Make Extra Money Part 4: Keyword Research

In this installment of the Make Extra Money series, I’m going to show you how I do keyword research.

Properly done–unless you get lucky–this is the single most time-consuming part of making a niche site. ¬†If you aren’t targeting search terms that people use, you are wasting your time. ¬†If you are targeting terms that everybody else is targeting, it will take forever to get to the top of the search results.

Spend the extra time now to do proper keyword research.   It will save you a ton of time and hassle later.  This is time well-spent.

If you remember from the last installment, when we researched products to promote, we narrowed our choices down to a few products.

What I’ve done is create a spreadsheet to score the products. ¬†You can see the spreadsheet here. ¬†I’ll explain the columns as we populate them.

The first column contains the name of the product. ¬†Easy. ¬† We’ve got 10 products. ¬†I’m going to walk through scoring 1 product, then, through the magic of the internet, I’ll populate the rest, and you’ll get to see the results instantly. ¬†Wow.

The second column is the global search volume for the exact search term.   I base my product niche sites primarily on the demand for a given product.    Everything else is a secondary consideration.

To find the demand for a product, go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. ¬† In the “word or phrase” box, enter your product name, exactly. ¬†In this case, it’s “X-Pain Method”. ¬† When the search results come up, change the match type to “Exact”. ¬† You should have something like this:

keyword research

Click to embiggenate

Enter the global search volume in column 2. ¬†In this case, it’s 73. ¬†Keep this window open, because we’ll be coming ¬†back to it.

Column 3 is the search competition. ¬† Go to google and enter your product name, in quotes. ¬† In this case,¬†“X-Pain Method”. ¬† Put the total number of search results in column 3: 223000.

Search Results

Search Results

Column 4 is the search competition, but only what appears in a page’s title. ¬† Your search query is¬†intitle:”X-Pain Method”, which yields 4400 results.

The next column is for the average PageRank of the first page of search results. ¬† For this, I use Traffic Travis. ¬†I use the 4th edition, which is paid software, but you can get the free version of version 3, instead. ¬† I’ll use version 3 for this example. ¬† Open the software and click on “SEO Analysis” on the bottom left of the screen. ¬† Put your search term (“X-Pain Method”) in the “phrase to analyze” and set the “Analyze Top” to 10, then hit “Analyze”. ¬† When it’s done running, just add up all of the PRs and divide by 10. ¬† Ignore Travis’s difficulty rating.

Now, for the rest of the columns, we’re going to look at the keyword tool again. ¬† We’re going to pick 3 alternate search terms. ¬† Here are the criteria:

  • At least 1000 global monthly searches. ¬† We want terms that people are searching for.
  • Competition bar at medium or less. ¬†This bar is just a rough guess on competition, so it’s really an arbitrary exclusion factor, but it helps narrow down the choices.
  • A “buying” keyword is preferred, but not necessary. ¬† This is a term that indicates people are looking to spend money. ¬†“Back pain doctor” is a buying keyword, but it’s not an indicator that someone wants to buy a product, so we’ll skip it. ¬† ¬†A buying keyword isn’t absolutely necessary, because these will also be the terms we’ll use to generate content later.
  • It has to be related to our product.

Once we pick the keywords, we’ll throw them into google to get the competition, just like we did to populate column 2.

“Exercises for back pain” has medium competition and 1900 monthly searches. ¬†It also has an estimated cost-per-click of $3.02, which means people are paying for this.

“Lower back pain exercises” has 6600 searches and medium competition. ¬†It’s actually on the lower end of medium, so it looks really promising.

“Lower back” has 4400 searches and low competition, with a CPC of $6.24. ¬†This should be a good one. ¬† Scratch that. ¬†It has 40 million search results, but only 4400 searches. ¬†That’s a lot of competition for a small market.

Instead, I’m going to search for “cure back pain” in the keyword tool and see what I get. ¬†“Upper back pain” is better. ¬† ¬†Low competition, 18000 searches each month, and only 2000000 competing search results. ¬†Now, I’ll score it.

You really want at least 500 searches per month for the product name. ¬† More than 2500 is better. ¬† I’m going to assign 1 point per 500 monthly searches.

