SEO Affiliate Marketing: The Definitive Guide

This post explains what is SEO, affiliate marketing, how to do affiliate marketing with SEO tactics both for merchants and affiliates, what are the best SEO software affiliate programs to earn commissions. Hope this guide can help merchants to recruit more high-quality content affiliates and publishers to succeed in affiliate marketing by taking advantage of SEO or other marketing channels.

What is SEO Affiliate Marketing?

To answer the question, we need to know what is SEO and what is affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

According to the latest IAB affiliate marketing handbook, affiliate marketing is defined as a performance-based channel in which an online advertiser pays a commission to an affiliate for any sales or
actions that were generated from their referrals.

There are three major roles: affiliates, advertisers, and affiliate networks.

what is affiliate marketing
Source: Google Image

Affiliates also called publishers or partners, are people or companies that will promote a product or service to their audience.

Advertisers, also known as merchants, retailers, or brands are the online companies that have this product or service to sell. 

Affiliate networks are the companies that help connect affiliates and advertisers and provide tracking and reporting services such as Awin, CJ, Rakuten (former LinkShare), Pepperjam, ShareASale., and Webgains.

( You may hear affiliate tracking software, that is for an in-house affiliate program, that is to say, the merchants use the tracking software such as Afftis, HasOffers by Tune. Radius by Impact, Partnerize to run their partner programs with full control. And affiliates usually use Voluum for tracking.)

How Affiliate Marketing Works?

How affiliate marketing works
Source: IAB Affiliate Marketing Handbook 2020
  • Affiliates promote a brand’s product or service on the website.
  • When a consumer clicks an affiliate link and then is taken to the advertiser’s website and finally makes a purchase.
  • The transaction was tracked through the affiliate network.
  • The affiliate is credited with the commission for the sales he/she drives for the advertiser.

Learn more about affiliate marketing.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic by optimizing websites so that they rank well through organic/natural search engine results.

Google is the most popular search engine, others include Baidu (China), Yandex (Russia), Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo…

In SEO, not all search engines are equal. Accord to StatCounter data of search engine market share, Google is 91.75%, Bing is 2.75%, Yahoo is 1.7%. So make sure to put more emphasis on Google.

search engine market share
Source: Statcounter

How Search Engine Works?

Search engines have three primary functions: crawl, index, and rank.

Google explains how it discovers, crawls, and serves web on Google search console help.

  1. Crawl: Scour the Internet for content, web crawlers(commonly known as search engine bots or spiders) look at data such as URLs, sitemaps, and code to discover the types of content being displayed
  2. Index: Store and organize the content found during the crawling process.
  3. Rank: Display the most relevant content that will best answer a searcher’s query

Here’s what Google says on “How search works” although it does not tell much about its algorithm.

Google ranking systems are designed to do just that: sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in our Search index to find the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second, and present them in a way that helps you find what you’re looking for.

To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query.

In simple terms, SEO works by demonstrating to search engines that your content is the best fit for the search query. After all, all search engines are aimed to show the best, most relevant results to their users.

Generally, SEO includes on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Because people spend more time on their mobile phones, mobile SEO is more and more important. Some business owners also use Google My Business to increase exposure, which is local SEO.

SEO Guide

SEO is just one part of digital marketing, it needs to be combined with other channels like social marketing, content marketing, and PPC/SEM, and so on.

Learn more about SEO fundamental

SEO and Affiliate  Marketing

So we come back to the original question: what is SEO affiliate marketing.

If you are a merchant, what you worry about is whether affiliate marketing harms your SEO efforts.

If you are an affiliate, what you concern about is how to use SEO to drive more traffic.

Do Affiliate Links Help SEO?

For the most part, affiliate links do not directly help or hurt your SEO.

Affiliate links through major program networks do not get followed from the search engine.and  will not pass any link equity to the receiving page. Even for the affiliate links which do not have this nofollow tag, full Affiliate network link URLs pass through a 302 redirect and shorthanded links pass through a 307 redirect. These are temporary redirects that are not followed by search engines and pass zero SEO value. Learn more from Awin Wiki.

