Our Keyword Research Strategy Part 2

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

Our Keyword Research Strategy Part 2

This post is a continuation from our first post, Our Keyword Research Strategy Part 1. The second part of our keyword research process look specifically at both Advertiser and SEO competition, looking for keywords that have a market value and will be easy enough for us to get ranked without too much backlinking, adding content, etc.  In general, we look for a 5:1 ratio at this point.  If we’re looking to pick up 10 new domains, we’ll want at least 50 keywords with exact match domains available for us to research from here on out.  We’ll then narrow it down to the best possible 10 and build out sites around those keywords.

Step 6: Check AdWords competition

When building these sites, it’s important to remember that you’re going to want multiple advertisers bidding against each other for a spot on your website.  The more advertisers there are, the more marketable your particular keyword or niche is and the better results you’ll see long term.  The first thing you’re going to want to do is use the Google Keyword Tool (GKT) to determine the AdWords competition. We then rate this on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.  For “water hose” I’d give this a 4/5. You can also use SpyFu for slightly more in-depth advertiser competition, but we generally only check there if the keyword is questionable or a reach.

Step 7: Check Traffic Location

While this isn’t a determination that’s critical as to whether we’ll be purchasing the domain and setting up the site, we like to know generally where the traffic is coming from as it gives us a good idea whether or not there will be a fair amount of advertisers bidding on the keyword.  We’ve run through so many different keywords that, often, we’ll come across a word where we THOUGHT we knew what it meant, only to find out it’s related to a particular type of clothing in India or it’s a popular type of chair in Columbia.  We’re particularly looking for traffic that comes from the US, UK, Australia, or New Zealand and those are the countries we’d prefer to target. While performing your keyword research, you’ll notice that there’s both a Global and Local amount of search volume.  Global is, obviously, looking at the total number of exact match searches performed worldwide, while Local is specifically looking at the country you have selected in your Advanced Options and Filters: We then mark that on the spreadsheet as either USA, Mixed, or Other.  Other would be used for keywords that receive the bulk of their traffic from less desirable countries.  We base the choices on 70%+, 30-70%, and under 30%, respectively.

Step 8: SEO Competition

This is definitely the most subjective step, open to the most interpretation.  Joe and I have slightly different methods in our approach, but generally follow the same principles which I’ll describe here.  Similarly to Step 6, we’ll rank this 1-5, lowest to highest, with a 5 being the best chance to get the site ranked. What we’re looking for here are sites that we KNOW we have a shot at outranking based on previous experience. Good Chance To Beat:

  • Article Directories (Buzzle, Ezinearticles, eHow, etc.)
  • Large online merchants (Amazon, Sears, etc.)
  • Sites without an exact match in the title (following our keyword example, they have EITHER “water” OR “hose” but not the two together)
  • Other advertising-based sites (i.e. waterhoseguides.org, waterhosesupplies.net, etc.)

If we can find 2 or 3 of the above on the first page, we feel we’ve got a pretty good shot.  If we can find 1 or 2 of those in the top 5 spots, we’ll most likely rate our “Chance To Rank” a 5/5 for the keyword. Poor Chance To Beat:

  • Education Sites, Tech Journals, etc.
  • Major niche retailers (particularly if it’s a “category” page…for example, take a look at the keyword “living room furniture”  You’ll see Overstock on the first page with a category page that has a ton of backlinks)
  • All sites on the first page have an exact match in the title
  • Other advertising-based sites (Yeah, I know…we mentioned this as both Good AND Bad!  Taking the example above for “living room furniture” we see livingroomfurniturenow.com on the first page.  It’s a good idea to find another niche advertising site that has almost an exact match domain.  if you go to Yahoo Site Explorer and take a look at their backlinks, you’ll see that they have over 750 backlinks from good sites linking to them…not good!)

Based on what we find looking at the above criteria, we’ll then rank the keyword, 1-5.  One of the last things we might check is we’ll pick out the site that has the CLOSEST exact match domain name and take a look at the site, look at where they’re ranked, look at their backlinks, etc to help make a determination.  Based on the keyword “water hose” we find: We loved the fact that Sears and Amazon were the top two and ranked the keyword 5/5.

