Hey BloggingCage Readers, This is Subhash, Co-Founder at Rankz.
I have been an Amazon Affiliate for 4 years, Over these years I built and sold multiple 5 figure/mo sites.
I have seen a lot of our community members struggling to make Amazon Associates work for them. Today, I’ll be sharing an actionable case study on how I built an amazon affiliate site from scratch (revealing an actual URL of one of my Amazon Associates website) and how to do it right if you want to start one.
So the website I’ll be revealing in this article was built and ranked in less than 6 months, and here is how my Amazon Associates dashboard looks for this site.
The URL of the website is https://coffeedx.com
This website made an average ~$2700 a month and later we sold this in Jan 2019 for a considerable sum.
Thousands of Affiliate Programs, Why Amazon?
I strongly believe people trust Amazon more, especially when the transaction size is pretty significant and Amazon Associates is one of the most popular affiliate program available on the internet with more than 74000 people searching for the exact keyword “Amazon Associates” globally.
What I love about Amazon Associates program is – they pay you commissions for EVERY sale you drive to them through your affiliate link.
Now the reason why I highlighted the word “EVERY” is because, what happens in most of the affiliate programs is – You get paid only for the product that you are recommending, but in case of Amazon, even if you are recommending product X and if the user buys product Y, you still get paid. Pretty good right?
As per last years report, only 30% of users I sent to Amazon purchased the products I recommended; the rest purchased something else. Yet I still got paid for all of those transactions.
Let me illustrate that with an actual screenshot here.
Add in real transparency, trusted tracking, on-time payment, and the considerable brand that Amazon has built, I believe it makes sense to stick with them for now (until I find something better).
So if you are convinced about starting your Amazon Associates website, let me guide you step by step.
How to Make Money With Amazon Associate Program?
Building a successful Amazon affiliate website involves 3 things:
- Niche with sufficient demand
- Well optimized review website
- Kickass SEO execution
Let’s dive deep into each of these and see how to do it and what has worked well.
1. Amazon Affiliate Niche (Keyword) Research.
This is the most important stage since you'll have to come up with something which has not only sufficient demand (Search Volume) but also decent revenue potential. Doing it wrong will result in a failed project even if you manage to rank them higher in SERPs.
So how to select the right niche and keywords for your next Amazon Associates website?
1. Niche research
There has been a ton of guides on niche research already, you can read the in-depth guide on finding niches here.
Talking from experience, finding a niche from scratch is too overwhelming for individuals and they tend to get lost in the middle, so here is a simpler and “Done for you” way.
- Put “https://coffeedx.com” in SEMRush
This website ranks for a large variety of keywords across multiple niches, these keywords have sufficient volume and no hard competition. I have been able to rank these keywords in less than a couple weeks, in batches of 50 on fresh sites.
And if you don’t have SEMRush account, here is the keyword list exported. The list is too big and there is something for everyone in it.
- Select 10 keywords from the list, 10-15 keywords with search volume even 500 is good to start with. I highly recommend choosing the keywords which belong to the same broad niche.
Take more keywords if you want to, or take bigger keywords. I suggest choosing long tail keywords than just generic keywords. It’s much easier to be in the featured snippet for the
Below is a screenshot showing the keywords.
2. Calculating revenue potentials
Once we are done with shortlisting our niches and keywords, it’s time to estimate the earning potentials so that you can invest your time and money accordingly.
For example, if you choose a keyword which has monthly 1000 searches, you'll be able to get 25-30% of the traffic from a single keyword along.
Now if the price of product is $100 and assuming the standard conversion rate of 6%, you'll be able to sell – 1000 (monthly search volume) x 30% (your traffic) x 6% (Amazon Conversion Rate) x 100 (Price of product) = $1800 worth and your commission would be somewhere around $108 (6% avg) .
So ideally if you wish to make $1000 per month from your affiliate website, you'll have to choose 10 such keywords or maybe you can target total 10000 impressions from the set of keywords, mix & match lower & higher volumes.
Pro Tip: High search volume and low competition is a myth especially you are starting with an Amazon Associates website, because every single thing you can possibly think of is already covered by hundreds of other websites.
