First, a brief introduction. My name is Matthew Allen. Some of you may remember me from about a year ago when I was a Yakezie challenger with my former blog, RamblingFever Money. At the time, I was brand new to blogging. I stubbornly left my site on the free-hosted Blogger platform, despite all the advice within the Yakezie forums to move to WordPress. I am forever grateful, by the way, for all of the help I got within the Yakezie forums when I was a total newbie. Every time I asked a blog related question in there, all of the fine folks from Yakezie were more than happy to flood the thread with answers.
It is for this reason that I now want to give back to the Yakezie community by sharing a strategy that I kind of stumbled into recently. Here is how I got to where I am…
I quit RamblingFever Money in May 2012 in order to pursue a more passive income stream from my online ventures. I had been bitten by the blogging bug, so I started another blog at the same time – Dumb Passive Income. The purpose of the new blog was to document what I was doing to try to create passive income online and possibly help others with my findings.
I started learning how to build niche sites that were to be monetized mostly by Adsense. I already knew a little bit about SEO, but learned a great deal more as I delved into niche site strategies. It was here that I learned the massive importance of doing proper keyword research. I heard it over and over again, from all of the successful niche site builders, that keyword research is the most important step.
It took me some time, but I eventually realized how valuable this concept of keyword research could be to bloggers. If done right, a blogger could use proper keyword research to effectively drive all kinds of new traffic to their site.
Keyword Research and Some Common Misconceptions
I know there are some bloggers who already use keyword research as a strategy. There are also very many who don’t. I know that for me, during my entire eight months of PF blogging, I didn’t even know what keyword research was. I’m finding that there is some talk about it now in the blogosphere, but there are some common misconceptions.
While searching for topics to write about, some bloggers will use the Google auto-fill strategy. They type one or two words into Google then see what the auto-fill comes up with. These results get a lot of searches, so they think this will be a good topic to write about. More advanced bloggers might even go to the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool to see exactly how many searches a keyword (or phrase) gets. Even with the simplistic free tool from Google, it is easy to make mistakes if you don’t know what you are doing. I know I made plenty of mistakes with keyword research when I was a beginner.
Using the Google auto-fill method and/or the Adwords Keyword Tool are both good ways to find keywords that get lots of searches. The only problem being that you have no way of knowing the chances that any of those searchers will end up on your post. You see, nearly all search clicks come from results that are found on the first page of Google (or any other search engine). If your site, or your blog post, isn’t #1 thru #10 for that search term, then you will likely get no search traffic from that keyword.
Analyzing the top 10 search results in Google, I quickly learned, is the most important part of keyword research. It is also the part I struggled with the most and wasn’t very good at. The gist of it is that you need to be able to look at the current top ten results for your keyword and then analyze whether or not you think you can beat any of them. You do this by examining how well you think they are optimized along with other statistics, such as: PR, site age, authority and other rankings. This was very difficult for me to do manually and with free tools that were available.
I finally saw the light and purchased a keyword research tool – Long Tail Pro. Without going into details here, I’ll just say that this tool has made a world of difference for me. The new version of the tool – Long Tail Platinum (released Dec. 11, 2012) has a feature that completely takes all of the guesswork out of Google first page analysis. This feature has enabled a total beginner like me to be able to analyze the top ten results just like the pros. Simply put, I only need to look at a number and compare it to a scale. I explain everything here, on Dumb Passive Income, in my first post after buying Long Tail Pro.
Why Should You Care About Keywords and SEO?
Is this whole concept of keyword research and SEO something that you should even care about? Are you content with your current traffic numbers? Are you like many bloggers and think your traffic is doing just fine?
Maybe you are doing okay. You’re here in Yakezie, so you probably get a lot of return traffic and referral traffic from other PF bloggers. You have your other regular readers and subscribers as well. And you even get a decent amount of search traffic. The search traffic is key to what I am trying to lay out here.
