How to Drive Organic Search Traffic to an Affiliate Site in No Time [Case Study]

By Jason Acidre
How to Drive Organic Search Traffic to an Affiliate Site in No Time [Case Study]


Despite the negative impact of Google's algorithm updates to many affiliate sites these past 3 years, many experts still believe that affiliate marketing will still be a very profitable online business model (well, I also do).

The truth is, most affiliate sites are hit by updates such as Panda and Penguin, not because of their site’s build/form/architecture or because they are just 3rd party sites. I believe that it’s mostly caused by the tactics many have used in the past that they have thought will be forever effective.

But if you're offering real value and great experiences to your visitors, I'm certain that it would be a different story. That's what both Google and users are after anyway. It's best to keep this principle in mind.

Anyway, I've been testing a lot of things these past few months, particularly in proving that building a steady growth in search traffic to an affiliate site is still very possible. 

I have this basic formula when it comes to search engine optimization, which I also believe will work efficiently on any type of website – and yes, even on affiliate sites.

The core concept of this formula is based around 2 basic SEO principles:

  • Optimize the site for both users and search engines (basically means making it easier for users and search engines to access the site).
  • Create signals to build trust, authority and more traffic/usage data.

So in this post, I’ll be using two affiliate sites as samples (a relationship advice blog and a gaming guide site). These sites are owned by friends that I’ve been helping out for several weeks now, and I’m really grateful that they allowed me to use their data for this study.

Both sites have shown tremendous improvements in terms of its organic search traffic since I started working on them:

Relationship advice blog (which had 765% increase in search traffic since I started working on it on the first week of January 2013)

Gaming guide site (which was only launched last March 4, 2013, is continuously getting solid search traffic since we’ve started – and now reaching almost 500 search visitors a day). 

Now let’s get to the part where I share the very replicable process we have come up that can easily generate search traffic to an affiliate website.

Step 1 - Build a Site First

You’ll definitely need to put up a site first. Both of the sites I’ve shared as examples above are built using the AffiloTheme and were also based on AffiloJetpack’s model.

Along with the process of building your affiliate site, make sure that you’ve also done keyword research, as it’s very important in building your site’s content strategy and site architecture.

Also, the great thing about using AffiloTheme for your affiliate sites is that it can easily help your sites become more search-friendly.

Another thing that you might want to consider is hiring a good copywriter who can continuously build content for your site. You can usually hire a freelance writer for $5 - $20 per article (depends on the length and depth of the content you need). 

Step 2 - Optimize Your Site & Its Key Pages

Once your site is up and running, it’s important to optimize it for both users and search engines. I have covered a few things that you can optimize on your site on my last post here on Affilorama.

Publish new content on a regular basis

Focus your content strategy on the keywords that your site will be targeting (based from your keyword research). Having new content on the site on a regular basis is a good signal that search engines can use to recrawl, index and re-rank your site’s inner pages.

Implement Authorship Markup

Authorship markup is a great trust indicator for both searchers and search crawlers. It will also prepare your site for the future, once Google start using AuthorRank as a ranking factor.

Another advantage of having authorship markup is that it increases your site’s search listing click-through rate. 

For more tips on this, you can check out AJ Kohn’s step-by-step guide on how to implement authorship markups

Basic and Advanced SEO for your affiliate site

There are ton of things that you can do to make it easier for search engines to access and understand your site’s pages. For basic on-site optimization techniques you can check out Affilorama’s free SEO lessons.

And you can also check out my extensive guide on advanced SEO tactics once you’re through with the basic optimizations. 

Step 3 - Build Strong & Appropriate Signals

Building signals – the right ones – is the other vital part of getting steady flow of search-driven traffic. There are so many types of signals that you can create for your site to be found by search engines and users. They could come in the form of links, brand mentions and/or social shares.

In this part, I have a few rules or set of metrics that we strictly follow. Since the main point of building signals is to build trust, to pass authority and to ensure that search engines will regularly see the constant changes happening on the site.

The main metrics we use to identify sites where we want to get signals from are:

  • Have high domain authority (DA).
  • High-traffic sites (which can be measured through Alexa Rank, Compete or SEMRush traffic price).
  • Topical relevance of the site that we’ll be acquiring links from.

Signal building, in my opinion, is quite different with the link building that most of us have been accustomed to.

Because in building strong signals, you don’t need hundreds of unique root domains or sites linking back to yours. In this marketing practice, you’ll only need a few (like 3 – 5 strong domains or high traffic publications in your niche/industry) where you can continuously build signals from – that can send strong signals to search engines, and also send back qualified referred traffic to your site.

Finding high quality sites to build signals from

There are plenty of ways to find sites where you can get high quality links and signals from. Start with Google Search (you can also try this link prospecting method in making the process faster).

On our experiment, we’ve focused on finding high-traffic and high-DA publications that accept regular contributors. We chose 5 high quality sites where we can contribute content regularly to (so that we can build strong signals through them whenever we do changes/improvements on the site).

Basically, the main objective of getting signals from high-quality sites is to make certain that search engines will recrawl and recalculate the site’s overall search rankings every time we add new content or reoptimize some of its already existing pages (which I’ll be discussing next). 

Step 4 - Study Analytics Search Traffic Data & Optimize For Effective Long-Tails

For a new site, if you’ve followed everything mentioned above, then you’ll probably have a few useful data that you can extract from your Google Analytic’s search traffic data on your first 2 weeks.

