How to choose the right keywords in 2014

Many webmasters focus only on the most popular keywords, related to their site’s niche because these are the keywords that have the potential to bring them the most traffic. At first glance, it seems much easier to optimize for one or two major and popular keywords rather than for hundreds of long-tail keywords. However, this is mistake that could render all your SEO efforts futile!

The power of long-tail keywords and how to optimize for them like the BIG BOYS:


Naturally, whatever we do, we will still get some traffic from long-tail keywords, but not quite as much as we can if we focus more seriously on them. There are several advantages in using long-tail keywords and the main one is that they can bring you some laser targeted hits; many of the users, who search for these keywords, are already ready to buy product or services and are just shopping around. This makes them the best visitors for your site and all you have to do is make sure that you turn as many of them into buyers as you possibly can. Using long-tail keywords also gives your site great authority and will help it survive any future SE algorithm updates. Having a site with quality content, which is written around hundreds (or thousands) of related keywords will give it much higher authority compared to a site with “thinner content” or content, written around one or two major keywords.

Yet another reason to use long-tail keywords is the better chance your site has to rank well for many of them. When you are optimizing only for one main keyword, your competition is likely to be much stiffer and it could easily take you years to rank your website and even if you succeed, there is no guarantee that you will keep your rankings for long. Ranking for many long-tails also ensures that your site traffic fluctuations will not be very drastic, even though they are still possible.


1. Long-tail keywords discovery

- Take the time to run proper keyword research. Using Keyword Snooper together with Google Keyword Planner will make your job easier. Add a project to Keyword Snooper, using your MAIN keyword and harvest some long-tail keywords – your list will usually be a few hundred keywords long. This will be our base list.

- Use some common sense to build secondary lists. If your site is all about cameras, make sure that you compile several secondary keyword lists around any accessory and product that your site visitors might be interested in. For instance, you can build lists by using seed phrases such as “camera batteries,” “zoom lenses,” “camera bag,” “holster camera bags,” “camera memory,” and so on.

- Merge your base list and your secondary lists together. Export them into Google Keyword Planner and import them back to Keyword Snooper. Now, it is time to get rid of the keywords that are too competitive or have miniscule amount of monthly searches. What keywords to keep and what keywords to remove from your final list? Ideally, you would want low-competition keywords with at least 2,000 exact monthly searches, but they are not always easy to find, so you can keep keywords with low to medium competition and even lower monthly searches. SEO is costly, so choose your battles carefully – if you decide to go after some very competitive keywords, make sure that you know you are prepared to put in a lot of time and / or money.

2. Building your website

- Check your competition. While you might think you have discovered some golden keywords, make sure to check the sites that rank on page one on Google and examine their links, authority, size, domain age, and other important factors so that you know who you are going up against.

- Optimize your main page (your index page) for your main keyword. Then start building your pages around some of the long-tail keywords; start with the ones that have low competition and higher monthly searches. They will be the easiest to rank for and this ensures that you will see some money coming in sooner.

- Build backlink not only to your main page, but to each one of your pages and ensure some anchor variations.

- User-generated content is fantastic since it can bring in searches your page is not even optimized for. One way to get user-generated is to allow visitors to comment on your posts and articles.

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How to do keyword research – PART 2

This is the second part of the Keyword Research tutorial and I am going to show you how to pick the best keywords for your web sites, pages, YouTube videos, or Amazon stores. Again, I am using Keyword Snooper together with Google Keyword Planner – Keyword Snooper allows you to build and export your long-tail keyword lists as a .csv file, compatible with the Keyword Planner. You can import these files to Keyword Planner, export them back to Keyword Snooper, and then used the software to find the perfect keywords for your projects.

This is what the software looks like when you have several files already exported from Google Keyword Planner. They are shown as projects in the left pane, and you can load them into the software with a single click and then use filters to pick the perfect keywords. You can also create and save up to five filter presets, which is a great time saver.

keyword software

More about the filters – the competition level of a keyword ranges from 0 to 1, so keywords with competition level between 0 and 0.3 are low competition ones. If you want to find low level competition keyword phrases that still bring decent searches, simply create a filter with competition between 0 and 0.3 and monthly searches higher than 2000 (you can pick even greater number) and then apply the filter.

how to find low competition keywords

Once you apply the filter, you will be left only with keywords, which match the filter criteria. In Keyword Snooper, you can double click each keyword in order to see how it trends and this will help you pick the keywords that are likely to bring you more traffic.

It is always best to do some basic competition analyses too – even if you find some golden key words, if the first page on Google is dominated by well-known, aged, and authority websites, ranking your own site for that particular keyword could be quite challenging. There are several tools that perform competition analysis, but this is out of the scope of this post.

