What is a keyword?
Effectively, keyword research informs the affiliate of how their potential customer base is searching for their services or products. Researching the ways in which your prospective user base is looking for the type of products & services you offer allows you to create a content creation and marketing plan.
If, for instance, several keywords are indicating that your user base is looking for budget items, you want to create content catering to that – promoting the products that satisfy their need.
The term ‘keyword’ is used to describe a search query with volume.
So, what does that mean?
A search query is a question or phrase that you would use within a search engine to find something you are looking for, whether that is information, products, or more. Volume indicates how often a query is used per month; commonly, keyword research tools will allow you to filter volume down globally, or by country.
So, any query with a reasonable number of searches can be considered a keyword. It is highly likely you have found yourself reading this post following a search query on Google or other similar search engines.
Correct keyword research informs the strategy you should pursue to improve rankings within the SERPs (search engine results pages). Not only will this place more eyes on the product you promote, but the customer base will be far more targeted and likely to convert into sales.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is essential for any good digital marketing strategy, as it not only informs you of what your customers are likely to be searching for – but the level of competition you are going to face for that keyword.
Basing your content marketing strategy around the correct keywords not only improves your visibility online but should lead to an increase in sales. Working to inform Google of what your page is about, letting them know what search queries you should appear for.
For example, you have posted an article about a great new deal you are offering in your web store. If every word contained within this hypothetical post only appeared once, Google wouldn’t be able to decipher what the page is about or where to place the page’s importance.
However, if several terms relating to ‘drum kits’ appear repeatedly, Google can understand that this is something users searching for drum kits might want to see. Please note, if you think you can get away with typing your main keyword on page a thousand times and rank, then you are mistaken.
Keyword Stuffing has long been snuffed out by Google, and the focus should always be on user intent, with keywords appearing naturally.
Usually, any on-page copy will contain the keywords you want to target naturally. Keyword research just provides additional data to go off and can yield some content ideas that we might not have come across on our own.
All in all, keyword research is vital as it can help you target the correct audience by guiding your content creation and marketing strategy.
As affiliate marketers, we are looking to promote and monetize our chosen platform, which means we need to focus on keywords that have the right intent.
What do we mean by intent?
The intent is the reasoning behind any search query, and in some cases can be ambiguous; however, here is a quick overview of common search queries and the intent behind them:
Intent – Information
The user is looking for information, usually framed as who, what, where, why, and how search queries.
I.E. – ‘who is the president of the united states’
Intent – Navigation
Frequently, these queries are used to find a specific page on the web. Usually framed as brand or domain searches.
I.E. – A user searching for ‘optimize to convert’ to find our webpage
Intent – Transactional/Commercial also known as buyer intent
Common queries when a user wants to or is considering making a purchase. Can be a broad term, or the name of a specific product
I.E. – ‘holidays to Jamaica’ or ‘where to buy x’
Intent – Commercial Investigation
Investigative queries can also be thought of as having buyer intent, with the potential customer in the ‘evaluation/comparison’ phase of the buying cycle.
I.E. – ‘x vs y’ or ‘best x under $xxx’
Intent – Local Queries
The user is searching for something close by, such as a restaurant, mechanic, or tradesman.
I.E. – Local queries are commonly framed like ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘plumbers in (town/city)’
As affiliate marketers, our goal is to promote products and generate sales, so we are mainly going to be focused on keywords that have buyer intent. If a term is too broad, there will either be too much competition, or Google won’t know where to place you.
How to Find the Correct Keywords
Depending on your niche, there may be a lot of competition or virtually none. In each instance, you need to have a marketing strategy in place.
As we are looking for buyer intent keywords, we need to see what our customer base is searching for. First, we need to generate ‘seed keywords.’
Seed keywords should be the base for any keyword research and help to define your niche and ascertain the competition. If you already have a niche or product in mind, this step can be fairly straight forward.
Let’s say you already run a photography blog and want to start monetizing it through affiliate marketing – it’s a case of brainstorming ideas relating to photography:
- Photography accessories
- Camera accessories
- Camera lenses
- Photography gadgets
But what if you don’t already have a platform, and you are trying to determine a niche? This is a subject many new affiliates struggle with and is deserving of a post in its own right.
However, to give you a brief outline of how this is achieved, here is a simple method to get you started.
Selecting a Niche
To select a niche, you will need to brainstorm several ideas; this can be done through your own thought process or by leveraging Google searches. Searching for ‘hobbies’ should provide you with a great starting point.
When you have found several niches that interest you, it’s time to see if they can be monetized. First, you need to make sure there are products available for you to promote.
