Welcome affiliate marketers and SEO enthusiasts!
Today I’m going to present you with an effective SEO affiliate marketing strategy that can bring you greater success.
A lot of SEO advice we come across helps us improve our website visibility on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to attract more visitors.
But it doesn’t always translate into more sales.
I don’t need to rehash the excellent advice you receive here at SEO Chatter or on other channels like these affiliate marketing case studies. Instead, I’ve put together five tips on SEO for affiliate marketers that are particularly relevant to affiliate websites and increasing affiliate earnings.
Let’s talk keywords, content, and conversions.
Affiliate Marketing SEO Strategy
1. Rank with Affiliate Marketing Copy That Nails Search Intent
The first tip in this SEO and affiliate marketing strategy is for those already doing keyword research. Which, of course, is all of us, right?
If not, check out this article to get a good overview: Why is Keyword Research Important?
Generally, when doing SEO for affiliate marketing, we want to target keywords that are low competition, with decent volume, and the right search intent.
Search intent represents the motivation of the person searching; the purpose behind their search and what it is they’re truly looking for. I like to think of search intent as the internal thought a person has right before typing it in. Their “desire” if you will.
It’s important to give more time and attention to the search intent of keywords for both the sake of conversions and creating content that gets ranked.
How to Satisfy Search Intent
Let’s look at the relationship between search intent and the content you create for any keyword you’re trying to rank.
By reflecting the intent correctly, you greatly improve your chances of ranking your articles.
To help you with this, remember:
Keywords aren’t just keywords. They’re queries.
So don’t create content to match a keyword. Create content to answer a query.
How do you determine if the intent behind a non-question keyword is a what, how, or why?
Instead of asking yourself general questions like “is this informational” or “is this buyer intent?”, ask:
“What has Google determined to be the specific search intent of this particular keyword?”
Most of the time you can do that with a simple Google search of the query. What is Google returning? Big G’s results are based on a lot of data and feedback, and in most cases reflect what people want.
Wondering if you can target two types of queries (i.e., what and how) with the same article?
If Google returns the same results for both questions, do it. If the two SERPs (search engine results pages) are different, create two articles.
The more specifically and accurately you can satisfy a query for the majority of searchers, the more likely you are to attain and hold first-page rankings.
A win for you, a win for your readers.
Google understands content and user intent at an increasingly nuanced, semantic level. And if you don’t think they’re doing a good job of it now, watch what happens over the next 5 years.
Buyer Intent Keywords
I might have suggested above that you focus on keywords with buyer intent. But the truth is you’re going to be creating content of all types, even if you’re primarily focused on selling. That is if you’re following a topic cluster content strategy.
While buyer intent is good and important, you’ve probably noticed that keywords with strong buyer intent are some of the most competitive keywords out there. Examples include, “best dog beds”, “top room air conditioners”, “Xbox gaming headsets”, and “buy treadmills online”.
There’s another route to getting people to your buyer intent “money pages” that I’ll talk about in affiliate marketing SEO tip #3.
2. Move Beyond Product Reviews for Money Pages
In recent months, Google has brought the hammer down once again on affiliate review sites.
Not everyone has been affected of course, but Google has been clear that they want their product review guidelines adhered to and has made the algorithmic moves to support this.
For many, affiliate marketing content is synonymous with product reviews. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how a review of a product will attract people ready to buy, once they read your honest but glowing review.
But Google is asking for a LOT!
They want links to multiple retailers, original images and videos, comparisons, and MUCH more. And many affiliate websites featuring less-than-robust reviews have seen their Google traffic dwindle.
Here’s another take, which perhaps is just my personal opinion after watching and experiencing Google’s treatment of reviews over 20 years.
Google doesn’t want you to create product reviews.
In the majority of cases, Google sees review content as a “middle-man”, and an unnecessary one at that considering most retailers already feature user reviews.
So stop climbing the increasingly steep path of ranking product reviews. It will only lead to more demands by Google for this type of content, and the risk of falling rankings as they bake the review guidelines into their core updates.
Unless you are in a very low-competition niche, consider leaving reviews to mega-authority websites like New York Time’s WireCutter. And note that even they are shifting to articles that take the form of how-tos or skirt around the need for a formal review.