2. Amazon Associates Blog Setup
Once you are done with the niche/keywords research/selection steps – the next step is to make sure we have a kick-ass review blog. If you get this right, you can beat 90% of affiliates with just this.
Setting up the Website
1. Domain Name
You can start with a fresh domain, however, I have had good success with using the expired domain as money site domain. Two of my top affiliate sites are built upon expired domains.
If you are able to find a good expired/auctioned domain, use it. It makes the life much easier in the short & long run.
Some of the basic things I make sure before grabbing the expired domain –
- At least 3 do-follow Links from high authority sites. In general, by high authority I mean if you know the site already without looking at DA/DR etc, let’s say Forbes, HuffingtonPost, NYTimes or similar.
- 25+ links from mid-level sites.
- Links should be in-content or contextual. Blog comments, profile or other spam links doesn’t count.
- A clean anchor text profile
- Wasn’t used as a PBN before (!Important), check from Web Archive.
I have had more success getting these domains from Dropcatch compare to any other source. I will explain my dropcatch process in the link building part in the later part of this post. The cost is bit higher ($59) but totally worth it.
2. Web Hosting
Your web hosting plays an important role in your overall success, don’t go for something cheap and don’t pay directly for Dedicated server either.. Find something which is affordable and has a good track record. I personally have all my money sites on Kinsta but you can choose anything decent.
Kulwant has a detailed post on how to choose a right host and his recommendations here.
Usually, all of the web hosting companies provide a monthly plan, but I recommend you going for an annual plan as it will give you some discount if paid yearly.
3. Choosing your CMS
Now once you get the domain and hosting in place, the next step is to choose the CMS, and I would definitely vouch for WordPress – as it is easy to understand and anyone can customise it easily and start posting the content instantly.
4. Setting up WordPress Theme and Basic Plugins
Now unlike other blogs, who make money from CPC ads or similar ways of monetisation, the focus on Amazon Associates website should be “readability”, distractions are bad and your focus should be to get clicks to amazon, nowhere else!
I avoid choosing the themes which have a sidebar. Going for a full width content themes makes sense as you'll be able to provide the exact information to your readers without having many distractions.
Once the theme setup is done, the next task is to install the basic plugins. Here is the list of plugins I would recommend for an Amazon Associates website:
- SEO Plugin – Yoast or anything else.. I use Yoast.
- Caching Plugin – WP Rocket (Paid) or WP Fastest Cache.
- Sitemap Plugin – If your SEO plugin doesn’t have it already.
- Table plugin – Tablepress or Easy Pricing Tables
- Image Optimization plugin – Smush Image Compression and Optimization
- Getaawp Plugin for rendering product boxes.
These 6 plugins are more than enough to get started.
Note that if you install more plugins than needed, it will slow down the speed and performance of your website. You can check the website speed at any point of time here, just make sure your website is loading under 2 seconds.
Your load speed matters a lot and the lower you have, the better it is. With a fast website, you will have a fewer regrets about the conversion rates in the future.
5. Content Guidelines for Amazon Associate Websites
I follow this analogy – If you are a marketing guy, the most important thing for you should be understanding human behaviour. Once you start understanding the behaviour, marketing tools become less reliant or irrelevant.
That being said, if you have chosen “best treadmills” as your keywords, you need to understand/answer yourself a few questions:
1. Is the guy looking for treadmill knows basics of treadmills?
2. Has he used the treadmill in the past?
3. Does he know about the features, types and price points of treadmills?
4. Is he a newbie or an expert athlete?
5. Is he looking for a budget item or willing to buy premium for the top product?
What you recommend will highly depend on the questions above, one size doesn’t fit all and you need to understand your audience and then choose what you write.
Try to answer all these questions in your article and try to give him EXACTLY what he is looking for based on his specific needs. Don’t just list top 10 products from A
If you follow this strategy for content correctly, you should be able to see pretty high conversion rates. A better conversion rate makes sure you get the best of your efforts on building the website. What’s the point of spending 6 months of efforts to rank a website but the content copy doesn’t convert?
Now, after content, there come rich media such as product image boxes, videos and all. I’ve personally tried multiple product box stylings and I’m pretty happy with the performance of Getaawp. They have various styles for displaying your product listings which gets proper attention and click through rate.
