All Dog Food Comparison Websites are Affiliate Sites, But What Does That Mean to You the Consumer?
There are lots of dog food comparison sites, some more popular and useful than others, so I thought I’d do a quick blog to explain a little about affiliate marketing and what it means to the info you may be receiving.
To begin with, what is an affiliate website? Well, to get a concise definition, I did a quick Google. Top of the search was “What is an affiliate website? A money making machine”. Well, that about sums it up.
An affiliate website is any website or blog that utilizes affiliate marketing techniques. What does that mean? It means any website with advertisement banners or links to a website where you can purchase a product or service. In this way, affiliate marketing is performance based.
In other words, an affiliate website will receive a commission on any sale from any visitor they send on that makes a purchase on the target website.
A Dog Food Comparison Site is a GREAT way to Make Money…
A dog food comparison site is one fantastic way of doing this. Why? Because they stuff their website with the names of practically every dog food on the planet, many times over. Google likes this. Done correctly and over time, when someone types in a dog food brand into Google, it will direct them to this site as a possible site that might interest you.
What is “done correctly”? Well, the target site has to be what you were looking for. Google is all about user experience. It wants you to be happy where you got sent or it risks losing you to another search engine that might direct you better. If you “bounce” out of a target site very quickly it monitors you, punches itself in the face and remembers for the next time that that site wasn’t a great experience. That sites woeful “bounce rate” spells its doom and over time down the rankings and into oblivion it will go.
So the target site must offer up something that keeps you around. In this way, dog food comparison sites not only attracts Google but offers you the client a useful service – what’s a good dog food, and what’s a bad one.
Great service, eh? Well, yes and no.
How They Do It…
Very quickly you can work out what would be the most profitable. Hence, you will naturally end up wanting your visitors to click one link more than another.
Now, if I liked money more than say giving out 100% accurate info, well that frees me up to make a few artful moves, such as putting the top paying brand at the top of my “most recommended dog food” food lists, if I can get away with it, which is easy in dog food world as there is precious little differing most better dry foods.
Are all dog food comparison sites affiliate sites? Pretty much. But, in all fairness, they gotta make a buck. I mean, instead of affiliate links on my site, I choose to sell some cool products. That keeps my lights on. It pays me to sit here in my pants and create such awesome content that you all enjoy FOC.
So, to be clear, I’m not against affiliate links in the future either. For example, I’m constantly telling people to not use petinsurance.ie, purely as I’ve heard so much bad experiences with them. The best choice for insurance, in my opinion, is Allianz. Now, why am I giving these multi-million behemoths free customers?! I should contact them and say I want to put their link on my next article insurance and make me some cash. Seriously, I really need to start doing this. Got a baby on the way and all the financial pressure that goes with that. I’m also, I hope, developing a trusted brand so folk are more likely to trust my recommendation and therefore more likely to make a purchase on the other end and therefore make my wife happier, should such a thing be possible.
We all have to be paid. That’s life.
Who Do You Trust?
The question is, who do you trust? That’s a toughie.
When you are on a site run by an anonymous person, that’s the first red flag. They have no skin in the game. But some do.
Take, for example, the popular “All About Dog Food“. I took this from their “About Us” section:
My name is David Jackson and I am the creator, designer, developer and researcher of AllAboutDogFood.co.uk, not to mention the proud owner of Ned, my gorgeous border terrier.
I have been a canine nutritionist for just over a decade, working with a number of dog food producers and collaborating with some of our country’s top dog experts including vets, behaviourists, trainers, groomers and breeders to help thousands of dog owners to make the right dietary choices for their four-legged friends.
How do we make money? To ensure fairness, we charge the same flat (and very small) monthly fee for all buy-online buttons, no matter what rating the product is awarded or how many clicks the button gets. The adverts, like the one on the right of this page, also bring in a little money but we don’t allow any direct advertising of any of the products or brands we review. In time we’re also hoping to charge pet shops and other retailers for premium listings on our store finder but at the moment we are giving premium listings away for free. We don’t charge for listing products and we never accept any other forms of payment, donations or gifts from vested interests.
Fortunately, by doing everything myself, and I do mean everything, the site’s costs are very low but if it was just about the money, AADF would have been shut down a long time ago. I do, of course, have ambitions that the site will one day make a good living but in the mean time, as crazy as it may sound (even to myself), I am happy just to make a difference.”
This is encouraging. Many dog food comparison sites do not have such info. This, for me, inspires a little confidence.
The next big one is Dog Food Advisor, run by Mike Sagman who has a doctorate in dentistry. In the disclaimer part of their website, they state:
We do not accept money, gifts, samples or any other incentives from pet food manufacturers in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.
However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.
Again, this is encouraging. To me, it sounds like they’ve jumped into bed with a big company so it doesn’t really matter which link you click or why, so I can’t see why their information would prefer one brand over another.
Next one down is DogFoodAnalysis.com but in their “About Us” section I can’t see any mention of money so I can’t tell you more. They could easily be the best meaning people but without this info and the sheer number of links on the site, I’m more likely to trust the others above, at least until they rectify this.
Below them, dogfoodscoop.com. They tell you nothing of value in their “About Us” section and their site is littered with ads for all sorts of companies, many not pet related, which does not inspire confidence.
There are countless others.
It’s just a little warning guys. Behind all sites are people of varying opinions, varying backgrounds and varying intentions. You always need to consider who is telling you what and why?
One thing’s for sure, if they call themselves canine nutritionsists and do not have fresh or raw dog food on the top of their “most recommended” dog foods you know something’s wrong.