Affiliate Marketing SEO: Complete Beginner’s Guide

SEO stands for search engine optimization. When it comes to affiliate marketing, there probably has been more written about search engine optimization than any other topic. To some affiliate marketers, SEO has almost reached the status of the holy grail of success. This is because the success of your affiliate marketing business largely depends on the search engine spiders successfully reading and updating the listing for your website.

What do we mean by “spiders”? Search engines like Google, Bing, Dogpile, and others send out spiders or automated software robots scouring the internet to read and update the listings for the search engines. 

So, for instance, if the Google spider goes out and reads your website listing but, because of poor SEO practices, can’t accurately and efficiently read the sitemap for your site, your site will be at a disadvantage to sites that do use good SEO practices.

Your ranking in the listings can mean success and affiliate marketing profits or get lost in the lower rankings at the bottom of page 1 or page 2, 3, or beyond, which means very few people will click on your site and you’ll net very poor if any, affiliate earnings.

In this article, you find out why SEO is important for your affiliate marketing success and how your website can become search engine optimized.

What is SEO for affiliate marketing?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. 

The goal of SEO is to increase the ranking of your website in search engine results. The higher the ranking of a website, the more people will see it.

Google has more than 88 percent of the search market. You’re depending on organic traffic (traffic from visitors looking for information) rather than paid Google AdWords advertising, so as a new affiliate marketer you need to follow Google’s guidelines.

In some respects, SEO is like trying to read Google tea leaves. SEO experts are using their expertise and knowledge to guess what Google believes are the most important factors to their spiders. 

Google gives guidance on what its core purpose is and what the best practices are, but often the guidelines aren’t as specific as the affiliate marketer would like.

The best guidance we feel comes from Google itself in its written statement of purpose, found at www.google.com/about/philosophy.html: “Focus on the user and all else will follow” and “Fast is better than slow.”

So what does this mean for the affiliate marketer? How can we achieve the goals of

  • Great user experience
  • Clear design
  • Serving users’ needs
  • Fast page loading and delivery of information

This list doesn’t even mention some of the things SEO experts talk about to reach these goals, like site structure, tags, posts, pages, URLs, and so on. 

So what are the factors that are really important to optimize your website’s SEO? If you can limit it to the top 10 or even the top 20 factors, that is much more doable. Focus on the top few SEO factors that matter the most to Google and you, and forget all the rest for now.

SEO factors are usually divided into two groups, covered in the following sections. On-page SEO factors are factors you can change on the page itself, like URL, keywords, and so forth, and off-page SEO factors include domain age, backlinks, and trust flow.

Understand Google Algorithm 

Google has had many algorithm changes over the years. It recently announced that it has 500 to 600 algorithm changes a year. Some have had devastating effects on affiliate marketers’ income. Some have been only minor.

An algorithm is a set of precise rules that a computer (in this case) must follow to reach a desired goal. Google’s goal is to better serve the users’ needs. If Google serves the users’ needs, the number of users who use the Google search engine will grow, and they will be able to command more money from their advertisers.

But what is the best way for Google to meet the users’ needs? What factors are most important to users? Which are still important but perhaps a little less so? The rules and criteria Google uses to rank the sites of affiliate marketers have varied over time. They have also varied as marketers have tried to take advantage of different aspects of the algorithms’ ranking.

The algorithm changes often seem like a cat-and-mouse game similar to what happens in computer security. An unintended opening is taken advantage of for the personal gain of the marketer but to the detriment of Google’s goal of meeting the users’ needs. Google makes an algorithm change that changes the rules in the computer recipe it used to rate affiliate marketers’ (and others’) sites.

The income of all the affiliate marketers who designed their promotional efforts to exploit this unintended opening drop precipitously as their sites drop to the bottom of the listing. Affiliate marketers can best achieve long-term and lasting success if they help Google reach their goal of serving the users’ needs.

Don’t try to fool Google or trick them by using the latest “secret hack” being sold by the latest internet “guru.” It rarely works, and if it does, it’s quickly discovered and that loophole is closed. So you’ve wasted a lot of time for a short-term ephemeral goal rather than long-term affiliate income. Even worse, Google may ban you (banish you to the bottom of the rankings).

