Affiliate marketing is a popular method of outsourcing or extending the reach of internal marketing. However, not as many know that they can use it to boost their SEO efforts.
Granted, it's not always easy to see the connection between affiliate marketing and SEO. Often when a website's rankings drop, the owners are quick to assume that one of their affiliates made the mistake. However, the bad reputation of links gotten through affiliates only suggests one thing: That many website owners don't know how to play their part when working with them.
Affiliate marketing works in SEO as well as it does in other marketing strategies: Someone promotes your link and you pay them when a user performs a desired action. This works for various reasons. First, affiliate marketers capitalise on the influence they have over their audience. Enlisting them to your service earns you favour with that audience, increasing your chances of getting them to complete any goals. Second, affiliate marketing allows you to target niche markets. The increasingly huge number of networks forces them into various niches. This lets you target very specific segments of the population.
To enjoy these benefits, you have to learn how to turn the practice in your favour. A hands-on approach is necessary so you can ensure any actions are guided towards your goals. Otherwise, you risk both your time and money with affiliates who want the easy way out.
1. Create high-quality content, consistently
Effective SEO starts with a great content strategy. High quality content helps boost your credibility and nudge prospects towards the sale. Affiliate reps will also need your content to promote and link back to.
Your content must be informative and interesting. To that end, authoritative and evergreen content works best. Authoritative content is that which has the voice of an expert behind it. It's also unique information shared only by your brand so the user wouldn't get it anywhere else. This could be data mined and organised internally by your team, business reports and industry benchmarks among others. This type of content is authoritative and earns you the attention of users.
Evergreen content is that which is always relevant. Because of the fast changing technology with new ways of doing things, content can quickly become irrelevant. For instance, a comprehensive guide on SEO that helped launch your career ten years ago might not work for beginners today. It's become irrelevant in the face of regular algorithm updates, some practices are now considered spam or it's just not enough in the amount of information it contains. To avoid this, marketers regularly update their content to go with the times. Such a guide, if constantly updated, would still be relevant a decade after it was first published, making it ever green.
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2. Build quality and natural backlinks to your product pages
Did you know that more than 90% of content on the internet gets no search traffic? According to a survey done on over one billion web pages Ahrefs, about 55% of those pages don't have any links pointing to them, suggesting the importance of backlinks in boosting web traffic and the danger of not having them.
Affiliate marketing is built right into what generating backlinks is about: The affiliate has to link back to what they are promoting. It's up to you to make sure that this promotion is strategic. Having them link back to product pages helps increase the traffic and potential buyers on those pages. It does more. Each of the incoming links not only brings traffic to the page but also adds to the site authority, improving rankings.When linking back to you, make sure the affiliates use descriptive anchor text with significant keywords. Also of importance is the source of the link. Insist on high quality links that originate from thoughtful content. Finally, use a tool like Backlinks to evaluate the linking sites and manage your backlinks. Alternatively, you can use Google Search Console, a free and effective way to keep tabs on your backlink strategy.
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3. Make use of social media
Does social media activity influence SEO? Officially, Google says it doesn't. SEO experts argue against that stance saying that social media does indeed show an impact on rankings. However, many say that this is only as a result of the many backlinks that come from continued sharing of the content. Hootsuite went ahead and did an investigation on that and according to the results, social media is not only important to improving rankings but it's also enough to affect them regardless of links.
Google's official stance aside, experiments have shown that social media plays a part in boosting SEO. When working with affiliate reps, leverage their social media presence to improve your ranking. Besides your own, help them create great content for their networks and feature your products by use of hashtags, social media mentions and links. If they have a platform such as a vlog or podcast, ask to appear on it. As they share it on social media, they will be sharing your product too. Finally, encourage them to share and repost any piece of content that has your products on it. Use scheduling and reminders to ensure it's shared regularly. This will increase the number of potential viewers.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to boost SEO. However, as many marketers quickly realise, it's not a way to game the system. Regular algorithm updates have made it impossible to hack.
High quality content is the platform on which you can implement SEO best practices such as affiliate marketing. Consumers are interested in content and thus search engines are focused on the type of content offerings you have. A strategic approach on the pages linked to, the keywords used and promotion channels is still necessary to maximise the results of your affiliate program. These tips can help you avoid some of the mistakes done by many marketers who try and fail to use affiliate marketing for SEO.