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:
- 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)
- Sort by Chance To Rank, highest to lowest, and take the top 40% with an Advertiser competition of 2 or better.
- 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.
- Pick out the shortest, most brandable domain names with the remaining 10%
This will give me:
- Highest value keywords that have advertisers and a decent chance to rank
- Best sites that I’m positive we can get ranked
- Highest search volume keywords that have a fair chance to rank
- 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
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?