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How Affiliate Sites Can Best Exploit SEO

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With the affiliate marketing industry now worth billions, the marketplace has undoubtedly become hugely congested. Competition is fierce, so it’s imperative for affiliate sites to differentiate themselves to stand out.

If you’re an affiliate with a new or existing site, here are some ways you can use SEO to get established in the marketplace:

Get Your Niche Right

First, choose a worthwhile niche and clearly define it to your audience. This is where a lot of affiliate sites fail. Google’s Panda updates, are actively punishing thin affiliate sites that exist purely to make money without adding value. Now it’s essential to have a niche that adds value beyond the products or services on your site.

Let’s use the travel sector as an example. Starting a website dedicated simply to selling travel products won’t be enough because the competition is already too great – Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, Ortbitz, and so on. New affiliates need to establish a niche in their industry that isn’t already dominated by big brands.

For example, going after the discount travel niche with a main keyword of “cheap hotels”, would be a poor choice for that very reason. Instead, target a niche that has weaker competition and less competitive keywords.

Make Sure the Keywords You Target Make Sense

The more resources you can dedicate to an SEO strategy, the more competitive a market you can enter. Make sure that whatever niche you decide on, the keywords are a realistic target.

Website owners without an understanding of SEO are commonly tempted by the large traffic potential for terms like “discount hotels” and decide to make that their target. However, ranking on the eighth page for such a competitive term that results in zero incremental traffic is a poor use of resources.

Instead, time should be spent on more realistic targets that can lead to more traffic. Set your sights on lower search volume terms with less competition that you can realistically make an impact on.

Consider using a keyword analysis tool such as the SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool to measure the difficulty for ranking for a particular keyword in order to help you decide if it is a good target. Here’s an example of how it works:

hotels-keyword-analysis

The chart illustrates how it would be far easier to make an impact in the search results for terms like “special hotels” or “unique hotels” rather than “cheap hotels” or “discount hotels.” From there you can drill down further to find out who you competition is and if you can realistically catch them.

“Unique hotels” competition:

unique-hotels-competition

“Cheap hotels” competition:

cheap-hotels-competition

Based on the metrics, the competition for “unique hotels” is far less than for “cheap hotels”. The competition consists of less established brands with far lower domain authority, page authority, and less links. The lower these measures are, the easier it will be with the proper SEO strategy to make an impact on these terms.

Make it Relevant

Once you’ve established a niche, the next consideration has to be relevancy. Ranking boils down to how much relevancy and how much of an authority your site has for a given keyword.

The key way to build relevancy is to create compelling content which targets the keywords you want to rank for.

Staying on the keyword “unique hotels,” an example of relevant content might be a list of the top 10 unique hotels in the world with well-written copy explaining why each hotel is unique. Also, consider creating pages for your top destinations, and write about the most unique hotels for those locations.

To grab and maintain the user’s interest, talk about your niche in a fun and engaging way and, from there, promote an action (which, in this case, would be to book their hotel).

Freshness of content is also important for relevancy and integrating user-generated content can be a key way to achieve this.

Also, consider creating content that could go viral, like “20 Unique Hotels For Honeymooners on a Budget” or “15 Uniquely Terrible Hotels.” The more interesting the content, the greater chance it has to go viral.

Build Authority

As you build relevant content, increase authority through traditional link building and an effective social media strategy. Sharing your quality content socially will certainly lead to more followers, fans, tweets, likes, and shares.

Also, consider:

  • Building links to your site by writing blog pieces for relevant sites in your industry.
  • Creating interesting infographics (great for viral content).
  • Creating entertaining videos.

Don’t forget to identify any quality links your competitors already have and go after them. Don’t waste your time acquiring tons of low quality links – they won’t help your rankings and it’s time you can spend better elsewhere.

Summary

While we used travel as our main example, these principles apply to affiliate sites in any sector. Choose your niche along with the proper keywords and then focus on building relevancy and authority.

The opportunity is out there. Go out and grab it!


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