Keyword research is our main topic today. This is a little bit of a tough topic.
We’ve been working down this flow of affliliate marketing, we’ve talked about different ideas for how you find niches, but at the end of the day when you’re really ready to do something with whatever your idea is, whether it’s an idea for niche marketing or it’s some other kind of idea where you’re thinking about either promoting an offline business online or you’ve got an online business that’s not necessarily niche marketing but where you want search engine traffic, you’ve got to figure out how you can leverage what people are typing into the search engines.
In Episode 49 we talked a little bit about how to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, and in Episode 53 we talked a little bit about finding niche keywords, and I followed that up in Episode 54 where we talked about niche keyword competition. In this episode I’m going to try and pull it all together.
Basically, when you’re doing keyword research (for whatever reason) there’s really only three things that you need to think about. One thing is you need to understand exactly what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. We’ll talk through that a little bit, about the things that you might be trying to accomplish and how to decide what they are and how keywords can help you do that.
The second thing you need to figure out is given what you are trying to accomplish, what keywords are popular. In other words, there might be the perfect keyword for you but if no one is typing it into Google it doesn’t matter. You have to figure out which keywords are popular and can help you. So you figure out what you’re doing and then you figure out what people are typing and how that can map onto your what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish.
The third thing that you need to understand, obviously, is how hard it will be for you to rank for those keywords. After all, even if you find the perfect keyword, it’s exactly great for your business, if there is no way to feasibly rank higher than page five for that keyword, no one is ever going to find you. So it doesn’t really matter what you do with regard to keyword work if you’re working on keywords that you can’t win given the time and resources that you’re planning to spend, then you’re stuck.
That’s what we’re going to try and cover in today’s episode. Let’s get straight to it.
Before we dig into the details of understanding what it is you’re trying to accomplish, let me say one thing for those of you that are new to internet marketing. A lot of times I’ll talk about a keyword and when I say “keyword” I don’t really mean a singular word, I really mean to say keyword phrase. This is a phrase like “blue suede shoes” or “best price for blue suede shoes in Dallas,” or “best chili crab in Kuala Lumpur.” We often refer to those as keywords, but really they’re keyword phrases.
Another thing to note is that increasingly, although we will almost always talk about Google, Bing and Yahoo are teamed up together and they’re driving a two digit percentage of the search engine market share. Depending on what you look at it’s 10-20-30%, and that’s likely to grow.
For those of you in the U.S., what’s happening here is a classic Coke versus Pepsi battle. Coke is the incumbent giant brand and probably will always dominate the soft drink industry. But, the little upstart Pepsi company is now a giant soft drink manufacturer and they got that way in a large part by directly challenging Coke. In the same way, Bing is now directly challenging Google.
If you look on the user interface side of the Google search engine it’s really kind of plain vanilla, it hasn’t changed much over the years. Bing is innovating and they’re trying new things, and they’re challenging Google directly in the mainstream media with the Bing Challenge or whatever they’re calling it. So I think you’ll see them to continue to gain market share.
There are many other search engines as well. There are more traditional search engines, like DuckDuckGo and others. Then there are non-traditional search engines that are increasingly important, like iTunes is a huge search engine. The second largest search engine in the world is YouTube. For the purposes of this keyword research discussion we’re going to be talking about Google, but just know that just because we’re talking about Google that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other search engines out there.
When it comes to overviewing search engines there’s a really cool info graphic on Search Engine Land that gives you a pretty good visual overview of what keyword research is all about. We can adapt the model that Search Engine Land offers in that article for affiliate marketing and come up with a process for doing our keyword research.
I told you the first thing you need to do is really determine your goal. You have to figure out what it is that you’re trying to do.
Why are you doing the keyword research? What is it that you hope to accomplish?
Particularly, this is the most important thing. If you don’t learn anything else from this podcast, this is the thing that you need to understand. When you capture a click from Google or a search engine, wherever it’s coming from, and they land on your website, you need to have a clear idea of what it is that you want that person to do. What do you want them to do when they reach your website?
Now, with affiliate marketing a lot of times what you’re trying to do is to get traffic to your site and hope that the visitor will click on a link and buy something so that you can get a commission.
