Saturday, July 11, 2009

Building A Profitable Keyword List

Going Wide Vs Going Deep

The important concept you must grasp if you're going to do really effective keyword research is to understand the difference between wide research vs. deep research. This concept must be used or you will make the same mistakes I made in the early days of my PPC career.

Keyword Research, the Most Important Skill

Doing effective keyword research is probably the MOST important skill you need to learn. As it turns out, keyword research is also the area where most newbie affiliates completely drop the ball. In particular there’s one critical mistake that most newbies make that sets them up for failure. I made this mistake frequently when I was starting out as a PPC affiliate. I’ve also coached and helped a number of newbie affiliates, and I’ve seen them all make this same critical mistake. So what’s this ONE keyword research mistake that holds back most affiliates?

The Worst Keyword Research Mistake

To illustrate this critical mistake, let me walk you through a simple example. Back when I was a newbie I decided to promote a spyware remover offer from ClickBank. I cracked open my Keyword Elite account and typed “spyware” in the search box. I got back:

anti spyware
anti spyware free
anti spyware software
antivirus spyware
best free spyware remover
best spyware
download free spyware
download spyware blaster
free anti spyware
free kazaa spyware remover
free removal of spyware
free spyware download
free spyware downloads
free spyware protection
free spyware removal
free spyware removal programs
free spyware removal software
free spyware remover
free spyware scan
mcafee anti spyware
microsoft anti spyware
remove spyware
spyware blaster
spyware blocker
spyware cleaner
spyware detector
spyware doctor
spyware download
spyware programs
spyware protection
spyware removal
spyware remover
spyware scan
spyware software
spyware terminator
spyware virus protection
totally free spyware removal

I downloaded a total of around 500 keywords, which I believed would get the most traffic based on Keyword Elite search volume estimates.

Now, I thought to myself: “Okay, I’m going to create a super-targeted AdWords campaign. That way I’ll have an advantage over most other affiliates so I can make big profits in this market.” I then proceeded to spend several hours painstakingly creating targeted ad groups for this spyware campaign. I separated all the "spyware remover," "spyware download," "spyware cleaner," and other search terms into separate ad groups with tightly targeted Google ad copy.

I finally launched my campaign, anticipating a flood of traffic and sales. I had no idea how wrong this approach was! Lo and behold, my ad was on the bottom of page 2. I barely got any traffic, at $0.80 a click! So I increased my bid and started receiving more traffic. However, based on my conversion rate and the amount I was paying per click, I was losing money like crazy, so I paused my campaign. At the time I concluded that the spyware market was “saturated” and I moved on.

Does this sound familiar?

So here’s my question to you: Was “market saturation” the real reason my campaign failed? No.

Big Mistake--Going "Deep" Instead of "Wide"

The reason my campaign failed is because I make that ONE mistake I talked about earlier. The mistake was with how I did my keyword research.

The spyware keyword list that I dug with Keyword Elite was a Deep Keyword List. Every single keyword in my list had the same root keyword, spyware, in it. Finding longer phrase variations of one root keyword (in this case, spyware) is what I call going deep. When you go deep, you dig down to find all the different ways people are searching with the word “spyware” in their search phrase. But there's a fatal problem with these deep keyword lists…

The Problem with Deep Keyword Lists

When someone is looking to remove spyware from their computer, they may type in a search term that doesn’t have the word “spyware” in it at all. Think about this for a minute. What other terms might they type in besides “spyware”? For starters, there are different types/names of spyware: trojan, dialer, keylogger, malware, adware, browser hijacker, worm, backdoor, etc. There are also, literally, thousands of different spyware agents and rogue programs, such as w32.

Given that, someone looking to remove spyware from their computer may be typing these terms into Google:

Remove Trojan
Delete worm
Destroy keylogger
Erase w32

As you can see, someone who searches for spyware removal in this case may not necessarily use the keyword “spyware.” If I were to launch an affiliate campaign in the spyware market again, I would start out with a keyword list that looks more like this:

delete adware
delete backdoor
delete browser hijacker
delete cookie
delete Dialer
delete keylogger
delete malware
delete spyware
delete toolbar
delete trojan
delete w32
delete worm
destroy adware
destroy backdoor
destroy browser hijacker
destroy cookie
destroy Dialer
destroy keylogger
destroy malware
destroy spyware
destroy toolbar
destroy trojan
destroy w32
destroy worm
find adware
find backdoor
find browser hijacker
find cookie
find Dialer
find keylogger
find malware
find spyware
find toolbar
find trojan
find w32
find worm
remove adware
remove backdoor
remove browser hijacker
remove cookie
remove Dialer
remove keylogger
remove malware
remove spyware
remove toolbar
remove trojan
remove w32
remove worm

This is what I call a BROAD keyword list. Putting together a broad keyword list like the one above is what I call "going wide." A broad keyword list contains a diverse array of related, more specific, and lateral keywords. These keywords may include:

  • Synonymous keywords (malware, adware)
  • More specific terms and names (Trojan, browser hijacker, etc)
  • Specific lists of terms (names of all the different spyware agents and rogue programs out there, such as w32 etc)

The Advantages of Going Wide

The benefits of going wide can be the difference in success or failure. Here's why:
  • --> You put yourself in a position to win
  • --> You cast a wider net in your niche
  • --> You identify high converting keywords
  • --> Bid less on more competitive keywords
  • --> Bid more on more targeted keywords
  • --> More traffic at a lower cost per click

Going wide takes a lot more time and thought then just plugging in the most obvious (and competitive) keyword in your market into a keyword research tool (going deep).
By FIRST going wide and launching an AdWords campaign with your broad list of keywords, you’re putting yourself in a position to win.

