Wondering how to find good keywords for affiliate marketing?

I know, it can get confusing.

There’s a ton of content out there that gives you a few tips on how to find good keywords…

…but that’s all they do.

Give you tips.

In this guide, I’ll give you a step-by-step blueprint for going from zero keyword ideas to a long list of profitable keywords you’re 100% sure will work (based on data).

You’ll learn:

  • The #1 step you should take before you even begin keyword research (miss this, and all your efforts will fall flat)
  • How to know when to target a keyword, and when it’s better to leave it completely alone
  • The 4 best types of keywords to target for affiliate marketers
  • How to use the best keyword research tools, so your efforts are based on data, not luck
  • And so much more

Ready?

Let’s dive in!

Is Keyword Research Important to Affiliate Marketing? (Hint: NOPE!)

Ok, first things first.

If you aren’t doing any keyword research for affiliate marketing

…you should start right now.

(Or quit affiliate marketing. It’s up to you. 😉)

Why?

Well, let’s put it this way.

Doing affiliate marketing without the right keywords is like going on a trip without a map.

Sure, maybe you have a car. Maybe you have a stash of snacks in your trunk (I hope you do!) Maybe you have determination, perseverance, and some serious skills.

But without your map, you’ll never get anywhere.

The same is true with keywords.

You can be part of the best affiliate program. You can write awesome content. You can stay awake until 4am every day (or find a kind of coffee that keeps you alive 24/7) publishing blog after blog until you feel like a caffeine-induced zombie.

But if you miss the right keywords, you miss the strategy for getting discovered by the right people.

And without the right people, you’ll end up with zilch sales and a ton of wasted time.

That’s why I don’t say keyword research is “important” for affiliate marketing.

That’s an understatement.

Keyword research is essential for affiliate marketing.

(Unless you want to hop into your affiliate marketing car and go nowhere, of course. 😉)

Now, let’s get started on how to find good keywords for affiliate marketing. Step-by-Step.

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing: A Step by Step Guide

Question.

If you get swept out to sea and you find yourself drifting helplessly in the ocean, what do you do?

  • Get out a flare gun and try to alert a rescue boat nearby
  • Flail your feet in the water to attract sharks
  • Try to swim to shore

I know, anyone who does #2 or #3 is absurd.

The scary truth is, you could be committing these mistakes with keyword research for affiliate marketing.

Here’s what it could look like:

  • You target the best keywords for affiliate marketing and attract people with good search intent who are ready to buy (the flare and rescue boat)
  • You choose the wrong keywords and attract freebie seekers who you’ll never convert into buyers (sharks)
  • You rely on guesswork and choose random keywords with no idea if they’ll work (swim to shore)

Don’t worry.

If you follow these steps, you don’t need to worry that you’ll be adrift at sea for long.

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing Step 1: Make a List of Niche Topics Your Audience Adores

As an affiliate marketing, you’ve probably heard it a gazillion times.

“Pick your niche topics.”

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as closing your eyes and seeing where your finger lands in a list you’ve compiled. (Ah! I’ll become an expert on gold dusted donuts tomorrow!)

In fact, selecting niche topics isn’t about you.

It’s about your audience, and what they’re interested in.

For instance, if your niche is weight loss, your audience could be interested in:

  • Meal plans
  • Exercise routines
  • Fitness coaching

If they’re women and diabetics, they could be interested in:

  • Carb cycling
  • Keto meal plans
  • Low carb alternatives to their favorite foods

Your next task is to find niche topics your audience will love.

Here’s how.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

Let me ask you this.

If you know your best friend is allergic to flowers…

…would you get her a bouquet on her birthday?

Of course not.

The same is true with affiliate marketing.

You never want to offer your audience something that doesn’t match who they are and what they want to achieve in life.

So, the first step to successful niche topics is to get to know your audience.

An easy way to do so is to send a quick survey to your email subscribers. Ask them what they’re interested in and what they want to hear from you.

If you don’t have a list, don’t worry.

There’s a ton of ways you can use the internet to discover what your audience wants.

One way is to visit Amazon.

Type your seed keyword into the search bar.

Like this.

Amazon

Source: Amazon

Click the top products and scroll down to read reviews.

For instance, check out these reviews on an inflatable dog pool.

