A statistician by profession, I like looking at data and drawing patterns from it. And I believe this helps me get better at analyzing my serp competitors and beating them ten-nil.
Hey, am a blogger and affiliate marketer. I have been doing this for the past 3 years
If you are a beginner blogger, you must be looking for ways to rank your website without too many costs. One way is to rank without backlinks while another way is to do keyword research at low costs.
Using free keyword research tool: Keyword surfer
One of the free keyword research tools that I am currently using is keyword surfer. I discovered it just the other day when I was researching on free keyword research tools.
I would recommend keyword surfer to any newbie owing to the fact that it is free as well as easy to use.
The tool is able to give me the search volume per month for a keyword as well as terms that are closely related or similar to the phrase that I have searched for in Google.
It also gives me an estimate of the amount of traffic that each of the webpages is receiving as well as number of words that are in each of the pages.
For people who like visual data, it has a correlation chart that shows the estimated traffic for each site, its number of words as well as the exact match keywords in the first 10 results of the Serps.
What is keyword surfer?
Keyword surfer is a free Google chrome extension. It is a product by the guys who own surfer SEO, a cool on page optimization tool. They have assured us that the tool will remain free.
Lets just hope that they will keep it that way lest they also start charging like Keyword Everywhere did.
How to use keyword surfer?
To use keyword surfer, you only need to head over to chrome extensions and search for keyword surfer.
After typing it, hit the enter key to search and you will get a populated list of extensions that are related to that term.
We are interested in the puple one. Click on it and then click on add to chrome blue button.
There you have it. You have just added keyword surfer to your chrome.
Everytime you now search for a phrase on Google chrome, you will get its search volume and correlation graphs.
It supports datasets from upto 70 countries.
Keyword surfer firefox
For those who love Firefox, you can still add the tool.
You will however need Mozilla Firefox 57 to enable addittion of web extensions.
Go to your firefox browse and search for keyword surfer web extension and follow the procedure to add it.
Keyword surfer for android
You can also add the extension on your android phone.
It is not that straightfoward though because you will first have to go to Google Play store, look for Yandex browser.
The Yandex browser once installed will allow you to add chrome extensions. So after installing it, look for keyword surfer chrome extension.
Sometimes back when I was starting SEO, things were very much easy. Tools like Ahrefs offered us a free two week trial period.
I signed up to their trial tool with as many Gmail accounts as possible.
And then most recently, there was Keyword Everywhere which would show you the searches per month for a keyword, give you related terms to the keyword as well as the word count in web pages.
Things are different now. You will have to cough at least $7 to try Ahrefs for 7 days trial. And then from there, you can decide to start the subscription at a higher cost or ditch it all together.
Keyword Everywhere also introduced charges for using their tool.
Ahrefs and Keyword Everywhere are great tools for keyword research.
But for newbie bloggers who might be hard on cash, getting these fees no matter how small they may seem might be a tall order.
They therefore want free tools that they can use to do their keyword research.
Well, I am your guy in this.
This is a free chrome extension tool.
It gives you the search volume per month for keywords you search on Google as well as the number of words in each of the search results plus the estimated number of visitors each of the domains on the SERPs have.
We saw that Ubersuggest is a freemium tool meaning that you can use for a limited number of times and as a paid tool if you want to use all its features.
I have found it to be a great tool and have been using it for most of my keyword research works.
This is a chrome extension tool similar to Keyword everywhere.
Succeeding in affiliate marketing does not need a degree in rocket science. It is easy but needs to be procedural.
Steps You Follow to succeed in Affiliate Marketing
Here are the steps that you need to take:
Select a good niche that has an audience. A niche is a topic or subject matter that you blog about. Say for example that I am interested in pregnancy as my niche of choice. We have looked at tips on niche selection here.
2. Do your keyword research. We will be looking at that today using free tools.
3. Buy domain, host your blog, enter correct permalinks and get a custom made logo. You could also add your premium theme at this point. Personally though, I wait till I am making some good money from the site before I can invest in a good WordPress theme.
