In the early days of affiliate marketing, SEO keyword rankings were the single most important factor to growing an online business. Search engines in the 90’s were very primitive and easy to manipulate. Back then, if an affiliate marketer wanted to rank a website for a specific search phrase, they simply included the exact search term they wanted to rank for as many times as possible on a page of their site.

For example, let’s say I want to rank a website for the search phrase “affiliate marketing”. All I would have to do is include the exact words “affiliate marketing” on a page of my site as many times as possible.

This posed some obvious problems. Once website owners figured this out, which didn’t take long, it was a contest to see who could include various search terms in their site the most. It made for a spammy search environment and a poor user experience for many. This was called black hat SEO.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with what SEO means, I created a page just for you, explaining exactly what SEO means. Check it out!

Changes To Search Algorithms, SEO, & Keyword Rankings

In order to help improve search results, search engines (mostly Google) started making some changes to their algorithm. What is an algorithm? Basically, it is how search engines decide which websites should rank highly for a given search result. Back in the 90’s, the only real factor was keyword usage and maybe links. But now, Google uses more than 200 different metrics to decide which websites should rank highly. While nobody knows the exact ingredients that make up the Google algorithm, Google wrote up an article explaining how it works. You can read that article here.

So basically, Google and other search engines are always making changes.

What Changes Is Google Making To Their Algorithm?

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Focusing On Keywords Has Become Less Important

When website owners put as many keywords on a page as possible, this is known as “keyword stuffing.” In order to combat this tactic, Google decided to start using another metric to rank websites well. Links.

Google began using links as a way to determine which websites provide a great experience. The theory was, nobody would link to a spammy website. So a link pointing into a site was almost like a vote of confidence. It helped to tell Google that a site with lots of links pointing into it was higher quality than websites with few or no links pointing to it.

It worked! For a while.

Soon, website owners realized how important links were. And so, they started offering people money to link to them. This created an entire “link building industry” with professional services promising to drive 1,000’s of links into your website in a single day. Instead of keyword stuffing, web owners were now buying links like crazy!

Website owners also discovered that including text links with the phrases they wanted to rank for was a big part of the Google algorithm. So while keyword stuffing became and obsolete SEO method, the new thing to do was build text links into your site using keywords you wanted to rank for.

This is not what Google had in mind and things were starting to get out of hand. Once again, spammy and low quality websites were finding their way to the top of the search results due to the manipulation of search engine algorithms (especially Google).

Google’s Views On Keyword Stuffing

How The SEO & Keyword Ranking World Was Changed

Keyword Research

Back in 2011, Google rolled out the first of several enormous algorithm changes. For the next 2 years, Google would continue making changes that would shake the very foundation of SEO tactics and how to rank for various keywords.

These days, if Google suspects you’re trying to manipulate their algorithm, your site can actually get penalized. Keyword stuffing, buying links, and using other low quality SEO tactics are over. Google and other search engines now have banks of thousands of super computers located all over the world. They are using artificial intelligence and some sites are even reviewed by individuals to make sure search rankings are fair and yielding good results.

In other words, you can no longer manipulate and find loop holes in search algorithms. You might succeed for a while, but eventually, Google will figure out what you’re doing and you will see your business disappear from search results overnight.

How Often Does Google Change Their Algorithm?

Google makes more than 400 changes to its algorithm each year now. This makes it very difficult for website owners to manipulate search results. This is exactly what Google intended. They do not want website owners focusing on search engine algorithms – they want website owners focused on creating a great user experience.

In fact, Google can actually track a users behavior once they are on your site. Are people sticking around for 30 minutes and reading several pages on your site? Do people tend to return to your site several times? Or do they land on your page once, look at it for 20 seconds, then hit the back button and return to the search results?

Is your site active on social media? How “fresh” is the site? Is there new content or is it all old and outdated?

These are the types of things Google cares about now.

How To Know If You Are Losing Rankings Due To A Google Update

But, What About Keyword Research? Is It Still Important?

