Affiliate SEO How-to Tutorial

10 Steps To Crush It with Affiliate SEO

Total Read Time: 12 Minutes

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August 2, 2018

Affiliate SEO is a beast. This tutorial will help you tame it.

It can be nerve-racking to generate a ton of traffic knowing that the next Google update might take it all away.

During the last update in August 2018, sites in some niches lost 60-80% of their traffic!

The only real weapon that you have in the war against Google is quality content.

Unfortunately, affiliate sites are known for having thin, trashy content.

Don’t let this be you!

Keep your content clean, useful, and user-friendly and you’ll have the best chance of weathering Google’s storms.

Here’s how to crush it with affiliate SEO:

Outline of The Process here:

1) Identify Profitable Niches
2) Target Profitable Keywords
3) Spot Great Affiliate Opportunities
4) Earn Backlinks With Shareable Content
5) Create Content That Ranks
6) Maximize User Engagement
7) Influencer Affiliate Marketing
8) Link Like You Mean It
9) NOFOLLOW Your Affiliate Links
10) Be Mobile-Friendly

What is Affiliate SEO?

In case you’re a total rookie (no judgement if you are), here’s what “affiliate SEO” is:

Affiliate SEO is the process of generating organic search traffic to earn a commission for promoting other people’s products.

Step #1: You drive traffic to your site.
Step #2: You encourage users to buy other people’s products.
Step #3: You get paid.

Not all affiliate programs are created equal, and I’ll explain why later on in this tutorial…

1) Identify Profitable Niches

Identifying a profitable niche sets the wheels in motion to drive organic traffic to your site.

Here are the main evaluation factors for picking a profitable niche:

1. Search volume of primary keywords.

Use a keyword research tool like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest or SEMRush to search for primary keywords in your niche. If you see a lot of high-volume keywords, it’s a sign that it’s a strong niche, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a profitable one.

2. How stiff is the competition?

The industries with the biggest potential for large profits are usually the most competitive. SEO, digital marketing, health, nutrition, weight loss, and finances tend to attract a lot of big money affiliate marketers.

3. Is it still prime time to market to the target audience?

Some markets might look like money at first but are actually it decline. Take Harry Potter, for example. Search queries about Harry Potter products peaked between 2007 and 2011 when the movies and books were still coming out. Although SEO research tools like Ahrefs might still show relatively high search volumes, those numbers might not reflect the state of consumers.

4. Can you solve your target audience’s biggest problems?

Finding a popular enough niche with active audiences is only part of the puzzle ̶ helpful content is the final piece. Can you deliver killer content that addresses your reader’s pain points?

5. Confirm affiliate opportunities.

There’s no point in becoming an affiliate marketer if you can’t find any products to sell. Head to sites like ClickBank and Amazon and make sure there are plenty of affiliate opportunities in your niche (you can also use your own product or supplier!).

If your niche passes all these tests, then it’s time to do some in-depth keyword research to make sure you can get early traction.

2) Target Profitable Keywords

Grab a shovel, we’re about to dig deep into keyword research.

What makes a keyword profitable?

HIGH VOLUME + PURCHASE INTENT

What makes a keyword profitable to a low-authority site like yours?

HIGH VOLUME + PURCHASE INTENT + LOW COMPETITION

Use an SEO tool like SEMRush to find suggestions for low-competition keyword phrases.

View the full report and check the “Competition” rating of each keyword. Try to find a lot of keywords with low competition and high search volume.

Filter out the keywords that have purchase intent.

These keywords indicate that the searcher is ready to buy.

  • “Best of” keywords like “best crossbow of 2019” are some of the most profitable keyword phrases.
  • “Versus” keywords can also be money, like “Garden of Eden vs. Vega protein powder.”

Think of what you would type into Google if you were ready to buy and target those keywords.

Once you have a list of around 20 money keywords, put them into Google and make sure that a few low-authority sites rank on the front page. These are the sites you’ll have to beat in order to drive traffic.