Here is how a proper product recommendation box looks like:
Pro tip: Spend good money on content, this is what sells. Maybe Google can’t but a native visitor can tell in a minute if the article is written by some random dude from India or a well-researched review. You have to spend a lot of time, effort and money into ranking a website, make sure it sells.
I personally spend around $200 for the money articles on all of my
With that, my average conversion rate is ~7% and it goes as high as 25% during the month of December Thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
3. Kickass SEO Execution – Let the Real Game Begin.
I strongly believe SEO is educated guesswork and not a structured game with set rules. Sometimes you win sometimes you learn, but one thing is certain,
Keyword research, site setup and content was just a 1% part of Amazon Associates website. the next and the most important step is to rank them and there is no single way to do it.
Everyone has their own way of doing it and what works for one might or might not work for another. Even Different gurus have different opinions and it’s a never-ending debate on white vs black. I am personally a strong advocate of all things Grey.
My Step by step blueprint of Ranking your Amazon Site
I've been doing SEO for the
Over the period of these years, I started my SEO journey with SeNuke it was literally like a GodMode, I could rank affiliate sites overnight, then things started to change and now even the best links you can acquire have hard time moving the needle on the 1st page.
Stay away from all things spam. It’s 2019 and it no longer works.
In the past couple of years, I have realised the fact that if you are building links from free sources (such as forum links or commenting or anything you can get for free, instant) – you'll be able to get things upto page 2 or maybe 3 but after that things get difficult or get stuck.
So how do you really rank in 2019?
Let’s start with what is working for me right now, for affiliate websites.
Doing SEO for Affiliate websites (or any in-house project) is a bit different than doing it for let’s say a client. I have more flexibility on things I can do and have a much higher risk tolerance.
My philosophy is to focus on Building Links which are Exclusive to you and hard to get for others.
In simple terms, All good things take time, The harder it is to get, the more worthy it will be.
1 – Links from existing pages, which already have links to them, on “real” sites.
Buying guest posts is so common these days that every blogger worth anything is selling guest posts left right and
Most of these are sites built on
Instead of wasting my time with these, I put my efforts into getting links from sites which have real organic traffic (Proof that this site
- Should be a real site, having built over 2000 myself, I can smell a PBN when i see one.
- Should have more than 10,000 Monthly organic traffic
- Should have links to inner pages not just homepage
- Should be broadly related to the niche/industry/category
- Should have at least one post in the last 2 weeks.
You can imagine getting links from these will be expensive and yes they are, however understand all good things in life is expensive, harder to get and takes time. If it’s too easy, it’s probably not worth it.
Once I have the site shortlisted, I put the site in SEMRush and check the inbound links.
I select a couple of pages which have at least 10 inbound links from decent sites and ask the webmaster to give me a link from one of them, whichever looks the best fit.
For reference, Here is a screenshot showing my purchases from last week and their metrics. This is for a really competitive industry with average ticket size of $6000.
And below is the result of the links within few days. The keyword jumped from 11th to 5th overnight. The screenshot is from our own rank tracking tool – https://rankz.io
2 – Guest posts from the sites mentioned above – (If existing page link is not an option)
If I see a really good site from the criteria shared above and somehow getting a link from existing content is not an option, I do a guest post and get a link. Here are the things I make sure in the post
- 800-1000 words content, relevant to my niche. Be Original!
- 1 relevant image embedded
- 2 links to authority sites in my niche
- 1 do-follow link to my money site.
- Anchor mix of Long tail, domain, naked URL and generic (Click here etc)
3 – Expired Domains – Either As Private Web Properties (PBNs) or Direct 301
When it comes to link exclusivity, PBNs are top of the chart. Imagine a random dude selling guest posts for $12 pop. He sells a lot of those every month, and with every other sale the link loses its power.
The juice is keep getting divides into the sites he is linking to and you are left with little to nothing.
In a typical PBN setup, people buy an expired domain, builds a blog and then post an article with a link. Most would agree this is how you do your PBNs.
After a tedious work of finding the domain and then building the PBN, getting the link you would expect things to shoot to the top. Sadly it doesn’t happen and then people go on to complain that PBNs no longer works or even some claim SEO is Dead.. I see that very often.