Step 9: Pick Your Niches

You’ve done all the hard work…now it’s time to analyze the data and pick out the sites you think would give you the best shot at making some money.  Remember, make sure that you have at least a 5:1 ratio, so if you’re looking for 10 sites, you should have at least 50 options at this point.  We don’t always go for the most valuable or easiest to rank keywords…we try to mix it up a bit.  Here are the general guidelines:

  1. Sort by SEO Value and go for the top 30% that have at least an Advertiser competition of 2 and a chance to rank of 3 or better.  (If I’m looking for 10 sites, I’d pick the top 3)
  2. Sort by Chance To Rank, highest to lowest, and take the top 40% with an Advertiser competition of 2 or  better.
  3. Sort by exact match search volume, highest to lowest, and take the top 20% that have at least an Advertiser competition of 2 and a chance to rank of 3 or better.
  4. Pick out the shortest, most brandable domain names with the remaining 10%

This will give me:

  1. Highest value keywords that have advertisers and a decent chance to rank
  2. Best sites that I’m positive we can get ranked
  3. Highest search volume keywords that have  a fair chance to rank
  4. A nice, short domain name that may or may not rank as a site, but will definitely be worth more than the cost of registration

All of the following keywords were selected:

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Final Thoughts

We ended up picking up waterhose.org that had the following: Exact Match Search: 4,400 AdWords CPC: $0.90 SEOV: $93.56 AdWords Competition: 4/5 Country: Mixed Chance To Rank: 4/5 Due to the fact that it’s only a 2-word domain name with relatively short words, it might take a bit longer to get the site ranked or it may not rank at all.  Luckily, we picked up another 29 domains in that batch and know from experience that enough of those sites will get ranked, get traffic, and earn money to make it profitable for us.  We’ll go through our usual process of using Market Samurai, CTR Theme, SubmitYourArticle, OnlyWire, etc. and have most of them ranked fairly quickly. We’d really like to hear your thoughts about the process and truly hope you found it helpful/useful.  Let us know what you thought in the comments! Like what we had to say? Want to hear more?

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  • ben says:

    I’ve closed up , but still will dabble with my own sites . Yes long tail pro works fine
    Save’s a lot of time jumping back and forth to google tools. Back in California now
    I miss Cebu already , but not Jolibee’s. lol. That’s interesting about buying a net and org. I have one with a net and com, I think now I’ll just rank the com. I read somewhere some guy was scooping up info domains and was doing fine with ranking them. But never really had any real proof he was doing good with them..
    So I’ll stay clear for now.

  • Christopher Verzonilla says:

    Hey guys.

    I’m interested in picking up my first niche domain but I have a question.

    In the niche that I’m shooting for there are 3 to 4 domains that are pretty much the same but different versions. They’re almost the exact same keywords but a bit different and same concept. They all of the same google searches each month so I don’t know if it’s worth it to buy all of them or just one. I’m on a limited budget so I’m ready to buy at least one but I want to know if I should pick up the rest at a later time.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Christopher Verzonilla says:

      As it turns out the other domains were taken. I missed that. But a .net and .org domain with the same 2 keywords was available so I picked them both up. Do you usually buy up all the .org, .net and .com variations or do you only pick the best one?

      Now that I have a .org and a .net I’m thinking about using hosting the .org since it’s less commercial and forwarding the .net but I’m not sure if this is the right move.

      Thanks for your comments.
      — Chris

      • JustinWCooke says:

        Well that makes the decision easy! Honestly, I don’t think there’s any reason to pick up a .net and a .org unless you’re planning on building out a larger,branded, authority-type site. We experimented with picking up the .org when we owned the .net and it was doing well and selling off the domains, but it didn’t pick up a ton of steam and we dropped it.

        We thought originally about picking up the .net or .org for the sites of ours that were doing well. We spoke to the AdSense rep about that and she advised against it, for what it’s worth.

        • Christopher Verzonilla says:

          Thanks Justin. So for clarification, you are no longer buying .net or .org domains?

          I’m wondering if you’d buy a .net or .org if a .com wasn’t available for the keywords you were looking at.

          Are .net’s better then .org for SEO purposes?

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Hey Chris,

            No, sorry, that’s not what I meant. Here’s what I was trying to say:

            If I’m looking at the keyword “blue ski boots” for example, and both blueskiboots dot net and blueskiboots dot org are available, we’ll purchase just one, not both.

  • Christopher Rice says:

    Hi Guys,

    Do you guys know of any tools to check a site page’s backlinks? I think Yahoo’s Site Explorer was discontinued and http://blekko.com doesn’t let you check the backlinks of individual pages (as far as I can tell).

    Thank you.
    — Chris

  • latin_sydney says:

    Gday Guys,

    You may have probably answered this a billion times, but is it true that brand name domain can get your adsense account blocked/banned?

  • Another quick question – your formula for SEOV
    I understand the calculations are exact search x COS x .01
    However is the CPC derived from MS?
    Its just the AdwordsKWT has very different CPC values – in many cases MS gives 600% increases on CPC values compared to google.

    One other concerning feauture i noticed today is if changing the settings to USA search in MS – the actual results in the SEO competition were clearly based on local. Not sure if this is the same for you guys outside of the USA. But i have found SEO rank results despite the US flag to be quite misleading… anyone else tested this?

