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Category Archives for "Q & A"

How Can I Do Good Keyword Analysis With Only Free Tools?

This Q&A section of my blog is a new one I’ve just added as I receive so many good questions by email or in forums and I try as best I can to give really good answers!  Eventually I thought to myself, man I bet other people might find some really good nuggets in my replies, so I decided to start asking the people who emailed me if they minded that I post the who Q&A on my blog.  Most say not at all as they are happy to get the info 🙂

And I’m very happy to share the bit that I do know, so here’s the first post in the new Q&A section, and if you have some questions of your own, please contact me with them!

Todays question came from Michael from the BTF Forum in a private message for a keyword that he wanted help determining the worth of.  Here’s what he wrote to me:


Hey Herc,

I got a lot out of your posts! Thanks so much :-) So I wanted to pick up the 80% Law of SEO but it seems like the link doesn’t work. Is it still available?

Also I wanted your input on something.  I feel like your an honest guy and won’t compete with me for this but I got an EMD for “metabolic boosting foods”

Would this be a good keyword or a buyer keyword at that.  I didn’t get to do much research on the competition because I have not bought any tools yet but Google says its low comp lol!   This will be my first site.   Any input will be greatly appreciated. :-)



I thought this was a great question, because there are lot of people who can’t afford to buy really good competition analysis tools right now and don’t really know how to do a full keyword competition analysis with the free tools that are available.  I got permission from Michael to share this post and keyword, so here was my reply, which included my actual analysis of his keyword.

Grab something to drink tho, this is a long one full of goodies 🙂


Hey Michael,

Thanks for letting me know about the 80% Law of SEO. I have changed the link on my blog to SEO Omega, because I know now that they include the 80% law and a few other cool courses into a bonus package for Omega. I’d love it if you bought off my link of course :)

As for what I do for competition research when I do not have access to my tools (mainly SE Cockpit), here’s my outline. If it doesn’t meet my requirements at each stage, I drop my research and move on. It has to fit all criteria, or it’s a waste of time to build a site on.

I load the keyword into the Google Keyword Planner tool, and check to see what the searches per month are, and what the trend graph shows (the little icon beside the searches per month which tells us the last years search trends and volumes). You want a keyword with at least 1000 searches per month, or you will get no traffic. Alternately, if it’s under 1000 searches per month, but it has a HUGE CPC, then there’s potential there and you need to find out why people are paying that much for this keyword. It’s probably worth it!

I also check the CPC and Competition. I’m usually looking for LOW competition and a CPC of over $1.00 because then I know people are spending money to buy that keyword on Adwords. If they are spending money, that also means there’s likely to be a good affiliate offer out there somewhere.

**Oct 13/2013 Update:  As you can see from the comments below, Jillian P has pointed out the the Competition Bar actually reports on the level of competition (number of advertisers bidding on the keyword) that exists in Adwords.  This whole time I thought it was measuring the level of difficulty to rank, and now looking at it, it makes total sense!  So a HIGH level of COMP would mean more advertisers thus a greater chance of money being spent in that niche, and affiliate products to go for!

I simply check if the keyword is available in .com, .net or .org.  Any keyword with decent SEO Competition is bound to have the EMD’s already registered. So think of it as a 3 stars system. If all domains are available, that’s 3 stars! If only two, that’s 2 stars etc. If none are registered, it’s already pretty obvious that no one is targetting that keyword.

What I do here is simply put the keyword “in quotes” and do a Google search to see how many results are there.  Anything under 100,000 is usually fairly easy to rank for with good on page optimization and a couple solid PR backlinks. That should be enough to get you on Page 1. If it’s really low, say under 30,000 you’ll probably rank Page 1 just for doing good on page optimization.

I just do a Google search of the keyword itself, and see what makes up the Top Ten and how many people have the keyword in the Title, URL & Description. If people are targeting the keyword, you’ll see lots of them in BOLD in those 3 places. If not, pages are ranking Top 10 because they are the closest thing Google could find and the domain likely has some authority!

Finally for the last step, I just look at the keyword and try as best I can to try and put myself into the mind of the person searching for that term.  I ask myself this question over and over:

What is it that they are looking for when typing in this keyword?

I also try to figure out what stage in their search for information are they at.