Do you see anything wrong with that process? Well it’s broken from the start. Here is the things wrong with this and then I will share how to do it right –
- Most domains have links to their inner pages, rather than the homepage.
- When you rebuild the website (In WordPress), you lose those links.
- Now, those links are either pointing to your 404 pages or homepage with a 404 to 301 plugin.
- If it goes to 404, you lose the juice already, if its a 404 to 301 redirect, this is considered a soft 404 and doesn’t pass the juice as expected.
Here is what John Muller said in one of his videos about 404 to 301 – “We’ll see that as a soft 404 and essentially treat it as a 404 anyways.”
So as you can see, all the efforts of a PBN a new-comer builds almost goes to waste. Sometimes even the domain itself had a past penalty.
Building PBNs the right way
Building a PBN is more of an art than science, after building over 2000 of it over past couple years, here is how I do it –
The domain – The domain is the most important part of a PBN and getting it right is crucial. If your PBN hunting starts from expired domains sites, you are doing it wrong. All good things are already taken on those sites, what you see if the leftover crap.
We and a lot of serious SEOs I know have automated systems in place to grab those even before expired domain sites get their hands on it. I personally have over 300 Million domains in my database which our systems checks and then is reviewed by the team.
Here is a screenshot showing the number of domains checked by my team in last 7 days. This is an internally developed tool which checks availability of 100,000 domains each minute with 100% accuracy.
A public version of this exact tool is available for free, with 20,000 domains limit per search.
Here is my exact process of finding the domains (It’s fully automated)
- Exported Linked domains of top 1000 websites (excluding corporate / social sites) from Ahrefs API
- Filtered them based on their DR traffic. A domain of DR 80 and couple million traffic is not going to be left expired, wasting system resources on those is not efficient. So removed all such domains
- The final result is about 600K domains, which we check every day for availability.
- The TLDs controlled by Verisign (.com, .net etc) have a predefined time when they update their zone files, as soon as the system has a confirmation, availability test is run.
- The domains coming from this batch is then processed for their juice. Another job checks their Ahrefs metrics and if it has couple of DR 80 Plus links it is flagged for manual review by the team.
- The team checks below things manually
- Link Profile – At least 3 do-follow Links from high authority sites. In general by high authority i mean if you know the site already without looking at DA / DR etc, let’s say Forbes, huffington, Nytimes or such.
- 25 plus links from mid level sites.
- Links should be in-content or contextual. Blog comments, profile or other spam links doesn’t count.
- A clean Anchor profile
- Wasn’t used as a PBN before (!Important), check from Web Archive.
- Clean Anchor profile
- Link Spam check
- Chinese anchor texts
- Are the links part of a redirect chain ?
- Do the links still exist ? sometimes this is the case
- Webarchive – whether it was used a PBN or not in past
- Webarchive – did it had chinese stuff in there in past
We feed the same system with Dropcatch CSV file (they have a CSV list of all domains in their database for that day) and all these checks are run against these CSV files and then the team bid on most promising ones.
We are able to constantly get 6-10 domains a week from dropcatch which are pretty powerful, for about $59.
Now you don’t have the same system so here is how you can do it.
Since you don’t need 6-10 a week you can use a scaled down version of the exact same process.
- Take top news and high authority sites, export their Linked domains
- Filter them based on their DR, exclude anything more than DR 50 right away.
- For the rest of the list, check if they are available, use the tool i suggested above. You will find few good ones instantly.
- Use the same list and check them every day.
- From the ones which are available, do a sanity check on Ahrefs and archive (Follow the checklist above)
- If all things OK, go ahead and bid or buy the domain.
Now when you have the domain, there is 2 things you can do with it – Either make it a PBN or do a 301 redirect. I will cover both cases in depth.
Building a PBN vs 301 Redirect
I have used both these options successfully and it have worked well. Both have their pros and cons.
You can read about a $35K per month case study Suumit (my Co-Founder) shared on Detailed.com which used 301 redirect successfully and dominates a highly competitive niche.
301 redirecting is a bit more risky so don’t over do it . Prefer quality over quantity and you will be fine.
How to do 301 redirects correctly?
Usually expired domain 301 is done in 2 ways, either we redirect all pages from old domains to the new domain homepage, or we create a new page on the new domain, redirect the old pages there and then funnel the link juice to these sub-pages of the new domain.
