With a few basic web skills, a URL and a WordPress plug-in for an affiliate link farm specialist such as Easy Content Units, anybody can create a price comparison website. Or what appears to be one.
Niche 'retailers' using Easy Content Units include supposed price comparison websites for electric toothbrushes, square coffee tables (clearly, round coffee tables aren't niche enough) and air hockey tables. In the world of affiliate marketing, niche is good.
In the bike retail space, those wishing to create a niche 'price comparison site' can sign up with Easy Content Units and start generating code for linkage to Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles and Evans Cycles.
This is what 'Saff' has done for Chainset.co.uk. In a press release, issued on Monday, he claims his site is a full-on price comparison website:
"Online bike component comparison engine ChainSet.co.uk is offering cyclists the chance to compare and contrast prices on chainsets from the UK’s leading retailers."
He added: "Replacing a chainset can have a profound impact on performance, and with at-a-glance comparisons on a variety of models, ChainSet.co.uk was the first port of call for cyclists looking to upgrade. At ChainSet.co.uk, we scour the web’s most prominent retailers to bring you pricing information across the whole chainset market, making it easier than ever before to find the best price."
Chainset.co.uk was first registered in 2009. Another niche affiliates website - chainsets.co.uk - was also created in 2009, by a different developer, but this has been updated only sporadically.
Setting up a back-bedroom price comparison website is easy, and, with luck, may be picked up by Google and other search engines, leading to some affiliate commission for a site that's quick to populate with products and doesn't require much maintenance (although, of course, Google's search results algorithms ranks fresh content very highly).
To be picked up by link farms and shoddy affiliate websites, online retailers sign up with third-party affiliate aggregators. Wiggle, Chain Reaction and Evans Cycles use a service called Affiliate Window which, in turn, is used by Easy Content Units.
According to Affiliate Window, Wiggle has 12,907 products online, Evans has 7319 but Chain Reaction Cycles tops the lot with 24,753.
All three are missing a trick: none sell square coffee tables.