Updated: April 19, 2019
Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to monetize your website.
But in order to make any money or reach any level of success, you need a steady flow of targeted traffic coming to your site. Put simply, without traffic, you’ll get nowhere.
And in order to get traffic to your site, you need to understand keyword research.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to find awesome keywords, and implement these effectively. So you can drive tons of targeted traffic to your site and affiliate offers.
What Are Keywords?
Essentially, keywords are just search queries typed into a search engine, like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
People type these keywords into search engines to find an answer to their problem, and your job is to find out what people are searching for within your niche. Once you know, you can then create useful content targeting those keywords and bring in a steady flow of traffic.
It’s that simple.
Note: I tend to focus on Google simply because they own the lions share of organic traffic.
Why Keywords Matter To Your Site as an Affiliate
The first and most obvious reason why keywords matter, is getting more traffic to your website.
The more traffic you have, the more people are going to be buying products you are promoting, and the more money you can make. I’m sure most of you would agree, you can never have “too much” traffic or make “too many” sales!
More specifically, keywords matter because you are telling Google what your content is about. You could write the best article in the world within your niche, but if you don’t have a keyword strategy you don’t stand much of a chance at ranking in search.
Cue the frustration, low profits and wasted time…
The most important element of all is to write useful and relevant content for your niche audience. Absolutely. I am a BIG believer in this.
But if people can’t find your content it’s not much good!
The other great thing about keyword research is that it can lead to a myriad of high value content ideas when you know what you are doing.
Using some of the simple techniques I am about to show you, you will always have something to write about and have a huge opportunity to get traffic to your affiliate site as a result.
Types of Keywords
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of researching, it is important to understand the different types of keywords you can target.
This can make a huge difference to your overall results.
Broad vs Narrow
The first thing to consider, is how broad or narrow the keyword is.
For example: if your niche is “Improving Your Golf Swing” then targeting a keyword like “golf swing” is not a very good idea. The competition is way too high for this keyword given how broad it is, you would be much better off choosing something longer and more targeted than this within your content such as “how to improve your golf swing as a senior” for example.
The broad keyword example is also not very targeted in terms of converting that visitor into a sale, which leads me to my second point- the “stage” the person is in when it comes to buying something.
There are actually distinct phases of the customer purchase lifecycle which you can identify based on what the person is searching for. Knowing this can be very helpful in planning out your content and keywords and can make a big difference to your overall profit.
For example: when someone types in the keyword “golf swing”, chances are they aren’t looking to buy anything, they are just looking for general information. However, when someone types in a keyword like “exercises to improve your golf swing” they are looking for something very specific. Your goal would be to write an article that shows people the various exercises and genuinely helps them to solve this problem, and as an affiliate, you could then link to a relevant affiliate product. Such as a video course on golf swing exercises.
Digging deeper into this, and you can get to the pinnacle of buyer intent keywords.
When someone is searching for “product X review” for example, they are often ready to buy. Credit card in hand. They simply want reassurance that the product is right for them and represents good value for money.
If they are searching for where to buy or for the “best deals” then this is also going to be a very high value keyword in terms of conversions and profit since they have already made their mind up. Start landing keywords like this and you will earn commissions.
Summing It Up
The more relevant and targeted your keywords are, the better chance you have of ranking in Google and giving your audience value. The more value you give your audience, the more likely they are to buy through your links based on your recommendations. Also, the more you target people who are in the “buying phase”, the more money you are going to make because you are getting your content in front of people who are much more inclined to buy.
How To Do Evergreen Keyword Research
Evergreen keywords are just phrases people are going to be typing into Google for years to come. They are not limited to a specific product, time or event so getting ranked for these can produce a passive income for a considerable period of time.
Step 1) List Your Core Topics
Whenever you are starting a niche website, you want to list down your main topics. Some refer to these as ‘seed topics’ which makes sense, since pretty much everything you write about is going to flow from these.
Using the golfing niche example, you might come up with 4 main topics to start with:
- Golf Swing Techniques (evergreen)
- Golf Swing Exercises (evergreen)
- Golf Industry News (not evergreen)
- Golf Related Product Reviews (not evergreen)
This is very broad, and can be broken down much further than this, but it’s a useful starting point. We now know the primary topics we want to write about and what kinds of keywords we are going to be looking for.
