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
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.