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SEO for affiliate marketing in 8 steps

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So, you’ve decided to become an affiliate marketer. Welcome! By now you should be aware of the general gist: you will promote products via your website to your readership, in return for a commission for the company that creates the product. Here’s the thing: you have to get people looking at your site for any of this to happen. How do you do that? By making sure it pops up in the search engines. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique by which you organize the content on your site so that it is naturally found more easily by Google, and in turn, your readers. Your content can be as specific as possible to what your potential customers will be searching for, which means they will also be more likely to buy from your site! 

Optimizing your site for search engines might sound like a daunting prospect, but this handy guide will take you through every step of making your website search engine-friendly. 

Step 1: Select your niche

A niche is key to building your audience and gaining customer loyalty. People want to know that the products you recommend are ones that you have a special interest in, but how do you select which ones? Here’s our recommendation for how to go about choosing a niche.

Start by asking yourself a few questions about what products you could and should sell:

  • What are your passions, interests, and areas of expertise? What products are they connected to? 

  • How often are they searched by users?

  • How sustainable is the niche? (i.e. will there be people searching for it months, years down the line?) 

  • How competitive is the niche? (i.e. are there already lots of affiliate marketers writing about the same thing?

  • Are there affiliate programs catering to products within the niche?  

Once you answer these questions, you should be able to figure out what products you will be able to focus on for your affiliate marketing site. The products you choose may not fully satisfy every criterion – maybe the product you choose isn’t the one you’re most personally passionate about, but it is one no one else is writing about at the moment which means you can corner the market. But it’s still not as though you know of every product, or every affiliate program, so it would also be helpful to use a tool like Google Trends. This will let you know how frequently Google users search a product, including regional data and suggested topics. It’s a great starting point to figure out which niches may be viable to direct your search for a product to promote on your site. You can also see how competitive your niche might be using Ubersuggest or Clickbank.

Step 2: Keyword research

Before you can optimize your site and its content for SERPs, you need to figure out what keywords you want your page to rank for. Keywords will both help you organise your content and are the key to boosting your SEO visibility. 

First, you need to look at all the possible keywords for your niche, before you can narrow them down, group them and prioritise them. It’s market research, okay! This follows easily on from Step 1, since you can use stay on Ubersuggest or Clickbank for this stage. 

Then: 

  • Filter out the words you do not want to rank for, if they are not relevant to your niche, are overly competitive or costly. 

  • Choose keywords you do want: these are the most relevant ones to your product and which pull in the customers you want. 

  • Group your keywords so that you do not have to create a landing page for each individual keyword (there may be hundreds of them!)   

Grouping your keywords: why and how to do it

Once you have all the possible keywords you would want your page to rank for, it’s essential to group them. This will make your life easier so that you can both prioritize the keywords on your list and arrange the content on your site accordingly. 

  • Group your keywords by parent topic. The parent topics are the slightly more general keywords or keyword phrases with the highest number of searches. Plus, it can help you to make some sense of your list! Once you have identified the parent topics, divide your keywords up between them, just by which ones are most relevant or connected to each group.

  • Group your keywords by “intent”. Subdivide each group of keywords according to what the user’s intent is with these keywords. This is much trickier as it involves tracking what the user actually wants to see when they type these words into Google. But the plus is, once you do this work, you can much more easily build a landing page to match it! 

  • Group your keywords by business value. While some keywords will bring more users to your page, they may not draw the kinds of users who will actually want to spend money on your site or your product. Grouping by business value means focusing on which search terms will drive the biggest ROI. Often this will be terms that have a commercial intent, e.g. including “buy”, “buy online”, or “shopping”.

These are a few questions you should have in mind as you go through your keywords, selecting, grouping them and analyzing their metrics:

  • What is the estimated traffic potential of this keyword (group)?

  • How competitive is the keyword? How difficult would it be to rank for it and how would I achieve that?

  • How many resources can and should I invest in building a competitive page and promoting it successfully?

  • What ROI would this keyword’s traffic bring me? Would it generate brand awareness only, or could it bring leads and sales?

You should always be seeking to find an optimal combination of keywords to bring you the best possible ROI. 

Step 3: Select a domain name

Choosing and registering a domain name might be important, but it doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are our easy tips to getting your domain name right.

Picking the domain name

You want your domain name to make both your life and your readers’ lives easy. Some simple principles to follow when choosing your brand name are:

  • Make it easy: use .com

  • Make it short and sweet 

  • Make it easy to pronounce and to spell: no double letters

  • Make it unique and brandable 

These guidelines should stop you from choosing something overly long and difficult to remember, e.g. http://londonspubswherehistoryreallyhappened.wordpress.com, making it easier for readers to come back to your site and for other sites to link to you. Finding it hard to come up with something unique? You can use a domain name generator to find a unique domain name.

Top tip: Using some of your keywords in your domain name can help you rank higher in Google. 

Researching your domain name

It’s good to research your domain name to make sure that it is both unique and effective. Is the already a registered business using the name you want?  Make sure you check the domain you have in mind already, as well as performing a trademark search to see if there is already a very similar name trademarked. 

It is also worth looking for the name on all social media platforms. Always cross check – you will want to use the same name on all platforms and bear in mind that your name may be free on Instagram but not on Twitter, for example.   

Best Places to Buy a Domain Name

It is so easy to buy a domain name from one of the hundreds of domain registrars on the Internet. Prices can vary from $9 to $90 – you can even get one absolutely free. It depends on what you need from your domain, as well as where you choose to host it.   

