If there’s one thing I can absolutely guarantee, it’s that every affiliate wants lots of traffic. In general, more traffic = more money.
Let me just say this first up… nothing beats writing articles and getting free traffic. Nothing.
The best source of free traffic that I know of is search engines, which is why knowing the 80/20 of SEO is very important for affiliate marketers.
What is the 80/20 approach to affiliate SEO?
There’s a lot written already on the topic of 80/20 analysis, whole books even, but if you boil it all down it says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions. Or, 80% of what you do is irrelevant to the result.
So, when I say this is the 80/20 guide to affiliate website SEO, it means that we’ll be focusing only on a subset of SEO techniques (the 20%) that will get you most of the way there (the 80%).
There are 3 steps to affiliate SEO:
- Clever keyword selection
- A solid approach to content
- Growing your rankings over time
As an affiliate, you want things to be as hands-off as possible. That means you need to spend most of your time creating things that will continue to get traffic for as long as the content is still useful.
The traffic you receive from search engines is as close to a consistent source of traffic as you’re going to get in this day and age of internet marketing.
It’s also a traffic source that has a very low burn rate (unless you dabble in grey-hat or black-hat techniques). And once you’re ranked on the first page, search engine traffic has the uncanny ability to keep on growing if you follow a few simple rules.
Let’s get into it…
3-Step Affiliate SEO Strategy That Will Get You 80% Of The Way (Or More)
For this to work, I’m going to assume a few things:
- That you’ve already picked your niche or have an idea about what niche you want to get into
- That you’re interested enough in that niche that you’re not going to give up
- That you’re prepared to write and create content yourself at the start
I want to make it clear that it’s way easier to write content if you’re actually interested in the niche.
If you have little to no interest in weight loss, why are you considering it? Is it just because of the potential cash on a CPA offer? If so, you might as well just stop reading now.
Step 1 – Pick keywords in the “sweet spot”
SEO competition today (as in the very day that you’re reading this) is as fierce as it’s ever been at any point in the past.
Every day that goes past means there are more articles than there were before and more competition for things that people search for.
The competition for the big keywords that deliver hundreds of thousands of visitors each month is ridiculous. But not only that, it is continuously being fought over by the biggest SEO firms and experts in the world. I can guarantee they have more knowledge than you, have more resources than you, and are generally better equipped to win the battle.
So, don’t even try.
“Gee, thanks for being a wet blanket, so why bother, right?”
SEO is more cutthroat than Game of Thrones, but there is still a way for you, the little guy, to compete and get your content noticed by the search engines.
One way is to look for the “sweet spot.”
The sweet spot is when a keyword (or a group of related keywords put together) have total traffic between 100 and 1000 unique visitors per month and the existing results are less than satisfying to the searcher.
If you go for keywords or groups of keywords with this amount of monthly searches and not the bigger, scarier keywords with thousands of visits per month, you’re going to have a much easier time and see success much earlier. These are the keywords that are currently under-served and will continue to be under-served in today’s search engines.
Here’s another reason:
New and smaller sites are harder to rank on big keywords because they don’t have a large history of backlinks and proven traffic. This is something Google and other engines look for when ranking you for a keyword. Keywords found in the sweet spot often only require one or two backlinks, if any at all, to rank within the top few positions.
Based on my personal experience, finding and using sweet spot keywords in a brand new article can land you within the top 10 inside of a week. That’s because the current results are under-serving the searches and Google’s algorithm already knows that. They’re constantly looking for something better, and once you appear they’ll adjust.
Later, I’ll take you through what to do once you crack that top 10, but first, we have a problem…
The Problem: How do you find out the search volume of a keyword?
There are many solutions to this ranging from free to expensive. I always favor free tools that to the job even if it’s not 100% the best (we’re talking 80/20 here remember).
The main tool I use to find the volume of searches for an individual keyword is a free browser extension called Keywords Everywhere.
Just like the name suggests, once installed, you’ll see that it shows you keyword volume data all over the internet wherever keywords appear.
You’ll see monthly search volume data for:
- Anything you type into Google searches
- The related keywords list down the bottom of the search results (the alternatives that Google shows you down the bottom of the search page)
- The auto-complete suggested searches (that Google show in the search box when you start typing)
- Amazon.com searches
- Bing searches
- …you get the idea.
