmazon is the biggest and most well known online retailer in the US, so it’s no surprise that they have the largest single affiliate program in which you can advertise over a million products to customers.

One of the biggest attractions to this affiliate program is it’s ease of use and the wide range of physical goods that you can market.

From experience, 80%+ of the affiliate marketers I know are in Amazon.  And many of them reach 5-figure monthly levels, depsite the low payout percentage.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Amazon.com Gift Certificates
  • Minimum payment amount: $10
  • 60-day hold on payment

Visit Site

eBay Partner Program

ebayThis large marketplace represents 5 million sellers with a combined 800 million listings selling to a total of 162 million active buyers. eBay parnter network sells to a global market operating in 13 countries around the world. Through the website and mobile app, you can use simple tools to create links, share via social media, track sales and get easy-to-understand reports and analytics.

Quick Look:

  • Payment methods: Direct Deposit; PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $25

Visit Site

 


What makes a good affiliate network?

Size matters. If you’re a merchant, you need an endless supply of affiliates promoting your business, and if you’re an affiliate, you need affiliate offers to promote. The more the better, so larger platforms are advantageous.

I don’t mind smaller networks if they’re focused on one specific offer type (for example pay per sale), or they focus on a specific niche or two. However, I tend to steer clear of generalized smaller networks. The only time I’d consider them if I’m struggling to earn commission from offers promoted by more established / larger networks or I’m looking for something specific.

Experience matters. Running an affiliate network is complicated, there are a lot of moving parts and the business requires plenty of cash flow. You should look for networks that have been running for a while and are much more likely to have ironed out some of the problems that come with running affiliate networks. Don’t be a guinea pig and don’t put your commissions at risk.

Reputation matters. The Amazon Associate Program is by far the most comprehensive affiliate opportunity online, but it historically doesn’t treat affiliates well. There have been horror stories on 6 figure affiliate sites that are killing it one day, only to be banned by Amazon with no real apparent reason given, the next.

The point is, if Amazon, the most recognized affiliate marketing program can treat affiliates this poorly, you c

an be sure there are other networks out there that might not respect their affiliates as they should.

I’d recommend you check all the related forums and FB groups. Especially look for complaints about payments, or skimming clicks or sign-ups. In other words, do your due diligence. You’re not looking for “perfect” feedback because people are always prone to complain, but if you find a recurring problem it should send alarm bells ringing.

 

How to choose the right affiliate network for you?

 

Picking the right network is a big deal. If you’re going to build a website, create 50 and more pages and then start investing in outreach or PBNs, all based around affiliate offers, you will want to be confident in those offers, the networks hosting them and most importantly, that you’re going to get paid accurately and on time. We might love SEO but ultimately, it’s about getting paid.

You can be confident in the networks I have just listed above, they make the best affiliate network list for this very reason. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of networks and affiliate marketing programs out there and sometimes, you need to look for unique offers that are less competitive, or you’re working in a niche that the major networks don’t have offers for.

So, if you’re new to CPA affiliate networks or you’re looking for cost per lead, an increasingly popular way to monetize your SEO skills, then I’m going to share with you what I think is important to consider when looking at networks and affiliate offers.

I start by asking myself 4 questions.

1. What type of merchant will be attracted to the network?
I don’t really worry about specific competitors, but when I’m looking at a network, it’s a good idea to look at what type of merchant is using the network. Large businesses, local business, physical products or digital product owners etc.

For a start, you know that they must be performing well and making bank, but also, you want a network that’s set up to optimize their platform for you. If you’re part of their “core” business whether that’s by offer model or niche, then it’s guaranteed they set up everything to make your life as easy as possible.

2. What’s the most prevalent affiliate model the network uses?
Some of the larger networks which found their way on to my list have a wide range of affiliate models they promote products using. CPA affiliate programs (cost per acquisition), CPL offers (cost per lead) CPS (cost per sale), CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per 1k impressions) offers.

Smaller networks, which might have great offers are likely to make it their business model to focus on one or two affiliate models, to specialize. Similar to the first point, if you find using a network that focuses on the model you’re looking to use, they’ll be set up to help you make as much money as possible.

3. How involved is the network’s affiliate manager?
Most networks of a reasonable size have affiliate managers to help facilitate and support both affiliate and merchant. You’ll want to use a network that has managers that actually try to help. Seems simple but you’d be surprised. A lot of the networks use their affiliate managers as salespeople, trying to promote and push you to promote products that maximize the revenue for the network, not necessarily the right product for your audience.

You’ll tend not to contact these affiliate managers; they’re not worth the headache. No one likes a pushy salesperson. However, if you have a manager that’s “on your team”, they’ll go out their way to find the offers you’re looking for or to help you with creatives. They’ll be easily contactable and available to talk you through any payment problems or questions you have.

it’s all about relationships

4. What measures does the network take to guard against fraud?
This is normally the chief concern for the merchant rather than the affiliate. But it’s all connected. As an affiliate you’ll want to have a clear and transparent relationship with the merchant via the network, You’re feeding them traffic or leads via your affiliate link, they’re paying you the agreed commission rate, on time and in full.

You’ll want a network that protects the merchant against fraud because it means fewer complications for you. Fewer possibilities of having payments frozen. This is especially important if you’re focused on mobile traffic. Plus you need to protect your own affiliate links from scammers.

Other things I always make it a point in checking are:

Real-Time Data: I love SEO because it’s data-driven and I take that into my research for affiliate programs (assuming it’s not the Amazon Associate Program).

Naturally, I make a decision on which keywords to target based on (among other things) the affiliate products I can promote. So I need as much data as possible on how well that offer converts before I dig into whether it’s worth ranking for from an SEO perspective. It’s actually very easy to forget that the goal is to earn commission. Additionally, once I’m generating traffic, it’s important to have real-time data to fine tune the page’s optimization.

Payment policy: Payment frequency is important, but it’s not as simple as wanting to be paid as swiftly as possible. I hate it when a network starts clawing back commissions; it becomes a lot harder to track what you’ve been paid and what you’re owed. Depending on the affiliate model this might be an issue, for example, if it’s a CPL, CPS or CPA model, I would prefer to be paid after the refund period has passed, so I know where I stand.

Note: Your goal is to make money, so make sure you check the payment method, so you’re actually able to receive payment. I know that some networks used to pay by checks only. Some countries around the world no longer use check, or if they do, they might not accept checks from other countries. This can be utterly frustrating for us digital nomads.

Dashboard. It’s a pet peeve. Poorly laid out dashboards that make it near impossible to find offers or access to the data we all need to make an informed decision. Take your network platform for a spin, make sure it’s function.