You also want a lower number of search results. ¬†Less than 10,000 is ideal. ¬†Less than 100,000 is still decent. ¬† More than 250,000, I’d walk. ¬†So, under 10,000 gets 5 points. ¬† ¬†Under 50,001 gets 4. ¬† ¬†Under 100,001 gets 3. ¬† ¬†Under 200,001 gets 2. ¬† ¬†Under 250,001 gets 1. ¬† Any higher gets 0.

The ideal intitle search will have less than 2000 results.  More than 100,000 is too time-consuming to deal with.   0-2000: 5 points; 2001-10,000: 4 points; 10001-25000: 3 points; 25001-50000: 2 points; 50001 to 100000: 1 point.

The perfect product will have the first page of search result all with a PageRank of 0. ¬†That’s a 5 point product. ¬†I’ll knock off half a point for every point of average PR.

The related terms are more relaxed. ¬† They are what’s known as “Latent Semantic Indexing” (LSI) terms. ¬† We will be creating articles to match those search terms, mostly to make our niche site look as natural and real as possible. ¬† Any actual traffic those pages drive is just gravy. ¬† ¬†Points for the related searches start at 10 and get 1 point knocked off for each 3 million results. ¬† We’ll be treating the 3 terms as one for this score.

That gives us a perfect score of about 25. ¬†There’s no actual upper limit, since the score for the search volume has no upper limit. ¬† X-Pain Method scored 18.22.

Now, excuse me a moment while I score the rest.

I’m back. ¬†Did you miss me?

I’ve finished scoring each of the products and sorted the results by score. ¬† The clear winner is the back pain product, but the lack of searches bothers me. ¬† ¬† The wedding guide looks much nicer, especially if I target the phrase “wedding planning guide” during the SEO phase of the project. ¬† That change alone brings the score almost to first place.

Frankly, I’d take either 2nd or 3rd place over the back pain product. ¬† The bare numbers don’t support it, but my judgement tells me they are better products to promote.

There is one final step before deciding on the product. ¬† I have to buy it. ¬†I can’t review the product without seeing it and I can’t promote it without approving of it.

That’s the secret to ethical niche marketing, you know. ¬† Only promote good products that you’ve personally read, watched, or used.

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  • 18 comments

    Comments

    1. your entire series is worth reading. very well advised. The series should be a must read for job less persons or people not employed full time. These cna be a good source of income

    2. Good advice on the keyword research. It just takes so much time to do these things.

      Recently, I turned to ODesk.com to outsource my keyword research and my SEO / backlinking efforts. Hopefully, things go well, but for $2/hr or so, it is worth a shot.

      Maybe you should give it a try.

    3. Jason, I hate keyword research but you’re right, you absolutely need to know how to do it…even if you outsource to someone else.

      This is interesting, I’ve never tried Traffic Travis but may check it out. I’ve used Market Samurai, but it’s not the most intuitive tool and I find myself going back to Google Keyword Tool more often than not.

      • If you go with the paid version of TT4, make sure you update. They released really buggy software, but it’s a lot better, now.

    4. You have just opened my eyes to a whole new way of creating a site / article. This blogging business is really a science…here I am just flying by the seat of my pants. Thanks for the insight.

    5. Once again, thanks for the detail. I will definitely be putting this to use in the next few weeks. Ever consider writing an e-book on this?

    6. I’ve always been curious about how niche marketing worked and am enjoying this series! Keep it up.

    7. Where did you factor in how much the keyword is worth once once you do rank highly?

    8. Your series has been very informative. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    9. Thanks for the great resource! I am pretty new to SEO and this series is a great introduction. You are very clear and precise. I also like the idea of “ethical” SEO – I hate spammers!

    10. This was a little difficult for an SEO newbie like me to understand but after reading a couple times it makes perfect sense. Thank you for introducing this to me!

    11. Very interesting methodology for selecting your keywords and scoring them. How do you like using Traffic Travis? I’ve been using Long Tail Pro for a while now and am loving their Keyword Competitiveness score. It makes finding and selecting the right keyword phrases pretty easy. Do you have a niche site up and running?

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