Keyword Research the Dumb Way

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Sticking with the theme of the blog, I need to tell you about some dumb things I’ve done when it comes to keyword research. I thought I had it figured out. I thought it was pretty simple. As it turns out, I was doing more than one thing wrong!

Until recently, I didn’t even properly or completely understand what a keyword was. I knew it had to do with the basic subject matter of content and that it was important for search engine optimization (SEO). In the past, when I had to fill out a form for keywords to an article, I would separate every single word with a comma. I didn’t know that a keyword (singular) could actually be a set of words or a phrase. For example, if I wrote a post on buying used vs. new cars, I probably filled out the keyword box something like this: new, versus, used, car, debate, benefits, of, buying, why, you, should. I figured as long as all of the words were there, the search engines would put it all together. Maybe that is partly why my old money blog seemed to lose traction. The proper way to enter keywords for a post like that would have been more like this: new versus used car, new versus used car debate, benefits of buying new car, benefits of buying used car, why you should buy new car, why you should buy used car. You see, each phrase is its own keyword.

My First Attempt at Keyword Research

Skip ahead to my new niche site adventure. Now that I knew what exactly a keyword was, I was ready to do my own research and start building niche sites. I had listened to a few different podcasts and read a little bit about keyword research from various bloggers. I watched Pat Flynn’s tutorial video on how to use Market Samurai and downloaded the program to use the free trial. I really didn’t know what I was doing and ended up settling on a keyword after thinking I had it figured out. I let the free 10-day trial on Market Samurai expire and did not purchase the program. I decided to stay the free route and simply use the Google Adwords keyword tool for the time being. Comparing my keyword that I found with Market Samurai to the results in the Adwords tool, I found that my target keyword got 2900 Global monthly searches and (at the time) had a competition rating of Low. As you can see in this screenshot (click image to enlarge), the competition is now Medium.

Also, the CPC (cost-per-click) for this keyword is pretty low. I didn’t care about this though. Any money coming in would be cool with me. I just wanted to find a keyword that I thought I could rank easily as I experimented with my first niche site. This is the data I went with and I built the small niche site.

Before I knew any better, I actually had a bit of success with the site. Today the site remains at #1 in Google for the main keyword. Traffic is steadily averaging 125+ page views per day. Clicks are even coming in pretty steadily, although most of them don’t pay very much. That’s OK though, as this is a learning process for me.

Keyword Research Misunderstandings and Wrong-Doings

If you look closely at the screenshot above, you see in the upper left corner where it says Match Types. I recently discovered that I should have un-checked the Broad box and checked the Exact box when I performed this keyword research. This would tell me how many people were searching for my exact keyword each month, and would give me a better idea of how many people would actually see my site on Google’s first page if I could get it there. That is the first thing I did wrong. If I had done it right the first time my Adwords data would have looked more like the following screenshot and I may not have even gone after this keyword. What’s done is done though. The site is complete and it is earning a small passive income.

Another major misunderstanding I had was that of the competition rating. I thought Low was what I wanted. I figured Low meant low competition for the keyword as far as SEO by other sites. I was wrong! This is an Adwords tool which means advertisers are using it to find sites that feature certain keywords where they can place their ads. Low competition means that not very many advertisers are bidding to place their ads on sites with this keyword. I now know that High is what I want, and that Medium might be OK. Low still works though, as ads will still be on your site and will still get clicks. High just means that more (and probably better) ads will be available and will show up on your site. These are probably more likely to get clicks as well.

Thank You!

First off, I need to thank Mike from Live The New Economy for pointing out my misunderstanding about competition levels in the Google Adwords keyword tool. I also need to send a shout-out and a special thanks to Justin and Joe over at Adsense Flippers. It was one of their subscriber e-mails that I received recently that confirmed Mike’s point and caused me to see the light and finally better understand this keyword research thing. If you want to learn from the pro’s like I am (Adsense Flippers), head over to their site and sign up for their free newsletter.

In my next post, I want to show you another great tool I learned in the Easy 5 Step Keyword Research process from Adsense Flippers. They explain exactly how they estimate how much a site will earn monthly (from Adsense) based on numbers given in the Adwords keyword tool. I want to go in depth and show you how it works.

Until then, remember that there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.


13 thoughts on “Keyword Research the Dumb Way”

  1. You could not have written article at a better time. After reading your last posts about building a niche site, I followed the link you gave on long-tail keyword research. This lead me right to Google Adwords where I was making the exact same mistakes you just mentioned. Thanks for setting things straight as this will help my upcoming research.

    Quick question: Say my keyword is “what is a 401k”. Does my keyword still work if someone searches for “401k”?

    Also according to the long-tail method, I’m assuming we want keywords with low Global Monthly Searches. How low is low? < 10,000?

    • Thanks for your comment MyMoney. You make me out to be an expert here! I am not an expert, I am a dummy – hence the name, Dumb Passive Income. I will attempt to answer your questions anyway.

      I am not sure about your keyword question with the “401k” example. My basic understanding about keywords is that they are the word or phrase that you are generally targeting for that article or site. If you want to target one word within that phrase as well, I would probably enter it into your SEO form separately. Search engines don’t only find content based on what you enter in an SEO form though. They actually scan the content as well, so yes, if somebody searched for 401k your article would show up on maybe the 4 millionth page of search results. Entering keyword data into an SEO form just helps the search engines find targeted articles or sites. I guess the short answer to your question would be YES, but it would be way down in the search results.

      You never WANT low search results when searching for keywords. Long-tail keywords are generally keywords that are more specific than your main keyword. For example, if your main keyword is 401k Investing, a few long-tail keywords might be, How to fund a 401k Investment, 401k Asset Allocation, 401k Investment Returns, How to Borrow Against a 401k… etc. Here is the definition of a long-tail keyword It is possible that they have even more monthly searches! More searches is always better.

      I hope this helps!

      • Matt:

        “In the land of the blind, the man with one eye is king!” 🙂 Despite just starting out, you’re still ahead of me on this subject which makes you the expert! Thanks for the advice and for the link on long-tails.

        Just to clarify, by SEO Form you mean something like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, right?

        • By SEO form, I’m talking about a simple SEO plug in (for WordPress) that allows you to enter a title, description and keyword data for each separate post or page. (I even found an SEO plug in for Blogger when I used it) This plug in optimizes your page for the search engines and also makes it look better in their results pages (SERP’s).
          This has nothing to do with the Adwords tool.

          Thanks for the compliment! OK, I’ll be your “expert!” Haha.

      • Matthew, great post! Thank you for all the info you are putting out there. Am reading it all up.

        I have a question though. How do you know from the analytics that using a certain keyword could land us at the bottom of google?

        Thank you 🙂

        • I don’t actually know that Navinf. More often than not – you don’t start out at the top of Google. And it’s not analytics that gives insight into this – it’s keyword research.

  2. Thanks for the props Matthew. I’m done with field training now, so should have a few days of productivity to do some catching up with my efforts! I’m glad to read that you are finding some success!

  3. Thanks for the heads up on the “low”, “medium” and “high” ratings on the site. I did not know that’s what it meant.

    • Yeah, no problem Happy. I think most of us make that mistake when starting out. Even the seasoned pros admit that they made the mistake of thinking these competition ratings were for SEO competition.

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