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Beware: The Scammy Affiliate Marketing Practices in the Hosting Industry

Imagine practically anytime you’ve ever desired a product but were unsure the best brand to buy from.

What’s the first thing you probably did?

Open up Google and type in exactly what you’re looking for and started doing your research.

Normally that’s probably going to lead you to a good conclusion with a positive experience if you do enough research.

But what if almost ALL of the top results were intentionally manipulated and misleading?

The sad truth is in the hosting industry (shared, vps, whatever) it’s terribly bad, but first… let me explain why:

Let’s take a look at iPage first.

One thing I want to note is iPage was formerly owned by behemoth EIG, now named Newfold Digital.

That same company owns Bluehost, CrazyDomains, HostGator, Network Solutions, Register.com, Web.com, and others (so you can expect to see similar programs there, too.)

These referral payments of up to $150 are the real deal. You’ll see lower amounts too at independent hosts in the same industry.

For example, DreamHost:

A non-EIG/Newfold Digital company, huge, and offering similar payouts.

You’ll see this throughout, even the smaller independent companies.

Which begs another question:

How can these companies afford to pay their affiliates this much?

Simple, these are often reoccurring offers.

These offers start at $2.50 per month recurring when billed per three years at 68% percent off or whatever, and renew at full price.

That means more or less for that first transaction (maybe more than that first transaction) these companies are willing to fork over that entire amount…

All because they expect these to renew, and of course (because this is business), make them much more money on the backend.

The business practice of renewing a subscription for more than originally signed up for if not clearly stated is scammy alone.

(Often times these offers might announce a huge percentage off, but it’s in fine print on the checkout it renews for full price or something along those lines.)

But… that’s still not even the main point of this article alone.

When you offer these high payouts and you tend to be very, very lenient on your promotion rules unless they’re directly bidding on your exact brand name, the affiliate marketers are probably going to do what brings in the most money with little regard for the consumer.

That leads to one huge issue:

Manipulated search results.

You’ll see it in very profitable affiliate niches.

For example:

Company A sells a lawnmower for $10,000.

Company A offers Affiliate A $1,000 per lawn mower sold.

Affiliate A spends $3,000 ranking site in competitive niche that brings in 10,000 visits yearly for a specific keyword like “buy lawnmower that does X.”

1/1000 consumers that search for “buy lawnmower that does X,” see the first result, Affiliate A’s article, and are convinced enough to buy the product.

That results in $100,000 revenue for company A, and $7,000 profit for affiliate A.

If regulated and done well, affiliate marketing could be a win/win.

Problem is it’s rarely regulated well, and most affiliate sites are incredibly misleading, and get there by synthetically manipulating search results.

It’s an actual career (called SEO, but I’m not saying all SEO’s use scammy practices, either.)

Let’s take this to the test and show you what I’m talking about.

The first and last result out of five are affiliate marketing lists for the search query “cheap webhosting”.

One of those being from a a huge company, Forbes, with serious authority behind their domain.

The other being a site called Top10.

Let’s take a look at the Top10 one:

It’s more or less just essentially a giant list of links, all affiliate links with a tiny disclaimer at the bottom stating:

“Designed to help users make confident decisions online, this website contains information about a wide range of products and services. Certain details, including but not limited to prices and special offers, are provided to us directly from our partners and are dynamic and subject to change at any time without prior notice. Though based on meticulous research, the information we share does not constitute legal or professional advice or forecast, and should not be treated as such.

Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.”

Not very honest, transparent, nor helpful, but profitable, surely.

Point is: be careful.

Misleading advertising is rampant in this industry, and you really, really need to do your research.

Companies tend to turn a blind eye on how money is coming in if it’s coming in and the government doesn’t care.

Even though some of these affiliate sites are literally illegal, these companies won’t care unless forced to.

The best way to protect yourself is to find accurate user created reviews. That way you’re getting the full picture before you purchase anything.

An easy way to do this is scavenge community based sites, like Lowendtalk or Reddit, and I’m willing to bet you’ll find something on the brand you’re considering.

Groups of people generally will filter out the BS over time and you’ll see the ideal companies to go with and trust, but that one site that’s controlled by one person with a narrative designed to get you to buy what their selling?

Yeah, not so transparent.

Best of luck hunting!

Sir Foxy

1 Comment

  1. John:

    Reason I use their referral list and then aggregate the information offline and buy directly from the provider later.

    May 31, 2023 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

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