Trick to Keyword Research

Whether your are new to writing online to make money, or you have been using your online writing skills for profit for a long time, you probably have put some thought into keyword research.

Keyword research is the act of looking at various keywords and key phrases to determine if they will be profitable, or effective keywords for your particular websites. Depending upon your goals, your keyword targets may be very flexible, or absolutely necessary. Either way, it’s nice to know what your task looks like before you get started.

Problem With Keyword Research

The problem with keyword research is that you already have to do something about the keywords you are after before you can do it.

For example, if you write a personal financial advice blog, you would need to already have some idea of what keywords you are targeting because just typing in “financial advice” or something like that isn’t likely to generate much in the way of usable keyword research. Instead, you’ll need to know how to narrow down large keywords. After all, you could spend a lifetime trying to rank for “life insurance” and while that would certainly, eventually, be profitable, in the meantime you could be missing out on much more viable keywords.

The trick in keyword research is that so much of the information out there focuses on how to refine, or pick from, an already well generated keyword research list. But, how do you get to a good keyword target list in the first place?

keyword research google planner

One common tool many people use is the Google Keyword Planner. It is technically a tool to find the keywords for paid ad campaigns, but it’s also a good way to find out what people are searching for, and how many are searching for it. You need an Adwords Account to use it, but it is free (you never actually have to run a campaign).

However, the two main keyword tools require you to have some idea of what keywords you want to research, and the closer you are to the actual keywords you want to rank for, the better.

For example, if our finance blog wanted to target retirement planning, what would the best keywords be?

Just typing “retirement planning” in the Google Keyword Planner gets you a long list of keywords, but are any of them useful for your needs? For example, the keyword retirement calculator seems to have a lot of high priced searches, but is also a very competitive term with numerous retirement calculators from well-known brands out there. Your chance of ranking for that term and profiting from it with online writing is slim.

But, it is a starting point.

Now put “retirement calculator” back in the keyword planner tool. Only a handful of more specific tools come up, and each of those has a search volume of around 10 per month.

Here is the trick to keyword research. I know from experience that there are terms around the subject of a retirement planning calculator that

  • a) can be ranked for
  • b) get more than 10 searches per month
  • c) are profitable, but nowhere near the CPC listed for the keywords on Google Keyword Planner
  • (No, I won’t tell you what they are.)

So, what gives?

The issue is that the Google Keyword Planner is not designed for making money with online writing. It is made for people to start and run ad campaigns. These are two different goals.

In order to make money online with writing, you want people to find your content, visit it, and then click an ad.

In order to make money running ads, you want all the people who might buy, or otherwise do what you want them to do, to click on your ad.

See the difference?

The right ad keyword should target people all over the web if they are reading about the kinds of things that you have useful information or products for.

The right keyword to make money online is the one that gets people from a search engine to choose your particular webpage and then click that ad, hopefully after finding some good information. In fact, it would be just as good as a writer, or publisher, if people came to your website for one thing, clicked a link for another thing and clicked a completely unrelated ad.

As a smaller publisher, your best bet are what are known as long-tail keywords. In general, these are more specific keywords. These keywords are often longer. For example, “life insurance” is a high-traffic keyword, and potentially profitable, but it will take you a lot of effort to rank for it.

On the other hand, denver life insurance is slightly less competitive, more specific, and more likely to generate ad clicks. Even better might be something like denver electrician life insurance. (They get it through the union, so this isn’t actually better, but you get the idea.)

But, and this is the key, no matter what keywords you stick in the Google Keyword Planner, it will almost never come back with something like denver electrician life insurance. In fact, while four or five word keywords can be gravy in many situations, the keyword planner (and other keyword research tools) tend to stick with two and three-word key phrases.

Keyword Research for Writers

As a writer, your ace in the hole is that as you generate content, you will be able to see what kind of content and keywords bring people to your website. Leverage that knowledge to fine tune your content on various topics.

We’ll get into just how you do that next.



All 6 Every Day

I have several different blogs on a lot of different platforms aimed at a lot of different audiences with a lot of different goals. That being the case, I’ve always had the notion that if I could focus on my six different blogs or websites, and update each of them every single day, that things like search rankings, link building, and monetization would largely take care of themselves. Unfortunately, I’ve never really been able to test that theory, in large part because I have other projects as a freelance writer that I’m working on, and updating six blogs every day requires a fair amount of overhead.

daily updates on multiple blogsHowever, after tracking various analytics, traffic, and even some earnings, I’ve noticed a definite correlation between frequency of posting and positive results. However, unlike other people have suggested, I find the best results occur when those regular postings are made across more than one of the websites. In other words, I see better results from posting one or two articles per day, not on one site, but on several sites. Each individual site might go four, five, or sometimes 8 or 10 days between updates, but this still seems to achieve better results than a daily post on a single blog.