The easiest way to achieve this is by checking Amazon for related products since Amazon runs the most extensive affiliate program on the net. It is also worth checking out other affiliate programs such as Clickbank and C.J., as they could yield better opportunities for the niche you are researching.
I would go through this process with each niche that you have listed, removing any that you don’t feel are applicable.
The next step is to then ‘niche down’, meaning break the niche down into a subcategory. Affiliate websites are much more successful when they are targeted rather than broad – at least for beginners.
For example: – I have ‘music’ listed as one of my niches and found thousands of music products on Amazon. Within music, I can niche down into piano, trombone, guitar, etc.
I can then niche down even further; for instance, guitar can become electric guitar, acoustic guitar, guitar amps, etc.
The more specific I go, the higher my chance of ranking for related keywords. However, it is possible to go too specific, where there will be little to no traffic and, in turn, no sales.
Please be aware that this is a very basic guide to selecting a niche for beginners, and there is a lot more depth to it. For the rest of this post, we will assume you already have a niche selected and how to conduct your keyword research.
How to Do Keyword Research
By now, you have your list of seed keyword ideas, and the next step is to find an entire novel’s worth of related keywords – while trying to decipher user intent.
Most keyword research tools have some kind of ‘keyword suggestion’ capability, allowing you to enter one of your seed keywords and compile a list of related search terms.
If you are unsure of what a keyword research tool is; they are tools used by affiliate marketers/SEO’s to collect data on search queries, many also allow analysis of competitor websites and related search terms as well.
By using the keyword suggestion function in your chosen tool, you should generate thousands of related keywords that you can then export and filter by search volume. Most tools also have some kind of ‘keyword difficulty’ ranking – a score based on how difficult they perceive that keyword is to rank for.
As this post is aimed at beginners, we won’t concentrate too much on these difficulty rankings, as they are different for each tool, and each uses slightly different metrics to reach their conclusion.
For now, you want to concentrate on the keywords with buyer intent that have a low search volume. Low volume can be a good indicator that the competition is low for that keyword.
Higher search volume means more competition – as everyone is competing to appear in the SERPs for those terms.
If there are well-established sites within your niche (I’m willing to bet there is), they have likely performed this keyword research already.
If you are unsure of who your competitors might be, perform a Google search using the seed keywords from before and see which pages rank in the top ten.
You can then take these websites and place their URL into your keyword research tool if they allow it, aHrefs Site Explorer is great for this application.
Site Explorer allows you to scrape your competitor’s website for keywords they are currently ranking for.
To curate exponentially more relevant keywords, you can use the competing domains feature to run a report on even more competitor websites.
Keywords with Informational Intent
So far, we have covered low competition keywords with buyer intent, intended to allow us to rank products we are promoting relatively quickly and with little fuss. However, we do also need to fill our blog with informative content.
You have probably found many informational intent keywords during your research already; however, it is always useful to fully juice the lemon when it comes to keyword research.
By now, you’re probably wondering why do we need informational content? It doesn’t promote products and make money, so why do we need it?
In fact, the opposite is true.
Well written, informative content is just as important as buyer intent content, maybe even more so.
As mentioned towards the start of this post, affiliate marketing at its core is promotion, defined as – “Giving publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) to increase sales &/or public awareness.”
So, what does that have to do with informational content?
Backlinks are links from other bloggers and relevant webpages.
Backlinks inform Google that your content is trustworthy and deserves to be seen within the results pages.
To put it simply, the more backlinks you have, the more authority your website carries – increasing the chances that you will rank high for relevant keywords.
People infrequently link to promotional content that aims to generate sales. They will, however, link to quality, well-researched information.
This means that informative content is the pillar of your content promotion strategy, but what do you write about?
For beginners, one of my favorite tools is Answer The Public – a free to use tool that generates hundreds of related search terms for your chosen keyword, focusing on who, what, where, why, and how.
Answer the Public will provide you with enough content ideas to last for months for just a single keyword.
I like to work on a ratio of ¼ informational content and ¾ sales content, meaning for every three posts aiming to generate sales, I create one informational post. Other affiliate marketers prefer to do a 50/50 split or break it into thirds.
You will figure out what you prefer with experience.
Keyword research can be a daunting prospect at first, and there is a lot of information to take in. I hope this post has informed you of how to do keyword research as a beginner affiliate marketer.
Eventually, you will develop your processes for researching keywords, but for now, the methods outlined within this post should provide you with a good foundation.
Is there anything you would like to add or think we have missed? Let us know in the comments below.
We are always looking to deliver the best affiliate marketing content on the web, so if you are struggling with any topics, and would like to see us cover them. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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