How To
18 min read

How to Do Keyword Research for Affiliate Marketing

Soniya Khubchandani

August 29, 2022

Keyword research is one of the most basic yet critical aspects of affiliate marketing.

The right keywords can help you find profitable niches and make a lot of money from them. Targeting the wrong ones, however—well, they just cost you time and money.

So it's essential to do keyword research the right way.

This post will share some of the most effective techniques for finding keywords to drive traffic to your affiliate website.

Let's get started!

What is affiliate keyword research?

An affiliate keyword research is a process to find the right keywords that can help you generate more traffic and sales. It's a way of understanding what people search for on Google and other search engines.

Before you decide what keywords you want to target, you need to understand:

  • What kind of product you're promoting.
  • Who your audience is.
  • Where your audience is looking for information about this type of product.

This way, you'll be able to find the right keywords that will lead your audience to your desired landing pages.

What are the benefits of keyword research for affiliate marketing?

Keyword research is the most crucial first step of affiliate marketing. It helps you better understand your audience and identify gaps in your website that could lead to more opportunities for content creation.

Along with that, keyword research can help you in several ways.

Drive targeted traffic from SERP

Keywords can help you drive targeted traffic to your website from organic search. If you know what people are searching for, creating content that answers those questions and builds a strong foundation for SEO is easier.

Understanding gaps in your website

Keyword research can also help you identify gaps in your understanding of a topic or industry. It can help to fill topic clusters that relate to other relevant keywords you’re ranking for in your niche, which will build your expertise and authority with Google and users.

Spotting trends 

By analyzing the top keyword trends for your industry, you can get a sense of which topics are trending that might impact your business and when to capitalize on them.

Knowing what your competitors are up to

Keyword research can also help you learn how your competitors are doing in the search results. If they're ranking well for certain keywords you want to target, check out their content and see if there are any gaps in their strategy. 

What are the best types of affiliate keywords?

Affiliate keywords are the traffic-driving keywords you use to rank pages that help get people to your site and ultimately drive sales through your affiliate links.

Several affiliate keywords can help you generate more traffic and revenue for your site. Let’s find out what type of keywords you should look for when conducting keyword research for affiliate marketing.

Product reviews

This is the most apparent type of affiliate keyword that people search for when they want to know what others think about a product or service. If you have an affiliate site, this is one of the best types of keywords to focus on.

Affiliate marketers often write product reviews for their niche. These can be incredibly powerful because they give the reader an idea of what to expect from the product and how well it works in real life so they can make a better buying decision.

Product review pages, or posts, can also rank well in search engines depending on competition, so if you want more traffic, having product reviews and other content types on your site can help you do that.

For example, if your site is about reviewing smartphones, you can write a review for each of the best smartphones on the market.

Product review search example

While writing product reviews takes little time, ensuring each review is honest and unbiased can be challenging. Google's EAT policy (expertise, authoritative, trustworthy) prohibits affiliate marketers from being biased or dishonest in their evaluations, so it's important to show that you’re a trusted expert about the affiliate product you are reviewing.

Here are some tips for writing product review articles:

  • Do your research and test the product. Make sure you've looked at the product and know what it does before writing about it. If you don't understand a feature, do more research or figure it out with the product so you can explain it clearly to your readers!
  • Don't just review the product; offer tips on how people could use it in their own lives. This will help them understand if and why they should buy it themselves.
  • Break down the product's features into categories (e.g., speed, camera quality, etc.) and discuss each.
  • Make sure you're honest about the product. Don't just write a review because you want to make money. If it's not a good product, you can always recommend a better affiliate product instead.
  • Try to be as detailed in your review as possible. What are its pros and cons? Are there any issues with it that might not be apparent right away?
  • Add some photos of the product in action so readers can get an idea of what they would look like if they bought it themselves.
  • Compare it to similar products on the market in case readers are considering them. This helps to show the similarities and differences between them to help the reader.

Best of lists

Best of lists are great because they allow you to quickly offer a list of top products or services within a specific category—which is always helpful for your readers looking for research on the best products so they can make a decision on which one to get.

If you're writing a best of a list, try to include unique products that stand out from the rest.

For example, if you're creating a list of the best smartphones under $500, don't just include every smartphone that costs less than $500. Instead, look for unique smartphones like long battery life or excellent camera quality.

