first off, show visitors that you have a great site by getting a better theme! You did not get a penalty because of affiliate content, nor have I ever heard of, however, I have heard of sites in the past getting penalty for having do follow links to affiliate programs such as amazon, remember, google does not like you giving credit to a site in exchange for receiving paid compensation, so ask yourself, are your external links nofollow? this may also include any buttons/graphics that link to affiliate sites that do not have a no follow attribute, not going to go to much into this, so I am going to assume your content is ok, if it is, then you need to check your link portfolio; maybe you have too many low quality links and/or you may have over-optimized anchor/text in your link building efforts; bad links, over optimization are common link issues that could cause your site to get a penalty, as it is not about what you are writing about, if all else fails, then hire seo consultant for an entire site autdit, they will go through your site tooth and nail, and see why you have lost your rankings. good luck.
The people that you refer too did not master amazon, they merely mastered the value they offer to visitors. If you are able to engage/connect with visitors, then you got a winner, some people merely have better skills then others, which may include offering high value content, coding/custom skills. Do you agree that these people brought something to the table? If they did not, then visitors would not continue to visit their sites, right? You can put up all the content in the world, you can get all the backlinks you want, but if you can not engage/connect with your visitors, then all is lost. These site most likely did not start off with custom sites; they started off just like everyone else, some rag/tag site. I ran across an affiliate site a few months ago, and the content on his site would just blow your mind, and let me tell you,this guy had affiliate links from all major affiliate networks, his site has so much authority that he is listed right up under amazon, and some actual product manufacturers; how did he do this? He brought solutions, and value to his visitors, he knew what they were looking for, and knows how to engage, and connect with them. If you can not figure out how to blow your visitors mind, then what do you really have to offer? His avg reviews were between 7k-10k words? how about you? 500-1000 words? at the end of the day, which site will google find more impressive, yours, or his, and i assure you, he had far more affiliate links on his site then you have on yours as you could not skip-a-paragraph without seeing affiliate links.
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If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.
It’s a little silly how often people overlook this step. The simple math is, if you have more eyeballs on your affiliate links, the more likely you’ll make sales. Sure, that’s a bit of an oversimplification buuuut it still holds true that you should be trying to gain traffic on these posts anyway. So, remember the importance of promotion! It’s not enough to just write killer affiliate posts.
Focus on reviewing products that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product you are promoting. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
Affiliate marketing has increased in prominence with the internet age. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program where websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a product being reviewed or discussed in order to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling a consumer on a product is outsourced across a potentially vast network.