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What is pay-per-click affiliate marketing?


Welcome to the exciting world of pay-per-click affiliate marketing! In this article, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about this monetization model and how you can increase your income with it. So, if you’re interested in learning how to make money by recommending products and services from various brands to your audience, keep reading, because you’re going to love this.

What is pay per click affiliate marketing?

The concept of the pay-per-click (PPC) model is pretty clear from its name. You will earn money every time someone clicks on one of the ads you have placed. For example, if you link to a website that sells airline tickets, you will receive a commission every time someone in your audience visits the brand’s site by clicking on that link.

The difference between the PPC and CPA models lies in the fact that, in the PPC model, the result of the click does not directly affect your revenue. Following the example of airline tickets, in the PPC model, your revenue does not depend on whether or not the person buys a ticket. You will make a profit anyway, since the brand you work with will pay for the click.

Many contextual advertising networks, such as Ezoic and Google AdSense, operate under the PPC model, where you receive revenue for clicks. However, PPC in affiliate marketing is more advanced, as click tracking is more flexible. Therefore, the PPC model in affiliate marketing should not be seen as an alternative to PPC in contextual advertising, as you can achieve much more with affiliate programs.

To better understand PPC affiliate marketing, let’s delve into some key points:

What clicks are paid clicks?

Not all clicks are paid. When you place a link on your blog that directs to the advertiser’s website, generally, brands only pay for “qualified” clicks that meet the criteria of their affiliate program (for example, a click from the country where the traffic is paid). You can find the rules in the description of the terms and conditions of the affiliate program you are connected to.

Clicks are paid not only on your website.

A click on your website is only paid on occasion. In some affiliate programs, you get paid for a click on the brand’s website. That is, you send traffic to the brand’s website and receive a reward only if your visitor to the brand’s website clicks through (for example, on the “Order” button). This type of click is sometimes referred to as an “external click”.

The fact that clicks are paid on the brand’s website is one of the main differences between PPC affiliate programs and contextual PPC networks, where you only pay for clicks on your website.

The combination of CPA and PPC models.

There is a mixed remuneration model in which the advertiser pays for some of the shares, according to the CPA model, and some of the clicks. For example, one of a brand’s many suppliers (airline tickets, car rentals, hotels, etc.) may share part of the revenue with the brand under the PPC model and part of the revenue under the CPA model.

Earnings per click in the affiliate program may vary for different partners. For example, in Skyscanner affiliate program, the cost per click depends on the quality of your traffic. The earnings per click (EPC) are higher if your traffic is composed of people who are about to buy airline tickets.

In addition, the PPC model is most popular not in affiliate marketing, but in contextual, display and other types of online advertising. Therefore, you are likely to find more tools to earn money with clicks that are not directly related to affiliate marketing in the true sense of this word. However, there are also many PPC affiliate programs.

What is EPC and how is it calculated?

To understand how much you can earn, calculate your earnings per click or EPC. This metric applies to both PPC and CPA models and allows you to calculate your revenue per click.

The formula for calculating EPC is quite simple: divide the total earnings of the affiliate program by the total number of clicks. For example, if you earned $1,000 from 100 clicks, that means the EPC is $10.

Of course, the EPC in affiliate program reports generally reflects only the actual earnings. For a better interpretation of the data, you can perform a manual EPC calculation, taking into account your expenses. In this case, the formula for calculating the EPC is as follows:

  1. Add the total income from the affiliate program for the selected time period.
  2. Subtracts the money actually spent to achieve this revenue.
  3. Divide the final amount by the number of clicks for the selected period.

For example, you got 100 clicks, earned $1,000 and spent $500, which gives us an EPC of $5. Using this formula, you can calculate the net revenue per click, which is a fairer estimate of the actual revenue, since you can spend even more than you receive in terms of revenue (for example, by buying paid advertising).

EPC can be used to plan your marketing budget or find the most profitable earning strategies. It is also a key metric for choosing the best affiliate programs. You can compare the average revenue per click to understand which brand is more profitable to work with.

Some affiliate marketing expenses are not directly related to revenue for the selected period. For example, if you prepared an article and paid a copywriter for it or if you bought photos for an article. This expense cannot be calculated in a particular month, as the article will generate revenue for a long time. In this case, you can focus on the actual revenue per click or choose the period in which such expenses are taken into account (for example, a year).

The EPC is calculated in the same way for the CPA model. Although in this case, you earn revenue through your audience’s actions, not through clicks. However, you can still divide the total revenue from actions by the total number of clicks to find out how much a click generated on average.

Now that you know what pay-per-click affiliate marketing is and how to calculate your EPC, it’s time to figure out how to increase your earnings. There are essentially two ways to increase your income with PPC affiliate marketing:

  1. Increase the number of clicks.
  2. Increase the average cost per click.

Let’s dive into both strategies so you can get the most out of this monetization model.