    • MS always seems to be wrong about CPC. Try the new product we are recommending Long Tail Pro

    • JustinWCooke says:

      I’d also say that no matter WHAT keyword tool you’re using…make sure to check the cpc using the Google Keyword Tool before purchasing.

      • Djlest_uk says:

        yes today i was confusing matters with the CPC Traffic location.
        I noticed in your above screen shot you default to US traffic and not ALL countries. i was thinking today on whether or not to follow this.
        If many cases the US cost of ad words is higher than say the UK – but comparing local exact searches from US to all countries the US gets sometimes only 50% the searches.

        This confused me somewhat today when trying to standardise a calculation for SEOV. should i base SEOV on US exact or ALL country exact?
        What are your thoughts on this?

        I found quite a few KW that met the above 15usd SEOV criteria with all country search yet when i plug in US they drop like stones.

  • Hey love the site – quick question, lets say after the laborious task of KW research you find your perfect niche but all the .com .net .org are gone.what are your thoughts on hyphons or dashes seperating the KW as opposed to the extra words -site for ex.

    Also how is the .biz domains these days?

    • Stay away from .biz, in our testing it does not work as well.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      We’ve used dashes and .info’s as well. We found them harder to rank overall…but the fact that you have so many more options available to you is nice. We try to avoid…do let us know how it works out for you, though!

      • Djlest_uk says:

        thanks justin – so in a nutshell with the popularity of microniching.
        Do you find maybe 1 out of every100 KW you hunt dont have availabe domains? ive been at it all day again – and this time i have found NO exact match domains. absolutely nada – and i had some really obscure kwywords.

        I have even been scraping for 4 word domains now too… i believe they are all locked into the reserve list on a daily basis. for obvious reasons. spider scripts working instead of manual workers.

        the domains i have found ‘unavailable’ are not even in the serps or have pages. There is definitely something big that is manipulating the game..

        • JustinWCooke says:

          There are quite a few that we’re looking for that, ultimately, don’t have available exact match domains. Just as an example, here are a few that we looked at and DIDN’T purchase for one reason or another (low advertiser competition, slightly too difficult first page, etc.)

          filtreteairfilters dot org
          spywareprotectionremoval dot net
          irritatedeye dot net
          fleaandtick dot org
          cylindervolume dot net
          bestnaturaldeodorant dot org
          icemachineforsale dot net

          You know, we should probably do a weekly/monthly round up regarding keyword research and give away some domains that we found and didn’t want to go for…maybe others would find value there?

          • Djlest_uk says:

            Great idea Justin – and yes its a valuable way indeed.
            I think one of the greatest hurdles is the nitty gritty decission on whether to run with a domain or not.

            Actually checking a few of the above i think i would have jumped at a few for sure…

            ‘ice machine’
            with the number one ranking site having only 36 inlinks via the yahooexplorer check. i may well have had a go at that.
            curious on why you didnt?

            i wonder what your reasons for not going ahead were?
            I think the above is a great idea for a new post
            Case studies!

            im trying to lose this mentality of going for 30-50 competing yahoo inlinks. at least for microniches because i know it contradicts the low search volume versus the workload.

            but research is very difficult with MS and so maybe its time to switch to LTP and see how that goes.

            its great that you have shown these domains do exist, im wondering now what im doing wrong not being able to find them.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Feel free to snatch up any of those available domains if you like…they were available last we checked!

            LongTailPro is much faster than MarketSamurai. It’s too bad…I really liked MS when it was working regularly…ugh.

          • Djlest_uk says:

            completely agree with you – MS yesterday went on the brink again for the entire day.

            Definitely will gove longtailpro a go but after buying so many keyword tools that simply miss the mark – feeling rather dubious about adding another to the collection.

            does longtail pro extract the data from google kw or is it better for drilling the abstract longtails? Personally the SEOC feature in MS i am ignoring more these days and the SEOV i calculate myself and also the CPC is way out – so really i just use google. What does Longtail pro results compare like to the G KW tool?

          • JustinWCooke says:

            LTP does extract from the GoogleKeywordTool, but we always double-check cpc before purchasing the sites, just to be sure. Tools are great for getting you most of the way there…but you should still double check everything before spending any money, hehe.

          • Lifesachimp says:

            Ive used LTP and got a refund. SEcockpit is significantly superior in my books.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Funny, we tried SECockpit but ended up sticking with LTP. We felt like, because the data was pre-loaded with SECockpit, we were missing out on valuable niches we would have otherwise had available. Still, SECockpit feels like a much more finished product, IMO, with many more features…

          • Lifesachimp says:

            LTP is also a good product. PS Spender really gives great support.

