March 24, 2010
Long tail keyword tools are essential for small web entrepreneurs. You cannot compete for the most searched keywords — by now they have insurmountable competition. You must put together collections of micro niches which you can dominate. Each niche needs keywords by which people can find it. 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.
You can cut the keywords with too many exact matches from your list. Your pages will be lost in the clutter if you try to compete for them. What’s too many? Everybody has their own limit, but I have heard recommendations of somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000.
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 (1) the keyword is embedded in the URL of the page, for example in the domain name or in the page name, (2) the keyword is in the page title, or (3) the keyword is in the anchor text of one or more links pointing to the page.
You tell Google to return the pages with these optimizations by searching for intitle:”keyword”, inurl:”keyword”, and inanchor:”keyword”. Delete the keywords with too many competing, optimized pages, more than 50 or 100, say. (You can find information on advanced Google query operators at http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/operators.html )
Pages simultaneously optimized for the keyword in title, URL, and anchor text indicate that someone is intentionally trying to compete for the keyword.
If you want to sell to the people searching with these keywords, it would help to know if those people intend to buy. You can check their “online commercial intention” (OCI), at least estimates of their OCI, from an algorithm that some people at Microsoft have trained — there are questions about the methodology and assumptions used in this tool. Give the tool a keyword and it gives you a fraction between zero and one. Zero means the search seems to have no commercial intent whatsoever, and one means the people searching seem intent on buying NOW. The fraction indicates a kind of confidence level in the answer. It does not indicate a fraction of the people intent on buying. In experiments, the average value returned for non-commercial keywords was about 0.2, and the average for commercial keywords was about 0.83. Fractions near 0.5 had a high rate of incorrect classifications. Many people who intend to sell delete those keywords with an OCI less than 0.6 or 0.7. The calculator is on page http://adlab.microsoft.com/Online-Commercial-Intention/
By using the Google keyword selector tool, the Google search page, and optionally the MSN online commercial intention page, you can do your own long tail keyword research for free.
Dr. Christopher, a Colorado Front Range public speaker, has set up a web site devoted to ezine article SEO at http://ezinearticleshow.com/ where he has gathered videos and other information about finding long tail keywords.