Is Keyword Research is powerful?
Today I thought I would talk about keyword research because its something that I do for literally everything. If I’m starting up a new site I’ll research keywords, if I’m setting up a PPC campaign I’ll research keywords, or if I’m just board and looking for future domains I’ll be researching keywords.
Researching keywords is in my own opinion one of the more important aspects of setting up any site. It doesn’t matter what you’ll be using your site for, keyword research is very important if you wish to gain any organic traffic, even if your setting up a small arbi or affiliate page where your primary traffic is coming from PPC, you should still do some keyword research to harness a little bit of extra search engine traffic and sales.
The best thing about keyword research is that it does not take very much time to do because all you really have to look for is a low competition keyword you can easily get a top 10 ranking for, most of the time a top 3 rank. All that is required in order to do this successfully is a little bit of basic SEO knowledge.
So lets have a look at some basic SEO principles that apply to Google, I always focus on Google first and then worry about Yahoo and MSN later because Google does own 51% of the search engine market and I just read that according to their stats, they get over 1 billion searches per day, could you imagine scoring that kind of traffic.
Principle behind keyword research
The first and most powerful principle is a little thing called backlinks. Yeah we’ve all heard it and if you haven’t then you are hearing it now. True backlinks is quite a powerful aspect of ranking for almost any keyword, I say true backlinks because there is some confusion among newbies when it comes to gaining backlinks.
You see a backlink is a simple one way link to your site, its NOT a reciprocal link (2-way link) and in my own mind a true backlink is one that’s targeted perfectly to your site, so if you’ve got a site about cars and you’ve got two backlinks one from a fish site and the other from a car site, then guess what the backlink from the car site is a true backlink because it holds much more weight (In the eyes of Google) then the backlink from the fish site.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way there are two more things to keep in mind when researching keywords one is how many sites have that particular keyword in their title and in their URL. The sites which have a keyword in both their URL and title will have more rank weight then a site that only has the term in their title, so remember the title tags hold less weight then the URL does.
So what does any of it have to do with researching keywords? Well those little aspects of SEO have everything to do with researching keywords, here is a step by step system that I use to research keywords for literally every site I put up online, read close and you’ll soon know why backlinks, your sites URL, and your sites title tags are important when ranking in Google.
This is how I always go about everything online. First an idea comes to me and I think to myself hey that just might work, I might as well set up a site and try it out, then I go off to do some keyword and at the same time competition research. Notice how I don’t just race out and buy a domain name, no that would be a mistake because I always want to rank for a term in Google and buying a domain name before knowing which keyword I want to rank for means I just broke the rule of having your keyword in your domain name.
So once I have an idea for something I think to myself what terms should I try and rank for. As an example lets say I had an idea for a new SEO site, I know some of you might automatically think that the SEO niche is so far over-saturated you won’t be able to rank for it but don’t ever think that because its not true. You see in my mind over-saturation translates into Adsense $$$, yeah my mind works strange sometimes but I automatically know that an over-saturated market has a ton of competition and in return that means more people are jacking up the Adwords PPC cost and as you should know that also means you’ll make more per click with your Adsense ads.
Now moving on I know the type of site I want and I know I need to do some keyword research on the term “seo”. This is exactly the time when I run over to SEO Books Keyword Suggestion Tool and type in the term “seo”. You’ll see results like the screenshot below for the term “seo”.
The tool actually provides much more information then what is shown in the screenshot but the important parts are there, this shows us the monthly search volume this keyword gets for Google, Yahoo, & MSN, it also gives us a total of all 3 engines. I usually only look at the search volume for Google since that’s going to be our target and its also nice to glance at the overall total to see how much you could potentially be receiving.
Now this next step is something that I’ve just personally developed over time and that’s getting good at picking one of those terms that have no competition but has the highest search volume and when your just starting out or unsure of how to go about it there are a couple things you can keep in mind, the first is if the term is generic like the term “seo”, the chances of that domain name being available is unlikely, so look for terms that are less generic but still have a high search volume and also try to stay away from very long and hard to remember terms like “business driven michigan seo technology”.
When you come across a term that has a decent search volume run over to GoDaddy or some other domain register and type that term in to see if its avalible, if it is then great we can move onto our next step. But I should mention that just because its avalible doesn’t mean were ready to buy that domain, we still need to check how competitive that term is.