I’m going to run with “golf swing techniques” in the examples for the remainder of this section since it’s an evergreen topic.
Step 2) Generate Ideas
It’s now time to come up with some ideas based off our main topic, and note these down. I personally use a simple Google Docs spreadsheet to note my ideas down, which is free and works very nicely for this. But a simple Excel spreadsheet or even a word document or notepad will do the trick.
Select one of your main topics and type that phrase into the Google search box, followed by a letter of the alphabet as shown in the screenshots below:
Why on earth are we doing this?
Because we are leveraging the power of Google’s auto suggestions to come up with relevant ideas. They know what people are searching and they show you ideas to make your job (as a search user) quicker and easier. Use this info!
As you can see above, by using just 3 letters of the alphabet (A, B and L) I was able to come up with 12 targeted keyword ideas for this niche. This is very simple, and powerful. It works.
Now think, when you do this across other main topics and all letters of the alphabet! And we are only just getting started here.
Note: I am not personally in the golfing niche, and I always recommend doing more research into your chosen niche than this. This is not about choosing a niche or doing niche research though, so for the sake of this article, I am assuming you know more than the average person about your niche, or you’re at least willing to learn.
Step 3) Research Using a Keyword Tool
Once you have a list of ideas from the previous steps, it is now time to see what opportunity there is by using a keyword tool.
You could stick to using the ideas you just came up with and leave it at that, but your results will not be as consistent as they will by digging deeper into the data with a decent keyword tool.
You can use the free Google Keyword Planner which is good, but I personally like to use a tool called Jaaxy which costs me $19 per month. The reason being, I have found it works very well for organic rankings and it includes other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo within it’s data.
Also, the free keyword planner gives you a lot of data regarding PPC traffic when measuring competition which means it is more suited for paid traffic, AKA Adwords. I’m not saying it doesn’t work or that it’s not useful, but this is my view. I personally think Jaaxy does a better job at gauging organic search volume.
I’m sure some would disagree, and that’s fine. Whatever works for you.
There are also other great tools like SemRush which I personally don’t use, but I know many who swear by it, so this may be worth checking out also depending on your budget.
Anyways, since I personally use Jaaxy, I’ll show you what I do using that keyword tool. Sound fair? Cool.
The first thing you want to do is have some kind of system in place to record your actual keywords, and the relevant data points. As mentioned earlier, I personally use Google Docs and I create a spreadsheet that looks something like this:
As you can see, I have the keyword in the first column, search volume in the second, and QSR in the third. The ‘QSR’ simply means “quoted search results” which is the number of websites that are actively targeting a given keyword within Google.
There are other useful metrics to look at within Jaaxy, but this is the main thing to be mindful of. I personally like any keyword with over 50 searches per month, and a QSR of less than 100. This is all that really matters.
A search volume of 50 may be relatively low, but so is the competition. I would much rather rank on the 1st page for 150 low volume keywords that bring in one visitor per day, than write 150 articles targeting high volume/ high competition keywords that sit on page 3 or 10 and bring in no traffic.
If you have 150 articles that (on average) generate 1 visitor per day, that is 150 people per day visiting your site, or 4,500 visits per month! This is very possible, and that is enough to be making a consistent income depending on your niche.
Anyway, taking some of the example keywords we found earlier through our brainstorming session, we will now plug some of those into Jaaxy to find the ones we want and come up with more ideas.
I simply took our first idea of “golf swing tips with a driver” and here is what I got:
This is an awesome keyword, so I added it to my list!
I then took the second keyword and it was also good. However, this time I am going to show you the ideas that came off this one search as well to show you how easy it is to come up with more keywords:
As you can see, I managed to come up with another 10 highly relevant, low competition keywords quite quickly with this tool.
The ones I have underlined are what I would consider worth targeting, and the broad keyword of “golf swing tips” is an example of an average keyword that has the traffic, but it’s broad and has relatively high competition. Meaning, it is going to be a lot more difficult to rank for.
To recap this process so far:
- Start with a broad topic idea
- Use Google’s auto suggestion to come up with ideas based on this
- research using a decent keyword tool to find a winner and come up with more ideas
- Repeat this process to fill your editorial calendar
I could go on and on with this, but you get the point. I just follow this same method over and over to come up with 100’s of good keywords, and list them down to keep track!
