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. They’ve 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 you’ll get results for novel-length guides you have no idea how to get through. You’ll get a list of hundreds of ranking factors you don’t understand. 

If this is you, don’t worry.

I’ve put together this simple (but comprehensive) guide on SEO for affiliate marketing. 

Yup, I’ve ditched the stuff you can learn later, if you ever decide to become an expert SEO or webmaster. I’ve included the basics that you can use now to improve your site’s ranking, increase traffic, and skyrocket your sales. 

Ready to dive in?

Let’s go! 

What is SEO? 

First things first. 

What is SEO? 

I mean, what is it, really?

This may seem like a silly question since we’re all expected to know what it is. 

But in case it’s 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. 

Here’s how Moz describes it.

what is SEO?

Source: Moz

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 you’ll need to pay attention to.

On-Page SEO

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).

Off-Page SEO

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. 

Technical SEO

This has to do with your physical store itself. You’ll want to patch up holes in the roof, make sure it isn’t 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 I’ll get into them in a bit. 

Note: I won’t dive deep into hundreds of ranking factors or go into advanced link-building outreach strategies. 

What I’ll do is give you a brief but comprehensive overview of what you can do today to improve your SEO for affiliate marketing. 

Let’s get into the details! 

SEO for Affiliate Marketing – 8 Steps to Success 

Here’s a surprising truth. 

SEO for affiliate marketing may seem impossibly huge. You might feel like you’ll never accomplish it successfully. There’s 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, you’ll be at the summit peering down triumphantly at your competitors. 

So without further ado, let’s get to the first step. 

Step #1: Leverage the Power of Keywords 

If you’re like me, you might feel an involuntary awful shiver run down your spine whenever you hear the word “keyword.” 

That’s 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. 

Here’s a cringe-worthy trip down memory lane:

Clickz

Source: clickz.com

But the truth is, keywords are important. 

In fact, they’re 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 

That’s it!

Now for the next question: 

Which keywords do you use? 

Here are four simple steps to finding and targeting the best keywords. 

  1. Splurge on a Keyword Research Tool

Just kidding.

(Unless spending $29.90 is splurging to you.) 

The truth is, you can do SEO for affiliate marketing without a keyword research tool, but it’ll be like going on a journey without a map.

You’ll go around in circles, get lost, and if you ever reach your destination, it’ll be by accident.

A keyword research tool is your map to your destination (affiliate marketing success).

And don’t worry. 

A basic tool like KWFinder can give you all the data you need to perfect your strategy, but costs only $29.90/month. 

  1. 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, they’re more likely to buy because they’ve 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 don’t know English and want to know what “dress” means
  • Maybe you’re looking for a photo of a dress for your website
  • Maybe you’re looking for inspiration for your next sewing session

But what if you type “little black dress near me,” into Google?

Yup.

You’re 99% ready to buy a dress. 

That’s the magic of long-tail keywords. 

While a seed keyword like “dress” may have a lot more searches…

…it’s a long-tail keyword like “little black dress near me” that gets the sales. 

Let’s test our theory with a quick Google search.

Here are the results for “dress.” 

Google search Wikipedia

Source: Google

Random much? 

Now, let’s try “little black dress near me.” 

SEO for Affiliate Marketing - The Ultimate Guide for 2021 Google search

Source: Google

Yup!

These results are primed for people on the verge of snagging their own little black dress. 

  1. Go for Keywords in the Coveted “Sweet Spot” All SEOs Love 

Here’s a sad truth.

There’s 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. 

Here’s 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

Let’s hop into KWFinder and test our keyword “little black dress near me.” 

SEO for Affiliate Marketing - The Ultimate Guide for 2021 KWFinder

Source: KWFinder

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. (Don’t worry. You can cancel before 7 days are up and you won’t be charged a cent.) 

Here’s a little sneak peek at what you can do with KWFinder:

  1. Go for High-ROI Keywords  

Quick disclaimer. 

This isn’t a ranking factor and it won’t increase your chances of showing up in the SERPs.

BUT it’ll help you get high-quality visitors who are deep down in the funnel and more than ready to buy. 

In other words, it’ll help you get the most ROI from your blogs. 

Here’s 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 that’s related to your affiliate products. (Example: How to Keep My Dog’s Coat Shiny) 

Build quality content around these keywords, and you’ll 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 you’ve asked the company’s 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 wouldn’t 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 I’ll 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 it’s 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. 

  1. Craft Content that’s Better than Your Competitors’

This sounds simplistic, but it’s 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. 

It’s not hard.

Simply jump into Google and type in the keyword you’re trying to rank for. 

Let’s say it’s “how to keep my dog’s coat shiny.”

Here’s what you’ll get:

SEO for Affiliate Marketing - The Ultimate Guide for 2021 Google search

Source: Google

Now, your job is to click on each one of these results and read it.

