Internet Money—Lesson 1: Keyword Research, Your First Step

by Paul Wilson

 

Note: With the Internet Money series I will be focusing on a particular area in web marketing that has proven to generate strong daily revenues for my friends and me. There are a lot of ways to make money online and what I will cover is only one of thousands. However, most of the marketing suggestions offered here can cross over and apply  to whatever you’re working on.

A common mistake when starting your money making web idea is to jump in without doing your homework. I know I am guilty of this mistake, even now. However, if you want to do really well with SEO on the internet you need to know how hard it is to rank.

One of my favorite web marketing blogs is CourtneyTuttle.com. I have actually had the pleasure of having lunch with Court (he lives 30 minutes south from me), and he amazes me with his understanding on SEO. One of his greatest ideas, in my opinion, is his Keyword Sniping philosophy. If you go to his blog now, though, you will see that he is recanting this ideology. I believe this is mainly due to Google really slapping his rankings for his belief. Why? Because his ideas really works.

Basically, Keyword Sniping is about finding a decent searched keyword that doesn’t have a lot of competition to rank on. To do this Court gives four steps:

  1. Find a keyword that gets daily traffic between 50-500 searches. Court likes to use the free keyword tool WordTracker to do this. Once you find several keywords that fit this parameter than you need to test how strong the competition is. For this post I have used the keyword: “cell phones.” As you can see “cell phones” goes well over our 500 searches a day rule. However, there are a lot of choices to try out by looking farther down the list. I decided to use “cheap unlocked cell phones” which receives 64 daily searches (since there were so many results, I edited the below image so not to show all the results).
  2. See how much competition “cheap unlocked cell phones” has by googling the keyword with quotation marks around it. The first indication that you have a good keyword is if it has less than 100,000 results pulling up in Google. Luckily for us, “cheap unlocked cell phones” only has 55,300 results. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that no matter how much you like your keyword, you need to throw it out for consideration if it has over 100,000 results in google.
  3. Remove the quotation marks around your keyword and see if the top three ranks have your exact keyword in their title description. It seems that all three positions for “cheap unlocked cell phones” only have “unlocked cell phones” in their title.
  4. If you have made it this far than the final step is to check Google page rank. If you don’t know what Google page rank is then read the Wikipedia entry on it here. Personally, I like to use Clever Stat’s Page Rank checker when I have to check multiple websites. However, I also recommend you install a Firefox Addon that let’s you check your page rank as you surf. If any of the top three websites have a page rank of five or higher than you need to toss out your keyword.

That’s is how Court recommends doing it, and if this is your first time trying to get into the search engines then I recommend it. The main reason for this recommendation is that Court’s way is an easy way of getting your first high ranking keyword under your belt.

However, just so you know, I do not follow this strategy anymore. I did at one time and it worked beautifully for me. Now, though, I go after the large volume keywords with the assurance that I can get them if I have patience.

Here is my personal keyword strategy:

  1. Whatever niche I am going after, I begin doing keyword research using KeywordDiscovery’s free tool. If I am focusing on our previous example of cell phones,  I will type in a high level keyword like “cell phones” into keyword discovery. KeywordDiscovery is different from WordTracker because it shows you how many searches are done in a month; whereas WordTracker gives results only on a daily basis. I personally like KeywordDiscovery because it seems to be the most conservative among all the other keyword tools when estimating the amount searches done in a month. Once you have put “cell phones” in KeywordDiscovery you are able to see other keywords and how many searches they get in a month. I copy and paste into notepad all the keywords with a thousand searches or more. Again, keep in mind that these are searches done in a single month.
  2. I then remove in notebook everything but the keywords and paste them into Wordze (a paid service). I really like Wordze because it has a lot of different tools you can use with it. One tool that is quite helpful is a bulk keyword checker. You can check the monthly searches of up to 500 keywords. You will learn quickly that every keyword tool will show you different results on how many searches a keyword may receive. The problem is that search engines don’t release their search numbers, and even Google’s keyword checker is way out there. The best you can do is get a decent view of the keyword landscape, which is why I compare KeywordDiscovery’s results with Wordze’s results. Any words that are not in Wordze’s top twenty results I throw out. I try to whittle down my list to be between six to ten keywords. These are my primary words, and should be the keywords that have lots and lots searches in a month (which generally means they are also the more difficult words to rank on).
  3. After I have found my primary keywords I launch a link campaign around those keywords (covered later). However, there is a lot of waiting around when it comes to SEO and so I create another keyword list that are my secondary keywords (or as known in the industry, the long tail keywords). I do a search with Google’s keyword tool, which seems to give me the most recommendations for different words to use other than my original keyword. I take these keywords and also check them against Wordze’s keyword checker. I only take the keywords that have one search or more per month (you’ll find that there are a lot of keywords that really don’t receive any searches in a month). One search per month is not really a lot, so many people leave those keywords alone. This line of thinking makes it easier for us to rank on secondary keywords. I have found you can rank on a thousand secondary keywords much quicker and with relaitve ease than on one primary keyword. So, in my opinion it’s a good strategy to have both your primary and secondary keywords.

One final note on my keyword strategy. If you have a new domain or a domain that hasn’t had anyone linking to it for years, you need be careful using secondary keywords. If you have too many links (and having a lot of keywords will do that) you can get sandboxed by Google. Being sandboxed basically means that Google doesn’t trust you and will de-index your website for an unknown amount of time. So be careful with my strategy. Court’s keyword strategy will help you avoid this pitfall (though you will still need to be careful how many backlinks you get, but we will cover that in the future).

QUICK REFERENCE
KeywordDiscovery (free)
WordTracker (free)
Google Keyword Tool (free)
Wordze ($45 a month)
Court’s Blog (free & good)
Multiple Page Rank Checker (free)

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