As an affiliate marketer, you know that nothing can be better than a ton of traffic flowing into your site.
The only problem: you have no idea how to accomplish this.
You know your audience is busy. Theyve got their heads buried watching videos of their friends on tropical islands or typing away angrily at their enemies on Reddit.
How can you draw their attention to your website?
The answer: SEO for affiliate marketing.
I know, I know.
It sounds scary.
And the truth is, it is scary.
Just type SEO into Google and youll get results for novel-length guides you have no idea how to get through. Youll get a list of hundreds of ranking factors you dont understand.
If this is you, dont worry.
Ive put together this simple (but comprehensive) guide on SEO for affiliate marketing.
Yup, Ive ditched the stuff you can learn later, if you ever decide to become an expert SEO or webmaster. Ive included the basics that you can use now to improve your sites ranking, increase traffic, and skyrocket your sales.
Ready to dive in?
What is SEO?
First things first.
What is SEO?
I mean, what is it, really?
This may seem like a silly question since were all expected to know what it is.
But in case its still blurry to you, SEO stands for search engine optimization and involves improving your site so it ranks highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and reaches more people. It also focuses on organic rather than paid traffic from ads.
Heres how Moz describes it.
Think of it like owning a dollar store on the corner of Main Street. To increase your sales, you need more people to see and visit your store.
So, you print out brochures. You improve your neon signage. You ask your friends and people in your network to promote your store. You beautify your interior to attract return visitors.
SEO is like that, but this time your work is done on your website.
Here are three categories youll need to pay attention to.
This is where you beautify your store and ensure your customers love being in it.
In the online world, it involves crafting content they love, using short and readable URLs, and using a logical structure for flow (H1s, H2s, and H3s).
This is where you reach out to your network and past customers, asking them to promote your store.
It includes guest posting, link-building outreach, and leveraging reviews by your past buyers.
This has to do with your physical store itself. Youll want to patch up holes in the roof, make sure it isnt too hot or too cold, and get rid of termites that could one day bring your entire building down.
On your website, this means optimizing for speed, building XML sitemaps, and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly.
Now, all of this stuff is important, and Ill get into them in a bit.
Note: I wont dive deep into hundreds of ranking factors or go into advanced link-building outreach strategies.
What Ill do is give you a brief but comprehensive overview of what you can do today to improve your SEO for affiliate marketing.
Lets get into the details!
SEO for Affiliate Marketing – 8 Steps to Success
Heres a surprising truth.
SEO for affiliate marketing may seem impossibly huge. You might feel like youll never accomplish it successfully. Theres just too much to do, and you have no idea where to start.
But like a mountain, you can scale it step by step.
All you need to do is take the first step. Then the next. Then the next. Before you know it, youll be at the summit peering down triumphantly at your competitors.
So without further ado, lets get to the first step.
Step #1: Leverage the Power of Keywords
If youre like me, you might feel an involuntary awful shiver run down your spine whenever you hear the word keyword.
Thats because throughout the history of SEO, keywords have been abused and maligned to no end.
For instance, you probably know of the infamous practice of keyword stuffing.
Heres a cringe-worthy trip down memory lane:
But the truth is, keywords are important.
In fact, theyre essential to your SEO success.
The key is to use them strategically and in a non-spammy way. Instead of keyword stuffing, use keywords in a few targeted places that signal to Google that your page is what people need to answer their questions.
These places are:
- Your headline (H1)
- Once in the first 100 words of your intro
- As many times in your subheads (H2s and H3s) as you can without being annoying
- Once in your conclusion
- In your meta description, alt tags, and URL
Now for the next question:
Which keywords do you use?
Here are four simple steps to finding and targeting the best keywords.
- Splurge on a Keyword Research Tool
(Unless spending $29.90 is splurging to you.)
The truth is, you can do SEO for affiliate marketing without a keyword research tool, but itll be like going on a journey without a map.
Youll go around in circles, get lost, and if you ever reach your destination, itll be by accident.
A keyword research tool is your map to your destination (affiliate marketing success).
And dont worry.
A basic tool like KWFinder can give you all the data you need to perfect your strategy, but costs only $29.90/month.
- Go for Long-Tail Keywords
Going for long-tail keywords is like opening a store selling nothing but little black dresses.
Sure, more people will enter the generic clothes store beside you.
But when people do enter your store, theyre more likely to buy because theyve come specifically for a little black dress.
Think of it.
