Easy On-page SEO for Affiliate Marketers – Make Great Content

by | Affiliate Marketing, SEO Tips

Introduction

What is on-page SEO and why do affiliate marketers care? Think of it as your content and all of the additional html and information that helps Google find it. It’s what makes it relevant to the user who made the Google search query. Affiliates are particularly dependent upon organic search to drive visitors to their sites. In most cases, paid search is not cost effective so content marketing and SEO drive the organic search results to create your audience.

On-page SEO is the recipe for great content. Content that meets the needs of Google and your audience.

Well, then there must be off-page SEO? Yes. Off-page SEO is all of the external links to the content including any supporting social media or other mentions. It is the key to your domains authority.

We will cover off-page SEO in an upcoming post. On-page SEO is the key component in determining your search engine result page (SERP) location. Moz researchers estimate that on-page is 70% of your SERP ranking, with off-page being the other 30%. Let’s dive in.

Keyword Research

Keywords are still the lifeblood of the affiliate’s content marketing strategy. You must find the Goldilocks keywords for your site. Some keywords will just be too difficult for a new site to rank for. They are dominated by large companies with a long history and large marketing budgets. Some keywords are just too obscure to matter. Yes, I can rank number one for “pink rooster sunglasses”, but no one searches for it. So no traffic from it.

Google is now using semantic processing to understand your content better. Just covering your post with the target keywords is a bad idea and can even have negative effects. There is a clear trend from keywords to topically based understanding of your content. But, people still put in keywords when they make a search query. They don’t type in full sentences. So, for now, keywords still are a big piece of the puzzle. The goal is to write great content that addresses the needs of a large number of searchers. Let’s dig in.

Keywords

— Keyword Density

You want your keywords to be sprinkled within your content, not broadcast throughout. Overuse of your keywords, or keyword stuffing, will have a negative impact on your articles ranking. Best to put your primary specific long tail keyword you want to rank for in your Title, H1, one image alt tag, and early in the first paragraph. A few more references are fine, it needs to feel natural. As a quality writer if you were using the same adjective multiple times you would look for a synonym. The same with your keywords, look for related or semantic keywords.

Google suggest
LSI Graph for affiliate keywords

— Semantic Keywords

Semantic keywords are the words that give relevance to your post. Imagine you are writing about breadcrumb navigation for a website. If Google simple found the articles that had great information about breadcrumbs you would see posts about at least 3 topics; web design, cooking, and Hansel and Gretal.

For the breadcrumbs search, it is the surrounding keywords of navigation, BootStrap and SEO etc. that will give you placement for breadcrumb navigation. Many of these related keywords will flow naturally from your writing. There are a few tools you can use to check that you have covered the most popular semantic keywords.

First, you can use Google auto-suggest as illustrated in the image. When you start typing Google will make suggestions. Another option is LSI Graph, a popular free tool. We have a quick tip on using LSI Graph to find article topics.

Other popular free semantic keyword tools include Moz KeyWord ExplorerSoovel, and Ubbersuggest. Soovle is a tool that uses auto-complete suggestions for a number of search engines including Google, Bing, and Amazon. Ubbersugest works similarly to Soovel but uses the Google autocomplete data exclusively. Both are free tools.

If you have the budget nothing beets SEMRush in this area.

 

— Buying Intent

As affiliate marketers, it is important that you focus on keywords with buying intent. You are not trying to drive generic information seeking traffic to your site. You want visitors that are looking for reviews, sales, pricing, comparison etc. Most SEO’s put keywords into three categories: informational, navigational, and transactional. Affiliates need to target transactional keywords and to some extent navigational. Information keywords are being searched for the purpose of research not buying.

SEO Keyword Funnel

— Long Tail

Long tail keywords are those with a few words after the head keyword. in our breadcrumb navigation example, it would be “breadcrumb navigations code”, “breadcrumb navigation CSS”, etc. These long tail keywords are searched less frequently than the head keywords but they are much less competitive. You have a much better chance of ranking on page 1 of SERP with these.

