Research Basics: Learning Keywords for Affiliate Marketing

Keywords are the foundation of any successful affiliate marketing website and provide visitors to get clicks and eventually sales. By ...

Keywords are the foundation of any successful affiliate marketing website and provide visitors to get clicks and eventually sales. By finding the right keywords and targeting them effectively, you can bring in more traffic and boost your profits so let’s talk about how to find keywords for affiliate marketing.

The key to finding keywords is to focus on long-tail information-based keywords, these will have much less competition providing you a much easier ability to reach the top ten in the SERP. As this content ages, you can continue to add value through new posts and grow your E-A-T within your niche and subject matter.

But how do you know they are going to work, what is the point of keywords? There are a variety of methods you can use, each with its own advantages and disadvantages but all help you build search engine optimized content.

image pushes benefit to understanding keywordshow to find keywords for affiliate marketing

What Does Keyword Research Mean For Affiliate Niche Sites?

At its root, it is how search engines match search queries with content. But to us marketers, it’s how we can determine what people are actually searching for online and how difficult it will be to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) by using search engine optimization within our content.

Keywords are fundamental to your site being found and available, called indexed, for searchers. If you don’t do keyword research and create content just based on your want to tell someone some piece of information you will find that you get no traffic from them.

So your keyword research will be using all available data sources to locate phrases that the search engines use to help classify your content and then you will want to write these down to use later to sort them by criteria like informational, buyer intent, or other needs.

Understanding the Content Funnel

Most people have seen a funnel so you are aware of the shape in the first place, as to a content funnel we are thinking about this in terms of where the most searches will occur versus less the lower your get in the funnel itself.

So at the top of the funnel, you have the widest area to be easy to fill, this holds the most search volume overall and is typically filled with the massive volume of purely beginner content, the best keywords will be from within this section.

As you move down the funnel towards the smaller side you have topics that are more for intermediate content, things that are more narrow and specific to issues someone may encounter after they are more involved in the niche you chose.

The lowest part of the funnel is for the advanced queries, these are super-specific content that may need answering and be short real answers on the SERP but are dangerous to waste too much effort on.

This is due to the fact that they frequently provide very few real searchers so make sure these are worth the effort, pointing to affiliate products that solve pain points, courses or memberships, info products, and similar high-profit options.

Why Keywords Are Vital for Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketers already have lower profits versus other businesses as you tend to get smaller percentages back on the products you link a visitor to, this makes organic traffic the most valuable to target as it has zero cost to acquire when the correct keywords are chosen.

Drives Organic Traffic

Organic keyword traffic is a holy grail for affiliate marketers as this is how you increase your traffic without having to pay for advertising which cuts into profits and risks a click fraud situation.

By understanding how to find the right keywords and use them effectively on your website, you can drive relevant organic traffic that is more likely to convert into sales.

Builds Authority

Ranking for certain keywords can help build authority for your website. When you rank for competitive keywords, it shows that your site is a trusted source of information on that topic.

This can help you attract more organic traffic and build trust with your audience, both of which are essential for successful affiliate marketing.

Buyer Intent Vs Informational

Finding profitable keywords is essential for any affiliate marketing campaign, but it’s also important to understand the difference between buyer intent keywords and informational keywords.

Informational keywords are simply queries about a particular topic. For example, “What is affiliate marketing?” or “How to start an affiliate marketing campaign.” These keywords don’t necessarily indicate that the searcher is looking to make a purchase.

Buyer intent keywords, on the other hand, show that the searcher is further along in their buyer’s journey and is more likely to be ready to make a purchase. For example, “Best affiliate marketing programs” or “Affiliate marketing for beginners.”

Types of Affiliate Keywords to Target

There are two core types of content that we spoke about above, informational and buyer intent content, though there are also navigational keywords that are more vital to local SEO that is of limited use to most affiliate niche sites.

But there are a vast array of keywords within these that can have more specific intent that can help you in what content to create that will maximize their performance in the end, lets go over some to help you start building familiarity.

Buyer Intent

These are the big keywords that target people looking to spend money and are the most valuable to an affiliate as they are further down the sales funnel, almost always indicating a commercial intent to buy something.

To find these you want to look for comparison content, product reviews, and similar types of keyword phrases as these are able to convert at a higher rate and will typically have less traffic but make higher income.

Comparison Keywords (X vs Y, best X)

Comparison keywords are essential for targeting buyers as they are looking to make a purchasing decision. They are frequently targeting two very similar items or a list of very similar items helping them compare strengths and weaknesses between them all.


  • SEMrush vs ahrefs
  • Best Keywords For Affiliate Marketing

Product Focused Keywords (X reviews, X accessories)

These are keywords focused on a single product, these searchers typically know what they want but they want to get that confirmation from other sources that there isn’t something they are unaware of as a deal breaker.


  • SEMrush Review
  • Macbook Air Review and Vital Accessories for Photography

Bargain-Hunting Keywords (cheap X, affordable X, X on a budget, free X)

These people are trying to pinch pennies and they are looking for the most performance per dollar they spend, these can be tough to convert with as they are looking for the very best deal and constantly look at multiple pages and sites.