  • brad says:

    What’s your opinion on brand names in the URL? Also, I was curious how much do you think you spend per site you build?

    • About 50% of our sites use a brand name in the URL. From all the sites we created have had less than 10 complaints, with 2 actually leading to sales back to the trademark owner. I guess they thought paying off was cheaper than getting lawyers involved. Most of the time we just give the site back or take it down to comply with any legal threat. It’s rare though, so don’t dwell on it.

      Site costs used to be about $40 a site but have risen with the new content and link building strategies we are doing. Current costs are about $50 a site. Perhaps a posts on cost breakdown is in order.

      • brad says:

        Thanks, I would definitely be interested in seeing a cost breakdown post. I am in a position where I want to start cranking these out, but costs are a limiting factor. I am being especially cautious because the few sites I do have, haven’t amounted to much.

  • Adi says:

    In this keyword research strategy, you only find keywords for the domains and the home page. But for each domain you need to find more keywords to build the content of the other pages on site.
    So what are the criterias for those keywords on market samurai (searches, comp, cpc, seov)?


    • Sounds like a good topic for a new post, Adi! This has changed a bit since we started especially to adhere to Google’s new content standards. In general though, you are looking for keywords more closely related to the primary topic — exact match searches, cpc, and seov can be lowered while seo comp raised because you are more interested in these secondary pages supporting the primary page. Also, I would not spend any time looking at first page competition. You will simply rank for some long tail traffic you never planned on.

      • Thedude says:

        Since I have found your site, I have been reading everything I could on here. You guys are great thanks for putting your experiences up for all of us to learn from. I was also wondering though more about the process you guys use for creating your secondary pages.


        • Thanks for stopping by. Our secondary keyword research has evolved a bit more since the latest Panda update. We generally look for related keywords and don’t focus too much on the stats. These pages are really meant to assist the main page and draw in long tail traffic which is difficult to predict anyway.

          Another way to do it would be to only create one page and then build out the sites that do well. We are experimenting with that and will let you know.

          • Ian says:

            Thanks for the reply. Sorry for such a novice questions, but what do you find is the best way to discover your keywords for secondary pages versus the secondary keywords you use on the homepage? How do you normally setup up your meta information, such as Meta Keywords? Thanks for your insite.

          • Not really sure what your asking here. Longtails (secondaries used on the primary page) and secondary pages can be found by using the Google Keyword Tool or something like Long Tail Pro. Just use the primary keyword as your root instead of the seed keyword.

          • Thedude says:

            Thanks for your patience. Sorry if my question was not clear. So the Longtails (secondary keywords used on the primary page) are these also the same keywords you would use as your primary keywords on your secondary pages?

          • No problem at all. In general no but sometimes it is unavoidable. Just try not to spam the same keyword over and over. Make sure it logical and you will be ok.

  • Adi says:

    Hi, Thanks a lot for the great content!
    I have 2 questions:

    1. Lately I see a difference between the cpc that market samurai shows and the cpc that google keyword tool shows. The cpc on Market Samurai seems to be way more higher than the cpc in the google keyword tool. Which cpc data do you calcualte when you calculating the seov? Market Samurai or Google keyword tool?

    2.I understand now that you don’t take into count the filter of 500 on the seov anymore, right? So in the filters of market samurai, do you ignore the seov? do you set it to a different number or do you still use the same number (500)?

    Thanks a lot, you are really great!

    • Always use the Google Keyword Tool. You may want to experiment with Long Tail Pro as it does have the same issues Market Samurai does. Look for a full review soon with an interview from Spencer, the creator.

      We filter SEOV, after all stats are downloaded using Excel. Based on the new SEOV calculation (Exact Match Search * Exact Match CPC * .01), anything with an SEOV of $15 should be ignored.

  • Seth A Frank says:

    My question is in regards to the SEOV of this site. I understand that you are saying that MS’s SEOV is way off but I can’t find a concrete way to how you came to value it at $93.56. I get that you are taking the Exact Matches x CPC x .01 but if you do that it would equal = $39.60. Am I just missing something here? I’m not being critical for critical sake I’m just trying to learn. You guys have been awesome at answering my questions via e-mail.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Seth…stop being critical! 🙂

      Actually, I think you’re spot-on. This post was written before we standardized the SEOV for ourselves, I think, so the SEOV might have come from Market Samurai? Maybe some other formula I was using at the time? Either way, you’re right on…what you mentioned is what we’re doing now across the board.

      • Seth A Frank says:

        I’ll work on it 😉

        I’ve been up all night reading again. It’s 6:03am here. You guys have way too much good stuff. I’m glad you helped me get it right, lol. It’s too bad you don’t have a mentorship program because I’d sign up. You both rock and I’ve said that a few times already.

