SEO for Affiliate Marketing (Ultimate Guide)

SEO for Affiliate Marketing (Ultimate Guide)

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This article has been contributed by Diana Ford.

SEO for affiliate marketing is not just important, it’s essential. And it’s not just doing SEO more often – there are certain SEO activities that will specifically benefit affiliate marketers.

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Affiliate marketing is exploding as a source of passive income for website owners. According to Statista, the US affiliate marketing market will reach $8.2 billion by 2022.

Something else that website owners often focus on, and for good cause, is SEO. Chances are that as a site owner, you dedicate a fair amount of time to optimizing your site to rank as high as possible in search engine results. And if you don’t, you wish you did.

So what happens if we combine both of these strategies? I’ll tell you – your increased traffic will earn you more revenue than ever before.

But how do you do SEO specifically for affiliate marketing? Let’s take a look at this article.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way for businesses to promote their brand via a network of affiliates – for example, website owners with sites related to their brand’s niche.

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In simple terms, the strategy looks like this: affiliates promote a product or service of a specific brand and send their readers to the brand’s website using a unique referral link. The link is often placed in a blog post or similar piece of content.

If the specified actions – see below – are taken via this link, the affiliate receives payments from the brand.

How Do Affiliate Marketers Make Money?

There are several payment models for affiliates:

  1. CPS – cost per sale. The affiliate receives payment only when their referral user makes the purchase.
  2. CPL – cost per lead (signing up, downloading a guide, sending a request, etc.).
  3. CPC – cost per click. In this case, the affiliate is paid for each click on the link posted on their website.

In fact, affiliates can post links anywhere – on social networks, in their YouTube videos, or on their websites. The latter option is considered the most effective.

Typically, professional affiliates who really make good money run websites with genuinely useful information for users.

How Can SEO Help Affiliates Earn More?

As a general rule, affiliates run blogs on one specific topic and include links in their articles to the products or services of their partners.

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However, in order for affiliate sites to generate revenue, they must have a high volume of traffic. This is where SEO for affiliate marketing comes in!

SEO is a relatively free way to get more traffic (compared to Google Ads), more interested visitors, and, accordingly, more clicks on affiliate links.

With that in mind, let’s look at our top SEO tips for affiliate marketers.


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SEO for Affiliate Marketing: 9 Top Tips

1. Evaluate Niche Potential

Before launching a website on a topic that you happen to be interested in, you need to choose a niche carefully.

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Remember that both affiliate marketing and SEO are long-term strategies. Everything you do will take at least a few months to have an effect. Therefore, it is important to choose a promising niche that will not collapse in a few months.

Here’s how to evaluate niche potential:

a. Analyze Keywords and Traffic

When you think of a specific niche for your affiliate marketing activities, pick a couple of related keywords and analyze them with the help of special services, like Google Keyword Planner.

Your goal is to find a topic with high traffic but low competition.

b. Explore SEO Potential

Some niches are just starting to gain traction, while others are already outlived. Explore SEO potential with a dedicated module like SE Ranking.

Thanks to SEO software, you can forecast traffic and analyze niche potential. The systems automatically calculate the traffic forecast based on keyword search volume, historical data, current website rankings, and special Google indexes.

SEO for affiliate marketing niche exploration tool

You can do this with Google Trends. This service will help you understand whether the demand for certain goods or services is growing or falling.

Keep in mind that there is seasonality in many niches – Google Trends will help you identify this nuance.

SEO for affiliate marketing trends

There are several niches that experts do not recommend choosing for a professional affiliate platform since such sites are very difficult to promote in search results, or are better left for non-commercial activities.

Google has E-A-T and YMYL algorithms that demote sites with misleading, unverified, or unreliable content, especially in the following niches:

  • health;
  • nutrition;
  • medicine

If you are a professional doctor or are ready to cite medical sources, you can maintain an affiliate site in these niches. In other cases, it is better to stay away from them – even with the best SEO for affiliate marketing that money can buy. You will not get to the top of the results for highly competitive keywords.

2. Rank Higher with Long-Tail Keywords

This is a key part of successful SEO for affiliate marketing.

Long-tail keywords are often chosen by affiliates working in hot niches with powerful competitors. If your competitors have been doing SEO for a long time, have large budgets, and rank high for high-frequency queries, and you are just launching your site, you will not be able to beat them.

However, you can hit the SERP relatively easily thanks to long-tail keywords. Here’s what characterizes them:

  • Long – long-tail queries consists of 3-5+ words;
  • Low search volume – such keywords are not very popular as they are very specific;
  • Low competition – big players don’t use these keywords; they focus on high-frequency queries;
  • High conversion rate – people who type long-tail queries are clearly looking for something specific and are ready to buy or order it.

SEO for affiliate marketing long-tail keyword distribution

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Long-tail keywords can be roughly divided into two groups.