  • Best Budget Canoe
  • Canoeing on a Budget

Informational Content

These are the keywords that can bring you in massive traffic, this traffic can then be routed to different deals and products based on the keyword intent and how you structure your website and content.

To maximize the traffic from these you want to focus on how-to guides, general information, listicles, and other similar types of articles as they are most likely to be shared and linked to further.

Info Keywords (X, brand name Y, how to X, best way to Y)

These basic information keywords have to do with performing some skill or understanding some concept. They are how-to’s and informational pieces that give someone all the information they need to complete a task or understand something.


  • How to start an affiliate marketing campaign
  • Best way to improve website speed

Answer Queries and Common Objections (X worth it?, What is X?, When Does X?)

There are more common questions someone may have when looking for help, products, or services that can be answered with content to help increase conversions.


  • Is a MacBook Air worth it for students?
  • Are high-waisted jeans overpriced?
  • What are common objections to affiliate marketing?

Listicles (X Things to Do in X, XX Best Places to See In XX)

These are what you find shared online frequently on social media, they are fun and easy to read with a quick takeaway. They tend to do well as people want to see how their personal experience ranks up or if there is something that can be added to their bucket list.


  • 10 Best Canoeing Spots in the US
  • 5 Things You Should Do Every Day For a Healthier Life
  • 12 Productivity tips for bloggers


As it sounds these are very targeted guides on how to do something, they are step by step and go into great detail on how to complete a task. They are excellent for keywords further down the sales funnel as they indicate that someone is ready to take action.


  • How to start an affiliate marketing website
  • How to design a logo in Photoshop
  • How to canoe for beginners

These are more traditionally helpful for a local SEO campaign as they help people find businesses near them, but they can also be used to help people navigate your affiliate website if you have a large one.


  • Where is a planet fitness near me

Basics and Fundamentals To Keywords

Now we can start to look at how you can start to learn keyword research and build the skills to find highly searched and/or profitable keywords for your affiliate marketing business.

The process begins with understanding how to use keyword research tools and how to find the right keywords for your business.

Start Research From a Seed Keyword

These are typically a “root” or one word to two word keywords and are a basis for finding the long tail keywords that you will want to target. You can use a variety of methods for finding these initial keywords, including looking at related searches on Google or Amazon, using a thesaurus, or brainstorming with friends or colleagues.

Once you have a list of potential seed keywords, it’s time to start using keyword research tools to find the most searched and profitable keywords for your business.

Short Tail Keywords

This is what it sounds like, keyphrases that are less total words. They are shorter, easier to type and are containers so ranking high will typically provide a gigantic volume of search from people online.

Due to this they are frequently much more difficult to rank for since everyone is targeting them so they are not something any new site should ever target but use them as a guide to find the long-tail keywords that they should target.


  • Christmas lights
  • ballpoint pens

Long-Tail Keywords

These are keyphrases that are more total words and tend to be more niched down and specific. They are longer, harder to type but have a lower volume of searches. Because they have less competition they are frequently easier to rank for in search engines, especially for young and small sites.


  • Christmas lights for small shrubs
  • ballpoint pens for advertising

Monthly Search Volume

This is something that many paid tools will provide which uses outside data sources to estimate how many times a keyword is being searched in a given month.

It should be noted that this number is never 100% accurate but it will give you an idea of how popular the keyword is. The higher the monthly search volume, the more people are searching for that term online.

Competition or Search difficulty

This metric shows how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 search results for a given keyword. The lower the number, the easier it is to rank. The higher the number, the more difficult it is to rank.

This metric can be found in many paid keyword research tools, but you can also get an estimate of competition by doing a quick Google search and seeing how many results are on the first page.

For example, if there are millions of results for a given keyword, it will be more difficult to rank than if there are only a few hundred results.

Tools and Methods to Accelerate Keyword Research

Free Tools

Free tools work well for a starter site as you are just trying to get a feel for how to do keyword research and build an understanding of how the process works.

Answer The Public

This site can provide you loads of information based off a seed keyword you provide. It takes the seed keyword and then provides related questions, prepositions, comparisons and alphabetized keywords.

Google Autocomplete

Google actually can be used to find the highly searched keywords by using their Google Autocomplete feature. Simply start typing in a seed keyword and Google will provide you with the most popular related searches.

Paid tools will give you access to more data including estimated monthly search volume, competition, and related keywords. These tools have a much larger data set that can be used to find keywords.

Some of the most popular paid keyword research tools include:

Keyword Chef

Keyword Chef is a paid keyword research tool that helps you find profitable long-tail keywords for your business. The tool makes it stupid simple to find low competition keywords helping very new marketers and old haats find keywords with relative ease.


A very powerful paid tool that helps you to crunch massive amounts of data to find profitable keywords for your business. This can also allow you to dive into your competition and see what they rank for and how they are doing it.


Created by Neil Patel, Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool that uses data from Google Suggest to generate hundreds of long-tail keywords for your business.

There is limited functionality in the free version but you can start there and move to the paid platform as you grow your affiliate content business.

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Josh With Niche University
Josh is the owner of Niche University, a blog and free resource built specifically to help teach you how to build a side hustle and hopefully freedom in life.