Are you new in affiliate marketing?
If you are, then there are so many things that you have to know first before getting started.
It’s important to do your research so you don’t make any costly mistake, and that you are able to do things the right way to see the results that you are hoping for more quickly.
One of the many things that you have to know as a newbie affiliate is the importance of search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO refers to a set of tools and techniques that improve a site’s ranking in the search engine.
If you’re familiar with how the online user’s mind works, you know that with their short attention span and lack of patience, they usually do not browse through the other pages of the search engine results and only click on the first few results.
This is what makes it imperative to land a higher ranking in the search engine.
The higher your ranking is, the easier it is for your target customers to find your website.
This means more traffic and more exposure, which in turn leads to more sales and profits.
One thing that you should be aware of is the existence of what is called the black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO is something that affiliate marketers should avoid at all costs.
In this article, we will discuss not only the basics of black hat SEO but also what strategies fall under this category, and what you should do instead.
The Basics of Black Hat SEO
To be able to steer clear from this type of SEO technique, you need to first know what it is, and what its common strategies are.
The term is inspired by the villains in old movies that wear black hats.
This term is used to describe SEO techniques that are designed to “cheat the system”.
Google and other search engines are understandably not in favor of the black hat SEO as it does the exact opposite of what search engines have been designed to do and that is to provide value to its users.
When a website owner resorts to black hat technique it makes use of cheat methods to get a higher ranking in the search engine. It prioritizes itself over the needs of online users.
But you have to know that search engines, particularly Google, have managed to stay a few steps ahead of black hat SEO cheaters, and penalize any website that has been proven to use this method.
Common Black Hat SEO Methods to Avoid
There are many types of black hat SEO tactics that you should steer clear of as much as you possibly can.
But we’ll discuss only the techniques that are commonly used for affiliate marketing websites.
Black Hat SEO Method # 1 – Keyword Stuffing
The most common technique used by black hat SEO specialists is keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing refers to the process of overloading an article or blog post with keywords to generate more traffic to your site.
Yes, using keywords in your content is necessary to enable the search engine to crawl through your content and discover what exactly it is about.
But if you put too many keywords in your content just so it would rank higher in the search engine, this usually results in a content that’s not only hard to read but also sounds unnatural. It also does not provide too much value to your readers because your main focus was to load it up with keywords.
Sometimes, keyword stuffers even include in their content keywords that are commonly searched for but are not at all relevant to the topic.
Google has developed ways to detect this practice. It searches for words and phrases that are frequently repeated throughout the context or keywords that do not have any relevance to the content’s topic and theme. Typically, it penalizes websites that make use of this practice, resulting in a lower ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Black Hat SEO Method # 2 – Anchor Text Abuse
Anchor text refers to a word or a phrase where you attach a link. As you probably know, links are important for SEO. It’s essential to build links in order to help the search engine to crawl through your website.
When writing a blog post or article for your affiliate website, you can insert internal links that will point to other relevant topics within your site. You can also post external links that will direct your readers to relevant websites other than your own.
Abuse happens when the same links are used repeatedly within your content just so it will appear link rich. It also occurs when you link to spammy content.
The effect of anchor text is the same as keyword stuffing: penalty from Google and lower ranking in the SERPs.
But that’s not all. When you’re working as an affiliate, this will put your online reputation at risk, and in turn negatively affect your business. As you know, trust is paramount to the success of your affiliate site.
Black Hat SEO Method # 3 – Duplicate Content
Do you remember when you were still studying that teachers taught you ways on how to avoid plagiarism?
It would certainly help to remember those lessons they’ve taught you as plagiarism is frowned upon by Google and can have significant negative impact on your site’s SEO rankings.
It is imperative to avoid using duplicate content, which can either mean copying the exact content from another site, or posting similar text. If you create an article and you use research from another website, and you only tweak a few sentences here and there, this is still considered duplicate.
Effects of Black Hat SEO to Your Affiliate Website
It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what happens if you try to fool Google. There’s no way you can do that. Google is just too smart.
Here are the effects of black hat SEO that are good reasons to avoid them like plague:
- Lower ranking in the search engine – Your search engine ranking may increase for the first few weeks or even months. But once Google finds out about your ways, your ranking will definitely drop.