Here is my example spreadsheet with some data in it to show you what I mean about keeping track:
That’s all there is to it guys. This stuff just plain works, and it’s dead simple. You can do this.
Ninja Tip: Grouping Keywords
One thing I like to do in addition to this, is to create ‘keyword groups’ which have a similar or related meaning.
For example, I recently published an article showing people people how to make money selling hemp online (legally of course) which led to further ideas directly relating to this. Ideas like make money selling hemp -clothing/ jewellery/ insulation/ cosmetics and so on that people are searching for. I simply group these under ‘hemp’ and come back to that idea later on. Out of that one article, I now have another 5-10 articles I can write.
In other words, having some kind of grouping system is a good way to keep track of your ideas and expand upon your existing content.
Researching Product Review Keywords
What I have shown you to this point are the basic concepts, and some evergreen strategies. Doing product reviews is a shorter term strategy overall, or at least, less passive. But either way it is a very effective one.
As mentioned, reviews are worth doing because you are catching folks within your niche while they are ready to buy. So conversions are often high for this stuff.
Also, while you can use the standard research process I showed you above to rank for these keywords, there is a more powerful strategy you can leverage in regards product reviews. That is, reviewing new products before the masses. When you publish a quality review before the majority of bloggers, you will often rank much easier and much quicker in my experience. As a result, this serves as a never ending source of fresh keywords that bring in a lot of quality traffic to your site.
That being said, this is NOT a hard and fast rule and it certainly doesn’t always work this way. On occasion, I have done quality reviews before most other sites and dropped rankings for seemingly no reason. While on other occasions, I have reviewed a product well after it launched and flown right past the competition as if there was none.
Nothing is set in stone when it comes to organic rankings. Each article you publish is a dice roll, we are just trying to tip the odds in our favour. In my opinion, the best way to do this is with quality content and low competition keywords.
So, how do you do this?
Quite simply, use the same approach I showed you earlier along with your knowledge of the products within your niche. Look for the products relating to your niche in Amazon or whatever affiliate network you leverage.
If you want to get ahead of the curve, it’s just a matter of doing your homework to know what products are coming out and being among the first to review. This strategy is less about keyword research data and more about intuition and the knowledge you have about your niche.
Depending on your niche, some product review style keywords worth targeting are:
- product X review
- best product X’s for __
- is product X a scam
- product X versus product Y
- what is product X
- is product X legit
- top ten product X’s
- many more…
These are all things people search for when it comes to products and make for good review based content.
Just because you are not promoting something does not mean you can’t review it either. Just give people an honest review of what you think and offer as much insight as possible. Tell your audience what’s good, and what’s not and within the framework of your website you are going to have call to actions in place, so the mere fact you have generated a visitor will drive conversions into whatever you are promoting.
Implementing Keywords Into Your Content
Like most things in the online marketing game, there are differing opinions on how to go about implementing the keywords you choose into your article. Personally, I like to put keywords naturally within the headline and within the first paragraph of text.
Sometimes I’ll also put my main keyword into the first H2 tag but not always, and I always focus on just ONE keyword per article.
Another tip is to use a feature image that contains your keyword in the image title and alt tag description. Although I often make the alt description different to the title in some way.
The alt description is just a way to tell Google and people who are blind, what the image is about. People use browser add ons to read the content for them, so a relevant image description helps!
I am not saying this is the ultimate image strategy for everyone, but using a relevant image and including your keyword within that image in one way or another, is definitely a good idea. It is also important to not stuff keywords into your content unnaturally.
Always choose and insert keywords that read naturally to actual humans! Trust me on this.
Ninja Tip: Keep Your Focus On Value
It is easy to get carried away with the technical side of ranking, namely keyword research. However, the single most important element to getting ranked and staying ranked, is producing useful and relevant content. I cannot overstate this.
When people like your content, they spend more time on your page, comment, share on social media and in some cases, link to your content from their site or a forum since it provides good value. They will also come back to your website and click through to more pages on your site among other things.
Arguably, some/ all of these things can help your SEO. Not to mention, you will build authority in Google over time this way, which means you can rank quicker with future articles as your website’s authority grows.
There is no doubt about it, keywords play a big part in getting targeted free traffic to your site through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Using awesome keywords is not the be all end all, but knowing how they work can absolutely help you to plan out your site, come up with tons of good content ideas and ultimately, get more traffic and make more commissions as an affiliate.