In the case of the Corn Sheller Site, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We’ve written stuff about corn shellers, a useful resource about corn shellers that will interest people who might also be interested in actually buying a corn sheller. Then we’re directing that traffic, those people, through to eBay so that if they buy something on eBay I get a commission, and as a result of that, as you know, that site makes between $25 and $50 month after month, sort of no matter what at this point.
That’s my goal for my keyword research; I’m looking for keywords that are likely to translate into sales on eBay. You might have another goal.
Your goal might be to get someone to opt-in to your mailing list, because you may know that once someone gets on your mailing list the average value of a customer on your list might be $3 or $4, or if you’re a lawyer it might be $25. So that might be your goal, because your mailing list may have this long stream of messages or an e-course on it that eventually converts sales or multiple sales.
That’s something that we’re going to talk about in a future episode is email marketing and how that’s still valuable. The front end of email marketing is capturing that lead and a lot of times those are coming from keywords.
The point is you need to have a very clear vision of what it is that you want to accomplish when you’re doing this keyword research. It’s always helpful to have a clear vision of who it is.
Who is your typical searcher? Is it a 57 year old mother of three? Is a young 25 year old male? What’s the demographic? What do they look like? What’s motivating them? Why are they sitting down in front of the computer?
This will help you as you do your keyword research. You need to understand your goal, that’s number one.
The second thing that you need to do is brainstorm for a list of keywords that make sense for your goal.
If you’re trying to sell shoes then you need to put yourself in the position of this person that you carefully imagined just a minute ago and consider their intent. Particularly their commercial intent, if that’s appropriate.
What is it that they’re wanting to do? Are they looking for a review? Do they want to buy?
Then imagine all the things that they might type in.
When you’re doing that, I think it’s useful to thinking about the long tail. We’ve talked about this idea of long tail keywords before and we’re going to talk about it again in a minute. If you know that the searcher that you’re targeting is looking for triple wide blue suede shoes, because that’s your specialty and that’s what you’re trying to do, don’t be afraid to think about those long keywords. “Triple wide blue suede shoes for sale in Dallas,” those kind of very long tail phrases.
Go ahead and think about those and write them down in your brainstorming list, because in the next step what you’re going to do is put those suggestions in a keyword tool and see what else comes out. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen here is you will be surprised by the things that people are typing that you didn’t expect.
You’ll find things like the fact that people don’t know how to spell the word suede. And you’ll find out that not only are people looking for blue suede shoes, they’re looking for dark blue suede shoes and light blue suede shoes and royal blue suede shoes. You’ll find out they’re looking for not just suede shoes, but genuine blue suede shoes as opposed to imitation blue suede shoes. All these things that you didn’t come up with because you’re not collecting data on millions of searchers who are looking for your products.
So, brainstorm your keywords. Use the Google Keyword Tool or an equivalent to do this.
I will tell you for this particular thing, I don’t think there’s a better tool on the market than Keyword Canine. Keyword Canine has this feature called Keyword Explorer. You can try this out if you want to try it out for really cheap, I think Jon has a deal right now where you can try Keyword Canine for seven days for $7 before he charges you full price. A lot of times if you have a project in mind, you can do all the research that you need to do in seven days. You can use it and then decide to cancel it or not. If you’re interested in Keyword Canine, feel free to use my affiliate link at LateNightIM.com/kc. That’s a really cool tool and it’s the keyword tool that I use most of the time.
There are lots of other good keyword tools that I also like. I’ve used Market Samurai a lot. A lot of my friends use Long Tail Pro, and I understand that’s pretty good, although I don’t use that one as much. I own it, but I don’t really use it.
Keyword Canine has this brainstorming Keyword Explorer feature that’s really amazing at helping you find related keywords. You have to brainstorm these keywords.
Here’s what SEOmoz has to say about long tail keywords and this idea of all these different keywords…
“It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day, but in reality, these “popular” search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, they comprise the majority of the world’s demand for information through search engines.”
This is really an important idea, you need to develop this list of long tail keywords that you want to target. As we’ll find out in the competition part of this discussion, as a general rule the more specific and long tail the keyword is, the easier the competition is for ranking for that keyword. There are certainly exceptions, this is not always the case, but as a general rule that is definitely true. So brainstorming keywords is step two.
Let me just say before we move on from this brainstorming topic, there are many tools that you can use for free to brainstorm keywords.
One of my favorite ones is a little known trick, this is also available in Keyword Canine but you can do it for free. Just go to Google.com and you get the traditional blank Google page with just the box, and just start typing your keyword and it will suggest other keywords based on what people are actually typing in. The more you type, the more specific it gets.