Best of lists example

Here are some tips for writing a great list of the best products:

  • Write a buyer’s guide that helps the reader decide what to look for when considering the best product that fits their needs.
  • Include a variety of products or services within a category.
  • Focus on quality over quantity when selecting items for your list. Don't just throw any old product in because it fits the criteria. Instead, try to find one thing that stands out from the rest for people looking for something specific in a product.
  • Don't include too many items on your list, or it will become overwhelming for your readers. A good rule of thumb is to stick to five or six items per list, but some like having a top ten list.

  • Use high-quality images and videos where appropriate (e.g., product review videos).

Best-of lists allow you to showcase the best products in your niche, so your readers will know what they're looking for when they come to your page.

If you need to write high-quality product descriptions for your best of lists, check out Copy.ai. It's a powerful, easy-to-use copywriting tool that will save you hours of writing time.

Product vs. product comparison

Product comparisons allow you to create content using two different products and compare them. Someone who searches product vs product is high in the affiliate funnel and usually has the search intent to purchase one of the products soon. This is a great way to show readers the unique features of each product so they can make their decision easier.

If you're unsure where to start, try looking for products with similar features or benefits in your niche. Then, compare those products and explain why one is better than the other.

For example, you can compare the Google Pixel 6a with iPhone 13 and explain why one is better than the other.

Product vs product comparison

This type of content can be beneficial for new products in your niche since there may not be much content reviewing them yet, so the competition could be lower. By comparing them to established competitors, you can show your readers why they should get excited about this new product.

Keywords metrics you should know

Keyword metrics can tell you a lot about keywords. With this information, you can make smart decisions about how much time to spend on a keyword and whether or not it's worth your while to invest in it. When selecting keywords, consider these key metrics.

Search volume

The search volume is the number of times people search for a particular keyword on average every month. The higher the search volume, the more interest there is for that specific keyword. This can be a good indicator of whether or not it's worth your while to create content related to this keyword. 

For example, searches for "best chef knife set" reach 2400 per month. You can see a lot of interest in this topic, making you think this is a great keyword for targeting and creating content.

Search volume by Ubersuggest

However, relying solely on search volume is not always the best indicator of whether or not a keyword is worth your time. There are other factors to consider, such as competition and difficulty.

Keyword difficulty

The difficulty of a keyword is determined by how competitive it is to rank for that term. The more people try to rank for a particular keyword, the harder it will be for you to get results. 

If you're creating content based on keywords with low competition and high search volume, you can be sure that your site will have a much better chance of ranking well on Google than if you were targeting high-volume keywords with high competition.

Keyword tools may call this term differently, from search difficulty to keyword difficulty, but most follow a 0-100 scale, with the higher being more competitive.

From our example, the search difficulty score for "best chef knife set" is 72, which means you need to create great content and backlink profile to rank high for this keyword.

Keyword difficulty data by Ubersuggest

Cost per click

Cost per click (CPC) is the average amount you pay per click from your ad. The higher this number is, the more expensive it will be for you to advertise on Google's network. 

If you're looking to spend money on PPC (pay per click) campaigns, then it's important to understand how much each keyword will cost to determine which ones are worth targeting and which aren't.

It also helps you determine which keywords have the highest ROI or profitability and which don't make sense for your business model (or your budget).

For the keyword "best chef knife set," the CPC score is $1.60. It means that if you want to get clicks on this keyword, you'll have to pay an average of $1.60 per click. 

You’ll have to determine your affiliate revenue from each sale to determine if this could be profitable, considering only a percentage of people will purchase through your affiliate link.

CPC data by Ubersuggest

As with all ad platforms, this number fluctuates depending on how competitive your niche is and how valuable potential customers perceive your content.

Intent

The intent is the reason for a user's search query. If a user is searching for the “best chef knife set,” they're looking to review, research, and compare products to purchase something. Users searching for "chef knives" could be exploring their options or might be ready to buy from an ecommerce store. Your content will be more effective if it appeals to the intent of your customer base.

Intent can be categorized into four types: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial.

Informational

Informational intent is just what it sounds like—content that helps visitors learn more about your business or the products you offer. Users with informational intent want to educate themselves about a particular topic. 

They may be interested in learning more about your products or services, but they don't necessarily want to buy anything right now.

Navigational

Navigational intent helps people find their way around if they want something specific. For example, a user might have heard of a product or service and want to learn more about it from your website. 

A user with navigational intent is looking for a specific piece of information. They may be trying to find a phone number, address, or something else they need to get.

Transactional

A user with transactional intent wants to buy a product or service right now. They're looking for information about how to do something and want you to guide them through the purchasing process. To help your users, create clear calls to action that are visible on every site page. 

