Keywords are words or phrases people type into search engines. Search engines use these keywords to sift through the web pages indexed in their databases to find the ones they believe would provide the searcher the information they’re looking for and present the results as a list of search results.
If you want to find the rating for a new movie, you might type the following into Google:
The phrase “new batman movie rating” is a keyword and the list of pages presented to the searcher is referred to as “search result listings”.
The pages shown at the top of the search result listings for a keyword tend to get the most traffic.
Some keywords have lots of searches every month (like “funny jokes” with 823,000 searches a month) and other keywords have very few searches (like “is burnt toast good for you” with 110 searches a month).
Keywords with more monthly search volume indicate a better opportunity for traffic than keywords with low search volume.
Keywords can contain clues that indicate what the searcher wants to find. Some keywords very clearly indicate that the searcher is looking to buy something (like “buy vacuum cleaner”) while other keywords indicate someone is looking only for information (like “pictures of cute Chihuahua puppies”).
Understanding these very basic elements of how keywords and search are connected highlights what an affiliate marketer needs to do in order to be successful.
If you can rank well in Google for a keyword that buyers use to find products they want to buy and that gets a reasonable number of searches every month then you are likely to make sales from people clicking on your affiliate links.
This gives us three very important criteria to keep in mind when we begin our work as an affiliate marketer. We want to target keywords that:
1. Buyers use when looking for products to buy
2. Have a reasonable number of searches per month
3. Stand a good chance of ranking well in Google
We can find all of this information about keywords in advance. This step is called “keyword research”. Doing keyword research in advance makes sure that you focus on the keywords with the best potential of generating sales and commissions.
That list of three keyword criteria is still pretty vague and leaves a lot of room for error. What’s a “reasonable” number of searches per month? What determines if a keyword can be ranked easily or not? How do you tell buyer keywords from non-buyer keywords?
I use a variety of strategies to promote Amazon products and for each one I establish a range of to identify the keywords that are perfect for that strategy.
Some of my strategies require a lot of writing. When you publish lengthy, detailed content on a topic you naturally target lots of related keywords in that content which improves your chances of getting traffic since you might rank well for lots of long tail keywords.
Strategies like that can target keywords that have stronger competition on the first page of Google because while the content might not rank well for one phrase right away it will rank well for others in less time.
The strategy I’m teaching you in this coaching program does not require much product research or writing. This means that we need to make sure we look for keywords that have very weak competition on the first page of Google.
I’ve tested a set of keyword criteria (guidelines) that help identify the best keywords for the strategy covered in this coaching program and have outlined the details below.
Criteria #1 – Buyer Keywords vs. Non-Buyer Keywords
The words inside of a keyword give you clues about what the searcher is looking to find.
Shoppers use phrases like:
buy new watch
best price vacuum cleaner
dark purple curtains for tall windows
white running shoes for jogging
Compare those phrases to the ones people use when they search for information instead of products:
Phoenix Cardinals game schedule
how to tie a tie
who was the first king of England
where is the Grand Canyon
See how the keywords include words that indicate what people are looking to find?
It is MUCH easier to convert a site visitor into a sale on Amazon if you target the keywords that buyers are using and avoid the information keywords for now.
Criteria #1: Keywords must be phrases buyers would use to find products
Criteria #2 – Short vs. Long Tail Keywords
Internet marketers refer to keywords with lots of words in them as “long tail keywords”. A phrase like “white shirt” is a short keyword. The phrase “white long sleeved dress shirt for boys” is a long tail keyword.
Short keywords usually have more monthly searches but contain few – if any – contextual clues about what the searcher wants.
Someone who types “white shirt” into Google could be looking for a pictures of white shirts, shirts for girls, blouses, dress shirts, shirts for women, shirts for men – there are no other words inside the search phrase to give us enough clues to be confident that we could create a single page of content that would address all the potential meanings of such a short phrase.