Google generally doesn’t announce its algorithm changes or the purpose of those changes. Often it is to combat abuses of marketers. For instance, page rank used to be an important SEO factor, but marketers tried to game page rank. Keywords were abused by marketers by “keyword stuffing” a page.

Keyword stuffing is basically “stuffing” a page with a keyword or keywords beyond a natural and normal writing level simply in the hope of gaining rank in the search engines. They were stuffing a page with keywords not to convey more information to the user but to try to fool the search engines.

Algorithm updates saw these abuses. Google then figured out a way to modify the algorithm rules to stop that abuse. Google doesn’t want to show their hand in how and what they are doing to eliminate marketers’ abuses and to maintain their search engine market share and the advertising money that comes with it.

Learn more about how Google algorithm works.

Select The Right Niche For SEO

Unless you do niche research first and have chosen an area that has a good number of searches and relatively low competition, your SEO efforts will largely be in vain.

SEO is like the icing on the cake. Your web presence and/or strategy needs to be right or you’ll miss the mark. Say, for instance, you didn’t do any niche research to find out whether the niche you selected had a sufficient number of searches and a “hungry crowd” you could easily reach.

If you tweaked and improved your affiliate marketing site and had perfect SEO, would it matter if you were at the top of the earwax collectors’ niche and all 12 earwax collectors in the world saw your site? Not much, and your profits would be very, very small.

The niche you choose has to have a potential client base that is easily reachable. People who use the internet or social media platforms are easily reachable through forums, emails, Facebook groups and pages, YouTube groups, and so on. 

They are examples of potential customers who are easy to reach through the methods affiliate marketers normally use. On the other hand, if you were trying to market to the “He-Man Internet Hater’s Club,” that would be an example of a group that’s hard to reach since they never use the internet and wouldn’t see any of your information.

The niche you choose also has to have a good number of salable products that your market research has shown you are popular sellers with good user feedback and low complaint levels.

Another reason you want to do your niche research and selection first is competition. The larger the market, the stronger the competition. The more money there is to be made, the more willing the combatants will be to spend any amount of money to be on top.

Learn more about the best ways to choose a niche for affiliate marketing.

On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO refers to all of those things you can do within your site to enhance authority, traffic flow, and promotion.

1. An SEO-friendly domain name

Your domain name should be SEO friendly. That means it should be short, be memorable, be relevant to your niche, and end in a .com extension — for example, christmastrees.com versus christmastreesandwreaths.com. The latter domain name is too long even though it is keyword rich (if Christmas is your niche) and has a .com extension.

2. SEO-friendly URLs

You’ve got a great domain name. It’s short, memorable, and relevant to your niche, and it ends in a .com extension. Great start, but don’t defeat all of your good work by saddling your domain name with SEO-unfriendly URLs. The URL for a post or page generally takes the domain name and tacks onto it whatever structure you’ve set up for your permalinks. Each of your posts and pages has a unique URL that allows your visitors to go to that exact page. That URL is your permalink because it is permanently attached to that post or page.

Setting the correct permalink structure should be one of the first things you do when you set up your website. Before you write a single post or page, set up your permalink structure. It’s easy and quick. To steal a line from Nike, “Just do it!”

A URL may include the date and the post slug. The post slug is the SEO-friendly title of your post without capitals, punctuation, and so on. The title of your post may be long and SEO unfriendly, but you can edit the slug so it is short and SEO friendly, and contains your keyword.

The default WordPress permalink structure is an SEO nightmare because all it includes is the WordPress-generated post number, which no one will search for. Likewise, having the date in your permalink structure conveys very little information, and studies have shown it has very little SEO value. Your best choices of permalink structure are either just the post name or the post plus category names. Your best choice is a customized permalink structure of either

  • www.yourdomainname.com/postslug
  • www.yourdomainname.com/category/postslug 

Your permalink structure is supposed to be permanent. You shouldn’t change it without good reason. This is important! If you have set your site up with a particular permalink setup and later decide to change it, Google won’t be able to find all those old pages, and your web visitors will get errors. You’ll have to set up redirects, which automatically redirect your users to the pages, and you’ll have to modify your files.

WordPress automatically redirects posts that use only the post slug if you change your mind and want to add categories to the permalink structure. That is the only exception, so keep that in mind. 