Commercial

A user with commercial intent seeks information about a specific product or service. They may want to compare prices and features, read reviews, or learn more about the item. To help users with commercial intent, ensure that your website has plenty of content relevant to your selling products.

Best keyword research tools for affiliate marketing

Keyword research tools are a crucial part of any affiliate marketing campaign. You need the right keywords to attract people and get them to click on your affiliate links.

An affiliate marketer can choose from a few different options—some free, some paid. Below, we've listed a few so you can get started with finding the best keywords for your campaign.

Free keyword research tools

Google Keyword Planner

This is one of the most popular free keyword research tools. It allows you to see search volume and competition for different keywords, but it doesn't let you know how well those keywords will perform until you start advertising. Google Keyword Planner does have its limitations, but it's still a great place to start when looking for new keywords.

It provides you with ranges for search volume instead of average monthly estimations. Also, it gives you low, medium, or high competition levels instead of 0-100, which are more accurate.

However, it does allow you to look at keyword data for specific areas, while most other keyword tools only allow you to search for data by country.

SearchResponse.io

This is another free tool that lets you see search volume and competition for different keywords, but it also shows you how many clicks (and what kind of clicks) each keyword is likely to get. This can help you determine which keywords are worth pursuing and which ones would be better off left alone. You can also see how well a keyword converts, which is crucial for ad campaigns.

Ubersuggest

Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest tells you what the most searched-for terms in your niche are, along with their estimated CPCs and monthly search volume. You can also use this tool to find long-tail keywords by adding misspellings or synonyms of your primary keyword into the search bar and seeing what pops up.

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is an excellent tool for finding long-tail keywords. It returns a list of questions related to your keyword, which you can use to create content. You can also use the results to find new keywords based on common questions people ask about your niche.

Answer the Public

You’ll only get a few free daily searches, so this tool is probably one of the most limited.

Google Trends

You can also use Google Trends to find trending keywords. It allows you to enter your keyword and see which countries are searching for it the most, what time of day they're searching, and what results are trending. You can use these statistics to find new keywords and questions to answer in your content.

This won’t get you keyword data like search volume and competition, but it does help to generate keyword ideas as well as determine if they are seasonal trends or evergreen keywords.

Paid keyword research tools

Ahrefs

Ahrefs only has a paid option but is extremely powerful. It gives you a good idea of the traffic volume-specific keywords get based on organic search results and organic traffic, as you can see here with the popular affiliate site, This Is Why I’m Broke

Ahrefs organic traffic
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/QwunO70k 

It also tells you what sites are ranking for those keywords so that you can look at what they're doing and see how they're getting their rankings (they might have some good ideas).

You can also track keyword rankings for your sites in Ahrefs, or see keyword rankings over time for any domain. 

Ahrefs is probably the best keyword research tool and is usually the most popular among affiliate marketers and the SEO industry. With features like content gap analysis, accurate keyword data, keyword explorer, and so much more, it’s an extremely powerful suite of tools.

SEMrush

SEMrush is also a paid tool and has some excellent free features. It gives you an idea of how much traffic each keyword gets from paid ads (like AdWords) and how much that traffic converts into leads or sales. You can also see which sites are ranking for each, so if any sites seem similar to yours, it might be worth investigating them as potential partners or influencers.

It is very comparable in features to Ahrefs, as it has a keyword gap analysis, see what keywords a competitor’s domain is ranking for, and other similar features that you’ll find useful when researching keywords for affiliate marketing. 

A keyword research feature they have that Ahrefs doesn’t is that they give you the type of search intent (informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial) when you’re researching keywords. Their keyword PPC data is also from Google, which means its accurate from the source, so if you plan to do PPC with your affiliate keywords, SEMrush would be a great option.

Moz

Moz is a great tool for finding keywords, and it has a lot of other features like their Link Explorer and Site Crawl as well. They originally set the standard in the SEO community with their Domain Authority (DA) metric, which gives a 0-100 score for how authoritative a domain is based on its backlink profile. 

Their Keyword Explorer feature gives similar metrics as other keyword tools, like search volume, difficulty, and organic CTR (click-thru rate), which gives an estimate of the percentage of searches that end up in an organic search result click.

Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/wbuXnmXE 

You can also filter keywords in several ways, including finding keywords that are questions, which are great to cover in your content to answer “People also ask” terms in search results. Ahrefs and SEMrush also have this feature, but with more advanced filtering options. 

Moz keyword filters
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/5zur0y6m 

It's one of the most expensive options, but it's definitely worth the investment if you want to get serious about SEO. They also have a free option, which is great if you're just starting.

