Monday Tip – Time To Move Away From Keyword Research?

By Mark / March 21, 2011

Keyword research is fundemental to building sucessful websites.. or is it?

Over the past year or so i’ve been moving away from keyword research as I believe that it’s fundamentally flawed, although there is one exception which i’ll mention later.

Most keyword tools get their resuts from google, the problem is google is seriously flawed when it comes to giving accurate statistics for monthly searches. For example lets look at some old favorites “Get your ex back” according to google there are 135,000 searches a month for this phrase I am prepared to bet that well over 100,000 of those are Internet Marketers researching the niche.

Even for niches that aren’t the meat and potatoes of internet marketers there are more often than not spurious results. I’ve got sites that google tell me will have 800 searches a month but I find that ranking #4 I am getting over 1500 visitors each month and other where there are supposedly 50,000 searches a month but at #1 I am lucky to see 5 a day.

Before I go any further and tell you the solution i’ve found I have to make one point, if you are new to IM use keyword research as the basis for your sites, it’s the best way to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I used to follow keyword research exclusivly but then I got a feel for the keywords and niches and found myself going for keywords that the tools and google indicated weren’t any good.More often than not my “gut instinct was right.

Below you’ll find a video about how I find some of my niches and keywords I still do a bit of keyword research but don’t pay any attention to monthly figures. It’s also worth mentioning that I pay no attention to how many competitors there are in a niche.

I am only interested in the first page of google so I have 10 potential competitors. That’s all I worry about, if they all have good on page seo and thousands of quality backlinks I’ll walk away from that niche. But if I see, amazon, ezine articles, ehow , etc ranking in the top 10 or the sites have poor on page seo and only a few hundred links I dive straight in because I know I can outrank them 9 out of 10 times.

Below you’ll find a short 10 minute video where I do some keyword research on a potential niche. I originally created it last week as part of an occasional series I am doing for WordPress Goldmine about how methods are changing in IM but as I had such positive comments about my last post I thought it only right to share it with a wider audience.

I’d love to know your views , I know a lot of people will probably disagree with what I say in the video but healthy discussion is what drives research so please leave comments good or bad!

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Mark

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31 comments
Ionel Roman

Yeah I had a feeling that not one single tool out there is 100% accurate. I am still a IM rookie but the few websites that bring me Adsense revenue, the revenue comes through keywords that the websites are not even optimized for πŸ™‚

So, I quit using Google or any other keyword researching tools a year ago. I also think that the true way to analyze your competition is like you said, by looking at the websites on the first page of Google and their onpage and offpage SEO.

I only look at the first 3 spots however. If I feel I can beat the websites at number 1,2 or 3 I go for it. Otherwise I won’t even bother

Anyway, thanks for the great pointers

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Mark
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I use a plugin that emails the terms that people search for and the positions i am ranking for those terms… it usually bears little relationship to what google tells me!

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Honest Jay

Hell yeah, Mark.

I stopped using keyword tools since 2009 (can’t remember when exactly) and I get great traffic for stuff that I’m sure the keyword tools would indicate you wouldn’t do well with.

I just look at stuff that seems like everyone is talking about or stuff that people want to know about. Exactly like you said in the video.

Your head is the best keyword tool you could use.

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Jhoe@DentalColumbia

Mark,

Thanks for this common sense tip. You are probably right. I think too many of us rely upon Google’s keyword tool instead of using other things that should jump out at us such as the number of user comments. Thanks.

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Ingrid

Hi Mark

Cool post. Just last week I was looking at this same thing, however I always got taken in by search volume and all the other competition research. Will revisit some of the niches I had put aside thinking they were no good because of low search volume.

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Steve

Hi Mark,
I couldn’t agree more, I have been thinking for a while now that the standard method of KW research is fundamentally flawed. Putting a phrase in “quotes” and dismissing it when Google returns 25 million results doesn’t make any sense to me. For one that figure you get back is at best a guess on Googles behalf and if you look at the omitted results is never anywhere near correct. And all that aside the only competion you have in any niche is the first page, as that’s where you want to be if there’s 50 million in competion but the 1st page is weak with sites of little or no PR/links or SEO then it’s still viable, whereas if all the competion figures look good but the 1st page is all authority sites with high PR and thousands of links then your out before you start. I think it’s about time we all stopped following like sheep and started to think for ourselves, if it don’t make sense to do something a certain way just because it’s the standard there’s probably a good reason.