The people who reach your blog via search are the people who are most likely to convert. Think about it. Other PF bloggers or regular readers of your blog are visiting frequently because they want to see what you write about. They don’t care about your Adsense ads or affiliate links. They just want to read the content and maybe leave a comment. Targeted search traffic, on the other hand, brings in people who are looking for specific information and might even be looking for something specific to buy. Targeted search traffic is more likely to click on ads, click on affiliate links, or even buy your own product (if you have one).
I recently used Sam’s site, Financial Samurai, as an example for how to pick the right keyword. By using my keyword research tool, Long Tail Platinum, I was able to find a good keyword that Sam could target. A keyword that gets lots of searches, has low competition in the search results, and can be used to drive traffic to a post that will contain one of his affiliate links.
Using Keyword Research to Create Passive Income
The way you use keyword research will vary depending on your method of monetization. If most of your income comes from things like sponsored posts or paid links, then this might not do a whole lot for you. Remember, passive income is the objective. You want to be able to write a post with a targeted keyword that might get traffic for months, or even years, from now and will still be able to make money for you.
Here is how to use keyword research if your main monetization method is contextual advertising, like Google Adsense or Media.net. In this case, you are focusing on shear numbers. Click through rates are usually pretty low for these types of ads, so you want as many people as possible to come through. While doing keyword research for this you want to focus on high search volume, high CPC (cost per click), high advertiser competition and of course – low search competition.
Your keyword research strategy can vary if your focus is on selling your own product or affiliate products. In this case, you don’t care about CPC or advertiser competition. You just want to find good keywords that have low search competition that will drive traffic to your post. If your payout is lower, you’ll want to focus on higher volume keywords. If you have a product with a high payout, you may want to look for lower volume keywords that are much easier to rank for.
I personally like the last strategy of high payout/easier to rank kewyords the best. As an example, I could find an affiliate product with a high payout. Say, something like a credit card offer that pays out $100 each time somebody signs up through one of my links. I could then look for “low hanging fruit,” keywords with lower search volume. Say I find a keyword that gets only 200 searches per month, but has virtually no competition in the search results. I write a killer post that is completely optimized properly (examples from PF blogs within this post) and get it to rank at #1 for that keyword. Say I get about 50% of the 200 searchers to click through to my site, because I am sitting in the top spot. Even at a 1% conversion rate, I could make $100 per month just for finding this great keyword!
Maintaining Your Passive Income Machine
This all sounds great, doesn’t it? You should be able to find a few sweet keywords, write and publish some optimized posts, then sit back and watch all the money pour in, right? Not exactly. Even after you have success using this strategy, it doesn’t mean that your post will always rank well in the search engines and will always bring traffic to your site.
Things happen. Other keyword searchers might find the same keyword that you found and go after it. If they have higher rankings sites, and/or a better optimized post, they might outrank you. Also, Google has a knack for changing their algorithms and jumbling up all of the search results. They seem to do this on a whim and never clue anybody in as to what exactly they are doing. Google’s random algorithm changes don’t really affect how we do keyword research though. All data used in keyword research is based on current search results, current rankings and other current statistics.
There are things you can do to keep your passive income machine well oiled. You can build links to your well optimized posts. This can help them keep their current rankings and even climb up in the rankings. By building links, I am not talking about shady black-hat tactics. I mean all of the stuff you normally do with your blog anyway. Things like: Inter-link your own posts on your blog, write guest posts for other blogs, submit to carnivals, participate in blog swaps, etc.
You don’t have to use a keyword research method like this on every post, or even worry about SEO. It would be a good idea though to try to link to your optimized posts whenever you can, from your non-optimized posts. Doing this helps to keep your older posts alive, both by giving it a boost in the rankings, as well as by driving traffic to the post directly. If you let your old posts die, the income they create will also fade away. But, if you keep your passive income machine well oiled, you could continue to earn from it month after month, or even year after year.
START A BLOG FOR PASSIVE INCOME
It’s been six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. The average age of the top 1% posts is 2.3 years old. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over two years ago, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that’s completely passive.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. Who knows where your new adventure will take you in 2015 and beyond?
Photo: Pug Life. Dominating for keywords “Captain Meatball,” by SD.