Here’s a very condensed version of the Omega Guide: Keyword Research by Alex Becker.
Alex doesn’t use software and instead relies on http://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool (the correct URL at the time of this writing). He disdains Market Samarai, but does not mention Micro Niche Finder, which is my preference. (Later, I will reveal how Becker’s ideas intersect with my MNF experience).
I agree and disagree with Alex on this point. Because I am a programmer, I like tools. Tools can speed up whatever it is you’re doing and provide very valuable shortcuts. I also know better than to rely 100% on tools because tools can only do what the tool is intended to do – they can’t “read between the lines” and be intuitive (and there’s a lot of necessity for that). With that out of the way, let’s recap Becker’s ideas…
Keyword Research Tips
Search volume – 3600+ local searches for exact keyword match. Broad search is used later (nice tip coming). A Google position of #1 will get 40-60% of that traffic. Positions 1-4 get nearly all of the traffic.
Cost per Click (CPC) – $1.00 or more. This is a suggested minimum only – it would depend on the product (higher priced products should demand higher CPCs). If people are paying a ton for the traffic, then the traffic has higher chances of bringing in money.
Search intent. Consider the level or type of problem the searcher is having. Buyer/action keywords are important.
How to…, Get rid of…, Buy…, Purchase…, Best… , Specific product name/model/etc.
Seasonality – Holidays, big events (Olympics), celebrity rumors, summer, winter, etc. Short term possibilities, but not year ’round.
Business/Interaction Potential. Look for opportunities that may not have immediate results but may create future opportunities. This is somewhat vague.
The following are fairly well accepted standards (YMMV).
Page Rank. Top 5 sites have a PR of 3 or less (use SEO Quake to check).
Backlinks. Use Majestic SEO to get a baseline. Poorly SEO’d backlinks count far less (MNF does this fairly well using Majestic’s API).
Domain Age. I chatted about this here. Young domains are less trusted, older domains more so. Hopefully your competition is new.
The following are what Becker calls “advanced” SEO.
Site Ranking. Here’s where Broad search analysis comes into play. A site might “accidentally” rank highly for a keyword without really trying. My take – If a site lands high (104) for both Broad AND Exact, then it’s likely the keyword is optimized. Need to do more analysis using SEO Quake and Majestic to verify. Look at title, URL, and description for the competition’s efforts.
Page Type. If the top results are user generated pages or forum pages, the competition is minimal. Look for Facebook/Twitter profiles, download sites, article pages (easy pickings), Squidoo, HubPages, borderline empty pages.
Stupid SEO. Bad URLs and poorly placed anchor text are indications the page is not SEO’d.
Exact Match Domains are Open. This is where my experience with Micro Niche Finder comes in handy. The very first thing I do is check domain availability. If none of the top 3 (com, net, org) are available, I assume that someone else has gotten there first. Alex simply verified my suspicions. I may then look at SOC for a few under-searched domains and see if there’s any possibilities. But, usually I just skip over the keyword.
There, I reduced his 3000 word post to 500. Good for me.
P.S. – Recently, I did find a (hopeful) gem. I did a search on MNF and actually found an exact match .com domain for a buyer keyword phrase that has 6600+ searches per month. I’m getting it ranked as I write this.