SEO for Affiliate Marketers in 2012

I am sure you know what affiliate marketing is. In short it involves promoting a companies offerings in return for a commission when users complete a specific action or make a purchase.

Many marketers have been able to build successful online businesses and receive healthy commissions from the affiliate marketing business model. I myself own several niche sites that review products in return for a commission.

Google’s recent updates, have however hit many website owners extremely hard and most affiliates are no exception.

Panda Update

It all started in February 2011 with what is now known as the Panda Update.

Panda Update aimed to lower the ranking of low quality websites, sites which Google considered to be built around “thin content”.

What is “thin content”? Quality of website content is quite a subjective matter really, what one person considers to be low quality content another might find really useful.

A general rule of thumb would be to avoid duplicate and ad heavy content. Consider looking at your sites and asking yourself, “would I find this information useful?” If the answer is no and you can find very similar information from other sources, you probably have “thin content”.

After the panda, in April 2012, just as many sites had taken steps to speed up their page load speed, reduced the amount of ads and duplicate content on their websites and had started to recover their rankings.

Penguin and EMD Update

Google released another algorithm update. Originally this update was simply called the web spam update, as I am sure you know it later became known as the Penguin update.

Penguin attacked sites with unnatural link profiles, sites that had been buying links from private blog networks and other bad neighbourhoods.

Has your site recovered from the Google penguin yet? I am sure you are also aware, Google is regularly updating and re-running the Panda and Penguin algorithms.

Google’s latest update, released at the end of last month is the EMD, this update targets exact match domains.

So the question many affiliate marketers are no doubt asking themselves is, “how can we perform SEO and maintain rankings after Google’s recent updates?”

Tag Cloud with affiliate, SEO, marketing words

Performing Affiliate SEO from Start to Finish in 2012

1 . Choose your keywords wisely

Make sure you spend some time performing keyword research, try to find high volume low competition keywords before you even purchase a domain name, even after the recent EMD update I would still consider and recommend you look for a domain that contains your main target keyword, not an EMD though.

2 . Consider other search engines

Bing and Yahoo still seem to highly value exact match domains, having a domain name that contains your keywords could work wonders when it comes to Bing and Yahoo SEO.

3 . Add an XML sitemap

Sitemaps help search engine spiders index your websites content both quickly and easily. If you use a content management system like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, there are many plugins or modules that will create a sitemap for your site. If not just do a quick search for “free XML sitemap generator”.

4 . Create a webmaster tools account

Once you have your sitemap, you need to let the search engines know about it sign up for Google webmaster tools here and Bing webmaster tools here.

5 . Create videos

Creating videos and optimising your YouTube channel will do wonders for website traffic. Google seems to like showing YouTube videos in search results and a good video optimised for your keywords may rank with very little work.

6 . Speed up 

Speed up your sites load speed. Again if you use any major CMS their will be at least one plugin for this.

7 . Optimize for conversions

Look to optimise your website for conversions. Try and get the most out of your visitors. Could you make your email subscription form more prevalent and build your mailing list to insulate yourself from any future issues?

8 . Set Authorship

Use the Google rich snippets mark-up. Another big trend at the moment is to include the rich snippets mark-up on your website, this can increase click through rate. Google is hinting that it could be used as a ranking factor in the future.


Have any of your affiliate sites been hit by Google’s recent algorithm updates?

About Mark

Mark is an entreprenuer, affiliate marketer, online marketing and SEO expert. He runs several affiliate sites that cover a range of topics from competitions to mountain biking. Mark has recently started a website to offer White Hat, Manual SEO and Web Design Services.


  1. Hi Mark,
    They are really important and useful tips about optimizing your affiliate website. But you were confined to the in-site optimization only and do you think the site will be ranked by doing just these tasks. I guess another huge aspect is the tasks to do outside from your blog itself.

    Another thing, do you really suggest to use Authorship for niche sites? Its sounds something uneasy to me though.

    I like your idea of creating videos to promote niche sites. Youtube allows to add links in description. I guess they are valued by Google, will it?