- Penalty from Google – Google will not hesitate to penalize you once it finds out that you are practicing any of the black hat SEO techniques. Google is one that you don’t want to mess with if you have an online business. As you know, it is the largest search engine in the world. It is used to make 1.2 trillion searches each year.
- Negative online reputation – Your success as an affiliate depends largely on the trust given to you by your affiliate customers. Once your target audience finds out that you are using cheating methods to get a higher ranking in the search engine, or once they see that your content does not really provide them with anything useful or valuable, you can expect that they will immediately lose their trust in you and never do business with you again.
You don’t want to experience any of these with your affiliate marketing business. You want long-term success. If you want that, you will do SEO the right way.
Ways to Practice White Hat SEO
The good news is, there is the exact opposite of the black hat SEO technique. And this is the white hat SEO.
Here are the things that you should do instead:
White Hat SEO Method # 1 – Learn the proper usage of keywords
Basically, there are two things that you need to know about the proper usage of keywords for SEO:
- How many keywords to use
- Where to place keywords
When it comes to keyword density, many experts recommend 1 to 3 percent. Anything higher can immediately be flagged down as spam. But if you can lower it a little, it would be better. If you have a 500-word article, you should only have three to five keywords within the main content, and only one keyword in other content parts.
As for keyword location, you would want to include one keyword (preferably a variety of the main keyword so that you don’t repeat the same keyword over and over) in each of these places:
- Page title – This is the title of your page that lets Google know that your web page is exactly about. Be sure to make use one of your primary keywords for the page title.
- Post title – Include a primary keyword in each of your post titles. It’d be a good idea to make use of Yoast SEO to improve the potential of your title. The recommended move is to put the keyword at the start of the post title so that in case it gets cut off in the SERPs of your user’s mobile device, they can still see the keyword.
- Meta description – This is the part of the content that shows up in the search results entry. It’s important that you have one or two keywords within this content.
- Headings and subheadings – Using headings and subheadings not only make your content easier to scan and read, it also helps determine the relevance of your content. This is why, it’s good to use keywords at least in some of the headings and subheadings.
- Content – Of course, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to optimize your content with the right keywords. You have to remember that this is the one of the top factors that Google looks for ranking websites. To effectively use keywords in your main content, use the main keyword in the first few sentences or in the first paragraph. Then, use a variation of that keyword throughout the content without sounding like you forced the keywords into the content. You should consider using latent sematic indexing so that you’re able to use related keywords that are not exactly the same with each other.
- Images – Most website owners overlook the fact that you need to include keywords in the images since these are indexed by search engines as well. Use the keyword or the LSI keywords in the filename and titles of all your images, and in the alt text.
White Hat SEO Method # 2 – Write valuable and natural content
When writing for your affiliate website, always remember that content should come first, keywords second.
Do extensive research about relevant topics, and include pertinent details in your content. Your content should be useful and valuable to your target audience, and should help resolve their common problems and concerns.
White Hat SEO Method # 3 – Use links the right way
Never bombard your article with too many links. Never use the same link over and over.
Also, you should never link to external websites that are spammy, as this will do more than good for your affiliate website. Link only to those that are of high authority, those that you would want your site to be affiliated with.
Before you add any link to your site, ask yourself if this link will add value to your affiliate customers or if this will only be a waste of their time.
White Hat SEO Method # 4 – Never use duplicate content
The best way to avoid duplicate content is to use several sources for research, incorporate only the most valuable information from these sources, and make use of your own input as well.
See to it that you write the article from your perspective without copying even a single phrase from your sources, unless you’re going to quote and attribute it.
It’s also a must to make use of duplicate content checking tools such as Copyscape. Sometimes, even when you’re not intentionally copying anything, it’s possible that a phrase or two in your content already exists somewhere online. Using Copyscape helps you find out any duplicate content in your site.
Using SEO techniques the right way is what every affiliate should aim for. It is only through white hat SEO that you can get your website to rank higher in the search engine for long-term. This is also what will help you achieve long-term success as an affiliate marketer.