In order to create a successful affiliate marketing site that generates decent revenue, you need two things, above all: Traffic and a good conversion rate.
Now, there are numerous ways to go about it, but one of the cheapest ones – and the first you should have on your menu is SEO. After all, there is no point in paying for ads and affiliate programs if your site, well, plainly sucks.
The math here is simple: If you have more people coming to the site, there are more potential people that can click on your referral links. If your site is pretty convincing, a larger percentage of these visitors will click on the links (this is what conversion rate is, essentially), and potentially come back again to your site.
Prepare for the long haul, if you want to be successful
One of the biggest downsides with SEO is that often you don’t see an immediate result. In my opinion, this only emphasizes the need for careful planning and a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
If you focus on quality and user experience, it is certain that you would gain (and retain) more visitors, and your audience will grow over time. How quickly this happens and to what amount depends largely on you, and the effort you put in.
Search engine optimization has evolved over the years, and it is ever-so-slowly shifting from the pure technical skill to a hybrid approach where the user experience and satisfaction are even more important than the proper site structure.
This is bad news for any get rich quick schemes, but on the other hand, it makes the whole thing a lot easier. Instead of keyword stuffing and trying to “hack” google SERP (search engine result pages), you have the best chance of success if you focus on providing the most informative, natural, and engaging content possible.
So, how can we put all these changes in SEO philosophy to good use?
Proper keywords usage can greatly increase organic traffic
Google is nowadays using stuff like latent semantic indexing, which means that they are not looking at keywords in the same manner they used to. A search engine can now understand synonyms and similar terms, which again means that you can write naturally, and google will pick up on keywords based on the context.
This also means that using long tail keywords is easier and much more effective. Long tail keywords could be the game changer to your ranking. Instead of competing for broad terms where there are thousands or millions of sites that are targeting the simple keyword, you can focus on a more specific, long-tail keyword. For example, instead of targeting “Blue Jacket”, you can go with “Men’s blue ski jacket”.
The first step is doing preliminary keyword research. You can use SEMrush to see what keywords get a lot of shares and linkbacks. Likewise, you can simply check it in the google keyword planner, or just do a search yourself and check the top blog posts.
All these will give you an idea what the most popular content is, and then you can see what you can bring to the table and how you can make it better.
On-page SEO can drive your engagement up
The on-page SEO, in essence, covers both the content and technical side of your pages, while off-page SEO is mostly tied to link-building, one way or another.
So, what’s up with the On-Page SEO?
New search engine algorithms allow a more contextual approach to ranking factors – Google looks at how long people stay on your pages, do they come back, and monitor user experience in general.
Now, all this doesn’t mean that ordinary old-school content farms with short content are not working anymore, but their days are numbered. It is better to work with the future in mind, especially because it can take a long time (6 months to a year) for a successful SEO strategy to truly bear fruit.
Your title, URL and metatag
These are the first things that any potential visitor sees. This is where both SEO and a bit of psychology come into play:
Try to have your key phrase as close to the beginning of your title, as search engines tend to give more weight to the first 3-4 words. Titles should ideally be up to 60 characters long (any longer than that, and google will cut it). Same goes for your URL, try to make it as short as possible, and having your keyword in there is a must.
Now, titles and metatags can also be used to improve your clickthrough rates. Using power words and phrases like quick, easy, useful, actionable, guide, how-to can greatly improve your CTR. Of course, you really can’t use a lot of it in your title, and that’s where your metatag shines.
Try to have a short, and engaging description that would give an idea what your article is about and why it’s useful.
Readability and length
The internet has turned as all into a civilization of text-skimmers, essentially. There is no use fighting this, and you want to make your readers job as easy as possible. This means that you should use short paragraphs, lots of whitespaces (unlike in print, you’re not paying per inch here), and have your content split into sections with subheadings.
These subheadings should be clear and easy to understand, and ideally, they would be benefit-oriented (you would explain how that section is useful to the reader). While length should depend on the type of content you have, it should be over 1000 words - Google really likes these long-form articles.
A picture says a thousand words. Gifs and videos even more.Multimedia is definitely one of your biggest friends when it comes to audience engagement. Maps, infographics, quizzes, podcasts, you name it, it can all be used in thousands of ways, so get to it!
It might be extra work, but the cool thing is that you can reuse content - a video can become an article or an infographic, so you get a ton more content with the same amount of research. In addition, your audience can be split into several subgroups, each with their own preferences. Some people like to listen to audiobooks while commuting, others like to read e-books on their kindles and nooks, others simply prefer video over text.
Knowing what your audience wants and leveraging that can move your site from a basement dweller to the top of SERPs.
This user experience is key in having a better clickthrough rate when we talk about your affiliate links. If people trust your site, they will be more inclined to trust your offers and reviews and click on them. In addition, creating an awesome site that your audience really likes creates promoters out of them – you get shares for free!
Outreach is the key to a successful high-traffic site
In order to create a killer site with tons of traffic, no matter the niche or purpose, you have to bite down hard and do some legwork. Creating awesome content is only a small portion of the digital marketing game. In fact, your work only begins with the publishing of your (awesome) content.
You need to promote the hell out of it. Social networks are your biggest friend here. A Hubspot study showed that social media generates comparatively more leads than other methods and that these leads have a higher lead-to-close ratio.
Be sure to have an active presence on as many social networks as possible, and get creative with it. Besides Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and various forums can be used to your advantage.
Don’t forget that YouTube is a separate search engine, so you can technically rank for same keywords twice if you’re smart about it.
The whole outreach is far from an exact science, and almost every expert has their own opinion on it.
Another huge resource is an email list that you are highly encouraged to build. This is the most personal approach, and the chances of people linking to a link in your email are far greater than in any other method.
Of course, it does require additional work and incentive for people to actually leave their information. Traditionally, you do this by creating landing pages where you offer some free/extra stuff in exchange for information. The more valuable the stuff you offer, the more information you can ask for.
In addition, guest posting on high-authority sites can increase your visibility, authority, and potentially bring in future linkbacks. Other side of this important coin is blogger outreach which could be the key tactic to get our blog from the ground. Find influential bloggers in your particular niche, contact them directly and try to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
These are some of the basic SEO concepts in a nutshell. There are faster ways, but there are certainly no cheaper ways to improve your online visibility. Of course, no one says that you can’t use both paid and organic traffic – in fact, it should be encouraged! Paid advertisement should not be ignored in favor of SEO, nor vice-versa.