Chapter 1: Get Those Keywords
Make sure you download and watch or listen to the video and/or audio versions of this lesson.
You learn best when you consume information in multiple formats, so watch it, read it, listen to it, and then discuss it (in the comments at the end of the lesson, or in Mastermind Community Enjoy!
Gotta Get Those Keywords: Part 1 – Video and Audio Lessons (approx. 15 minutes, Quicktime Movie and .Mp3 Audio Formats)
Quicktime Movies play best with the Quicktime Player (Free Download).
A frazzled stay-at-home-mom sits down at her computer early in the afternoon, her 2-year old wailing in gibberish (which only the mother knows means she wants a graham cracker), her 4-year old screaming that he wants a popsicle, and her brain ready to explode.
In a moment of exasperation she types “my children are driving me crazy!” into Google’s search bar.
Next thing she knows, the young mother is reading an article (written in 2007) by another mother whose kids were driving her crazy, and what she did to cope.
As she browses through the article (which is helping her feel a little better), she notices an ad for a parenting program that promises to help her improve her children’s behavior. She clicks the ad, checks out the program, clicks back to the article, then browses online a while longer before her kids yank her back to the demands of the day.
Did you see that? The young, frustrated mother just showed you a brilliantly simple way to make money online:
- When she clicked the ad for the parenting program, the owner of the website received a small commission(even though our young mother didn’t buy the advertised parenting program).
- The owner of the website only had the opportunity to earn the commission because her article ranks well in Google. And the article ranks well in Google because a) its content matched what our frustrated mother typed into the search bar, and b) because Google “trusts” the website where the article was found.
- The site owner wrote the article years ago (which means the search engines are helping the author earn money today for work she did far in the past – I hope you can see how exciting that is!).
- For the website owner, building a great online income is just a matter of publishing more articles that match what searchers are typing into Google.
More articles … more rankings … more searchers finding the site … more clicks and commissions.
Yes, it’s just that simple. Not easy, but very simple.
A Magic Dependable Formula for Creating Low Maintenance Online Income
“Dependable” is much less exciting than magic, but I have a formula whose execution will give you the online income you’ve fantasized about:
Once you have ample search engine traffic, income is close behind.
No traffic, no income. Lots of traffic, lots of income.
Building search engine traffic starts with developing keyword rich content.
Keyword Rich Content – Give Searchers What They’re Looking For
A keyword (often called a keyword phrase or “keyphrase”) is a collection of terms a searcher types into Google (or any search engine). In the example above, “my children are driving me crazy” is the keyword (or keyword phrase, or keyphrase).
Your articles (we call them “posts”) will never rank for just one keyword, though. A single post can draw traffic from dozens (or hundreds) of keywords if you’re smart – and being smart means targeting groups of keywords and working the “long tail” of search.
Keyword Groups Beat Individual Keywords Every Time
In the old days (last year), the goal of our keyword research was to find a single keyword that met a strict set of criteria. We’d then set up an entire site to target that one keyword. It often worked out, for no other reason than we’d set up so many sites that some of them were bound to pan out for us.
Times have changed; there’s a better way.
Instead of setting up an entire site to target one keyword, we now set up one site with multiple posts, each post targeting multiple keyword phrases. For example, let’s say I have a site about starting small businesses (I do, and you’ll be introduced to it soon). One of the keywords I found for the site is “money to start a business.”
Sure I could set up an entire site to target the keyword, or I could even publish a post on my small business site simply called “money to start a business.” But I’d be foolish to take such a narrow approach; I’d be leaving way too much money on the table. Why?
Because every month, searchers are using all kinds of keyword phrases that relate closely to “money to start a business,” and I can draw traffic from all of them!
Check it out:
- getting money to start a business
- how much money do I need to start a business
- where to get money to start a business
- finding money to start a business
- how can I get money to start a business
- how to find money to start a business
- how to raise money to start a business
- and on and on…
Individual keywords can fail; intelligently organized groups of keywords are guaranteed to win.
Soaking Up Gobs of Traffic from the Long Tail of Search
Visualize a graph. The horizontal of the graph is made up of keyword phrases; the vertical shows the number of times each phrase is searched on a monthly basis. On the left side of the graph you have keywords made up of very few terms (think “small business”). On the right side of the graph you have multiple-term keyword phrases (something like “how to start a small business with no money”).