Just think about how many merchants own the affiliate program, so do not worry about the affiliate link issue.

How  Affiliates do SEO?

First of all, always follow Google guidelines on the affiliate program to create websites with original content that adds value for users.

John from Google suggests that rel=sponsored be used for affiliate links.

The differences between Google’s Nofollow, sponsored, and UGC link attributes are clear from the Moz chart. Learn more about the Nofollow link attribute change at Search Engine Roundtable.

Keep in mind these rules, you can start your blog to do affiliate marketing. The major process for SEO affiliate is:

  • Find a niche product that you are interested in or familiar with and can be profitable
  • Do competitor research and make a content plan
  • Creat quality content based on keyword research
  • Do on-page SEO include title, tag, description, image alt and so on
  • Promote your content on social networks like Youtube, Reddit, and Twitter…You can also try paid ads and email marketing.
  • Build your links and win more backlinks for your websites. Do Not Buy links.
  • Optimize, Test, Optimize, and Test… and Scale.

Best SEO Tool Affiliate Program

If you are an affiliate and have a basic knowledge of affiliate marketing, SEO, and digital marketing, it is a good choice to promote SEO affiliate programs or other SaaS affiliate programs. The advantage is that you use them and you know them.

SEMrush affiliate program seems popular while ahrefs and Moz, unfortunately closed their affiliate program.

Besides the SEO tools, other types of marketing SaaS are also worthy of consideration such as BigCommerce for e-commerce website building, Aweber for email marketing, and LeadPage / InstaPage for landing page design.

Affiliate Program Type Commission
SEMrush SEO/SEM up to 40%
Brightlocal SEO 15%
Mangools( kwfinder) SEO 30%
Serpstat SEO up to 30%
BigCommerce e-commerce up to $1,500
AWeber email marketing 30%
LeadPages landing page up to 50%
InstaPage landing page up to 50%
Sporutsocial social marketing $50
Hubspot CRM up to $1000
Crazyegg analytics no
Screamingfrog SEO no
majestic SEO no
Buzzsumo content marketing no
Similarweb analytics no but parter program
ahrefs SEO closed
Moz SEO closed

Conclusion

Hope this guide can help walk you through SEO affiliate marketing. No matter you are an advertiser eager to boost your affiliate program or you are an affiliate desiring for SEO traffic. Digital marketing is like an umbrella, it is wise to take all the channels-SEO, SEM, social, content, affiliate, EDM programmatic, mobile into consideration.

OnePlus Case Study

You will know what OnePlus does and how the Chinese brand goes popular in foreign countries. The post will work you through OnePlus digital marketing strategy from its affiliate marketing, community management, and social marketing, and more.

About OnePlus

Who does  OnePlus do?

OnePlus,  or One Plus Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.,  is based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Founded by Pete Lau, former Oppo vice-president,  in December 2013, it is now popular especially in the United States and India for flagship phones.

Products: OnePlus 8/ OnePlus 8 pro, OnePlus 7T/ OnePlus 7 Pro and phone accessories.

oneplus products

OnePlus is well-know for its flagship mobile phones at a high price. However, the latest product line of cheaper phones called OnePlus Nord is now accessible. OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said in the announcement.

“We are immensely proud of our flagship products and will continue to create more tech-leading flagships for our users. Now we are excited to share the OnePlus experience with even more users around the world through this new product line.”

Is OnePlus, Vivo OPPO same company?

Many people are confused about the relationships between OnePlus, OPPO, and Vivo. BBK Electronics from Wikipedia is out of date and you can find more historical details on this post.

It is clear to get the answer from the below chart. In general,  OPPO and OnePlus are owned (partly) by the parent company but run independently.

oneplus, oppo, vivo relationship
Source: tianyancha.com

Besides, Realm works as a sub-brand of OPPO while iQOO works under Vivo. Both of them aim to cater to the needs of mobile phones at lower prices but with good performance.

Brand Ambassador
OnePlus works with ‘Avengers’ star Robert Downey Jr. to endorse OnePlus 7 Pro In May 2019.  Learn more at Verge.