4. Create content and upload it making sure that it is well optimized and topically relevant.
6. Wait for the traffic to stream in. As you wait, you could be creating more content and interlinking it with your previously uploaded articles. At this juncture, you will also be tracking everything using commercial SERP tools, Google analytics and Google Search Console.
7. Once the traffic starts streaming in, you could sign up to affiliate marketing programs and once approved, tweak things a little adding call to action buttons, comparison tables and featured products lists to push your audience to buy off your affiliate links.
8. If you are getting good traffic on your informative articles, you could go ahead and sign up for ad networks so that you can monetize your traffic with ad networks such as Google Adsense, Ezoic and Mediavine.
9. Make money. Better your sites by working on your conversion rate optimization. Rinse and repeat.
NB: The first two steps can make or break you.
Select a bad niche that has no audience and you are doomed.
Work on wrong keywords and you will never see a dollar stream into your bank account.
It is therefore important that niche selection and keyword research be done really well.
But what is a keyword?
A keyword is a phrase that your audience is typing on search engines so as to answer their needs.
Say for example that a pregnant woman is looking for free apps to track how her baby is growing. She might type ‘free pregnancy apps to track baby growth’ on Google search. This is a keyword.
What makes a good keyword?
My rule when hunting for keywords is get those that have high search volume but low competition. It is however never that easy.
Often keywords that have high search volume also have the highest competition. Why? Because the big boys are chasing for them. And since they have better authority than a newbie, you are better off throwing in the towel.
To fix this, we have the keyword golden ratio. Here you get low search volume keywords but at the same time with an incredibly low competition.
How to do keyword research with Ubersuggest
One of the free tools that you can use for your keyword research is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. The tool is able to show you the search volume of a keyword as well as the difficulty in ranking for it.
Ubersuggest is a freemium tool meaning that you can use some of its features without paying a dime. If however you want all its features like unlimited keyword searches per day, then you could pay up
I am still interested in the pregnancy niche and so, let us research for the keyword ‘free pregnancy apps to track baby growth‘ to see whether it has 1. A good search volume and 2. Low competition using the KGR strategy.
So I head over to Ubersuggest, type my keyword into the text box saying enter a domain or keyword and go on to hit the search button
Here are the results:
You will find that the keyword has 0 search results.
I therefore do not need to work with it.
But how about I look for ‘free pregnancy apps‘.
Here are the search results for that on Ubersuggest:
Awesome! It shows that it has some 320 search results.
But I still do need to check for its competition using the KGR technique.
For KGR technique, I need to do the computation below and if it is below 0.25 then, that is a low competition keyword.
So, I go to Google and search for the term ‘free pregnancy apps’ with the allintitle search tag so that whatever I search for on Google is “allintitle:free pregnancy apps” without the quotation marks.
It shows that we have 1250 search results that have ‘free pregnancy apps’
Doing the KGR calculation for this
We get a figure of 3.90625
That is way higher than 0.25.
So, our efforts were futile. Should we give up?
If you search for the term, ‘free pregnancy apps’, you will see that at the bottom of the 10 Google search results on your first page, there are other searches related to free pregnancy apps.
One that captured my attention was ‘best pregnancy app for dads’. So, I want to examine whether it is a good keyword.
Again, I go back to Ubersuggest and see whether it has a search volume.
And yes, it does have a search volume of 210.
Let me see its allintitle search results
It has 6 allintitle search results.
Does if fit the KGR compliance calculation?
Yep. Because 6/210=0.028
So that makes a good keyword. If my niche was pregnancy, it would be one of the keywords that I would write content on.
If I do a Google search for ‘best pregnancy app for dads’ so as to see related search results, I get this
Maybe this other related searches could make some good keywords for my niche site on pregnancy.
So, I grab ‘pregnancy app to share with partner’, ‘best pregnancy app for couples’ and ‘pregnancy app for mom and dad’ to examine their search results and KGR compliance.