Now, I think it’s time to put my writing where my mouth is. Would daily updates across multiple blogs increase traffic, earnings, and even links in a meaningful way? There is only one real way to find out and that is to try it.

I’ve decided to work with six different blogs across multiple topics. Each blog links around a bit to the others, but nothing that would seem like some sort of link scheme. Mostly there are sidebar links to popular pages on other blogs, but I do try and occasionally throw in another links within the text, but only when it’s natural. Or sometimes, I’ll do it like it is an ad or something. Like this:

Check out my Credit Sesame Review.

More Content More Links

Too many people focus on the fact that daily updates leads to daily indexing by Google. Being indexed quickly is important for news sites, and other real-time endeavors, but for what I do, it isn’t really important. However, a daily update would mean a steadily increasing number of pages to be indexed, marking the blog as fresh. Even more beneficial is that each new post provides several new links. The sidebar links are but one pocket of linking. Each post has tag and categories, those pages get a new link with each new post. Any inserted links, obviously, increases the links incoming to that page. Finally, with a steady update, that means more people have the chance to see something new on an RSS feed, aggregator, or just on regular visits, each of which provides another opportunity to link.

How To Write So Much Content

Clearly, if one is cranking out six blog posts every day, and still hopes to achieve any progress on other projects, you can’t spend two, or even one hour, on every post. In fact, there may be an argument for rotating on a calendar which blog gets the bigger, deeper, longer, posts with more pictures and promotions each day. But, for now, I’m going to wing it, with the in-depth article ideas I have being cranked out where they seem the best fit, or where I have the best motivation each day. The other posts will, of course, not be garbage, but will, by necessity, have to be briefer, or faster in some way to write.

The holidays are approaching, so this may be a fools errand. On the other hand, there is no time like the present. Even three a day, or six every other day should show some results if I’m correct.

So, without further ado, this is ONE.

AdSense Optimized WordPress Theme Requirement

A lot of WordPress themes claimed to be optimized for AdSense. When you look at them, what they really mean is that they included some spots for you to put AdSense ads by default. Some of them will actually fill in Google AdSense ads automatically if you put in your AdSense account ID number. That is not AdSense optimized so much as AdSense for dummies themes.

Some themes are a little more honest claiming only to be AdSense Ready as opposed to AdSense Optimized. Of course, if you think about it, all WordPress 3.0 themes and all earlier versions of WordPress themes are AdSense ready since you can ad the Google AdSense code to them. If you want to be really honest, every blogging platform from Blogger to TypePad to Live Spaces (or whatever they are calling it these days) are AdSense ready. All you actually need to be AdSense ready is to be able to edit the source code and publish it after adding a little bit of JavaScript which is how all AdSense ads are coded. So, again, these themes are not AdSense ready as much as they are AdSense ad locations installed by default.

What would it take to be a true AdSense Optimized WordPress theme?

That is an important question for those looking to make money writing online. The answer has nothing to do with pre-filled AdSense code or designs that leave spaces open for you to publish ads in. Rather, what a fully AdSense optomized theme requires is:

  1. Be fully SEO optimized. Face it, you get your ad clicking traffic from Google search results so the most important thing to make money with AdSense is to be as highly ranked in SERPs as possible.
  2. Minimize AdSense Static. This is where most of those so-called AdSense ready and AdSense optimized themes fall flat on their face. Nothing ruins your ability to earn money with Google AdSense like getting irrelevant ads displayed on your webpages. Nothing gives you irrelevant ads faster than having too many non-targeted keywords littering your webpage. All of those comments that you did not write are throwing off your ad targeting, that is, unless your WordPress theme incorporates Google AdSense section targeting tags. Open up that source code and look for <!– google_ad_section_start –>. If you don’t see it, your theme is NOT AdSense optimized.
  3. Eliminate AdSense Interference – Even better would be a theme that separates out the comments from the post, or one that requires a click by the user from the “real” keyword targeted post with your carefully chosen content in order to expand the comments section. That way, Google can index your good stuff, match ad keywords based upon your carefully worded articles, while still allowing your readers to interact with you and your website’s community.

Ironically, most WordPress themes for writers trying to make money writing (and frankly, pretty much every WordPress theme in existence) fails these conditions like a high-school dropout taking the GED without studying after a night out drinking. That means it is up to you. If you want your theme to really be fully optimized you’ll have to stick those Google section tags into the source code manually.

Happy writing, and may big passive income come to you and your writing always.

