Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that your target audience uses while searching the internet.
The main aim of this exercise is to find profitable keywords, i.e. keywords that have low competition (can be ranked with minimal effort) and still provide good profits in the long term.
Here we’ll be taking the totally manual approach to keyword research and will be focused towards those with no or minimal budget as all the tools we’ll be using here are 100% free.
If you do have a budget and can shell out some money, then there are keyword research tools like Long tail pro that can significantly drop down the time you spend on researching, find better keywords and build more profitable websites.
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Let’s get to the point.
We’ll break down Keyword Research into step-by-step approach.
Step 1 – Finding your Seed Keywords
Seed keywords are the words which will be used as our base keywords.
For example, if we’re looking forward to promote a weight loss product then our seed keywords can be:
1. How to lose weight
2. How to lose weight fast
3. How to lose fat
4. Weight loss diet
5. Weight loss programs
Find your seed keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and think what they would put in the Google’s search box if they were looking for the solution.
Step 2: How to Use Google Keyword Tool
Google Keyword tool was created for marketer who were looking forward to advertise on Google.com’s Search results and display partners and helps the advertisers get an estimate on how many people they can reach if they advertise on Google’s Search Results.
We can use this tool to figure out how much traffic we can generate if we manage to rank #1 for the keywords we are targeting and this can help us find how profitable our particular keyword is, thus eliminating much of the guess work.
You can find Google Adwords keyword Planner here.
If you’re using this tool for the first time then you’ll have see something like this.
Broad Searches Vs. Exact Searches
Now the first thing you want to do is to add the broad match and exact match keywords. You can enter the keywords under Plan your budget and get forecasts.
This means that you want to only get stats for the people who are typing the exact keyword that you’ll be targeting.
Broad match type means that Google will include all strings and keywords in which a particular keyword appears.
If you’re trying to get stats for online advertising.
Here are the results for both Broad match type and Exact match type.
As you can see if I only bid for CPC$1.55, broad search match type returns 3,256.08 impression per month whereas the exact search match type returns 25.58 impression per month.
Braod search match type takes in account all the keywords like “contextual online advertising” and “online CPC advertising” to get back the U.S. monthly searches, whereas, the exact search match type brings back just those number of people who are search for the exact keyword i.e. “online advertising”.
This is a rookie mistake and one of the main reasons why people most of the people never see the traffic they were expecting, even when they successfully rank for the targeted keyword.
Setting up Filters
Filters will help you bring in the results that are suitable for your website.
You need to click on Advanced Filters and it will bring up options where you can edit and change your filters as per your needs.
I tend to go with keywords which have more than 1000 local US searches per month. I always set United States as my target audience because that has been the most profitable audience for me till date.
After I’m done my filters look something like this.
But since you’re just starting out, I’d recommend you to go with low search volumes, somewhere between 100-500 because the competition is generally a bit low for these keywords.
Once you are able to rank your websites for these keywords then you can move on to bigger keywords with the profits that you generate from your first affiliate website.
Moreover, it makes perfect sense to take small steps and keep failure, if any to a small scale and easily repairable.
How to Evaluate the Competitiveness of a Keyword
Before we move on, you’ll have to understand a few basics of SEO.
To understand this part, we’ll take a random keyword that we got back from the keyword research tool.
I’ll choose “low CPC online advertising “.
This keywords looks good because the searchers are looking forward to lose weight fast and it would be a bit easier to make the sale when your audience is desperate.
Fundamental factors that carry weight while Search Engines like Google evaluate how to rank websites:
Factor 1 : Meta Title, Meta Description and URL
This is the title of the page that appears on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
If your Exact keyword is not present in the Title and description of the first page results of Google then you should get pretty excited because with the right On-page Optimization and tightly focused content you have a really good chance to outrank these websites.
Taking a live example for our current keyword:
As you can see, none of the top ranking pages contains our exact keyword in their Title, description or URL and thus this passes our first test.
But there are still a lot of other factors that contribute to the factors, that are making these websites rank even though they don’t have the specific keyword in their titles and descriptions.
Factor 2 : Domain Age and Authority
The age and trust factor of a domain name plays a major role in deciding the ranking of a page and as you can see in the above results. Sites like Cosmopolitan, Youtube, Yahoo and major sites (focused on weight loss and fitness) like bodybybate and marieclaire are dominating the SERPs.
Fortunately, as per my past experiences, it is not really difficult to outrank authority sites when they’re not particularly trying to rank for and are deliberately optimized for the targeted keywords.
All we need to do is build our own mini-authority website around the targeted keyword with content tightly focused towards our keywords, build do some effective link building and we’ll have our website getting all the traffic we want it to, in a few weeks.
Factor 3 : Backlinks
Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page and this is one of the major factors that Google evaluates before ranking a website.
If the sites that are already ranking are authority websites and have a lot of backlinks (from other authority sites) pointing to that particular page, it is a good idea to drop that keyword and move on to low competition keyword until you’re confident enough and have enough resources to compete for that particular keyword.
How to Check Backlinks?
A lot of tools that are available can only bring you the backlinks that are pointing out to the domain name or the homepage of the website and are not really suitable for our purpose.
Ahrefs.com is one website analysis service that can get you the backlinks pointing to a specific internal page of a website and will do just fine for our campaigns.
Ahrefs does offer a free “limited” service and it should do just fine for us. But if you do get into more full-time affiliate marketing and start dealing with bigger keywords and competing with other affiliate marketers then it makes perfect sense to upgrade and get a more detailed report on what kind of backlinks and backlinks from what sources are helping your competitors rank in Google.
Moving on…Go to Ahrefs.com and Create a free account.
Here is the analysis report that we get for this particular web page.
Here are the 3 main factors that we need to analyse from the report.
1. Number of Backlinks
As you can see there are over 4000 pages that are linking back to this website and for an internal page of an authority site that’s a pretty good number (bad for us though).
2. Type of Backlinks.
Dofollow Backlinks are those which Google’s Crawlers recognize and these help in building up the rank, whereas nofollow links carry no authority and don’t really do much good to improving your rankings in Google.
But do note that it is important to have a good balance of both Dofollow and Nofollow backlinks as this kind of link profile is natural. It is highly unnatural to have all links as Dofollow and can bring up your website for a penalization.
3. Social Signals
Social signals is a pretty recent add-on to the algorithm and even though a lot of SEO’s argue that these signals don’t do much good, my experience and tests have shown a different result.
Social signals like Facebook likes/shares and Twitter tweets have shown significant results when combined with other fundamental strategies. Moreover, it helps your site to establish itself as an authority since authority sites do get a lot of social engagement for their content.
Keeping all these factors in mind, it is pretty sensible to drop this keyword and move on to a new one.
But there are some really useful insights that you can take away from this research.
You’ve just witnessed all the factors that helped this authority site rank for the keyword that’s getting over 8000 searches per month.
Take a note of all these factors and it will be of much greater application when you’ll be trying to rank your own website for a less competitive keyword.
And That’s it.
Now you know everything you need to select the right market and the right set of keywords for your affiliate website.
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