This has a search result of 30 . Lets see its allintitle search results
Woo hoo, it seems we have another keyword here. Because KGR=1/30=0.033
So, that’s another keyword, we could focus on in our pregnancy niche blog.
Lets go to another keyword
And the allintitle for this
This shows that there are 0 allintitle search results.
Wow, another good keyword there to blog about!
I will leave you to carry out the analysis for the last keyword ‘pregnancy app to share with partner’
Other Considerations to be made in Keyword Research
Though the KGR technique works (and I have indeed proved that it really does work), you need to observe the following.
Search for each keyword. Look at who is ranking and check out their content for gaps. Make sure that your article is way better than theirs.
See how many backlinks they have. If possible to replicate them, do it.
Lets examine the first example keyword on ‘best pregnancy apps for dad’.
A simple Google search for that keyword shows us that the site that scooped position one for that keyword is this:
Infact this webpage https://redtri.com/5-pregnancy-apps-every-dad-to-be-should-be-using/ scoops the featured snippet.
If we use the ahrefs free backlink checker tool to see the backlinks built for this site, we will see this:
19 backlinks! That is a lot, right?
But on further examination, you will find that some of the backlinks are somehow spammy and do not have that high authority.
The content is not that long form. If I were to compete with this web-page, I would make sure that I do more content than them.
At the moment, there are about 703 words in this post.
In the site, they have reviewed only 5 apps for dads. I would try to do more in my article on ‘best pregnancy app for dads’
I would also go ahead and write reviews of each of the apps and have those reviews linking back to my main content. That way, I would have better topical relevance.
Lets face it, most of the websites that are doing well on the first pages of search engines have backlinks.
Or it could be that even though the ranking pages do not have backlinks pointing to them, the sites have great domain authority owing to the links pointing to the root domain.
And so newbies who are starting out their SEO games can do nothing but covet the experts who seem to be ranking without too much effort.
To be honest, I always like cutting corners in SEO.
I am a grey hat who will build all sorts of links be they comment backlinks, guest posts or even the more riskier PBNs.
And so the concept of ranking a site while beating down the temptation to build backlinks was new to me. Not until recently.
But hey, the guys at incomeschool seem to always preach about doing SEO without having to rely on backlinks. They claim that newbies can outrank the experts without having to invest in building links
So is it posibble to rank a website without backlinks?
The simple answer is yes.
You can do it.
But there is a caveat to that yes.
You have to flesh out great content, bringing in new ideas to your readers and have a topically relevant website.
So lets look at strategies that you can use to rank without relying on backlinks
Sound social media presence
Of late, I have been exploring other sources of traffic such as Facebook and Pinterest. And I have found out that once you start receiving lots of traffic from Pinterest, Google also gives in and starts awarding you with organic traffic.
So, do not ignore social media. Especially Pinterest.
I would not say the same about Facebook unless you have a way of creating viral content. With Facebook, you share a post in a group, it generates over 200 views in one day but that plummets the next day to less than 10. And that number goes to 0 the next.
So, it is not a reliable source of passive traffic. And Google knows this. They will therefore be a little bit reluctant to award you with organic traffic if your only source of traffic is Facebook.
Great content that have good user experience
The guys at Incomeschool say that to get organic traffic without building backlinks, you need to make sure that you are consistent in your content creation as well as make really good content.
And that is true. Google also says that content is king.
If you are not building backlinks, you really need to show Google that your site has trust on the topic. And how do you do this?
You build topical relevance.
If you are writing about video cameras, have at least 5 pages that are talking nothing else but video cameras. This way, search engines will start trusting you on the topic of video cameras.
And once you have the 5 pages on video cameras, make sure to interlink them so that as Google crawls from one page to the other, they will be able to see that you indeed do have topical relevance.
I swear by Keyword Golden Ratio(KGR) keywords in all my keyword research strategies. If a keyword is not KGR compliant, I just leave it and go hunt for others.
