I don’t buy courses much these days, let alone take the time to write a long review.
I have a good system when it comes to growing niche sites. I tend to prefer sticking to what’s working for me instead of getting distracted with new ways to go about things.
Because I publish Fat Stacks, which has some notoriety in the “how to blog” field, folks give me free access to courses in the hopes I’ll promote it. This is one of those collateral benefits of publishing a site like Fat Stacks.
However, Affiliate Lab is an affiliate marketing course I’ve had my eye on for some time just because of the great respect I have for Matt Diggity. His main business isn’t selling courses. His main business, like me, is publishing and earning from niche sites.
I did NOT get free access to Affiliate Lab.
I ponied up the full price.
Speaking of full price, after I went through the course and inquired about discount options for Fat Stacks readers, Matt was super cool and provided a $200 off option for Fat Stacks readers here.
Affiliate Lab was my Christmas Holiday learning.
I had plenty of spare time and chilled out going through the many videos on the couch while assembling my kids’ new toys.
I had HIGH HOPES for Affiliate Lab. It’s not cheap. Matt Diggity puts out great content on his blog. He puts on one of the most highly anticipated SEO conferences annually (I hope to go one year). Most importantly, he’s in the trenches and successfully ranks for many lucrative keywords.
Table of Contents
- Did Affiliate Lab meet my expectations?
- How does Affiliate Lab deliver its content?
- How is Affiliate Lab organized?
- It only takes one keyword
- But it all starts with the right niche
- Building up website trust and credibility
- The Million-Dollar “Pure Gold” Info
- Conclusion: Should You Buy Affiliate Lab?
- How is Affiliate Lab different from the Fat Stacks Course Bundle?
Did Affiliate Lab meet my expectations?
Yes, it did, in spades.
And to think I bought it to learn only a portion of what’s in the course.
Affiliate Lab is an epic SEO affiliate marketing course that puts all the pieces of the SEO and affiliate revenue together. It requires multiple SEO strategies that work in sync to blast your intended keywords to the top of the search engine. I use the word “blast” in a tongue and cheek manner – there’s no such thing as “blasting” anywhere in SEO. This stuff takes time.
Which begs the question, if I have a successful online business making good money from niche sites, why did I buy Affiliate Lab?
I bought Affiliate Lab to learn two things where Matt excels at:
- On-Site SEO; and
- Affiliate conversion rate optimization (CRO).
What about the offsite SEO info?
Arguably, Matt is a very successful affiliate marketer best known for his off-site SEO success… aka link building. Link building is getting backlinks from other sites. Each backlink you get, especially if from related, quality sites, helps push your content higher up in Google rankings.
I’m not really into link building but I had a look at some of those modules as well and I could tell it’s very, very good. If I were to embark on some aggressive link building, I’d follow it.
I want to focus this Affiliate Lab review on the parts of the course I found most valuable, which is on-site SEO and affiliate CRO.
Why do I need to improve my on-site SEO?
Onsite SEO is one of those SEO factors over which you have a lot of control to grow free traffic to websites. Hence, it’s worth my time and money to learn as much of it as I can. I do pretty well but I can always do better. It’s an opportunity for easy wins and a competitive advantage.
Most folks who blog about SEO and sell SEO courses have one site and that site is the very blog they tell you about SEO. It’s classic self-fulfillment marketing (which I find distasteful).
Matt is different. His Diggity Marketing blog is not his only site. He owns and has owned many successful affiliate websites in many niches so he actually knows what he’s talking about.
Why do I need to improve my affiliate CRO?
To date, the lion’s share of my revenue is from display ad revenue with AdThrive.
I have no intention of quitting display ads. I love earning steady, growing revenue from display ads.
However, a colleague who knows my niche sites pointed out not too long ago that I’m leaving an absolute ton of money on the table for failing to properly deploy affiliate promotions and relevant affiliate offer options on my niche sites.
He was right.
Right now I have an opportunity to dramatically improve affiliate revenue on my niche sites.
It’s something I’ll be working on in 2021 big time. It’s a big effort though so I figured if I’m going to put in the time, I might as well learn from someone who lives and breathes affiliate CRO… and that person is Matt Diggity.
In fact, in the Affiliate Lab course, he says affiliate CRO is his favorite method for growing revenue because in a way it’s easy and fun. You get to leverage existing traffic for more revenue with smart affiliate link insertion. I agree with him that squeezing out more revenue from assets are they are is very fulfilling.