Ask yourself:

  • What makes this post special? 
  • How is it different from everything else online?
  • What’s 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 won’t regret it when you start crafting posts that are miles greater than your competitors’…

…and snagging all that coveted traffic.  

  1. Optimize Your Content for Readability 

Imagine this. 

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:

wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

What do you do?

Run, of course. 

You’ll click the back button like it’ll save your life.

But what if you land on a page like this?

SEO for Affiliate Marketing - The Ultimate Guide for 2021 Drinking Water

Source: medicalnewstoday.com

Do you stay?

YES.

Here’s the difference between the two pages:

  • Page #1 features a dense wall of heavy text. You don’t want to wade through all of that. Plus, it’s packed with jargon and you’re not in the mood to pull out your dictionary. 
  • Page #2 is simple, easy to scan, and readable. There’s 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 shouldn’t 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 they’ll stay, read, subscribe, share, and basically fall in love with you. 

  1. Don’t 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 it’ll grow old in a day or two. 

In others, it’s a bit longer. (3-5 years at most.)

Luckily, as an affiliate marketer, you’re in category #2, and your content probably won’t get outdated the day after you write it. If you’re even luckier, the stuff you publish will still be relevant three years down the road. 

However, you’ll want to check and update your content at least once a year. 

Here’s 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 won’t 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. 

Links are like oxygen to your SEO strategy. 

Without them, you’ll 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. 

Let’s look at each one separately: 

  1. Outbound Links 

Outbound links are like spiderwebs. 

They help Google’s web crawlers connect your website with others. 

For instance, let’s 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.

That’s because they don’t 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 they’ll appreciate it and return the favor later on. 

Check out this example of outbound links added skillfully to content:

Identify your customer

Source: Ahrefs

  1. 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, don’t worry. 

All you have to do is link back to other pages on your website. 

Like this:

Source: Ahrefs

  1. Backlinks 

I’ll 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.

Yup!

Backlinks are a huge ranking factor for Google because they mean other sites value your content enough to link to it. 

But here’s 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 that’s 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, don’t 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 that’ll be awesome for your blog on cheese!)
  • Look for broken links on other websites. You can do this either manually (warning: it’ll 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 that’s been taken down. I’d really love if you would link to it instead!” 
  • Guest post. Guest blogging is super valuable because it won’t only gain you exposure to the blog’s readers, it’ll also give you the chance to link back to your own site. Most of the time, the site’s 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.

They’re worth it. 

Step #5: Don’t Keep Your Reader’s Waiting 

The truth is, the digital world of today isn’t a spa.

People don’t go online to take deep breaths, relax, and let the time tick away unchecked while lemon-infused volcanic mud gets rubbed into their faces. 

digital world isn't a spa

Nope!

They’re in a hurry. They’re constantly rushing, as if they’re afraid they’ll miss out on the next meme published. They have 10 tabs open on their browser, and they’re clicking restlessly from one to the next. 

Which means, if you keep them waiting for 5 seconds while your sloth-like page loads…

…they’ll 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 won’t 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? You’ll do much better going minimalist with a ton of white space and simple images. 
  • Use speed-boosting plugins. For instance, if you’re on WordPress, a plugin like WP Rocket can help combine and minify your files.  

If you’re like me, you love featured snippets. 

That’s because you can get the answers you’re looking for in the blink of an eye, without having to click through to read a blog post. 

Here’s an example: 

Source: Google

There’s another reason I love featured snippets, though. 

It’s 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 Google’s 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:
questions on Google

Source: Google

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 you’re constantly being watched by your captor through a hidden camera. 

It’s creepy.

Yup. Google is constantly keeping an eye on you.

It watches: 

  • 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. 

For instance: 

  • Your headline or meta descriptions are boring, and don’t compel people to click through to read your blog.
  • Your content is hard to read, forcing people to bail. 
  • You don’t have magnetizing CTAs to move people efficiently through your site. 

Keep your eye on the top SEO performance KPIs (key performance indicators), and you’ll please the robot behind the hidden camera and start ranking better.  

Did you know that a whopping 50% of all searches are voice-based?

Yup!

There’s no question about it: 

People are lazy. And they’re multi-taskers.

They want to learn new stuff while doing the laundry or washing the dishes. 

And as an SEO blogger/affiliate marketer, it’s your job to give them what they want. 

Here are three ways to optimize your content for voice search:

  • Don’t 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 you’re like a ton of affiliate marketers, you cringe at the very mention of SEO.

To you, it’s a giant, unfathomable subject almost as complex as rocket science. 

And when you go online and type “SEO,” you’re 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 don’t 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 they’ll link to your best content. 

You don’t have to know everything.

All you need to do is start. 

And once you’ve perfected all the steps I’ve 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.

I’m rooting for you!

Image credits: 

All screenshots taken by the author, September, 2021.