As an affiliate marketer, you want to promote products and services that people are actively looking to buy. And as you know, consumers tend to purchase after doing online research. According to Demand Sage, 74% of internet users in the United States visit multiple affiliate websites before making a purchase.
Therefore, your role as an affiliate marketer involves identifying the search terms your potential audience uses during their online research and creating content around those terms.
To find these search terms, you need to learn how to conduct proper keyword research. It will help you know what your audience is searching for so that you can create content, generate organic traffic, promote the right products/services, and position yourself to be easily discoverable.
But what is keyword research, and how should you approach it as an affiliate marketer?
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and selecting the most relevant search terms that customers enter into search engines to find information about the products or services you’re promoting or to buy them.
Suppose you already have an affiliate product or service you are promoting. In that case, keyword research will help you identify the high-converting search terms and phrases that potential customers frequently use when searching for products or services within your niche.
This research aims to uncover profitable keywords that align with the products or services you are promoting as an affiliate, helping you optimize your website content for SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, or other promotional efforts.
And if you are looking to start affiliate marketing, keyword research is the foundation of your journey. It can help you find a niche and alternative low-competition keywords.
Benefits of Keyword Research for Affiliate Websites
- Discover Marketing Trends and Insights: Keyword research helps you stay updated with current market trends and consumer preferences. When you analyze popular search terms and emerging keywords, you can identify trends and adjust your affiliate marketing strategy accordingly.
- Discover Other Keywords: Keyword research is about finding a few primary keywords and discovering related and long-tail keywords. These secondary keywords can be valuable for targeting and reaching a broader audience and diversifying your content.
- Save Time, Money, and Energy: Effective keyword research prevents you from wasting time and resources on content that won’t resonate with your target audience or prioritizing phrases with insignificant search volume.
- Audience Engagement: Choosing the right keywords helps you understand your audience better. This will help you create high-quality, relevant content that can foster trust and credibility, leading to increased click-through rates and conversions on your affiliate offers.
- Building Content Strategy: Keyword research forms the foundation of your content strategy as it ensures you publish discoverable content that addresses customers’ pain points. It helps you plan what topics to cover, what products or services to promote, and how to structure your content.
How to do keyword research for your Affiliate Site
Choose a Niche and Validate it
To build a successful affiliate business, you want to focus your site on a well-defined audience and, later, promote products and services. To do this, you need to identify and choose a niche.
At this stage, you probably know what niche to pursue. Maybe it’s cooking, parenting, outdoor, or sports. Typically, it is something you are knowledgeable or passionate about.
But before starting your business, you must conduct market research. This is a paramount step in choosing a niche for your affiliate marketing business, as it helps in the initial validation stage.
You will be able to identify potential end products/services you can sell to earn a commission, recognize the level of demand, understand competition, and estimate profitability.
The data obtained from market research and initial niche validation will help you identify the most relevant keywords and phrases associated with your chosen niche.
You’ll know what terms potential customers use when searching for products or information about your niche. This knowledge forms the foundation of your keyword research.
Define Your Audience
When creating an affiliate site, you’re building it for an audience — not for yourself. Therefore you need to know who they are and understand their challenges and problems.
That will put you in a position where you can identify affiliate products that can help them solve their problems and accomplish their goals. Additionally, knowing your audience reduces ad spend wastage and enhances ROI if you intend to invest in PPC and other paid advertising campaigns.
Here’s a quick break down on how to define your audience:
- Know Their Demographics: Start by identifying the demographic characteristics of your target audience, such as age, gender, location, and occupation. Simply put, one demographic’s keywords will differ from a second demographic, even when searching for the same product.
For example, let’s say you are running an affiliate site selling mobility aids such as stairlifts and wheelchairs. The keywords you focus on would vary depending on whether your target audience comprises individuals with disabilities or senior citizens.
- Know Their Psychographics: Understand the psychographics of your audience, including their interests, pain points, motivations, and behaviors. This will give you insights into what topics and solutions they are looking for.
Psychographics help you choose keywords that deeply resonate with their pain points. For example, instead of targeting “wheelchairs for elders,” you might target keywords like “safe and comfortable wheelchairs for seniors” for those looking for value or “affordable mobility aids for elderly independence” for prospects looking to save money.
- Create Buyer Personas: These are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers and represent different segments of your target audience. Buyer personas are important if you intend to promote different affiliate products on your site and target different demographics.
Once you have well-defined buyer personas, you can brainstorm keywords and search queries that your target audience will likely use.
For example, if you have a buyer persona for “Seniors with Mobility Issues,” you can focus on keywords like “mobility aids for seniors” or “walker accessories for the elderly.” And if you have a buyer persona of “Caregiver of Elderly with Mobility Issues,” you can focus on keywords like “walking canes for elderly parents” and “mobility aids for arthritis patients.”
Understand Your Audience Search Intent
Search intent and keyword research go hand in hand.
Search intent refers to the reason behind a customer’s online search, i.e., what do they intend to accomplish when they google something?
Understanding and targeting different search intent types can help you identify, brainstorm, and choose the most effective keywords and create content that aligns with what your audience is looking for.
To keep this interesting, we will run with the example of an affiliate site selling mobility aid products.