The permalink structure is set up to help your visitors get to the information they need. As your site grows, you may want to add categories to the permalink structure to help your web visitors zero in more quickly on what they want. It’s important that you think now about these factors that may affect you in the future.

3. Quality content

Write quality content for your website that users will find informative, engaging, and interesting. Your content should help your web visitors solve a problem they have been having, whether your content is on your website, on your Facebook page, or through other social media interactions. It’s not about you. Your story may play a role in developing the relationship with your visitors, but it shouldn’t be the central theme.

I tend to believe what Google says, or what Matt Cutts (former Google spokesperson) says in answer to many SEO questions. People ask him whether this order or that order is more important in terms of SEO, or whether this fine point or that fine point is more important. His almost standard reply is “I wouldn’t obsess about it.” 

It might make a small difference, but only testing will tell you whether it’s going to make a difference to you. (The people who tell you the font, the color, or some other little point makes a huge difference in SEO are usually trying to sell you a course to prove their point.)

Google tells us that quality content is of primary importance in how they rank your efforts. Studies have shown that Google ranks long content higher than short posts. My testing has shown that to be true despite the new internet gurus who say that today’s audience wants short articles with lots of white space. That prescription is embraced by lazy marketers who don’t want to write long posts.

Aim to have your posts between 3,000 and 4,000 words. Keeping up a flow of quality content isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have some prior knowledge of the niche. That’s why we suggest you start with your own passions and interests when looking for a niche. We suggest that you start writing your own articles for your site. You’ll discover a lot about the entire process of your affiliate marketing business by writing, posting, making comments, responding, sending email, and so forth.

Even if you’re interested in the topic, it can be tough to keep up a steady stream of content. Look to outsourcing only as an adjunct to your own writing for those times when you’re just too busy to keep up the flow of posts. Google wants to see new information on your site each time its spiders come to call. If your site isn’t growing, it’s dying.

Outsourcing is basically paying people to help you by writing content for you. It’s not a slam-dunk walk in the park either. You can go to outsourcing sites and search for article writers in your price range. 

Know specifically what you want from the writer so you can give him the specifications for the writing job. You don’t want to end up with an article that is off topic because you weren’t clear in the job specification.

On outsourcing sites, the people seeking writing jobs are rated by past article purchasers, which gives you a basis for choosing. Ask for past examples of their work so you can make a judgment about it. Also ask the writer you’re considering hiring what her expertise and interests are. 

The closer her passions, expertise, and interests are to the topics you want her to write about, the better the articles will be. If someone knows nothing about a topic and doesn’t do extensive research, the article will be filled with fluff and filler. There will be no content that adds to your authority or enhances your users’ experience.

What I found when outsourcing is that no matter how carefully I selected the writer before the job, there was always a time-consuming back-and-forth until the article was as I wanted it. Nothing spells amateur and poor quality like a post that is riddled with spelling errors and grammar errors, or just doesn’t help you further your prime goal of helping your web visitors.

If you want to try outsourcing, here are a couple of sites to try:

  • Fiverr: This was one of the first websites for freelancers. However, times have changed, and you can’t expect quality articles for $5. Check the rating for people you’re considering as well as their expertise and background. You may not find writers qualified or willing to write in your niche. Fiverr also offers a hand-vetted Pro level of freelancers who are available, although they charge more. Getting a Pro level writer may help you avoid some of the prequalification work.
  • Freelancer: The same caveats apply as with Fiverr. Check the writer’s rating, background, and expertise. A wide range of freelancers with a variety of skills is available. It may be a little more expensive than Fiverr.

4. Linking

Linking is both an on-page SEO factor and an off-page SEO factor (covered later in this chapter), and both types are important. Backlinking is off-page, while standard links and internal links are on-page.

Linking in SEO occurs when you or some other website places a hyperlink in a post or on a page. Linking, especially backlinking, is viewed by Google as a measure of your importance and authority on the web. Here are some important terms to know:

  • Backlinking is when another website includes a hyperlink back to your website. To Google this means the other website owner thought enough of your website or post to let his audience know there is some information on your website that they should take a look at. Learn more about how to get backlinks.
  • Links occur when you place a hyperlink on one of your posts or pages that links to another website. In essence you’re telling your audience that there is something on another website that is important to share with them. This shows Google you’re engaged in the space and related to other on-topic websites. Obviously, it doesn’t carry as much weight with Google as when others give you their seal of approval through a backlink.
  • Internal linking occurs when you place a hyperlink in a post or page that points to another post or page on your own website. This gives Google an idea of how your site is structured and organized. Internal linking can boost your SEO. If you have many links to one article or post, it gives Google an idea of what you think is important and of how your site is organized. Learn more about internal linking strategies

Links are important for your success, but do link building the right way! Some abuses by internet marketers have given link building a bad reputation. Some years back, internet marketers set up “link farms,” which were large groups of domains. All of them would link reciprocally with all the other websites in the link farm. 

