Two major advantages to affiliate marketing are the ability to align products seamlessly with your brand message and to present a variety of products that appeal directly to your target demo. These advantages also make it easy to leverage the power of SEO in your content marketing efforts.
If you work with products that appeal to a single, focused niche, what follows is specifically for you.
If you are still trying to find your edge, you should still keep reading. You can then tuck this post away for future reference when you identify the niche that best compliments your marketing style.
Content marketing is a multi-faceted undertaking that requires a particular talent for relating and interacting with your audience.
You need to know and understand how to not only keep your current audience engaged, but also use your audience to help you find more new customers over time.
This, in a nutshell, is the function of search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO Then and Now
SEO has become a lot more complex over time. If you were on the Internet in the mid to late 1990s, you probably encountered this more than once: web pages with scroll-able amounts of seemingly empty space.
That space, though, wasn’t empty, was it?
It was seeded with a mile-long list of keywords with a font color that matched the page background. The entire purpose of that was to attract search engines.
Back then, text was about the only thing the search platforms used to identify content that matched search criteria. This is how it was back in the days of Lycos, Excite, and Webcrawler.
Then, in the late ’90s, a new brand emerged that changed everything: Google.
With the advent of Google came more intricate search algorithms. The goal of this platform was to provide more meaningful results to both standard and localized searches and this goal has been evolving and expanding ever since.
Go back five to seven years and ask any successful marketer and he or she will tell you: SEO changes constantly.
That’s not to say that the whole system gets revamped all the time (not that it hasn’t – don’t use the word “penguin” around skiddish long-time marketers, for example), but there are a few specific things about SEO best practices that you need to be aware of and understand.
With that in mind, we’d like to provide you with a good general overview of some white-hat SEO tactics that you can employ as part of your content creation efforts.
Committing to applying these elements of good SEO to all your content (and how you promote it) will help ensure that everything you post – from blogs, to videos, to stock images and everything in between – is always relevant and capable of boosting your rankings.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO
Before getting into specifics, let’s just clarify the difference between on- and off-page SEO. On-page SEO deals directly with the content itself: how it is presented, the overall quality, and ease of engagement.
Off-page SEO deals with the tactics you used to get people to engage with and consume your content. It is rooted and built up on marketing best practices.
It specifically covers everything from how you engage with your audience to how you generate relevant links back to your content for search engines. These actions are in no small part how the search platforms are able to recognize and rank your content appropriately.
The search engines know not just how good your content is, but also how ethical you are in promoting it. This was the key problem the infamous Penguin Update was designed to address and, well, mission accomplished.
Penguin weeded out the cheaters and “don’t-know-betters” and taught us how to market in a way that was both more targeted and more profitable.
If you simply generate good content, present it well, and promote it responsibly, you’ve got the perfect recipe for optimal rankings.
Now let’s have a look at a few specifics, starting with your on-page efforts.
#1. Single vs. Multiple Sites
If you work simultaneously with a variety of affiliate products, there are two ways to go about organizing your website.
If you deal with a lot of similar products, a single site should be able to manage all of them. If, however, you deal in different niches, you will definitely want a separate site for every product or product line.
The reason for this is that the major search platforms don’t typically favor sites that don’t have a specified, unique identity.
If your site looks like Nordstrom’s, you’re in. If it looks like a flea market, Google isn’t going to want you throwing their name around to your clientele.
Much of marketing is trial and error. A domain costs about $15 a year and can be shut down if you don’t get enough play on a specific product.
Separating your products into their own domains makes it possible for you to create content that has congruity with a single brand message. This is important for overall site rankings.
#2. Visual Content Development
Visuals are a vital part of your content strategy.
If you are just starting out, use high-quality stock images and videos that convey the right message about your company and your product/service. Over time, you will want to consider original, branded visuals over stock.
Before uploading visual content, be sure that the files are compressed to the point where they will load quickly without sacrificing overall quality.
1080p is not always necessary for marketing videos, especially when one considers just how much content is consumed on mobile devices versus larger screens these days.
Images should always be under 1MB and sized to a maximum 600 pixel width. Videos over 5MB should be avoided, but if that isn’t possible, there is another solution.
