Using Alexa, we see that...

• only has 155 links coming in (confirming the AltaVista stat of 134 earlier). So its affiliate program is certainly not a mind-boggling success. But here's the question... does that mean danger or does that mean opportunity?

• It gets decent traffic (9344 visits). Good.

• The site only seems to have 47 pages, although this stat is sometimes wrong. And it ranks the site as "fast" and "fresh" -- both good signs.

Now let's use Alexa again to visit's "Related sites" -- you just might find a better shoe merchant! Doing this, you find...

• only gets 1700 visits, and does not seem to have an affiliate program.

• has an affiliate program. It also has a bright, fun site with over 1,000 pages, and has about the same traffic (9158). It has 136 links in, and Alexa ranks the site as "fast" and "fresh." A better choice?

• is a cleverly structured content site. It looks, at first glance, like a huge shoe store. But it's a content site. Sometimes, content sites hide the relationship by using frames. To detect this, right-click on a frame to pop-up a new window that contains only that frame -- it will show the URL of the company that the content site represents. These kinds of sites can, of course, lead you to even more merchants!

Bottom line? Alexa is a great starting point for finding even more merchants in any given category, and giving you some additional basis for choosing those with least risk.

Tricky Alexa Tip: Many sites use ad networks to run their banners. In this case, Alexa shows you the traffic stats for the network, instead of the site. You'll know because you'll see the name of the network (ex., DoubleClick or 24/7) rather than the name of the site.

To get around this enter a totally weird URL, like...

http://www.THECOMPANY.COM/abdefeddee.html (where is the site you are investigating)

You'll get a 404 error. Since most companies don't put a banner on their 404 page, wait for a few seconds until Alexa updates with the real stats for that site!

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