How to Make Money Online with SEO-Driven Affiliate Marketing in 2021
As technology advances in the last two decades, the netizens' behavior towards the internet and websites is also changing dramatically. Nowadays, most people hardly use the internet for just knowledge and information.
Tech-savvy youngsters are gaining new grounds, especially in search of new ways to earn profits online. Affiliate marketing has a business model of choice to boost up income. Similarly, small businesses started to get in on the game and have been successfully using affiliate marketing to enhance business growth.
Affiliate marketing has had a few hiccups in the past and to some is synonymous with spam.
However, that isn't the case anymore as it has become one of the fastest-growing industries.
According to supermetrics.com site, 81% of global advertisers in the US alone have jumped on the affiliate marketing bandwagon. Also, 84% of publishers have become engaged in the industry as well. THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE!
The industry is vast. With the barrier of entry being significantly low, it has been attracting quite a rush of opportunists looking for ways of making money online. However, before you get started and begin reeling in the dough, you've got to get familiar with some basic concepts and terminology.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
- Affiliate marketing refers to the process of promoting products or services from third-party brands and earning a commission for every sale.
As affiliate marketers, you need to sign up for an affiliate program and get the affiliate links of products or services you want to market.
If people click and buy from your affiliate links, you get a portion of the sale for each item sold successfully. The commission rate depends on the terms the affiliate program has for its affiliates.
How to Make Money With SEO - Driven Affiliate Marketing?
Now that you know how affiliate marketing works, it’s time to learn how to get paid by affiliate networks via SEO.
The goal of SEO is to rank on top of Google search results for your target keyword. This allows more people to see your pages when they search on Google and click to view them.
By generating lots of organic traffic, you increase your chances of TURNING VISITORS INTO AFFILIATE SALES.
Sounds simple, right? It truly is as long as you read this post down and take note of these points:
- Find a product to promote
- Research keywords properly
- Research for the best keywords
- Give a right domain name
- Choose a proper web hosting
- Set up your site
- Optimize pages and posts
- Link Building for enhanced outreach
- Guest Posting
Let’s proceed with the first point, shall we?
Finding the right affiliate programs to join
To earn money, you need to join affiliate programs. However, we’re not just talking about ANY affiliate program out there. Ideally, it has to satisfy both factors:
- It carries products that people are interested in buying.
- It has a high commission rate.
Amazon had one of the most popular affiliate programs until it slashed its commission rates in 2020, much to the chagrin of people and their affiliate income.
Nonetheless, Amazon carries tons of products that people want to purchase. So despite the decrease in affiliate commissions, don’t expect Amazon’s affiliate program to fade away anytime soon.
So what’s my point?
You have to be aware of the pros and cons of the affiliate program you’re joining.
To resolve these issues, it’s best to try out and/or join multiple affiliate networks at once, which is EXACTLY successful affiliate marketers would do!
By casting your net wide, you can determine affiliate links of different products you want to share with your audience to your audience and make money even more.
Additional tip: Gather different affiliate products and services that you enjoy using because they’re much easier to recommend. Plus, your enthusiasm for them should trickle down to your audience once you’re ready to promote them.
Build a website
As mentioned, the goal of SEO is to appear on top of Google search results so more people can see and click on your page to maximize your conversion rate.
And the best way to do this is by setting up a site.
Mind you, there are different ways to promote your affiliate links and make a sale such as social media, email marketing, and others.
But since we’re focused on ranking on search engines, managing a site THAT’S YOURS is your best bet here.
“Cool! So I should just create a free WordPress.com account and set it up there, right?”
Sites, where you can create an account to build your site FOR FREE, is not ideal. The reason is that you are engaging in digital sharecropping.
You as a sharecropper DON’T HAVE FULL CONTROL over your site and its content because you are at the mercy of the landlord, i.e. Wordpress.com, Blogger.com, Weebly, etc. You could change rules or - worse - SHUT DOWN without warning.