Amazon reviews

Source: Amazon 

From these two reviews, you can guess that an important issue to the dog pool audience is the size of their pool.

This instantly gives you ideas such as:

  • How to pick the right size dog pool
  • How to pick a dog pool for large breeds
  • How to pick a dog pool for small breeds

Now, it’s your turn.

Send a quick survey to your list, or hop on Amazon and pick your audience’s brain. Take out a notepad (or its digital equivalent) and jot down as many niche topic ideas as you can think of.

You’ll be amazed with how many niche topics you can find in an hour or two of research.

2. Utilize Google for Ideas

Google isn’t only the #1 search engine in the world.

It’s also a great idea machine you can use anytime you feel stuck.

So if you’re looking for niche topic ideas…

…simply hop on the platform and type a keyword related to your niche.

For instance, “dog pools.”

Then, scroll below and look at the “related searches” section at the bottom of the page.

Related search

Source: Google

Instantly, you have eight great ideas for topics you can talk about in your content.

You can even go through the SERPs and check out what blogs are ranking for the keywords.

Here’s one on the best dog pool for Labradors.

Source: Google

This title alone can give you topic ideas like:

  • Best pools for Golden Retrievers
  • Best pools for small breeds
  • Best pools for mid-sized breeds

If you like, you can also go deeper.

Simply click the blog and scroll through its H2s and H3s.

Here’s one:

Source: thelabradorsite

This gives you ideas like:

  • Best dog paddling pools
  • Dog paddling pools vs. full-sized swimming pools
  • Best dog paddling pools for large breeds
  • Best dog paddling pools for small breeds

Trust me, with your good instincts and creativity in your back pocket, you can find an endless supply of great topic ideas on Google.

3. Jump on Forums

Here’s a fun fact.

People are super busy, with nine hours of work per day, families to attend to, and hobbies to pursue.

But everyone has time for forums. 😂

Which means, you can find a ton of information on a single forum or subforum.

To find one, simply type in a keyword related to your niche and add “forum” next to it.

Like this.

Forum

Source: Google

Click one of the results and browse through their sub forums for hot topic ideas.

Source: dogforums

You can also visit Quora or Reddit for some awesome forum content.

 All right.

By now, you probably have hundreds of niche topics to write about.

The next question is, how do you come up with specific keywords to target for each topic?

Great question.

Let’s dive into the next step…

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing Step 2: Use Free Tools to Find Keywords

Ok, quick disclaimer.

Free tools aren’t the best option if you want data-backed keywords to target for affiliate marketing.

So if you want to get off on a strong start, you can skip this section and scroll down to step #3 (internal link to step #3), where I show you the best tools to use and how to use them for strategic affiliate marketing (the fastest way to success).

But if you’re short on cash and can’t afford a $29/month subscription, and you’re OK with a little guesswork and happenstance in your affiliate marketing strategy…

…then read on.

1. Check Out Amazon’s Autofill Options

Want to know the exact search terms real buyers are using? 

Easy.

Simply get on a platform like Amazon and type a keyword idea into the search bar.

Check out the results for “dog pool.”

Dog pool search

Source: Amazon

You can go ahead and target all these keywords in your content.

Of course, you can’t be sure whether or not you have any chance of ranking for them.

But if your goal is to just get started and hope luck leads you to a few highly-ranking blogs, this is a good way to start.

2. Use KeywordTool.io Free Keyword Discovery Option

KeywordTool.io is super simple tool that uses autocomplete to help you find keyword ideas.

The best part?

You can use it for free.

Simply get on the platform and type your niche into the search bar.

Keyword tool

Source: keywordtool.io

Click enter and you’ll get a list of keywords like this.

Keywords

Source: keywordtool.io

The best part is, these keywords are derived from real searches.

So you can go ahead and start crafting content around each one of them.

3. Use Answer the Public to Get Long-Tail Keyword Ideas

Here’s another free tool you can use to get into your audience’s mind and find out exactly what keywords they’re using on search.

Answer the Public is free, quick, and a breeze to use.

All you have to do is hop onto its search bar and type your niche topic.

Source: answerthepublic

Here’s what you’ll get.

Source: answerthepublic

Since these are questions real people are asking, you can be sure that (if) your audience finds you, they’ll likely click through to read your content.

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing Step 3: Find Data-Backed Keywords with a Keyword Research Tool

Ok.