If you type in “blue suede,” almost certainly blue suede shoes will be one of the choices.
You can play around with different combinations and Google will suggest things to complete your typing based on what other people are actually typing. That’s the magic of this kind of approach.
The Keyword Canine tool has a tool inside of it called Keyword Extractor, which goes through and uses Google and other search engines that do this type of things and rigorously extracts all the possible answers that it gives back and it gives you hundreds upon hundreds of keywords for a particular niche, that’s a really cool way to do keyword brainstorming as well. You can sort of do that manually and there’s a tool very similar to that called Uber Suggest that does that same thing, it automates that process I just described.
The other tools that are out there that you can take a look at are tools like the Adwords Keyword Tool, there’s Google Insights for Search, there’s the Google Trends tool, Microsoft has a tool they call Advertising Intelligence, and then I think you can still check out the free Wordtracker basic tool for free.
So those are options for you on the free side before you go running out and buying a tool. If you’re just getting started in internet marketing and you’re sensitive to investment, which you should be, you should avoid this trap of buying everything that someone talks about, if you’re in that mode then you can check out some of these free tools and they’re plenty to get started.
Once you have this brainstorming list, I think the next thing to figure out is what the traffic is like.
How popular are these keywords? Depending on your goals, the number of keyword searches that you actually have on a particular keyword will determine whether or not it makes sense for you to work on it. You need to understand the popularity of this.
The way we do that is we either put this keyword into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and get the numbers back or we use a tool like Keyword Canine. Again, I prefer these automated tools like Keyword Canine, mostly because they are in fact automated and they make this go very fast. But you can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
The very important thing that you need to do is make sure that you set the keyword tool to the region of interest, say the United States if you’re building a website for U.S. visitors, or the U.S. and Canada, or the UK if that’s where you’re listening from. Then you need to pay attention to the exact match searches.
We’ve talked about this before in Episode 49 about all these different things about the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, but exact match searches tell you how many people are typing in exactly the phrase that you’re asking about, not some variation of it. That’s really important to know exactly. The rest of the numbers obviously are higher, because they’re considering variations, and they’ll give you an inflated sense of how much traffic to expect in some cases.
I definitely recommend that you use the exact match numbers. That immediately leads you to the question of, “How many searches per month are worth targeting?” This leads into a question of, “What is it that you’re going to do? What is your goal for this keyword?”
If you are going to use this keyword to promote an offer that results in a $1 commission, and the keyword has 1,000 searches per month, and you expect based on your experience or a guess that out of every visitor that you get to your website 1% or maybe 2% of those people will convert to this offer and buy it. Then you can do math to figure out what 1,000 visitor keyword is worth.
If there are 1,000 visitors in Google, on a good day you could expect to get 40% of those visitors to click on your website if you’re ranking in the number one position, maybe less. Some people will argue it’s 35% or 30%. Let’s say it’s 30% and you’re going to get 30% of the traffic. That means for this one keyword with 1,000 visitors per month if you can get to the number one position in Google (and we haven’t really talked about whether or not you can yet) then you could expect 300 visitors to your website based on that one keyword. The other 700 visitors will be clicking on other links in Google or they’ll be clicking on the ads or doing something else, but 30% will go to your website if you rank number one.
Of that 30%, if you write excellent copy and it’s just really great and you have an affiliate offer there, let’s say that your copy is so great that 10% of the people that arrive click on your ad. Boom. Then let’s say that means 30 people out of this 1,000 – first there were 300 that came to your website and then out of the 300 people 30 clicked on the ad, then out of that 30 let’s say your copy was so good 10% of the 30 bought the offer. That means you made three sales.
If your profit from the offer is $1, it may not be worth it to try and rank for that keyword for an income of $3 per month, unless this is one of 500 keywords that looks good to you. But, if your profit is $100 per sale then it might very well be worth it.
In the case if the Corn Sheller Site you can get a sense of what’s going on here. I’m getting the profit from my operation in terms of the eBay sales is approximately $0.05 per click. That’s dismal. Let’s say I’m getting $50 per month from that site, so for every $1 I’m needing 20 clicks. 50 x 20 = 1,000 visitors, so I’m needing 1,000 visitors to eBay in order to make $50, which is really sad. Then there’s some arrival rate at my site which is driving those 1,000 visitors to eBay per month and converting that at a $0.05 per click.