Download the list of keywords sending traffic to your site from Google Analytics (in CSV format). Identify the keywords (especially the long-tail keywords) that have high-engagement rates. You can easily determine these keywords by looking closely on these 2 metrics:

  • Average Visit Duration
  • % New Visits

Segment and make a list of the keywords that have good engagement rates (have high time on page and have high percentage of new visitors).

Reoptimize the pages where these effective long-tail keywords are sending qualified and targeted traffic to. Here are the areas of the page(s) that you can optimize them for or areas where you can include your newly found long-tail keywords:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Internal links

The purpose of doing this kind of optimization is to achieve better search rankings for the search terms that are already sending your site good traffic (which can easily convert).

For more tips on using this method, you can read my comprehensive guide on increasing your search traffic using Google Analytics and basic on-site reoptimization.

Step 5 - Scale The Process

We’re continuously growing the search traffic of the 2 affiliate sites I’ve cited by simply being consistent in implementing Step 2 to Step 4.

  • We’re constantly adding more new content on the site (on a weekly basis), so that we can target more keywords that will send traffic and potential leads to the site.
  • The more we grow the number of inner pages on the site, the more we can get keyword data from their Analytics. This translates to more opportunities (effective long-tails) that we can uncover and target, by continuously reoptimizing the site.
  • We are continuously building signals to the site as we grow its pages and along the reoptimization processes we implement. This allows search engines to see the continual changes happening on the sites, and thus impact the sites’ ranking ability.   

The entire process is not tedious and it’s so easy-to-replicate. We’ve even proven this to work in less than a month (and not just once).

If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.   

Alex 11 years ago
Hey Acidre,

Been reading a lot of your stuff lately as it actually ties in with what you talk about here - building a social outreach strategy that can be used across a number of sites (affiliate ones included)
I was hit rather hard by the panda and penguin because as you hypothesized - I was using cheap and nasty methods to build backlinks.
Now it is definitely more about building relationships as apposed to links because it is these relationships that will drive natural link diversity to your content.
Of course that being said it is now more important than ever to produce really really good content! I like to think of it is every post being a resource, because ironically if you can show that your articles are not self serving at all, then they will end up serving yourself more than anything :)

I am starting to see some success with some of my afffiliate and CPA based sites but as you said (much better than I) it is through quality content and engagement with those who would be interested in this content that is bringing the success.
Venchito Tampon 11 years ago
Hello Jason,

I've been following your blog and Affilorama since the first month of 2013. I really learn a lot from case studies and how to guides.

It is true that content marketing is writing for both search users and search engines. Nothing more,nothing less.

Thanks for sharing this post! :)
TJM Philpott 11 years ago

This was a heck of a lot more like a course you just offered here rather than a post ... thanks!

Some of those things I've done but it looks like I still got some work ahead on seo!

Great share

Much appreciation,
Marie Robinson 11 years ago
Hi Jason,

I echo TJ's previous comment! You packed this article with an amazing amount of information. I've bought info products that did not tell me half of what you did here.

The only thing I have yet to master is ranking for good keywords in my niche since the ones I get in Google Analytics are mostly "not set", and the few others are nothing I would really want to rank for.

Derek 11 years ago
Hi Mark,

Would you be willing to share what social widget you are using to invite people to share this article on other websites? "Enjoy this post? Share it on your website"
Emmanuel Lao 11 years ago
Organic search traffic is very important for affiliate marketing. It's helpful for get more sell.
Jon 11 years ago
Awesome post!!

So much information...My take away is to set up authorship and see how that helps my sites

Jonathan Walton 11 years ago
Great Post Jason

Really need to try authorship on my sites :)
Matt Greener 11 years ago
Hi Jason,

Authorship can be done much easier now, I created a quick 3 step guide:

Your plan is good stuff and very simple, all people have to do is implement!
Russell Oakley 11 years ago
HAVE FAITH. I have faith that Google is working around the clock to make the web target the perfect customers. Of course I still use keywords and max the SEO but at the end of the day I believe that true content that is useful and unique will win out not only in money but in satisfaction. How do you make you site unique? After all there are millions of people doing the same thing. Spinning articles etc. I don't have all the answers but I believe that the one thing in this world that is totally unique is you. So you put yourself into the site, nobody else can do that. Making the site perfect for SEO may be fun for some but how is that possible without taking away your soul that keeps your site unique. What do I know?
Alvin Patrick 11 years ago
Great post JASON, Having an experience in it, I must say it's really strategic and lots of pre-planning is required to make it possible practically.
Patrik Lommers 11 years ago
Thanks Jason for sharing this post.
I was looking for some effective strategies which would get me targeted traffic to my website which is also related to link building services. Thanks for sharing this useful information. I will definitely apply this for my website.
Juliana Anne Rajam 11 years ago
Thanks Jason for sharing such valuable info with us.
Michael leng 11 years ago
Can you tell me more about css code "No follow" for using to avoid affiliate blogs indexing by SE?

iLead Digital 11 years ago
Thank you Jason it is really helpful to understand optimizing the website more. I will try these instructions for our mobile comparison website developed and designed by iLead Digital. Thank you again.
Spook SEO 10 years ago
Hi Jason Acidre ! Your mentioned tips and tricks are great for better optimizing the website for search engines but also for users. After the hummingbird update it has become necessary for every SEO to focus upon quality content , author rank, building quality relationships with quality back links and these methods will attract organic traffic towards a website.
rana mudy 10 years ago
Wonderful topic for affiliating marketing person, as i am CPA lead expert,your long article is very very useful for me and my landing pages.
Henal Shah 7 years ago
This is good information for newcomers like me. Thank you!!
Renee 6 years ago
I'm so new to this whole thing. I appreciate the post!