That’s why you need to set up your site to avoid issues related to digital sharecropping.
To do this, you need to determine two things first:
Give a right domain name
You can’t build a website without getting a domain name. This is the name that people will type on their address bar if they want to go to your website.
Choosing the right domain name for your affiliate marketing site is vital for establishing an online presence.
With a website in tow, you’re not just an affiliate marketer, but a BRAND that people can visit for information about the product or service you’re promoting.
To get your branding right with your domain name, follow these simple tips:
- Don’t limit your domain name to the affiliate product or service you’re selling. For instance, if you’re promoting dog collars, don’t pick up a domain name like dogcollarsunited.com or something similar. Instead, think beyond dog collars like dogcareunlimited.com and the like. The reason is you may want to expand your affiliate links outside dog collars and venture into other related products. This way, you can still host them from within your affiliate marketing site.
- As much as possible, use .com as your domain extension - it’s easier to remember!
- Make it short, sweet, and easy to remember!
- If your ideal domain name is already taken, use domain name generators to brainstorm ideas.
If you’re ready to pick up a domain, choose from any of the trusted domain registrars to get you going.
Proper web hosting is a must
A web host is where you will install your site and save its files for public viewing.
Choosing the correct web host is CRUCIAL for a variety of reasons - all of which are related to SEO:
- The host determines how fast or slows your site loads.
- It must ensure that your site has high uptimes as must be AVAILABLE to visitors more often than not.
- It should have responsive customer support so you can get hosting issues resolved and not disrupt the user experience.
In terms of speed, Matthew Woodward ran tests on the “fastest”web hosting providers. This is a MUST-READ as he breaks down each provider into the different factors to help determine the winner.
And the best thing of all? The hosting provider that scored the well isn’t even that expensive compared to others!
Set "Nofollow" for the affiliate links
As an affiliate marketer, you need to think professionally when designing your website. Ensure all the links on the website remain in a 'Nofollow.' It is essential as none can follow your links without the charges. You can track the number of link followers on behalf of your client and get commissioned accordingly.
The 'Nofollow' campaign can help you to get genuine clients who can pay you well and help you sustain in the market. To change the affiliated links to 'Nofollow,' you need to access the Web Auditor on your website. It is generally present in the site audit option.
Research for the right keywords properly
Once you have set up your site, you need to research for keywords to optimize for your site.
This is the MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to rank on Google and get more people to see your site.
In fact, you won’t get your affiliate marketing off the ground without this!
“Okay, so how do I do that?”
I thought you’d never ask!
But first, you need to know the following factors we need to know before choosing which keywords to target for your site (most of which are available from KW research tools):
- Search volume - “How many people are searching for the keyword IN A MONTH?”
- Keyword difficulty - “How easy/difficult it is to rank for this keyword on Google SERPs?”
- Keyword intent - “WHY people are searching for this keyword?”
Ideally, you want to find keywords with HIGH search volume and LOW keyword difficulty. However, the chances of you finding these keywords are zero to none!
Therefore, if you’re just getting started with your affiliate marketing work, research for long-tail keywords first.
This type of keyword has LOW keyword difficulty and search volume. That means the keyword is searched less than 100 times on Google search.
But the good thing about long-tail keywords is their clear search intent. When people search for these terms, you already know what people want to see from Google.
Using the example above, when searching for “best running shoes for kids,” all you need to do is make a blog post that lists down the running shoes perfect for kids.
Additional tip: Follow the SEO Avalanche Theory when building your site. In a nutshell, the theory proposes that you target keywords that are within your traffic tier. So if you’re site is brand new, target keywords with 0-10 monthly searches. Once you’ve grown your site to 50-100 daily traffic, optimize for keywords with 50-100 monthly searches.
Create optimized blog posts
After researching keywords related to the products in your affiliate network, it’s time to make content for each.