Ways to increase click-through rates to earn more.

You can increase the number of clicks in two ways: increasing the total volume of traffic and improving the click-through rate (CTR), which increases when more people click on your links with the same amount of traffic. Ideally, you should work in both areas to get the best results.

1. Increase the total volume of traffic.

How to increase traffic depends on the format of your website and the current volume of visitors. If you are a blogger or website owner, organic traffic from search engines is one of the main sources you should pay attention to.

SEO and organic traffic can be classified as free traffic sources, as you don’t buy traffic directly, but invest money in creating quality content and optimizing your search engine results. The essence of this method in a nutshell:

  • Choose the topics of your future articles. You can use tools like Keysearch.co or its alternatives to find the best content ideas that will give you a chance to rank well in Google.
  • Prepare content that is no worse (and preferably better) than your competitors.
  • Place affiliate tools within your content.
  • Get organic traffic from Google and, as a result, get more clicks and revenue.

This method applies not only to new content, but also to work with existing materials. Whether you have 10 or 1,000 blog posts, you can use SEMrush or Ahrefs to check which articles are already near the top of Google search results and improve these materials to get more traffic.

The peculiarity of this method is its speed. Even if you create content quickly and have a great website that ranks well in Google, it will probably be several months before you see the first results. This is because it takes time for Google to appreciate your quality content.

To learn how to attract more organic traffic to make money in affiliate marketing, you can take this free course by Sharon Gourlay.

In addition to organic traffic, there are other traffic sources you should consider:

  • Social networks
  • Email newsletters
  • Direct traffic
  • Other traffic sources

For example, Oke Osevwe, the creator of okeventures.com, successfully gets traffic from Pinterest. She shared her method in detail in this success story. You can also actively use Pinterest or other platforms, such as Quora or Reddit.

Pro tip: Regardless of the traffic source you choose, always avoid spam. Few brands allow spam to generate clicks. In addition, intrusive and unwanted advertising messages rarely work effectively. Always remember that your ultimate goal is to increase the amount of traffic that you can then monetize through PPC affiliate programs.

2. Improve traffic quality.

While you’re trying to increase the total volume of traffic, don’t forget the quality of that traffic. It’s unlikely that you need an additional 10,000 visitors per month that don’t generate clicks, because you won’t earn anything from those visitors. In PPC affiliate marketing, as in the CPA model, you only earn when your audience takes specific actions. In PPC, those actions are clicking on affiliate links.

Quality traffic in PPC affiliate marketing is made up of people interested in the product or service being advertised on your page. For example, you’re better off getting one visitor who reads your material on United Airlines flight rules and clicks on a link to buy tickets than 10 people who just read the material and don’t click on the link.

To attract high quality traffic, it is important to keep your readers’ intentions in mind when writing your articles. Ideally, your reader should have an immediate intention to buy a service or product, or at least be close to doing so. This intention can be predicted from the words in the search query. For example, queries containing one of the following words can generate high quality traffic to your website:

  • #buy
  • #order#
  • #cheap#
  • #reserve

Search queries with this type of intent are called commercial queries. We will discuss them further with examples, but if you want to learn more about the types of search queries, check out this article.

If a person searches, for example, “#Cheap guided tour in Barcelona”, there is a high probability that he/she will want to buy such a tour. It can be assumed that the probability is higher that she is ready to make a purchase than if she were using the query “#What to see in Barcelona#”. Although both visitors can be offered, for example, tours through Viator’s affiliate program, the chance of earning money is higher with the person who is closer to making a purchase.

Pro tip: Tours and activities are one of the most profitable niches among travel affiliate programs. To successfully monetize your content with tour and activity affiliate programs like Viator, GetYourGuide and others, download this free guide.

There is a downside to this method. The closer a visitor is to buying a service or product, the more in demand that visitor will be. This means that the competition for that search query may be greater, as other affiliate marketers and brands will also be targeting that audience. Therefore, it is important to keep this factor in mind when working with commercial search queries and be prepared to compete for that high quality traffic.

3. Post links on new platforms

Depending on the rules of the affiliate program you join, you can significantly increase the number of clicks by adding affiliate links to alternative traffic sources.

For example, if you have a group on a social network or a Pinterest page, you can drive traffic from these sources to the brand’s website and receive revenue from clicks or sales.

Keep in mind that each brand sets its own rules about which traffic sources are paid. Before you place an affiliate link, be sure to read the rules.

If the brand you work with doesn’t accept traffic from one of your platforms, you can still leverage those traffic sources. For example, even if the brand you work with doesn’t accept traffic from social media, you can still use your social media pages as traffic sources for your own website and direct visitors to a website where affiliate links are placed. This way, you can increase your total traffic, the number of clicks and your final revenue.