The purpose of these link farms was simply to build up the link count for either themselves or their clients who paid them for backlinks. Don’t be tempted to buy backlinks. While doing some research for this section, we came across someone who was promising 30,000 “high-quality” backlinks for $6. Really?

High-quality backlinks are related to your niche and posts. They have to come from sites that have high authority, citation flow, and reputation flow. In other words, high-quality backlinks come from sites that rank highly in Google’s eyes.

The temptation to shortcut the backlink process is very strong because building backlinks the right way is time-consuming. What you want to do is locate sites in your niche that have a lot of backlinks themselves. 

You then send them an email citing the work they do and showing them a link you’ve placed on your site linking to some content on their site you thought would be valuable to their audience. You offer them some content on your site that you think their audience may be interested in and ask whether each webmaster would place a link to your site on his. This method, often referred to as manual link building, takes time and effort, but the backlinks you get are valuable additions to your sites.

5. Site Speed

Google says the speed of your site is one of the most important SEO factors. Today, if your site doesn’t load fast, people become impatient and just click away to some other site, and you lose a visitor and potential affiliate income. Studies show that if your site doesn’t load in three seconds, your visitor will be gone.

We found the most helpful site to be GTmetrix. A free account allows you to analyze up to three URLs. You can set up your free account so you’re emailed reports once a week. Analysis of your URL includes 26 different PageSpeed factors. You can click on each factor to get suggestions for improvement. Some solutions are easier to implement than others. So go for those you can easily correct, and as your knowledge grows, you can correct some of the more difficult ones.

I can tell you from my own experience before testing and correcting using GTmetrix that my page load time was 3.6 seconds and I was given a C grade. After implementing some of their suggestions, my page load speed is now 2.1 seconds and I have an A grade PageSpeed score. My YSlow speed grade is B, and the main reason is I haven’t implemented a CDN network yet. But that reduction in PageSpeed did increase the number of visitors to my site.

When it comes to speed, a CDN (content delivery network) is also important for WordPress sites. It’s an addition to your normal hosting that hosts static content from your site on servers around the world. So when someone goes to your site and needs that bit of static content, it’s fetched from the server nearest them rather than having to go back to your host’s server.

You can set up a CDN using a regular content delivery network company, or you can use AWS — Amazon Web Services. In my experience, Amazon costs a fraction of what you would pay a regular CDN company. That’s the good news. However, one downside is that what Amazon is selling you is a slice of computer time. Your costs vary with usage. 

But the biggest downside for a beginning affiliate marketer is that the computer time Amazon sells you comes with no help, no forms, and no support. Setup is more difficult, and you’re largely on your own. Amazon does offer video tutorials, and you can find some information on setup on the internet and YouTube.

You can achieve good speed without a CDN. It’s something to consider for the future. We just wanted to bring up CDNs because some people (mainly those selling CDNs) say you have to have a CDN. 

Although this is important, you’ll have quite a lot on your plate as a beginning affiliate marketer, and this is one of those tasks that can wait until you have set up your basic website in your niche, started writing and posting content, and begun testing for errors.

Learn more about the best ways to improve page speed.

6. Keywords and word placement

Use your keywords in your posts. For instance, say you’re writing a post and your keyword phrase is “dog bones.” You want to make sure that “dog bones” are the first words in your post. You also want to have them be the first words in your title. That carries over into first position in your slug for the page.

Some internet gurus will tell you that the position of the keyword must be first. Matt Cutts’s advice on word order is don’t obsess about it. Our testing has shown that position is important, and whenever possible, you should position your keyword first. 

However, don’t twist your writing into a pretzel trying to make it first. Have that as a goal but write naturally, and if it isn’t first, it isn’t first. Nothing screams “marketer” louder than tortured English for supposed SEO value. Google also doesn’t like keyword stuffing.

