|Courtesy of hisks at stock.xchng|
Over the last few weeks I’ve gone from a general overview for creating a Killer Online Platform through to identifying your writing/blogging niche area.
Last week I left you thinking about refining your blog to a single passion, problem or fear. I then promised that I would take you through how to do keyword research in order to identify the best targeting for that area.
So today I live up to that promise.
(Disclaimer now, I'm sorry but this has turned out to be a rather long post, but I think it is all important stuff).
I’m going to go through two methods. The first is completely free using Google Keyword Tools. The second is using a program that costs about $97 to download, but has a whole lot of other features and does it much more effectively – Market Samurai (aff.). They offer a free 5 day trial (aff.) which could be enough for your to identify your area and get a list of the words to target.
(My review of it: If you aren't planning on making a career out of starting websites in niche areas, might not be worth it. However, I bought it because I wanted to be able to do more keyword research, and particularly for my fitness blog, it has turned up key terms that I wouldn't have thought of, but when I did a post about them, they were much more successful than my other ones. So while I might not be high in Google ranking overall, even on a small scale it increases my traffic just for one article.)
Even if you don’t end up using it, I highly recommend their training videos just to help you understand the many things that can be achieved through target research.
Intro to Keyword Search:
If you still aren't really sure what keyword research is, and why you should do it, take about 9 minutes to watch this video, it goes through it in very simple terms:
(If you are a bit more advanced, I would recommend skipping the video)
When you are searching for keywords for your niche area, remember that there are three/four key things you want to identify: (I've stolen the concepts from Market Samurai, so if you want to get more details on them, go to their dojo.)
1. Relevance: when you first type your keyword into your tool, you are going to get a lot of words, some of which are obviously not going to be relevant to your particularly interests. Then there will be some that might sort of be relevant. Ignore those. Keep panning down until you get to the golden keywords which are spot on what you are trying to present in the blog.
2. High Traffic: the point of this research is to find the keywords related to your area that are more constantly searched. You want to identify words that have higher search numbers, because they are the ones that are going to get more traffic to your site.
3. Low/Weak Competition: Some keywords will already have a lot of people targeting them, so it is going to be difficult to make your way up the Google search ranks. Other keywords will have low competition, but it will be really strong (older websites, lots of content, backlinks to everything, and a lot of authority). These are going to be hard to push off the top rank places. So you want an area that has weak competition and if you can also manage it a low amount of competition.
4. Commerciality (I know, it's not really a word, but it's what they use): The final aspect that internet marketers are interested in is the profitability of the keyword: do people who generally search for that term tend to click on advertising or buy things. This is not really that important if you are more interested in just getting traffic to your site (so you can interest a traditional publisher, say), so you can take or leave this one. If you do want to sell things through your site, or set up Adsense, then you might want to pay a bit of attention to this. Market Samurai has a function that works out how much advertisers are prepared to pay for certain keywords, which is based on how much they think they will make, and is a good indication of how commercial the term is.
So keep these three/four desirables in mind while searching.
The Totally Free Way!
This is a step by step guide to using Google Adwords keyword tool to find everything you need. You do need to have an Adwords account to do it, but it's free to sign up (you just have to put up with them sending you emails trying to get you to buy advertising space).
1. Go to http://adwords.google.com/
(Or adwords.google.com.au if you want to focus on an Australian market).
2. Log in with your Google account
3. Click on 'Tools and Analysis'
4. Go to 'Keyword Tool'
5. Enter the word or phrase you want to use in your niche. Today's example is based on a series from my fitness blog, so we are going to look at barefoot running
*Do not click on the box stating 'Only show ideas closely related to my search terms'. It will limit the search results too much.
6. From the 'Advanced Options and Filters', you can change the location, language, and devices . For a blogger, since you are not selling any product in a particular area, choose 'All Locations'
*Notice 'Match Types' on the left sidebar.
7. Choose 'Broad' if you want to see broad results. However, this can be confusing as it will generate words not very related, and be low on your 'relevance' scale, eg for barefoot running it offers injury, new shoes, athletic shoes (no good people, the point is not to have new shoes!)
8. Choose 'Phrase' if you want to generate search volumes that include the whole phrase or near variants of it. Keep in mind that 'broad' applies to this as well.
