Doing SEO for an affiliate website is much easier than you’d think. Defining the type of affiliate website you have and optimizing the algorithms you’re a part of. As an affiliate, you don’t have to wait for red tape, branding, or legal to ok the copy. You control your website and your publishing schedule.
Here are some affiliate website types and tips on optimizing them for SEO. This is based on my 20+ years of experience in the industry and helping countless partners from B2B, SaaS, lead gen, and ecommerce sales.
- Blogs and publishers
- Review sites
- Lead gen distributors
Before I jump into each type of website, there are a few things that all types of affiliate sites need to do. First, it is to build trust with the visitor. When they trust your website and content, you pre-sell them on why they should also use your links so you can earn a commission and, more importantly, come back for more advice. You can do this by working on an SEO concept called E-E-A-T, and some user experience enhancements.
- Fill out your author bio and make sure it highlights your certifications, qualifications, years of experience on the subject, and where you’ve been published.
- Source any claims that you are not certified to validate.
- Add jump links to let the person find the most relevant section of the page more quickly.
- Make sure the products are relevant to the topic — don’t stuff them in because the affiliate manager asked.
- Keep pages and topics unique.
- Build proper site structure and content silos.
- Don’t try to cover every topic and every niche.
- Place advertising disclosures at the top of every page with affiliate links. Google has a note about this in multiple sections (here it is for Google News), and depending on your country, your government may as well. Here’s a helpful Q&A from the FTC.
- Add “sponsored” or “nofollow” attributes to the affiliate links.
Blog and Publisher SEO
Blog and publisher affiliates have a unique advantage over other types. If this is you, you can jump on current trends. And that is a massive advantage. Here are some of the opportunities you can use for quick bursts of traffic and long-term success.
Events could be sports, celebrations, holidays, and once-in-a-lifetime things. You can use Google Trends and other tools to find out when and what is popular during these times. Then, do keyword research to see what queries people are using. I’ll use recipe bloggers here as an example.
For recurring events, don’t just look up traditional foods and recipes. Create unique spins and look up future options. We know the animals for the Chinese New Year in advance, so why not prepare and optimize recipes to celebrate ahead of time, build backlinks, and get ranking before it starts?
We all know snack foods will be spiking during the Super Bowl, so why not go niche and teach people how to divide up recipes to have the normal one and a variation or two from the same batch that meets dietary needs?
- Vegan or pure carnivore
- Gluten or lactose-free
- Pet-friendly if people will be celebrating and foods are going to get spilled
As you mention tools, herbs, and other things needed to create the dishes, use your affiliate links. And you can also share affiliate links for the display if the person wants to mimic how you present the dish.
I’ll go with beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for this example. Of course, the Oscars, Tony’s, or even the Met Gala will have A-list celebrities in abundance. So before the event, use past looks with current trends and do a feature about what you think the people showing up in Google News regularly will wear or how they’ll be styled.
While the event is happening, look at the people whose looks are getting the most attention. Chances are they’ll be showing up in Google News. If your site qualifies for it, you can piggyback on it by creating “How to do XY’s (insert event) look” and using modifiers (here’s a large resource guide I made) like “on a budget.”
Individual posts with the looks and style guides work, and you can also do a listicle with links to the individual posts. The listicle can be a guide to creating looks for events and parties.
In your style guides, make sure each link to buy the product is an affiliate link so your viewers can create the look, and you can earn commissions. This’ll continue for a while after the show. And sometimes, these roundups can attract backlinks. If you get backlinks, use them to pass authority via an internal link to your evergreen content.
And the same goes for creating famous characters from movies or Broadway for Halloween, creating style guides for events like prom or raves, or anything else.
Instead of repeating the same thing in two sections, let’s jump into reviews. Many of the concepts that review affiliates need to remember for SEO apply to bloggers and publishers.
Review Affiliate SEO
Review sites are a dime-a-dozen, so it is essential to stand out. And that means being authentic, accurate, and original. Even before Google launched a reviews algorithm update, all of the items below were important because they are how you build trust with the user.
Make sure your review content has the following:
- An explanation of why you’re specifically qualified to do the review in the opening.
- Actual photos of you using, holding, engaging with, or displaying the product in your possession. It’s even better if you can show it is legitimately in your home and replicate across multiple reviews to show it is yours.
- Pros and cons.
- Compatibility with other items and brands.
- Alternatives to the product or service.
- Multiple options to purchase (make sure you don’t have an exclusivity agreement for this one).
- Unique solutions or ways to use the product the person may not have thought about (as long as it isn’t dangerous, illegal, and remains factual).
- Comparisons to previous or similar models.
- Features that don’t exist but you think should and why.
- Sizing information.
The goal of a review is to help the potential user know they have the right solution. And if the product or service doesn’t do what they want, you have an alternative for them. This gives a great user experience while giving the person a reason to subscribe to your site and return for their next need.
Lead Gen and Distributors
Only so far, content, backlinks, and a good user experience will take a lead generation site. Lead gen could be sending the visitor to a vendor through an affiliate link or collecting the information and selling it to the service providers (or both.) Your goal is to create the tools that will help the consumer or B2B shopper make their decision so they’ll give you their information. My favorite way to do this is with widgets and tools.
These can be calculators for finance and insurance, quizzes for home improvement, or the ability to place objects and color palettes within the person’s home or on their body. I.e., seeing how photos or paint will look on a wall or having a model or yourself on the screen and seeing the product on you.
Many vendors will have these, and some will provide you with them for your website. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get good SEO. You have to take a step further. To do this, test the top five and create a list of opportunities.
- Where did you get stuck?
- What did it not answer?
- Which features were most helpful?
- Did they all miss a key feature or need?
- How did they recommend products, services, or vendors after?
- Can you tell the qualifiers they are using to give a recommendation, and what is this lacking?
By knowing this, you can outsource having your version built. And because you control it, you can tweak it more quickly than they can.
Doing SEO for affiliate sites is fun. You can let your creativity shine and your expertise flow through. And because you control your property, there’s no red tape so that you can be first to market.