One of the best free and easiest to use tools to help you with your on-page SEO is Yoast, a WordPress plug-in. You can install it on your site by going to your WordPress dashboard. Go down to the plug-in menu, choose “add new,” and put “Yoast” in the plug-in search menu. Add Yoast to your website and activate. Find out more about Yoast later in this chapter.

7. Mobile access

An increasing percentage of the internet population is accessing information on mobile devices like cell phones. Google is paying increasing attention to the mobile awareness of your site. Since the screen on a cell phone and mobile devices is smaller, some changes in presentation need to be made for viewing your site on a mobile device.

One of the easiest ways of handling this is to make sure your site is mobile aware. That means it will automatically adjust the presentation of your site to the screen it is being viewed on. You can check with your Google Search Central tools to see how effective your mobile presentation is. 

Google may make some recommendations such as adjusting button size and so on. However, this factor is not as important as the others and is a task that can wait until the initial setup is finished.

Learn more about the best ways to make a website mobile-friendly.

Off-page SEO factors

Off-page SEO refers to all those things you can do outside of your website to enhance promotion and traffic. Statistics from well-regarded website analysis companies show that 50 percent of a site’s ranking is due to off-site SEO factors.

Although many marketers think of links when they think of off-page SEO, off-page strategy is much more than that. For many, link building has acquired a bad reputation because many marketers abused link building for its reputed SEO value, not for bringing value to the web visitor. But Google views links created correctly as a sign of a website’s authority, trust, and value.

Up to this point, we haven’t brought up the White Hat–Black Hat controversy since we’ve been teaching White Hat methods of promotion and web SEO. What do we mean by these terms?

White Hat methods basically follow Google’s approved methods of SEO, where you’re bringing value to the web visitor. Examples of White Hat methods are developing relationships with other webmasters in your niche and posting links to content that the other webmaster found to be of value to his audience.

Black Hat methods are employed solely for the believed SEO enhancement; they bring no value to the web visitor. (They are called Black Hat for the villains in old Westerns who were identified with black hats. The hero wore a white hat.) Link building is one area that is often most closely associated with Black Hat methods. Examples of Black Hat methods include buying links, link farms, automated link-building tools, and PBNs (Private Business Networks). Employing Black Hat methods never works long term — it’s always discovered by Google since you really haven’t built value. It can result in Google either dropping your website precipitously in the rankings or even banning your site. Don’t do it — no matter how enticing it seems.

All links are not created equal. Sites that are popular, that themselves command authority and trust flow, are more highly valued than sites with no traffic and no authority. 

Links to genuine educational organizations and government organizations are more highly valued (or at least they used to be) because they were perceived to be trustworthy and have authority. Their value has been somewhat tarnished since some marketers have purchased .edu domain names and created “fake” educational organizations to get the SEO value from an .edu link.

There are several different types of White Hat links:

  • Those developed manually through deliberate link-building activities, such as guest blogging and asking other webmasters to post links to your site that they think their visitors would find valuable. You can also use social media to develop links by developing forum pages with active interactions and discussions. You provide links to content you feel they would find valuable, and if they do, they might post a link recommending your site.
  • Natural links where other webmasters visit your site and you get links without any actions on your part.
  • Self-created links where you add your own link to directories, forums, blog signatures, and so on. Sometimes these self-created link techniques shade into Black Hat methods and can get you in trouble. Self-created links are the least valued.

Learn more about link-building strategies.

How To Set Up Your Site to Be SEO Friendly

After you do your niche research, select a profitable, low-competition niche, and understand SEO factors, it’s important to also make your site SEO friendly. The following sections discuss what you need to do.

1. Tags and categories

Tags and categories are the signposts you leave for web visitors so they can find the information they want on your site. They are methods people use to sort through your site for the information they want. The purpose of categories and tags is to help your web visitors find the information they are looking for and to improve your users’ experience.

Tags and categories, although they both serve as guides for your users, have different areas they are trying to guide your web visitors to:

  • Categories are signposts to help web visitors find broad areas of your content. You usually put a post in only one category. For example, if your niche was precious metals investing, one of the categories may be gold.
  • Tags are signposts to help web visitors find specific information on your site. They are usually taken from keywords on a page. Experts recommend you use no more than ten tags per post. For example, suppose you wrote a precious metals investing article in the gold category and mentioned the terms “spot price,” “market,” “manipulation,” and “podcast.” Those terms may be your tags: spot price, market manipulations, and podcast. They more specifically illustrate the particular post.