Case 1: If you want to redirect all pages from the old domain to the “homepage” of new domain – Add this in the .htaccess file on the “OLD” domain.
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/ [R=301]
Case 2: If you want to redirect all pages from the old domain to a newly created page, let's call it Acquired page and funnel links from there to different sub-pages, Add this in the .htaccess file on the “OLD” domain.
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/acquired [R=301]
This usually does the job, if you get technical difficulties feel free to research for solutions.
The actual redirect can be done from either the Registar level, on your server level or with a third party proxy like cloudflare.
We have used a mix of all these 3 methods
1. Redirected from Registrar level, the disadvantage with this is – it's difficult and sometimes impossible to keep this domain in a webmaster account to check/monitor for manual spam related issues. WMT won't verify a domain redirected from Registar level like Godaddy.
2. Created redirects from our server, Cpanel side with CloudFlare being in middle, Cloudflare is used to hide the underlying IP of our server. No issues with Webmaster tools this way either.
3. CloudFlare Redirect, No server, We can just add it
If you have lots of domains in a single account and you use their flexible SSL (enabled by default), there is a slight possibility that someone checking the
(it is not showing any of my own sites here but I have seen cases where it does so).
You can say it's a footprint and someone manually reviewing your site can find it.
However chances of someone finding out your pbns this way is much much lower than just running your site through ahrefs or so.
Use the one you see the best fit for your situation
I keep about 500 domains on each of my servers and use reverse proxies to hide the primary IP (CF), haven’t seen a single de-indexed in last 3 years.
Building the PBN
Building the PBN is similar like building your money site, treat those as your money sites and it will stick, put crap on them and it won’t work well.
Here are few crucial things to keep in mind when building the PBN.
- Find out the old pages which had links and “Re-Create” them on the new site. This is NOT optional, this is important.
- Content – Don’t put spinned content. A little investment on content goes a long way
- Get a normal theme, not too jazzy and not too simple.
- I recommend you Get links only from the pages which had existing links.
- Getting links from a fresh post will have very very low impact.
Most Important: Don’t link to more than one money site from your PBNs. The new owner of this same site did this and when another site was penalized, it went down along the way.
Do it right and PBNs still is the way to go.
Expecting the Unexpected – How long ?
If you chose the keywords I suggested and built links correctly it usually takes 4 – 5 months to rank 10 pages of an A
At the end, Is it really worth building another Amazon Associates site in 2019 ?
I hear you and I hear that a lot, this is what I have to say
Everything has been already done to death.
Every niche. Every problem. Every business. Every idea, Every Keyword!
There're 10 coffee shops/cafes (not to mention various other takeaway shops/bakeries that sell coffee) in my one local high street (Powai, Mumbai) that can be walked from end to end in 5 minutes flat…and another one opening soon.
And several dentists, easily 10 barbers/hairdressers, 2 travel agents, 5 or 6 co-working spaces, 3 supermarkets, 5+ bakeries, a dozen or so food takeaway shops, 3 Chinese restaurants, 4 Indian restaurants etc etc
Do you think just none of them noticed other people were operating similar/the same businesses as them?
I'm sure they did. Yet they all thrive.
That's on a small local high street that you can spit and reach the other end on a windy day.
The internet is global, has 3.2 billion people on it, grows by 30 million new users every month and at a conservative estimate has $327 billion + dollars (and growing) spent on it every year.
Are you really worried about competition/saturation/your idea having been done before?
Seems like a minor concern, if a concern at all, to me on a platform so big that it can never be fully tapped.
Competition is nothing but a sign of a healthy and in demand market with money to be made, customers to buy, products to sell to them, traffic to be found and all that other good stuff you need to sustain a business.
Embrace it. Run with it. Just do it.
Don't try to reinvent the wheel or look for something totally new/untapped secret that hasn't been done just look at what's already making money and emulate it and then along the way try to find small ways to differentiate yourself from your competition so you can stand out in the long term.
Just do something
Do it right
Do it better than them
PS: I don't sell any online courses or anything but if you need any suggestions/help regarding SEO – I stay pretty active in our SEO Community, Join our SEO Cartel by Rankz community for advanced discussions around SEO.