Affiliate Marketing SEO: Growing Traffic By 2007% – 6 Month Case Study


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I’m going to share with you how we took an underperforming affiliate site and turned it around to achieve substantially more traffic.

Using the same techniques we use in our marketing sprints.

The challenge

An affiliate website in the Home and Garden niche which relies on the traffic it receives from Google and other search engines to earn money for the owner.

Home and garden is a very broad niche, so when we build content we need to make sure each subject is covered adequately to provide a full knowledge base experience to the reader.

Generally, broad-niche affiliate sites are less effective for a few reasons…

  1. Email marketing is not straight-forward as you will have several sub-niche audiences on your list, which will result in lower conversions. You can always segment your list and manage your sub-niches of audience that way, but it’s an added hassle.
  2. If your speaking to your readers from as an authority figure then you may lose credibility. It’s impossible for one person to be an expert for so many sub niches.
  3. Broad niche sites are never really complete, there will always be a lot of maintenance and new keywords to chase. Whereas a narrow niche once they are done and earning on auto-pilot, you can move to another project.

That said, broad niche sites do have some advantages…

  1. Very easy to expand into neighbouring subjects (or silos).
  2. The traffic potential is huge so the earning potential is equally huge.

Below are the steps we took on this site, and may provide a guide for you to accelerate your own affiliate website.

Technical issues

Performing a technical audit on a website involves looking at issues related to crawlability by search engines, missing pages, missing links, how it performs on mobile devices and more.

Depending on your it may be more beneficial to concentrate on a particular area of the technical audit. eCommerce site as an example will have more issues to resolve than a content site.

Site structure

Your site structure is important so your visitors are able to find what they are looking for easily, this is also true for search engines.

shows the basic structure of a website crawl depth
basic structure of a website

Crawl depth refers to the number of clicks a user has to make until they reach the content. A rule of thumb is to ensure all content is no more than 3 clicks away from the home page.

Search engines deem content that is very deep to be not that important, or rather they are less important than content on the previous pages. The issue here is search engines may not index pages which are very deep.

You can use a tool to crawl your website like, Screaming Frog SEO Spider, to quickly find technical issues including crawl depth. There are several other tools available but this is the one we use for our audits.

This site has mostly crawl depths of 1 and 2, so we can move on. If your site has 4 or deeper then spend some time looking at the overall structure of the site and see if there simpler structure you implement.


Structured data

Structured data is a method of telling the search engine what a piece of content is for example if you have a eCommerce site then your product pages will most likely have additional code in the page which explains what the is product is.

Missing or invalid structured data can result in less pages of your site being indexed, this is because search engines only alot a certain amount of time to crawling your site.

So we want to pass the data as quickly as possible so the search engine bot aka spider can carry on scanning your other pages.

Google will often use the information from structured in the search results for example below you can see the star rating and the number of reviews.

google serp showing data gathered from structured data type product

There are many more checks you can perform for a technical SEO audit like this. For example Canoncial Tags, 301/302 Redirects, Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml to name a few. But that’s a subject for another post.

Content requirements

Your site is more likely to be used by Google for queries related to a particular niche if it has a high topical authority. 

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What is topical authority?

Consider a website with a single article on a particular subject, such as coffee. It may be a fantastic article on coffee.  Next, compare this to another site that has an article on coffee AND also has more articles discussing coffee makers, recipes for coffee, and so on.

We can assume the second site knows more about coffee than the first site simply because they talk about it more often and keep on talking about it.

Clearly, we can now see what topical authority means and how we can begin to tackle any problems related to this. 

Site structure and topical authority work together, and by visualizing categories and subcategories we can begin to see how a site should flow.  

The SEO term Content Silo may be familiar to you. As such, a content silo is equivalent to an individual subcategory.

Another term “Pillar Post” is being used more recently. For some reason, a few SEO’s out there think if they rename something and get people talking about it then they have made some kind of new thing. Forgive those people for they know not what they do. 

Quick summary: if one of your pages is not ranking then step back and check how much supporting content exists.

How to build topical authority

Step 1 Produce content that covers all aspects of the topic you are writing about.

Step 2 Interlink the individual articles where they refer to each other.

Topic ideation

Topic ideation or content ideation is simply the process of finding new things to write about.

List of methods for topic ideation:

  1. Brainstorming session with others
  2. Ask AI software
  3. Ask search engines
  4. Read industry publications
  5. Read industry papers
  6. Go to the library
  7. Read the 5 most highly rated books on the subject
  8. Search YouTube
  9. Look at other websites
  10. Online forums (i.e. facebook group, reddit group, business forums)
  11. Talk with experts in the field

We could go on but I think you get the point now. Research. Research. Research.

Competitor gap analysis

Content gap analysis is the process of comparing two content sources and identifying topics that exist in one source but not the other.

Steps to run content gap analysis in ahrefs

Step 1 – In Ahrefs open the Content Gap page and enter the competitor URL’s.

Step 2 – Click Show keywords

Ahrefs returns a list of keywords that at least one of the sites ranks for in position 1 to 10 and your website does not.