If you can see this information at a glance, it’s more useful. I’ve found this tool to be a very effective way to quickly find keywords and judge their worth immediately by their search volume.
If you’re interested in other keyword research tools, check out this great video from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He goes over a number of other tools in depth (though despite the video title, some you do have to pay for).
Step 2 – Write detailed “guides” of 2,000 to 5,000 words in length
When you’re writing content for a particular type of person, you should be thinking, “How do I make this the most incredibly useful piece of content that could possibly be found on this topic?”
Writing big guides using a word count of roughly 2,000 to 5,000 words is a good way to ensure that you cover a topic in-depth.
According to an article on Noah Kagan’s website, where they analysed over 100 million articles, larger articles are more likely to be shared:
They actually found that articles of 3,000 to 10,000 words were shared the most, but let’s apply some of that good old 80/20 logic to this again.
Based on the chart above, as long as the article length is over 2,000 words, you’re going to capture a vastly greater amount of shares compared to articles under that.
This is why my recommendation stands at 2,000 to 5,000 words.
I feel it’s more achievable, and pushing that extra 20% to get to the next bracket is probably not worth it.
How do you work your keywords in?
The worst mistake you can make is to over-stuff your keywords in your article.
As a guide, your articles should feature the target keyword/s in:
- The article title
- The SEO title and description
- The URL slug of the article
- Within the first couple of paragraphs once
- In 1 or 2 of the H2 headers
- And if you can swing it, in an H3 header as well
Beyond that, just sprinkle an additional handful of mentions throughout the content, but don’t go overboard.
You can use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to give you a good idea, but I generally don’t follow the keyword density recommendations as strictly for articles beyond 2,000 words in length. I stay well under what the plugin recommends.
When is the “detailed guide” approach a BAD idea?
It seems like everyone is using massive 5,000+ word articles these days to rank. But do you always need to write such massive tomes? Is it different for different keywords?
While, overall, Google and other search engines do love long form, comprehensive content, sometimes you don’t need to write such a massive post to rank well.
I follow the same line of thinking as Mark from Authority Hacker for this:
“Google are taking an AI first approach.
Answers to questions should be simple, well-formatted and easy to understand.
There is no point writing 5,000 words for a question that can be answered in 500 words.
You should be aware that content length varies with different types of queries.”
In a nutshell, don’t write long articles just for the sake of it.
DO: Use your long articles wisely to rank for keywords (or groups of keywords) about a topic that you can provide a mastery-level guide for.
DON’T: Use them to rank for simple questions that could be answered in just as much depth with much fewer words.
Step 3 – Add to your content over time
Who says you have to write once then leave it never to be touched again?
The beauty of the internet is its ever-changing nature, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Google accounts for that. Rankings change constantly.
You should be updating and adding to your big guides over time as things change, new evidence comes to light, better sources appear, and (here’s the kicker) as you come up with additional content to add.
I’m talking about adding:
- Podcast audios
- PDF downloads
- Report downloads
- …whatever you can think of to make the post better.
Make sure everything is tightly related to the topic of the article. The more you add to it, the better it will rank and improve in the rankings.
If you feel like an article is stuck in its non-#1 position, adding to the article is one of the easiest ways to increase its position in the SERPs.
What about the final 20%?
So, that’s the 80/20 affiliate SEO guide in full.
You might be wondering where the final 20% should be spent if you really want to push things ahead in your SEO.
In my opinion (and I stress this is my opinion based on being in this industry for a decade), the final 20% of SEO is split between building links and other advanced SEO methods.
Building backlinks is not something I’m going to cover in this article because the topic is deep. Very deep.
For that, I highly recommend reading this link building guide and watching this video by Brian Dean from the website Backlinko.
As for whether you should spend the extra time chasing that final 20%, it’s entirely up to you.
If you have a strong interest in SEO, and you want to further your results, it might be worth the time.
That extra 20% push could deliver outsized results, and you’ll always be well served by learning more about this interesting art that is SEO.
However, if you’re just starting out, then I advise you to stick to your guns and start with the 80/20 guide we’ve just outlined. Give it a red hot go, and if you aren’t getting what you want out of it, go back to the drawing board and see what else you could be doing to help it along.