by Kyle Campbell (a.k.a. Dan Anderson)
Keyword research is truly the lifeblood of affiliate SEO.
At least if you ask me.
Back when I got into SEO around 2012, I didn’t know anything about how to find good keywords.
The first keyword I ever ranked for was this:
This is a Spanish keyword.
como exitar a una mujer = how to turn women on
Back then it actually showed as having 60,500 searches/month.
The only reason I picked it was because I knew I could probably rank for it as there wasn’t much competition.
The problem ended up being that it wasn’t very monetizable. The site only ended up ever making around $50/month selling an eBook.
Good keywords combine rankability(how reasonable it is to be able to actually rank for it) with monetization potential.
The part that I was doing right in this scenario was finding and using loopholes to rank for stuff “easily”.
I only started to get better success when I fixed the problem, which was finding keywords/niches that were more lucrative(which I did by moving into more physical products), but of course I kept using loopholes (in this case foreign rankings) to drive traffic.
I just wanted to show off that keyword for sake of example, so you can see the “humble beginnings” I came from in SEO and an example of something I started from.
In this post I’m going to go on a big rant about different keyword strategies and tactics that I know.
I’ll also be showing off the “Kyle Campbell signature keyword tactic” that I am currently developing near the end of this article, which is kind of a grey-hat method but nonetheless works.
There are infinite ways to find keywords, though, and this is just a list of some tactics that I know of.
Using Different Site Types
There are 2 main “categories” or “site types” you can make when doing affiliate SEO:
1. Little small niche sites(often times an EMD)
2. Bigger authority sites
Now when I say “bigger authority sites”- this in itself obviously has all different “levels” to it.
You could be making something that you put tons and tons of effort into with the best most whitehat content in the world while doing “outreach” and adding PBNs and doing a whitehat social page plus having an email list plus having giveaways and spending your whole life managing the site(I think you get the point).
And then on the other hand, what most people talk about when they mean “authority site” is something that just targets more broad keywords, is not an EMD, uses a brand domain, has brand anchors, etc. and just aims for a larger trajectory of keywords than little “dinky” EMD-type sites.
I do think a smarter trend in general is moving towards authority sites which I am doing myself.
But don’t get me wrong, I like money.
And I still have nothing against registering “beststatindosage.com” if I think it’ll be worth some easy cash.
And EMDs still work very much in this day and age, and these opportunities are most likely particularly pertinent to people who are just getting a start, don’t have a ton of budget, want to make some quick cash, and want to “prove to themselves” that SEO really works.
EMD Style Sites
Not much to say about EMDs(exact-match domains).
I mean, what’s there really to say?
It’s a freaking EMD.
The whole point is to milk the “exactness” of the domain for whatever ranking advantage it may be worth.
I see people still absolutely killing it with these for certain “local SEO client” type terms.
Which is probably where EMDs are particularly useful these days.
However, they still have some affiliate potential and you can still find keywords with some volume that still have exact match domains available for on of the main 3 TLDs(.com, .net, .org).
This isn’t even the best example just something I literally found in 5 minutes for the sake of having a live real example here in this post.
If you can’t see the image here is the keyword with it’s stats:
best at home teeth whitening – 4,400 monthly searches – $0.59 CPC
At the time of me writing this(I’m sure it will be gone in 2 seconds after I post this), the following EMD is still available to register:
For $8 bucks you can pick up the .org, when the other common TLDs have already been taken and the .com is listed for $4,244! (not that anyone is going to buy it for that much necessarily, but you get the point, most domain arbitrage guys set their prices according to whether or not they think it is a valuable domain for an exact match keyword) I literally found this in 5 minutes just trying to find examples for this post.
So whoever picks this up could employ the good old EMD-style SEO of setting up some basic articles on the site and just avoiding linking too much overoptimized PBN anchor text to it in the beginning(I would just build mainly some domain name anchors, maybe a partial match anchor, and some misc anchors, never putting exactly “best at home teeth whitening” with spaces as an anchor- because with really long EMDs I think that can hurt their rankings if you’re linking from a PBN like that to it, especially if it’s a young site) and you can definitely still rank for stuff this way.
Authority sites are my favorite way to rank these days because of their power.
Ranking an EMD for a lower search volume, more long-tail keyword is still doable and you can make some profits doing that.
But for a more long-term strategy, authority sites are where it’s at.
With bigger sites that are more topical and broad, your effects of your work and effort will snowball over time as you build what I like to call GPA(Google-Perceived Authority) into the domain more and more.
