Affiliates and Keyword Research

Affiliates sites are very dependant on keywords and in particular longtail keywords – but we’ll get to that! Like all blogs, it is the most crucial part of your content marketing strategy. You need to identify what your audience needs and provide the best content to serve those needs. 

Your organic search traffic from Google and where you rank in search engine result pages (SERPs) reflect the quality and engagement with this content. And you need to rank for keywords that have search volume. You don’t want few searches per month for the target keywords. You will rank, but since the search volume is so low, it will be hard to monetize. It is not very useful to be in a top 5 SERP spot, for a term searched 5 times a month. This is especially true for Amazon niche sites as the commissions are low. You need to send Amazon a lot of traffic.

New affiliate sites also require you to do keyword research when you choose a niche to start with. In addition to all of the setup issues associated with building an affiliate site with WordPress, you need to find your Goldilocks niche – just the right size. You don’t want to start with a very broad niche. If you decided to tackle the “kitchen appliances” niche you would be competing with very large organizations. Companies with huge budgets and armies of reviewers, writers, editors, designers, and other support staff. The top 10 domains returned for a search like “best kitchen appliances” range from sites with a Moz Domain Authority (DA) of 72 to 91. These are household names. It would take years and years and lots of content and money to come anywhere near these companies in SERPS.  So not only do affiliates need keyword tools to develop content for their audience, they need to do keyword research to guide the creation of the new site. The good news is there are many free keyword tools and a number of premium tools that will save you time and make you money.

Buying Intent Keywords

As an affiliate marketer, it is critical that your keywords have the proper intent. If you were looking to purchase a camera you would search for “best camera for beginners”, or “Nikon camera reviews”, etc. If you just searched for “cameras” you would get searches results related to how to use a camera, the history of cameras, etc. You want your content to intersect with these buying intent searches. Your target keyword list to evaluate should include buying intent, long tail keywords. These types of long-tail keyword searches can be discovered with keyword research tools.

Buying Intent Keywords
Discount Deal Coupon Affordable
Best Review Cheapest Free Shipping
Sale Top Comparison Shipping Cost

Free Keyword and SEO tools

There is an embarrassment of riches for free keyword research. Though many have limitations on the amount of data retrieved or the Google region you can search – they are all a bargain at twice the price.

Go to our affiliate on-page SEO guide  for related SEO tips..

Free Keyword Tools – The Complete List

Free SEO Tools Description Price
Soovle Soovle is a keyword research tool that provides keyword ideas based on historic autocomplete suggestions.  Soovle works with data from the major search engines: Google, Bing, Amazon. eBay, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and, Youtube. A great tool to see what queries people are making. Free
UberSuggest Ubersuggest is a free keyword suggestion tool. Ubersuggest if from the well-known Internet marketer Neil Pattel. Free
LSI Graphs LSI keywords are keywords related to the searched term that are semantically linked. Google is getting smarter and uses semantic keywords in analyzing your content. So now the context of your posts are analyzed by Google using synonyms and other semantic processing. Used in your SEO strategy,  LSI keywords can increase organic traffic and improve rankings. Free
Google Trends Consider Google Trends as your inspiration for finding the next hot topic. By entering a keyword in the search bar, Google Trends provides more than five years of data for that keyword. It helps identify if that particular search term is currently relevant for the consumer/reader. This is particularly good for finding hot and trending products. Free
Google Suggest To use Google Suggest, simply start typing keywords in the Google search box, and Google Suggest will autofill the search box with keywords that other people are looking for or that are related to your search query. This is the same information that Soovle tries to present. Free
Adwords Keyword Planner The Adwords keyword planner can be a useful tool to see what keywords are being bid on. It is a god way to update keyword trends and see the value of keywords. Free
Keywords Everywhere The Keywords Everywhere extension is a free keyword tool that can be easily installed in either Chrome or Firefox. Keywords Everywhere shows Google keyword search volume, cost per click, and competition data of keywords on multiple websites.  So if you are on Google Search, Soolve, Ubersuggest, Google Analytics you can quickly see the search metrics of keywords on your page. Keywords everywhere works as an extension to your Chrome or Firefox browser. NO LONGER FREE – Update will follow




Serp Robot SERPs is a keyword ranking checker. It is a quick way to see how particular keywords are ranking on your site. Enter your domain and up to 5 keywords and voila … you see where in the top 100 and what pages are ranking for that keyword. Free
Answer The Public Answer The Public is a keyword research tool that provides questions containing the searched keyword. It can be very helpful for those looking to understand what people are asking for, what they are looking for, and what questions they have about that searched term. It is useful in determining post subject interests. It provides both a list and a visualization mode. The free version works with Amazon UK. Free


Our Three Favorite Free Keyword Tools

Answer the Public

A great tool that expands upon Google autocomplete. Put in a key seed word and relevant topic queries are presented based on questions and prepositions: who, why, like, verses etc.  The free version is based on with premium versions allowing you to set the Google region.

  • Find Content topics
  • Identify Content Gaps
  • Uses Google autocomplete
  • Find out what people are asking Google


Soovle is my go-to place to start checking keywords, particularly longtail keywords. If I wanted to find what people are entering into Google about Affiliate marketing I would simply type affiliate marketing into the input box and Soovle provides the next word that people are searching for – my potential Long-tail keyword. You can even feed your saved Soovle suggestions into Google trends to check the current relevancy.

  • Multiple search engine results
  • Amazon and other e-commerce search engines
  • Saved suggestions
  • Check top Internet keywords

Google Trends

Trending traffic is a moneymaker for many niches and affiliate marketers. Perhaps you are a designer and you want to create a design based on the hottest topics. Perhaps you are an Adsense site and want the traffic surges that come from trending topics. You can create near real-time marketing campaigns for your company. With real-time data from more than 100 billion searches, the possibilities are endless.