Yes and no. First of all, due to privacy changes, it is much more difficult to track which keywords are being searched for and which ones aren’t. Prior to 2012, performing keyword research was pretty simple. Many services existed where you could get a list of low competition, yet in-demand keywords. There are still some services that exist and this is the one I personally use.

Google, of course, has their own free keyword research tool and I show you how to sign up and use it in my FREE 7-Day Affiliate Marketing E-Course. There are also some paid services such as Wordtracker.com. While these keyword research tools do serve a good purpose (and again, I get into that in my free 7-day affiliate marketing e-course), they are not as important as they used to be.

WHY? I’m glad you asked!

Your Focus Should Be On “Long Tail” Keywords

SEO Keyword Rankings

While it might sound enticing to try and rank for a search term such as “car insurance”, as a growing affiliate marketer, you should leave that up to big corporate guys. There is no reason for you to compete with such competitive search terms, because you don’t have to. Even if you’re a big corporation, I still think you’d be wasting your time.

The simple fact is, most people don’t search for things like “car insurance” anymore. Instead, they ask questions in search engines or type in very long search terms. For example, I might type in, “what is the cheapest car insurance for muscle cars?”

When a long search term like that is used, it is called a “long-tail search term”.

For any online business, long-tail search terms will comprise of the vast majority of your search engine traffic!

Why focus on those super short and competitive search phrases when they don’t really matter that much anyway?

Make Your Keywords Sound Natural

So How Should I Use Keywords To Improve My Websites SEO?

These days, there isn’t much “optimization” that you need to worry about. Here’s what I do…

  1. I use a keyword tool (either Google or a paid keyword research tool such as this one) to find some good keywords that I can write an entire page about.
  2. I create a “website blueprint” (I show you how to do that in my free affiliate marketing course).
  3. I make sure that keyword is included in “meta tags”, is included as the title of the article, and is then used at least once or twice in the content of the site.

Not sure what a “website blueprint” or “meta tags” are? It’s actually super simple to understand, but I don’t want to get into that in this article. Sign up for my FREE 7-Day Affiliate Marketing E-Course and you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to be a full-time affiliate marketer, including how to properly research and use keywords.

Let’s take a look at a specific example of mine…

I currently own the website DogFoodInsider.com. Check out this page on my site for a minute. Do you notice what keyword I’m trying to rank for?

If you said “dog food reviews” you’d be correct.

Now, as of writing this article, that website is just about 1 year old. If I go to Google right now and type in dog food reviews I will notice that my website is buried way back in page 6 of the search results. This isn’t a surprise as it is a competitive keyword to rank highly with and takes a lot of time. But you want to know something interesting?

That page, along with all of my other top 10 pages related to dog food reviews, have attracted a ton of traffic just through long-tail keywords. More than 15,000 people over the past 4 weeks have landed on my site from long tail keywords related to dog food reviews. And over time, as Google and other search engines trust my site more, they will give me even MORE free traffic from additional long-tail search terms and also begin ranking me higher for the main “dog food reviews” keyword.

So don’t get too caught up with using the right or wrong keywords. Write articles that will be interesting, informative, and/or entertaining for your sites visitors. The more content you write, the more long-tail keywords you will rank for and the more FREE search engine traffic you will get on your site every single day. The bigger your site gets, the more you will grow at an exponential rate. It’s like a virtual perpetual motion machine!

The Future Of SEO & Keyword Rankings

Over time keyword rankings and other forms of SEO will become less important. Ultimately, Google and other search engines desire one thing. They want people who are using their search engine to find helpful, relevant, and high quality results. That way, people will keep using their search engine which means, they can charge advertisers more money!

By following my step-by-step instructions in my free 7-day affiliate marketing e-course, you’ll be more than prepared for the changes ahead. I’ll help you set up a website blueprint, a solid business plan, teach you how to build a website and make money from it, sell ebooks, make money from YouTube videos, use email marketing, and more. Trust me, this is the best free resource you’ll find if you want to become an affiliate marketer. Sign up right now! I made this as easy as possible for you.