Look into rates for high-speed cloud storage and remove the strain from your hosting company’s servers by hosting large files on a separate network.
This is an especially important consideration if your site operates on shared space. It will decrease page load times, which is a huge part of SEO. It appeals to the search platforms and decreases your bounce rates.
#3. Written Content Development
While visual content is the most important element for grabbing people’s attention, your written content is what will hold their interest and build trust.
For this reason, the quality of the writing has to be top-notch. Blogging is mandatory, as are other SEO considerations like page meta descriptions, image text tags, and constant, relevant keyword research.
If you are in any way doubtful of your ability to handle this part of the process on your own, enlist the help of a professional copywriter or copy writing agency.
We say this because no matter how stunning your visuals are or how fast they load, people will absolutely judge you by the words you use and how you use them.
Well-worded, well-formatted text invites interaction. Poor copy and poor presentation only invites scrutiny. Be well assured that you do not want to ever grapple with the latter.
Proper use of language that is presented in short, bite-sized paragraphs always get the best engagement and conversation about it on social media usually stays on-point.
Misplace one “you’re” with a “your” the grammar police will take over the conversation. You want engagement on your copy to revolve around either the product itself or how it solves a specific problem for the customer.
You can’t steer the conversation in that direction if the conversation gets hijacked over whether you speak English as a first language or not.
Back-links are generated by strategically placing links back to your pages amid other pieces of relevant content.
This includes your social media pages, related social media pages, relevant forums, and other instances where a link to something you wrote or to a landing page would seem organic to the conversation.
The best back-links are the ones that come from social engagement: shares, re-tweets, curation of your content by another blogger, etc.
Good content has a way of propagating quickly through these channels. Responding on relevant forums and “ask” sites can also help boost your rankings.
#2. Social Engagement
People are wired to want to do things for people they like and trust.
If you establish trust with your audience, and you make regular appearances on your social channels, there is no shame in out and out soliciting specific types of engagement, like sharing or re-tweeting.
You can even make a game out of generating shares by holding small contests with prizes that carry a high perceived value but low actual cost.
Stipulate that liking and sharing are mandatory for entry and watch how quickly visits to that particular blog or landing page spike.
You could wind up making dozens of sales by simply giving away one copy of an info product you paid $20 for… if your on-page game is as strong as your off-page game.
#3. Other Considerations
As a final point, we just want to mention a few of the other areas that affect off-page SEO that will help stretch your marketing dollar when implemented properly:
- Reliable, accessible customer service
- Fast Responses to social media queries
- Split-testing content types
- A/B testing of landing and squeeze pages
- Guest blogging
- Consistent communication with customers and leads via email
Implementing these best practices along with the right optimization strategies, as outlined above, will likely net you some major successes in the affiliate marketing arena.
Always remember that great content is nothing without great promotion and vice-versa. Commit to quality in every facet of your marketing efforts, learn from your mistakes, and always use above-board, white-hat tactics in your SEO efforts.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published March 5th 2018
This Post Has 20 Comments
Great article! It was full of very useful information for the experienced online marketer to the newbie. SEO can be so confusing and you spelled it out in a very easy to understand way.
If someone was just getting started on blogging with a fairly new online business (whether affiliate or their own products/services) what are the top three things they should master first?
1 – Provide quality content people can benefit from reading.
2 – Produce content with intent to convert.
3 – Always include a call to action.
Check out my boot camp article for a good overview of content marketing.
Thanks for the comment Leissa!
Excellent insight into Affiliate marketing and the SEO requirements to make it a successful niche.
This is a niche which is increasingly popular with new business owners and it is vital that they get it right
I am sure newbies will gain insight from the post and its affiliate links
Thanks Terry, I hope others find it useful and it helps get people started down the right path.
Impressive article! You pretty much summed up all SEO tricks in one post. I think that back links, proper use of images and relevant keyword research are the most important of all. What I lack is Social media engagement. I usually post my page or post to all social media platforms and I fail to connect with my audience. Some platforms like Twitter and Pinterest , I don’t engage at all but rather just post and leave.