If you didn’t skip section 2 above (the section for people who want to wing it and take a shot at affiliate marketing with zero investment), you might be wondering,

“Sure, those are all keywords real people use on search. But how can I be sure I can rank for them? How can I find high value keywords?”

If you’re asking this, you’re 100% right.

You see, it’s one thing to find good keywords real people search for…

…and another to know that you have a chance of ranking for them.

To make things harder, it’s one thing to rank for a keyword…

…and another to rank for keywords that won’t get you a boatload of freeloaders and leeches who will never ever turn into buyers (the sharks I talked about earlier).

So if you want to confidently and consistently work yourself to affiliate marketing success with the perfect keywords you’re qualified and ready to rank for, read on.

1. Step 1: Choose Your Keyword Research Tool

Let me be clear on this.

If you want to be 100% confident in your keywords, you need a high-quality keyword research tool.

There’s just no other way around it.

But don’t worry!

A basic tool like KWFinder won’t cost you any more than $29/month.

And if you want to go more in-depth, you can upgrade and go for a tool like Ahrefs, which retails at below $100/month.

Now that you’ve chosen your tool, let me give you a step-by-step on how to use them to find the keywords you have a fighting chance of ranking for and earning from.

How to use KWFinder to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing:

To start, sign up for an account with KWFinder.

They have different plans to match your needs, from $29.90-$79.90 a month.

KWFinder

Source: KWFinder

Once you’ve signed up, head over to the search bar on your dashboard.

Type in one of the topic ideas you chose in Step 1 of this guide.

For instance, let’s say you decide to go with “best dog paddling pools.”

Source: KWFinder

Click “find keywords” and you’ll get this.

Source: KWFinder

Now, if this looks like the controls for an alien spaceship to you at first glance, don’t freak out. 👽

Let me walk you through what to look for and how to decide on the perfect keywords to target.

Ok, so in the left-hand corner of your screen, you’ll see a list of related keywords.

Here’s the list for “best dog paddling pools.”

Related keywords

Source: KWFinder

What you could do is target each of these keywords in your content and try to rank for them.

But before you go all out and start crafting content for every single keyword on the list, you first need to know if you have a chance of ranking for them.

When deciding on your perfect keyword, there are four things to look at.

a. Search Volume

Search volume is what it sounds like – the number of searches done on a single specific keyword each month.

You can find this data above your list of keywords.

Search volume

Source: KWFinder

As a general rule, the higher the search volume, the better the keyword.

Now, should you go for the keyword “best dog paddling pools,” which only has 10 searches per month?

Probably not.

Below it, however, is the keyword “large dog pool,” which has 1,800 searches per month.

Now, that’s a keyword you should go for! 👍

b. Keyword Difficulty

Ok, before you start trying to rank for all the keywords with high search volumes…

…let me introduce you to KD, or keyword difficulty.

You see, finding the perfect keyword is all about balance.

Yes, you can go for keywords with huge search volumes…but that also means they’ll probably be hard keywords.

Look into it deeper and it’ll make sense.

When a keyword has high search volume, this means it’s a valuable keyword.

Good news, but it also means all the best sites are competing for that keyword.  

If you have a new site or haven’t yet built authority in your space, you have no chance to win against them.

Now, to find the keyword difficulty score, look over at the right-hand corner of your KWFinder dashboard.

Source: KWFinder

As you can see here, the KD score for “large dog pool” is 41.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to a KD score of 40 or less if you have a new site.

However, if your site is older and you’ve grown your DA score, you can try to rank for keywords over 40.

Which brings us to…

c. DA score

Your domain authority (or DA) score is a ranking score which predicts how well your website will rank in the SERPs.

The higher your DA score, the better chances you have of ranking.

Generally, an average DA score is between 40 and 50. Between 50 and 60 is good, and over 60 is excellent.

Now, here’s a tip.

On the lower-right corner of your KWFinder dashboard, you’ll see the websites that rank for a certain keyword.

Right next to each website, you’ll see its DA score.

Like this.

DA score

Source: KWFinder

As you can see here, the sites you’re trying to rank against have high DA scores.

This means you’ll probably have a hard time beating them out and winning that keyword.

Now, let’s backtrack.

You first selected the keyword “best dog paddling pools.”