Of course this is just a fancy word for “authority” in general, but SEO can be boring so I like to call it GPA. (ie. how high is your GPA?)
And anyways building authority sites is great because it also solves one of the most common problems/questions I hear, which is when people ask me:
How do I know if xyz keyword is rankeable? How long will it take to xyz keyword? Can I rank for xyz keyword or is it too broad?
The truth is, you never know any of these things for certain and can only estimate timeframes and rankability.
Also, you will never know if something is too broad or if it is just within reach(because broad keywords hold a lot more traffic than longer tail ones, and a lot of times the way you make a lot of money is by finding those keywords that are “just within your reach” when using PBNs).
The way to solve all of these questions is to find out for yourself, and you do that by building your sites on what I like to call “The Spectrum”.
Choosing Your Keywords According To “The Spectrum”
“The Spectrum” is the idea of building a site that targets a whole “Spectrum” of different keyword difficulties- this way you find out for yourself what you truly can and can’t rank for with whatever SEO strategy you’re using(for most people here, it is probably PBNs).
So what you want to do is find a mix of broad and longtail keywords and include this whole range in your sites, and make different pages targeting each kw.
Also a cool thing that usually happens is as you rank for small keywords and send some of the traffic to your broader pages via an anchor text link, you will find that these broader pages also go up in rankings a lot quicker than if you were just targeting broad keywords alone.
So for the sake of example let’s take a look at the acne/skincare niche.
Here is a random spreadsheet of keyword data I generated from just typing in “acne creams” in the Google Keyword Planner Tool.
Now this is an example of a huge niche. If you want to build an authority site, you should probably go in a huge niche most of the time.
Because after you build up your site’s authority it is most likely that there will always be products available for you to promote AND new products being released/new news being generated/new stuff happening in that niche that will result in new keywords all the time of significant volume(you can just make a new page when you find a new kw and rank fairly easily for it based on the authority of your site).
In order to setup a site with a whole “Spectrum” of keyword difficulties, you should pick out some broader ones and more long tail ones, for example:
So basically these would be the broader more difficult keywords from that list. Obviously you are not going to rank for most of these, but with time and authority you could definitely get on page 1. Just look around and you will see aff sites ranking for certain ones:
You should use one of these as the “trajectory” of your site or the “overall site topic” that I will discuss more below.
Longer Tail Keywords
Likely you will have inner pages on your site that target these more long-tail keywords that still have volume(use them as the broad topics of your silo):
Very Long Tail Keywords (Low Search Volume)
And then obviously, these keywords would be put beneath your broader topic pages and these are certainly very rankable.
Targeting really long-tail, low search volume keywords that you can rank for easily is a great way to start an authority site because it starts to build up real traffic, which is also another ranking factor.
Once you do get some slight traffic I recommend having an anchor text optimized link in the content near the top of the page with an enticing call to action that will send your traffic to your pages that are targeting more competitive keywords.
This will help you start boosting those more competitive pages’ rankings because it looks very natural and is exactly what Google loves.
Basic KW Overview Of Building An Authority Site
1. Choosing The Trajectory Of The Site
Choosing the trajectory just means picking the “broadest” topic that your site will be centered around.
Don’t overcomplicate this, you can change it later slightly anyways.
For example, this would be the difference between making your homepage all about “Acne” in general or “Acne Creams” which would be more specific.
Even more broad than both of these would be “skin care” in general.
2. Siloing Underneath That Trajectory
After you have picked a trajectory for your site, make sure to silo with subgroups that make sense underneath.
Again- no need to overcomplicate this. If you decide later that something is not perfectly grouped how you want it, change it then and 301 redirect your old page to the new URL.
Keep In Mind To Not Overoptimize For Individual Keywords
As you can see in the list above, there are tons of different keywords and kw variations.
Let’s say you were going to target all 40 of those keywords to see what you rank for.
There’s no use in making a separate page for “pimple treatment” and “treatment for pimples”.
Or even for another example “how to treat acne scars” and “remove acne scars”.
In the past in SEO, it would be very popular for sites to build out all different pages like:
Also even beyond just the URLs(shown above), in the past people would also optimize the H1, title, description, etc. all around these micro variations of keywords.
This used to work- now it really does not so well.
Google is now smart enough to recognize how certain pages hold useful content that will effectively serve visitors searching for a whole range of keywords.
Example Of How To Divide Your Pages Into Topics(Skincare Niche)
Google now likes to identify “topic” pages that have strong authority and rank them for various phrases, rather than favoring over-optimized little sites that are obviously spamming for all different variations with individual pages.