— Home vs inner pages

You need to check your competition and see where they are ranking for your target keywords. If they are ranking on the front page and you are ranking on inner pages (or vice versa) it will be difficult to compete. The front page is generally for branding and establishing your site as the authority in your niche. Inner pages target more specific money keywords.

Content

Content

Content is your currency as an affiliate. It is what draws people to your site. Google is now much smarter about “good content” than they have been in the past. Spun content, duplicate content, and very low-quality content mills will not cut it. It is a tricky challenge though because content is expensive. If you are a strong writer, do the affiliate linked – money posts yourself. This will make you more in-tune with your readers. If you can’t or choose to outsource content, hire the best writers you can afford for the longer posts and posts with affiliate links. Lower cost sources can be used for the 1000-word review and informational posts.

This combination of self-authoring, premium authors for money posts and budget authors for informational posts works well for me. You need to create a good-sized body of work to get Google’s attention. Outsourcing some of the writing will help with the content velocity factor. But there are other considerations as well.

— Unique Content

It should go without saying that you must create unique content. There was a time when an Amazon storefront with content pulled from Amazon could rank. No longer. If you outsource your writing be sure to check for copied content. Free sites like Copyscape will provide this service. If you have multiple sites or have a need to use the same content in two locations you must use the canonical tag to identify the one you want to be considered the original. Otherwise, Google will decide for you.

— Content Length

When you use Yoast SEO tools it will advise you that the post length is fine over 350 words. Well, it may be fine in that it will get indexed but longer posts rank better. Google interprets a relationship between length and thoroughness. Not to say that each post needs to be 5000 words, or worse yet dumping in lengthy quotes or other filler text just to make it longer. Better to increase the scope of the article. Instead of the Top 3 Fidget Spinners make it the Top 10. In general, a good target is a long skyscraper post of 3000+ words on the home page. This can establish your brand and coverage of your niche. Roundup posts should be 1500-2000 words or more. And single product or point information posts in the 1000 word range. Do have informational posts and not just money posts like reviews and roundups.

Content Length

— Content Quality

Quality matters now. So does volume. You need to have a body of work to start driving traffic. A home page and five reviews will get indexed but Google will not view you as the authority in any niche with that little content. Depending on your niche, work as aggressively as you can towards 25 posts. In the past low-quality posts could rank. Even spun content had some use. Now spun content is a bad idea and the lowest quality writing farms should be avoided. Expect to pay $50 for a 1000 word post from a quality lower cost worker. The higher-quality writers with SEO experience will be at least 50% higher. For starter sites, you can often negotiate packages of articles. At Rapiste we do both one-off articles, packages and monthly content subscriptions. None of these options is going to get you a top-tier writer or editor. The very best writers will be $.10 -$.20 a word or $100 -$200 for a 1000 word article and $400 for a long home-page feature. As talented as they are, they are overkill for most niche sites.

Linking

The backbone of off-page SEO is linking – back-linking. But many site owners neglect the importance of linking from within their content. There are three types of on-page links to consider – internal, external, and affiliate.

Internal links are links from your content to another page on your site. These links help tie together your content and provide context for Google as well as the depth that you cover a topic. External links are links from your content to third-party sites. Affiliate links are your money links and should be tracked, measured and tested. You do need to be careful of abusing external and affiliate linking. A likely Google ranking factor is the number and type of outbound Links (OBL). If you have too many dofollow OBLs you will leak PageRank to these links, too many affiliate links and you look “spammy”. Best to make these high authority external and affiliate links no_follow.

Linking

— Internal

It helps Google understand the relevance. If you are discussing power supplies and you have an in-depth post about choosing the perfect power supply. Link to it. It helps readers navigate your site. Google also uses these links to understand the depth of information you have on a topic.

— External

External links are links from your content to third-party sites. Think of it as your sources and validation of your content. These should be highly authoritative sites. Find the best, the most reliable site for a quotation, or link to detailed information. These can be left do_follow depending on your overall balance.

