Keyword research really needs to be broken down and looked at from all sides to gain a full appreciation of what is involved. This entry started as a post about doing keyword research using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, then I decided to give a basic overview of the importance of keywords, which evolved into a more in-depth description of how keywords and search in general are related. So I decided it would be better if I divided it into three post; one an overview about keywords, the next one about using the available online tools to do quick research, and the other one an outline of a useful keyword tool with video tutorials. As far as keyword knowledge goes you can really never know too much, as it is always evolving. It’s good to always think about keywords from both points of view: those placing keywords in order to be found and those searching by entering specific words or phrases.
Keyword strategy can be broken down into four main parts: 1. the target, goal, or niche 2. research 3. implementation or usage; and 4. tracking. Why are some words so valuable and others are not worth as much? If you’ve been online anytime at all you probably know about keywords or search terms especially from a searchers point of view. What you might not realize is how competitive it can be for those trying to be found when the searchers enter certain keywords. That is to say, to get a high page ranking or to show up on the first results page. Every word has a dollar value attached to it online especially from a marketer’s perspective. Every keyword or search term can relate to the sale of a product within a given niche, so the most searched terms will have a higher price tag attached to them.
For example, the “big three” niches in terms of dollars are the ‘making money,’ ‘dating and relationships,’ and ‘health’ niches. Then durable goods such as clothing, shoes jewelry, then more descending sub-categories like pain relief specialists, doctors, etc., then the legal profession, favorite forms of entertainment and so on. This post could really run away from me and get “wordy” as there are so many facets to keyword strategy but it is vital for an online marketer to develop and utilize this skill because keywords are such an integral part of marketing and getting found by the search engines, thus seen by the ones who are searching: the traffic – the prospects or future clients.
When a link shows up in a search it is known as ranking organically. This is the ideal, however, another aspect to keyword strategy is paid search, sponsored ads, or pay-per-click (PPC), which is an equally or even more competitive part of search engine ranking. There are many keyword rules that may seem obscure and rigid but they’re actually in place as a safeguard. The search engines are actually business platforms in their own right, so when people try to trick or deceive their advertising platform it weakens the integrity of their effectiveness. For example, ‘Marketer A’ may exploit the use of a popular phrase such as “how to cure headaches” when their intention is to steer or “push” that traffic to their site to buy blue jeans. Or ‘Marketer B’ may use a similar tactic by bidding on an inexpensive phrase and trying to get the traffic to buy something else.
When I first came online the most expensive keyword was “Mesothelioma” which is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The word was expensive because million dollar lawsuits were being settled at the time, therefore the attorneys were vying for top page ranking for the search terms related to “Mesothelioma” or “lawyers who specialize in Mesothelioma lawsuits.” They did this so they could be hired by the victims of this disease to represent them and potentially win a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
As a result of the attention surrounding this one word, many marketers and computer wizards created nonsense sites which had very little to do with the actual disease or the doctors or lawyers who they were looking for; but instead attracted the traffic that was searching for useful information only to be directed through portals designed to give the site owners a share of the ad revenue via Google AdSense. It is important for the search engines to maintain their own credibility as a valid platform to find the best information fast. This is why they penalize those who try and mislead or deceive strictly for profit. Just as an aside when you hear the term “black hat” it refers to methods of gaining ranking and traffic through means of trickery and “white hat” is playing purely by the book.
What does all this have to do with internet marketing? Having an understanding of the big picture or overall scheme of the importance and value of keywords will help you when it comes to just mastering the basics and why you need to do what you do. Suffice it to say it is very complicated on many levels but the fundamentals are constant, it is the technical adjustments that are constantly changing. There is also a somewhat dark side to ranking high online. It can be very competitive because the ones who master and dominate the ranking of the higher valued keywords end up making the most money. The ones who are on top want to stay there and everyone else is trying to get there. So all kinds of tactics, spying, and games can sometimes come into play when you least expect it.
This brings me to the crux of this post which is this: Do not spend too much time and money trying to rank for the broad terms that are controlled either by experts or by sites the search engines have deemed an authority site, or that are so relative they’re treated as such. And believe me the Google Algo (algorithm) and the web crawlers, spiders, and bots that drive it are extremely adept at determining just what is relative and it is a mystery to most. This is not to say, abandon the niches which can be gold mines; I’m driving home the point about putting in the time and effort to do keyword research. Dominating the root keyword of a niche may be near impossible, but it is very possible to find profitable longtail keywords and phrases.
There are many tools and techniques available online that help you do this and most of them are free. Most keyword research starts with testing the waters to see what comes up in your particular niche. You want to find or create word combinations people actually enter while performing a search. After you come up with some terms see how you can alter or rearrange the phrase or add a geographic location i.e. city and state. Eventually you will come up with some good workable phrases that are being searched enough so you can use that information to get some traffic. Good keyword tools and software will help you with this. My next post will expound on the use of some of the tools that will help you find and track good keywords.