How to do keyword research for affiliate marketing

​​Now that you know the types of affiliate keywords to look for, the metrics to consider, their search intent, and keyword research tools to use, let’s dig into different ways to conduct keyword research for affiliate marketing.

Start by brainstorming keywords

The first step to keyword research is brainstorming a list of relevant keywords. You can do this by looking at the product or service you are promoting and brainstorming words that describe it. 

You can use Google Keyword Planner, Reddit, Quora, forums, or any other source of user-generated content where people are talking about the topic you want to cover. 

Start by looking at each word individually—is it relevant to write an affiliate blog post? If so, write these keywords down and what kind of comments or discussions it prompts so you can cover them in your content. This will help you identify the most valuable words to include in your content strategy.

Seed keyword research

Seed keywords are the words you want to rank for and form the basis of all other keyword research. You should consider using seed keywords if:

  • You want to create a page that ranks for a specific search term.
  • You're unsure what type of content your audience wants or how to find out.

Use a tool like Google Trends or Keyword Planner (if you have AdWords) to look at the popularity of certain words over time and across different countries. This will give you an idea of which ones are more popular than others—and what kind of volume they have.

After identifying your seed keywords, you can use a tool like Ubersuggest to find related terms. This will give you an idea of what people commonly search for when they look for the same thing as your seed keyword. 

You can also use Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush's keyword research tool to get additional data on how competitive each of these terms is and how much traffic they receive.

Discover long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are phrases that contain three or more words. They're easier to rank for than head terms, but they still have decent search volume and competition. For example, "best wireless speaker" would be a head term. A long-tail keyword for this might be "wireless waterproof speakers" or “best multiroom wireless speaker system,” as you can see here in Ahrefs.

long tail keywords in Ahrefs
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/mXux0BvD 

The best way to find long-tail keywords is to look at your seed keyword and expand it. Include the words people use when searching for that term and remove any unnecessary words.

Long-tail keywords are a great way to get more organic traffic from your affiliate marketing campaigns because they tend to be more specific, which means that people searching for them are more likely to be interested in your offer.

They also usually have lower competition, as you can see with the long-tail keyword examples above having KD (keyword difficulty) scores of 26 and 34, compared to the seed keyword “best wireless speaker” at 75.

Use keyword metric filters

As discussed above, you should consider a few metrics when choosing your keywords. The most important is search volume, but you should also look at competition and difficulty. 

A keyword with low search volume but high competition is probably not worth your time. Instead, focus on keywords with high search volume and low to medium difficulty—this means there is likely an opportunity for you to rank in the top ten results for that query.

You should also look for intent in your keywords. This means you should look for words like “review,” “for,” “under,” “for the money,” or “on the market.” These mean they are looking for a specific product review, a product that is best for something, products that cost under a certain price point, a product that is good for the money, or the best quality product on the market.

Keyword research methods

There are many ways to discover what keywords potential customers might use. Here are a few standard methods for affiliate marketing keyword research.

Pillar cluster model

The pillar cluster model is one of the most common keyword research methods. It helps you identify keyword clusters that can drive traffic to your site. A pillar cluster is a group of keywords that are related to each other and contain similar meanings.

For example, if you're selling running shoes on your website, the following keywords could be your pillar cluster: best running shoes, best running shoes for women, best trail running shoes, best cushioned running shoes, and so on.

A pillar page is the one that contains the main topic of your website. The purpose of a pillar page is to provide the most relevant and in-depth information about your topic. You must have at least one pillar page for every cluster because it is an anchor for all your other content that you should interlink together to show search crawlers they are relevant to each other.

Cluster pages are the secondary pages that contain the long-tail and other relevant keywords in your topic cluster. The purpose of a cluster page is to provide more information about the topic while at the same time linking back to your pillar page.

The goal of this strategy is to identify keywords that are relevant to your business and provide a high volume of traffic. The pillar cluster model can be used to determine your primary keywords and the long-tail keywords you can use for your website.

Content or keyword gap analysis

Content or keyword gap analysis is a way of figuring out what content you need to create to fill any gaps in your content strategy. You can use this information to create new content or update existing content on your website.

For example, if you find that your website has a lot of content about "buying a car" but not much information on how to finance it, then you may want to create new content around financing or update existing content with more information about financing.

You can also do competitor analysis to see what your competitors are doing. If you find that your competitors have a lot of content on a certain topic, it might be worth creating similar content for yourself.

In tools like Ahrefs, you can compare your domain to your competitor’s ranking keywords to find what they are ranking for that you are not. Here’s an example of copy.ai compared to other AI content generators to find keyword gaps to create content for.