— Affiliate

Affiliate links should be managed for both SEO value and Click Through Rate (CTR) optimization. Too many links looks spammy to users and Google. All affiliate links should be no_follow. These call to action (CTA) links should be tested for their page location, color, buttons vs. text, etc. They should be tracked by pretty links or a similar tool.

Anchor Text Types

— Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text that the viewer sees associated with the link. It can be a plain (naked) url link, an image link, or a text link with keywords etc.. The distribution of different link types for both external and internal linking is a key part of fine-tuning your content. Particularly for sites that can control the backlink anchors.

You should be careful as it is also a place Google looks at closely for unnatural linking penalties. It is a topic that we will cover in a future in-depth post. Image links use the alt information for the anchor analysis. Naked anchors are the literal url. And text-based anchors can be exact match, partial match, branded or generic.

Engagement

Bounce Rate

According to Gogle Analytics, your “bounce-rate” is defined as follows:

” A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”

But this is a bit tricky for affiliates. After all, your “job” is to get the visitor to Amazon. So a high-bounce rate is not necessarily bad for business. The trick is to understand if people are leaving your site because they think it is an affiliate fluff site or because they are heading off to Amazon to get pricing and reviews. Bounce rate is not clearly a ranking factor but it certainly is a conversion rate factor. You need to engage the audience and lead them to your CTA links.

— Walls of Text

Your bounce rate is greatly affected by the presentation of the content. If you have multiple paragraphs without any images or other visual components readers will leave quickly.  These walls of text are a sure way to lose visitors. You can break the text up with; images, block quotes, tables, videos, etc. Visitors are consuming information by a quick skim of your page. If it pulls them in with video and illustrations your bounce rate will be lower and your Google rank higher.

— Walls of Text

Your bounce rate is greatly affected by the presentation of the content. If you have multiple paragraphs without any images or other visual components readers will leave quickly.  These walls of text are a sure way to lose visitors. You can break the text up with; images, block quotes, tables, videos, etc. Visitors are consuming information by a quick skim of your page. If it pulls them in with video and illustrations your bounce rate will be lower and your Google rank higher.

Metadata

Metadata

Metadata is “data about data”. Now that’s clear, right? Think of metadata for your content marketing needs as all of the information that describes the structure and purpose of the content. We use the Title and H1 tag to define the post, h2 tags define sections and so on. Meta areas like meta-description and schema information let you provide specific instructions for Google to understand your content.

This meta information is often manipulated so you must beware of many flags for Google. From unnatural densities of keywords in image alt attributes to inappropriate snippets. When in doubt, use a synonym or related keyword. Your primary keyword should be in your Title, H1 tag, first paragraph, meta description, and one img tag alt attribute and perhaps one H2. Any other occurrence should be scrutinized and a related keyword used if possible.

MetaData

— Headings

It is important to use your heading tags (H1-H4) as structure, not for presentation purposes. Unless the document is very long with multiple “chapters” there should only be one H1 tag. Most themes automatically use the post title as the H1 tag so be careful to not duplicate it. H2 tags are a great place to add semantic keywords. Add your primary keyword once in the first or second H2 and related keywords in the rest.

— Image data

Images should all have alt attribute data. The alt attribute is used by visually impaired and other users of screen reader type browsers. It is a great place to have keywords and semantic keywords. Don’t overstuff with your main long-tail keywords though. There is also a title attribute for the img tag. This is less critical and not believed to have any SEO value but is used by some tools.

All values for img tag:

<img src=“image.png” alt=“description” title=“title tooltip”>

Yoast ->Title, Description, Slug (permalink)

Yoast Snippet Editor

— Title

Your title tag value has a large on page ranking factor. Definitely get your main keyword in the title (but just once). If you can also fit a related keyword and have the title work, even better. Note that some SEO products like Yoast optionally automatically add your site name to the end of the  “Best Post Ever – Your Site”.

— Slug

The slug is the unique part of the page/posts permalink. it is typically visible to a user when they hover over a hyperlink.

