Affiliate marketers who want to become a “super affiliate”—one earning $10,000 per month or more in commissions—have to find keywords for their advertising programs that will bring consumers to their site. But there are a lot of merchants and other affiliates already bidding on the obvious keywords. So how do you find unique keywords that will pay off in site visits, clicks on ads and commissions?

How Affiliate Marketing Works
Affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing that uses one website to drive traffic to another. Typically, a retailer will reward affiliates for each visitor or customer brought to their site by the affiliate’s marketing efforts.

Some merchants run their own affiliate programs while others use third-party services to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. For third-party affiliate management, merchants can choose from standalone software or hosted services, which are typically called affiliate networks. Payouts to affiliates can be made by the networks on behalf of the merchant.

Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay-per-click advertising. In 2000, Google launched its pay-per-click service, Google AdWords. As more and more merchants and affiliates bid on advertisers’ names, brands, trademarks and the keywords related to them, it became more and more difficult for affiliates to find unique keywords that could drive traffic to their site. (And from there, to the merchant’s site, thereby earning a commission.)

Finding Keyword White Space
One of the keys to getting affiliate marketing right, therefore, is driving traffic to your landing page where people can buy the products that you sell or advertise as an affiliate marketer. If you use Google AdWords, then you’re probably familiar with Google’s keyword tools that enable you to identify related keywords. But to get a lot of performance out of your affiliate marketing initiatives, you need to find keywords that no other affiliates are advertising on—you could call it “keyword white space.”

One avenue to pursue is Semantic Keyword Discovery, which is a way to find words and terms that are semantically related to the product you’re marketing. There’s a lot that the term “semantic” could refer to, so let me be more specific. A good semantically related keyword is one that’s related to the product in some special way; for instance, a term for the problem that the product solves. That way, if a consumer queries on the problem, your ad can come up as a solution. Imagine how motivated consumers would be to click your ad if they query on some medical condition they’ve just contracted, only to find that the high-end blender you’re marketing can help them cope with their new disease.

It just so happens that NetBase’s ConsumerBase product is good at Semantic Keyword Discovery. You simply put in the name of the product you’re marketing and it comes back with summaries of terms and phrases that are semantically related to the product. The semantic relationships it reveals are to keywords that represent benefits of the product, features of the product, and problems that the product solves.

Here are three examples:

• Wii—If you were selling the Wii, you could advertise on “brain injury.”
• Vita-Mix—If were selling the Vita-Mix blender, you could advertise on the unique benefit of increasing “bioavailability of food.”
• Listerine—If you were an affiliate for Drugstore.com, you could advertise on “toenail fungus.”

These are all examples of semantically related keywords we’ve discovered by running ConsumerBase on the brands listed above. For affiliate marketers, this innovative application of ConsumerBase to find keyword white space could make the difference between just getting by and becoming a super affiliate.

I’d like to thank my friends Alex Coisman and Joel Englander for introducing me to the world of affiliate marketing and helping me develop this application of ConsumerBase. Thanks guys!