Recently, I was teaching a course, “Going Pro – Moving from Hobby to Business” and one of the students was a jewelry designer looking to take her hobby of making jewelry, mostly as gifts for friends and family, and turn it into a paying business. I suggested she focus her jewelry design on a profitable niche or risk becoming a commodity and be forced to compete only on price.
Given the overall popularity of jewelry on platforms like Etsy, I shared that jewelry was part of a thick market and that competition in that space was fierce. I recommended that she look for a thin market within the overall space. I explained further the nature of the long-tail economy and the need to own a portion of the tail.
If you googled “jewelry” right now, you would receive over one billion results. Competition to get on the first or even second page of these search results would be nearly impossible. These top spots are owned by Kay Jewelers, QVC, Macy’s and many other very well established brands with lots of brand awareness, money, and market penetration. As a result, trying to rank in a search for “jewelry” is way too big a stretch.
However, there is a secret formula that will show you where to find a thin spot in the long-tail where you can own a sufficient number of searches and almost guarantee getting you on page #1 of a google search. As you can imagine, this student was very eager to hear the secret formula. Here it is –
1 – Go to adwords.google.com, click “Tools & Settings,” and click “Keyword Planner.”
2 – Click on the “Discover new keywords” option and enter a base keyword, such as “jewelry,” and select “Get Results.” Google will display a list of potential long-tail keywords based on the base keyword you entered.
3 – Next, select “Download Keyword Ideas” and select the file format “.csv” Google will prepare your report and download it to your computer.
4 – Now open the file in excel or whatever spreadsheet program you are using. You can adjust the column widths so you can read the column headings Delete all the columns except;
- Column A (“Keyword”)
- Column D (“Min search volume)
- Column E (Max search Volume
- Column G (Competition (indexed value))
The goal is to find a sufficient number of searches per month, but not too many so as to attract the attention of larger, well-funded competitors.
5 -Sort the columns by “Min search volume” and deleting all rows that have less than 1,000 minimum search volumes
6 – Sort the list by “Completion (Indexed value)” and review the list of low competition keywords to find the diamonds in the rough.
6 – Search through the remaining keywords and delete those that clearly have no relevance to your product or service.
7 – Next open Google and cut and paste each long-tail keyword remaining into the search bar and record the “About ____ results” value in millions next to the long-tail keyword in your spreadsheet. Since most searches are well into the millions, I recommend just recording the results in millions (e.g., “About 4,500,000 results” would be recorded as 4.5 in the spreadsheet).
Note: To save time, you can use Amazon Mechanical Turk to outsource this task if you have hundreds of long-tail keywords. The way Mechanical Turk works is you can pay a person a few cents to do what they call a simple “Human Intelligent Task,” also called HIT. Each search and single entry into your spreadsheet would be considered one HIT. Therefore, a list with 350 unique long-tail keywords paying 2 cents per HIT would cost you $7.00 for someone to complete this entire task for you.
8 – Next, locate the long-tail keywords that return the fewest results. These indicate that there are fewer sites on the internet that address that specific long-tail keyword. Generally, look for results less than a few million to ensure the best results.
Using our jewelry example, the long-tail keyword “handcrafted jewelry” only returned about 4 million results. While 4 million may seem like a lot, it really is not that big a result given the expansiveness of the internet. While a search result returning 4 million results is still a little high to appear on page 1 of Google, it is still much better than the over 1 billion results returned by just “jewelry.”
9 – Scan the search results, focusing on the long-tail keywords with the fewest returned results. Wiki results or single articles mean that few sites are chasing that long-tail keyword and you stand a decent chance of ranking high in the search results.
10 – To quantify the influence of a competitor using your targeted long-tail keyword, you can use the free Alexa plugin to see how your competition ranks in the U.S. and international searches compared to you.
11 – Next, either develop a site or a landing page that targets that long-tail keyword. Be sure to write a page that is stuffed with your long-tail keyword.
If this was such a page and “long-tail keyword” was my keyword I was focusing on, you would see that it appears multiple times in the body of the text and even in the title.
12 – Be sure to optimize the site or landing pages using SEO tools like the free Yoast plugin for WordPress.
13 – Finally, promote your site or landing page on the appropriate sub-reddits (reddit.com) and in LinkedIn and Facebook Groups to create organic search results and let Google works its magic.
Are you using long-tail keywords to find your most profitable Niche?
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