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7 Major Keyword Research Tips

Keyword Research TipsAs you should already know, keyword research is a huge part of traffic generation. Apart from some paid traffic strategies, almost all traffic generation starts off with keyword research. So, keyword research is important and it’s a mandatory skill you must learn. Over the years I’ve become sort of a master so I decided to put together a short list of around 7 major keyword research tips. Cutting the crap short, here’s the list:

1. 500 searches minimum:

This is a rule I came up with after literally spending thousands of dollars on content creation. Having content created solely for the purpose of ranking for a certain keyword. As back when I established this rule, I was doing really well with my free marketing strategies. Basically, I was only using content marketing.

I was writing articles that targeted keywords in my niche, publishing them on my blog and doing a load of link building. The blog posts then ranked on Google and brought in a little traffic. Back then I experimented with different search volumes and found that any keyword with less than 500 monthly searches was a waste of time

I’m talking about internal pages here. For either blog posts of pages. With 500 searches a month, I generally bring in 300 monthly visitors. Sixty percent of which come from the targeted keyword and then 40% from random long tail stuff. I’m talking generally here. Those averages are from hundreds of submitted articles that are all over the place.

If you’re doing keyword research for your blog or site’s home page, I’d go after keywords with no less than 2000 searches a month. It’s your home page, you can only fit x amount of keywords into your title and description. You need to be really picky. Really, I’d go no less than 2000 searches a month for your home page keywords. And… No less than 500 searches a month for your internal pages/posts…

2. Top 3 Or Nothing

You absolutely must be able to rank top 3 for a keyword. If you can’t rank top 3 then there’s no point in going after it. There just isn’t any point as all the traffic goes to the top 3 ranking sites. Here’s a chart of the average click distributions on Google. I know it’s outdated and all, but I’m sure the data is still relevant.

2006 AOL Leaked Click Distribution Data

As you can see, the majority of all users click on the top 3 results. After seeing that data for the first time, I came to the conclusion that… if you can’t rank top 3 for a keyword, there’s no point in targeting it at all. The funny thing is that 95% of marketers go after the same keywords. They go after the keywords where there’s A LOT of traffic. I’d say around 90%+ of marketers go after the top 10% of keywords in any given niche.

Clearly, you’d be a lot better off going after the other 90% of keywords with less traffic. Seriously, you don’t actually have to compete with everyone. It’s much harder to rank top 3 for a keyword with 30,000 searches a month than it is to rank top 3 for 10 keywords with 3000 searches a month. Generally speaking of course, so the logical option is to go where there’s less competition. Think about it… It would probably take you twice as much effort to rank #10 for a keyword that gets 10,000 searches a month than it would to rank #1 for a keyword with 2000 searches a month.

So… at #10 you’d only receive around 3% of the traffic meaning 300 monthly visitors compared to 1000 being #1 for the smaller keyword.

3. Exact Match Domains

Exact match domains are great indicators of low competition keywords. They are sites with an exact keyword in the domain. So if you’re trying to rank for “bone density scanner” the exact match domain would be www.bonedensityscanner.com/.net/org or any other extension. For some unknown reason, exact match domains rank extremely well in the search engines. If you have an exact keyword in your domain, you will automatically rank for it.

Generally if you buy an exact match domain, slap up 1 page of content and build a few backlinks… you’ll be on page 1 within a week. So, if any exact match domains are ranking page 1 with few inbound links, it’s a sign of low competition.

4. Look For Authority Sites

Crazy aren’t I? Well I mean article directories and web2.0 sites. You know…. sites like EzineArticles, ArticleBase, Hubpages, Squidoo, WordPress and all of those. They are all gigantic sites that hold insane authority in the eyes of Google. So… they rank really well and if you come across one… the chances are that it’s ranking where it is solely from on-page SEO and the site’s authority.

As those Page Rank 6-8 sites only have to add a keyword on-page to rank for it. They don’t even have to build any backlinks to the URL because the root domain is so damn powerful. So if you see a bunch of article directories or web2.0 sites ranking on page 1 of Google with little to no backlinks, it practically shouts out low competition.

5. Don’t Look For Authority Sites

Yep, I know I’m totally contradicting what I just said. Thing is, there are two types of authority sites. Maybe 3, but two in this scenario. There are niche specific authority sites and generic authority sites. Generic authority sites are the ones I talked about in tip #6. Authority sites with mad ranking power, but they’re totally generic and cover every niche in the world. Those kinds of sites are quite easily outranked.

Then there are niche specific authority sites which are authority sites that specialize in a particular niche. Like my site here, is an authority site in the Network Marketing niche. Niche specific sites are sites that target hundreds of keywords in 1 niche, are very old and have high Page Rank. You should avoid them like the plague!

6. Look For New Sites

As I previously talked about, sites gain authority over time. Newly registered domains suck and are easily outranked. It’s not the case 100% of the time. As you can outrank ancient sites with a brand new domain and lots of backlinks. Link building wins the game every time, but this other stuff is crucial. New sites (1 year old or less) ranking on page 1 is a good sign.

It typically means you can rank very quickly with aggressive link building. I know this doesn’t apply to every keyword, more so to the highly competitive terms. Terms like weight loss, Internet Marketing, make money online and all of those gold mines. The front 2 pages are chocker block with aged and high Page Rank sites that have been actively building links for years.

7. Look For Stagnant Websites

By stagnant, I mean sites that have been sitting on the first page of Google for years without actively building links. A lot of the time, the majority of sites ranking on page 1 have been sitting there for months or years. Most marketers and webmasters will only build links until they reach page 1.

The ambitious guys will continue to build links till they hit #1 and maybe continue for a few months. They figure they just need to “lock in” their position. When really, as soon as they stop link building they leave several doors open for other marketers to come and knock them off.

How do you find stagnant sites? It can be tough, but after a while you’ll be able to easily identify stagnant sites. The easiest way to do it is by checking out a site’s backlinks. You can do this by going to Backlink Watch. On Backlink Watch you can enter a URL and get a full list of its backlinks. Just check some of them out and look at the dates they were created on. The other option takes a little longer.

Just run a check on the number of links to the URL, note down how many and check a week later. If the number hasn’t gone up, then it’s probably stagnant.

In Prosperity,

David Wood

P.S. If you’d like to learn exactly how I do keyword research and completely dominate the search engines,  put your name and email in the form below.

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Awesome post man! Great tips and insights on SEO. I'm still kind of new with that and your post really helped out. Thanks a lot for that!

Eric Kalberer
Eric Kalberer

Thanks for the pointers on keyword research. I know I have a problem with spending more time on researching a key word than I do producing content. The guide lines you laid out will definitely help me speed up that process. Thanks.

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