A Little About Keyword Research

August 11, 2011
Mike Friedman

This is a topic I get into debates with people about regularly. What should you look for when doing keyword research?  How many searches should there be? What should I look at for the competition?

Image of Suze Orman

Taking a dump? That's what she'll do all over your future if you listen to her financial advice.

I’m going to tell you, and especially if you are new to internet marketing, that most of the things you have been taught about keyword research is wrong. That’s right. It is completely and utterly wrong, and for the same reasons that I think Suze Orman is one of the worst financial advisors you can find. She deals in absolutes and general rules without looking at an individual’s situation. It would be kind of like if a doctor gave every sore throat they saw the same diagnosis. I spent 8 years working in the financial industry. I know what I am talking about here. She gives advice that is great for someone like her who makes $28 million a year. Put everything in CD’s and bonds. That’s what she tells most people. Not to go into a big long debate, but for the average person making significantly less than Suze, they will never save up enough money to retire on if they follow her advice.

Many of the “gurus” out there are doing the same kind of thing when teaching people about selecting appropriate keywords for their niche. They tell you to only use keywords with X amount of searches. Then you need to analyze the how many listings are in the Google search results and only target keywords below a certain number. Blah, blah, blah…

It’s all crap.

Let’s start with the number of searches for a keyword. Obviously, the more searched a keyword has, the better. I think we can all agree on that. However, does a low amount of searches really mean you should write something off? Absolutely not. I’ll give you two cases, where you should still consider that low searched term.

The first case, is pretty obvious. You are selling a high end product of your own or something that pays a large or recurring commission to affiliates. Let’s say a keyword only has 200 searches a month, but the competition is not very strong and one sale pays you $300. Why would you not go after such a keyword? Hell, most made-for-Adsense sites that people are running are aimed at keywords with far more traffic, but only bring them in $50-100 a month. Even if that site made one sale every 2 months, that is $1800 for the year. That more than pays for the domain name and hosting. Of course it is not a site you are going to retire on alone, but it is a profitable model.

Similar to that is if the product or service you are promoting has a recurring payment and commission. Even if it is only $15-20/month for you, if you pick up a few new sales each month and it is the type of product people stay subscribed to for awhile, you can build it up to a nice monthly income for yourself.

The second situation is that you have a really good converting product. I have one campaign going right now that is focused on 2 keywords that each get about 500 searches per month. My site is converting about 5% of visitors into sales. Each sale ranges from $5-30 and is a recurring program. That campaign has only been running a few months and I’m not even ranked #1 yet, but it is bringing in $350/month. Now if I had listened to all the guru advice out there about the number of searches a keyword gets, I probably never would have entered this particular market.

Another thing that the gurus like to preach to unsuspecting newbies is that you need to search for your keyword in quotes in the Google toolbar and see how many results come back. This is commonly referred to as SEOC. Then they tell you anything with more than 50,000 or 100,000 results is too competitive and you should skip it. This is one of the single dumbest things I have ever heard in IM.

It makes no difference how many results come back. No matter what kind of campaign you are running, your competition is the first page of the SERP. The top 10. That is all you need to worry about. There could be a million listings, but if you can beat #10, the other 999,990 listings do not matter. And more specifically, I would say you need to focus on the top 5 or top 3. The top 3 is where the traffic is.

I have never understood why people recommend this. Not to mention, good luck finding a keyword with a ton of searches and a low SEOC. They are few and far between. It used to be an okay method to use 10 years ago when the world wide web was a much smaller place.

Today, using such ancient advice will simply result in you missing out on a lot of good and profitable keywords.

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