People from all walks of life love the concept of creating a website that has the ability to earn residual income for many years after the initial structure and foundation is created. However, while many people have mastered the art of search engine optimization and know how to rank the websites for their desired audience, many affiliate marketers fail at succeeding over the long run and don’t realize their full potential.
Let’s first address the obvious – there is work involved in affiliate marketing. Just like working with SEO clients or building an e-commerce store, there is time, effort, and concentration needed.
Next, let’s get the negative connotation that all affiliate marketing is dirty out of our heads. The ways I teach people how to succeed do not include spam email, black hat cloaking tricks, and cookie stuffing. It’s good old-fashioned authority building and knowing that if information is presented in a proper way, a fan base will be built over time.
There is a reason companies like Amazon, Under Armour, Target, and Best Buy all rely on affiliate marketing for a large percentage of their online sales.
I’m going to walk you through the fundamental steps you need to know if you are thinking of getting into this lucrative business that is estimated to generate $6.8 billion by the year 2020. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” I’ll also outline a few actions you can take to jump-start your new business venture.
Finding Your Niche
Niche selection can be a daunting task, but I always tell people to start by thinking of things you are passionate about. If you are a golf nut, talking about golf equipment should come very naturally to you. Simply use large networks like Commission Junction, Share A Sale, and even Amazon Associates, and you’ll come across a wide variety of companies in this space. You can also “Google it” by using keywords like “golf affiliate programs.”
When you have personal experience with a product or service, you’ll find that your conversion ratio will skyrocket.
Once you find your niche, spare no expense at looking at page one of Google and seeing who is ranking for the broad terms within that niche. From there, analyze each site (don’t overlook this) and find out which brands they are promoting.
Are there common trends among the sites on page one? Do they generally promote the same brands, or is there a variance among them?
Take notes on every aspect you see here, because if everyone is promoting the same brand or product, you can probably assume the reason why – it converts.
From there, take a deep plunge into keyword research and focus on every single person who is even remotely looking at the brands promoted.
Dialing In Your Keyword Targets
Any reputable SEO knows the importance of finding proper keywords that not only will bring traffic, but also encourage that traffic to take action and thus create a return on investment.
Finding your keywords takes laser focus and should not be overlooked. You can start with a generic approach and go for a category level keyword like “running shoes,” or you can really dial it in and target a key word phrase like “buy Nike Air Max Running Shoes,” and in the latter case you really highlight the benefits of the shoe they already know they have an interest in. This essentially is a web visitor who is perhaps trying to learn one minor detail about the shoe, get a third party confirmation that the item is of top quality, or even just seeking a coupon code to save a few dollars on the purchase. The latter approach will yield less traffic than going for generic searches, but the conversion rates will be much higher.
So let’s just use the example above and talk about exactly how I would perform this task.
- Identify the niche. In this case, it’s running shoes.
- Identify the target product. In this case, we’re using Nike Air Max.
- Identify “Buyer Keywords” that people would use to find the Nike Air Max running shoes.
- Build out my sales page about this product and incorporate every keyword possible in the proper SEO technique in order to capture those visitors and have the best possible way to convert them into buyers.
I’ve taken the time to do this exact example below by using my favorite SEO research tool, SEMrush.
Below is a sample set of keywords that I found relevant to this product, as well as their monthly searches.
-Nike Air Max (246,000)
-Air Max 90 (110,000)
-Air Max 95 (74,000)
-Nike Air Max Women’s (14,800)
There is no question that those keywords are of high difficulty, so let’s dial this in to what a buyer (someone you are more likely to earn a commission from) might type in to arrive at the same page.
-Buy Nike Air Max (210)
-Buy Cheap Nike Air Max (40)
You may be thinking to yourself, “that’s not a lot of search volume.”
You are 100% correct with that assumption, but when a web surfer types in the word “BUY” they are much more likely to make a purchase. They are much more qualified to land on your site and earn you a commission when they use words like “Buy, order, purchase” in front of their target product.
When you snipe traffic using words that insinuate a purchase will be made, your life becomes much easier and the odds of you making money will sky rocket.
As a last example of why this tactic works, here’s the last thing I do when comparing competition.
Visit Google.com, and see how many people are using the exact keyword target in the title tag of their website. You can do this by using the search below:
Allintitle: Buy Nike Air Max
This search returned 275,000 results when I performed this query. This means there are that many websites using this keyword in the title. That may sound like a high number, but I urge you to search for other items you purchase and you’ll see it’s really not as competitive as it seems at first glance.
Let’s take our first keyword we came up with, which was “Nike Air Max.” This returned 3,100,000 results. We can safely assume that this keyword is more than 10 times more competitive than our laser targeted, buyer focused keyword.
As a final example of how I would even further dial this in to really shine in this niche, I tried this string: buy nike air max online.
Adding the word “online” to the end of your string can help because let’s face it, some people may be looking for a brick and mortar location, and this won’t earn you anything. The person who adds “online” to this string once again qualifies themselves as a much more qualified visitor to your site, since they want to purchase this product online.
This search online returned 47,000 results, so you can see that it’s a much easier keyword target to focus your efforts on.
Tools of The Trade
If you are on a budget, the Google Keyword Planner will be your best friend. If you have the funds, I can’t recommend SEMrush enough. Below is a video tutorial where I show you the exact ways I use this tool to not only gain intelligence on keywords, but to also spy on competing websites.
I also recommend that you use your SEO skills to view URL structure, keyword density, and title tags of any websites that are earning solid rankings in the niche you are involved in. This can tell you a lot of the things you’ll want to do to your own website structure.
What Are The Best Types of Affiliate Offers to Promote?
This is a common question that I field almost on a daily basis. While it’s always a good time riding waves (think Garcinia Cambogia and Acai Berry), I like to build a sustainable business that revolves around solving a problem. We call niches that will live on for eternity “evergreen.” These are things like “how to lose weight” and “cures for skin rashes.” People will be looking for answers to those questions daily, while the new “fad ingredient” will surge for a while only to taper off.
As far as selecting an offer, you will see many options as far as the terms set forth by the vendor.
The most common types of affiliate payout structures will be Cost Per Lead, (CPL), Cost Per Action (CPA), and Straight Sale. Some affiliate programs pay per click generated and even for calls generated, but they are in the minority.
A CPA offer pays you for actions such as entering an email address, downloading a report, or buying a trial offer.
A CPL pays for leads. Normally a “sign up” or submission of data in most cases.
The straight sale pays out a percentage of revenue generated on the ticket of the order. These range greatly depending on the niche and product.
If you know how to generate traffic for clients, why not diversify your revenue stream and try your hand at affiliate marketing? I’ve been passively making a significant income for 15 years using a fine-turned approach aimed at helping people learn about products they are planning on purchasing.
This is just part 1 of an affiliate SEO series that we're going to be hosting on Drip Apps. We'll be hosting a webinar with Tim Schmidt to break down his SEO tactics... live.
You can register here.