However, you found out that it only gets 10 searches per month.

So, you decided to look up “large dog pool” instead.

The keyword has 1,800 searches per month, but has a KD score of 41, and you’ll be going up against sites with high DA scores.

Should you target this keyword?

Probably not.

However, if you have a strong website with a high DA score, you can go ahead and give it a shot.

Sound good?

Before we move on, let’s look at one more factor you might want to keep in mind when choosing a keyword to target…

d. CPC score

Ok, so let’s say you’ve now found the perfect keyword.

It:

  • Has a search volume of at least 1,000 per month
  • Has a KD score of less than 40
  • Doesn’t have a lot of competition from sites with high DA scores

Awesome, right?

Not so fast.

Because the truth is, not all keywords are created equal.

There are some keywords that’ll bring in hot leads who are at the bottom of the funnel and dying to click that “buy” button.

And there are others that bring in a ton of freebie-seekers and leeches who will do nothing but stick around and never in a gazillion years turn into buyers.

Now, we’ll go more into this later, but here’s a quick way you can scan for this on KWFinder.

Source: KWFinder

Notice the pricing under the CPC column?

The higher the price, the more marketers are willing to spend for this keyword in their ads.

This means the keyword is profitable, and will most likely lead to sales.

How to use Ahrefs to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing:

If you’re looking for a more in-depth tool you can use for site audits and other tasks besides keyword research…

…you’ll love Ahrefs.

Plans start at $99, and range up to $999, depending on your needs.

Ahrefs

Source: Ahrefs

Don’t worry, though.

You won’t need anything higher than the Lite $99 plan if you’re just getting started.

Now, since we’ve already talked about what to look for to pinpoint your perfect keyword, I’ll just go briefly into how you can do it with Ahefs.

  • Type your keyword into the search box under “Keywords Explorer.”
  • On the left side, you’ll see the KD score.
Keywords explorer

Source: Ahrefs

  • Next to that, you’ll see the search volume and CPC.

Source: Ahrefs

  • Scroll down to see your competitors for the keyword, plus information like their Domain Ranking and the top keywords they rank for. (Note: On Ahrefs, DA (domain authority) is DR (domain ranking).

Source: Ahrefs

With Ahrefs, you can go way deeper than with KWFinder, exploring things like paid and organic clicks, traffic shares, and more.

Now, quick question.

Should you invest in a keyword research tool, or just wing it for now with the guesswork, since you’re just getting started?

If you ask me…it depends.

We’ve always used paid keyword research tools, which is why we’ve been able to consistently earn six  figures per year.

But if you want to start small (as in, really tiny), and are OK with years of guesswork, you can definitely go ahead and wing it with free tools.

(All good? 👍)

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing Step 4: Narrow Your List Down to Profitable Keywords

Ok, so the above section is where most people end their quest for affiliate marketing keywords. ☝️

They come up with a list of low KD, high-search-volume keywords, write blog posts around them, and plug in those affiliate links.

And sure, maybe they get a ton of traffic.

But clicks, conversions, and revenue?

Nope.

And if you ask me, this is totally useless.

I mean, why would you want to rank and get traffic if you can’t make sales? 🤷‍♀️

This is why step #4 is crucial to your affiliate marketing success. 

Hang on as we go through it and learn how to narrow your list down to only profitable keywords, so you don’t waste time ranking for keywords that won’t lead to conversions and revenue.

Four Types of Profitable Keywords for Affiliate Marketing

All right, question.

What would get you more attention?

  • Standing in a corner and yelling “Free lemonade!”
  • Standing in a corner and yelling, “Lemonade for sale!”

Of course, it’s #1 right?

Offering a free drink might even cause a crowd to gather around you.

But here’s the icky part. This crowd is only in it for the free stuff. Start selling them your lemonade mix, and they’ll vanish before you can blink.

On the other hand, #2 will bring you a smaller crowd. However, this crowd is already digging into their bags and pulling out their wallets.

If you ask me, I’d rather land one paying customer than 100,000 freebie seekers.

The same is true with affiliate marketing.

When you go for the right keywords, you target people who are like the small but profitable crowd in scene #2.

Here are four you should go for.

a. Top Product Listicles

Ever go on Google and type, “best dog pools” into the search bar?

If yes, you probably weren’t looking for a fun essay to read.