And so I went through every on-site SEO and affiliate CRO module in the course.
Bonus info I found really interesting
I didn’t read the sales page when I bought it. I knew I was going to buy it so when I clicked the buy button I didn’t know there would be a good number of additional modules that applied to me.
One module I found fascinating was Matt’s discussion on distinguishing niche and authority sites. It’s a topic near and dear to me.
I tend to focus on authority sites but I recognize the advantages of smaller niche sites.
Matt operates in both.
He’s highly knowledgeable about both.
In fact, he makes one point that distinguishes both that I found very, very interesting. Sorry, I can’t reveal it here, but the niche vs. authority module is well worth the price of admission on its own?
Because knowing what you want to build will dictate how you go about it because there are key differences between niche and authority sites with respect to:
- Site architecture, and
- Content topics.
If you think about it, site architecture and content pretty much make up a site which means you will benefit from understanding the nuanced differences before setting out.
How does Affiliate Lab deliver its content?
All content is delivered via video.
the videos are very high quality. I can tell that a lot of planning went into creating the videos because they are all relatively short which makes for convenient consumption of the material. What I mean by this is it’s easier looking for specific information when broken up into multiple videos than cramming piles of info into one-hour videos.
I do like how the videos use slides with the info clearly visible on the slides. This made it possible to just skip ahead to the slides, get the info and close the video. For any points made that I need clarification, I just watched the entire video.
My only complaint with Affiliate Lab is there is no text version or short version text notes for each module.
I don’t like consuming information by video. I understand most people do but I find it takes way too long. I much prefer to rip through text and find the few nuggets of info I’m looking for.
However, this complaint is not sufficient reason to not get the course. I just hunkered down and ripped through the videos.
How is Affiliate Lab organized?
Affiliate lab is an online course delivered on the Teachable platform (a very good course platform… the same one I use). The course itself is actually a bundle of 8 courses. Because Affiliate Lab has so many videos, info and modules, Matt broke it up into multiple courses where each course is broken up into multiple sections. Each section has anywhere from a few to 10+ video lessons.
Here are the 8 courses that make up Affiliate Lab
The lion’s share of the info is in the first course called aptly titled “Affiliate Lab”.
It only takes one keyword
This is a fascinating aspect of Affiliate Lab. If you rank for the right keyword, you can earn tens of thousands of dollars per month. It’s a singular focus approach.
You could build out an entire affiliate site with the intention to focus on one insanely lucrative keyword. Going forward you take steps to defend that ranking (Affiliate Lab covers defending rankings as well). While it’s true insanely lucrative keywords are competitive keywords, that’s why you buy this affiliate course – to learn how to rank for those competitive keywords.
This is what I call the “rank n’ bank” model and it’s highly effective assuming you do rank for your intended keyword.
An example keyword would be “best bodybuilding supplements” where you promote a high-commission bodybuilding supplement.
Another example would be “best travel credit card” where you promote a credit card geared toward travel rewards and has a generous affiliate program attached.
Matt has a section devoted to how he does keyword research that will help you pinpoint the exact keywords you need to rank in your chosen niche that are loaded with buyer intent. Buyer intent keywords are keywords that searchers use who are darn close to buying something. They just need a nudge.
In another life this is what I did…
Before I started monetizing with display ads, I only did affiliate marketing.
I managed to rank for some decent keywords. Not the most lucrative, but I ranked for two keywords that together generated $10,000+ per month in commissions. I held those rankings for quite some time. So I can tell you from personal experience that it works.
Over time, you strive to rank for more and more lucrative keywords.
It’s a far more analytical and surgical approach to niche sites.
The beauty of it is you can apply this to large authority sites as well (which is what attracted me to Affiliate Lab in the first place).
I own authority sites with tons of content, most of it targeting low competition keywords monetized with display ads.
Those sites have some decent site authority and trust built up so now I can gun for more lucrative keywords.
But according to Matt, you don’t have to build up a huge authority site to rank for good keywords. You can gun for them out of the gates. Just be patient… you aren’t going to rank for a $10K/mo. keyword in a few months.
But it all starts with the right niche
One aspect I appreciate about Matt’s model of “affiliate SEO” is that niche selection is more science than art than other publishing models (such as what I do with display ad monetized sites).
Matt illustrates this very clearly with the first video in the niche selection module where he explains that his first niche maxed out at $4,000 per month but his next niche site skyrocketed to $50,000. What’s more amazing, is both niches required the same effort to rank.
