Authority Site vs Affiliate Site

Authority Site vs Affiliate Site: Which One Should You Build in 2024?

What's the verdict when it comes to building an Authority site vs Affiliate site? There's a clear winner.

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When discussing an Authority site vs Affiliate site, the debate between which one is better to build in 2024 is clear as day. 

Authority sites will more often than not win in Google and earn you more money in the long run versus an affiliate site.

This couldn’t be more true in a world of content creation with ChatGPT and AI, which has in a few short months completely changed the online landscape.

So whether you call it niche sites, Amazon review sites, Amazon sites, or just plain affiliate sites, don’t start one until you read this first.

What is the Difference Between Niche Site and Authority Site?

Authority sites focus on topics, whereas niche sites focus on products. This difference leads to a completely different blogging approach.

Niche sites, commonly referred to as affiliate sites, will typically write posts around a commercially viable topic in order to make quick affiliate sales. 

Authority sites on the other hand write on an infinite number of topics and have more monetization options open to them, including affiliate marketing.

Both types of income generating sites will earn you money. 

Although, if you plan to build a site for the long haul and weather the many Google updates, then an Authority site is the better bet.

Learn How to Build a Profitable Affiliate Website

(Free Step-by-Step Video Tutorials to Making Money with a Blog!)

What is an Authority Site?

An authority site is a full-fledged business that makes money from multiple monetization streams, and that positions the brand or individual as the authority.

These sites offer you a bunch of free content and through that free content they funnel you to a purchase or to join email lists for advanced marketing tactics.

The authority site model is not limited to only Google SEO traffic. 

Authority sites protect themselves from losses by diversifying and generating their traffic from multiple sources, including social media.

Additionally, the complexity of building an Authority site intensifies as you grow, but earnings grow as well.

Pros

  • Compounded Growth (articles you produce today will continue to pay you in the future alongside new content created)
  • Life changing ‘exit potential’ (sites can sell for 30x – 40x monthly profit)
  • More ways for people to discover you (SEO, Social Media, Paid Ads, Email List, through Affiliates, etc)

Cons

  • Complexity of managing business
  • It takes much longer to build than a simple affiliate site

What is an Example of an Authority Site?

Think of Neil Patel’s website as an example of an Authority site. 

The Authority site makes money from selling digital courses, affiliate marketing, consulting, and selling its subscription based SEO tool, Ubersuggest.

It would be insane to think that Neil does this all on his own without any help.

In reality, he’s built a team of content creators, editors, SEO experts, and others to help run his money making Authority site machine. 

You can see just how complex this can get and where the implementation of systems and SOPs would be crucial for continued growth.

Ultimately, when you build an Authority site and become an authority status, business opportunities will more easily come to you. 

This growth path of an Authority site is what helped Kevin Espiritu build an 8-figure site and become the face of global advertising campaigns.

How Do Authority Sites Make Money?

Authority sites monetize primarily in 3 ways:

  • Ads (sponsored posts, ad networks revenue)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Creating and Selling In-House Products

What is an Affiliate Site?

Affiliate marketing websites promote affiliate products. They target people who are looking for a specific product or are searching for solutions to solve a problem.

Authority Site vs Affiliate Site

These sites are a form of Authority sites, but are smaller in size and typically have anywhere between 30 – 50 posts around a niche topic.

As an affiliate site owner, you create content that pre-sells by presenting products that offer solutions and also by reviewing these products.

The lure of affiliate sites is that they can oftentimes rank faster on Google by targeting specific keywords within a small niche or sub-niche. 

This can generate quick affiliate sales for the site owner if targeting the right niche with enough low competition keywords.

Pros

  • Less content to create
  • Faster to rank than Authority sites
  • Potential to make quick affiliate sales

Cons

  • There’s a ceiling to how much content you can create within the niche, which will limit the amount of money you can make
  • No diversification
  • Affiliate programs often change their affiliate commission structure or shutdown altogether, resulting in a loss of income
  • Highly susceptible to Google updates and ranking and traffic loss

What is an Example of an Affiliate Site?

Affiliate sites are typically easier to spot. Many of them are Amazon review sites with niche domain names, such as boardgamesland.com

They typically have review posts and comparison posts with affiliate links that point to that product on Amazon. 

Additionally, you’ll see an Amazon affiliate disclosure somewhere on the site.

Amazon affiliate site example

Niche affiliate sites aren’t always just Amazon affiliate websites. 

The affiliate site case study example, dogfoodheaven, shown in the Authority Site System course is a Chewy affiliate niche site. 

Readers are directed to the Chewy.com website for specific products.

Affiliate commissions are made from sales originating from these affiliate links.

How Do Affiliate Sites Make Money?

Depending on the affiliate program, affiliate site owners earn an affiliate commission per sale or per acquisition (aka ‘Pay Per Lead‘ model).

In the case of Amazon Associates, affiliate commissions are based on the category of the item sold. You can find the full commission structure here.

The Case for Building an Authority Site vs Affiliate Site 

There’s an overlap here that I haven’t spoken about much and that I purposely waited until the end to touch upon.

That is that affiliate sites are in their own right Authority sites. 

When you niche down and focus on one topic, that site becomes an expert authority on the subject matter.

This makes affiliate marketing sites a form of Authority sites. (well, I did mention this once before but you may have missed it!)

That begs the question:

‘Why does there continue to be a debate on whether to build an Authority site vs Affiliate site if they are essentially the same?’

Well, in this case and in the eyes of Google, they are not the same. 

Ultimately, this is what matters the most especially if you have big plans for making money online with an income generating site.

