Keyword Research: Understanding Long-Tail Keywords
The first step in building a successful affiliate business is to do your keyword research and build a robust list of profitable keywords.
Most affiliates who don’t do this step properly, blindly assuming they can compete for such challenging terms as “online data backup” and “affiliate marketing” learn their lesson quickly. No matter how great your site, if you don’t select the right keywords, you won’t get the level of traffic you need to succeed.
When you’ve started researching keywords in a tool such as the Google Keyword Tool, you’ll see how challenging it can be to compete for popular terms such as “dog training,” which is labeled as “medium competition” with a total of 1.2 million searches each month. But when you turn dog training into what’s called a long-tail keyword of three-to-four words, such as “dog training clubs,” you’ll find low competition with 18,000 searches each month. And as an affiliate with great content, that’s a term you could definitely take to Google’s page one!
So today, we’re going to discuss a process you can use to identify those long-tail keywords that will get you traffic.
Step 1: Getting started
Once you decide on the core keywords you’ll focus on (this will be the root keywords that describe your niche), you can expand your list by using Google’s free Keyword Tool. In addition to using Google, you’ll want to brainstorm some ideas yourself, because as powerful as Google is, there is no substitute for knowing about how web users will search for information in your niche.
Always be on the lookout for new, even offbeat keywords you can test out on your site. Many affiliate marketers make the mistake of always looking for synonyms of their keywords instead of thinking the way people think. Actual buyers of your affiliate product may search in all kinds of ways: from very specific keywords (Apple iPad 3) to long, rambling phrases (where to buy cheap Apple iPads in Missouri). Keep focused on thinking like a buyer, researching competitors, and optimizing for new keywords.
Step 2: Step into their shoes
Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes, using these steps to expand your list:
- Take general terms related to your product and add details. Once you’ve come up with the basic ideas, expand.
- What words are associated with your affiliate product?
- What industry terms, slang, jargon, abbreviations, etc., if any, are associated with your product? For example, if you’re selling a course on how to do SEO advertising effectively, expand on phrases that contain both the term “search engine optimization” and its corresponding abbreviation, “SEO.”
- Do related products or potential upsells suggest new phrases? If you’re selling a book on SEO, products related to Internet traffic and pay per click are common. So you’ll want to brainstorm those phrases and possibly combine them with your main topic.
- Which phrases correspond with your most expensive product?
- What keywords are your competitors targeting?
Seeing an abundance of PPC advertising for a term suggests that there’s traffic to be gained by using it as part of your keyword list.
Step 3: Study the PPC ads in your niche
- The presence of at least two pages of ads means those keywords are profitable. That’s a good sign!
- Search on each of your keywords, then check out the Google ads on the right-hand side.
- The keywords targeted by those ads will appear in boldface. Then try searching on variations of those keywords, and see how many ads appear.
Step 4: Focus on the first page of results
- Conduct searches on your keyword, then investigate the sites that appear on the first two pages of results.
- When you go to a popular website, select the “View Source” command. This will reveal the site’s source HTML code. In the first few lines of HTML code, you’ll be able to see the title, description, and keyword meta tags. Look at them closely and determine if some of the keywords are helpful for your website.
- When you’re done viewing the source code, go back to the site and read some of the content, looking for applicable words and phrases that you can add to your list. These would be good keywords to use to develop separately optimized subpages for your website.
Wordtracker is a great tool for getting ideas on how to expand your keyword list.
Step 5: Use a long-tail keyword generator
- Check out the Wordtracker keyword generator.
- If you’re trying to attract better, more qualified traffic to your site, it can help you build a great keyword list.
- While the free version doesn’t provide the numbers behind search volume and competition, it can provide you with great ideas.
- You can use it as an idea starter and use the Google Keyword Tool for detailed analysis.
Step 6: Be organized and creative
- Build a list of the keywords you’re contemplating using on your site.
- Keep a running list of all the potential keywords you could use.
- Look for them when you’re online and offline.
- What keywords are missing from your list?
- What keywords should you add to your list?