Checking how competitive that term is comes after we’ve found an available domain with a good search volume, what I like to do is open up two more tabs in firefox (IE sucks so go and get firefox right now). Then direct both those tabs to Google from there we enter the term into the search engine and click search. I first like to make a note of how many pages that term returned, normally if the term returns under 5 million pages means it should be easy to crack but if it returns 10 or 30 million terms, don’t get discouraged because those results are kind of like Googles PageRank, you might think they mean something but they really don’t.
With that search still open flip over to your other tab which is also pointed at Google and type in “allinurl: the keyword” (without the quotes), now write down how many search results is returned, if it returns under 2 thousand results then your in awesome shape to score a top 10 position but don’t give up if it returns more. Now type in “allintitle: the keyword” (Again without the quotes) and mark down the search results returned and I like to say if its got under 50 or even 70 thousand search results then its still very open to score in the top 10.
Notice the serious difference from having the term in the URL compared to having the term in the title, you’ve got a lot more play with the title terms, they should never discourage you from continuing your research. Now its time to switch back to your first search result in the other tab and quickly skim over the top 10 URLs and make a mental note of any that are a main page while ignoring anything that ends in a .pdf or other non-web site extension (Example: www.godaddy.com/ is a main page but www.godaddy.com/email.htm or www.godaddy.com/email is not a main page).
The less main pages you see the better because that means we only have to compete against sub-pages and not the actual domain which always recieves the most amount of backlinks and the strongest rankings. Speaking of backlinks, that is our last step we have to do in our keyword research.
What you do is copy and paste all 10 URLs into notepad or something similar, one URL for each line, then switch back over to your other tab and type in “link: the url” (without the quotes) and mark down the results it returned, the results are the amount of backlinks that particular page has and since backlinks are a huge SEO factor we can now judge how hard it will be for us to score a top 10 or even a top 3 rank. Go through all 10 URLs and mark down each number you get. Its easy to keep track of them in Microsoft Excel. You can also do this over at Yahoo by using the “linkdomain:” operator, some say that the Yahoo linkdomain check is much more accurate then Google’s link: operator and I tend to agree.
Now if the term is not competitive we can go off and buy then develop the domain name. When you buy the domain name it should be the keyword your trying to rank for and no other terms mixed in.
I know your asking yourself right now how do I know if its competitive based upon those few little aspects, especially since I’ve got nothing to compare it too?. This is a hard question because I’ve been doing this for a long time and after awhile you just develop that ability naturally so here is an example low-competition term for the website idea “seo”.
The term is “seo seminar” which gets an overall search volume of 2,149 according to the seo book keyword suggestion tool, this term also returned a search result of 1,360 by using the allinurl: operator and it returned 1,050 for the allintitle: operator, now for a super easy top 10 position its more near medium difficulty until we include the link: operator results which are 1, 2, 1, 6, 0, 0, 1, 0 (one result for each url found).
That tells us that if I want to rank for this term I’ll need around 10 true backlinks to score a top 10 position, we know that it gets a monthly search volume of 2,149 so we can guess that 50% of that traffic will visit our site which results in 1,074 unique organic visitors, that’s not much but if we have an Adsense CTR of say 30% (Which isn’t that hard) that would result in around 322 extra clicks per month. Remember when I said the term “seo” is over-saturated and scares most people away, well if we average .50 cents per click with out Adsense then we are making $161 extra bucks for doing nothing at all, that’s just organic traffic.
That’s it, that is all you need to do to find and rank in the top ten for any niche, now obviously I’ve left some things out which you’ll have to figure out for yourself, little things like on-page SEO, unique content, additional off-page SEO. I should also mention that you can get some really high search volume terms, ones in the 20,000 searches per month or more that are not that competitive.
If your pissed that I’ve left some points out then you simply should stop reading my blog because I’ll always leave a few things out in any system I mention, what I leave out will be easy to figure out and I do it because it helps you learn and the more you learn and understand things on your own, the better equipped you’ll be when a problem comes up.
If everything you’ve ever done online was a step by step system then trust me sooner or later you will be in a situation that requires you to think for yourself and if you cannot do that, then your going to fail, this is why some things are left out so when you come across these situations in the future you can succeed, instead of fail.