        Well McDonald’s breakfast is calling me. Love the site. Keep at it

  • Nate says:

    Thanks for the great post.

    I understand that its good to see sites such as ezinearticles and amazon as competition on the first page but what are a few others that are good to see? What about sites such as yahoo answers, ebay, alibaba, youtube?

  • Jc says:

    Great strategy. I just went through a few keywords and think I found a great one. Very quick and simple method. How many articles/posts do you generally place on a niche site?

  • Mason Crane says:

    Quick question for all–need all the opinions and info I can get.

    I recently found a misspelling of a very broad term, no trademarks or anything to mess with on this one, and the search volume is around 1300 local/month with less than 20k competition. The first page of google is laughable and I know I can rank #1. The ads seem to be coming in nicely from the broader term as well, which is nice @ 2.81/click according to LTP. The EMD is also available.

    Is it even viable to grab misspellings anymore? Has anyone used this approach and seen decent results, even though Google has included the “did you mean…” feature. Any help would be greatly appreciated!



    • We don’t like misspellings at all. Because of Google auto correct, most users will be redirected to the more popular search term. This means that you have to compete with the correct spelling in the first page of results. This generally means you will not be able to rank very easily for common misspelling.

      • Mason Crane says:

        Thank you Joseph. I knew it was too good to be true. As soon as I saw all the PR 0s on the competition I got excited. I really appreciate what you guys are doing here.

        I’m just now starting to take action with all the information I’ve gathered over the past 5 weeks, so wish me luck. You have both been a huge inspiration for me as well as a tremendous information source, so please keep up the excellent work!

  • Itu says:

    200,000 Competing Pages. How long is it going to take you to rank for those kinds of keywords with that many competing pages?

    I’m not saying that it is not possible. You can rank for any keyword with time but 200,000 competing pages is said to be a lot.

    To be honest with you that has been the number one thing confusing me and kind of held me back from making a move. The “keyword in quote” and “competing pages” theories.

    What is your take on numbers of competing pages?

    • First page evaluation is still more important than competing pages. However, competing pages is a good benchmark which you can objectively rule out keywords. Depending on your SEO skill, going as high as 500k competing pages may be possible and economically feasible for micro niche sites. Plus, it should still rank in the 60-90 day period.

      Be sure to double check the first page for extremely weak links when competing pages are relatively high. It’s a risk/reward thing — if the expected value of a site is high (due to exact match searches and CPC) and the first page is relatively easy, I would discount a high competing page count and go for it anyway.

      • djlest says:

        hi – just a question regarding the final criteria on checking the top sites, and whether or not your MN can topple it.
        . lets say for example its a home page site .index with lots of inbound links 1000+ and no secondary pages or category pages.
        1.would you bother to check the title of the incoming links to that site?
        or would you only target sites with low inlinks to secondary pages, not the homepage. 🙂

  • Hi Justin,

    Thanks for sharing your strategy.

    I have found a great keyword using your strategy but the traffic is mostly from UK. If you target UK region, do you buy a domain with .co.uk extension or just purely .com/.net/.org?


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Lem,

      We’ve targeted UK traffic with .com/.net/.org and have been ok, but I’ve heard it’s better to use a .co.uk extension…I’d say give it a shot!

  • Hi,

    Did you guys find a software that would somewhat automate this keyword search process?

    Even Market Samurai is quite time consuming. MS is great for many things but for this I’m pulling my hair out trying to find keywords that meets all the requirements.


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Regis,

      We have contractors and are training agents now to handle the first part of the KW research. We still check the first page competition ourselves, directly for all sites, actually. For every 5 KW’s that have meet the criteria with the domain available, we usually only buy 1, if that makes sense.

      We’ve checked out a few of the keyword shortcuts…an example would be uniches.com. It’s decent for finding the keywords and domains for you, but you still have to go through the tedious process of determining chance to rank based on the first page competition. It has a “competition” rating, but it’s not based on the way we do it and find we disagree with it pretty often.

  • Justin,

    Sorry for the mix up of names… again.

    Yes, you got me confused at “Based on that criteria, we won’t take anything less than $15.00…” what column would that be in MS?


    • Hey Regis, I think Justin mean any less than $15 a month expected per site. We are doing our own SEOV calculations now because MS is always wrong.

      • JustinWCooke says:

        Hey Regis…really simple. We take the exact match number of searches and multiply by the CPC and then by .01. If it’s under $15 we won’t take it. Also…take a look at our “Calculator” link at the top of our website…that should help you determine estimated profitability.