While Matt doesn’t say “choose this niche” the module is helpful because he sets out his niche selection guidelines plus a good list niche attributes to AVOID in choosing a niche.
When you put together his lists of what to look for and what to avoid, it helps filter out many niches leaving you with short, manageable list.
An example of niches he suggests you avoid are niches where Amazon is the primary merchant to promote as an affiliate. Matt is not a fan of the Amazon affiliate program. He explains in detail why this is the case. That said, the methods taught will work equally well promoting Amazon as other merchants. Matt just doesn’t care for niches where Amazon is the main affiliate revenue source.
Accordingly, if you’re going to pursue affiliate SEO, Matt’s niche selection module is critically important.
For me, while the module was definitely helpful, I’m using Affiliate Lab techniques to bolster affiliate revenue on existing authority sites. However, if I were starting an affiliate site from scratch (or buying a website), I’d follow his guidelines.
Building up website trust and credibility
Affiliate Lab spends a lot of time teaching how to build up a credible and trustworthy website. Google is putting more and more importance on referring searchers to sites that are credible. This means that the information is accurate and reliable. For topics that are best-served by expertise, Google wants to ensure it sends folks to content published by experts.
While Matt is no expert in most of the niches he jumps into, he’s a master and building up websites that are credible… or at least communicates to Google that it’s trustworthy and worthy of search traffic.
The “trustworthy” consideration cannot be overstated. I agree with Matt that this is a very important aspect of building up a successful niche site. I put a big effort into bolstering credibility on my niche sites. I suggest you do the same and a good starting point is to follow Matt’s methods for doing so.
One simple way to bolster credibility is to set up social media accounts for your sites. While this alone isn’t necessarily sufficient for building the requisite credibility, it’s necessary.
The Million-Dollar “Pure Gold” Info
Great courses are a mix of the basics and advanced info. Embedded in all that info are nuggets that I consider the “pure gold” which is the info veterans like me buy the course.
I get that great courses need to include piles of the basics because many people are just starting out. I do the same with my courses. I assume everyone is relatively new to this business, but I also include the “pure gold” info that offers nuanced, highly effective tips for veterans.
Affiliate Lab is no exception.
It too offers a good variety of “pure gold” info that justified my purchase. Here’s a smattering of what was the “pure gold” for me:
- Niche site vs. authority site discussion. While on the surface, this seems obvious, Matt offers some insights here that I was not aware of. This is must-know info for every person building out sites that make money.
- Site architecture: His site architecture module is amazing. I definitely have some improvements to make when it comes to site architecture. What I especially appreciate is how he makes it clear that site architecture will differ between a small niche site and authority site. He’s right on this because the two are different. Nevertheless, I definitely have some architecture improvements to apply to my authority sites.
- High converting affiliate landing pages: I doubt there is anyone who knows affiliate CRO better than Matt. He loves this stuff and he’s tested it extensively… far more than I have. His on-site affiliate CRO info is “pure gold”.
- Schema markup tips: I’m fairly adept at implementing schema markup for snagging search traffic but Matt has tested this far more than me. His schema markup observations are “pure gold” and is also “must-know” information for niche and authority site publishers. In fact, he has an entire detailed lesson on how to “steal” the featured snippet which is awesome.
- E-A-T / YMYL / Trust Factors: There is probably nobody on the planet who knows how to bolster trust factors on a niche site like Matt. Heck, he ranks for insanely lucrative keywords in niches directly impacted by E-A-T and he does so by taking steps to bolster trust and credibility on his niche sites (even though he himself does not have the requisite expertise). I’m not in niches that are so affected by E-A-T, but IMO, trust and credibility will grow in SEO importance so once again, this is must-know info for any website publisher.
- Link building for search domination: I’m not so much into link building and while I may embrace it in the future, it’s not going to be a focus for me because I’ve done well without it. However, I’m not so naive to believe that link building doesn’t work. It works great. The key is to do it in a way that is both effective and minimizes risk of an unnatural link-building penalty by Google. Chances are, if you want to rank for keywords that can earn tens of thousands per month, link building is necessary. If that’s the case, Matt link building information is second-to-none.
- Scaling niche sites: One of the hardest aspects of this business is scaling. It’s one thing to bootstrap a single niche site by yourself to five figures per month but an entirely different skill set to scaling the business by hiring and training people to exponentially grow the business model. I have a fairly large team of folks working for me but it’s not without some problems so I found Matt’s insights on scaling this business helpful.