' 9. Choose 'Exact'. It will generate specific search results. (Good relevance).
You can play around with these three choices. Start broad and then get specific.
By doing so, you can identify more keyword and group ideas.
Use this to identify a keyword which as low competition and high traffic.
With barefoot running, it generates 4,980,000 results in Google, which means there is a lot of competition in this area. This might not be a great term as your key target, though you can still use it.
However, the competition for 'barefoot running' is medium, so not very strong.
And with 90,500 global searches per month (great traffic), you might actually change your mind and try it.
It is a strong keyword. But we are on the look out for a low-competition keyword.
10. Click on 'Keyword ideas' right under the blue 'Search' tab.
11. Click on 'Global monthly searches' and it will sort the keywords from highest to lowest.
Notice 'five finger' has a low competition rate but with 823,000 monthly searches. (weak competition and high traffic - sounding good).
(These figures might be different on your end)
However, if you search the term in Google, it generates 86,800,000 results. (Weak competition, but lots of it).
On the other hand 'barefoot' has low competition, higher monthly searches and generates only 52,300,000 results.
It may still be a big figure but it is definitely a strong keyword.
You can do a lot of things in the keyword tool but competition and monthly searches are the first things to consider.
11. On the far right, you will see Approximate CPC. This is for users who actually have campaigns in Google. It stands for Approximate cost per click. Basically, it is an indicator of whether it is a profitable keyword or not. The larger the approx. CPC is, the more advertisers think they can make (and so are prepared to pay) and therefore is a good indication of whether you will be able to make money with it. (Remember, it is an indication, not an exact estimate. If it is high, you will be able to make more, if it is low, you will probably make less).
12. Over on the far right, you can click on 'Columns'. It will drop down to reveal what other columns you can add to the sheet.
Local search trends is interesting as it will show a bar graph of local searches per month. If you are trying to target a close audience, this can be useful. (Farthest to the right is the most recent. )
From all of this you can identify which keywords are relevant, with high traffic, low competition, and if it is important to you - high profitability.
Now, you can do all this, plus more, by using Market Samurai (aff.).
The program gets you to start with the keyword you are interested in, then it pulls up all the related keywords (usually a few hundred).
You can take out non-relevant words at this stage, but it's generally not necessary.
It then analyses the words based on a set of criteria you can choose, and filters out ones that are too 'broad', don't have enough traffic, have too much competition, and other factors as you desire.
Out of the ones you are left with, you can then look at the top 10 websites Google has ranked for that keyword, and the program will show you how strong they are based on a number of key factors (how old the site is, how many pages, how many back links, the authority, if they have done good SEO etc.) Using this, you can see exactly what you would have to do in order to make it into the top 10.
You can also add your own site to compare and work out how you can improve your ranking.
If you haven't got your site yet, you can then use the program (not the trial version, though, I've just remembered) to find domain names that match your keyword.
Pat Flynn has put together a great webinar on how to use Market Samurai for keyword research. It's really useful because it covers all the basic things you need to know in general about picking a keyword for starting a niche site. It's 50 miutes long, so not for the faint hearted, but if you are interested in this, I recommend taking the time to watch it.
There are a lot of cool things you can do with keyword research. But for now, at the beginning of your journey, the big thing I want you to understand is this:
- you want to make sure the niche area you create as part of the anchor layer for your platform is going to get traffic.
- you do this by making sure it is targeted towards the best keyword in that area and will be able to get into the top 10 places in Google for that keyword. (best = relevant, high traffic, low competition).
- you then use that keyword throughout your blog. Particularly, and this is the important part, try to have a direct match domain name. You want your domain name to be memorable, not easy to mix up or mistype (such as using numbers instead of letters, or weird spellings, hyphens, etc.), and Google appears to really like it if your domain name matches the keyword you are trying to rank for.
Obviously I found all this out after I started, so just think what a better place you will be in!
(Though, I love 100 First Drafts, and at least I think it is memorable.)
So, good luck with that. And if you are confused or want to know more, I'll do my best to help. Just leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (in case you think your question is too silly for everyone to read... I won't judge, I promise.) I'm happy to share my new found knowledge :D
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