  • Jayson/Joe,

    What would you say is the minimum monthly exact search to make it worth while assuming that all the other criteria are met?

    or do you say that if they meet the initial filter of (Total Searches: Checked, 800) and (SEOValue: Checked, 500) they are good enough to go?

    Thanks guys.

    BTW congratulation on your site, great information and funny at times…lets talk chicken next time I see you


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Regis…

      Where have you been? Haven’t seen you in a while!

      I would say that 800 exact match is really a minimum. We try to go with sites that have 1,000 or more.

      Recently, to standardize SEOV, what we’ve done is this. Exact match searches (LOCAL) X CPC X .01 = SEOV. Based on that criteria, we won’t take anything less than $15.00…and not many between $15 – $20 unless we think we have an EXCELLENT shot at one of the top 3 positions.

      I would think of the entire process as a funnel. You start off with a bunch of keywords and really try to narrow it down to a few. We do NOT take sites that meet the # of searches, SEOV, and EMD criteria only. In fact, we usually only take 1 in 5 that meet that criteria…based on how they do when we evaluate the first page competition. That’s the last thing we do, but it knocks out a full 80% of everything that has qualified up to that point. If that doesn’t make sense, text me and we’ll discuss over a few beers! 🙂

  • Guest says:

    Have you tested this experiment on websites that do not have emd? Let’s say I have a “authority” website and I want these to be my categories. Does it just take longer or what have you noticed? Thanks.

    • We are working on testing that, but all we can say for sure is that it works with EMD right now. Outside the formula things tend to take a lot longer to accomplish.

      Thank for stopping by!

      • Guest says:

        Thanks for responding. I will be testing this on one of my many websites and see what happens. Will let you know what happens. 🙂

  • Brad says:

    In your water hose example, water hoses is a category page on Amazon. Since it is a lower tier category, do you still feel that you can outrank Amazon, Walmart, etc.?

    If we do target a category page that has only a few backlinks, do you believe it is just a matter of more work(backlinks) to rank the site?

    • jwcooke says:

      Brad, quite often the EMD will help to beat out a lower ranked category page with just a few backlinks.

      To be perfectly honest, I might have overrated the example. It’s a two-word domain and I’m not entirely sure I read the first page as well as I should have. We’ll see!

  • andrew says:

    another question:
    photos for your sites….where do you get yours from? are you paying for them?

    • jwcooke says:

      Some of the images are purchased while others are found on the web. Take a look at istockphoto.com if you’re looking to purchase images. Otherwise, we have a few tricks to getting images up and ranked. (We send this info out to subscribers in the 6th follow-up email)

  • andrew says:

    hey guys,
    off subject — but since you “hate emails” 🙂 — i thought i’d just ask here. what is your strategy for actually rolling out the blog? do you put all pages in and publish at once? or do you stagger the release of each of the pages?
    anything else?

    • jwcooke says:

      We don’t hate YOUR emails of course! hehe

      Our agents order the primary content right away and it’s usually the first to come back. As soon as the primary content is in the content is uploaded. It’s a separate step from the “secondary content” upload, but if all content is in they’ll upload it all at the same time. We separated these steps because the primary is usually the first to get back and we want to get the site indexed with the primary content as quickly as possible.

  • andrew says:

    Oh, one other thing…can you be more specific in terms of seo competition regarding the amount of back link competition you consider to be too much.

    • jwcooke says:

      We don’t check the backlink competition of all or even most of the sites on the first page. If we’re unsure of how we think we’ll do, we’ll check backlinks of the CLOSEST to exact match domain we find on the first page. If the site is highly ranked and has less than 50-60 poor backlinks and/or their on-page seo is poor we’ll go for it. If it’s at the bottom of the first page with the above criteria it’s close and we’ll take another look at the other factors. If the site has strong backlinks, more than 60 backlinks, etc. it will probably get a low chance to rank, depending on the other factors of course.

  • andrew says:

    Just curious, in the first part of this, you show that you came up with i believe 10 keywords that met your criteria, of which you found two with exact match domains.
    at the end of this post, you write that you picked up 29 other domains.
    Can you explain this? I thought you only got 2 out of that search, but here you say 29…am i missing something?
    as always…thanks!

    • jwcooke says:

      Hey Andrew!

      I should have mentioned that this particular niche research was a particular subset of many more keywords researched. Ultimately, I ended up having 150 or so potentials from Part 1 and then narrowed it down to 30 that I wanted to purchase in Part 2.

      That means I started with multiple seed words in Part 1 until I had around 150 or so with domains to choose from. I then went through Part 2 with all of them to pick the 30 that I thought were best for us. Hope that answers your question.

      • andrew says:

        would you mind explaining that a little more. the reason i ask is because i’m not exactly sure i understand what you wrote.