By bidding on a broad keyword list, you’re not only casting a much wider net in terms of capturing traffic in your niche, you’re also bidding on less competitive and, in most cases, more targeted keywords. Not only that, but bidding on a broad keyword list will quickly allow you to identify the most profitable keyword subniches.

For example, you may find that Trojan keywords are getting more traffic and conversions than any of your other keywords. You can now apply the 20/80 principles and start focusing on the Trojan keywords. It now makes sense to go deep with the Trojan keywords and find every possible longer-tail variation of these keywords that you can. You see, every niche has certain subniches of keywords that convert at a higher rate than other sets of keywords.

There’s no way you can identify these high-converting subniches if your campaign is narrowly focused on the most competitive keyword in the spyware market, that is, "spyware." In the beginning, I never bothered to bid on terms such as Trojan, backdoor, malware, etc. My goal was to focus on the "highest traffic terms" in the market, and if they didn’t convert, I felt it wasn’t worth pursing it any further. But that’s COMPLETELY THE WRONG MINDSET TO HAVE when doing keyword research.
You should cast a wide net with a broad keyword list and let the market tell you which keywords convert the best and get the most traffic (at a cost per click that will allow you to make a profit).

Here’s what I didn’t understand at the beginning: While keywords that contain spyware get the most traffic, "spyware" is a highly competitive search phrase. The top position for the keywords “spyware remover” goes for around $10/click on Google!

Remember, Don't Make the "Deep" Mistake!

To recap, here is the one critical mistake that most affiliates make:

Most affiliates go DEEP FIRST. They don’t go WIDE.

As a result, they end up launching an affiliate campaign that’s narrowly focused on the most competitive search terms in their market. They then end up breaking even or losing money. Discouraged, they reach the conclusion that the market is too competitive and end their campaign.

Going Wide - The Super Affiliate Secret

Now, here is one thing that separates super affiliates from all the rest: Super affiliates ALWAYS go WIDE FIRST, before they go DEEP. By going wide, super affiliates not only can drive more targeted traffic to their offer, but they can also quickly identify which types of keywords get the most traffic and conversions.
They then go deep for those keywords that are performing the best.

Here’s an example from one of my own campaigns:

In one of my top affiliate campaigns that I’m currently running, I started bidding on a broad list of 40,000 keywords. I’ve now identified over 2,000 keywords that have produced at least one conversion since I launched the campaign. Out of those 2,000, several hundred to even 1,000 keywords are showing consistent conversions.

Once I identified the top-performing keywords, I immediately started going deep and finding longer-tail variations of those keywords. At the same time I’ve bid up these high-performing keywords and bid down or paused the keywords that produced no conversion. Currently this affiliate campaign is producing 120-160 sales a day, and is solidly profitable.

The Broad Keyword List as a Measure of Search Volume in Your Niche

Here’s an awesome way to get a ball park estimate of how much search volume you’ll get from an affiliate promotion: How many broad keywords can you dig up for this market? The bigger the broad keyword list for a market, the more traffic you will typically get. This task can take a little work, because developing a solid broad keyword list takes some thought. As a rule of thumb, if you can come up with 2,000 broad keywords for your niche, then you’ll probably get a decent amount of traffic.

Here's another way to approach this problem. Let's say you know of an affiliate offer in which super affiliates are making 100 sales a day. But you’re making only 5 sales a day. Now you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there any keywords in this market that I’m completely missing out on?
  • Is my keyword list broad enough?

Nine times out of 10, your keyword list will NOT be broad enough. That’s why the super affiliates are laughing all the way to the bank, while all the other affiliates are fighting for table scraps.

REMEMBER: He who bids on the MOST (broad) keywords WINS!

In our future poat here is some of the subjects we will cover for advanced keyword research techniques. These will include:

  • How to find keyword patterns in niches and use that information to build a powerful keyword multiplier list.
  • Keyword research techniques that are totally outside the box and that no one else is talking about.
  • How to dig up and use "smart" long-tail keywords to dominate some of the most competitive niches in affiliate marketing, even if you're just direct linking.
  • How to find THE unique keyword angles to your niche. I'll also divulge the unique keyword angles to some of the hottest niches out there.
  • The difference between browsing, comparison, and buying keywords, and how to exploit them for maximum profit.

Hopefully you can apply these techniques to your current or future campaigns.

PPC Professor

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