If you understand how 1 published article can make money with affiliate marketing… you understand how a website can make money with affiliate marketing.
This is a case study from a single article on one of our websites, promoting products through Amazon, for the month of September 2019.
We’ve broken down everything from the affiliate clicks and the traffic to the kind of article it is, the kind of product it promotes, and more.
Let’s take a look.
To start, here’s the report from Amazon, for the month of September, for the tracking ID of this article.
Just below it, you can see how many clicks this tracking ID got. 1,341 clicks in the month.
Keep in mind this is the total number of clicks for all links in this article (though not including images. I’m not as strict with tracking IDs as I should be!).
In other words, there may have been a slightly higher number of total affiliate clicks generated by this article.
That’s a literal EPC (earnings per 1 click) of 66 cents. The article earned $0.66 for every visitor it sent to Amazon.
How much traffic did this article get in the month of September?
That’s 2,215 unique visitors in the month. On average, 73 unique visitors a day.
Practically all of the traffic is organic.
This also means that – roughly speaking – the affiliate clickthrough rate on this article was 60.5%. We usually aim for 40% or above, so this was a good result.
How many keywords would you have to rank for, and how much search volume would they need to have, in order to get 2,215 visitors a month to a single article?
Here’s what Ahrefs says about this article and the keywords it ranks for:
This tells us that:
- The article appears somewhere in the top 100 search results, for 467 keywords.
- In terms of search volume, the keyword that brings the most traffic has a volume of 2,300 searches a month.
- The top 2 keywords this article ranks for, account for 40% of its total organic traffic.
And while you can see Ahrefs has the search traffic way off (it says 528 visitors and Analytics says more than 2,215), the percentage of the total traffic coming from those keywords is pretty accurate.
There are a couple of important takeaways here.
- Our keyword research showed a term with 2,300 searches a month. We published an article on it, that ends up getting almost that many visitors a month. Long-tail keywords are a beautiful thing. You’ll always end up getting traffic for more keywords than your research showed, which means – if you’re publishing in-depth articles – you’ll usually end up getting more traffic than your keyword research suggests you will.
- This also means keywords are worth publishing content on even if they only have a few hundred searches a month, provided they’re targeted, and clearly represent people who are looking for the product your article is talking about.
That brings us nicely to our next point.
What Kind of Article Was It?
It was a list article.
Specifically, a “Best of” article.
And more specifically, a “Best X For Y” article. You know what I mean? “Best Toaster Oven For Hotdogs”… that kind of thing.
And the top keyword you can see in that screenshot above is the “Best Toaster Oven for Hotdogs” keyword itself, with the rest of the keywords being variations of that same term.
Some other quick facts about the article:
- It lists 11 products in total, broken down into sections like “Best under $100”, “Best for safety” etc.
- The article is 2723 words long.
- And in case anyone’s asking, I paid a writer $150 for it.
How Much Was The Product Being Sold?
On average, the items in the list sit at about $100 each.
In other words, they’re not low-end items, but you also don’t need really high ticket affiliate offers to earn good affiliate commissions.
How About Backlinks?
I didn’t build any backlinks to this article.
It’s published on my domain, which is reasonably strong, at a DR of 53 according to Ahrefs. That makes a big difference with a low competition keyword set like this one.
However, I did manage to pick up a few backlinks. 6 to be exact.
Take a look…
Yep, somehow this product article and “Best” list picked up a link from Bustle.com – a massive content platform with a DR of 89. That’s a natural backlink. I didn’t request it. Honestly, I didn’t even know I’d gotten it until doing the research for this article.
This was one of those links where a big company publishes a similar “Best” list to you, and links out to you because you were first and you had something unique to say. We’ve gotten more of these in 2019 and they’re always fun to see.
The other 5 links? Some look like spam. The DR 18 one is some e-commerce store that stocks some of the products we reviewed and randomly linked to us.
Someone reading this is going to say “AHA! Of course your article can make money if it gets a DA 89 link!”
But I know comparing these stats to the stats of other articles on the same site, with fewer links, this link just isn’t what’s driving results here.
As evidence, look at this screenshot from a different article that only has 1 (spam) backlink…
1 spam backlink, and double the keyword difficulty (12 instead of 6), and this article is able to rank in a higher position.
The accidental DA89 backlink certainly doesn’t have a negative impact, but it’s far from the critical factor in this article’s success.
The general point here is a boring one:
In-depth, product-driven content on a good authoritative domain name, targeting keywords with low organic search competition makes money.
But the subtle points are what I think most important. In this article, you can see benchmarks for your own sites. If your income goal is $1,000 a month, how are your stats matching up to these?
- Do the primary keywords you’re targeting have at least 5000 searches a month, all added together?
- Do those keywords have sufficiently low competition? (DWA members, you know what this means. Everyone else, Ahrefs KD under 10 is a good starting point, but the lower the better)
- Are you promoting products around the $100 price point?
- Are you slowly growing the authority of your domain name with gradual real link building and promotion?
I’m not saying if your stats aren’t meeting these, you’ve screwed up.
If you have more expensive products, or higher commission rates, or better conversions, or lower competition keywords, or higher volume keywords… you might reach $1,000 a month without nearly this amount of work. (Actually, Claudia’s 8-page site doing $1,000 a month was the perfect example of this.)
But as a set of benchmarks, I think this is useful.
I hope you agree.