One of the easiest ways to give your visitors a visual representation of your website organization is to just put a tag cloud widget on your page. Your visitor can see, by the size of the text, how frequently the tag is used.

Tags are generally are taken from the keywords you use in a post. But keywords must be relevant to the article and used at a recommended keyword density of 1–3 percent. That means your keywords should not make up more than about 3 percent of the total words in the post. 

If you have a keyword density higher than that 3 percent, you may appear guilty of “keyword stuffing” to the search engines. Some marketers, in an attempt to game the system and boost their position in the eyes of the search engines, would “stuff” a page with a high number of the same keywords used repeatedly in the same post. Keyword stuffing no longer works and in fact may hurt your ranking.

2. Posts and pages

Posts and pages are two of the ways you can add content to your website (we explain the importance of quality content earlier in this chapter). Although they both allow you to add content, they are used for different purposes and operate differently. To take maximum advantage of the power of each and derive maximum SEO value, you need to understand these differences and write appropriate content accordingly.

Posts

Most people are familiar with posts even if they don’t know the specifics. That’s because many websites today are blogs. The blog format is promoted to beginners as an easy way to start a website. There are plenty of blog web builders, like Wix (www.wix.com/), that will sell you pre-done blog starters that make your site look good right off the bat, but these aren’t necessary to start a blog format website.

A blog is simply an online journal about a particular topic, which is a broad enough description to encompass a lot of websites on the internet. Blogging often refers to a personal journal. However, blog builders, especially one like WordPress, aren’t limited to the standard blog format. We like to use the term CMS (content management system) since it is a way to organize and display content in a variety of ways in addition to the standard blog.

Posts are used for websites that are basically informational or discussion-focused. (Since posts welcome and invite web visitor discussion, they are also social in nature, whereas pages are not.) Posts form the basic content mechanism of blogs because of their timed nature. 

That is one of the most significant differences between posts and pages. Posts appear in reverse chronological order, with the newest one appearing first and pushing down all other posts a spot when it’s published. This is great for discussion-type sites where you’re trying to relate the latest news, latest celebrity doings, and so on. Posts are organized for the visitor using categories and tags.

The timed nature of posts makes it necessary for you to constantly and frequently update your website with new posts, for the sake of both your web visitors and the web spiders. If spiders come back to your site and report that there is nothing new to the search engines, you’ll find your position in the rankings dropping.

Even though you have to constantly update you website with new posts and pages, all of that content has to be relevant to your niche. If the content is relevant to your niche and organized correctly, Google and the other search engines have a better idea of what your website is about, and if they get a better idea of what it is about, it will likely rise in the rankings.

If, on the other hand, you start writing posts about different nonrelevant topics, Google and the other search engines will become confused about what your site is really about, and you will hurt your ranking.

Posts are used in your RSS feed and pages are not. Your RSS feed is often how webmasters automatically deliver the latest information to their subscribers. For instance, one of the mail services that I use is Mailchimp. 

You can set up a mailing to your subscribers that automatically emails a newsletter with your latest posts based on your RSS feed. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your audience by keeping them up-to-date with the latest posts and news. If you want to include pages in your newsletter, you need to create a campaign and include that page. It’s still easy, just not automatic.

Pages

Pages, unlike posts, don’t have a timed nature. They are used for information that is evergreen or timeless, like your “About Us,” disclaimer, privacy policy, or other longstanding pages.

We don’t mean to imply that you can’t add to these pages, edit them, or change them as circumstances demand, such as noting an addition to your bio on your “About Us” page. But the information doesn’t change on a regular basis like when you’re adding posts.

Pages are organized on a hierarchal parent page–child page basis. So, for instance, you can have multiple child pages all with the same parent page. For instance, say your niche is coffee and one of the silos you’re trying to build on your site is coffee makers. 

On that page you can describe coffee makers in general terms. Underneath that parent page, you can have a child page for drip coffee makers, a child page for pod coffee makers, a child page for cold-brew coffee makers, a child page for espresso machines, and so on.