Now for those who are wondering what KGR keywords are, I would refer you to Doug Cunnington who came up with this concept. KGR is nothing but a formula where you check the number of times a keyword appears in the titles of pages divided by the search volume per month.
In short KGR=allintitle:keyword/searchvolumepermonth
Now if this number is less than 0.25, I will comfortably go for that keyword with the assurance that I will appear in the first 100 pages of Google once I am indexed.
If it is more than this number, you will have to hustle for backlinks before you can appear in the first 100 results of the search engines.
Great on page optimization
Of late I stumbled on a keyword tool called Surfer SEO. Now this is not your average SEO tool that spies your competitors telling you which backlinks to build or keywords that have low competition.
No Surfer SEO shows you how to optimize your on page.
It tells you how many times to use a certain keyword based on how the top ten competitors are doing it.
It even tells you of how many words your content should have based on the word count that the top 10 sites ranking have.
Some years ago, SEO gurus would tell us to make sure that our product review pages should have at least 1800 words while support pages ought to have at least 600 words.
It is high time that you need to review the things that you have done for your online business throughout the year. Also look into how much you spent vizaviz what you earned from it.
Let’s be honest.
Things have been tough for all of us. Me included.
2020 was really tough for all sectors and industries. Shops were closed. Commissions were slashed. Salaries were halved. Businesses came to a halt and people were fired. In masses.
We should be grateful that we can still hold our necks high and that we did not drown in the murky waters that 2020 came with.
How to Increase Your Affiliate Marketing Profits this Christmas
Now as we fast approach December, it is time to think of ways to make good use of the December shopping craze. Yes it might be different since people have less purchasing power and they might just decide to hold off the Christmas spending spree since they are not sure of how next year will pan out.
But trust you me, people will still end up buying things for their loved ones.
So as an affiliate marketer, how are you priming yourself to earn more commissions from this shopping craze?
Try pins that are targeting Black Friday and Christmas spending
Pinterest is one awesome tool that you could use to target lots of people who are looking for ideas on how to spend money buying gifts for their loved ones this Black Friday as well as on Christmas.
If you go to Pinterest, you will find lots of marketers who are already cashing on this end of year spending craze.
Join the bandwagon and create visually appealing pins that when clicked will direct your customers to your sales pages so that they can buy products off your affiliate links.
You could also create a roundup post of ‘best Christmas gifts’ on your blog and then create a pin that directs your readers to this page.
You will find that a certain percentage of the people clicking on your links will end up buying the products that you recommend and so you will earn a commission.
Try black Friday deals and post on social media
Amazon Black Friday is on the 27th November, 2020 and you could seriously cash on this.
Expecting to leverage on search engine traffic might be too late unless you have a high DA website that is going to rank easily for the keyword ‘Amazon black Friday 2020 deals’ but you could still make a kill by using social media.
Think of great pins as well as Facebook ads that target an audience in your niche.
Add a banner on black Friday/Christmas deals on your sidebar
For the past two years, I have always added a ‘Amazon black Friday deals’ banner on the right side bar of my blog and I always find people clicking on this and even ending up buying products from Amazon through this banner.
And once the black Friday is over, I change it to ‘Amazon Christmas deals’ which also have great success.
Maybe you too could try these strategies out and see what happens.
We have already looked into how to sign up to ad networks such as Google adsense, mediavine and ezoic. Today, we will focus on how to make the best out of the ad network that you have signed up for so as to make lots of money from the ads displayed on your site.
Try to get traffic from first tier countries
I am Kenyan and I would be very comfortable in creating content that targets a Kenyan audience. Yes, I can easily start blogging about how to sign up to an ecitizen account, file nil returns on Kra etc.
However when trying to get ad income, I would not count on Kenya to get a good income. Not unless I have loads of content and lots of traffic.
Because the RPMs for Kenyan audience is so low compared to what you would get were you to get US or UK audience.
Blog on niches that have good CPC
Statistically, there are niches that have better RPM that others.