    • Hi Suresh,

      Thanks for your comment. You are right off-site factors play the main role in how any site ranks, I think most people over look the on-site factors though.

      Videos rank well but the links from YouTube are no follow so won’t have much impact on your sites rankings.

      Using the author mark-up can help you get more click throughs and increase peoples trust in your site, which should lead to more sales.

  2. Hi Mark
    Great post. Does this mean you shouldn’t optimize your web pages? No it just means you have to create good content for the human reader while adding better focus and themes to your websites. Don’t use risky automated methods of gaining links or tools that scrape content. Optimizing your web pages remains very important because you have to show Google and other search engines that your website is relevant to a particular keyword and that your website has a high quality.

  3. Great and very important Article. I interested with your post. SEO for Affiliate Marketers is getting tougher. Google has put out over 40 updates in the latest round of Search Engine tweaks with more on the way. Discover tips to stay ahead of Google’s updates and make the most out of organic search opportunities.

  4. @Clarkmartin, yes I agree with you 100%, make sure on-page seo is perfect. Use related keywords in the content too.

    @Santosh, thank you, I am glad you like it. Marketing affiliate products via SEO has gotten very difficult and is getting harder all the time.

  5. Are you using a plugin for your Facebook and Twitter widgets in your sidebar and if so, what are you using? Could you also tell me what plugin you are using for the Facebook like box at the top of your sidebar? Thanks!

    • Erik Emanuelli says:

      Hi Daniel,
      the plugin at the top right of my sidebar is called :
      “WP MashSocial Wigdet”.
      It’s a beautiful widget inspired by Mashable to be used in sidebar, it allows you to add your Pinterest, G+ , Twitter , Facebook and Feeds Subscription in it .

  6. Excellent post. Before Google caught on to the tactics that SEO “experts” were using, it was common to see plans for backlinks. That’s right, they were advertising thousands of links for $10. There were several problems with this approach, of course. 1) These sites didn’t have high authority. 2) These sites were often irrelevant. Thanks for share it.

  7. Great piece of advice, Mark. With Google coming up with new updates every now and then, only quality and genuine ways will survive in long run. Thanks for this insightful share.

  8. “regularly updating?” Some say Google makes updates twice a day now, which explains why some websites “dance ” on 2-3 positions in SERP. Anyway, great tips. Thanks!

  9. A great and useful share. SEO for affiliate marketing is getting tougher by each passing day. This is a great step by step guide to affiliate marketing. Thanks for the share.

  10. Thanks for your comments everyone, glad you like my post

  11. Some people still sell those links Disha, just look on ebay or fiverr

  12. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link”

  13. I suck at the whole mobile thing, which is a shame if it’s now affecting my SEO…

    • Mobile is very important now, the amount of mobile searches is increasing all the time.

      In my opinion all you really need to do is make sure your site is built in html5 and loads fast.

  14. Thanks for this wonderful post. You sure have to keep on top of things these days, with all the changes going on. You have given me bits of information I hadn’t thought of before. Peace.

  15. Thank you very much,
    The tips really helpful Mark I like tip No 5 . Create videos, because when you promote your self you can attract many people with using videos. That means promoting your self . Videos is powerful tools to increase your selling…

  16. Great excellent post. SEO “experts” were using, it was common to see plans for backlinks. That’s right, they were advertising thousands of links for $10. There were several problems with this approach, of course. 1) These sites didn’t have high authority 2) These sites were often irrelevant.

  17. Erik, this may be bad of me, but when it comes to getting noticed on Google, I don’t try all that hard. Sure, I make sure that my stuff is optimized good, however, I would rather have a happy reader.

    I have seen so many blogs that are over-optimized and stuffed full of keywords just to get an affiliate link in front of potential customers.

    I think SEO is very important, but it should never come before your reader.

  18. I don’t think any of the above techniques detract from reader experience in anyway, they only help the search engines understand what your post/site is about and this helps readers find you.

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