So just keep this in mind when constructing your site, figure out something that makes sense, and fit all of your target keywords into an overall smaller amount of pages.
For example, if you take the list of acne kws I showed above, two groups I would for sure make(each one having their one 1 respective page) would be these:
“Face” related terms
“Laser” related terms
Now you probably wouldn’t end up ranking for all of these terms individually but targeting them in this manner gives you a greater likelihood of ranking for as many as are possible.
As you juice up the page with PBNs, all of this juice is going to be coagulated in one spot, assisting you with ranking for all of the other kws as well, regardless of what anchor you use on that particular link.
So this is also good for the reason that your link-building efforts will “snowball” in this way.
New Plugin You Absolutely MUST Have Since The New Adwords Data Throttling
The Google Adwords team recently announced, as I’m sure you have probably heard, that they will be throttling keyword data so you cannot see the exact volumes of individual keywords anymore, but rather just a “range” of volume that that KW falls within.
Now this is not something to get your panties in a bunch about so much anyways, because the KW tool has never been completely accurate anyways.
And even if they totally denied us access to it there would still be ways to find KWs and even less people to compete with.
However, it is a bit of a difference not being able to see an “exact” volume when we were so used to this.
Fortunately, however, I discovered a free new plugin that saves the day.
This is a completely free browser extension(no affiliation) called Keywords Everywhere that allows you to see the exact search volume and CPC of a keyword when you search it in Google.
You can see here in this image the results it gave me back for this KW:
Now I am not totally aware of the technology they are using to do this, but it looks to be pretty accurate based on KWs I already know of, and their previous search volumes according to the Adwords tool when I search them.
Using Keyword Research Tools
The main keyword research tools I use are the Adwords Keyword Planner(to verify search volumes) and manual research in Google to assess all different aspects of keywords and niches, get ideas in the first place, estimate competition, etc.
3rd party softwares and tools for KW research can be helpful, but people usually are just using them in the wrong way.
For example, the main questions I constantly hear people groaning about(in relation to KW research) are related to competition.
People always want to know, what is the competition level of “xyz keyword”, “how many PBNs would it take to rank this keyword”, “is this kw rankable or not”, etc.
Keyword Tools are not so much for determining competition, but rather for giving you new KW ideas and finding lots of related keywords.
You should assess competition on your own, based on your experience doing SEO. And if you’re not experienced, you should try making sites that target a range of keyword difficulties, and then start learning what is rankable and what is not with whatever SEO method you are using(PBNs, whitehat, etc.).
But the point that I’m making is, there is no tool that will give you a completely accurate metric for assessing competition.
That is something you have to do yourself.
Use KW tools for generating new seed keywords and finding all sorts of new keyword ideas, not for checking competition so much.
There are ways to find great keywords without paid tools, but if you want to pick one up, one decent software is Keyword XP Pro.
This tool has a number of different functions that are helpful:
Trends Feature – the trending volume of a KW is very important in affiliate SEO because KWs can come and go. Especially if it is a product based keyword. A lot of tools just pull avg search volume but this one shows you trends as well.
Amazon and YouTube Integrations – Keyword XP not only allows you to get data about KWs as they are searched in Google itself, but also Amazon and YouTube. This is an absolutely fantastic aspect of the tool that allows you to get better ideas if you are using one of these channels.
Other Epic Keyword Tactics
Making a site where you rank for a keyword + city/state in thousands of different combination is definitely still in and another strategy to consider.
I know there is tons of other training on this around here and this is a whole nother topic in itself so I won’t really go into it. Just wanted to include it in the list of KW strategies for the sake of reference.
Ranking for keywords in foreign languages, which is one of my specialties. Way easier to rank than in English.
Product Name/Specification Keywords (Usually electronics-related)
If you’re promoting different electronics products, for example computers or phones, which most people link to Amazon, you can find certain product models that have different variations/endings with certain numbers/letters.
If you optimize in the right way for these specifically you can rank for them.
Blackhat Mass-Adjective Injection
This is the Kyle Campbell signature tactic. Not because it is my main keyword method but just because I have never heard anybody else talk about it.
Now I’m not going to overhype this tactic IT DOES NOT WORK IN ALL CASES/KEYWORD GROUPS/NICHES.
However, I have seen it work in a few and I just stumbled on to it literally by accident back when I used to have a certain CPA site. Now this site was targeting tons of different terms, but I accidentally found this keyword because one of my pages started ranking for it.