Conclusion: Should You Buy Affiliate Lab?
Affiliate Lab Ratings
- Unique, Actionable Information
- Applicable to Beginners and Veterans
- Content Delivery
Affiliate Lab is a rockstar course. I dinged it slightly for Content Delivery because there isn’t a text version (or short notes) of the videos. I prefer reading than watching videos. Otherwise, it’s a perfect course (I don’t say that lightly).
IMO, Affiliate Lab is a great course for anyone who:
- Wants to learn how to grow search traffic faster with link building and competitive advantage level on-site SEO;
- Wants to learn how to make way more money from on-site affiliate marketing; and/or
- Wants to learn how to scale this business.
While this may not include everyone who owns a website, my hunch is it includes most.
I can’t imagine there being anyone who buys Affiliate Lab that doesn’t learn something.
I’ve been publishing sites for a living since 2012 and I learned a ton.
How is Affiliate Lab different from the Fat Stacks Course Bundle?
This is an interesting question. Not to toot my own horn, but the Fat Stacks Course Bundle has evolved into a massive teaching resource setting out every nuanced detail I do and follow to build up successful ad-monetized niche sites.
But without a doubt, Affiliate Lab and my course bundle are very different. Arguably, they dovetail very nicely for anyone looking to build an authority site. As an authority site owner, I’ve learned a ton in Affiliate Lab that I can apply to my online publishing business… namely on-site SEO improvements and affiliate CRO.
The Fat Stacks Bundle of courses focuses on low competition keyword research, high-volume content production and display ad monetization.
The Affiliate lab focuses on ranking content via on and off-site SEO in the search engines and generating affiliate revenue.
When you put the two together, you can build out a powerhouse authority site that is a solid mix of easy traffic from low competition informational content that’s monetized with ads and lucrative keyword search traffic that generates some serious affiliate revenue.
At the end of the day, both my approach and Matt’s approach strive toward building out high-earning passive income websites.
Is Affiliate Lab good for beginners?
Yes, it is. There is an entire module for beginners to get going with the basics and then continue with the more advanced modules. Affiliate Lab is a true “A to Z” course on ranking for powerful keywords and printing money from affiliate offers.
Is Affiliate Lab a good course if I monetize mostly with display ads?
Yes, it is assuming you also like the idea of diversifying your website revenue with some lucrative affiliate offers. If you have a site earning with display ads, it’s a no-brainer to incorporate some affiliate revenue. In other words, it’s not either/or, but instead it’s both working together to increase the revenue of both monetization options.
Does Affiliate Lab only teach link building?
Affiliate Lab teaches link building in incredible detail but the course is so much more. It teaches site set-up, site architecture, on-site seo, affiliate conversion rate optimization, scaling niche sites, niche site email marketing and website flipping. It really is an A to Z niche site course.
Does Affiliate Lab teach white hat link building?
Yes, it does. Affiliate Lab incorporates several link building methods including white hat models.
Do I need to build a PBN to build links as taught in Affiliate Lab?
No, you don’t. Matt doesn’t rely on PBN links like he used to. These days he takes different approaches to building links.
Does Affiliate Lab teach how to find and choose a good niche?
Yes, it does and it offers a ton of good info about this. However, it teaches it in a way to choose niches that are affiliate-marketing focused that includes some highly lucrative affiliate marketing opportunities.
Does Affiliate Lab how to earn more affiliate commissions from existing content?
Yes, it does. In fact, this is one of my favorite modules because I have tons of ranking content where I can increase revenue by incorporating affiliate links.
Does Affiliate Lab show an example website I can check out to see how to go about things?
Yes, there is a sample affiliate niche site that the course uses as an example. I found this very helpful.
Does Affiliate Lab teach how to grow a niche site into an authority site?
Yes, it does. In fact, these days Matt is focused on growing his portfolio into a portfolio of massive authority sites. I really appreciated how the course addressed affiliate marketing with authority sites since I too focus on authority sites.
Does Affiliate Lab teach how to write and publish content that will rank in Google search?
Yes, it does. Matt reveals his preferred content sources and has an entire series dedicated to publishing excellent content that can rank.
Does Affiliate Lab offer a community forum or a private Facebook Group?
Yes, the course includes access to a private Facebook Group.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.