For example niches such as insurance, online education and personal finance have been found to have better RPMs because advertisers in such fields are willing to pay top buck to have their brands shared out there.
Leverage on social media traffic such as Facebook, Reddit and Pinterest
When you are starting out, I would advise that you mostly target social media traffic such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest. Pinterest is a darling to many bloggers who want to earn ad income. It however demands that you master the Pinterest algorithm as well as be very visually creative so as to get many people clicking on your pins to see your site content.
For social media traffic, you will have to proactively post on those sites everyday so as to see a good stream of traffic and hence income. If you are not consistent, you will find your traffic dwindling over time.
And when the traffic dwindles, the income also nosedives.
Use click bait titles plus content that engages so as to keep the reader on the page
On the Internet, people have a limited concentration span. You have to grab their attention in seconds. How better to do this than to use clickbait titles that get them to click on your pages to read.
And when they get to your content, do not drive them away with lousy professor-like content. No, engage them with graphics, lists, infographics and videos that will increase their dwell time on your site pages.
Use Google search traffic for informative keywords
Though it takes time to get this kind of traffic, you are assured of passive traffic for a long time coming. You would however have to master some SEO as well as create great content that shows that you are indeed an authority in the niche that you are tackling.
In blogging, you will find that most people are not interested in chasing informative keywords. Most traffic though comes from this.
People want to be informed. You will therefore be in good hands if you target keywords that have information value.
If you have the traffic, sign up to good ad networks that pay well
If you have a traffic of over 50000 sessions per month, sign up to mediavine. It would not make any sense to work with Google Adsense.
Because mediavine have been found to have better RPMs and you want the top dollar for your work, don’t you?
Use ad formats that get the most impressions and clicks
Through testing, you are going to find that some ad formats get more impressions and clicks as compared to others.
You will of course be interested to have those formats that perform best, right?
In this blogging career, you have to accept and deal with rejections.
Lots of them.
Some affiliate marketing programs will reject your application. Some will do it with a good reason. Others will just ignore you. And there is nothing that you can do about it.
Some ad networks will reject your sites too. It could be that they do not show ads on your niche, you have not reached the traffic threshold or just that they are not accepting applications at that time of the year. Others will tell you that they want to approve you only if, 60% of your traffic is from first tier countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
How you deal with all these rejections determines how successful you will be.
That was back last year when they were accepting sites with at least 25000 sessions per month.
I had hit the threshold since I was at 28000 sessions and I thought why not apply to Mediavine so as to supplement my amazon affiliate income.
They asked me for access to my Google analytics reports and I did grant them this.
And then the rejection email came.
Most of their ad partners were not interested in my niche.
I swallowed the bitter pill and looked elsewhere.
Lesson: To get accepted in Mediavine, first hit their traffic targets. Currently they are accepting sites with at least 50000 sessions per month.
You also need to blog in niches that their ad partners are interested in (I surely do not know what those niches are).
I was rejected by Monumetric. I applied to their program sometimes in July this year. Their reply was that they were having so many applicants and that their ad partners had become too selective in sites that they want to work with.
I looked through the email and decided to try something else.
Lesson: Be patient and cast your net elsewhere. There are so many fish in the ocean
I was rejected by the Shareasale affiliate marketing network.
But they later accepted me in.
When the amazon associates program cut down rates to their affiliate marketers, I looked for other places where I could be sending my visitors.
Luckily, Shareasale had a merchant whose products were similar to what I was promoting.
I applied to Shareasale through my Gmail account but they rejected. Later on, I was told that you need to apply through your domain email.
I did that but was still rejected.
The thing is that they have an auto rejection filter especially if you state that you are not from the US or UK.
Lesson: Contact the merchant you want to promote and ask them to speak with the guys at Shareasale to approve you.
I was ignored by Ezoic.
I pressed on and looked for them through all their social media handles namely: Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Did you know that I have been blogging since 2017?
Yep, it has been quite some time riding this bumpy blogging train.
