Strong SEO is the cornerstone of achieving success for any website, whatever its purpose – and if your SEO isn’t as effective as it should be or is even potentially working against you, you’re missing out on traffic and essentially, throwing money down the drain.
When it comes to how to use SEO for affiliate marketing in particular, your success or otherwise will stand or fall on the strength of your SEO, and so getting things right is hugely important.
However, SEO is a continually evolving beast, which requires an adaptive, forward-thinking approach to succeed. So, what is affiliate marketing in SEO?
Well, as recently as a few years ago, getting a good search engine ranking for affiliates could be achieved with tricks like keyword stuffing, buying up poor quality link farm anchors to your site, and trying to trick search algorithms with approaches such as writing white-on-white text to appease bots and robots without ruining the appearance of your site. However, all of these things are heavily penalised by Google and other prominent search engines today!
If you’re determined to get your affiliate marketing website off on the right foot, or if you’re reviewing your SEO with a view to troubleshooting and avoiding problems, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article we will explain how to use SEO for affiliate marketing, and also outline some mistakes to avoid.
What is SEO affiliate marketing?
Let’s start with the basics – what is SEO affiliate marketing? SEO stands for “search engine optimisation,” and put simply, harnessing the power of SEO to its full ability ensures that your website, blog, or other affiliate portal performs well in search engine results, making it easy to find for your potential prospects.
If your website doesn’t appear on the first page of a Google search for your main products, services or keywords, your SEO isn’t strong enough – and unless you reliably appear at the very top of the list of the first page of results, you still have work to do.
SEO affiliate marketing means getting your SEO on point so that it naturally and organically brings traffic to your website or blog – traffic that you can convert into sales.
Whilst most successful affiliates who take their business seriously also invest in external promotions and paid adverts as well, strong SEO is still the cornerstone of success – and can reduce your reliance on paid promotions and so, cut your ad spend without impacting on your bottom line.
How to use SEO for affiliate marketing
Once you appreciate the importance of good SEO, you will naturally want to put it to work for you and integrate the principles of search engine optimisation into your website – but how do you do this? There are several basic steps you need to take.
Identify your keywords.
Keywords are the search terms that people use to find websites, and so choosing these keywords and phrases carefully is really important. Identify and choose your keywords before you design your site and write your content, so that you can integrate them effectively.
Choose the right domain name.
Choosing the right domain name can take time, and integrating your main keyword into the domain name is a good move – but Google and other major search engines place their emphasis on brands and individuality today more than ever, so make sure that it is unique and distinctive too.
Produce good quality written content with your keywords integrated naturally.
Your written content is what tells your visitors about what you do and what you offer – and it is also how search engines find and rank websites that appear in their search results. Your written content should be long enough to serve its purpose to both visitors and search engine bots, integrating your keywords throughout the content without overusing them or making your content sound stilted.
Add the appropriate headers and sub-headers.
The header and sub-header tags you use within your website should also integrate your keywords, and be designed to provide value to the reader – this is much more important than simply stuffing as many pertinent words as you can into your headers, and supports Google’s ever-evolving emphasis on natural, relevant content over artificial manipulation of SEO.
Utilise meta titles and descriptions.
The page title and description that you choose for each page of your website is what people searching for your business see in search engine results – which means not only that they need to be designed to show up in these results, but that they must also provide the right hook and incentive for the people who see it to click through to your website, and not someone else’s.
Always be original – and check for plagiarism.
Google and other major search engines heavily penalize duplicate content, and may even de-index your website and remove it from search results entirely if your content isn’t original.
This means that you need to write bespoke website content from scratch for every page to boost your affiliate SEO, and also that you should use plagiarism detection tools to check for other copies of your content on the web and protect your intellectual property, in case someone else has copied your content and used it elsewhere, which happens a lot more often than you might think.
Your website’s content has to provide value to your visitor – it has to give them what they came for, or your bounce rate will increase, which in turn, reduces your authority in search rankings.
Seek good quality backlinks.
Building relationships with other good quality websites and portals to get backlinks to your own site is something that search engines love – but choosing the wrong types of sites or using link farms will actually get you penalized.
You can also place internal links from one page of your site to another, which all helps when used sparingly and carefully.
Keep your content fresh.
Google and other search engines love fresh content, and reward it accordingly – update your website regularly to add value and keep things moving, perhaps integrating a blog into your site too, which helps a lot with SEO.
Make sure your site’s back-end performs well.
When it comes to developing your website’s back end, it is vital to get things right here too. If your site is slow to load, generates errors, has lots of broken links, or has basic errors in the coding, search engines will penalise you.
SEO tips for affiliate marketers
All of the basics of a comprehensive and effective approach to SEO are outlined above, but if you want to get an edge over the competition, you’ll have to go a step further – keeping up to date with the latest SEO techniques, and the ever-moving goalposts of SEO performance.
Here are some SEO tips for affiliate marketers to use to get ahead.
Utilise mobile marketing.
The mobile channel is a huge up-and-coming growth area offering a vast available resource of potential buyers and prospects, but it is still a key area of marketing that all too many affiliates continue to overlook.
Making sure that your website is mobile-friendly and performs properly on portable devices is essential, but you should also consider using the mobile channel to place ads and promotions in third party content to help to bring in more traffic and enhance your SEO.
Get social media on your side.
Trending hashtags, breaking news, celeb scandals and everything fresh and new tends to appear on social media before it shows up anywhere else these days, and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to driving traffic and boosting your SEO.
Keep your finger on the pulse across all of the core social media sites and set up news alerts to let you know when something is happening, and use these insights to provide appropriate content on your website and drive traffic to it.
Generate a buzz.
Viral marketing is of course today’s major buzzword, and it is also something of a unicorn in marketing terms – hard to achieve organically, but worth more than gold if you hit the winning formula.
Start a conversation and engage your prospects on social media, blog comments, and forum posts, and you may find that your audience will do the bulk of the work for you when it comes to passing the news onto others, getting your name out there on the internet, lending authority to your brand, and boosting your SEO.
Offer something new and unique.
It is important to remember that there is more to producing original content than simply ensuring that your content isn’t plagiarised – take a new angle on an old topic, provide something new and create a buzz by offering something that your prospects can’t find elsewhere, and search engines will reward you accordingly.
Affiliate SEO pitfalls to avoid
Affiliate marketing SEO is governed by the same principles as SEO for any other purpose – which means that there are some pitfalls to avoid in order to ensure that you successfully increase your standing rather than potentially compromising it.
Here are five of the most common errors made when it comes to affiliate SEO.
1. Avoid keyword stuffing – don’t overuse your keywords, or compromise the quality of your content in the race for rankings. You will be penalized for this, not rewarded!
2. Keep analyzing your keyword success and performance, and seek to identify new keywords that you can use to boost your brand.
3. Don’t think your work is done when you’ve optimized your content – you have to keep your content fresh to maintain your search engine relevancy and ranking.
4. Don’t use keywords as bait if your content doesn’t deliver – not only will this lead to heavy penalization in your rankings, but it’s also a waste of time and will lead to an elevated bounce rate.
5. Finally, concentrate on quality, not quantity – you want to win traffic that converts, not just traffic that window shops. For instance, many young guys lust over luxury sports cars and like to read and learn about them – but most of them won’t have the cash money to invest in purchasing one, and so your most valuable demographic is likely to be older men with more disposable income.
Apply the same principle to assessing your most valuable buyer demographics, and creating content accordingly, and you’re good to go!