You probably were actually planning to buy a dog pool.

This is why general comparison keywords are so great.

They target people already planning to buy something, then lead them toward the “best.”

Now, coming up with a keyword like this can be as easy as plugging “best” before your seed keyword.

For instance:

  • Best dog pools
  • Best kiddie pools
  • Best pools

Then, you can go ahead and use a keyword research tool to see if you have the chance to rank for them.

But if you want an easier approach, you can start with a keyword research tool like Ahrefs.

Simply type your keyword into the search bar, then go to “Phrase Match.”

Click “Include” and type “best” into the search field.

Phrase match

Source: Ahrefs

Click “Apply” and you’ll get a huge list of keywords and data.

Source: Ahrefs

b. Versus Articles

A versus article is different from a general comparison because it involves a buyer comparing two specific products.

So if you’ve ever gone on Google and typed “Mac vs PC”…

…you’ve done a brand comparison.

Brand comparisons are great because you’re targeting people on the verge of buying.

They’ve already narrowed it down to two options, and only need to figure out which one outweighs the other.

Now, here’s how to check out brand comparison keywords with Ahrefs.

Type a brand into the search bar. Then, go to “Phrase Match,” as you did in the previous section.

Select “Include” and type “vs” in the search field.

Source: Ahrefs

Here are example results from the seed keyword “Mac.”

Source: Ahrefs

c. Product Reviews

Here’s the thing with product review keywords.

Most of the time, you’ll find that their search volume is pretty “meh.”

But people who do search for product reviews are way down in the funnel, and probably only a few minutes from pulling the trigger on their purchase.

So if you can rank well for product review keywords, you’ll be getting super high conversions from your visitors.

To find great keywords, simply follow the steps mentioned above and type in “review” in the “Include” box.

Source: Ahrefs

d. Information Articles

Quick reminder before we end.

Although you’ll get the highest ROI from the three types of commercial keywords I mentioned above…

…this doesn’t mean you should target only these keywords. 

Why?

Well, because selling is a priority, but it’s not your only priority.

You also need to rank on the SERPs, and to do that, you’ll need quality backlinks.

Also, you don’t want your audience to feel like you’re constantly badgering them to buy. You also want to connect with them and let them know you genuinely care about them.

You want to build a strong relationship of trust with people, so when they’re ready to buy, you’re the one they go to for advice.

Don’t worry.

Information keywords are simple to find and fun to write about.

Remember, focus on educating your audience, providing value, and showcasing the kind of superior quality that generates a ton of backlinks.

Ready to find those information keywords?

It’s simple on Ahrefrs.

All you need to do is select “Matching Terms” then “Questions.”

Here’s an example of great keywords for the seed keyword “dog food.”

Source: Ahrefs

Advanced tip:

Want to target keywords that get you the highest chances of backlinks?

Filter for a KD score above 40.

To do that, simply use the KD filter at the top left side of your dashboard.

Then, type 40 in the field for “min” KD.

KD filter

Source: Ahrefs

What you’ll get is keywords which have a lot of websites linking to the top 10 pages.

This means these topics attract a large number of links.

If the KD score is too high, don’t worry!

You can always rephrase the keyword and test your version in the Keywords Explorer.

For instance, “how to make homemade dog food” is hard, with a KD score of 57.

Source: Ahrefs

Type that into the Keywords Explorer and look up “Matching Terms.”

What you’ll get is a list of related keywords you can more easily rank for.

Like this one.

Source: Ahrefs

How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing: The Systematic Approach for Success

Let’s be honest.

There’s a ton of advice out there teaching you how to find good keywords for affiliate marketing.

The only problem?

Not all of them will work.

So, here’s a quick takeaway before you close this blog, fall asleep (because it has been super long!), and dream about affiliate marketing success.

Approach keyword research for affiliate marketing systematically.

Don’t treat it as something you can get successful doing through luck and guesswork.

Sit down, research the right keywords, throw out those you have no chance to rank for, drink a ton of coffee, and start crafting amazing content around the ones that will bring you the highest trust and ROI.

Ready?

You should be.

Because honestly, this isn’t about who’s smarter or more skillful.

Success in affiliate marketing is all about the right tools and knowing how to use them.

If we could do it, so can you. 💯

Image credits:

All screenshots taken by the author (07/02/202)