If you’ve been following what I’ve been doing here on OpTempo you’ve probably noticed that I use the eBay Partner Network (EPN) sniplet widget a lot. I not only use it here on OpTempo but on several other sites as well. I started thinking about this after reading Don’s article, BANS , Adjusting For Success or Do Nothing And Fail. For those of you who’re regular readers who’re interested in Internet Marketing here are some of the details on what I like about the EPN toolkit sniplet widgets versus some other, popular, eBay affiliate solutions.
Why Not BANS?
One of the main problems I’ve encountered with BANS (Build A Niche Store) is that nobody loves them. Google snubs them search results and really hates them if they’re on a .info domain. Other bloggers tend reject or even Akismet comments when a link to a BANS site is in a comment, even if the comment is worthwhile and on topic and isn’t even anchored link but a person’s name. This complicates link building unless you have a good link cluster in place to support the BANS sites. If you have this, then this will make your BANS network much more effective.
The bottom line is that I’m seeing BANS as more of a hands-free domain parking solution than anything else. But, the thing is that I can accomplish the same thing with a few simple HTML pages and the eBay sniplets and not have to worry about technical details and overhead like CURL, PHP and MySQL support.
Why Not phpBay?
Google loves blogs so you’re unlikely to encounter the same indexing and placement problems with a WordPress. site running phpBay as you would a BANS. Fellow bloggers aren’t as likely to click the spam button on another blog as long as you have actual content and not just product listings. You also get the advantages of a RSS feed, pinging and so forth. Some of the techniques I use for the eBay toolkit sniplets will also work with phpBay.
What I don’t like so much about phpBay, bearing in mind I’ve only used the Lite version and not the Pro version, is that it has a lot of overhead and the look and feel of it doesn’t sit right with me. Pictures aren’t clickable without doing a hack as best I can determine (let me know if I’m wrong about this). This will impact the click-through-rate (CTR). On the overhead issue, it does a lot of processing locally on your server to prepare and display the eBay auction items where the work for the eBay toolkit sniplets are elsewhere.
While the Pro version does have more in the way of sorting and display options, call me a cheapskate but I just couldn’t see spending money to get a plugin for something that I could do about 80-90% of for free. If you feel that you need that extra functionality, like zip code sorting and affiliate link cloaking, it may be worth it to you though. PHPBay seems like a well written and well supported product.
What I Like About the EPN Toolkit Sniplet Widgets
I also appreciate their flexibility. I can use them inline on a blog post or I can opt to format them for use in a sidebar. Color and layout choices make it easy to fit in to most sites and themes. I’ve gotten the best results from the larger sized inline widgets and I’ll discuss this in another article.
Lastly, it’s free. I’m always looking for an inexpensive or free way to do things provided it gets the job done. The EPN Toolkit Sniplet Widgets do their job very well.
On the downside, the eBay affiliate links aren’t cloaked. Is this a big deal? I’m not sure.
If you have any thoughts, questions and ideas about using the EPN Toolkit Sniplet Widgets, BANS, phpBay or other eBay affiliate link presentation systems, please leave a comment below.