Brute Force Ranking vs. Following the Money

This week I want to highlight a fundamental difference I’ve come across.

In my 8 years in SEO, I’ve had the opportunity to work in all three SEO facets:

  • In-house (e-commerce)
  • Agency (SaaS)
  • Affiliate

What’s interesting is all of the different SEO strategies that each facet focuses on.

Yes, content and links are the name of the game.

But there are differences - and those have proven to be invaluable for me.

Let’s get into it.

Brute Force

The first SEO strategy I’m going to talk about is what I call “Brute Force” ranking.

This mainly applies to in-house SEOs and agencies.

No matter what you do, you NEED to rank for certain keywords or clusters.

When I worked for, guess what we needed to rank for?

Welp… anything ammo related because selling ammunition is the core business model.

What if you’re Gym Shark?

You need to rank for gym clothing keywords because that’s your core business model.

This is the same thing for any SaaS tool out there as well.

You need to do whatever it takes to rank for keywords that support your business model.

All the advanced strategies come out in these roles.

  • Link building on niche relevant websites
  • Anchor text optimization
  • Internal link optimization
  • Internal Anchor text optimization
  • Technical SEO
  • Page Speed
  • Etc, etc

You are 100% focused and determined to rank for a select set of keywords.

But what about if you own an affiliate site?

Better yet, what if you own 5+ affiliate sites?

These people tend to follow the money and what’s working.

Following the Money

Affiliate sites who follow the money have more of a “spray and pray” approach.

This isn’t always the case, but some of the best affiliates I know (making 7+ figures) do this.

Let’s say you have an affiliate site in Consumer Goods.

You write about laundry detergent, cosmetics, etc etc.

You post 20-30 pieces of content around these silos and see what takes off.

You review GSC each week to see what Google likes you for.

Once you can identify patterns in keywords and pages that Google likes, you double-down and go all in.

You now know what silo you’re going to target.

See, you aren’t bound by a core business model selling a product or service.

Your core business model is producing amazing content (and making money).

And through affiliate marketing, you can monetize every piece of content you create.

There are no limits.

I believe this is a similar approach to what Forbes does.

If I were a betting man, I’d say there is a strategist in there reviewing revenue numbers, rankings, and keywords to see what content they should be doubling-down on.

It’s why they have 43 articles covering mattresses:

And only 7 articles covering Fishing gear

There is just a lot more money in affiliate marketing for mattresses than in fishing.

And Google likes them more for mattress related keywords as well.

That said, we aren’t Forbes.

However, this is still applicable to us.

In fact, I think “Following the money” can be applicable to all three facets.

There’s a hybrid approach here and I think that’s the sweet spot.


Let’s take Garage Gym Reviews as an example.

As we now know, they aren’t confined to a core business model selling a product or service.

But they are confined to their niche, fitness.

Specifically garage gym equipment.

There are a lot of silos just within garage gym equipment.

The idea here is simple…

To start, write 20 pieces of content on each silo.

Then, once a week or month, go into Google Search Console and see if you can identify any keywords or patterns that Google likes you for.

Are you ranking really well for squat racks but not kettlebells?

And they are making you more money?

Well, double-down on squat rack content.

Is there a specific squat rack that you’re ranking for and it’s making you a lot of money?

Say the, “REP Fitness PR-4000”.

Well, start covering that squat rack in its entirety:

  • REP Fitness PR-4000 Review
  • REP Fitness PR-4000 vs. 5000
  • REP Fitness PR-4000 vs. PR 5000
  • Etc

On the flip side, can’t seem to get weightlifting shoes off the ground?

Skip it for a later date - there isn’t as much money in that silo anyway.

In essence, let Google guide you.

Now, in the case of Gym Shark, let’s say you start ranking well for “workout shirts”

Now is the time to write more content around that topic:

  • Best workout shirts
  • What blend of material is best for workout shirts
  • Why does my workout shirt smell
  • Etc

All of these topics are still highly related to your Gym Shark’s core business model and they should rank for these keywords fairly easily if Google likes them for the head term “workout shirts”

This content also provides perfect internal link opportunities to help strengthen the knowledge graph around workout shirts and your site.

An important note…

As you get bigger and bigger, you’ll notice that you can expand.

You start ranking for more keywords and in different silos.

Garage Gym Reviews is big enough now that they can branch out further from their core topic.

Last time I checked, pre-workout isn’t gym equipment:

But it’s still in the fitness category, Google likes them for it, and so they’ve written almost 100 articles on it.

That’s it!

As always, shoot me an email if you have any questions.