Here’s how you could go about leveraging different search intents to find relevant keywords
Informational Intent: Users with informational intent are looking for information or answers to their questions. For a mobility aid affiliate site, this could include people seeking advice on types of mobility aids, their benefits, how to choose the right one, or tips for using them. For example, you can write a blog about “how to repair electric wheelchair wheels” and promote spare parts products to earn an affiliate commission.
Navigational Intent: Navigational intent is when users search for a specific website or brand. You can leverage this intent by optimizing for branded keywords related to the mobility aids you promote by creating informative pages or blog posts focusing on specific brands. For example, “Brand X Mobility Scooters: Your Ultimate Guide” or “Brand Y’s Product Lineup,” and you will include affiliate links to the respective brand’s products.
Commercial Intent: Commercial intent users are in the consideration stage and looking to purchase soon. They might be comparing different mobility aid products, reading reviews, or seeking discounts and deals. You can target commercial keywords by publishing content such as “Comparing the Best Mobility Scooters for Outdoor Adventures,” or “Finding the Perfect Lightweight Wheelchair: A Buyer’s Guide.”
Transactional Intent: Transactional intent indicates users are ready to buy. They may search for specific product names, model numbers, or phrases like “buy mobility scooter online.” You can intercept this traffic by writing content such as “Where to Buy Mobility Scooter Online ” or “Best Christmas Deals on Wheelchairs” and adding direct affiliate links to the discounted products.
Align your keyword research and content strategy with different search intents so you can be well-positioned to attract and convert visitors to your affiliate site. Additionally, you should target all relevant search intents, as this will help you build topical authority and effectively guide prospective customers through every stage of their buying journey.
Analyze Competitors’ Websites
Your competitors are likely targeting keywords that have proven effective in your niche.
Analyzing your competitors’ keyword strategies isn’t about copying them but rather conducting a strategic SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to leverage their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.
In keyword research, this involves identifying the keywords driving traffic and conversions for your competitors and then strategically incorporating them into your strategy to achieve similar or even better results.
Conversely, competitors may neglect or pay little attention to specific keywords or areas within your niche. These are the weaknesses in their strategy.
Analyzing your competitors allows you to find these gaps or missed opportunities and capitalize on them. This might involve targeting less competitive keywords or addressing underserved customer needs.
SUGGESTION: You can illustrate this further if you have premium Ahref/Semrush.
Conduct Keyword Analysis
So, you’ve already made significant progress in your keyword research journey.
You’ve chosen a niche you’re interested in and validated its potential. You’ve also done the hard work of defining your audience, understanding what they’re searching for, and even taking a peek at your competitors’ websites to see what they’re up to.
At every point of this stage, you have been able to identify words and phrases that you can use as keywords. But they’re probably short-tail (typically less than five words), broad, and usually very competitive.
Those keywords are what we call “seed keywords,” and they form the basis of your indepth keyword research process, which requires keyword analysis.
Now, this is where you take those relevant seed keywords you’ve gathered and dig deeper to understand their potential and relevance to your affiliate site.
You will need tools such as Semrush, Wordstream, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Ahrefs to perform keyword research.
Using these tools, you will conduct keyword analysis in order to:
- Expand Your Keyword List: Start using the seed keywords you discovered during your initial research. These are the primary keywords that are closely related to your niche. You can use tools such as AnswerThePublic or Semrush to generate more keywords and build topic clusters for your content strategy.
For example, if we want to promote shower chairs for our mobility aids affiliate site, we can use Semrush to ideate content.
Alt: Screenshot illustration of using Semrush to expand your keyword list.
- Determine Keyword Difficulty: Keyword difficulty is expressed in percentages and gauged on a scale of 1 to 100. A score of 1 would represent very low difficulty, indicating that it’s relatively easy to rank for that keyword, while a score of 99 would indicate the opposite.
Using the seed keyword “shower chair,” we can use Semrush to determine how hard it is to rank for this phrase.
Alt: Screenshot illustration of using Semrush to find KD, search volume, search intent, etc.
- Analyze Monthly Search Volume: Using tools such as Ahrefs, you can find how many people search for a specific term each month. Focus on keywords with a reasonable search volume to ensure there’s enough customer interest and affiliate products to promote.
- Check Conversion and Profit Potential: Consider the potential for affiliate earnings. Some keywords may be more lucrative because they lead to products or services with higher commissions. For instance, keywords that address an electric scooter’s commercial or transactional intent will likely generate more affiliate commission for our mobility aid website than an informational post about walking canes.
- Assess Keyword Relevance: Use tools like Google Trends to see if your chosen keywords are trending upwards or downwards. This can help you identify evergreen keywords and seasonal trends.
Here’s an example targeting the keyword shower chairs. It has a relatively stable demand and an “okay” global search relevance over the last 12 months.
Get Started and Keep The Momentum Going
The affiliate marketing landscape is ever-evolving, so staying adaptable and responsive through ongoing keyword research and experimentation is the key to long-term success in your industry.
It’s vital to embrace a dynamic approach to ensure sustained profitability and maintain a competitive edge. Continuously refine your keyword research, keeping an eye on emerging trends and shifting consumer preferences.
Be proactive by experimenting with new keywords, SEO tactics, and content strategies to enhance your affiliate site’s visibility and relevance.