Since posts are time-stamped, each new post pushes the previous one down. Pages, on the other hand, don’t have the timed nature of a post; their content doesn’t change that frequently. However, the same SEO factors are important with pages as they are with posts. The free version of Yoast will give you the same SEO guidance for pages as it gives for posts.

3. Building a silo

Silos have become popular in the internet world. The term is often mentioned but seldom understood or explained other than being said to be good for your SEO. A silo is an organizational technique that helps search engines better understand what your site is about. It also helps your visitors navigate your site to find the information they are seeking.

Search engines and spiders can’t read a page like human visitors. If you can organize your site in a way that makes it more understandable to the search engines, it will help your SEO. Building content silos on your site makes it easier for search engines to understand what your site is about. Contrast that with the way most websites grow with posts. One topic is about this aspect of your niche, the next post is about another aspect, the third about another, the fourth yet another, and so on.

A famous analogy that has been used to explain the silo concept used marbles (but it has been repeated dozens of times using jellybeans and such). For this illustration, imagine your articles are different colors depending on the topic. Traditionally, you would have a red one, then a blue one, then a yellow, then a green, and so on. So you would have this growing pile of various-colored marbles all mixed together.

This would make it difficult for the search engines to understand what your website is about. Is it about red marbles? Blue marbles? Green marbles? It would also make it hard for your web visitors to find the information they need — they would have to dig through that pile of various-colored marbles until they came upon the one they wanted.

Now say you’re going to build your website on the silo model. You have a series of open tubes — a red tube, a blue tube, a yellow tube, and so forth. Each time you write a red article, it goes in the red tube, blue articles go in the blue tube, and yellow articles go in the yellow tube.

Now imagine the tubes are subniches in your niche. Say your niche is coffee. The red tube could be your espresso tube, and all espresso articles go there. Your blue tube could be your cold-brew coffee tube, and all cold-brew coffee articles go there, and so on. This organization makes it much easier for search engines to understand what your site is about. 

Since all of the tubes are semantically related, the search engines know your site is about coffee. It also makes it easier for your web visitors to get to the information they want. It improves the user experience, which is another reason it improves your SEO. Note: Tags and categories (discussed earlier in this chapter) are also organizational methods, but they are not as clear for the search engines as silos are.

Trying Out SEO Tools

After you have a good idea about what SEO is and why it’s important for your affiliate marketing success, the next question that needs answering is how to improve your site’s SEO. The following sections cover some easy-to-use tools that you’ll find helpful.

Yoast

Yoast (https://yoast.com/) is a WordPress plug-in. There is a free version and you can upgrade to a premium version, but we think the free version serves the beginning affiliate marketer well.

One advantage of Yoast is that because it’s a WordPress plug-in, you can see the SEO suggestions it makes as you write your post or page. So even before you publish that post or page, you can make the changes that Yoast suggests. Even if you don’t quite understand SEO completely, you can improve your SEO simply by following Yoast’s suggestions.

Yoast also does a readability analysis. It tells you whether your sentences are too long, you use the passive voice too much, and so on. It tells you whether you’re writing at a difficulty level that is inappropriate for the average internet audience. Keep in mind that you’re trying to write in a way that appeals to the broadest internet audience.

Moz Analytics

With Moz Analytics, you can enhance your traffic using both basic and advanced research tools for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In addition to providing detailed information about inbound links, it is also known as a keyword research tool, SEO keyword generator, and comprehensive link analysis tool.

One of the best aspects of this solution is that it provides a wide variety of research tools for both beginners and experts. This site offers tutorials to help you enhance your site’s SEO program and understand more about SEO in general. The Moz Analytics platform also provides advanced tools that help you improve your site’s ranking.

A feature is also available that monitors your site for issues that block it from gaining traffic, including all the missing titles, tags, broken redirects, etc. Daily updates make it superior to others because it provides tools for link analysis, live link index, and competitor research.

Google Search Central

Google Search Central tools are offered free to webmasters. You need to set up an account, but don’t worry, it’s free. 

It gives you valuable insight into how your site is performing. It tells you how your site does in mobile usability. It tells you whether any aspects of your site are giving errors and need to be corrected. Sign up for your free account at https://developers.google.com/search.

Learn more about the best SEO tools.

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