You can do some math based on what it is that you’re doing and you can make a determination on whether or not it’s worth it to attack that keyword. Ultimately, you need to find a list of popular keywords that you want to try to attack.
For most websites that I do when I’m doing a new website, I try to find five to 10 keywords that have search volumes that add up to a number that given the program that I’m targeting would be worth it if I could rank number one for all five or 10 of those keywords. That’s kind of how I think about it. That might be typically 5,000 to 10,000 visitors per month total among the whole set of five to 10 keywords, and I’m judging that in the fullness of time I will be able to rank number one for those keywords. That’s the plan.
Now, the truth of the matter is if I really build a good website, and for this example we can talk about the Corn Sheller site, there will be hundreds of long tail keywords that I didn’t even think about or know about that will bring in 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 searches per month, and those will add up. In addition to the keywords that I was targeting, if I build a good website and do good SEO and have good content, Google will reward me with all kinds of other traffic that I wasn’t even planning on and some of that traffic will convert. So in some ways this estimate of 10 keywords can be a little bit conservative.
Another really good example is Pat Flynn’s Security Guard Training Headquarters site. That site gets the vast majority of its traffic from this massive list of long tail keywords, and Pat has written about that a lot.
Just understand that just because the keywords aren’t listed in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool doesn’t mean there won’t be this long list of additional keywords that you can take advantage of.
Once you’ve found this list of popular keywords the question is, “Are there five or 10 that you think you can rank for?” So the next thing we need to talk about is how to judge the competition on these keywords.
Just to recap; We’ve determined what we want to do and we’ve identified a brainstorming list of keywords, and from those keywords we’ve found keywords that have a high enough search volume, at least taken together, that it’s interesting for what we want to do. We know that we can convert 1,000 searchers into $100, or whatever. Based on what it is that we’re trying to accomplish, whether this is our first affiliate site or we’re going to take over the world with our 500th site, we have this feeling about what it is that we’re trying to do and we feel like we have a list of keywords with search volume that’s high enough to do that.
The question is, can we rank for them? That’s the next step.
Wrapping Things Up…
Now you understand that when it’s time to start a project on the internet, the first thing you want to do when you start thinking about where the traffic is going to come from is consider who your searcher is and brainstorm the keywords that searcher might be typing to come to your site, resulting in whatever action it is that you want. You know that you need to have an idea what it is that you want those searchers to do when they reach your website, and that’s going to influence the keywords that you choose.
We’ve talked about some tools to brainstorm to find keywords and we’ve talked about how to determine their popularity. What we haven’t talked about and what we’re going to talk about next week is how to decide whether or not it’s even going to be possible to rank for these keywords. Some keywords are going to be easy to rank for and some keywords are going to be so competitive that they’re going to be hard to rank for. How do you tell what’s hard, what’s not hard, what’s too hard, and what’s worth it and what’s not? That’s what we’re going to talk about next week.
Something to Check Out…
One slightly commercial announcement. My buddy Cliff is cranking up another Podcasting A to Z course over at Podcast Answer Man. I know a lot of you are interested in podcasting. Most podcasters are podcast listeners first. If you’ve imagined that you’d like your own podcast, as many of you have told me in Facebook comments and other places as I’ve run into you, Cliff is starting up that class.
It’s called Podcasting A to Z, and I have a discount code for that: MASON. If you’re interested you can go over to PodcastAnswerMan.com and check it out.
Before you do that though, that course is pretty expensive. If you’re interested in podcasting but you’re not quite sure and you’re not quite ready to pull the trigger on a high ticket course like that, I recommend that you check out Cliff’s tutorial course.
He has an absolutely free and amazing online class at LearnHowtoPodcast.com. You can also find it from the PodcastAnswerMan.com site. It’s an excellent tutorial that gives you everything that you need to get started podcasting for free.
The difference between the free tutorial and the four week intensive course is huge. There’s a big difference. In the four week course, if you follow through that you’re going to have your show launched after four weeks. But, if you just want to get started and explore this, I recommend the free tutorial. If you decide to check out Cliff’s course you can use my discount code (MASON) and of course I do get a commission if you do that, so don’t feel like you have to. If you’re interested in podcasting, he is the Podcast Answer Man.