With affiliate marketing, the key to success is to drive people to your website, get interested in whatever marketing strategy you’re using—whether that’s blog posts, videos or other content—and then have that audience retention spill over into clicks for your affiliate. All of that seems simple enough, but there’s one huge hurdle that every affiliate marketer has to overcome, and it’s both the advantage and challenge the Internet presents to all affiliate marketers. Anyone can put something up on the Internet, and as a result, there’s an almost limitless amount of content to find, which means tracking things down can be difficult. Search engine marketing or SEO is the cornerstone to most affiliate marketing businesses.
There are ways that marketers can attract potential customers to their specific website, but it’s all about understanding how Internet search engines work, and making use of that search engine marketing behavior to your advantage.
We’ll look at the general principles behind that here, and see how you can improve your search engine marketing strategies by using these principles.
How Do Search Engines Work?
It’s All About Search Engine Optimization
With so much information now available on the Internet, it is now nearly impossible for a person to comb through all of the content available to find the specific, relevant content you’re looking for. That’s why search engines exist. A search engine, such as Google, is a program designed to give you possibilities for Internet destinations that closely line up with what you’re looking for at a given time.
Search engines do this primarily through keywords. In the same way that you may look up the meaning of a single word in a dictionary, or a concept or object in an encyclopedia, keywords do the same thing for search engines. You put in the words relevant to your search, such as “local funeral service,” or “how to clean a coffee stain,” and the search engine then goes looking for content on the web that features the usage of that word.
What you want to do is find the ways that increase the visibility of your website so that when someone is searching for the product or service that your affiliate provides, you appear high on the list of suggestions the search engine makes. This is known as search engine optimization, and there are a few things you can do to achieve this.
Exploitation Versus Quality
There are two ways to increase the likelihood of your website being prioritized by search engines with specific search engine marketing, but it relies on two different philosophies and approaches.
One approach is a more technical, mercenary strategy that will likely get you better search engine marketing results in a shorter period of time, but may ultimately hurt your long term viability. This approach favors targeting the way the search engine itself works. Search engines are a combination of programming and math formulae known as algorithms that dictate the behavior of how the engine works. In the simplest possible terms, a search engine looks for websites that align with the keywords relevant to a search, then ranks the importance of that website based on factors like popularity.
For people looking to game the system, past strategies to exploit search engine marketing involved techniques like “stuffing” the same keyword over and over again into a page. Less sophisticated versions of search engines used to simply look for the frequency that a keyword was used and would prioritize pages that used a keyword more often. Another tactic that is still used even today exploits a search engine’s tendency to prioritize search ranking based on popularity. One of the most frequently used measurements for the popularity of a website is how often other websites link to, or refer to that site. A tactic some people use is to create their own links within a private network so that when the search engine sees the numerous links to a single website, it decides “This must be popular” and ranks it high.
The downside to this kind of search engine optimization is that it relies on exploiting current holes in the search engine system, and these holes are constantly being plugged. Keyword stuffing, for example, is nowhere near as effective as it used to be, once programmers realized what was going on, and taught search engines to ignore that tactic. Artificially boosting your own link references works in some situations and not in others, but putting in the effort to ensure your tactics fool search engines means you’re spending most of your time and energy trying to outwit algorithms and programming efforts, rather than actually making money. This type of strategy, which I do NOT recommend, is called black hat SEO.
The Long Term Search Engine Optimization Strategy
The best search engine marketing rewards you with long, fruitful sales for your affiliate, and the best way to do this is to target not the search engine, but the people using it.
Popularity among people is a very simple thing. If people like a website, it is because they find it useful, entertaining, or both. As a result of that, they frequently return to see more, and they often refer to it with friends, either through social media online forums, or other venues. As more people find that website interesting and useful this popularity grows, and so, naturally, the website climbs the ranks a search engine.
This particular tactic is all about intelligently combining the smart use of keywords, with the content to justify a visitor’s experience once they arrive at the website. By engaging a visitor with good information, fun information, regularly updated new content to encourage revisits, and the active use of social media to interact with fans and visitors alike, a very powerful relationship is formed with people. This relationship translates into natural growth, a rise in popularity and, ultimately, a reason for people to visit the affiliates you have chosen to align yourself with.
The best part of this type of search engine marketing is that by concentrating on quality, you create an “evergreen” website that will consistently attract visitors, rather than finding yourself stonewalled because the latest evolution in search engine algorithms has learned to ignore your exploit.