OnePlus Web Traffic

Let’s use Similarweb to take a look at how OnePlus website traffic looks like. (note: similar web data is just for reference and different web analytics tool may have different results)

For geography,  Asia, North America, Europe are the major regions OnePlus serves its customers. China, the United States, the United Kindom, and India get the most traffic.

Oneplus traffic similarweb

As for traffic sources, search (organic search) and direct traffic eat the big pie. Usually for brands, paid traffic only a small portion.

channel overview oneplus

Social Media Marketing

Social marketing is playing an important role in digital marketing channels. People spend more and more time on social network and that’s why advertisers choose these platforms to communicate and engage with the mass audience.

social traffic oneplus

It seems that Youtube is the best way to drive traffic because Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google and people like to search for product reviews for tech products before purchases.

one plus social traffic

It is worth noting that OnePlus works better than OPPO and Xiaomi on Reddit. Perhaps it focuses more on the community,

  • CN Community http://www.oneplusbbs.com/
  • EN Community https://forums.oneplus.com/
Account Facebook Instagram Twitter Youtube Reddit
OnePlus 12.9M 3228K 2.1M 1.04M 183k
OnePlus_USA 380.1K
OnePlus_UK 119.8K
oneplus_fr 12.9M 35K 155.8K
oneplus_DE 33.2K
OnePlus India 12.9M 2752K 2.1M
oneplus_thai 5250
OnePlus_Support 172.9K

OnePlus has several accounts for each country on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, among which the United States and India get the most fans and engagements just as we see traffic analysis above.

notes: OnePlus Indian website is oneplus.in, other regions follow the SEO friendly model like oneplus.com/fr and oneplus.com/th.

Affiliate Marketing

OnePlus has its affiliate program on Awin and CJ. You can find the official program description on the website.

Name ID commission Network Notes
OnePlus 10855 2-7% Awin  US & Canada
OnePlus 5205102 2-7% CJ US,UK,CA,FR

As CJ data shows, the top five countries are US, FR, DE, CA, UK.  (Note:  OnePlus CJ  affiliate program is not available for India and China, and OnePlus Awin affiliate program is for the US and CA. For affiliate marketers who want to join their program, please pay attention to its terms and agreement.)

One Plus_CJ_Affiliate_by_Conversant

According to Similarweb, Awin does better than CJ. The affiliate network drive more traffic than Google on display. Skimlinks is a sub-network, which focuses on content publishers and Ziff Davis owns several brands such as offer.com, tech bargains, Mashable, PCMAG.com, and more.

oneplus affiliate netowork

For the Student program, OnePlus works with affiliate Student Beans to offer 10% OFF discounts. Students can also use an education email to verify identity.

The referral program can be seen as an additional choice to get points.

  • student program https://www.oneplus.com/education
  • referral program https://www.oneplus.com/referral points
  • affiliate program https://www.oneplus.com/affiliate-program

Email Marketing

OnePlus email subscription design looks beautiful.

oneplus email marketing

oneplus email marketing

OnePlus do not send newsletters daily

oneplus e newsletter

OnePlus 7 Series Case Study

I recorded what happened when OnePlus Launched 7 Series phones.

Timeline

4.22  Pete Law twitter  & Verge Report

4.30 The New York Time Advertising

5.14  Global Launch Event ( US,  UK, India)

5.14-5.15 Pop-up

5.16  Robert Downey & CN Launch Event

5.17 Open Sale

5.18 CN Pop-up

5.21 CN Open Sale

OnePlus works with dozens of Youtube big influencers to do product reviews for the new product launch event. Below chart record influencers who own 1M + followers on Youtube and review the OnePlus 7 series.

Youtube influencers oneplus

Youtube influencers get a lot of views when they create the videos.

oneplus youtube views 2019.5.16

Conclusion

I hope you have a basic understanding of how OnePlus website traffic, affiliate marketing, and influencer marketing look like. With the 5G era coming, the mobile phone industry is becoming more and more competitive.  How brands can quickly respond? What marketer needs to do? What customers need most?