Now you have your new keywords, you can add them to your list to be turned into articles.

Social media groups and forums

Social media groups are usually niche forums where members discuss industries, interests, and topics. Find groups with a lot of questions and answers related to your topic, if you find a spammy group, just leave as it will be a waste of time.

Read the questions being asked, the answers that are given, and the debates going on. These can be a good place for content ideation, uncovering topics that other marketers have not seen yet.

You can use Google Trends for free. It can help you find a search term that is trending in your niche and decide on potential topics to write about.

Sort results by regions, related topics, and related queries by typing in a keyword or search term. Interests are also tracked.


The above screenshot shows data for the keyword “hammocks” in the UK. Note related topics and related queries, both can be set to show rising up items and items on top.

There are many more ways to find new ideas for topics, they are quite endless. Have fun finding your own topic ideation ideas.

Identifying search intent

Now you should have a big list of new content ideas. The next task is matching user intent to your new content ideas. This tells you what type of article you need to create and more.

Types of search intent

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Informational. The searcher is trying to learn something. For example: who directed the Aliens films?

Navigational. The searcher is looking for a specific website or product brand like youtube or Nike.

Commercial Investigation. It is a search for a product e.g. best lawn mower under £500. These keywords include words such as best, rated number one, top, review, comparison, etc.

Transactional. In this case, the user wants to buy something, e.g. buy Vivere hammock online. A transactional search term uses key phrases such as buy, price, shop, coupon, cheap, etc.

Looking at the search results you can get more information regarding what type of article you need to write in order to solve the search intent.


The search results for the keyword “best petrol lawnmower” shown above, every page is a review site which tells us this is a commercial keyword.

If you want to rank for this keyword then you should write a review-type article.

From here you should go into each of the existing sites and see what they talk about, the similarities between all the sites.

Is there anything you can improve upon, maybe something has changed and you can provide a fresh perspective on the topic.

On-page improvements

With a solid plan of new articles and knowing what kind of article you need to be write for each, you are setup for the immediate future and can begin to work your way through the list.

Before you start producing new content, you need to take into account the existing pages on a site.

Every page that is indexed by Google counts, if you can make updates and changes to existing pages, these can result in a quick win.

Page title

Your page title needs to be snappy, enticing, engaging. This is your advert to the searcher in Google. Why should they click your link and not another link?

Meta description

The block of text under your title in the search results. This can have an impact on the number of visitors to your website. Like the page title make it inviting for the user to choose to click your link in Google.

Headings

Headings need to show the outline and structure of the article topic. Read only the headlines in your article, does it make sense? do you get the general purpose of what the article is about?

Users and search engines read the headlines to find the general context.

Link building is still considered one of the most important ranking factors.

In order to build strong links, it is ideal to mix branded, targeted, URL-based, and generic anchors into your anchor text distribution. 

Start with a link audit of your site’s backlink profile checking for spammy links and see what the anchor text distribution looks like.

Ahrefs shows a domains anchor text distribution in the Anchors section accessed from the left menu when in the site explorer.

Anchor text analysis

The different types of anchor text can be grouped as

Exact match: the specific keyword your article is targeting i.e. “best petrol lawn mower”.

Phrase match: expanded variations of the core keyword i.e., “looking for the best petrol mower this season”.

Branded: matches your brand name i.e., “The Lawnmower Company” or the URL.

Miscellaneous: anchors like “click here”, “more information”, etc.

Other: anchors like images etc.

You can go a step further by analysing the anchor text distribution of your competitors and taking an overall average figure and working towards achieving the same distribution.

Outreach strategy

First step, you will want to look at your competitors in ahrefs and see what sites are linking to them. If it works for them, then it will work for you, being a direct competitor your site will have a lot of similarities.

When you have a list of prospects for outreaching you need to get personal…

Go out and do a bit of research on each prospect, look for a direct person you can address in the email. Look for a way to make a connection.

These people are probably receiving many emails asking for a link, so don’t send crappy templated emails. Offering them something first can make you stand.

The results

Following the implementation of all of the above strategies, the website has experienced consistent growth over the past 7 months.

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Below is a keyword visibility graph from ahrefs showing the client’s performance within the top 3 positions.

The client went from ranking for 0 keywords at the start of the campaign to 90 keywords in positions 1 to 3.

From positions 4 to 10 (first page of Google) the site went from 14 to 205 keywords.

Thats a total increase of 2007%!


When compared against the starting month, we’ve seen the following results:

697% increase in search traffic from 811 to 6467 users a month.



646% increase in search traffic from 965 to 7208 sessions a month.


Conclusion

Consistently following a good content marketing based strategy, it is very easy to see favorouble results.

And… there is no shiney object tool being used here. Just good basic keyword research and topic research formulated into quality content.

Read and follow the Google guidelines for building websites. They tell you exactly what they want in return for indexing your site. Google has the interest of the searcher in mind, and so do we… they are our readers and customers too.

If you need help to increase your online presence then don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Mango&Coffee.

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