Keyword research is basically how I make all my money.
Check out these stats on a single product review keyword I found in 2020. It produced the best earnings per click numbers I’ve EVER personally had.
Some weeks I had over a $10 EPC (earnings per click).
In April 2020 this offer had an EPC of almost $7.
So every click on my affiliate link, I received $7 basically. These are AMAZING numbers.
Compare that with my average EPC with Amazon of $0.15!
These are stats for a single keyword, and I found it through the methods I’m sharing here.
What I want to do is quickly discuss what keywords are, reveal how to find them, and then discuss some useful keyword metrics to help you decide whether a particular keyword is worth incorporating into your business.
And that’s really important because this stuff can be very time consuming when you don’t know what you’re looking for, and at the end of the day, choosing the right keywords can really make or break your business.
Watch or read on:
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Table of Cotents
What Stage is Your Business at?
Now before we jump into what keywords are, how to find them, and how to evaluate them, we just need to extend this intro and quickly talk about you, your potential business, and how you’re going to use keywords.
Researching keywords is something you must do before moving forward with a new project, but it’s something you can really continue to do throughout the life of your online business.
As your business grows and as your niche evolves, you may need to continue to research keywords.
If you’ve just chosen a new niche, you need to validate its potential by looking at its keywords.
And if you’re not quite at the implementation stage yet, this tutorial will help you get a clear understanding of what keywords are, why they matter, and how you can find them.
Keywords and SEO - What's the Connection?
It’s important to see the connection between “keywords” and "SEO" (Search Engine Optimization). I’ll link my SEO for Beginners tutorial here if you need a refresher on SEO.
Now I’ve been researching keywords for over 10 years or so for my affiliate marketing businesses, and for clients who have local businesses. I use SEO to rank websites on Google and earn money through affiliate marketing. I also do SEO for local businesses who pay me for this service.
So keyword research is a foundational component of SEO, and if you have or you’re planning to build any type of online business, then you will probably need to do some type of SEO. You’ll need to optimize your digital asset, which is usually a website, but it might be a YouTube video you need to research keywords for, or even product listings on Amazon.
I remember watching a video just like this from a mentor of mine many years ago and he was emphasizing how important choosing the right keywords is for your business. And it’s totally true. I know from personal experience that finding the right keywords can really explode your business.
But I also understand that you probably hear things like “this is the most important part of your business”, or “this is the secret to making money online”, and it becomes hard to believe what really matters. So I’ve been in your shoes, exactly where you are right now, and I remember thinking at the time that keyword research can’t be that important.
And I probably thought that way because I couldn’t see the connection between proper keywords and business growth. I didn’t have a good understanding of what keywords are and how they’re used. Also, keyword research requires some actual work. You need to get your hands dirty and do some research. As a beginner I was probably more concerned with how my website looked instead of how it was optimized.
But I can honestly say that keyword research is very very important, you really need to nail this part of your business.
Proper keyword research can help many other aspects of your business, and bad keyword selection can make other tasks way harder, or set you up to fail.
If you do affiliate marketing like me, then keyword research is really the most important part of planning out your content and overall business plan. And if you work with local businesses, it’s just as important. You need to target the right keywords so their business gets exposure online.
Again, any online “asset” or platform probably needs to get optimized with various keywords. So it’s really important you understand this topic.
Let’s start with understanding what keywords are:
What is a Keyword?
A keyword for SEO purposes is any word or phrase that people search for on Google, YouTube and other search engines.
So when you plug a word or phrase into Google and hit enter, you essentially just submitted a keyword into Google's search engine. Google gets billions of these submissions every single day, which allows them to gather tons of data from their users.
When you look at how people break down keywords and analyze them, you will find a few different approaches. The main difference is how they label and name certain components of a keyword.
Here are some of the ways keywords are described, which pretty much mean the same thing:
- Head > Body > Long Tail
- Generic > Broad Matching > Long Tail
- Tier 1 > Tier 2 > Tier 3
Here are a few examples:
- Microphone > USB Microphone > USB Microphone for Singing
- CBD > CBD Gummies > CBD Gummies for Knee Pain
Basically, you have a broad keyword, and as you get more specific, you usually get into what's called a long-tail keyword. Longtail keywords are usually more specific, and because of this they have relatively lower search volume. They are also usually longer in length (3 words or more), but not always. Long-tail keywords are less popular than other keywords, and that's what makes them "long-tail".
I personally like to recommend Ahrefs' article on long-tail keywords if you want more information on these keywords.
It's important to get a good grasp of what these keywords are and which ones are best to use, because they play a big role in optimizing your website, particularly for your on page SEO.
Types of Keywords
There are several different types of keywords, and I want to highlight two types here:
- Buyer Intent Keywords
- Informational Keywords
Buyer intent keywords are searches that people do when they’re looking to buy something. So think of things like “Best CBD Oil This Year”, or “Product X vs. Product Y”. People who are doing these types of searches are getting ready to buy something.
Informational keywords are searches that are more informational in nature. Things like “How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?”, or “Whey Protein Side Effects”. Generally, people doing searches like these are looking for information and answers.
There are benefits to targeting all types of keywords, and in order to create a valuable resource you will want to target various types of keywords.
How to Find Keywords
Keyword research is about finding the keywords that your audience is searching for, and creating an outline for your content marketing plan.
You want to find all the different keywords that your audience is searching for, and eventually create helpful content around those topics. Then, when someone finds your content online, you’re perceived as the friendly expert and you can sell your products or services very easily.
