Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that - at zero cost to you - I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and find to be a valuable asset to my business.

Identifying the Money Keywords for Affiliate Marketing & SEO


  1. Jason Waite says:


    What’s more important? ‘Viral Sustainability’, SEO, or just creating value? With all the SEO strategies and techniques changing so fast, is it not just better to create value and keep things natural?

    Denton’ish, TX

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      You’ll have to define what you mean by “viral sustainability” to me for me to comment on that one. :) Re SEO and creating value, I think both are really important. I think you can succeed with either of those two alone, but to exceed, you’d need both. I’ve seen amazing sites hit for technical SEO issues plenty of times. But, I’ve also seen some sites with great ranks despite a technical SEO mess. And if Google has their way, good technical on and off site SEO won’t be a stand alone ranking achiever in the future.

  2. Great summary. I too have found SEMRush to be one of my primary keyword research tools of choice and use a similar process. Once you have the final list from your process, you can drop those into other tools in order to efficiently prioritize. Not sure if you noticed it or if it was just me, but after Google moved to 100% (not provided), it seemed that SEMRush was flaky for a few weeks and didn’t return the same amount of data. There shouldn’t have been a connection, so it must have been a coincidence – worried me temporarily though.

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Tim – there shouldn’t be any correlation. I say that because I asked them about their data in regards to non provided as an interview question near the end of the review I did of their tool and their answer was pretty much that they look at keywords outside of Google, so they say they’re not affected by [not provided] at all. :)

  3. Greg Moore says:

    I agree that people who run AdWords campaigns will increase their bidding for keywords that convert well. This idea of reverse engineering their campaigns is really smart. Thank you.

    Do you have any thoughts about a related problem regarding sites that run AdSense? I’ve heard people say that organic traffic from some keywords brings high CTR visitors, but other keywords bring low CTR visitors.

    I’ve heard that there seems to be no pattern or way to predict this, and the best advice is to simply wait until you find a high CTR keyword (lots of people click on the ads) and then to make more sites or pages based on similar keywords, hoping they too will bring visitors that like to click AdSense ads.

    Do you think there are any good ways to do keyword research that include getting any estimate or prediction of which keywords will be most likely to bring in organic visitors that will have a high CTR on AdSense ads?

    Hey thanks!

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post Greg. I personally have never attempted to optimize what ads show on my page centered around inbound search referrals. I’ve always tended to focus mostly on my affiliate related stuff using AdSense mainly as a back fill. :)

  4. Just read your about page, that pic with the pool table looks hot.

    Lightbulb moment: I should start my own public SEO Blog so I can get fan mail from cute girls.

  5. Hey Rae –

    Love love love love love this post, but I have 2 questions.

    First, how do you handle multiple competitors? Do you run them all at once, or sequentially?

    Second, why use SEMRush? Couldn’t you pull CPC data from Google Keyword Planner and come up with more or less the same money keywords?

    Thanks for a great post

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Hey Jason – thanks! Glad you loved it. :)

      To answer your first question, I run them one by one. Then you can combine results and remove the duplicates in Excel.

      To answer your second question – I have a subscription to SEMRush for various reasons – only one of which is their keyword research tool. Additionally, I find I get more comprehensive results using SEMRush vs. the Google Keyword Planner. For example, running a search on SEMRush for the term “ideas” gives me over 100K results. That same search in GKP gives me 241 results. :)

      • That’s awesome! Thanks!

        I see what you mean about SEMRush – intuitively, I always liked it more than the Google Keyword Tool (RIP) and the planner, and it’s awesome to have that impression validated

        • Rae Hoffman says:

          Funnily enough, someone asked a question almost identical last night, and I included some examples in my reply that compared results on some terms in SEMRush, GKP and actual analytics.

          And while I prefer SEMRush, there are tons of other keyword tools people can use – I just use that one personally, so it’s what I cite in posts that show research to explain where I got the results. :)

  6. First of all I would like thank you Rae for the awesome tips. I was looking for this kind of PPC or SEO post for affiliate marketing. I am launching tech review website. VPN and hosting affiliate programs are good for earring money. Thank you so much for helping me out. :)

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