  • General Search.  This would be broad keywords like “health foods” or “lose weight”.  They are very big terms with tons of searches, but don’t tell us much about what the real problem is.  It sounds like this person wants to lose weight, but why?  Do they have high blood pressure?  Do they want to look good in a wedding dress?  There’s lots of info left to the imagination.
  • More Specific.  These are usually a second search after the person didn’t find what they were looking for the first search.  They are usually long tailed keywords like “lose weight in the belly” or “reduce high blood pressure”.  These keywords are a lot better to target as they are getting more specific as to what the searcher is looking for.
  • Laser Targetted.  These are the keywords people search for when they know exactly what they want.  They have the answer to their question already and are actually searching for opinions or the product/service itself.  These look like this:  “LG Optimuz G 9100 review” or “where to buy Nexus 7”.  If you find one of these keywords and you provide good solid info, you are going to make sales.

The more detailed their search, the more they know exactly what they are looking for and you just need give it to them. If they are in the More Specific range, then they are looking for options, and you should give them that! If they are just getting started with broad niches, that’s pretty tough, but it’s huge traffic and I’d try to build a list from those types of searches, or use Adsense.

So for your keyword;

1.) 70 searches per month, CPC is $0.97 and trend graph is fairly stable, no big losses or gains over the last year.

*** Typically I would stop right there. Your keyword gets only 70 searches per month on average and it doesn’t look like it’s going up in the trend graph. 70 searches would be ok if the the CPC was like over $10 because then you know there’s some serious advertisers for that keyword, but it’s only $0.97.

Sorry dude :( I don’t think this is a very good Keyword at all.

So if it were good after step 1, say you had 1000/month search volume and $0.97 CPC, it’s low but decent!

2.) .net and .org are available. 2 stars

3.) 18,500 phrase match results. That’s super low competition, you could probably get page 1 from good on page optimization.

4.) Seems like lots of Authority sites that aren’t targeting the exact phrase. That’s good, because Google gives them the listing because it’s the closest thing to what is being searched, not the exact thing that is being searched!

5.) It looks like the person is looking for foods to increase their metabolic rate. So they are in a very INFORMATION GATHERING state. They don’t have a list of foods yet. It’s likely that this person wants to lose some weight (high metabolism burns fat) or they are an athlete (but most athletes have a fairly good knowledge of healthy eating habits, and don’t need to Google it).

So overall based just on Step 1, no I don’t think this is a good keyword to go after. Also on Step 5, it’s an informational gathering keyword, no specifics at all and there are TONS of info on the Internet that are free lists of good foods that boost metabolism.

One thing I read about choosing a keyword with good Buyer Intention was that you need to match the size of the problem with the search. The more serious the problem, the better the buyer intention.

“How To Get Rid of Yeast Infection” has a highly embarrassing problem associated with it and an element of privacy. It’s likely someone searching that term who finds a product online would be inclined to spend a bit of money to take care of the issue privately.

“Metabolic Boosting Foods” doesn’t have an urgent or embarrassing problem associated. It’s just a person looking for some healthy foods to eat. They aren’t likely to buy.

Keep that thought in mind when choosing keywords.

I hope this all helps, and if you are ok with it, I’d love to include your question and my answer on my blog. I’d like to include the keyword, since it’s a real example, and I don’t think you would be going after it anyways. But if you want to use it, I’d like to post this anyways, but I’ll hide the keyword.

Let me know and I hope this all helps!



Michael did write back and let me know he gave me the wrong keyword, and then gave me the right one.  The new keyword had 9900 searches per month, $1.17 CPC and LOW Competition in Google.  The .org was available, there was  165,000 Phrase Match results, which is definitely doable with some High PR links.  The Top 10 pages had some sites actually targetting the keyword phrase and a long tail version of his EMD was at spot 10.  Finally his keyword wasn’t overly different than the first one, so it was in the informational gathering stage.

This keyword could be decent for an Adsense style site because the traffic level of 9900/month is there and the CPC is over $1.00, but I don’t see too many affiliate sales coming out of it.  But who am I really!?  I could easily be proved wrong, and I hope I am 🙂

Personally I wouldn’t have gone after the first or the second keyword he gave me, as I have gotten so good at Keyword Research I know I can find an even stronger one in 10-15 mins of searching.

But I wish Michael the best of luck and I hope you liked this post and got something out of it!  If you have questions, remember to email them to me from my contact page and if I have a good enough answer for you, I’ll put it up here on my blog!


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