So what now?
Create Money Pages That Don’t Look Like Money Pages
We want to publish “money pages” that are not only easier to rank, but easier to create too!
An obvious choice and the easiest way around creating classic affiliate marketing reviews is to write best-of lists. You don’t have to go nearly as in-depth. However, keywords like “best X” are also very competitive.
So why not get creative with these other types of affiliate SEO content and change your strategy to focus on pages like these:
- How-to articles that feature products as part of the how-to process.
- A list of your favorite tools or services for a specific niche.
- Tutorials and guides that link to related products or tools.
- A story about how a type of product makes your life easier, with links to examples.
Worried these won’t convert?
How-to articles are my bread and butter for affiliate marketing! They not only convert, but are highly valued by your audience, and are going to be shared more than a review page.
Remember, the best marketing doesn’t look like marketing at all.
3. Get Full Value from Your Info Content
Many of us with affiliate sites pay special attention to publishing the right mix of “info content” and “money pages”.
A commonly prescribed ratio is 70% informational posts to 30% commercial, which certainly isn’t definitive but works okay as a guideline. I prefer even less. The point is, you don’t want a site with a hard sell on every page.
People vary their content like this for SEO and affiliate marketing purposes. It’s been shown that Google does not shine kindly on websites that prioritize affiliate sales over buyer education and user experience.
Hopefully, people are also varying content because they want to catch potential buyers at every stage.
Now, aside from filling out your topic clusters and appeasing some arbitrary info/money ratio, this informational content has high untapped and unrecognized value.
Monetizing Info Content On An Affiliate Site
Niche site owners sometimes look at this horde of informational content as an expense that must be borne to satisfy Google’s algorithms. It’s not a “best-of” post and it’s not a product review, and they’re not sure how to monetize it with affiliate links.
That’s where display ads crept into the toolbox of some affiliate marketers.
But when a user clicks an ad on your site.. they’re gone! And it’s likely you only made a few pennies.
So how do you monetize info content as an affiliate marketer?
You don’t. Not directly anyway.
Some of my highest earning money pages get very few visitors directly from Google. So where do they get their traffic from?
From the related informational articles on the affiliate site, which include a well-integrated CTA (call-to-action) to the money page.
That’s right. Not all of your CTA links are for affiliate offers.
For someone at the top of the buyer funnel, the perfect CTA is actually to a page that presents the next step. This could be a related how-to article featuring affiliate links or a round-up of problem-solving tools.
You send visitors to a high-converting page that contains an offer that will naturally be of interest to most people seeking the initial info content. Do this with a simple text link at the bottom of your info article, or wherever it makes the most sense contextually.
Of course, not everyone is going to take that bait, and some will back out of your site without you making a cent. But if you do a good job of creating money pages that reflect the needs of people searching for your related info content…
You may get results that will make you wonder why you ever cluttered your site with display ads in the first place.
Note: SEO Chatter offers a set of Affiliate Buying Guide Templates you can use to set up top 10 style buying guides that take all the guesswork out of how to structure and optimize these types of pages for better SEO, higher rankings, and increased conversions.
Use Info Content to Capture and Direct Visitors to Affiliate Pages
To summarize, this is how I suggest affiliate marketers think about informational content and use it to increase sales:
- Info content is created to gain topical authority, which boosts ranking across that topic site-wide.
- Info content is created to bring in more traffic, by covering the topics searched by your target audience.
- This traffic lacks obvious buyer-intent, BUT is very on-topic regardless. They have landed on a page within a cluster designed to bring in potential buyers.
- We should then direct, or funnel, these readers toward the appropriate money page within that cluster. In a friendly, helpful way that is also high-converting.
Other reasons I like this strategy?
It cuts down on the number of pages carrying affiliate links which makes management and optimization easier. It also has the benefit of increasing time-on-site and the number of pages viewed per user.
On high-converting affiliate marketing sites, every link out is a leak.
Does that mean we don’t have any external links? No. But it does mean we shouldn’t purposely divert our traffic away with flashy, prominent ads.
Worried that your site isn’t “high-converting” enough to exist without display ads?