4. Optimize the placement of your links

You can get more clicks (and more revenue) with the same amount of traffic if you optimize the actual placement of your affiliate links. To do this, you can use the best practices from the free guide to affiliate placement tools:

  • The link should stand out visually. If your text is black on a white background, you can make the link blue with an underline. You can choose any color, as long as the link stands out from the general text.
  • The reader should understand what awaits them when they click on the link. Be sure to indicate what the reader will get when clicking on the link, either before the link or in the anchor text.
  • Place links where readers demand them. It is rare that an affiliate link is necessary in the first line of an article, as the person has not yet formed the intention to click. Also, Google may consider your article useless if its main purpose is to immediately redirect a visitor to another website.
  • Use the navigation also for affiliate links. You can add the most popular links to the menu or sidebar of your website.
  • Give your audience different options. Often, you can find two or more affiliate programs that fit the interests of your audience. You should not bombard the reader with options, but suggesting several alternative options at once can increase your bottom line revenue.

In addition, you can create visual blocks on your website where you collect all the affiliate links that are useful to the reader. This is a convenient element for your audience, as all necessary services and products are collected in one place, while for you it is an additional opportunity to showcase affiliate tools that can positively affect your income.

5. Experiment with different formats

Although the method we are discussing is called “pay-per-click”, you are not limited to using only links. If the affiliate program terms do not prohibit it, you can also use other placement formats, such as banners.

A click on a banner on your website is the same as a click on a link. A banner is not just an image inside an article or in the sidebar, it is a much more flexible tool. For example, you can set up a pop-up window or a banner when the reader tries to leave the website. These elements will allow you to draw the reader’s attention to a partner’s product or service and get an additional click on your ad.

Pro tip: If your website is powered by WordPress, you can use ready-made plugins to display banners and ad placements, such as Simple Banner and Ads by WPQuads.

Up to 46% of Internet users use ad blockers. To reduce the risk of your banner being blocked, try to avoid naming conventions such as ads.jpg, banner.jpg and other advertising-related names. These names can immediately reveal that your banner is an ad. To reduce the risk of blocking, if possible, use non-standard image sizes, such as 450x50px instead of the classic 468x60px.

3 Ways to increase your revenue per click (EPC).

The second strategy that allows you to increase your revenue with PPC affiliate marketing is to increase your average cost per click.

As you work to increase your EPC, keep in mind that advertisers aren’t looking for clicks as much as sales, since most brands make money by selling products or services. You get paid for the clicks, but further down the sales chain are the actual purchases. It’s important to keep this in mind when working on a PPC model.

1. Improve the quality of your traffic.

Some affiliate programs offer click-through rewards based on the quality of your traffic. For example, Skyscanner’s affiliate program pays a commission based on how many sales come from your audience.

Therefore, you can work on the quality of your audience by determining who exactly visits your website and who you redirect to the advertiser’s website. The closer your audience is to making an actual purchase, the higher the cost per click can be.

Some brands also pay more for traffic from certain countries. For example, if a brand offers a higher bid for clicks from the United States, you can work on driving traffic from the United States to your website.

2. Get individual conditions

Some large publishers sometimes have individual terms. Generally, these terms are not publicly advertised on brand landing pages, but if you have a significant volume of high-quality traffic, you can discuss individual terms with the brand.

Brands are interested in getting as much quality traffic as possible. For example, if you are willing to offer exceptional ad space to a brand, not to mention competitors or other improvements on your part, you may be able to get better terms in some cases.

However, this method of increasing your revenue per click is only available to a select few partners. Brands are willing to work on individual terms, but usually only in exceptional cases. If your traffic source is a leader in its niche or if you can offer special terms of cooperation to a brand, you can try this method.

3. Switch to another affiliate program

Different brands offer different conditions. You can try another affiliate program that offers higher rewards. In this case, it is better to work with affiliate networks or platforms, such as Travelpayouts. This way, in a single personal account, you will have access to hundreds of affiliate programs that you can test.

The commission rate should never be the only criteria by which you choose an affiliate program. For example, if a service or product does not match the interests of your audience in the same way as your current brand, you may receive fewer clicks and therefore less revenue.

To determine a better and more cost-effective solution, you can perform A/B testing. To do this, distribute traffic equally between old and new brands. For this, you can use tools such as Google Optimize or ClickMeter. To choose the best option, this experiment should be performed on a statistically significant sample. We write more about split testing in this blog post.


The way to become a PPC affiliate is no different than becoming a CPA affiliate. CPA and PPC are two of the most popular reward models in affiliate marketing and should not be opposed to each other. It is better to consider these models as complementary, as brands use both models in different cases.