When you go on Google and type dress, you could have a ton of varying intentions:
- Maybe you dont know English and want to know what dress means
- Maybe youre looking for a photo of a dress for your website
- Maybe youre looking for inspiration for your next sewing session
But what if you type little black dress near me, into Google?
Youre 99% ready to buy a dress.
Thats the magic of long-tail keywords.
While a seed keyword like dress may have a lot more searches
…its a long-tail keyword like little black dress near me that gets the sales.
Lets test our theory with a quick Google search.
Here are the results for dress.
Now, lets try little black dress near me.
These results are primed for people on the verge of snagging their own little black dress.
- Go for Keywords in the Coveted Sweet Spot All SEOs Love
Heres a sad truth.
Theres no perfect keyword.
Which means, you need to compromise and go for keywords that are as close to perfect as possible.
These keywords sit in the sweet spot between high search volume and low keyword difficulty score.
Heres what these terms mean:
- High search volume: a ton of people are searching using these keywords per month
- Low keyword difficulty score: not a lot of high-authority websites are competing for this keyword, meaning you have a higher chance of ranking well for it
To succeed, try sticking to these rules:
- Go for a search volume above 300 per month
- Go for a keyword difficulty score below 40
Lets hop into KWFinder and test our keyword little black dress near me.
As you can see in the screenshot, the keyword has a monthly search volume of 500 and a keyword difficulty score of 38.
This means you should go right ahead and target this keyword!
Note: if you want to practice finding keywords in the sweet spot, you can sign up for KWFinder’s 7-Day FREE Trial. (Dont worry. You can cancel before 7 days are up and you wont be charged a cent.)
Heres a little sneak peek at what you can do with KWFinder:
- Go for High-ROI Keywords
This isnt a ranking factor and it wont increase your chances of showing up in the SERPs.
BUT itll help you get high-quality visitors who are deep down in the funnel and more than ready to buy.
In other words, itll help you get the most ROI from your blogs.
Heres a quick list of keywords to target (and content to write around them):
- Comparison keywords: These pit two brands or products against each other. (Example: Mac vs. PC)
- Review keywords: These are in-depth reviews that help readers decide whether or not a product or service is right for them. (Example: KWFinder Review)
- List post keywords: These list the top-recommended products in a niche. (Example: Top 10 Airconditioning Brands)
- Alternatives keywords: These discuss alternatives to popular products or services. (Example: Best Alternatives to ActiveCampaign)
- Information keywords: These address a pain point your audience feels thats related to your affiliate products. (Example: How to Keep My Dogs Coat Shiny)
Build quality content around these keywords, and youll be surprised to see how fast your site grows.
Step #2: Avoid These Domain Name Mistakes
In the old days, including a relevant keyword in your domain name was a must.
Today: not so much.
However, there are domain name mistakes that can actually hurt you.
Here are two you should avoid:
- Using brands in your domain name. This is a no-no unless youve asked the companys permission to use their name in your domain. Pushing through without their consent could lead to being penalized or sued by the company.
- Purchasing a domain with bad history. Before buying a domain or website, take time to look into its history. This is because you wouldnt want to own a site with a bad record for spamming Google in the past.
Step #3: Beautify Your Shop with Stellar Content
I talked about on-page SEO earlier in this blog, and Ill take a deeper dive into it here.
Working on your on-page SEO is like making the utmost effort to ensure your customers love your shop. You add a waiting lounge. You invest in good lighting. You set your merchandise up so its easy for your visitors to find. You spy on the shops down the street and aim to beat them by making yours better.
The same is true with your site.
In order to please your visitors and Google, you need to set it up for success with amazing, well-optimized content.
Here are three steps to help you get to your goal.
- Craft Content thats Better than Your Competitors
This sounds simplistic, but its surprising how many affiliate marketers miss it.
They jump on their blog and start rattling away at their keyboard. They pour their ideas out onto their blank document. They write stuff they think their readers will love.
The only problem: they have no idea how well their content will measure up against their competitors.
And if it falls short…well, you can guess the outcome.
My advice to you: before you write a single blog post, check what your competitors are doing.
Its not hard.
Simply jump into Google and type in the keyword youre trying to rank for.
Lets say its how to keep my dogs coat shiny.
Heres what youll get:
Now, your job is to click on each one of these results and read it.
- What makes this post special?
- How is it different from everything else online?
- Whats lacking here that I could add to my post?
- Do they have any images?
- Is the writing engaging and creative?
- Did they include relevant keywords in the right places?