Google Gets Serious About Webspam and Advertising Tricks Finally

For all of it’s talk, sometimes it seems that Google does very little to stop the continuous rise of webspam and SEO tricks aimed at drawing in the unaware user to a webpage filled with advertising (or worse).

However, recently, Google has finally taken a concrete step in the direction of improving the average user’s search results, and in the process, knee-capped certain webspammers and black-hat SEO or gray-hat SEO gimmicks, depending upon your point of view. In the process, it has improved the quality of the Internet, or rather, its move will have the affect of making the Internet a more accurate and reliable source of information over time. As junk websites and their “made for AdSense” (MFA) pages have their traffic dry up, the incentive to keep them going and to continue creating more low quality, but high search result ranking, junk sites diminishes. This also increases the ability of quality writers to make money writing online with AdSense.

How did Google finally achieve the goal of actually hurting webspam and garbage websites? Was it a secret improvement in its oft vaunted, and overrated, ranking algorithm? Did new duplicate content monitors, or an improvement in detecting low quality websites come online? Did the company finally start taking seriously, the numerous reports of garbage search results?

Nope. Instead, a simple change in the way a common search error is handled will end up making a huge difference.

Misspelled Searches Cash Cow Killed

misspelled-google-search-engine-results-rankings For years, it was a dirty secret that by targeting misspelled searches, one could make lots of money online.

An exploitation of webpages and webmasters who were honest and focused on quality caused legitimate websites to lose out to sham websites, and caused search engine users to end up reading dubious information about their search keywords, that is if they could find their way past the abundance of ads.

It was a relatively easy exploit. Social engineering is a way of hacking computers, or scamming users. The idea is to simply do something in such a way that most people would make an incorrect assumption about what what going on and therefore, hand over valuable information without knowing a mistake was being made. The best part (worst part?) of social engineering tricks is that they circumvent carefully constructed security systems, firewalls, and policies, that might have otherwise stopped the hacker from gaining access to anything valuable.

One common example of social engineering hacking are emails pretending to be official communications from a bank, company, or even another person in which they as the user to verify their username and password. The average user makes the incorrect assumption that the only way they would get such an email was if it was legitimate, and being good people, try and be helpful by following the instructions to click a link and enter their personal account information. Upon doing so, the website, which looks exactly like the real company’s website, says thank you and that everything is find now. The user goes on about their day, while the crooks empty their bank accounts.

Although much less nefarious, the most common (until recently) hack of search engines and searchers was to target keywords that were commonly (or not so commonly) misspelled. When the searcher typed keywords into Google’s website, the misspelled words made a better match with misspelled words on the scam webpages than they did with the correctly spelled words on legitimate websites. As a result, the search engine results pages (SERP) would show the junk webpages above the real websites’ pages.

For example, if a searcher was looking to buy a new computer monitor they might go to Google and type in “computer moniter” in an effort to do research or check prices. Quality websites, including those of the companies that make and sell computer monitors, would spell “monitor” correctly. Junk websites would create webpages with “moniter”. Google’s ranking algorithm would, not unexpectedly, rank the pages with the “same” word as the search (the misspelled word) higher than those with the close, but not exact, word monitor.

For the last year or two, Google has tried to help searchers in this situation by including a note at the top of search results saying, “Did you mean monitor?” However, the search results were still displayed based on the misspelled word. Many users, MOST users in fact, would just scan down the the results and use them instead of clicking on the link to take them to the real word.

The same tactic generated another issue for Google. Ads purchased through the AdWords online advertising program of Google typically targeted properly spelled keywords. Those bids were often not extended to misspellings which means that there was a double problem for Google. First, the search result accuracy on which its livelihood depends was compromised. Second, the lower number of ads targeted at misspelled words means that those ads were displayed at the top of search results for less money than they would be if the automated ad auction included all of the properly spelled words.

Google eliminated both problems with one tiny change in the way it handles misspelled search queries.

Now, instead of just trying to notify users that they misspelled a word, the search results now display, by default, the results for the correctly spelled word, and instead, the results notify users that if they really meant to spell the word the other way that they can click a link to take them to those results. In other words, Google now does the opposite of what it once did to display search rankings of incorrectly spelled keyword searches. By default the correct spelling is displayed and the incorrect spelling is listed as an alternate search, instead of vice versa.

The result?

Higher quality websites now show up even for average users who misspell their search words and the lower quality sites thrown up by those hoping to make a quick buck on a little bit of user ignorance have seen their traffic dry up. Additionally, Google has increased its advertising income by ensuring that the full gamut of ads participates in the computerized ad auction that determines which ads show up on top of those same search results.

This change is a win-win for honest webmasters and quality vendors, as well as for Google. The only ones hurt by this action are the underworld Internet marketer community, and frankly, most people are glad to finally have even a small whack made at them.