June 9, 2010
Long tail keyword research tools are essential for small web businesses. You must put together collections of micro niches, each identified by a long tail keyword. You need to do long tail keyword research to find those niches of low competition keywords.
You need to find a large number of keywords, the number of searches for them per day or month, and the amount of competition for the keywords. The competition, at minimum, consists of all those web pages containing the keyword. More detailed information would include the number of pages optimized for the keyword. You can get all this information for free on the web, from Google; although, there is software available that automates the process for you.
You can use the Google keyword selector tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal as a long tail keyword generator. It suggests a large number of keywords with low search volume but low competition.
When you type in a keyword into the Google keyword selector tool, it suggests related keywords and gives you a downloadable spreadsheet of their search frequencies and AdWords competition.
Sort by declining numbers of searches and delete those keywords with too few. They are not worth optimizing pages for. What’s too few searches? That is up to you, but I have heard people say they set the limit somewhere between 200 and 300 searches per month (7 to 10 per day).
If you wish, you can reserve those keywords with too few searches to sprinkle into ezine articles. Keywords with low competition may bring the article to page one of a search engine’s results.
Next you use the Google search page. It is not usually thought of as a long tail keywords tool, but you use it for two competition searches. Do a Google search for the keyword in quotes to find the number of pages containing those keywords as a phrase, that is, adjacent to each other. The first page of the results gives an estimate of the number of pages containing the phrase. Do not search without quotes — that counts all pages containing all the words in the keyword phrase even if they are not close on the page.
Remove the keywords that are on too many pages from your list. Various people give the cut off at more than 30,000 other pages, give or take. Your pages will be lost in the crowd if you try to compete for them.
The next step of long tail keyword research is to find the number of pages optimized for the keyword, and you can find the number of pages optimized for a keyword by a Google search. A page is optimized for a keyword if
- the keyword is embedded in the URL of the page, for example in the domain name or in the page name,
- the keyword is in the page title, or
- the keyword is in the anchor text of one or more links pointing to the page.
You can tell Google to filter for pages with these optimizations by specifying, for example, inurl:”keyword” to select only pages with the keyword in the URL. (You can find information on advanced Google query operators at http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/operators.html ) Delete the keywords with too much competition of this kind. What is too much competition? Again, it is a matter of taste, but the boundary may be somewhere between 50 and 300. (I’m relying on the opinion of James Jones who suggested these limits.)
Pages optimized in all three ways are serious competition. Not only do those optimizations tell search engines that the page is relevant to the keyword, but they indicate that someone is consciously trying to compete for the keyword.
If you are intending to sell products or services to the people searching with these keywords, you may want to check the estimates of their “online commercial intention” (OCI). You can get those estimates at http://adlab.microsoft.com/Online-Commercial-Intention/ It will give you a fraction between zero — the search seems to have NO commercial intent — and one — the search does seem to have a commercial intent. The numeric value indicates a kind of confidence level, not a fraction of searches that have the intent. In experiments, the non-commercial keywords averaged about a 0.2 value, and the commercial keywords averaged about 0.83. Fractions near 0.5 had a high rate of incorrect classifications. If you intend to sell, you can cut off those keywords with an OCI less than 0.6 or 0.7. There are, however, questions about the methodology and assumptions used in the construction of this tool.
You can do long tail keyword research for free by using the Google keyword selector tool, a Google search, and optionally the MSN online commercial intention page.
Thomas Christopher has gathered videos and other information about using long tail keywords for ezine article marketing at http://ezinearticleshow.com/ . See a video showing how to begin a search for a niche market at: http://ezinearticleshow.com/NicheMarketResearch.htm