As you might guess, the phrases with fewer terms – like “small business” – get searched much more often than those multi-term phrases. If we were to graph the number of monthly searches against the number of terms in the phrase, you’d see a heavy skew toward those phrases with fewer terms. In other words “small business” is going to be searched much more often than “how to start a small business with no money.”
The left side of the graph, with the shorter keyword phrases, is called the “head.” The right side of the graph, with the multi-term phrases, is called the “long tail.”
This is hard to explain. Hopefully my adorable dinosaur illustration makes it more clear.
Most keyword research methods steer you toward “head” keywords – those that are searched more often each month. Those high search numbers draw the attention of small business owners and internet marketers, so you have a lot more people trying to rank for “small business” than for “how to start a small business with no money.” This means those “head” keywords are much harder to rank for.
I get about half my traffic from head keywords and about half from the long tail. Problem is, I invested countless hours – and thousands of dollars – to get the rankings for those head keywords. I could have made the long tail my focus from day one and I would have achieved similar (or better) results with less effort.
This modern keyword research approach will carry you to your income goal more quickly and efficiently.
I’m going to teach you to target keyword groups chock full of long tail potential.
There are no strict rules for organizing and attacking a keyword group, but I do have a few guidelines for you to keep in mind. Let’s touch on those before we dive into the actual keyword brainstorming process.
No Keyword Research Rules…Just a Few Smart Guidelines
1. Are you interested in and/or enthusiastic about the subject?
I’ve been in this game (as a player and coach) for a while now. I will tell you bluntly (and repeatedly) – it’s not easy. But the hardest part isn’t mastering the techniques and tactics I’m going to teach you. Those are simple, and relatively easy.
No, the hard part is not learning the concepts – it’s sticking with the work. Day in and and day out, for months. Your best hope of staving off boredom and fatigue and actually reaching your online income goal is to be genuinely interested in the keyword groups you’re targeting.
This is actually the most important guideline I can give you: your interest and enthusiasm trump the “numbers” of keyword selection every time. Keep that in mind as I explain the other three criteria.
2. Is there plenty of “long tail” variation in the keyword group?
This simply means “are there plenty of three-term, four-term, and five-term keyword phrases you can target with a post on your website?”
The examples I gave above relating to “money to start a business” have piles of long-tail variation. If you can’t find at least five related long tail phrases to target with a post, you don’t have a keyword group worth chasing.
3. Is the total estimated search volume for the keyword group high enough?
Now, when I say “total estimated search volume,” I’m referring to the number of times Google estimates each keyword gets searched on a monthly basis. I’m looking for keyword groups that exceed 400 per month. Check out this image for an example:
The group has a total monthly search estimate in the thousands – well above the 400 I’m looking for.
4. Is there plenty of commercial activity in the group?
What’s commercial activity? It’s the idea that when people search this particular group of keywords, how close to or far away from a transaction are they? And how much would the transaction be worth?
The second column in the image shows the “advertiser competition” for each of the keywords. “High” indicates a keyword advertisers are fighting over, driving up the value of the clicks on those phrases. Ideally, your keyword groups will be filled with medium to high competition keywords.
The far right column shows the “Approximate CPC” for each keyword phrase. CPC stands for “cost per click.” When an advertiser bids on a keyword phrase, she’s going to have to pay a certain amount each time her ad for that keyword gets clicked (and hopefully that click takes place on your site, so you earn the commission).
As the ad publisher, you’re going to earn some percentage of the CPC paid by the advertiser. Higher CPC numbers mean higher commissions. As a baseline, I typically look for CPC’s in the $2.00 and above range.
I’m not saying you couldn’t build an income with low commercial activity keyword groups (where the advertiser competition and CPC numbers are low). I’m saying you want to evaluate the commercial activity of any keyword group so you can set the right expectation about whether and how much it will pay you over time.
Moving On…It’s Time to Brainstorm and Organize Keyword Groups
Like I said, there are no keyword selection rules – just guidelines. A few guidelines to help you evaluate keyword groups and make the best decision you can about organizing your work and investing your time.
If it’s clear in your head that you want to target nothing but interesting, long-tail rich, commercially-oriented keyword groups, my work here is done.
Just kidding – my work has barely begun. Let’s move on (quickly) to showing you how to brainstorm and organize your keyword groups.