- Did they optimize their headline and subheaders for both Google and readers?
I know, it sounds tedious.
But you wont regret it when you start crafting posts that are miles greater than your competitors…
…and snagging all that coveted traffic.
- Optimize Your Content for Readability
You have a terrible stomachache and you want a list of the top home remedies you can use to get rid of it.
You get on Google and land on a page like this:
What do you do?
Run, of course.
Youll click the back button like itll save your life.
But what if you land on a page like this?
Do you stay?
Heres the difference between the two pages:
- Page #1 features a dense wall of heavy text. You dont want to wade through all of that. Plus, its packed with jargon and youre not in the mood to pull out your dictionary.
- Page #2 is simple, easy to scan, and readable. Theres a ton of white space, which is relaxing to your eyes. There are images to break up the tedium.
This example sums up what you should and shouldnt do with your blog posts.
Craft a text-heavy, jargon-strewn blog, and your readers will run for the hills and vanish never to return again.
Create an eye-friendly, image-filled, jargon-free, easy-to-absorb piece, and theyll stay, read, subscribe, share, and basically fall in love with you.
- Dont Leave Your Content Stagnant
Like all good things, content has an expiration date.
In some industries (news sites, for instance) this date occurs very quickly. Write a news article, and itll grow old in a day or two.
In others, its a bit longer. (3-5 years at most.)
Luckily, as an affiliate marketer, youre in category #2, and your content probably wont get outdated the day after you write it. If youre even luckier, the stuff you publish will still be relevant three years down the road.
However, youll want to check and update your content at least once a year.
Heres a quick checklist to help you:
- Update old information. As time passes, brands may change their products features, prices, and even names. Make sure to check for outdated information, as your readers wont appreciate you for it.
- Check for broken links. You can either do this manually, or with a savvy, all-around SEO tool like Ahrefs.
- Look for gaps you can improve on. Content is like your recipe for the perfect omelette. You can improve on it with time. Add in some celery. A pinch of oregano. Slices of mozerella cheese. For your blog: add in images or videos to break up walls of text, change outdated examples for fresher ones, and tighten sentences that look bloated or saggy. With time and constant improvements, your content will continually rise until it becomes the best on the SERPs for your targeted keyword.
Step #4: Work on Your Links
Links are like oxygen to your SEO strategy.
Without them, youll shriven up and die in one of the hidden dark corners of the web, with not a single soul to see and support your work.
In other words: you need links to rank well.
And when it comes to links, there are three kinds: outbound, internal, and inbound links.
Lets look at each one separately:
- Outbound Links
Outbound links are like spiderwebs.
They help Googles web crawlers connect your website with others.
For instance, lets say your write a piece of content on cheese. Within your content, you link to another blog that deals with the same topic. What this does is help Google discover your page and index it for future searches on the same topic.
But outbound links get even better.
Thats because they dont only guide Google to your site, they also help you create meaningful relationships with other content creators.
When you feature their work in your blog and give them a coveted backlink, chances are theyll appreciate it and return the favor later on.
Check out this example of outbound links added skillfully to content:
- Internal Links
Internal links are like the cement that glues your website together.
Well, sort of.
They work to show Google how your site is structured, including which pages are more important (your core pages) than others.
If this sounds complex, dont worry.
All you have to do is link back to other pages on your website.
Ill keep my fun metaphors up for backlinks.
Backlinks are like gold.
You dig and dig for them (sometimes for years), and when you get them, you become rich.
Backlinks are a huge ranking factor for Google because they mean other sites value your content enough to link to it.
But heres the catch: unlike inbound and internal links, you have no control over whether or not you get backlinks.
So, how do you increase your chances of getting them?
Here are four tips to help you:
- Create share-worthy content. Craft content thats the best online on your topic, and people who see it will naturally love and want to link back to it.
- Ask other site owners for backlinks. However, dont be spammy and annoying. Make sure you have a reason for them to link to you. (Example: I have this great infographic on my page thatll be awesome for your blog on cheese!)
- Look for broken links on other websites. You can do this either manually (warning: itll take forever) or with a tool like Ahrefs. When you find them, send the site owner a message along the lines of: Hey, Site Owner! I noticed that the link on your blog Top 10 Cheeses is Broken. Now, I have an article just like the one thats been taken down. Id really love if you would link to it instead!
- Guest post. Guest blogging is super valuable because it wont only gain you exposure to the blogs readers, itll also give you the chance to link back to your own site. Most of the time, the sites owner will allow you a single backlink to your blog in your author profile.