  • Create real-time campaigns
  • Generate traffic with hot topics
  • Break-out trends by geographic region
  • Research brand trends and health

Premium Keyword and SEO tools

There is no doubt that premium keyword tools can save you time and perform functions that no free keyword tool can do for you. If you are serious about growing your business with organic search than premium keyword tools are invaluable. But premium keyword and SEO tools can get expensive. The better tools like Ahref and SEM Rush start at $99/mo. If you are building your first site it may be best to start with free tools and contract someone to do some research for you. You have the added benefit of another set of more experienced eyes to validate your findings. For most affiliate marketers one premium tool along with the free tools above is all the budget can justify – so choose wisely. You can get by with just free tools but you are typically limited in the number of results. You can, however, purchase on a month to month basis. I know many affiliates that use the free tools on a daily basis and once per quarter they purchase a premium license and do a full SEO audit and keyword research.

Competitive vs. Traditional Keyword Research

The first thing to understand is that keyword research can be attacked from two vantage points. There is the traditional approach where you start with the target keywords. You create a list of keywords using a number of strategies; including free tools like Soovle or Google Trends. The keyword seed list is the starting point for your premium keyword tool. With competitive keyword research, you start by researching your competitors and make a list of competitive websites to seed the keyword research tool with.

Traditional Keyword Analysis

  1. Find seed keywords using free keyword tools, competitive analysis, and discovery.
  2. Put Seed Keywords Into Keyword Research Tool
  3. Review and filter Keyword Results from the tool
  4. Use tools keyword difficulty metrics to choose target keywords

Competitive Keyword Analysis

  1. Find Competitive Sites with Seed Keyword Targets
  2. Put Competitive Websites into Keyword Research Tool
  3. Review and filter Keyword Targets
  4. Use tools keyword difficulty metrics to choose target keywords

Premium Keyword Tools – The Complete List

Premium Tools Description Trial Cost
ahrefs Number one for data depth. The $7 free trial is great for new site research. The broadest mix of competitive, keyword and content research. If you had only one this would be it. $7/7-day $99 – $399
Keyword Tool Searches audiences for specific markets: Google, eBay, Amazon, Bing etc., and makes keyword suggestions. Free for 750 Results $68-$88 month
SEMrush Competitive analytics, Keyword difficulty, domain comparisons. Goes head to head with ahrefs in some areas but has unique features. Many SEO pros will have ahref and semrush as their core tools. none $99/mo
Moz Another large SEO toolkit in the $100/mo range. A great free trial for new site builders. Many SEO professionals like the free moz chrome extension but prefer ahref and semrush for paid tools. 30 day $99 – $249
SerpStat Keyword research, competitive analytics, rank tracking. 30 Searches $19/mo – $299/mo
SEO Cockpit Keyword research and analysis. High speed none $40 – $80/mo
Wordtracker LongTail keyword research. A large dataset including, YouTube, Amazon and Wordtrackers and Google. 7 Day $27-$99
Longtail Pro Keyword difficulty and suggestions with competitive domain strength, page strength. 7 Day $25-$45
Keyword Finder Discover hidden long tail keywords including Google Suggest as a source Free Lite Version $29-$39
WordStream A number of keyword tools: Negative, generator. Free Keyword search but greyed data. An advertising dashboard. 7 day $244

Our Favorite Traditional Keyword Research Tools


Long Tail Pro is a dinosaur (in a good way) in the keyword research world. It has been around since 2011 and has stood the test of time. Long tail keywords are an affiliate marketers best friend. You are not going to be able to rank for best golf clubs, it will be super competitive with all > 50 DA sites in top 10. But best golf club for beginners, voila something you can rank for with some effort. LongTailPro will help you find these longtail keywords and generate content ideas.

  • Now a saas application (formerly desktop)
  • affordable $25/mo (up to 10,000 searches)
  • Bootcamp access
  • 7-day free trial

KW Finder

KW Finder is part of the Mongools family of products. Like LongTail Pro it is used to generate long tail keywords to use in your content marketing efforts. It provides the ability to filter your seed words by their difficulty and the maximum number of words. It allows for search in 40 languages.

  • check for local volume
  • finds longtail keywords
  • keyword difficulty analysis
  • search trends of keywords

Our Favorite Competitive Keyword Research Tools


Ahrefs is the other leading all-in-one SEO tools. You can’t go wrong with either SEMrush or Ahref. Ahref  had both competitive and traditional keyword research. It provides backlink profiles to see who is linking to your content. Ahref like SEMrush perform site audits to identify any technical SEO issues.

  • Keyword research
  • Backlink profile and audit
  • Site audit (technical SEO)
  • Competitive Keywords


Well, we did save the best for last. SEMrush is an all-in-one SEO, Keyword, and technical SEO tool. Yes, keywords are critical to selecting a niche and for making content marketing decisions, but backlinks are equally important. The Google algorithm decides where to place you on the search results page based on the quality of your content AND the backlink profile. How many people are linking to your content is probably the most important ranking factor. With SEMrush you can audit all of these backlinks. SEMrush will also identify opportunities vs. your competitors. If could only have one tool it is SEMrush.

  • filter by SERP feature (snippets etc.)
  • Backlink profiles
  • Local SEO
  • Featured snippet tracking

Wrapping up

SEO and keyword research is critical to affiliate marketing. It is how you select an initial niche that you can compete for organic traffic with. Keywords and longtail keywords will drive your content marketing efforts. You need to identify gaps in content coverage that allow you to be found by people searching on Google. With keyword research tools you can find trending topics and identify where your competitors are having success. If you are not doing keyword research – start now; your competitors surely are.