Most web hosting companies will offer domain registration as well, with opportunities to register the domain for free as a new customer. This is a great idea if you are starting a new website to register the domain without spending a penny for the first year while you build your business. Check out Bluehost and iPage for a start.

If you just want to register a domain name without hosting, then buy it from a domain name registrar, such as Domain.com or GoDaddy.

Step 4: On-page SEO

Now to get cracking on SEO for your new affiliate marketing site. On-page SEO refers to everything that you can directly control on your website, e.g. content, title tags, keyword usage, SEO-optimized URLs, internal links and image alt text. 

Here are our tips to boost your page in the SERPs with on-page SEO.

Title tag 

Your title tag tells search engines what your page is actually about. If you put the keyword towards the beginning of the title tag, search engines will judge it more relevant to that keyword (while having it make grammatical sense, of course!) .

It is also a good idea to use added modifiers e.g. “best”, “review”, “guide”, etc to match it more closely to user searches and rank for long tail versions of your target keyword.

Meta Descriptions

It’s always best if you write your own meta descriptions – you’re the only person who knows exactly what is on your page. Make sure to keep it concise and include your keywords as this is what Google highlights in bold on the SERP for the user.  

Plus, you should make sure that *all* your pages have meta descriptions – a lot of people miss these out on what they deem less important pages but it will boost your whole site. 

Page structure

Your page should be easy to skim through and for Google to identify what it is about. Make sure you have only one H1 per page and use H2s to signpost each subheading, to alert Google that there are lots of sections it can flag to users searching for other elements of a particular topic. Bullet point lists will also help make your page easy to skim and keep things concise and clear.

Image optimization 

Every image on your site should have a clear, descriotive file name as well as alt text. Alt text helps both Google and visually impaired users to understand what each image contains, which makes your site accessible to these users and helps you include more keywords. 

It’s also a good idea to use unique images, as widely shared stock images will not benefit your site’s rankings any. 

Internal Linking

A great way to pull the rest of your affiliate site up in the rankings is internal linking. Make sure to include links to pages in need of a boost on your high-authority pages, using keyword-rich anchor text. 

Don’t squish your content below the fold

It’s nice to have an image at the top of your post, but make sure it doesn’t push the headline and intro below the “fold” so that the user needs to scroll down to see it. People want to be able to get to the content they need as fast as possible. 

Step 5: Content 

The content on your affiliate marketing site needs to be unique and valuable if it is going to make first page on Google’s SERP. 

  • Don’t regurgitate everyone else’s content. Making sure your content sticks out with new, improved design, tips, case studies or resources will give you an edge. 

  • Make your content valuable to the conversation. Again: your page should be useful in a way no one else’s is. Have better research sources, stronger copywriting, expert opinions and up to date information. 

  • Fit the search intent. You have to have your page fit exactly what the Google user is looking for to get to the top of the rankings. Angle your content to that search: transactional, informational, whatever it is, make sure your content serves that need. 

  • Make it comprehensive. Not for every page, but having at least one page on your site that is a “complete guide to X” or “everything you need to know about Y” all in one place, will be looked on favorably by Google. 

Step 6: Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to everything you do to boost your site’s search rankings outside of your actual website. This includes work such as building backlinks, branded searches, social media shares and more. You want Google to see your page as trustworthy and authoritative, as backlinks and off-site elements are still the backbone of Google’s algorithm.

Simple off-page SEO strategies 

Here are the basics of off-page SEO: 

  • Share the post widely on social mediaEncourage others to share it too! This builds backlinks to the page and boosts its authority for Google. 

  • Email marketing. Again, this will both establish backlinks while promoting the site directly to your readers. 

  • Link building

  • Increase E-A-T 

More on these last two below! 

You want other sites to link to your blog to boost your authority rating for Google and push it up the rankings. There are some simple ways to do this: 

Be a reliable data source 

Having quality data that means other sites will want to cite your page as a source is a great way to build up backlinks. 

Publish research-backed pieces

You can improve your off-page SEO by publishing research-backed content. This will gain you some already trustworthy links and obviously bolsters your reputation as a trustworthy data source! 

Long reads are your friends

Long form pages, again, will make it more likely that other sites will want to link to your page.  increase the odds that other people link to you.

Guest posts!

Guest posts get your brand in front of an entirely new audience and can lead to unlinked brand mentions. Plus, you can build links from your guest posts back to your own site.

Step 8: E-A-T

“E-A-T” stands for “Expertise, Authority, and Trust” and are the main factors Google is looking for to establish how reliable a brand or website is. You want to build up a reputation online that means Google wants to recommend your site to its users. 

It’s one thing to get backlinks from trusted sites but you can increase your E-A-T by also making sure that other sites linked from those trusted sites link to your page too. 

Get good reviews online

Online reviews make up a major part of Google’s Quality Rater guidelines. Businesses that can be reviewed, e.g. on Google Maps, will boost that site’s E-A-T. 

For an affiliate marketing site, you will want to accumulate some awards to look more trustworthy. 

Step 9: Go set up your affiliate marketing site! 

Now that you have read through this guide, you have all the tools you need to set up your successful high-ranking affiliate marketing site. Go get to the top of that SERP! 

Start earning your affiliate revenues with the GetYourGuide Partner Program by signing up here.


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