Some people say there is no such thing as a free lunch but in the case of free affiliate tools I’m afraid I have to disagree. When we start out as affiliate marketing newbies (I hate the word “newbie” but never mind) we often don’t have the cash, or maybe even the confidence in our future success, to want to splash out on the most expensive tools and resources.
At the outset of your affiliate career you may be forced by necessity to learn lots of new skills. Some of these things you may prefer to outsource at a later date when you want to expand your affiliate marketing business, so why shell out huge amounts of money on tools and software that you may not ever make full use of?
Another reason to try out some free affiliate tools and resources is that the most expensive professional software is often also the most complex. For professional image editors and graphic artists, Photoshop is almost de rigueur, but for the rest of us mere mortals who just want to make a half decent logo or ad image, it is devilishly complex. A stripped down free image editing tool might well serve your needs better and may also prevent you from tearing your hair out in frustration!
I originally intended to cover several types of affiliate marketing tools in a single post, but as the post developed it was clearly going to be far too long and indigestible so I decided to break it down into a series of posts which I will publish over a period of time. Part one covers the vital area of keyword research.
Part 1 – Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of the basic essentials for most types of affiliate marketing. For article marketers it is what gets them organic search engine traffic, for PPC marketers it helps them to get the best return from their campaigns. Either way, we are unlikely to succeed without it.
Whilst I do most of my keyword research using James Jones’ excellent Micro Niche Finder I cut my teeth on Google’s AdWords free keyword tool and this will give you plenty of scope to get started. The Google keyword tool allows you to enter one or more keywords and returns the estimated competition and monthly local and global searches for that keyword or keyphrase. It also supplies a list of other associated keywords and phrases for you to consider.
The sceengrab above gives a sample of the results for the keyphrase “affiliate marketing”. It tells me there were 60,500 searches for that term in my local internet region last month and 365,000 searches globally. The green graphic bar also shows me that there was a high amount of advertiser competition for that keyphrase. No kidding! – perhaps I’ll give that keyphrase a miss then.
The Google search engine in itself is also one of the most valuable free keyword research tools. Try out your keyphrases, see how many results they generate, what type of sites are on the first page – can you successfully outcompete them? – are many paid ads returned? – this gives you an idea of whether there is a potential return in your chosen niche. All useful, some might say essential, info gained from a quick free search in Google.
In this screengrab you can see that the keyphrase “affiliate marketing” generated 44,800,000 results. That’s a lot of stuff I’ve got to beat to get onto page one. To make it worse, all the page one results are for big .com and .co.uk sites (we’ll look at that further in a second), if I wanted to compete for a natural search engine place on page one or two, I would ideally be looking for a few results from smaller sites and article sites such as eHow and Squidoo. I might have more chance of outcompeting these.
Finally I’d like to look at Google Toolbar which is again free, and easily installed into your browser. It offers a variety of little tools and widgets, but the one of most importance to the affiliate marketer is the Google Page Rank Display. This give a number ranging from zero to ten of the importance which Google places on the website you are viewing. This has a major bearing on what results Google returns for any search term, and consequently on your chances of outcompeting that site in the search results.
The first four results returned by Google for “affiliate marketing” were a PR6 a PR5 and two PR4 websites. See the small green graph in the centre of the screengrab? That tells me AffiliateTips.com is a PR5 and is going to be tough competition for me.
So there you have it, this wasn’t intended to be a lesson on finding the best keywords or search engine optimisation, rather it was to help affiliate marketing newbies become aware of the wealth of free affiliate tools that are available. I hope you have found something useful in this post if you are just embarking on your affiliate marketing career, if so please look in again or subscribe to my RSS feed as I will be continuing this series of posts with an article on free image editing applications.
If you are already a bit further down the line in your affiliate career and have your own free keyword research tools that you found useful when you started out, please leave a comment and let us know.
Free Affiliate Tools Series