        And I find it quite difficult to find exact matches. (i know they are out there, though). while you guys seem to have them raining down on! 🙂

        • jwcooke says:

          You see that we started with the seed keyword “water hose” and ended up with two potential keywords with exact match URL’s right? {“air compressor hose” and “water hose”} I THEN went back and thought up another seed keyword and found more URL’s available…and then I did it again…and again. I did this until we had around 150 potentials with exact match domains.

          Usually a seed keyword will get you anywhere from 8-14 available domains this way. “Water hose” was particularly bad and only got me two, but that’s usually not the case. We might have to start with anywhere from 10 to 20 seed keywords to get 150 potential domains available. (Sometimes more…some seed keywords end up giving us nothing…ouch!)

  • Seanski says:

    When you select keywords for adsense are you targeting product or informational keywords?

    If you take the water hose example, someone typing in that search term would expect to see a website selling waterhose products rather than a 500 word article on water hoses.

    • jwcooke says:

      Hey there…thanks for stopping by!

      Some keywords have more of a purchase intent than others. For example, if someone were searching for “cheap shoes for men” or “buy shoes online” there’s obviously more of an intent to purchase. This is obviously well known to the advertisers too, so you’re more likely to get more advertiser or AdWords competition bidding on those keywords and the ads placed will have more of a buyer’s intent, usually.

      In the example mentioned, the site is more informational in nature. For those that are specifically buying keywords, you might be able to better monetize (And have a higher RPU or revenue per user) through affiliate sales…you’ll just need to test it out.

  • Halfdan says:

    Thanks alot for sharing all this information. Can’t wait till I begin myself in July! 🙂

    • jwcooke says:

      Awesome…I’m excited for you! Feel free to keep asking questions and sharing your findings here as well. Hopefully we can continue helping you and as you test things out you can help us too!

  • todd says:

    Thanks for the tip! I think you just saved me some time and money. The keyword I was looking at had no advertisers showing on spyfu.

    • jwcooke says:

      Great to hear, Todd! Do remember that advertisers come and go…when checking SpyFu you get a history and can see if there were previous advertisers. Also, if there are a ton of searches and a decent cpc, it might be worth picking up anyway. If there’s real market intent in the keyword someone will come along and pick that up as an AdWords keyword, I’m guessing.

  • Timwal says:

    @jwcooke: whats your view about Niche A day service?

    • jwcooke says:

      You know, I can’t say for sure because I haven’t signed up for their services and can’t comment on their usefulness.

      From reading their sales copy, my understanding is that you sign up for the service and they regularly send our niche ideas? I don’t like the fact that you’d be trying to target the same niches as 1,000’s of other marketers, but if you simply use it as seed ideas and still do your own research that would probably be beneficial.

      I don’t like the fact that they’re promoting reselling PLR, but that’s just a personal opinion.

  • todd says:

    I came across a keyword today that meets my search criteria and CPC criteria. I normally will not go under $1.75 for cpc when choosing keywords.I found one that has over 4,000 exact searches and cpc of over $4. When I type the keyword into Google search, only 1 ad is showing on right side. What exactly is this telling me? With that high of cpc, I would think there would be more ads showing.

  • todd says:

    Exactly how do you guys go about finding domains so quickly? Or am I perceiving that you find them rather quickly? Seems like this can be one of the longer parts of the process for me. I normally try for keywords that get a minimum of 4,000 exact searches per month with EMD in .net, .com, or .org

    • jwcooke says:

      Although you can do KW research for free, we prefer to use Market Samurai. It really speeds up the process and for a one-time fee, it’s good value.

      Right now, we’re finding/purchasing 25 domains per week through GoDaddy and the KW research from just starting to purchasing domains takes about 8 hours total, or 20 minutes per domain. The steps in Part 1 take around 5 hours and the steps in Part 2 take about 3 (or 4), but that also includes around 2-3 hours of an agent’s time as well.

      Each initial search from part one will usually net anywhere from 4-15 possibilities from each keyword, and if we want a 5 to 1 ratio, we need around 125+ to make sure we get 25 good sites for Part 2.

      We’re much less picky in that we’ll go for keywords that are right around 1,000 exact match searches per month. Less than 20% of our finds are more than 4,000 exact match searches and (guessing) around 40% are in the 2,000 – 4,000 range. The rest are below 2,000. Hope that helps!