— Description

The meta description is what you are asking Google to use as the SERP description of your content. Google will create this but it is best to craft your own. This and the SEO Title value are easily set on the page with Yoast.

 

Site Architecture

Architecture

Your site’s architecture has a direct influence on the visitors’ experience. Therefore Google has ranking factors related to this area. Sites need to be organized in a way that users can easily navigate around it. It is often based to have clusters of content on specific topics. A silo structure often works best for this.

In addition to your site’s structure, there are other factors to consider. Page load speed is an important measurement. The difference between 1.5 seconds and 5 seconds will be many many users bouncing away. All sites should be secure and be using SSL at this point. Sites should be designed for mobile visitors.

— Site Performance

Content can have an impact on site performance. Always reduce image sizes. Use lazyload plugins for videos. When you embed a YouTube video you are also embedding a bunch of javascript. This loads for each image on the page. Use caching and a CDN. There are many factors that will impact site performance. We did an in-depth case study of how to speed up an affiliate site.

— Mobile Experience

We are now in a mobile-first world. You must design for mobile users. With themes like Divi and Thrive, this is very straightforward. I create posts on a desktop, then reduce the screen size for a quick check of the tablet and phone settings. As the page window is made smaller the page dynamically adapts After the post is complete I double-check with actual phone and/or tablet.

— Silo

In a review site, you might have a setup like in the GuitarWorld image. Silo structures are an easy way to create branches of keyword related content and provide a better experience for the visitor, There are certainly many other ways to organize your content.

Content Silo

— SSL

You must have a green padlock on your site. This is a ranking factor and Google has stated they will penalize content in the future from non-https sites. Fortunately, SSL is very easy to set up these days. Most hosts provide free SSL certificates or you can use one from a CDN vendor like CloudFlare. These are not certificates assigned to just your site. If you are running an e-commerce store you should have your own certificate. The easiest way to implement SSL is to use Really Simple SSL plugin (free). This will force all HTTP requests to be https. If you find you are not getting the green padlock, there is a good chance you have mixed content perhaps a link to an HTTP: resource in a style sheet or template. You can diagnose these issues with sites like WhyNoPadlock. If you are migrating from HTTP to https: you need to be careful to not lose your HTTP rank. Be sure to add both the HTTP and https sites in your webmaster account.

Conclusion

On-page SEO is not hard but is very important for getting organic traffic to your niche site. It requires a bit of methodology and discipline. In the beginning, a checklist is the best option.  It is a lot to remember. You want to be like a pilot and go through the checklist- it’s that important. But it will soon be second nature.
Google wants great content and that includes not just well written, but well structured and delivered in a fast and mobile-aware way. That is the purpose of on-page SEO… to create great content.

on-page seo

Top 25 On-Page Tasks — Checklist

These items will take very little time and are sure to increase your SERP location. Use it for a page/post audit, or a new document checklist. You can simply check-off an item when it is completed. We will remember your checklist when you return so you will always know what still needs to be done. Or you can go to our Checklist for On-Page SEO page.

KEYWORDS

Keywords should be placed in your content in strategic places. Semantic keywords can be used throughout as long as the page reads well. To avoid keyword stuffing penalties and still maximize their draw to your page, place your main keyword (likely a long-tail keyword) in the following areas.

BOUNCE

Your bounce rate is a measure of user engagement. If the user leaves at first glance, Google will note this. Bouncing to Amazon, of course, is good. Best to track your links and see when they leave.

METADATA

Metadata is the extra information provided to help create an understanding of your content. Or to make your content more accessible. For affiliates, it is also important from a keyword position.

LINKING

Linking is critical to Google understanding the topic of your post. The combination of external and internal linking determines your relevance. Internal linking also strengthens the post being linked to. Affiliate links should all be nofollow.

CONTENT

Content is your currency. It is what brings people to your site and encourages them to visit your partners’ sites. Length, originality, and quality are key.

ARCHITECTURE

Your site architecture is the foundation upon which you serve your content. It should be structured for easy navigation, fast and mobile-friendly.