9 key affiliate marketing tips for more money and traffic

Are you an affiliate marketer who wants to earn more? So read on: The following nine affiliate marketing tips were learned over the course of my decades of experience building and growing six-figure affiliate websites.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn passive income online. But it requires constant learning to keep up with the competition.

Here are my top affiliate marketing tips for increasing your traffic and ultimately your revenue:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most valuable skill I have ever learned as an affiliate marketer. Being able to display your content in Google search results provides high quality, free, recurring traffic, which is exactly what you need to make more money.

To prove my point, here’s a screenshot showing my Google Analytics traffic breakdown, with nearly 90% of my traffic coming from Google in the last month:

Google Analytics organic search traffic

SEO can be divided into three main areas:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. By building links
  3. Technical SEO

On-page SEO involves things like:

But optimized content targeting the right keywords isn’t enough to rank for. One of the most important Google ranking factors are backlinks from other websites pointing to your website. These links tell Google that your website is a trusted authority on the internet.

There are many ways to backlink your content. They often involve email communication to other website owners, so you should feel comfortable writing emails.

Finally, you will need to learn some basic technical SEO. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. You don’t need to know how to program or anything like that. Nowadays, there are WordPress plugins, like Yoast SEO or Rank Math, for pretty much any SEO task you need to do.

In fact, Ahrefs has a free WordPress SEO plugin to help you check your website content, monitor your backlinks, and see how much organic traffic your pages are getting.

Ahrefs SEO plugin for WordPress

Bottom line, learn SEO and you will get more traffic and earn more.

2. Start with your keyword research

Keyword research is probably the most crucial skill you need to learn. You need to know what keywords people are typing into Google to find information about your affiliate products and how you can create content that matches the search intent of those keywords.

You can use Ahrefs’ free keyword generation tool to come up with keyword ideas. Just type in a generic keyword related to your niche and you will get a list of related keywords:

Ahrefs' free keyword generation tool

I never write a blog post without an SEO target keyword. In fact, I always recommend focusing on creating content hubs to fully cover a topic and help improve your chances of ranking high on Google.

3. Sign out of Amazon

Amazon Associates is usually the first affiliate program that every marketing affiliate starts with. That’s great because Amazon has products in almost every niche imaginable … but its commission rates are lousy.

With a commission of around 3%, you will need to sell around $ 3,333,333 to make six-figure income. You read that right: over $ 3 million just to make $ 100,000. Ouch.

Starting with Amazon is fine. But once you understand which products are earning you the most, it’s a good idea to go straight to the manufacturer or another retailer who will offer you a higher commission on those products.

You can see which products are bringing you the most revenue by going to Amazon’s reporting dashboard, clicking the “Earnings” tab and sorting them by “Revenue”.

Amazon Associates earnings report

From there, you need to do some detective work to find another affiliate to promote that sells the same or similar products. It takes some Google searches and phone calls to find the best deals. But it’s worth it, as long as you’re earning a significantly higher commission.

Keep in mind that you will probably need to earn at least double the commission to make it worth the change. Indeed, I aim for a minimum commission of 8% to make the switch.

This is because Amazon’s 24-hour cookie policy means you make money everything someone buys within 24 hours of clicking your link, even if it’s not the product you initially recommended. Additionally, Amazon has spent billions honing its conversion rate and brand reputation. So if you connect elsewhere, you will almost certainly have a lower conversion rate.

It is a good idea to test other affiliates before switching completely. Change some links and see how they affect your income for at least a month. If it is higher, change more links. If it’s lower, change it again and look for a different partner with a better website or higher commission.

4. Negotiate often with your affiliate partners

About higher commissions. Never be afraid to ask your affiliate partners for a higher rate. Chances are that if you’ve sent them sales, they’ll be happy to work with you.

I suggest picking up the phone and building a real reputation with your partners. A video call is even better. Tell them that with the higher commission, you can spend more money on content to promote them and send them even more sales.

In fact, you should make it a habit to discuss this with your partners once a quarter or, at least, once a year.

This won’t work with giant brands like Amazon or Walmart, but it works with most businesses that aren’t big corporations.

Don’t just rely on an affiliate partner.

Amazon can change its affiliate terms at any time, as it did in 2020 when it lowered commissions for most categories. Worse still, most other companies tend to follow Amazon’s lead and change their fees shortly thereafter.

But in addition to expanding to work with multiple partners, you should also consider other income methods entirely. Displaying advertisements, shipping your own products, or creating an online course are all great options to avoid keeping all your eggs in the same cart.

6. Focus on capturing emails

Speaking of sudden changes, SEO also has its limitations. Google, like Amazon, can change things in an instant that have a huge impact on your business.

I would know: I was affected by a Google update for a 60% drop in income almost overnight. Not a funny feeling.

That’s why it’s important to focus on capturing your readers’ emails. Email is the only channel you can own that isn’t influenced by any company that changes its policies.

If you have an email list, you can contact it anytime you want, as long as you don’t spam.

Fortunately, email marketing goes hand in hand with SEO. You can create content updates on pages already ranked on Google to turn visitors into subscribers.

For example, I created a comparison sheet of 50 different small motorhomes as a sign-up email for one of my guides to the best small motorhomes.

Content update example

You can create your own content updates with an email tool like ConvertKit or Mailchimp. Find something that enhances the content you’ve written, such as a mini ebook, video series, spreadsheet, printable PDF, etc.

7. Do more than the competition

Right now, if you look at the SERPs for highly competitive affiliate keywords, you will notice a trend: They all copy each other.

Most people write the same things about the same “10 Best Products”. They are using generic Amazon product images and are not actually buying and using the products themselves.

This is good news for you because it means that with a little more effort you can stand out from the competition and steal their rankings. If you want to earn more, consider:

  • Purchase of the product and actual use.
  • Take photos of high quality products.
  • Shooting a video review of the product.
  • Dive deeper into research using forums like Reddit and get real user opinions.

These extra steps may take longer, but will ultimately put you in front of the crowd.

8. Keep your data organized

This is a tip I wish someone had told me when I got started in affiliate marketing. Organization is key as your website grows and you have more affiliate partners and hundreds or even thousands of blog posts.

This can be as simple as holding a spreadsheet with:

  • A list of all the content you have posted on your website, along with the publication dates, meta tags, and affiliate links used.
  • A list of all your affiliate partners and their respective login URLs and commission rates.
  • Some standard operating procedures that document how you write, upload and publish your content.

For example, here’s what one of my spreadsheets looks like:

Content organization spreadsheet

I like to include basic data on each page, such as the keyword it targets, the content hub it is a part of, and the keywords it ranks for, which I get from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Just go to the Organic keywords tab and click Export at the top right to download a sheet with all the data of your rankings.

Organic Keywords Report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

From there, you can upload the sheet to a Google Sheet and customize it to your particular needs and style.

9. Create more content and keep it updated

Last but not least, as an affiliate marketer, you need to both create MORE content and focus on keeping that content updated as your website ages.

You can’t expect to create just a few dozen articles and turn your website into a six figure profit. It takes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of articles to reach that point.

And it often takes years to produce so much content.

If you’ve been creating content for years, it’s just as important to update your old content to keep it relevant and improve (or at least maintain) your Google front page rankings.

Final thoughts

As an affiliate marketer, it’s important to continually learn and hone your craft. The tips outlined above have been learned over a decade and I’m still learning new things every day.

Here are some other guides with more affiliate marketing tips and tricks to help you keep learning:

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