  • todd says:

    Yes, that makes sense. You have systems such as Dan Brock’s and Jan Roos that are to my knowledge, strictly geared to amazon product review sites. No adsense. Sites like Wisegeek.com are strictly informational articles with adsense. Both are systems are so is yours and they all seem to work. I like yours because of the simplicity and the ability to test niches with little investment. The thing that worries me about a product review site is that the product may be replaced by a newer model. These sites are very specific in nature. For example the electronics category can change overnight. I think about sites that were built 2 years ago promoting the Canon XYZ which is probably not even made any more. Your system is not get rich quick but is great for long term passive income once you build enough sites. Just seems really slow unless you outsource part of it. Good job!

    • jwcooke says:

      Yes, I hadn’t even considered the temporary nature of the product review sites. I can imagine, especially in the tech area, your value there might be extremely short-lived…ugh!

      It’s really all about scale with our system. Adding only 2 or 3 sites per week that will make you $10-$15 a month really doesn’t sound like much…but multiply that by 10, 20, 50, etc. and it really starts stacking up!

  • todd says:

    Do you get the SEOV from Market Samuri? Do you filter out any MFA sites thru your adsense account? I just feel that filtering these sites is a time waster. Too hard to keep up with the volume of these type of sites to continuously monitor and filter. I do some adsense sites combined with amazon affiliate text links. The amazon sales are not great, but a few sales here and there make up for low adsense earnings that I have on some sites. Some of my sites are strictly adsense as I feel some sites are better off with only adsense or only amazon links. Still testing and trying.

    • jwcooke says:

      We do collect SEOV from Market Samurai as it’s a good comparison to use when looking overall at traffic, cpc, etc. It’s junk at giving you an actual estimate on your monthly $$ potential for a site, but it’s good at comparing one keyword against another. Again though, if I think the cpc looks outrageous, I discount the SEOV as well.

      We don’t filter anything through our AdSense account. The reason for that is it is too much hassle…and we trust Google to do a great job of delivery relevant results…that’s their job and part of the bargain!

      Lastly, we’re fans of Amazon affiliate sites and Google AdSense…but I DON’T like mixing the two. The reason for that is this: For each individual site, either affiliate sales or AdSense is going to give you a higher CPM. It might be worth split testing one vs. the other…but when a clear winner emerges, leaving the loser on there is simply losing you click value. Instead of clicking on the loser, if you took that option away, they’d be clicking on the “winner”…make sense?

  • peter says:

    Thanks 🙂 I have another question, Let’s say that on a first page there are many PR3,4,5 but only maybe 1 or 2 sites with PR0,1 do you cross it off or do you give it a high number and try to give it a go?

    • jwcooke says:

      It depends on the PR of the page and not necessarily the site itself. Many times, amazon.com is up there with a really long URL string to a specific product. We generally feel we can beat an amazon product page and that would be a good sign. However, if it were a CATEGORY page, that would be much tougher to beat. Also, if there are a bunch of root domains on the first page that’s also a tough sign…especially if they’re not advertising sites like ours.

      Are you familiar with NichePursuits? Spencer from the site has just posted a GREAT article that goes into more depth than ours here. Almost everything he mentions in the post are the same steps we take and highly recommend taking a look. Click here to check his post on keyword research.

  • jwcooke says:

    We stopped using that as one of our metrics for all sites when Market Samurai removed it temporarily. They’ve added it back and we use it on a case-by-case basis. We manually check allintitle on a case-by-case as well. Thanks for bringing it up!

  • peter says:

    do you ever worry about doing an allintitle search?

  • Oh crud!, I wish I could edit my last comment, haha. I just re-read the post and now realize you are using the competition rating correctly, VERY smart.

    • jwcooke says:

      Hey…thanks for stopping in!

      I think it’s so important that it’s worth leaving your original comment there! So many people make this mistake that it helps to have it reiterated in the comments, I think.

      (An admission…when I first started I screwed that up as well…thinking LOWER competition on the GKT was better…DOH!)

  • Interesting and effective strategy except I would have to question you on the part about using the keyword tool to gauge your competition. I used to do this when I started but found it very in-consistent when I started using other methods and from straight testing / experience.

    Then it dawned on me, the google keyword tool is not made for people to make adsense sites, it is the google ADWORD tool, it is made for advertisers who want to find words to target in their CPA campaigns. This means that the “competition” is how many other people are bidding for that particular keyword, not how hard it will be to rank for naturally on the SERP’s

    For competition I usually do a quick google search with SEO quake on, check PR, backlinks and if there are any exact match domains easily ranking that I could outrank, it’s worked for me so far.

  • Rahul says:

    Well nice post. Water hose is competitive term. waterhose.com have 1k links.

    • jwcooke says:

      Yeah, I know, right? That’s normally a negative for us, but the top two positions look available and juicy so we’re taking a stab at it. We may end up with egg on our face if we can’t get ranked here, but it’s a numbers game…we know enough of the sites will work out overall.

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