Content gap analysis
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/bLuB4jjB 

If you’re just starting out, you can use filters to find lower keyword difficulty and long-tail keywords to target that could rank sooner to gain traction sooner and build up towards the higher volume and competitive keywords.

The basic idea behind content or keyword gap analysis is that you should have a wide variety of content that provides your readers with what they want. If you have gaps in your content, you can use this model to fill those holes and provide more value to your customers.

Keyword golden ratio (KGR)

The Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR) is a data-driven approach for uncovering long-tail keywords that could rank quickly as they are less competitive. 

First, find keywords that have a search volume around 250 or below. Don’t go too low as there won’t be enough demand for that keyword. Then you’ll search that keyword in Google with “allintitle:” before it. Allintitle is a Google search operator that returns all the pages that contain the specified keywords in the title.

Then calculate the ratio by dividing the number of times that keyword appears on Google in allintitle searches by the monthly search volume for a particular keyword. .

KGR keyword research methods
Source: https://mangools.com/blog/keyword-golden-ratio/ 

If your KGR is 0.25 or lower, Google will likely rank in the first couple pages after it gets indexed. This is a great way to rank content faster, especially if you’re starting out with a newer site or have a low authority domain.

KGR keywords under 250 search volume
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/o0uGW71q 

For example, if you search "allintitle:best running shoes for 5k," which you can see has 250 searches a month, Google will return all the pages that contain that phrase in the title, which in this case is 6. 

Allintitle KGR keyword research method
Source file: https://share.getcloudapp.com/Koujg75Q 

Therefore, it would be 6169/250170 = 0.02499), which means you have a potentially profitable keyword that fits the KGR method to rank keywords faster!

If KGR is between 0.25 and 1, you'll still have a chance to rank your content over time, but it may not be as fast. If above 1, there is a lot of content you’ll be competing against to rank for that keyword, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen once you have a more authoritative site.

Alt text - Allintitle results for KGR

The lower the KGR, the less competition there will be in Google's SERPs. So, if you want to gain more brand exposure, you must find keywords with a low KGR under .25.

Tips for affiliate keyword research

Keyword trends and seasonality:

Google Trends report for affiliate marketing

You can use trends to determine which keywords are gaining popularity and which ones are losing their appeal. For instance, if a certain product has become less popular, then it might not be the best time for you to promote it (unless, of course, something about that product makes it worth promoting).

Some products may be seasonal, which means there will be parts of the year that not many people are searching for those terms. Keep this in mind when choosing your affiliate niche and keywords, because there could be downtime during the year when you’re not making a lot of affiliate sales.

Global vs. national search volume

The search volume for a keyword can vary depending on where you live. Knowing which keywords are more prevalent in a certain area is important. This will allow you to avoid promoting products with low search volume in your local market. 

Most keyword tools allow you to search by country, as well as give you the global volume. Google Keyword Planner does allow you to get keyword data for certain states and cities, which other keyword tools do not do.

Consider your site authority 

If you want to rank for a high-volume keyword, your site must have a higher domain authority (DA) or domain rank (DR). In order to get a higher domain score, you need a good link building strategy to attract quality dofollow backlinks to your site, which will raise your authority and increase your rankings.

Prioritize keywords

It's important to prioritize the keywords you want to rank for. This will help you focus on the most important keywords and ensure you don't spread yourself too thin by trying to rank for everything at once. 

You should also consider whether or not specific keywords are worth ranking for. It will take a lot of effort to rank for keywords with low search volume that aren't highly relevant to your business. So, it's important to ensure that the keywords you want to rank for are worth your time and effort.

If you have lower domain authority, consider prioritizing low-competition keywords and keywords that meet the KGR criteria until you get more backlinks and your authority score increases.

Compare affiliate products

Comparing your affiliate products with one another will help you determine which product best suits your audience, leading to higher conversion rates and more sales. As an affiliate marketer, the Amazon Associate program is great because of the higher conversion rates due to people knowing and trusting Amazon.

You should also consider how much competition there is in the market for each product and their average prices. This will give you a better idea of how much effort you need to put into affiliate marketing and how much revenue you can expect to make.

Final thoughts on affiliate keyword research

Affiliate keyword research is the foundation of successful affiliate marketing. It's the first step in finding profitable products to promote and figuring out which keywords you should be targeting. 

Affiliate marketing is highly competitive, so it's important to remember that finding good keywords and ranking them can take time. The above steps will help you build your profitable affiliate site in no time if you follow them carefully and put in the effort.

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