  • Supporting long-tail keywords do not refer to a specific topic but support some broader query. For example, a query like “how to make cheeseburgers with homemade buns.” It’s not about a specific topic and falls under the greater topic of “how to make cheeseburgers.” Because of that, for such a long-tail query, Google may include less specific answers in the search results. That is, supporting long-tail keywords has greater competition.
  • Topical long-tail keywords match a specific, individual topic. A good example of them is “affiliate marketing ideas.” It has a monthly search volume of 90 in the United States, and there are no more specific search queries with considerable search volume on this topic.

Once you’ve collected the long-tail keywords, you can use them in your blog articles and FAQ section.

There is no wrong way for using them. Just remember these two rules:

  1. Don’t mix keywords related to different topics in one piece of copy;
  2. Think about user intent behind each keyword (what users really want to find).

3. Learn from Your Competitors

It’s always worth looking at competitors in your niche. This will give you an idea of what content works best, which topics should be covered first, how long an article should be to get more shares, and so on.

Many successful marketers rely on the case studies of their competitors, so there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Here are some tools to help you analyze your competitors’ content:

  • Sprout Social is all about your competitors’ performance on social media, measured and analyzed from different angles;
  • Buzzsumo shows you the best-performing content for a specific topic
  • Feedly helps you keep track of new articles published on your competitor’s blog without visiting it.

SEO tools for affiliate marketing

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When getting information about the content your competitor posts, pay attention to the number of shares, likes, and comments, as well as the number of mentions and links. This way, you can understand what content your audience likes and build your own strategy.

Another approach is to look at your competitor’s low-quality articles that don’t rank high and have few comments. Think about what is wrong with these articles and how you would rewrite and improve them.

Internal links refer from one page within your domain to another page located on the same domain. Such links are usually used in the following cases:

  • They help users navigate the site.
  • They allow you to create a hierarchy – and that’s good both for users and search engines.
  • They help spread the link mass across the site.

Search engines crawl your sitemap and get a list of all the pages of your site they should index. Then they go to each page and assess the content on them. If you have links on these pages, search engine crawlers follow them.

But many sites have a critical error when the links are distributed across the site in the wrong way. Some pages have too many internal links pointing to them, and some have too few. This causes problems with internal link weight, causing some pages not to rank high in search results. To ensure that you don’t have such a problem, make sure you optimize your site structure and links.

The optimal site structure is siloed. Your final structure should look like a pyramid, with the main page at the top. The diagram below has 3 main topic silos. In addition to the links shown, there should also be links between relevant pages within each silo, communicating the depth and concentration of information about the silo topic.

SEO topic silos for affiliate marketing

This structure contains the minimum number of transitions from the main page to any of the internal pages. It is handy, as it creates a link mass distributed across all pages of the site. Most powerful sites use this structure.

Here are some linking tips for reducing bounce rates and keeping your visitors on your affiliate site longer:

  • Use anchor text. Anchor text is a link text that is used to go to another page of your site. The text must be relevant, and you can use the appropriate keywords for this.
  • Distant links. Make sure you have links to the most distant pages on your site. It makes no sense to link to the main page constantly, it is better to transfer the weight to pages that are not mentioned in the menu and on the main page.
  • Links should be helpful. Internal links are guided by the principle of caring for your site visitors – the link should be of some benefit to them. When a reader sees a useful link that leads to relevant content, they will likely click on it and spend some additional time on your site. Thus, internal links help site owners to improve behavioral factors.
  • Links must be relevant. This means that they should be close in content to the page on which they are posted. For example, if you talk about car rental services in an article, then it is not recommended to refer to an irrelevant article about something like useful dietary supplements.
  • Use the correct number of internal links. There is no exact figure here. For a small article, 2-3 links are enough. For a long read, 7-8 links can be used. It is important not to spam the page with them. Otherwise, it will increase the bounce rate and reduce the average session time.

5. Mobile is Your #1 Priority

Sites with a mobile version rank higher than sites without one. Google introduced mobile-first indexing back in 2016 in response to a growing proportion of those who view the web from mobile devices. Right now, more than 50% of users browse websites from their smartphones.

Therefore, if you want to rank high, have a low bounce rate, and get more traffic, develop a mobile version of your affiliate site:

  1. Optimize all the pages on your site to be displayed properly on all mobile devices and all screens.
  2. Make sure the mobile version has the same content as the desktop one.
  3. Place a call to action (for example, a button with your affiliate link) in the foreground and center of the page to make it visible.
  4. Simplify site navigation by using your logo as a link to your home page, including a sitemap, avoiding cluttered menus, making the search bar on your site clearly visible on all pages.
  5. Pop-ups should not overlap content on the home page or interfere with navigation.
  6. Give your visitors the ability to do everything in one window without opening new tabs.
  7. Always consider how thing will look and function on mobile before thinking about desktop.

