Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from Saif in Saharanpur. Saif asks:
“I’m starting an affiliate website. What are the practices I could follow to NOT get caught in the Google update?”
Great question and this is a topic I know a ton about. The best answer I can tell you is not to do anything that would cause you to get caught on the wrong side of an update.
We’ll look at some do’s and don’ts that will help you stay on the right side of “the law” below.
As an affiliate marketer, your goal is to build a resource that solves needs and that a person will want to come back to.
The pages should be something people will share with friends, and subscribe to so that more people can be exposed to your affiliate links.
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about gardening, cooking, photography, or pool toys.
You have to build exceptional content. That means proper formatting, solving problems, explaining why your website should be trusted, entertaining/engaging, and creating a sense of belonging.
If your site does not inspire people to subscribe and trust you, you won’t succeed as an affiliate.
Avoid These Tactics for Affiliate Website SEO Success
- Participating in roundups.
- Using link farms, PBNs, or blog and forum comments for backlinks.
- Selling backlinks.
- Joining every program.
- Using HTML directly from the network or affiliate program (it is missing link attributes and better tracking).
- Creating thin pages.
- Doing Brand + Reviews for review content.
- Talking about a million products or niches.
- Pay-to-play content, especially with listicles; for example, do not rank higher commission/payout links higher in your list.
Choose a theme for the website based on what users will want to engage with for a long time.
Google SEO Best Practices for Affiliate Websites:
- Mark “sponsored” on each affiliate link and image that pulls an asset from the platform or program.
- Write helpful content that provides solutions for the person reading (do not talk about yourself or why you love it unless you already have 1000 active readers on all new content).
- Add in video demonstrations that you create (do not embed from other people).
- Use proper structure for your content (internal links, H tags, bullet lists, etc.).
- Upload assets to your own website like images and do not pull from a third party. Some brands and programs will require approval first, and if they use third-party creatives this becomes incredibly important.
- Be honest and do not lie about the “best” service or product (especially if it is because a brand wants you to favor them).
- Use manufacturers’ specs and information (everything should be 100% unique and you must always find original angles to share).
- Pick a niche and stick with it — do not talk about hosting, then flowers, then SEO tools.
- If you allow comments and visitors to interact with content, place UGC on all outbound links.
(Not sure which link markup to use? See Should You Use Nofollow, Sponsored, or UGC Links? to learn more.)
What Does Good Affiliate Content Look Like?
Let’s dive in a bit deeper.
You can say “My family loves this product,” if you’re a parenting blogger.
But do not stop there.
You have to add something relevant to the reader so it is relatable to them.
“My family loves this product because my toddler used to fuss over vegetables. By incorporating ABC Product into lunch and XYZ into dinner, she now gets excited to eat vegetables. We can’t keep them coming fast enough!”
But that is still not enough.
To go from thin or average content to quality content, you have to add more.
Using the example above, I would recommend adding in a few more sections.
- A video of the toddler before and after using the product, showing it is effective.
- Safety and product features like being BPA-free, no sharp edges, easy to clean, etc.
- The steps we took to introduce the toddler to the product, obstacles we ran into, and the solutions.
- What it is and is not compatible with, including other brands, tools or toys; high chairs vs. booster seats, etc.
- A couple of alternatives based on the negatives to provide options for everyone.
By making sure you provide the best answer possible, you are building content that will do well with the reader — and with Google.
This starts with building yourself as an authority, then showing the product will solve the visitor’s problem.
You also want to ensure the reader knows the product is safe or effective, and that it is compatible with other devices and tools.
Then show them how to use it. Finally, share your feedback and give alternatives in case that specific product does not meet the readers’ needs.
Sure, it’s a ton of work. But guess what? Building a successful, sustainable affiliate business is worth it.
- How to Plan an Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Content Creators
- How to Integrate Content Marketing & SEO
- Your Guide to Google E-A-T & SEO
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!