3) Spot Great Affiliate Opportunities

ClickBank is a great place to start your affiliate search, but chances are you’ll need to look elsewhere to find the real gems.

Here are some of the biggest factors to consider when you’re picking companies to partner with:

  • Quality: recommending garbage products is one of the fastest ways to lose the trust and respect of your audience. Only recommend the best.
  • Compatibility: Is the product in-line with your brand and the needs of your audience?
  • Commission: How much do they pay their affiliates? After all, it’s all about the money baby.
  • Price: How expensive is the product? The higher the price tag, the harder it is to make a sale.

Ultimately, you’ll need to know your niche and your audience.

Promoting the perfect products can provide value to your audience, increase trust/loyalty, and get you paid. Choose wisely!

Finding the Best-Selling Products on ClickBank

Finding the hottest affiliate programs on ClickBank is easy with their “Popularity” filter.

Head over to ClickBank and click on your niche in the left side menu.

Filter the results by “Popularity” and make sure they’re arranged from “High to Low.”

The gravity score reflects how many people are promoting the product.

A high gravity score is another sign that it’s a profitable affiliate product. Why else would it attract so many affiliates?

Reaching Out To Companies Directly

I recommend starting with the highest-quality products that your audience will find useful.

Don’t worry too much about negotiating for the highest commission rate.

Provide value to your audience and prove that you only recommend great products. Once you have a track record of driving sales you’ll be able to re-negotiate for more money.

Most companies have an affiliate program ready to roll and you can usually find a link at the bottom of their home page.

Even if they don’t have an active affiliate program, it’s still worth pitching.

Any company worth their salt should be down to increase sales and grow their audience, which is exactly what affiliate partnerships do.

The only question is whether or not you can settle on a commission rate that works for both of you. But again, the most important factors are product compatibility and providing value to your audience. The money will come.

Never push a trash product to make a quick buck ̶ you’ll pay for it in the end.

So far you’ve learned how to find a promising niche with profitable products and money keywords.

Now you just need to create killer SEO-oriented content to earn backlinks and drive traffic.

4) Earn Backlinks With Shareable Content

In this section I cover some of the most powerful and dependable ways to get link juice, a.k.a ranking power to your site.

Affiliate sites looking to make a quick buck use all sorts of shady grey hat and black hat tactics to get backlinks.

The problem with these strategies is that they increase your chance of Google penalties.

Instead, the best link building strategy is to create content that your audience and other sites want to link to organically.

This, of course requires an intensive content strategy and you can always contact us if you need some quality backlinks to rank quickly.

  • Solve their biggest pain points.
  • Provide authentic, original content.
  • Offer a ton of free value.

Anytime you’re the original source of epic content people will be more likely to share it.

Here are some of the most effective white hat (low risk) link building tactics:

1. Infographics

Quality infographics are shareable AF. You can embed a piece of code on your site so that other sites can easily publish the infographic. Infographics also work great with Pinterest strategy. By sharing useful visual content on Pinterest you can drive massive traffic to your site. Pinterest strategy works best in women-oriented niches.

2. Free Tools

People love to share useful free tools. If you can team up with a programmer to create a simple tool like a budget calculator, keyword counter, or nutrition tracker, you can generate a lot of natural shares.

3. Time-Sensitive, Trending Content

Content that’s highly relevant to right now is more likely to get linked to and shared. A great example of this would be a sneaker website that writes articles on upcoming shoe releases.

4. Product Reviews

This strategy falls in the category of “ego-bait,” but it’s also an effective tactic for increasing affiliate sales. If you pour praise onto a company’s product and share it with them, there’s a good chance they’ll link to it.

5. Interviews

You can do interviews as a podcast or a webinar, but the easiest way is to just email them a list of questions. It’s convenient for them and easy for you. Plus, when you publish the interview on your site, you’ll have a truly unique, link-worthy piece of content.

6. Round-Up Posts

Email the same question to dozens of industry leaders, then publish their answers in one post. This is an incredibly powerful tactic for getting a lot of quality links at once. Organize the responses so that the best, most detailed ones are at the top.