Content serves as the backbone of any successful affiliate marketing strategy. Well-written blog posts rank high on Google and cause people to link to your affiliate link.
Following the SEO Avalanche Theory, you need to approach content creation with a purpose. You can’t just write posts for keywords just because they have low competition and easy to rank for.
You have to organize the list of keywords you’ve researched into these three categories:
- Top of funnel - Keywords with INFORMATIONAL intent, i.e. question keywords. Their goal is to increase visibility and establish authority.
- Middle of funnel - Keywords with INFORMATIONAL intent. But this time, use content upgrades (ex. templates, e-books, checklists, cheat sheets) to capture their email address and build your email list. The goal is to qualify your target audience from your traffic and market to them differently.
- Bottom of the funnel - Keywords with COMMERCIAL intent, i.e. queries containing words like “best,” “top,” “vs,” and others. The goal is to create posts where you can place your affiliate link and make affiliate income from each.
I know what you’re thinking:
YES, this is similar to a sales funnel!
YES, you need to treat your affiliate site as a business using this approach to content strategy!
YES, this is the MOST EFFECTIVE way to rank on Google and make money with affiliate marketing!
Additional tip: To help them rank on Google, interlink related pages with each other. Doing so allows you to create a content silo that would help the search engine understand your site’s structure and crawl/index them much faster.
Acquire backlinks organically
Building links is a great way to help increase your site’s authority in the eyes of Google.
The more links from AUTHORITATIVE sites you have, the higher you’ll likely rank on Google SERPs and raise your affiliate marketing game.
“Cool! So I can buy backlinks from Fiverr and I’m good, correct?”
Google has been good in spotting sites that gamify rankings by getting links from the WRONG people and sites.
Therefore, it’s best to proceed with acquiring links in THE RIGHT WAY. Below are two ways you can do this:
Ever heard of the saying, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?”
Guest posting is just like that.
You scratch their back by offering great content that will be published on their site FOR FREE...
...and they’ll scratch your back by not only publishing your post but also allowing you to LINK BACK TO YOUR SITE!
However, acquiring a backlink should be the least of your worries. Your goal is to create content that captivates the audience of the site you’re writing for. From here, everything else will follow.
Another way to get links is to reach out to site owners using your best affiliate content piece as a lead-off point. From here, ask them to place a backlink to the post from their site ASSUMING that it’s relevant and useful to their audience.
Now, I’ll have to be honest with this method:
Not because it doesn’t work, but more about how people do it.
Let’s turn the tables, shall we?
If somebody approached you place a backlink to a great post they wrote on your site, would you?
Unless YOU’RE GETTING SOMETHING IN RETURN, I won’t be surprised if you don’t!
The I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine principle applies to this one as well.
Below are INCENTIVES you may want to offer in return if they decide to link to your content:
- Also, link back to one of their pages on your site
- Share their best blog posts on social media
- Offer discount and/or coupon codes
- Buy them a house and lot (but only if you can afford it, of course!)
The point being, you need to give them something they want to mobilize them into giving you a link.
Building links based on relationships
On having a website for affiliate marketing, you can consider requesting the companies you have worked with to share some of their links to your website. This can dramatically improve the credibility of your website, and you can get more site traffic.
Affiliate marketing is ideal if you want to make passive income. However, before even thinking of earning money while you sleep, you need to make sure to run through the steps above with a fine-toothed comb.
Mind you, they won’t be easy and might take you months or years before you finally see results from your SEO efforts. But these should help you get started on the right foot, which is the most important thing of all.
The amount of traffic you’ll be receiving also opens the floodgates to other things you can do for your site such as:
- Build an email list to directly promote your affiliate products and hike up your conversion rates.
- Increase conversion rates on your commercial posts by running A/B testing to determine how to get more clicks on your links.
This goes to show that SEO is just part of the affiliate marketing picture. At the same time, it’s a MASSIVE part of your strategy as an affiliate marketer if you want to increase your visibility and start making affiliate sales!