Day 2 — Long Tail Keyword Research

Day 2 - Long Tail Keyword ResearchIn Day 2, the focus in on finding a niche or micro niche for the thirty day challenge project.

Keyword research is a critical part of an online business. Although you may build a business without getting traffic from organic search engines, for many bloggers search engine traffic contributes from 40 – 60 percent or even more of the entire blog traffic.

So, this is not only ideal for people who don’t have a lot of budget to burn from the start, but also for everyone who wants more traffic.

Tips: You should not rely on one source of traffic for your long-term business. Relying your business on a source of income is too risky a business. However, starting with one or at most two marketing strategies is always a good idea. If you ask successful bloggers, 9 out of 10 will have their own favorite traffic source(s) and chances are they are only good — means know inside out — about a few traffic strategies.

Because as part of the requirement of the challenge is to build an online business from scratch without spending a penny, natural search engine traffic seems to be very appealing.

The “Dilemmas”

I have to admit that I’ve spent quite some time to think about this particular matter. On one hand, this is Thirty Day Challenge. That means that I am bounded with time when creating a business from scratch. The goal is to earn $1 and when you are on the mode to prove profitability of a site quickly, you choose a smaller niche than you would probably go for when you start a business without that kind of pressure.

On the other hand, as I mention quickly above, it is about building a business and not money maker. A money maker may dry up but a business continues to thrive, at least that is how it is designed to be.

The problem is, once you’ve picked the lowest hanging fruit — in this case keywords with good amount of traffic but with acceptable number of competitions in search engines — it can bring a long term impact to the business. For instance, if you are choosing the keyword making chicken sausage rather than a broader keyword like sausage making, you stick with that keyword and its sub-niches.

When you start a site, the home page should be the broadest keywords you can still possibly compete. If you create a traditional web site, which is static in its content and structure of the site, it may be hard to revamp the flow of the content once you have decided on it.

The good news is, with a blog and silos, this is not only possible but also recommended. What’s left is that you should choose the right blog title. This topic will be discussed later.

For now, it is important to focus on a niche. Make sure it is the right size so you can still build a business out of it instead of just a stream of income that requires you to maintain daily but won’t produce that much. Worse still, it may disappear anytime because of its instability.

Why Keyword Research is Important

Targeting too broad a keyword is never a good idea because it would take a long time, if not impossible at all with the amount of resources you have at your disposal. Imagine trying to rank on the first page of search engines for the keyword french.

As of this writing, there are 726,000,000 (yes, millions) of pages in Google’s database that has that keyword in it. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea how to beat authority sites such as Wikipedia, About or BBC, for that broad keyword, especially because right now I work alone.

Search engine users who are looking for information with that keyword are also very scattered in terms of interests. They may be looking for a tool to translate a web page from French to English, trying to find a book on how to learn French, looking for French dictionary, the etiquette in meeting French people, and perhaps thousands of other purposes.

On the other hand, long tail keywords — keywords that are less frequently searched, are usually more targeted. Three or more words in a key phrase indicates that it may be a buying keyword. People who are looking for “french language” are certainly more qualified than “french” but still they are less targeted than people who come from search engines by searching “how to learn french.”

An important part of a successful blog is traffic. For that reason, you want specific keywords but also rank for lots of them, not only one.

How Should You Approach It

Start with long tail keywords but make sure the niche also have other keywords to tap into once you have dominated that particular keyword in search engine listings.

Once you build traffic, backlinks and authority in the niche, you will gain momentum. This is necessary for you to hop to the next level and target more competitive and broader keywords.

While you can start right in the middle, the bottom up approach brings better and faster results. Remember that competitions are only going to become stiffer in the coming years, so if you don’t act now, you may leave this opportunity to others to make a fortune with.

Market Samurai — Tools for Market Research and More

Market Samurai is a tool to help you identify potential niches and long tail keywords that you can rank quickly on search engines hopefully in at most one to two weeks.

As part of the strategy would be to get your optimized blog pages to be ranked on natural search engine listings for one or more long tail keywords.

For that, you need to know precisely which keywords are too hard to rank within 30 days. Make no mistake, that doesn’t mean you should not target the other more competitive keywords. You should, in the long run. That should be part of your traffic strategy.

However, for the sake of this challenge, you should be aiming for something that is more realistic. The $1 is not the goal though because what you are building is a strong foundation for your business.

The principle still applies after the challenge. Again, for this challenge and long term business strategy, you research for potential keywords and work from the bottom up.

Currently Market Samurai is being used extensively as part of the Thirty Day Challenge, but I won’t go into that a lot for now. Perhaps I’m going to review the software when it finally came out of the beta version.

It is important to know that Market Samurai doesn’t generate its own data. It saves a lot of work by gathering various data from different places and present them in an easy to read format. However, it is possible to pull these data out by doing research manually.

The Criteria for Good Keywords for the Challenge

Good keywords are identified as keywords with enough traffic potential but with acceptable amount of competing pages in the search engines. By pulling the right keyword out of the data, the logic is that you will be able to rank for that keyword as quickly as possible on organic search engine listings.

Specifically, the keyword has to be searched at least about 6,000 times during last month. If traffic fluctuates a lot throughout the year (seasonal), then you may want to consider that too even if the search frequency is lower than that. But as there is very little room for error, I’d recommend that you pick your best keyword to start with.

The second criterion is competing pages for phrase-matched search. Why phrase match? That’s because for broad-matched search, Google will rank web pages which are particularly optimized for phrase or exact match pages instead of pages with one word here and another there.

Note: You can perform phrase-matched search by surrounding the key phrase with double quotes. This tells Google to only look for the phrase exactly in that order. If a page contains the words but is not in the right order, it will not be shown.

Competing pages in search engines for phrase-match should be as low as possible but not exceeding 50,000. Again you should look for keywords that are much lower if that is at all possible.

So, to reiterate, there actually are two factors to consider when choosing your micro niche keywords:

  1. Traffic potential. The frequency the keyword was used in previous month in Google.
  2. Competing pages. How many pages appear in Google for phrase-matched search.

How to Perform Manual Keyword Research

Google has improved its keyword research tool over the years. Now it displays a lot of useful information. It was actually designed for Google AdWords, but now it also has an external version so anyone can use it without actually having a Google account.

As the project is mainly targeting Google search engine as the source of traffic, researching for keywords using the tool from the same search engine can help in assessing more accurate data. (A long the way there will be other traffic strategies as well.)

Pay attention to the Approx Search Volume: <month> figure. You may want to dig into sub niches or micro niches to find topics that are just the right size. Remember that you can always expand later. The approach you want to take for this business is bottom up.

Once you have a list of keywords that meet the traffic criterion, jot them down and perform phrase-matched search for that keyword in Google. Look for the number of results shown in the results. It is important to know that this number fluctuates and different data center may return different result.

The rule of thumb is, a keyword or key phrase is good to go if there are 50,000 or less web pages returned for phrase-matched search.

My Keyword Research Project

After some thoughts, I decide not to publish my research data right now. As much as I want to be transparent in this particular challenge, I have to face the fact that some people — especially in the Internet marketing niche — don’t trust in themselves enough to use their own research data to move the project forward.

If I am to publish my keyword research project right now, it will pretty much defeat the purpose of the project, because I may increase my own competition during the challenge. And that is certainly not good for my end result.

I came up with a solution though. I’ll come back and update all the posts a few weeks later or after the challenge is over. That way, you may be able to still see what I do exactly to produce the kind of results I will be producing for the challenge.

Right now, feel free to participate in the challenge yourself and have fun!

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