There are several techniques you can use for free to help you manually find keywords for your business:
- Brainstorm topics related to your niche.
- Ask yourself, what do people in my niche search for?
- Visit FAQ pages of other websites associated with your niche.
- Gather questions your customers might ask (AnswerThePublic.com).
- Consider creating product reviews.
- Consider comparing Product X vs. Product Y.
- Search forums associated with your topic.
- Search Wikipedia for your topic.
- Search Reddit for your topic.
- Use Google suggest, YouTube suggest, Amazon suggest.
Keyword Research Tools
The manual approach to finding keywords has some pros and cons. The pro is that they help you gather some good starting information for free. You can really do a ton of good keyword research with just your brain and Google, and it’s 100% free.
The bad part is that you don’t know any metrics regarding these keywords, and you’re clearly not as efficient as keyword research tools.
The data that you can gather from SEO tools is amazing and well worth the cost.
Also, if you don’t know anything about your market, then keyword research is really your market research, and using advanced tools is what you need to get the job done properly. Check out my tutorial on 3 popular keyword research tools here (Coming Soon).
There are many keyword metrics, however the 3 that I personally use the most are:
- Search Volume
- Search Intent
- Keyword Difficulty
The Search Volume Metric is Very Straight Forward
Keyword research tools will estimate how many times a month a particular keyword is searched for. That's what search volume is. What’s not clear is what a “good” search volume is.
The reason is that it will vary from niche to niche, and the value of a keyword is not solely dependent on its search volume.
I don’t want to give out hard numbers to go by, but if I were to generalize things I would say that your main topic should get at least a few thousand searches a month. So don’t build an online business around a niche with a main keyword of less than maybe 2000 searches a month. Again there will always be exceptions, but this is a pretty good benchmark number.
Search Intent is Super Important to Consider
Consider the graphic above:
“Can dogs eat bananas?”
“Best dog bed for large dogs”
The first search is clearly informational. A pet owner is wondering if bananas are safe for their dog to eat. When it comes to monetizing visitors who are searching for this type of information, it can be hard. You might be able to recommend a particular pet food, but in general, a person who plugs this keyword into Google probably just wants a quick answer. So you can argue that there isn't very much value in this keyword.
The second keyword is an example of a buyer intent keyword. Someone who's searching for a product is much further along in the buying process. In this example they are looking for a specific type of product. If you can provide the information they're looking for, it will be much easier to earn money from this website visitor, as opposed to someone who's just searching for information.
Considering the intent behind a keyword is important when planning out your business.
Keyword Difficulty Will Help You Decide What Content is Worth Targeting
If you can find keywords that get a lot of searches, and have low competition, then you’re on the right track.
As you start your business, it’s usually recommended to target low competition keywords, which are what we described before as long-tail keywords. Again, long-tail keywords have low search volume, think around 250 searches per month or less, and they are usually made up of several words. They are also usually very specific in nature.
The reason they’re great to start with is that they’re generally much easier to rank for. Overtime, as your business grows, it will start to rank for more competitive terms, but when you’re first starting out, it’s always recommended to target these low competitive keywords. If you rank for enough of them, they can actually make you very good money.
So longtail keywords don’t get a ton of search volume, but are generally not as difficult to rank for. All my successful affiliate marketing businesses target dozens and dozens long tail keywords. Based on my personal experience, this strategy definitely works.
Many keyword tools will have a Keyword Difficulty Score which helps you estimate how hard a keyword is to rank for on Google. The score from Ahrefs' keyword tool is based off of backlinks.
It only takes into account the links that the top results in Google receive for a particular keyword, and gives a score based on how many links it believes you will need to rank in the top 10. If you need a refresher on the importance of backlinks then I would recommend you watch my SEO for beginners video.
The general idea is that if you only target very competitive keywords, then it will be hard for your new website to gain any initial traction.
Keyword difficulty scores can be a useful metric, but they don't tell the whole story, and they shouldn't be your only deciding factor.
When you start to look deeply into these and other metrics, you’re moving into the topic of keyword analysis.
As you’re doing your keyword research, you will need to start analyzing the keywords you’re finding, but I think it’s important to mention in this keyword research for beginners tutorial, that you don’t want to get bogged down with metrics.
To be honest, I mostly decide on whether to build content around a keyword based on the search volume, the keyword difficulty, and the search intent. You also need to ask yourself does this make sense to incorporate into my business?
Remember there’s always exceptions to these metrics. It’s not always about buyer intent keywords. Yes those tend to make you the most money, but depending on your niche, you will probably discover that your online business really isn’t complete unless you provide informational content as well. Those “informational” pieces of content might not directly earn you commissions, but they can play a role in how well your business grows and gets exposure online.
It might also make sense to build content around topics that are very competitive in your niche. Just because a keyword in your niche has a very high keyword difficulty score, doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t cover it, in fact it’s probably the opposite.
The main point here is that if you set up and build a website for example that only covers very difficult keywords, it will take you a long time to gain website traffic. And on the flip side, if you only target super low competitive keywords, or only informational keywords, then you’re leaving money on the table and your business won’t reach its full potential.
Here's Your Next Step:
I hope that this information about keywords was helpful.
Your next steps would be to review some of the popular keyword research tools, and start putting into practice the methods I outlined above about how to find keywords.
But before you do that, you certainly want to make sure you have a clear understanding of how your website will make money, and whether your topic is a good one.
I explain all this in my 5 Step Blueprint which reveals the strategy I use to make a full time income online with affiliate marketing. If you're interested you can download a copy here.