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Des

Hi Mark,

I think you are on to something here and with the way IM is going, we need to get back to commonsense. Look forward to future videos/info on the subject.

Thanks,
Des

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Joe Stewart

Hi Mark,

Great video! I’ve been doing some of this over the past few months as well and it just makes a lot more sense.

A few things I’d add just from personal experience.

#1. Always use unique content. There have been products put out in the past year or two that say it’s okay to use a certain percentage of duplicate content on internal pages, but I don’t recommend it. I didn’t copy entire paragraphs, but I did use a few sentences, etc and some of my sites suffered a bit during the recent Google Farmer/Panda update. Live and learn. πŸ™‚

#2. I always like to promote the higher star reviewed products too, but I do 4 star as well as 4 1/2 because I started having trouble with products running out of stock at Amazon! I suppose need to put a 2nd or 3rd option on my new sites to help avoid this problem.

#3. I’ve begun to build bigger sites recently. Mark Ling has been saying this for a long time about building Clickbank product reviews and it’s starting to make more sense with physical products as well. I’m not doing 25 pages like Mark does to start, but I think I need at least 10 pages to get a good idea if a site is going to get significant traffic and be profitable or not. This is contradicting the 1-5 page “autoblog” tactics that were being taught last year. I’m all about building everything to last these days (hopefully).

Thanks again for the great video. Please keep em’ coming! πŸ™‚

Joe

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Mark
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Joe,

Unique content is a must as far as i am concerned, I didn’t suffer with the latest update and I believe that it’s all dowm to having unique content. Also my best performing sites recently are the ones that are regularly updates.

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bj @ Droid Edge

You said, “according to google there are 135,000 searches a month for this phrase I am prepared to bet that well over 100,000 of those are Internet Marketers researching the niche.” That phrase made me laugh out loud! And you’re right!

I like your approach to things. Common sense is all too uncommon.

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Steve@ Action Whey Protein

Looked like that last site was a review site. So you feel that you could beat even the brand name site with original content you would write from the reviews on amazon? Hum, that is interesting. You hear different things today about ranking the main site of a product, but I did see what you meant about the onpage op that was non existent when you used MS.
Thanks for the tips that was interesting and informative.
Steve

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Mark
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Steve,

Id o believe with a bit of time and effort I could outrank at least 2 of the 3 pages from the manufacturer, depending who the chicken bones fell at google that month I might even get #1 (I do believe that the manufacturer should morally have #1 but thats another blog post!).

When you look through the reviews on amazon you pick up all sorts of details and tips that will help you create a really unique and helpful review.

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Brain Exercise

You always sound so confident in your videos about your subject matter. Like being able to rank for Razor scooters. I can;t seem to pull everything together to get things done. Focus and a real plan or outline is what I need.

Thanks for the encouragement and for freely sharing information.

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RonG

Hey Mark…Thanks Man…I was coming to that conclusion more or less…now I am convinced this is the way to go…

Question: What is the plug in? is it Google analytic’s???

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Max

I think keyword tools are useful for discovering terms within a niche you may know nothing about, but in terms of actually figuring out how many people are searching for things and wanting to buy something, they aren’t that great. I too am moving away from traditional keyword research methods and going more by what I read in niche forums to get ideas of what to write about for my niche sites.

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Clive Anderson

Hi Mark,

Great vid, full of very interesting and informative details. I think it pretty much shouts what perhaps a lot of marketers have been thinking for a long time, especially now since Google have re-vamped their logistics for ranking criteria.

I know for me you have given me a comfort zone to what I had been doing and thinking. Articles are getting harder and harder to get accepted in certain article sites too due to Google, so perhaps a blog update on your own opinion of that might also prove a way forward for your members and subscribers.

