The following post is from a recent email discussion thread I was having with one of our guest bloggers Richard Kraneis. The topic we were discussing was affiliate marketing, in particular, how to find profitable affiliate niches to target. This is a question many ask when starting out in affiliate marketing. It was a question I had too when I was learning about affiliate marketing. So I thought it would be valuable to share the conversation we had about getting started in affiliate marketing and which niches to target using SEO. I’ve pulled out specific references to my affiliate sites to protect my competitive edge ;).
Now, by no means do I consider myself to be an expert on affiliate marketing and these are not hard and fast rules. These are just my opinions and my advice to Richard based on what's been working for me. So if anyone else wants to weigh on on the topic of finding profitable affiliate keyword niches, please do so in the comments.
Email from Richard
Can I ask a complicated question?
I know that your (affiliate) website is used to push traffic to your main (affiliate) website. So I thought I would try to estimate search volumes. Not because I'm interested in (the affiliate products you promote), but because I'm interested in creating my own websites that might make a few dollars a day.
But if I use Aaron Wall's tool , I find that his tool's estimate for (your affiliate site’s target keyword) in Google, Yahoo, and MSN per day is a whopping 18 searches per day.
If I were you and had used Aaron Wall's keyword suggestion tool, I would never have built an (affiliate product) website as you did.
So if Aaron Wall's keyword suggestion tool says (your affiliate site’s target keyword) has hardly any searches per day while WordStream's Keyword Niche tool says the phrase has high relative volume, which tool is accurate and why?
Basically, before I invest time in building mini websites with Wordpress, I want to find a way to better estimate keyword search demand  for Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
Do you have any other SEO tools  I can check or advice for me?
My Reply to Richard
I think you may be focusing too much on theoretical search volume estimates rather than tangible keyword value signals.
I've built my (affiliate product) sites for three reasons:
So for advice, I say go where you can make the most money. Like I said, I chose my niche because the products are more expensive than traditional products in this particular market. These are premium products with premium price tags. Now, that doesn't mean you can't make money marketing lower priced goods at a higher volume, but I'm sharing what's been working for me.
In addition, you should monitor hot and trending products with Google Trends . The products I built my affiliate sites around are trendy, hip and gaining in popularity every year.
Finally, pay careful attention to paid SERP activity, to validate proof of market. If there's heavy PPC ad placement and competition, it likely means this is a profitable vertical. Now, this also means that it will be super competitive and could take greater effort, but IMO it’s worth the effort. Plus, I’m confident in my ability to outrank competitors in most organic niches (Note: I start with PPC , but I'm targeting SEO in the long run). And by doing so and putting in the hard work, I’ll be rewarded. On the flipside, if there are zero PPC ads on a page, this may be the sign of an unprofitable niche, so it's probably not worth the effort. Either that, or it’s an up and coming vertical, which you monitor for trend activity. If you get the feeling that it’s just an undiscovered niche you can test the traffic with PPC to get a gauge before you commit to SEO. Then, be sure to purchase the exact match keyword domain to leverage Google's soft spot in the algos.
Hope this helps,
WordStream Affiliate Program
BTW, if you're reading this and are interested in becoming an affiliate marketer, WordStream has just launched a generous affiliate program that pays $5 per lead and up to $300 per sale! To learn more or to sign up, go to WordStream Affiliate Program .