 

Ravpower Case Study

You may use products from Ravpower, TaoTronics, and VAVA. But do you know the company behind these brands? It is Sunvalley Group.

This post will briefly introduce Sunvalley’s digital marketing. You can compare Sunvalley with Anker. Both of them sell chargers, power banks, projectors, and earphones on Amazon and their official websites., but Anker is more popular.

Continue reading Ravpower Case Study

Anker Case Study

Anker is a well-known brand for portable chargers both to customers and Amazon sellers. Steven Yang, its funder, started Anker in 2011 after leaved Google. The Verge even said Anker is beating Apple and Samsung at their own accessory game.

Let’s have a deep look at what Anker is about and how it promotes products from the perspective of marketing. Continue reading Anker Case Study

Affiliate Marketing Checklist 2020

From setting up a new program to messaging cohesion and optimizing partnerships, conducting regular affiliate audits ensure that your program is successful. Hope this checklist can help you effectively manage your affiliate program.

Account Audit

Is all your publisher-facing information up-to-date? Review the following information for reference.

General Network Account Information

  • Program description (bio)
  • Logo
  • Automated event emails (pending applications, acceptance into program, etc.)
  • Newsletter templates
  • Contact information
  • Affiliate page on your websites

Creative

  • Logo
  • Banners (seasonal and relevant)
  • Video
  • Textlink
  • Product Feed

Banner Size:

  • 300X250, 728X90, 60X600, 120X90, 125X125, 468X60
  • 300X600, 325X50 (mobile), 335X280

banner size

Commission Terms

  • Publisher groups and tags for easy reporting and newsletter outreach
  • Dynamic commission if necessary
  • PPC rules (brand safety)

Publisher Approvals

  • Avoid auto-approval because of quality over quantity

Pixel Implementation

Promotions/Shipping

Promotional Calendar

  • Understand drive times for specific products and categories
  • Based on prior performance and current availability, consider offering affiliate channel exclusives, affiliate semi-exclusives or true exclusives to key partners.
  • Get creative with promotional messaging, adding in seasonal wording where appropriate to create a sense of urgency and relevancy.

Free Shipping & Shipping Deadlines

  • Customers love free shipping.

Promotional Assets

  • coupon code
  • sweepstakes
  • gift card
  • flash sale
  • holiday sale

Newsletter Communication/Mass Outreach

  • promotional coupon, coupon code, duration, and any terms and conditions
  • plan to send reminders of peak promotions closer to the actual run dates
  • creat a list of top publisher contacts and send promotional updates and calendars directly to these contacts, as well as in-network newsletters.
  • creat a monthly newsletter schedule that coincides with your sites marketing calendar

Optimization

Top Publishers/ Coupons & Loyalty

  • communicate individually with these publishers, addressing any recent decrease and /or ways to continue increasing performance.
  • offer a tiered performance bonus to top partners for exceeding revenue goals.

Content Affiliates

  • Highlight relevant seasonal products, along with updated seasonal creative in communications to content-focused sites.
  • Incentivize content affiliates to post specific seasonal content and promotions.
  • Provide content suggestions  (keywords or best sellers) if possible.

Influencer Marketing

  • Mega, Macro, Micro or Nano influencers

Technology Affiliates

  • Retargeting can be helpful to optimize conversion rates.

Placement Buying

  • Ask for media kits and get the best fit for your budget during the holiday season.

Monitoring

Brand Safety & Fraud Traffic

  • Audit publisher sites to ensure they are not cheating and violating the program terms.

Placement Performance

  • Monitor publisher sites to ensure placements are running as scheduled with the proper messaging.

Budget  & KPI

  • Metrics: Clicks, Sales, ROAS, AOV, CR, New/Existing customer

Multi-Channel Marketing

  • Compare the data among different marketing channels

15 Marketing Models You Should Know

Theories on marketing, communication science, consumer behavior can help us better understand customer needs, create and deliver value, run the business, and manage the brand.

Content

  • Marketing Strategy
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Integrated Marketing Communication
  • Brand Management

Continue reading 15 Marketing Models You Should Know