I made a random page titled something like “Rare Cases Of (product name) Users Doing xyz…..”.
I don’t even remember what it said exactly, it was just a “fluff” post to add more content to the site. It was basically about nothing, this was one of my more blackhat sites.
The point is, this page randomly started ranking in tons of traffic which I saw in my logs.
And then I looked through the keyword stats and was able to see form a few of the searches, that the incoming traffic was coming from people searching for “rare (product name)”.
Now I still to this day don’t know why people were searching for this. But my site ranked #1 effortlessly and there was zero competition for the term. It was bringing in I think at least 100 people per day and generating around $200/day in pure profit. This only lasted for a few weeks and then the traffic died off.
What are the key things to know about this:
1. There was literally no way to “discover” this kw in the Google KW Tool through conventional methods – the Keyword Tool.
2. Google Keyword Planner showed no volume for this – Even if you could somehow stumble on to these types of KWs(you can’t), Google may not show any volume for them anyways!
I have heard many other people complaining about this exact fact but the truth is, the Keyword Tool is not completely accurate. (just recently they also announced they will no intentionally be “throttling” data based on how much you’re spending/not spending on paid Adwords ads) I’m not sure what the exact details of that new procedure are because I didn’t have time to read it, but the point is, when it comes to search volume, Google sometimes lies.
So the big takeaways here are:
1. There are keywords out there that we don’t know about.
2. We can’t always trust the Google search volumes for certain keywords anyways.
The reason I ended up ranking for this keyword “rare (product name)” was simply because I had a site that was ranking decently well in the niche overall and then I accidentally(just by chance) slipped the word “rare” in a random post.
The word “rare” ended up being in the URL, meta title, and H1 on the page- and there were literally no other sites out there competing in this way because it was an unknown keyword.
Therefore, I literally ranked #1 effortlessly and made some good money with this kw.
To understand this method further, let me explain how we can replicate this tactic in the future.
1. Choose a big niche with a large seed keyword(the main keyword in this case was “(product name)” which used to have tons of volume at the time)
2. Inject all kinds of random words into the content – now this is somewhat of a blackhat tactic that you really need a script for. I’m currently making a script that does all this automatically(not a product I’m trying to sell or anything, just for personal use). The point is, in the example I gave, I ranked for this keyword with the “seed” word of “(product name)” and the “special” word(let’s call it) of “rare”.
When doing this you will always know what your “seed” word is because that is simply the niche you are targeting- “(product name)”, “acoustic guitars”, “teddy bears”, “stuffed giraffes”, etc.
The problem is that you never know what other “special” words people will be adding on to the main keyword.
In this case I am talking about, the “special” word was “rare” but the only way I found that out was because I made a page with that word on it, and it ended up ranking for it, and then I incidentally found out there were people searching for it!
So the point is, you never know what “special” words searchers are adding on to the main keyword.
We think we know the general patterns and words people type in when they want to accomplish different things online, for example, find a product, compare products, research a topic, learn about a problem, etc. (for example people add in buy, reviews, online, etc. a lot of times for products).
But we never for certain KNOW these things.
In fact, if you look in your stat logs it is fairly common to find out you are ranking for a certain keyword variation and getting most of your traffic from it, and you didn’t even intend to do it in the first place.
Imagine all the unknown keywords we could find if we had a systematic way to approach this problem and find them!
Like I said, I’m currently working on a script that will take a huge list of English words and inject them into a page as part of the content in a way that is grammatically correct.
Right now, you can literally just do this manually by Googling “list of English adjectives” and then take them and manually insert a bunch into a page on your site, although this is not as effective or efficient. Also, it is bound to be a lot more effective when you can include all these different adjectives in the URL/H1/Title of your pages and have tons of different pages targeting them. So that is something that I’m working on for myself that I thought I would drop in here. I know it’s not super practical as something that has an easy way to use right off the bat but I figured people might want to know about this idea(which I have already confirmed works).
So all in all, this has really been one long rant off the top of my head about different kw tactics you can exploit.
I really think building larger authority sites is the way to go if you are going to be trying to make long-term money in affiliate marketing.
With that being said, however, of course there are tons of different ways to build sites and effectively rank for keywords that do not necessarily revolve around that model.
I hope this gave you some insights into different ways of finding keywords you may have never realized.
Remember, nobody’s going to give you their exact keywords.
If I could, I would, and your mind would be blown at the opportunities that are out there right now in the affiliate game.
Until next time,