Several years ago, finding keywords was a breeze. Most of us can remember when coming up with a competitive keyword phrase was as easy as finding a niche market, buying an exact match domain name, and loading up pages with one- or two-word keyword phrases was about all there was to search engine optimization. Today however, things have changed. There is a definite art to finding keywords, which usually requires moving towards the long tail and getting a bit creative. But as long as you create a solid plan and pay attention to what other Internet marketers are doing, finding keywords isn’t really much more difficult than it used to be.
Using a Mind Map
In 2007, Google’s VP of Engineering, Ubi Mander gave a report on search volume and read one statistic that surprised quite a few Internet marketers. According to Mander, as many as 25 percent of the keywords that would be searched that day would be keywords that Google had never seen before. Today, the more than 15.4 billion searches that Google users perform each month haven’t yielded much different results — with around 20 percent being entirely unique each day.
For Internet marketers, this means that mind mapping has become one of the most effective ways to generate intelligent and profitable keyword phrases. Mind mapping is an excellent tool as it requires your own mind to generate keyword ideas, not other peoples’ publications or tools. In general, mind mapping is simply guessing which keyword phrases will gain traffic, based on popular phrases. Those popular phrases come with large competitors, and their large budgets. But you can target more specific phrases to get the smaller, and often more profitable, traffic volumes.
For example, consider the keyword phrase “wordpress blog” — a very competitive phrase. Now consider which searches are more likely to end in conversions. Many people that include terms like “design” or “develop” are in a buying mood. So, we can change up the keyword phrase a little bit to target a specific buying niche — like “creating a WordPress blog” or “wordpress blog development service” to cover wider buying areas and search trends. Finally, you can choose a much smaller niche within the same idea to narrow your customer base to even more targeted traffic.
Keyword Research Tools to Bookmark
Of course, there are also a variety of solid keyword research tools that you can use to generate high traffic keyword phrases, especially if you’re not the creative type. The Google Keyword Tool is fantastic for determining which keyword phrases get the most traffic. But there are a couple of tips to keep in mind when using it:
- Make sure you check the “Match Types” section on the left side of the screen on Google AdWords. You should always switch the Match Type from “Broad” to “Exact” for the most accurate results.
- You don’t have to enter any keywords at all to get solid keyword search data. Most beginners forget about the “Category” search available that can be used to check out search trends without having any ideas beforehand. Simply choose a “Category” just below the “Word or phrase” search box and check which keywords are getting the most traffic, with the least amount of competition of course.
- Pay very close attention to the “Global Monthly Searches” column to decide if you need to take a world view on your website. For example, searches that show high worldwide search volume but low local search volume may justify considering writing your website content with a world view (like not referring to the United States with phrases like “in our country”).
If you don’t get good results from the Google Keyword Tool, there are other similar tools that you can try, all of which either offer substantial free trials or are free to use. Some of these tools include:
This tool is free and simple. Just enter a keyword phrase (we tried “wireless Internet”) and alphabetized ideas will be displayed. Some solid long-tail keyword options for the phrase “wireless Internet” were phrases like “wireless Internet for laptops pay as you go,” which could justify targeting some phrases containing “4G Internet plans.” Another solid phrase was a troubleshooting based one like “wireless Internet is slow.” Your lead generation website could offer your service as the solution to slow Internet.
While you have to pay for the full version, the free version of Market Samurai is an excellent tool for identifying keyword phrases with low competition, and offers additional tools for analyzing your competition and organizing your website around your chosen keyword phrases. The people at Market Samurai also send out regular newsletters with keyword tips. But, as with all proprietary software, remember that anyone else with the program will have the same ideas as you get from the newsletters, so you might want to focus more on your own ideas.
Sites like SEOMoz.com, Viperchill.com, and SEOBook.com offer fantastic tips for performing keyword research. In fact, The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research on Viperchill is one of the best guides to creatively finding new and profitable keyword phrases. SEOBook.com offers the best SEO forum in the world, although it does come with a hefty $300-a-month fee. However, I’ve been a member for two years and never regretted the fantastic tips that forum users have to offer. The fee also keeps the trolls and illegitimate marketers from spoiling the info on the forum.
If you run a news based site, or a blog for that matter, your best strategy is to keep your keywords fresh and current. Sites like Google Trends can help you identify keywords that people are searching for right now, that might not yet have much competition. One of the most profitable websites I ever owned involved checking Google Trends every morning at about 5 a.m. and checking which keywords had begun trending, usually involving celebrities or worldwide news, then writing a quick 250-300 word article targeting that phrase to get the maximum uptime throughout the day.
As you can see, there are many good options to find valuable keyword phrases without having to compete with large brands. The most important thing is to be creative when generating ideas. Your best ideas will come from your own experience and brainstorming sessions – so use those tools before resorting to any software or forums, which are open to countless other marketers. Remember to choose keywords that target searchers in a buying mood, not ones that simply draw non-paying traffic, and you should begin to see your website conversions slowly increase over time.