Affiliate Marketing Keyword Research

By thunderroad

June 26, 2021

When it comes to ranking an affiliate website, the first step is good affiliate marketing keyword research.

You need to make sure your content is targeting the right topics to lead to conversions to make your commissions.

At the end of the day, your affiliate site is about recommending products, educating consumers and driving sales. This is something you need to keep in mind when doing keyword research for affiliate sites.

So, why is keyword research important for affiliates?

Short answer: You are setting yourself up for failure if you don't

If you pick a niche you are interested in and wildly start creating content, you haven't done due diligence to see if it's even practical to rank organically in that industry.

Let's take an example niche "weight loss" in the Health industry.

Even if you create the most optimized content EVER for "best weight loss programs", good luck trying to outrank Healthline, Wikipedia and 

So unless you plan on building an organization with major credibility over the next few decades, maybe you should research a different topic

....but we will get more into the competition later.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of looking for relevant key phrases that users search in search engines like Google and Bing. It is the foundation work for creating your content and optimizing your website to get visitors via organic search.

Let's talk about the first steps in best practices for affiliate marketing keyword research.

Niche, niche, niche

Niche, please!

niche please yao ming

You've probably heard it again and again! And if you are looking for keyword research, odds are that you have already chosen the niche or at least the industry of the website.

If you don't know: a niche is a particular sector of an industry or market that you focus your content around.

For example, in the beauty industry, you could pick a hair care niche. Or if you are into technology, you could focus on the PC gaming niche.

Some niches can be a lot more broad than others. But, there is a fine line between a broad niche and something unrealistic.

We don't consider "health" a niche, it is more of an industry because of how broad it is and how many different products and services it includes.

Niche selection is one of the most important steps before you actually begin doing the keyword research for your website. 

Whatever niche that you choose, make sure you like writing about it because it will be the main driving force behind the content and therefore, the keyword research.

Creating topic clusters for keywords

people creating keyword topic clusters

Once you have specified your main niche, now it's time to narrow down a few different topics for you to create content about. These topics are sections of your niche that people frequently ask questions and search about.

Let's go back to the hair care niche as an example:

  • Coloring
  • Hair Cutting
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, oils
  • Hair Routines

These are a few topics that people search about in that niche. Separating these topics helps you organize your website and plan for your keyword research. It's an important step in keyword research because it makes finding specific keywords much easier.

This is a much easier process than just creating random content about the beauty niche and hoping to take down established competitors across multiple niches and topics.

As an affiliate site, you need to show Google you are an authority in a specific subject in order for them to rank your content above others.

Topic clusters help you with keyword research tremendously, it's much easier to come up with ideas once you are organized.

 Additionally, it helps you answer common questions that your readers will be asking.

If you need some ideas, there are a few tools that you can use online. 

Try to do a google search for your niche, scroll down to find "related searches"

hair care google search related search results

Additionally, you can use a tool like Google Trends to get suggestions and more data about search volume:

google trends home apge

If we enter the topic: "hair care", we can scroll down to see the Related topics section 

screenshot of google trends

It's a good idea to have a set of 4 or 5 different topics, and you can always group some together or create new ones later on in your keyword research. But it's good to have an idea and make a list in Excel or Google Sheets

After getting a few different topic categories, it's time to start looking for specific keywords to create content around.

Let's establish some ground rules first:

  1. For affiliate marketing, the most important thing when creating content around specific search terms, is keeping the user intent in mind.

Types of keywords

Let's divide our content into a few different options:  


Rundowns, guides, ("best of" lists)

Specific reviews, questions (high intent, generally long-tail keywords)

These will be important later...

But now that we have stablished the different categories that we will be putting our target keywords in, it's time to get started with the research.

Common Keyword Research Tools

The best free option to do some keyword research is likely going to be your Google Keyword Planner through Google Ads. You can obviously use other options like UberSuggest or you might even have access to Ahrefs or SEMRush, which are both paid tools.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner homepage

The page looks like this, simply click: "Go to Keyword Planner"

You'll need to go through the process of setting up an ad budget, but you can just skip right through and opt to not start the ad by not filling out your billing information.

discover new keywords button

Click on the lightbulb that says "Discover new Keywords"

Next, enter a few of your topics

example of keyword searches in keyword planner

When doing that search, you can scroll down to see the average search volume and competition for your general topics.

topic keywords in google keyword planner

Here we are looking at two main metrics:

  1. Avg. monthly searches - Average search monthly volume for the keyword
  2. Competition - Google's rating when it comes to how difficult it is to compete with other advertisers (keep in mind it is not necessarily the competitiveness of organic search, but it can still be a use full metric for us) Low, medium or high. 

So as you can see, it might not be the best idea for a new site to go after huge terms like this. It's going to be difficult to rank.

Even something like "best hair styles" wouldn't be a good idea for a brand new site.

So, scroll down even more to see more specific keyword ideas:

keyword ideas from google keyword planner

Lets try to look deeper into one of the related keywords, "hair dye".

Scroll up, delete the keywords you entered and enter "hair dye"

These result might give you some ideas if you use a tool like "Answer the Public" to get more specific ideas about the questions people are searching about these topics.

Keep in mind that higher search volume isn't ALWAYS the best idea for target keywords. Especially when you keep in mind search intent and competition.

However, for the sake of keeping this guide unique, here is a way to look for less competitive keywords:

adding filter in keyword planner

Now select "Competition"

showing select competition filter gkp

Select the "low" and "medium options"

showing low and medium options for gkp

You'll see a bit more specific keyword suggestions, and while they might not all have a specific intent, you can use these keywords to find related queries by using other tools.

specific keyword ideas from gkp

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is a search trend tool used by marketers to discover questions and common phrases that people are searching for about a specific topic.

Head over to

Enter your topic, in this case, I'll use "homemade hair dye"

answer the public homepage

The website will give you a few different reports including "Questions":

question results from answerthepublic

and prepositions:

propositions from answerthepublic

The intent is very specific with these because most are long tail keywords. This is a great way to get some ideas for informational articles on your affiliate site because it is people looking for "homemade" options.

However, you can repeat this with any other topic and create specific "best" of articles

Some examples are:

  • best semipermanent hair dye
  • best hair dye for dogs

Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer

Let's take a look at Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer, which is another tool that you can use to get some affiliate marketing keyword ideas.

ahrefs keyword explorer page

Simply enter your topic keywords or seed keywords to find related keywords.

results in ahrefs keyword explorer

In key word explorer, you can use the search filters on the side of your screen to find relevant ideas related to the keywords that you entered.

The "Search Suggestions" tab is a great way to find related keywords based on the parent topics that you entered. This can be used for finding long tail keywords as well.

After that, you'll need to adjust the Keyword Difficulty filter

Anything under 30 is probably fine but we will enter 15 for this demonstration:

search suggestion ahrefs

This filter will help us fin low competition keywords that will be fairly easy to rank on page 1 in the search results.

Take a look at this list:

low competition keywords

Since we used other free tools to find informative keywords, lets use Ahrefs Keyword explorer to find affiliate keywords with real purchasing intent. The abillity to add these filters is what makes Ahrefs one of the best keyword research tools out there.

This is how you find your MONEY keywords.

Add one more filter on the "Include" tab and type "best".

Now, the list will return only keywords with a minimum keyword difficulty of 15 that include the word "best".


There are a variety of different tools and strategies that you can use to plan out the content of your affiliate website. Regardless, the realistic and relevant keywords to target and create content about are straightforward for affiliates. 

Need some help with keyword planning?

Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me, Jake from Thunder Road Digital! Here is my Calendly link: 

Book a call now!

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