Many Thanks Again,

Warm Regards,

Clive Anderson πŸ™‚

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Mark
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Clive, I am currently testing article marketing again and I’ll compare the results to the tests I did a few years back

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Andrea @ TheAffiliateGirl.com

Hi Mark,
You said: “I use a plugin that emails the terms that people search for and the positions i am ranking for those terms… it usually bears little relationship to what google tells me!”

Could you please share the name of this plug-in? Sounds like a great tool for on page SEO. Also if you have an affiliate link, I’d be glad to use it ;).

Thanks,
Andrea

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Mark
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Andrea,

It’s a plugin created by one of the wordpress goldmine members and marketed by another members. It’s called rank Tracker.

I did look quickly through the forum to see if the special offer was still on for it but couldn’t find the original thread… you can get details at:

http://mjthompson.net/likes/ranktracker

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African Mango

Great post Mark and perfect timimg with everything that is going down with Google right now. Your post has given me more confidence in testing this side of the market as opposed to cpa offers. Thanks for sharing!!

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philip

Hello Mark,

I enjoyed watching the video above, and learned a lot as well. Thanks for drawing my attention to your post above. I like your approach. You talk a lot of common sense.

I’m with you, the best keywords come from using the brain, and thinking about what people are searching for.

Good stuff. Thanks again.

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PJ Schuessler Jr

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the great video! I totally agree with what you say about keyword research. Trying to keep up with Google numbers will leave you befuddled. If Google is holding us as marketers to a certain standard, then why can’t they be held on the same standards concerning the numbers?Just food for thought.

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Derek

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the informative post and video. As a new marketer I appreciate your candid and practical approach. It’s been confusing at time with so many varying opinions on the keyword research best practices. This makes more sense to me than anything else I have read or watched.

Best regards, Derek

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stevie

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your thoughts on Keyword Research, I have spent hours upon hours looking for Keywords to match the criteria I’ve been given, i.e. matching min search volumes (high) and max comp volumes (low).

As you can imagine NOT easy, in fact nearly impossible I’ve found! Obviously if Keywords have a high search volume then there will inevitably be a lot of comp.

So having watched your video I will try to implement your ideas on researching the top 10 first page sites before I dismiss a product or keyword to go after. I’m also going take a look at that Plugin!

Thanks,
Stevie

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Fabrizio T.

Thanks for the great post.
I am still wondering if there are any tools to do a proper keyword research on markets different than US-English based niches…

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Mark
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Fabrizio

I don’t know of a good foreign keyword tool, i think that googles adwords tool should be of some help, have you tried that yet?

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Mark Pocock

Six months ago I checked a KW with Google. 12k searches/month. 750K competing web pages.
Now Google shows 8.9 million competing web pages. And 5,100 searches. Crazy!

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Jurrell Kemp

Great post and I agree with you on the keyword research google told me that I had found one keyword that gets 250,000 searches a month I ended up the exact domain name and did on page and off page seo ended up with 5 to 10 visitors a day I’m not going to lie though I was #10 which sucks cause I wasted allot of time but I love sticking it to Squidoo and E-zine articles every time I get the chance.

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Tom

I have been doing a similar type of researching myself… however since I do not mess around with Amazon much.. the starting point is different.

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Pat

Loved the video … really helps clear the smoke that’s been kicked up in the blog / website / Google community of late.

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Matthew

Mark,

Very interesting read. It amazes me how much emphasis some internet marketers will put on keyword research, when in reality looking at market trends and what is “hot” in a particular market is a much more effective way to drill down a profitable niche within a larger market.

My eyes were first opened to the inaccuracies of keyword tools last year. I ranked #1 for a term that had 9,900 exact monthly searches, and then I also ranked #1 for a term that only had 720 monthly searches. I was blogging using variations of both of these keywords, and after ranking for the main term and several variations in both niches, I got 4x the traffic in the niche with less search volume according to Google.

Most marketers would be much better off if they would focus less on KW research, and more on identifying profitable niches within larger markets.

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