To get positive attention on social media you must actually engage others. Comment, like and share. It’s easier said than done for some, I know, I’m one of them. Social media doesn’t fascinate me beyond its business applications so I struggle with this same problem.
Try to be more active beyond just posting and fleeing. Wish I had better advice…
Thanks for the comment John!
Wow! Names like Lycos, Excite, and WebCrawler… I haven’t actually heard those words for a long time. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. My, my how far the internet has come in only a few short years. I have only mainly focussed on on-page SEO so far. I can appreciate that I need to focus on off-page SEO as well. I haven’t started split testing my landing pages yet, but I am keen to look into this. Do you have a plug in that you use?
Ah yes, the good old days… I remember when you could submit your site to a dozen search engines and start getting traffic in a few days. No longer, search engines have become a pain in the a– to deal with!
There are a couple of plugins out there, Nelio AB Testing is one of them.
Thanks for the comment GBIG!
These are some really great tips.
I had no idea that the organization of the website went towards SEO too. This is something I need to think about. Does it mean that specialist niche websites will do well for SEO?
And is there a trick to make sure all your images are optimized? I’m not even sure how big my images are. How do I check?
As long as your site is well organized and easy to navigate you should do fine with SEO. Hopefully you are using a CMS like WordPress, that helps a lot as well.
Image optimization can be done automatically with a plugin like Smush, if you are using a CMS, there are others as well.
Thanks for the input SJ!
I remember those years where you could build links from poor sources through difference services. But these old backchat techniques failed to work after Google started to change its algorithms.
I’m surprise though, that some people are still trying those link building techniques today.
As on-page SEO technique we were worried about having the good keyword density which was ending as keyword stuffing.
Today, personally, I still do simple on-page SEO and some off-page too, but I worry also even more as writing stuff that visitors would like.
I don’t try to get back links the way I used.
SEO has certainly changed in recent years. I don’t worry at all about back links, just let them happen on their own. With decent quality content, they’ll happen.
Thanks for the comment Guy!
Hi Stvmnn; I have read through your well informed SEO post. I found it very interesting, If all of these vital instructions are followed; success must be the end result.
Reading the term SEO or even hearing it, causes one to fear, because of lack of understanding. Now that I have read your post. I know that these are things that I practice on my site.
I believe in the principles you laid out.
Are you saying that all marketers should first and four-most, learn the ins and outs of SEO?
People put way too much emphasis on SEO in general. There are best practices to follow but concentrating on this concept too much will hurt your writing quality.
Focus on producing quality, helpful content. Make your readers the focus. With quality content will come ranking and traffic.
Thanks for the input Dorcas!
Yeah, since SEO is changing basically every day, it’s best to keep going with white hat strategies, because you never know when you can get penalized for trying something fishy.
I always use a compressor to reduce the size of the images that I’m going to use. It doesn’t affect the quality that much, but it lowers the size greatly! I didn’t do this at first and my loading speed was really low, because the images were too big.
If you use a CMS it pays to find a good image optimizer, they are usually free and help quite a bit. Many also work in the background so you don’t even need to think about image optimization.
Thanks for the input Rich!
Understanding the importance of SEO and good content is critical. Rankings in Google,Yahoo and Bing are trigged from writing and publishing great content.
Length should be, at least, a 1000 words or longer. (If any one says you have ‘too much content’ should be blindfolded & ‘shot at sunrise’)
There’s never such a thing in regards to SEO, as having ‘too much content’. Choosing an interesting niche & having a great content is what it’s all about.
True, but… There is such a thing as an article that is so long and convoluted that no one will be able to get through it though. Anything between 1000 to about 2000 words usually works well.
Thanks for the comment RJ!
Thanks I am always looking for tips on how to write better content for SEO. My content marketing efforts always need a tweaking to get better and better. I understand that search Algorithms change over time and on-page and off-page SEO needs to change in order to still be relevant.
I liked your idea around a small prize for social engagement. I haven’t tried that yet. I think I should do it. Do ebooks still work for this sort of thing or do you think I need a physical product?
An ebook would be easier to deliver. It depends on your audience though, what do you think would generste the most interest?
Thanks for the comment GBIG!