Other than blogging about blogging on this site, I also maintain three other affiliate niche sites that make a good chunk of my earnings. The earnings are from commissions accumulated from recommending products to my readers as well as ad income that I earn when readers see or click on my ads.
This year (specifically in September), I decided to start losing weight.
I had gained so much during the corona virus pandemic period when I was home, eating a lot and working from my laptop.
To be specific, in March I was weighing 75kgs and here I was in September weighing 85kgs.
A whole 10kg gained in 6 short months!
My stomach was well, so huge that I was very embarrassed about my body shape.
The first few weeks of doing squats, lunges, running round the field, pushups and eating sparingly were really painful. And I was really starving but I just had to do it.
But those painful, hungry weeks reminded me of my blogging journey. That everything good that we see in anybody’s life required effort, pain, tears and sacrifice to perfect.
Why Blogging is like Getting a Chiseled Six Pack Physique to Me
In this post, I will actually be comparing a blogging journey to losing weight.
Goal setting in both blogging and weight loss
In both scenarios, you need to clearly set out your goals.
And the goals need be SMART.
I know I now sound like your high school motivational speaker, don’t I?
You know the acronym SMART that translates to goals that are:
Yes, when you start blogging for money, you need to clearly define how much you wish to be making from the venture (specific), when you need to start seeing the results (measurable), how you will push yourself to getting there (achievable), how it is going to be possible (realistic) and how you much time you give yourself to measure your ROI (timebound).
Luckily with SEO, I could use tools such as Ahrefs, Google search console and Ubersuggest to see how well my keyword rankings were doing.
For earnings, Amazon, Ezoic and Google AdSense are able to keep up your earning reports so that you have a picture of how you are performing.
In weight loss, SMART goals apply. You need to map out how much you need to lose (specific), how heavy you are currently(measurable), how possible it is to get that weight (achievable), how committed you are to losing the weight (realistic) and how much time you have to getting that dream physique (time bound).
To do this, I created an Excel line chart that would track my weight loss progress so that I would record it weekly and see how well I was doing.
Discipline to work on something daily and stick to a plan
When you are blogging, you need to have the discipline to blog for days, weeks, months and even years even if no revenue is coming to your pocket. But with a vision that everything will pan out well, then you need to stick to that plan that you have created and go on with it.
Slow but sure
Revenue from blogging or even ranking your blog on Google takes time. But do not worry. Cherish the small milestones that you are making as well as the little wins you get.
In weight loss, celebrate every little ounce of weight that you lose. Some weeks, things will stagnate but do not worry. Continue in that journey.
It is okay to be slow but sure.
When you are starting your blogging journey, you might have to spend some money to kick start things. You would need to buy a domain name as well as pay up for your hosting.
At the same time, you might need to buy content if you are good in writing up articles, optimizing your SEO or doing CRO.
To pay these monies, I needed to sacrifice and trust the process. For the very first six months or even one year, you might not be earning any dime from your blogging venture but you will be investing a lot.
Do not give up. Trust the process
In weight loss, you will have to sacrifice your leisure time to working out. You would need to deny yourself candy, sweets and take up lousy vegetables and detox juices.
If there is one thing that really motivated me to start blogging, it is the success stories of other bloggers who had made it.
I did read posts by Spencer Haws, Tung Tran, Doug Cunnington, Patrick Mahinge and I just loved looking through their earnings reports that they posted online.
This kept me going.
In weight loss too, you need to be motivated by the journeys of other people who have lost weight, who have toned their bodies and got admirable chiseled physiques. You can get these personalities on YouTube and you will just be stoked by their six packs, nice thighs and flat tummies.
Just like weight loss, you will need accountability partners when you are blogging.
These people are going to keep your blogging goals and activities in check.
Everytime you fail to blog, they should ask you why you did not blog as you had promised to do.
In weight loss too, I had this work colleague who also wanted to lose her belly.
We do exercise with her and she will continually ask me why I did not attend training for the day.