Disclaimer: Some website niches don’t monetize well with affiliate offers and display ads are the best option. However, that argument is moot here because we are talking about “affiliate sites”. By definition, affiliate sites are created with a viable niche and relevant affiliate programs in mind.
4. Supercharge Conversions with CRO
CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who come to your site and do what you want them to do—convert.
For affiliate marketers, a conversion usually means getting a lead or making a sale in exchange for a commission. A conversion could also be a newsletter subscription or any other desired action.
CRO means you’re optimizing the experience of the user at every stage, but always toward a specific goal: the conversion. From the visual layout and copy to call-to-action and the offer itself. We even want to optimize the exact landing page of every offer, if it’s an option.
With CRO strategies you convert more of your existing website traffic.
Making more money with the same amount of traffic sounds great, doesn’t it?
If you can squeeze every possible conversion out of your traffic, just think about what will happen when you achieve more volume. You’ll be killing it!
But how do you optimize your affiliate marketing content for conversion rates?
Tips for Getting Started with CRO
- Use affiliate tracking software for all your links and conversions. You want to see all your data in one place.
- In addition to conversion rate, your key performance indicators are EPV (earnings per visitor) and EPC (earnings per click).
- Start testing variations and picking the winners. Try different buttons, layouts, titles, offers, and CTAs. Use your data.
- Improve your SEO copywriting skills. The right messaging is key for conversions.
- Join CRO groups on Facebook where you can ask questions and get insights from professional CROs.
- Consider the purpose of ALL your web pages, and optimize for that result. It could be clicking an affiliate link, or simply moving the user toward a money page.
CRO isn’t something that should be viewed separately from SEO. It should always be a consideration in your affiliate marketing SEO efforts. This means that conversion factors are part of your keyword selection, site organization, and content planning process.
You’ll find that CRO aids your SEO efforts in almost every case. This is because what’s good for conversions (less friction, optimized copy, a clear path), is good for users. And what’s good for users is Google’s primary goal, and thus the goal of smart affiliate marketer SEOs.
5. Make Affiliate SEO Decisions Based on Data
Above I advised that you base your CRO decisions on data. The same goes for your affiliate SEO strategies and decision-making.
In many cases, the best data is your own. So make this the year you start collecting as many metrics about your site and its performance as possible.
Your own SEO metrics along with conversion data will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t. Discover which of your efforts are being rewarded by Google and how you can repeat those successes.
This is done through basic tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics. And to get feedback about how your SEO changes are affecting sales, be sure to have that affiliate tracking in place.
Here are some other ways we find and use data for SEO affiliate marketing:
- Consult Case Studies: Other affiliates and SEOs often share data about projects that can provide powerful insights into your own.
- Use A/B Testing Tools: Don’t guess at which experiments are working. Conduct A/B split tests with a tool like Crazy Egg.
- Conduct Keyword Research: Choose keywords based on data such as search volume, competitiveness, and intent.
- Research Trends: Check out Google Trends to discover what’s new in your niche and get content ideas.
- Content Optimization: Use the feedback of tools and plugins designed to help you optimize your on-page SEO, such as Rank Math.
- Competitor Research: Use data provided by SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to not only look deeper into your own site performance, but glean insight into your competitors.
Bonus Tip: Learn Affiliate Marketing SEO by Doing
The only way you’re going to get better at SEO for affiliate marketing is to stick with it and get your hands dirty.
Affiliate marketers require such a diverse skill set to be successful. And honestly, you are not going to master all facets of this business. But you will get better and better, and one day you will become a master in one or two areas you feel passionate about.
And maybe that’s SEO for you. Deepening your SEO skills is an extremely valuable pursuit, one that will keep you on your toes and offer big rewards.
The tips above span a lot of different areas of SEO for affiliate marketers, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. So how do you choose what to learn more about or work on first?
You learn whatever is demanded by the project at hand. As you’re doing it.
Just start building your site, or adding content, or employing an internal linking strategy. As questions and issues develop, and they always do, seek the answers and ask advice.
The best way to learn SEO and affiliate marketing is on the job.
Best of luck from a fellow affiliate marketer!
L.E. McArthur runs a successful affiliate marketing business and is passionate about teaching others how to do the same. You can find her current project, the Affiliate Marketing Guide for Beginners, at Affiliate Savant.