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How to do keyword research

How to do proper keyword research using Keyword Snooper and Google Keyword Planner – if you run only one or handful of websites, then Keyword Planner might be the only keyword tool that you will ever need. It is free and quite easy to use as long as you spend a few minutes to get used to the new interface. However, if you need to run several or even thousands of keyword research projects, then Keyword Snooper is probably the best software for the job. It is fast, accurate, quite affordable, and could store hundreds of keyword projects, which are saved on your hard drive.

OK, let’s start our keyword search. As taught in most Business Management course, setting tangible and realistic goals is the first step to a successful business; we will apply the same logic here and we will be shooting for a keyword with enough monthly searches and low to medium competition. Let’s say that we are building website, selling digital cameras.

Launch Keyword Snooper, add a new project and run it.

find long tail keywords

After removing the duplicates, we are left with 687 long-tail keywords:
digital camera user manual
digital camera used
sanyo digital camera vpc 503
digital camera viewer
digital camera video camera
digital camera vga
digital camera with printer
ge digital camera x5
canon digital camera xsi
olympus digital camera xd card
fuji digital camera xp10
olympus digital camera x-42
ge digital camera x400 manual
fujifilm digital camera xp
digital camera x-ray
digital camera yahoo
digital camera youth
digital camera you can draw on

Normally, I filter out the long tail keywords that do not contain my seed keyword, so removing keywords that do not contain “digital camera” left us with a list of 674 key phrases. Now, let’s save the list as a .csv file – clicking the “Remove special characters” will ensure that the .csv file is compatible with Google Keyword Planner. I can now login to Google Keyword Planner, import the .csv file, sort the keywords in descending order by competition, and then export the list back to my hard drive.

medium competition keyword

The key phrase “digital camera reviews” is medium competition and has 40 500 monthly searches, so it might be a good one to target; same goes for “digital camera review,” which is also medium competition and has 9 900 global monthly searches. At this stage, I normally run a search on Google and examine the sites that rank on the first two pages; this would give me a good idea who I am going to compete against. If all these sites are authority sites, several years old, and with great amount of quality content, ranking our site for “digital camera reviews” could be quite difficult and take a long time.

Now, we can pick secondary keywords with lower competition – let’s add “digital camera review” as a new project in Keyword Snooper and run it.

secondary keywords.png

After removing the duplicates, we are left with 280 keyword phrases and we can select several of them – “digital camera reviews 2013,” “best digital camera reviews,” “digital camera reviews point and shoot,” “digital camera reviews and ratings,” “digital camera reviews for amateurs,” and “digital slr camera reviews” are all good to target. Of course, we can take this step further and pick the ones that have adequate monthly searches.

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Google removes keyword data from searches

Just a few short days ago, Google has confirmed that they are moving towards encrypted searches for all users, even the ones that are not signed in their Google accounts. While this will make no difference to 99% of all the nice folks out there, using the Google search engine, it will have a massive negative impact on all SEOers and webmasters.

What does all that mean? Just take a look at screenshot below:

keyword data

Instead of seeing the keywords and keyword phrases that send us Google traffic, now all we see in our traffic logs is “Encrypted searches,” that isn’t very helpful, is it? There are several theories trying to make sense of this move, but for some reason the official statement that this is done to “protect more end users” doesn’t really make much sense. It is far more likely that Google is simply following their course on shutting off more and more SEO data sources; after all, not so long ago some of the biggest SEO companies have reported that their Google API access has been revoked.

What now? There are still other search engines out there, so we can still see what our sites rank for on Bing and Yahoo; we could also spend more time building fantastic sites with fantastic content and less time on SEO analysis although that that is just like sailing without a compass. Thank you Google!

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Buying backlinks

Buying backlinks after the Penguin update – what works and what doesn’t

The Penguin update is having far greater impact than any of the previous major updates, including the first Panda. The update, according to those with means to analyze thousands of affected sites and according to the official Google webmaster blog, was directed at “shady” off site promotion tactics. For most webmasters, the off-site optimization starts and ends with link building, hence the non-stop talk following the update about over-optimization and unnatural link building on all the major forums and SEO blogs.

What is over-optimization: understandably, Google does not give clear definitions of the terms that they use and does not divulge the methods that they use to rank websites during and after the update. However, most experts in the industry agree that over-optimization is building links, which point mostly at the main page of the site, using the exact same anchor text. This results in a “bad backlinks profile,” one that Google sees as done purely to outrank the competitors and “cheat” the Search engine algorithms.

Unnatural links on the other hand are the links that are purchased from link networks, contextual links placed within completely irrelevant text, and links from low quality or spammy sites. Of course, only the Google team could shed more light on the Penguin update, but there is no chance of this happening any time soon.