Even four word keywords might not contain enough clues to let you know what the person wants to find. The phrase “large white dress shirt” doesn’t tell you whether or not the person wants to find the shirt for men, women, boys, or girls.
If you aren’t confident that you know what someone wants to find when using a keyword then look for another keyword.
Criteria #2: Keywords should be four or more words long and should contain enough contextual clues that you know what the searcher wants to find
Criteria #3 – Products Must be Available on Amazon
If your keyword indicates products that don’t exist on Amazon you’ll have a hard time selling anything because there won’t be any products for you to link to in your content.
Criteria #3: Keyword must refer to products that can be purchased on Amazon
Criteria #4 – No Brand Names
We talked about targeting keywords for which you can easily rank in Google. You know who ranks well for Nike anything? Nike. The chances of you ever outranking them are pretty slim so for this strategy avoid keywords with brand names in them. (There are times when targeting brand name keywords is fine but this isn’t one of them.)
Criteria #4: Skip keywords that have a brand name in the phrase
Criteria #5 – Monthly Search Volume
Keywords that have a monthly exact search volume of 100-1000 is best for this strategy. Using these guidelines keeps you from targeting keywords that may not be sufficiently long enough to include the contextual clues you need in order to know what products to put in your content.
This guideline also weeds out some of the keywords that will have strong competition in Google.
Criteria #5: Choose keywords with exact monthly search volume between 100-1000
Criteria #6 – Product Price
Consumers usually do a lot of research before buying a high ticket item. The strategy you’re learning does not go into writing the kind of detailed content needed to promote high ticket items. Therefore, it’s best if you stick with keywords that describe products that cost between $20-$100 on average.
Criteria #6: Choose keywords that describe products with an average price between $20-$100
What About Review Counts and Ratings on Amazon?
The number of reviews for the products and the number of star ratings on Amazon do not matter for this strategy. If you were creating a review site, those might matter, but in this strategy you’re focusing on the kinds of products people buy based on APPEARANCE not on ratings from others.
Hot Tip – Eliminate Amazon as Competition
We’re going to get into checking the search engine competition for a keyword in the next book but those of you with some Amazon Associates experience have already noticed that anytime you try to rank for these kinds of keywords you’re faced with Amazon already ranking well on the first page of Google.
That’s okay. First, when we check competition we’ll be weeding out keywords that have really strong competition on the first page. Second, I’m going to show you in a future lesson how to use Google+ to make your listing stand out in search results so that even if you rank below Amazon you can attract searchers to your list.
However, there’s one other thing you can do when choosing keywords that will often eliminate Amazon from the competition.
There are keywords that meet the above criteria where Amazon doesn’t rank well.
These keywords usually have one of the following words inside the keyword:
for (as in “for dogs”, “for kids”, “for dogs”, “for photographers”, “for electricians”)
Examples include:pink bed sheets for teenagers, t shirts for nurses, camera bag for outdoor photography, birthday gifts for mom.
Keep this in mind when doing the keyword research outlined in the next step.
We’ve run through a lot of material about keywords but now it’s time to put that information to use. You’re going to walk through the steps to do keyword research using free tools online to find keywords that meet the above criteria.
The steps for doing keyword research include:
1. Finding seed keywords
2. Running seed keywords through a keyword tool to find long tail keywords
3. Crossing off any long tail keywords that don’t meet the keyword criteria listed above
Start with Seed Keywords
There are many keyword tools to help you do keyword research. There are both free and paid tools but most of those tools all use the same source for their data – Google. Google makes keyword and search volume data available for free in their Google Keyword Planner and that’s the tool we’ll be using in the following instructions.
Keyword tools don’t just spit out keywords. You must first enter a word or phrase to begin the search process. This starting word or phrase is called a “seed keyword”. It gives the tool a place to begin searching.
Seed keywords are not the ones you’re going to write about using this strategy – they’re ONLY the starting point the keyword tool needs to begin helping you find keywords that you will use with this strategy.