To check if Google considers your site mobile-friendly, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Also, it’s better to test the mobile page loading speed on different devices. You can use the Chrome developer console for that.

6. Boost Website Loading Speed

In 2021, sites should load lightning fast so as not to lose visitors. Every second of delay increases the bounce rate and decreases conversions dramatically.

Website speed user statistics

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Additionally, Google has rolled out a new algorithm called Page Experience. It consists of a set of Core Web Vitals ranking factors.

One of them is the speed of loading the largest contentful paint, so now it’s more crucial than ever to ensure your site loads really fast.

Website speeds - good versus bad

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To check your site’s loading speed, use Google PageSpeed Insights. Here are some basic tips to help you speed up your website load time:

  • compress images;
  • delete custom fonts you don’t use;
  • minimize the number of scripts you use;
  • implement lazy load.

7. Optimize Search Visibility

In addition to regular search results, Google has various features to display the most accurate and extensive information for the user request. These “blocks” grab the attention of users and get higher CTRs.

Google’s featured snippets at the top of the page have 2 times higher CTR than the rest of the search results.

Google featured snippet example

Google displays concise, structured information in this block that most closely matches the user’s request. As a rule, the featured snippet contains extracts from informational and how-to articles, all types of guides, etc.

There’s no universal recipe to get to the featured snippet, but as part of your SEO for affiliate marketing efforts, you should always try. Here are some tips:

  • The featured snippet is about 40-50 words long, so try to write in short paragraphs with relevant subheadings.
  • Make articles structured: use subheadings, lists, and different types of formatting.
  • Create content in the form of guides, step-by-step instructions, and so on.
  • Use words like definition, vs, how to, what is, etc.

The display of information from your article in different sections of Google Search depends on the user intents behind the search query. So, when collecting and clustering keywords for your articles, think of what users actually want to learn or find when typing such a query.

User intent on SERP

8. Manage Off-Page Performance

Keywords, articles, and technical SEO aren’t enough to succeed and get more sales via your affiliate site. Social signals also are significant for improving a site’s ranking.

Mentions and links to your site make it more reliable in Google’s eyes. If many sites link to you, users comment on your articles, post them on their social networks, send them to friends, and go to them from social networks, then your site is deemed trustworthy and gets a higher position in search results.

Here are some tips to improve off-page performance:

  • Build external links consistently. Negotiate link placement on reputable sites. Buying links from untrustworthy platforms will not work for you. For beginner sites, it’s best to get 10-30 backlinks per month.
  • Post links to your articles on social networks (on your page and in thematic groups) and on forums where it is relevant.
  • Enable the ability to leave comments directly on the site.
  • Encourage your audience to share your articles on social media, do reviews, and so on (with a free guide, discount, fan badge, and so on).

9. Focus on CTR Optimization

To sell more as an affiliate, you need to get more visitors interested in the services or products you promote. A key part of SEO for affiliate marketing is focussing on CTR – that is, on the rate at which people click on your site from search results.

What do users see when they search information? They see a list of pages with links, titles, and short descriptions of each page’s content. The title and description is what searchers use to decide whether to click on your page or not. Therefore, the main task for increasing CTR is to come up with useful titles and meta descriptions.

Here are some vital stats you should know to improve your CTR:

  1. The #1 result in the SERP gets an average CTR of 31.7%.
  2. CTR for pages in the 7-10th positions are almost the same, so getting a bit higher in the lower results doesn’t always mean getting more clicks.
  3. However, moving one spot higher in the upper search results brings 30% more CTR on average.
  4. Titles ending with questions have a 14.1% higher CTR.
  5. URLs with target keywords get 45% higher CTR.

Website clicks per SERP position

So, here are some tips to improve your CTR:

  • Use relevant keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions;
  • Use numbers in your title – for example, 5 Products That Will Improve Your Productivity Right Now;
  • Write in simple language;
  • Try to make your description engaging;
  • Test different variants and measure how the CTR changes (you can see it in Google Analytics). Sometimes it is enough to replace one word in the title to get an increase and a powerful influx of visitors.

You can also use various services to generate engaging headlines, for example, Hubspot’s blog topic generator.


So that’s it – how to do SEO for affiliate marketing. Once you’ve chosen a promising niche with low competition, create your website. Take into account all the latest algorithms and Google updates (mobile-first indexing, page loading speed, visual stability, etc.). Work to create quality and engaging content that meets user intents and brings the target audience to you.

Earn the trust of users, talk about partner products or services sincerely, and you will succeed!


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Their SEO Toolkit is what we recommend as it helps you grow organic traffic. You can uncover keywords, analyze backlinks, run SEO audits and track your search positions daily.

We encourage you to trial it out so you can grow your audience faster!


About the author: Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with 10+ years of experience. Diana loves blogging and gladly shares her expert opinion on digital trends, marketing tactics, best SEO tools to use, and search optimization business tips.

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