Creating A Successful SEO Strategy For An Affiliate Website

I’ve been doing affiliate marketing for over a decade now. Back then, creating an SEO strategy for your affiliate-based website was pretty cut and dried. Pick a market and buy a keyword-laden domain name. Next you’d do a search on the Overture keyword tool (I’m completely dating myself here) and pick the top 50 keywords in your niche.

Then you’d create pages for each with about 400 words of content on each one and then start working on your link development with some reciprocal linking. And if you were really advanced in your link development strategies, you’d also work on some one-way linking — attempting to get links from bookmark lists run by college students.

Next up, you’d sit and wait for the next Google Dance and deposit your commission checks into the bank.

[enter Edith and Archie Bunker singing "those were the days!"]

Nowadays, ranking is much harder, especially for an affiliate-oriented website. I’d imagine that if you could go back in time and explain to a 1998 affiliate marketer what goes into ranking in the 2011 SERPS, it would be the same kind of culture shock as showing Henry Ford a busy metropolitan freeway at rush hour.

Affiliate marketing has evolved. This evolution is not so much technology-based, nor is it really “fundamentals” based. It’s strategy based.

So how do you create an evolved affiliate strategy? The specifics will change from site to site, but some of the standards remain the same regardless of the topic or niche.

Brandable Domain Names

By all means, get a keyword in there if you can, but with today’s emphasis on brands in Google’s algorithm, you don’t want to be yet another keyword-laden domain. You need a more unique name if you expect to throw Google the branding signals they’re looking for.

Truly Unique Content

There is a difference between content being “technically” unique as far as a search engine is concerned and “conceptually unique” from a user perspective. Learn the difference and plant your content firmly on the conceptually unique side of the line. Social signals (more on that in future columns) pay off in the engines and no one wants to share your 400 words about “discount widgets” and 400 words about “cheap widgets.” They want to share “14 things you never knew you could do with widgets.”

User Generated Content (UGC)

The web is no longer a monologue. Adding the ability to for users to leave reviews goes a long way towards “value add” and offering up unique content that no other site has. Blog comments also serve as a way to engage users, thus creating the user-based signals of a popular website that Google loves.

There are plenty of sites out there willing to let users have a voice. You either need to be one of them or your users will eventually go somewhere that allows them to have one.

Create A Point Of Difference (POD)

A lot of people are under the misconception that Google doesn’t like affiliate sites. In my experience, that’s simply not true. Google merely hates crappy affiliate sites. By that I mean sites with no value add to the end user — affiliates that haven’t adjusted their site-building strategy since 1998.

You’ll need to spend time at the other sites marketing to your niche and ask yourself what they’re missing, what they’re not offering or how you can do what they’re doing better. You need to treat an affiliate site as if you’re actually the merchant. How do you make yourself stand out? That will be the key to having the link-building opportunities you’ll need to rank in the engines.

By working to create a brand that offers valuable content and gives consumers a voice — all from an “angle” that hasn’t been done three hundred times before is, in my opinion, the key to building an affiliate sites that not only survives the current (and future) search engine algorithms, but also thrives in them.

It gives you the opportunity to create link building opportunities and social strategies that wouldn’t be available with the affiliate sites of old. No games, no manipulation. Just a solid strategy that revolves around making your affiliate-based site a valuable resource to those looking for information, products and/or services in your niche.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Affiliate Marketing | Affiliate Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing


About The Author: aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and an occasional SEO consultant. She is also the CEO of PushFire, an online marketing agency that specializes in SEO and PPC management services. You can meet her in person at her next affiliate SEO training course (seating is limited) or follow her on Twitter @Sugarrae.


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  • eric hebert

    Overture! I feel like I’ve been doing this a long time when I hear someone mention that…oh wait I have.

  • Viola W Bonnell

    Hey Sugarrae,
    Alot of folks forget about linkbuilding in terms of SEO.
    If you create your website and host it there it will be just there…hosted and being burden. :-)
    Off page SEO just as important as onpage SEO.
    And one of the big key factors of the offpage SEO is a number inbound links.
    It is often overlooked. Many webmasters frown upon idea of manually building hundreds of links.
    I outsource the process and I can not imagine even talking about SEO without talking about backlinks.Anyways, there are tons of websites where one can score backlinks cheap. Odesk,Freelancer…Fiverr comes to mind. I am using one guy on fiverr for 5 bucks I get 300+ backlinks spread all over the web. It’s dirt cheap and safe in terms of Big G,
    Not sure if you want it but here’s the url so you can see for yourself.

  • Gorgina Sahel

    Well from what i can see that only big companies dominate the search engines,but i find a new little trick that can get my sites rank without having a website, new business micro blogging called craigpress lots of features that help me rank on search engine without the worries of getting my affiliate links banned and the best part you can updates all my links on a regular bases.

  • romeoicq

    i am not that affraid of the google panda or the google dance

  • Anonymous

    Manual backlinking gives you better results as there are more relevant keywords.  @facebook-100002667282083:disqus thx for recommending  craigpress. just signed up..;) 

  • Anton Aumiller

    Well from what i can see that only big organizations control the google,but i discover a new little technique that can get my websites position without having a web page, new business small running a blog known as craigpress many functions that help me position on look for results without the problems of getting my internet marketer marketer hyperlinks suspended and the best aspect you can up-dates all my hyperlinks on a frequent facets.

  • __A_YAHOO_USER__

    I’ve just started the backlinking process for my site and it’s a slow process. Lot of good tips here but I have a question. I’ve been adding backlinks for several days and haven’t seen any show up on the search engines. I try and add value and not just spam my links but I’m beginning to suspect there is a delay before the links register, which, in hindsight, would make sense.
    Have just signed up for CraigPress but am wary of using people who say they can give me hundreds of backlinks. Maybe I’m being cynical but that sounds like a spam service to me also.
    Any comments on this would be welcome.

  • buy circle followers

    Great value one-way backlinks are the silver of SEO. The google spend more value to one-way backlinks than favourable backlinks. Publishing content (not comments) on popular weblogs or high PR sites produce quality one-way backlinks. Some weblogs and sites allow visitor content and it is important to develop a connection with these type of sites. Always handle your backlinks to ensure highest possible value and only develop backlinks from founded sites current.



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