We want to find long tail keywords that meet the criteria outlined above. Here’s a tip – keyword tools do a better job of finding long tail keywords if the seed keywords entered are also long tail keywords.
If you enter the short keyword “picture” into the Google Keyword Planner you’ll get a lot of short keyword results. If, however, you enter the phrase “frameless picture frames” as a seed keyword you’ll get more long tail phrases in the results.
So, for this strategy, seed keywords should be 3 or more words long and should describe consumer goods.
Example seed keywords:
Oak table lamp
Counter top stand mixer
Cordless power drill
Backyard soccer net
Outdoor fire pit
Blue picnic cooler
Vegetable cutting board
Tall coffee mugs
Round patio table
Outdoor patio heater
Swimming pool basketball hoop
Floral bathroom towels
Purple napkin holders
Notice how many of these are two words to describe a product and then an adjective (round, purple, outdoor, blue) added to the phrase?
If you struggle to come up with 3 word seed keywords just come up with a list of products that are two words long (table lamp, kitchen table, baby toy) and then combine them with a list of adjectives for color, shape, and size (white, purple, black, round, tall, short, wide, square, small, big, large, etc.).
What If You Already Have a Site?
If you already have a site and want to use this strategy to add new posts to that site then limit your seed keywords to phrases related to your site topic.
Google Keyword Planner Instructions
1. Log into Google Adwords (it’s free)
2. Click on the Tools & Analysis Tab
3. Click on Keyword Planner
4. Click Search for keyword and ad group ideas
5. Enter your first seed keyword in the box called Enter Your Product or Service
6. Under the Targeting section customize your search for the countries of interest (to get global statistics, select all countries and territories – to get local statistics, select only the countries where the residents can purchase the products listed on your site). If you are an affiliate for Amazon.com and intend to promote products to residents of the United States then you would select only US data for your keyword research.
7. Click the Get Ideas button
8. Click on the Keyword Ideas tab (not the Ad Group Ideas tab)
9. Remember that one of the criteria for an ideal keyword for this strategy is one that has between 100 and 1000 exact searches a month. We can use a filter in the Google Keyword Planner to help us narrow down to those keywords.
10. Click the edit icon in the Keyword Filters box on the left hand side of the screen
11. Click anywhere outside that pop up box to close it and the data will automatically refresh to apply the filter
12. If you are unfamiliar with using spreadsheets do the following, otherwise skip to step #13:
a. Manually scroll through the results looking for keywords that are FOUR or more words long, have search volume between 100-1000 searches a month, do not include brand names and describe a product that can be purchased on Amazon
b. You may need to move the slider on the bottom of your screen from left to right to find the link to page through the results
c. Copy down any keywords that meet the criteria and save them on a list as “potential keywords”
13. If you are familiar with using spreadsheets:
a. Click the Download icon (the arrow pointing down)
b. Open the file you downloaded from the Google Keyword Planner
c. Use your spreadsheet tools to delete the keywords that are not four or more words long, that include brand names, that don’t describe products you can buy on Amazon, or are not phrases buyers would use to find products
d. Save the remaining keywords as “potential keywords”
14. Keep going until you’ve found 20-30 potential keywords – while you don’t have to worry about whether or not Amazon ranks on the first page for these same keywords remember my tip earlier about keywords that include the words “gift”, “gifts”, “idea”, “ideas”, or “for” – Amazon doesn’t always rank well for keywords that include those words so keep an eye out for those kinds of keywords
15. Once you’ve built a list 20-30 potential keywords, bring up Amazon and look up the products mentioned in each of your potential keywords – if you have the keyword “wallet size picture frames” on your list you’d put that into Amazon and check the prices of the options that come up
16. Cross off any keywords where the products mentioned in the keyword tend to cost more than $100
There’s one last step to confirm that your potential keywords are really worth targeting and that is to check the strength (or weakness) of competition on the first page of Google for the keyword.