But the main difference between the two methods is that PPC affiliate marketing is riskier for brands, as you, as a partner, are not responsible for the outcome. Even if a person doesn’t buy a service after clicking on the link, you will still receive revenue.

Although the PPC model sounds safer for partners, this is not always the case. Brands carefully calculate the cost of a click so that their economics remain balanced. According to the laws of economics: the lower the risk, the lower the revenue. In the PPC model, the main risk falls on the brand, so the partner often receives less revenue.

There is no universal rule that CPA is better than PPC or vice versa, as it all depends on the quality of your traffic, the brand’s product and other factors. Therefore, to choose a more cost-effective option, if you have comparable offers, it’s always worth testing both options to understand which is better in practice. Ideally, you can organize A/B tests to compare which is the best option in a statistically significant sample.

What are the best pay-per-click affiliate programs?

There is only one way to become a PPC affiliate, which is to join a PPC affiliate program. If you’re looking for PPC affiliate programs, definitely pay attention to programs like the Skyscanner affiliate program or the Cheapflights affiliate program.

You can find a PPC affiliate program in most niches (for example, if you work in B2B, technology, travel or other sectors). Although, in the travel niche, there are generally more CPA programs, as brands prefer to pay for actions rather than clicks.

How to earn per click with pay per click affiliate marketing.

So what is pay per click affiliate marketing? In simple terms, it’s a way to earn money for clicks. How you are going to earn per click with PPC affiliate marketing depends on your traffic source and niche.

To earn per click affiliate marketing, you must join an affiliate program that pays for clicks. You can also work on the CPA model and receive income from actual sales. The result will be the same: you will earn from traffic.

For high quality traffic, CPA can generate higher income than the PPC model; however, you should perform an A/B test to find out which is the best real way to earn money.

To evaluate the profitability of any PPC or CPA affiliate program, you can use the EPC (earnings per click) indicator. To increase your overall revenue, you will need to work on the quantity and quality of traffic, as well as how actively people click on your affiliate materials.

How to increase your revenue per click in pay per click affiliate marketing.

Now that you know what pay per click affiliate marketing is and how it works, it’s time to learn some strategies to increase your revenue per click and maximize your earnings.

1. Improve the quality of your traffic

One of the most effective ways to increase your revenue per click is to focus on attracting high quality traffic to your website. The more relevant your audience is to the product or service you are promoting, the more likely they are to click on your affiliate links.

To achieve this, make sure you understand your audience and create content that meets their needs and interests. Use specific keywords that are related to the products or services you are promoting to attract people with purchase intent.

In addition, you can improve the quality of your traffic by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques to increase your website’s visibility in search results and attract users who are actively looking for relevant information.

2. Optimize the design and placement of your affiliate links.

The design and placement of your affiliate links can make a big difference in the click-through rate you receive. Make sure your links are visible and stand out from the rest of the content on your website. Use eye-catching colors or buttons to make the links more attractive.

Also, place your links in strategic places where your readers are more likely to click, such as at the end of your posts, within relevant content or in the navigation menu. Avoid placing them in an intrusive or spammy way, as this can alienate your readers.

3. Perform A/B testing

A/B testing is a great way to determine which approach or design generates more clicks and therefore more revenue. You can create multiple versions of a page or post and test different elements, such as link text, button design or link placement.

By performing A/B testing, you’ll be able to identify which approaches are most effective and ultimately optimize your strategy for higher revenue per click.

4. Use deep links

Deep links are links that lead directly to a specific page on the advertiser’s website, rather than simply directing users to the home page. This can increase the relevance and usefulness of your links to your audience, which can translate into more clicks.

Whenever possible, use deep links that take users to specific product or service pages that are relevant to your website content.

5. Promote relevant, high-quality products or services.

The choice of products or services you promote as an affiliate can have a significant impact on your revenue per click. Make sure you promote products or services that are relevant to your audience and are of high quality.

If your readers trust you and your recommendations, they will be more likely to click on your affiliate links and make a purchase.

6. Track metrics and analytics

To improve your revenue per click, it’s important to track your metrics and analytics. Use tools like Google Analytics to get information about the performance of your affiliate links, the traffic you receive and the conversions you generate.

By analyzing your data, you will be able to identify which strategies are working well and which ones need to be adjusted. This will allow you to make informed decisions and optimize your affiliate marketing efforts.

In summary, pay-per-click affiliate marketing is an effective way to generate online revenue by recommending products and services to your audience. To increase your revenue per click, focus on attracting high quality traffic, optimizing your link placement and design, performing A/B testing, using deep links, and promoting relevant and high quality products. Also, don’t forget to track your metrics and analytics to make informed decisions about your affiliate marketing strategy. Good luck on your way to success in the world of pay-per-click affiliate marketing!

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