Here’s how Authority websites in this case differ from Affiliate sites:

  • Authority sites continue to add content to their sites on a regular basis, whereas affiliate sites normally stop around 10, 30 or even 50 posts.
  • Authority sites are trusted by their readers. Oftentimes, readers will bookmark the site and come back to it later. Readers of affiliate sites generally get the information they need and don’t return.
  • Authority sites have the ability to gain thousands of backlinks due to their larger scope of content. This helps to build authority in the eyes of Google. Affiliate sites normally struggle to get backlinks and have fewer of them.
  • Authority sites can lose their ranking on one topic area, but continue to earn the same amount of money due to their diversification of topics. Affiliate sites open themselves to a complete loss of revenue if they lose their ranking.

If that’s not convincing enough to start an Authority site vs Affiliate site, then here are a few more reasons that may change your mind.

Nab the Authority site building course that helped me build a 4-figure per month site at a special discount here!

Amazon Associates Continue to Slash Commissions

Affiliate websites are at the mercy of affiliate programs. If they shut down, you lose money. If they slash commissions, you lose money.

Amazon Associates know this far too well and have felt the burn on declining commission rates over the last 10 years.

Amazon Affiliate Commissions Historical Rates
Graph courtesy of geniuslink.com

Simply take a look at the historical Amazon Associates rates, and you’ll see exactly how low commission rates have gone.

An Amazon review site earning $5,000 per month a few years back, may be earning less than one third that amount today.

Affiliate Programs are Shifting to Authority Figures 

Not long ago, I received an email from the Canva affiliate program that they were basically ousting non-creator affiliates from their program.

They went on to state that creators with 5k+ followers on social media, as well as course creators and other authority figures would be welcomed to stay.

Canva affiliates non-creator partners email

Thankfully, since I have an Authority site as well as a YouTube channel with over 10k followers, I was able to remain in the program.

This trend has become more prevalent in recent years. 

Even Amazon with its Influencer program is recruiting Influencer affiliates and offering them more ways to make money with Amazon commissions.

Affiliate only websites are losing their money making power quickly! 

Google RankBrain Changed the Game in 2015

Prior to 2015, it was relatively easy for affiliate websites to rank at the top of Google search results using simple keyword-matching strategies.

When Google introduced RankBrain in 2015 everything changed.

In Hubspot’s words, “RankBrain is part of Google’s algorithm that uses machine-learning and AI to better understand the intent of a search query.”

RankBrain analyzes many factors, not just keywords to understand topical relevance and determine which site is best to show in search results.

The simple fact is that Authority sites cover a wider range of topics and sub-topics. 

Relevant blog posts are interlinked and give Authority sites a significantly better chance of winning on Google than smaller affiliate sites. 

AI is Making It Tougher for Affiliate Sites to Make Money

By now, you may have already heard about ChatGPT. If not, then you may want to read up on it.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but ChatGPT is obliterating affiliate websites by the masses. 

How?

Imagine spending hours writing a typical affiliate comparison blog post such as ‘X Best of Products’ and having ChatGPT whip up something better within seconds. 

Next, it writes a near perfect 4,000 word relevant informational post that goes way more in depth than your similar post. 

Your once high ranking affiliate niche site is now in serious danger of being outranked by AI created content.

AI is killing affiliate sites

Low quality affiliate sites that scrape the internet and pump out regurgitated content are a thing of the past. AI can now do that within seconds.

Authority sites that show expertise, experience, authority and trustworthiness (E.E.A.T) is how you beat AI. 

Savvy site owners know this, and they are even using AI to help them build Authority sites vs Affiliate sites at much faster speeds than ever before.

Start an Authority Site – Here's How

This site you’re on now started out as an affiliate site. 

After being burned by a couple of affiliate programs early on, I decided to branch out into a full-fledged Authority site.

I’m still making my way there with the help of the Authority Hacker courses, and am currently on stage 2 of 3 in the Authority Site System process.

It’s made a tremendous difference in stabilizing my earnings and has helped me grow my site at a much faster pace.

I always recommend the Authority Hacker courses to anyone interested in building a passive income Authority site. 

If that’s something that interests you, then below you’ll get a snapshot of the different site stages taught in the courses.

What Does Authority Hacker Teach?

There are two main AH courses. The beginner friendly course is the Authority Site System, aka TASS program. In it, you’ll learn how to build an affiliate marketing website that earns $1,000+ per month.

The advanced level course is Authority Hacker Pro. This course will help you take your affiliate site and turn it into a 7 and 8-figure Authority site.

Here are the site building stages that are taught in each course.

Stage 1 Site Building (Authority Site System)

  • Getting Traffic
  • Monetizing Traffic with Affiliate Links
  • Monetizing Traffic with Advertising (putting blocks of ads on your pages and getting paid per impression)

Read my full Authority Site System review.

Stage 2 Site Building (Authority Hacker Pro)

  • Everything in Stage 1
  • Collecting and Building Audiences and Followers to Your Brand (email + social media)
  • Monetizing email list with offers and selling sponsored posts (selling access to your following to brands)

Read my full Authority Hacker Pro review.

Stage 3 Site Building (Authority Hacker Pro)

  • Everything in Stage 1 and 2
  • Creating + Selling Your Own Products
  • Paid Ads
  • Have an Affiliate Program

The Authority Hacker courses help position your site as an authority as quickly as possible. TASS is open all year round to new students.

Authority Hacker Pro only opens up a few times per year. If it's closed at the time you're reading this, then make sure to get on the waitlist for the next time it opens.

Authority Site vs Affiliate Site: Which Reigns Supreme?

I made it pretty clear in this article that Authority sites are the clear winner when it comes to the long-term game. 

Authority sites offer diversification in terms of income streams and have a better chance of winning in Google search results.

If you’re going to spend your time building a money making site, then you might as well go all in with an Authority Site. 

Join the Authority Site System to get started today! 

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