Remember, building a strong backlink profile will take time and effort.
But like I said, backlinks are gold.
Theyre worth it.
Step #5: Dont Keep Your Readers Waiting
The truth is, the digital world of today isnt a spa.
People dont go online to take deep breaths, relax, and let the time tick away unchecked while lemon-infused volcanic mud gets rubbed into their faces.
Theyre in a hurry. Theyre constantly rushing, as if theyre afraid theyll miss out on the next meme published. They have 10 tabs open on their browser, and theyre clicking restlessly from one to the next.
Which means, if you keep them waiting for 5 seconds while your sloth-like page loads
…theyll bail on you.
And when they do, Google will notice.
The moral of the story?
Never tell your readers to wait.
Strike them with lightning-fast page loading speed.
Here are three tips to help you achieve this goal:
- Blame your web hosting provider. And then get a new one. We trust BlueHost for our sites. (Notice how fast they load?)
- Skip the heavy animation. Trust me. Your audience wont stick around as your gorgeous art-deco inspired sidebars and gigantic images load. And why should you create a site no one will ever see? Youll do much better going minimalist with a ton of white space and simple images.
- Use speed-boosting plugins. For instance, if youre on WordPress, a plugin like WP Rocket can help combine and minify your files.
Step #6: Optimize for Featured Snippets
If youre like me, you love featured snippets.
Thats because you can get the answers youre looking for in the blink of an eye, without having to click through to read a blog post.
Heres an example:
Theres another reason I love featured snippets, though.
Its because when a blog is featured this way, it shows up as the #1 result on the SERPs.
The good news is you can optimize your content for Googles featured snippets section.
Here are two ways to increase your chances of gaining this coveted spot:
- Add summary paragraphs to your content. These are brief paragraphs structured as questions and 40-50 word answers.
- Utilize the People Also Ask Questions on Google. Not sure what questions to ask in your summary paragraphs? Simply check out this section of the SERPs:
Step #7: Optimize Your Site for Conversions
Trying to rank on Google is like being in one of those serial killer thriller films in which youre constantly being watched by your captor through a hidden camera.
Yup. Google is constantly keeping an eye on you.
- Your CTR (click-through rate)
- Your bounce rate (how many people bail on you without clicking through to another page)
- Your time on page (the time your audience spends on a single page on your site before leaving)
- How far your audience scrolls down your pages
- And more
I know, it really is creepy.
It also means you have to be 100% on your guard for components on your site that are killing your conversions.
- Your headline or meta descriptions are boring, and dont compel people to click through to read your blog.
- Your content is hard to read, forcing people to bail.
- You dont have magnetizing CTAs to move people efficiently through your site.
Keep your eye on the top SEO performance KPIs (key performance indicators), and youll please the robot behind the hidden camera and start ranking better.
Step #8: Optimize Your Content for Voice Search
Did you know that a whopping 50% of all searches are voice-based?
Theres no question about it:
People are lazy. And theyre multi-taskers.
They want to learn new stuff while doing the laundry or washing the dishes.
And as an SEO blogger/affiliate marketer, its your job to give them what they want.
Here are three ways to optimize your content for voice search:
- Dont be formal. Ditch the robot-speak. Write conversationally.
- Work a ton of questions (with answers) into your content.
- Forget the choppy question keywords people type into Google. Ask whole questions. Instead of bake cake electric oven ask How do I bake a cake in an electric oven? (Humans talk to their assistants like they talk to other humans.)
SEO for Affiliate Marketing – What It Boils Down To
If youre like a ton of affiliate marketers, you cringe at the very mention of SEO.
To you, its a giant, unfathomable subject almost as complex as rocket science.
And when you go online and type SEO, youre slapped in the face with gigantic novel-length guides.
Now, the truth is, SEO is complex.
Not even the people who work for Google know exactly how its algorithms work to rank content.
But you dont have to dive into all that to gain success.
All you have to do is start with a few basic SEO for affiliate marketing tips.
Start here. Improve your content. Make it the best it can be.
Then, give your visitors an awesome experience with quick page load speed.
Reach out to friends in your network and see if theyll link to your best content.
You dont have to know everything.
All you need to do is start.
And once youve perfected all the steps Ive mentioned in this blog, you can take even more steps and work towards becoming an advanced SEO magician.
But honestly, these are all you need to get started.
Im rooting for you!
All screenshots taken by the author, September, 2021.