Author | John Allen - Director, SEO, 8x8
Bio | John Allen is the Director of SEO for 8x8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. John is a marketing professional with over 14 years of experience in the field, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across inbound call centers SEM, SEO, and a myriad of services. This is his LinkedIn.
Affiliate marketing has increased dramatically in recent years, with searches for the term seeing a 223% increase between 2015 and 2021. Spending on affiliate marketing is also expected to reach USD8.2 billion by 2022.
Given this continued growth, it’s important to figure out exactly how to boost your organic traffic and get on board the affiliate marketing train. Having solid SEO strategies that you can apply as needed is a big part of the puzzle.
While not every strategy we list may be a perfect fit with your goals and objectives, one or more certainly will be. It is about looking at how you can fit these strategies into your current marketing model or adapting them to your precise needs.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a model where you advertise and promote another company’s products (or where you as a company have your products advertised). The people (or small companies) who publish the adverts or promotions are the affiliates, and they receive a commission fee for the service they offer.
In most cases, that commission is for actual sales, but may also be for clicks or impressions. These other types of commission may be paid where the click-through works as lead generation for the main business. No matter what type of affiliate marketing you undertake, consider one or more of the following strategies to help you scale your organic traffic.
8 Solid Affiliate Marketing SEO Strategies
Study your competitors
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but it’s not necessarily the best method for getting ahead. Rather than copying your competitors, you want to learn about what works for them - and what doesn’t.
Your first step is to make a list of maybe three or four of the main competitors in your sector. Once you have that list, use an online tool like Ahrefs and its Site Explorer. This lets you see what keywords a page ranks for, and the levels of organic traffic going to them.
Let’s say that one of their top-performing pages is something you had planned already. Don’t worry - that makes this an opportunity, rather than a threat. By seeing what SEO worked for them, you can adjust your content and keywords to outperform their page, thus overtaking them when it comes to ranking and getting higher levels of traffic from an organic search.
Better keyword research
It goes without saying that good research lies at the heart of creating high quality written content. And good keyword research is at the heart of good SEO content. You need to pick out the keywords that are most relevant for the products or brand you are marketing. There are numerous tools online that can help with research, and you can use what you’ve learned from your competitors too.
Undertaking research in advance is key, especially if you’re planning more than one piece of content. For instance, if you’re an affiliate and you’re working with a SaaS marketing brand, you might decide to create a series of posts on the topic “what is SaaS marketing”. By planning every post in this series in advance, you can make a list of keywords and phrases that will increase your visibility and see your rank higher in SERPs.
Links, links, and more links
When creating a new piece of content, you’ll want to include links to existing posts or media you’ve created. However, what about links to that new piece? By identifying existing content that relates to your new article, you can add links to your new piece so those older articles link directly to it. This can help increase how your authority on that subject is seen and can lead to better rankings.
Imagine you’ve published a new blog with the title “what is hosted voip”. You already have a number of blogs/articles discussing unified communications and other related topics, so editing them to include a link to your VoIP piece makes perfect sense. If you cover a range of topics on your site or blog, it makes good sense to keep a spreadsheet of different topics covered, as well as what you have written on them and when.
Focus on snippets
If your page has been indexed by Google and deemed relevant, they will feature a snippet from your page in search results. These featured snippets are brief excerpts from the page that contain a summary paragraph, list, table, or video.
Keep your summary paragraphs fairly short, maybe a maximum of around 50 words, and try and summarise what your page says in that paragraph. Alternatively, focus on creating an informative list or table, or an authoritative video. Seeing which ones work best in your field, or which keywords don’t have snippets yet, can help ensure your snippet is featured.
Optimize and boost your CTRs
You may find that although your page has a decent enough ranking, you are not seeing the expected increase in traffic to your page. If this is the case, it could mean that your meta descriptions and title tags need improving. When that happens, you want to optimize your page in order to boost your click-through rate.
This is where close monitoring of key metrics, in this case CTR, is crucial. If your CTR is lower than the average rates for your sector (despite a good ranking on SERPs) then some work is needed. Are the headings too vague? Or does a page ranking above you simply sound more enticing? Once you identify any pages that are not performing to your expectations, you can start to work out why. From there, you can adjust and change titles and metas until you see an increase in that page’s CTR.
Revise out of date content
Things can change quickly, and if you have a lot of content that is now outdated or has information that has been superseded, consider revising and updating them. This can be especially true with your more popular posts that have seen high visitor numbers and have a good CTR.
Let’s say you’ve got a few old posts talking about a call center for small business - trends, technology, or statistics. However, since you published it, some things have changed. New software has been released, or perhaps there are newer statistics. Whatever the reason, refreshing that content can boost your ratings and see an increase in organic traffic.
Quora is under-utilized by many businesses. In fact, the platform has more than 300 million monthly users and is used more than LinkedIn by many in higher income brackets. That means it has huge potential for affiliate marketers to increase both the visibility of your pages and the amount of traffic that is driven to them.
The easiest way to use Quora is to identify the best ranking keywords and searches on the site. Now all you need to do is find questions that are relevant to your field. Once found, you then write a long-form answer (with links) and sit back and watch traffic increase.
For example, let’s assume you have written a series of pieces on freelancing. Someone has asked a question on Quora that says: “How do you organize a project timeline?” You could then reply to the question with links back to any relevant pieces you have published. Just make sure to include enough information in the answer to sound interesting - otherwise people are unlikely to click through.
Increase your page speed
Many affiliate marketers focus on the content and forget to do a technical SEO audit. A key part of this is page speed. The slower your page is to load, the more likely a potential visitor will change their mind and bounce.
Ensuring your pages load quickly, and that they are optimized for mobile access, are major factors when it comes to attaining and maintaining high levels of traffic. This is not something you should check on a one-off basis but should regularly monitor. There are a number of ways you can optimize page loading speeds. These can include the following:
Ensure your host offers high speeds.
Compress larger images.
Reduce the number of HTTP requests.
Set up browser caching.
Clean up any media library (remove anything that is now redundant).
If using WordPress, consider plugins such as TinyPNG or WP Rocket.
Use a CDN (content delivery network).
If you make any significant changes, such as adding plugins, always test the functionality of your pages afterwards to ensure the page still works well. Some of these solutions may need IT expertise, but many can be done by anyone.
Affiliate marketing is a growing and lucrative market, for both affiliates and businesses. Whether aiming low or high, a solid SEO strategy is going to be one of the most crucial steps you will take to success.
Using just one of the strategies outlined above can lead to increased traffic. Using more than one, and finding the combination that best suits you, could see dramatic improvements in all aspects of your affiliate marketing, from traffic to conversions and, ultimately, your final revenue stream.
With affiliate marketing being a commission-based business model, those traffic and conversion rates are vital to your success. Jumping in the deep end without employing some of these strategies as flotation devices could mean that you sink quickly. Used properly and you could soon be swimming with the big fish!