Now that you know how to create link-worthy content, let’s talk about creating content designed for Google.

5) Create Content That Ranks

Getting links from other sites is only one side of the SEO coin.

The other side is creating content that has the best shot of ranking on the first page of Google. If you don’t break the first page (top 10) for a given keyword, then you might as well not exist.

Here are some of the big rules of creating user-friendly, SEO-oriented content:

  • Make it long. 1,000 words is the shortest it should be. 5,000 words is best if you want to get serious about ranking.
  • Use plenty of headings and subheadings (at least one every few hundred words).
  • Embed optimized video and images.
  • Use bullet points and stylized text.

In a nutshell, you want to do everything you can to make your content easy to engage in to maximize on-page time.

The longer your visitors stay active on your page, the better your content will rank.

6) Maximizing User Engagement

So how do you boost user engagement to the max?

Invite them to create content for you!

User-generated content is a great way to expand your original content while engaging your audience.

Examples of user-generated content include:

  • Comments
  • Forums
  • Surveys
  • Testimonials
  • Product reviews

Content creation is one of the most expensive and time-consuming aspects of SEO, but by increasing engagement with user-generated content you can kill two birds with one stone.

User-generated content signals to Google that people like your content, and that’s always great for rankings.

7) Influencer Affiliate Marketing

Influencers are effective at converting their followers into sales, and that’s great news for anyone trying to grow as an affiliate.
When I say “influencers,” I don’t just mean social media influencers.
Bloggers and YouTubers can be influencers too, and so can anyone with an audience in a related niche.
As long as your brand and affiliate products are compatible with an influencer’s followers, influencer marketing can be a goldmine.
Try to go after big players in smaller spaces or sub-niches. Instagrammers at this level should have solid followings between 15k-50k and are usually open to synergistic relationships.

8) Link Like Your Mean It

Think of link juice like a bunch of rivers that weave through your site.

You want your pages and posts to be tightly bound together with relevant content so that the link juice flows freely.

Neil Patel (the SEO God) internally links like a maniac, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me and my business.

Just make sure that the links stay relevant to the content and improve user experience (UX).

The anchor text (hyperlinked text) should always describe the content that it links to, for example, if I linked the words “how to start a blog,” that link better send users to an article about how to start a blog.

9) NOFOLLOW Your Affiliate Links

Google doesn’t want to you to pass link juice on to your affiliate partners, and that means no DOFOLLOW links.

There are two types of links: NOFOLLOW and DOFOLLOW.

NOFOLLOW links do not pass on link juice.

DOFOLLOW links do pass on link juice.

Google uses DOFOLLOW links as a natural authority signal, but paid affiliate links are far from a natural indicator of quality.

Google’s algorithms do a pretty good job of catching DOFOLLOW affiliate links, and if they ever catch you they might give you a penalty.

Play it safe and make sure all of your affiliate links are NOFOLLOW.

10) Be Mobile-Friendly

Google uses mobile-first indexing, so sites that work great on mobile earn higher rankings than sites that perform poorly.

A few years ago, the internet reached a tipping point where over 50% of searches now come from mobile devices.

This percentage is higher in certain industries like beauty, fashion, parenting, and other women-oriented niches.

Be sure to test all your pages on different phones and tablets to make sure they load correctly (and quickly).

One last note: If you want to get the most out of your site, it should load in under a second across all devices.

Final Thoughts

Becoming an affiliate is one of the fastest ways to generate scalable income online, and SEO can be the engine that powers your money machine.

The only problem is that Google’s sporadic updates constantly shake up the rankings, especially if you don’t follow the best SEO practices.

By using the strategies in this tutorial, you should be safe from the hammer of the Google gods.

Just remember to partner with companies that resonate with your audience and your brand.

Suggest the best products, build trust, and turn on the revenue tap.

I hope you like blue-faced bills, ‘cuz you’re about to be flooded with Benjamins.