Effective Keyword Use, Research and Seach Engine Rankings

 
The first thing that you need to understand is that the search engines (principally Google, MSN and Yahoo) largely control the way that the internet is explored.

Internet browsers visit one of these sites - enter the keyword phrase relevant to what they are looking for - for example "golf balls" - and the search engine will produce a list of relevant results.

The fact that they now largely control access to the internet means that they are a huge source of traffic as your target niche will be using them to find the products (and information about the products) that your niche store(s) contain.

There are then two ways which you can direct targeted traffic from the search engines to your own niche stores:

1. Natural search engine rankings where your website or pages of your website rank for particular keyword phrases - this is a free source of traffic but will require you to carry out site optimization and link building in order for your site to rank for its target keywords. The basic rule is - the more competitive your keywords (ie the more pages already competing to be be ranked for them) - the more optimization and link building you will need to carry out and the longer it will take to rank well.

2. Paid search engine rankings (PPC) where you pay for your website or pages to rank for particular keyword phrases. These listing appear to the right handside of the main "natural" listings and sometimes above them. Although this costs money it enables you to target your niches keywords instantly without having to carry out all of the optimization and link building required for natural search engine rankings.

Ok, so now we know:

1. That the search engines are used to explore the internet,
2. That your target market will be using them to find the products your store contains,
3. That there are two ways for you to "tap in" to this traffic source - free and paid.

Now, this is where keyword research comes in.

The reason being - how do you know which keyword phrases your target market is using to find the products your store contains?

Without knowing the exact keyword phrases being used and an approximate volume (ie amount of searches per day / month) you are pretty much blind.

What keyword research tools do is give you this information so that you can understand the searching habits of your particular niche market.

Now there are two types of keyword research tools - free and paid.

The limitation of the free ones is that they only produce a maximum of 100 results per keyword phrase you enter and contain no competition statistics.

In contrast, Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery produce up to 1,000 results and also include a KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) which gives you a yardstick of how attractive a particular keyword phrase is based on the volume of searches vs the competition that already exists in the search engines (ie pages already targeting that particular keyword phrase).

This keyword data enables you to completely "map out" your market which means:

1. Know all (or the majority) of the keyword phrases that they are using in the search engines to find out info on / purchase the products your store contains,

2. Know the KEI value for each of these keyword phrases so you have an overview of search volume to competition,

3. Know the number of competing pages already indexed in the search engines for these keyword phrases.

You can then utilize this knowledge to develop and optimize your site for free search engine rankings which involves:

1. Carrying out SEO on the store pages your ___ site has "straight out of the box",

2. Create new store pages to target more of your markets keywords using the particular keyword phrases in the title tag of the page, the page url and link name, the search query which defines which eBay products a particular page contains and any additional content you place above the eBay products, and

3. Add content pages to target more of your markets keywords again using the particular keyword phrase in the title tag of the page, the page url and link name and the content you write for that particular page.

You can also use this knowledge to determine your site link building strategy (which includes relevant sites, article marketing, Squidoo lenses, blog commenting, forum signatures) by making sure that the links which point back to your store contain your target keywords in the anchor text.

When you do all of this - what you end up with is a niche store which:

1. Contains optimized pages (store or content) for every keyword phrase your market uses in the search engines. Once the search engines have indexed each of your pages your store will span all (or as close to all as possible) of your target markets search queries and as your rankings improve you can funnel an incredible amount of free and exceptionally targeted traffic from the search engines, onto your niche store and then through to eBay.

2. Has lots of inbound links pointing to it from other websites, blogs, forums and article directories which contain your target keyword phrases in the link anchor text and which will slowly but surely improve the rankings of your website and the pages of which it comprises.

The way all of this makes you money then is that it enables you to understand and connect with your target market in the search engines. More targeted traffic equals more eBay affiliate commissions.

You can also use the knowledge these tools provide for use in your PPC Campaigns but that's another story!

There's a lot to take in here depending on your current experience with keyword research tools and we do have more advanced keyword research tutorials planned.

We use both Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery but you can get away with just using one. The major advantage of Keyword Discovery over Wordtracker is that it includes regional keyword databases for the UK, Australia and Canada which Wordtracker doesn't (it's based purely on the US).

Therefore, if you are building niche stores to target one of the non-US national markets you will want to use Keyword Discovery and not Wordtracker.

Keyword Discovery also has quite a few more features - you can see a comparison here:

http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/wordtracker-comparison.html

The free trials give you a taste of how each of the tools work but you will need to access the paid versions to carry out the in depth research we have described above.

Wordtracker Free Trial
Keyword Discovery Free Trial

There is also a Wordtracker discount available for the whole of November if you use the following link and enter the coupon code: us-annual-15

Wordtracker Discount (you get 15% off a 1 year subscription).

The bottom line is that there is a learning curve to carrying out keyword research and utilizing the knowledge which it provides effectively.

However, once you've been using a tool for a little while it's hard to imagine how you ever got along with out it.

They do cost but if you're actively building a portfolio of niche stores then your earnings should soon outweigh the costs associated with them.

Beyond that - all these expenses are tax deductible!

I hope that helps,

Adam

PS: If you have followed the instructions for accessing the Keyword Discovery trial and are not able to access it I'd suggest that you contact them directly. I've used it before and as far as I know it's still operative.

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