How to beat the Penguin – recovering a site from the Penguin might be challenging, but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions that might help:

- Make sure that you build links with good anchor distribution. Many webmasters started building links, using their bare link or “click here,” “website,” “site,” as their anchor. I am not entirely convinced that you need to go that far, but if your main key phrase is “blue widgets,” then using a number of variations such as “buy blue widgets,” “cheap blue widgets.” “big blue widgets,” etc. definitely makes sense

- Do not link to your main page only! This has been true for quite some time, yet many webmasters keep building thousands of links to their main site’s page and nothing else. Linking to your newly added posts / inner pages is just as important and it will help you build more natural link profile.

- Avoid buying side wide links

- Avoid buying backlinks from blog networks. Google has targeted some of the biggest blog networks, including BMR and ALN and there is no reason to beat a dead horse. Some webmasters are still buying links from smaller, private, and lesser known blog networks and reporting success, but this is definitely a risky strategy and one that you should not use on your top moneymaking sites.

- Avoid keyword stuffing when building links. This was actually one of the examples of “bad link building practices” that was posted on the Official Google webmaster central blog.

Best of luck!

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Free links

With the ever-changing Google algorithm, there is one constant that can still help your own site rank higher and get much more search engine traffic – the bakclinks. More and better quality backlinks will help your site get noticed and as a result will bring much more targeted visitors, which you could easily transform into paying customers. While some of the tried and trusted methods and techniques might not be working anymore and became less effective, link building is still as important as ever.

Where can I get free links for my site or blog?

Well, there is no such thing as free lunch and in order to obtain free links, you would need to invest some of your time. You can start by submitting your site’s URL to some of the manually reviewed online or business directories, build Web 2.0 properties, submit articles, write guest posts, or employ other techniques in order to get some quality free links.

The best approach would be to get these links from sites that discuss topics, similar to your own site’s niche. You can do so by approaching other webmasters and offering them free content in exchange for a link back. When you have become an expert in your filed, it is easy to write a good article or excellent post. In addition, you can employ one of the oldest techniques for getting free links – link baiting. Link baiting is the approach of writing top quality posts or articles (controversy works very well too), which article or post is likely to be quoted on other sites and forums, giving you an instant backlink. For instance, if your site is devoted to web design, you can write an advanced Photoshop tutorial, which is likely to be linked to as long as it is well written and other webmasters find it useful. In addition, you could offer free web designs, WordPress themes or other product, which other webmasters could use as long as they keep a link to your site. Similarly, if you are a programmer or know a bit coding, you can develop a small, useful script, and give it away in exchange for a free link.

Other techniques that everyone can use to get free links are article submitting, directory submission, social bookmarks, social networks posting, forum signatures, and web 2.0 posting. These techniques will help you build backlinks to your site from different sources, domains, sites with PR, and give you a good diversity.

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Where can I get edu links?

The edu links carry extra weight and are a must-have for every back-linking campaign. There are various ways to get these links for free, but this usually involves quite a bit of work and ingenuity – here, we will list various places, where every webmaster can get free edu links:

- edu forums. Many edu domains have forums, where you can register and have a link back either on your profile page or in the member’s signature

- edu wikis. Another great source of free edu links are the wikis – there are quite a few of them and the good part is that they allow you to post your article without having to create account first. Keep in mind that not all of these links are do follow, but nonetheless, they are great to have

- edu blogs. These are the most common types of edu links, offered on forums and freelancing sites, but they are also the weakest ones. The links are obtained by posting comments on edu blogs, but almost all of these links are no follow and they carry little weight

- contextual, in-content edu links. By nature, the edu links from wikis are contextual, in-content as well, but there are a handful of edu sites that allow anyone to register an account and post content, where you could include your link. However, there is a catch – if you post irrelevant content, it is likely that your link will be removed quite quickly, yet if it sticks for a long time, these links are golden. If you want to go into the technical details and find out why contextual links are considered the best, then you could read more on latent semantic indexing

What to expect after getting one way edu links – the edu links are good, but they are not magical and you should not expect your site to shoot for the skies after building a handful of them. Rather, include them in your link-building efforts, keep adding great content to your site, keep getting other quality backlinks, and you are likely to see good results after awhile.

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Backlinks checker

Using a backlinks checker allows you to find out how many websites are linking to your site or blog, what is the number of unique domains that these sites reside on, and what is the quality of these backlinks. In addition, some of the good backlinks checkers will show other important information such as the PR of the pages, where you link is found, the page and the domain authority, as well as the anchor text of your links.

What can you do with this information?

For starters, you could compare the backlinks that your main competitor has to your own and see how you can improve your link building strategy in order to outrank them. Keep in mind that your site’s SE position is influenced by other factors as well such as the age of your domain, the content of your website, and the on-site optimization. Listed below are some free and paid websites, which can serve as a quick backlink checker:

1. Yahoo site explorer – Yahoo! has announced that they would be shutting the site explorer down and this is expected to happen before the end of the year. However, until then, this is one excellent link checker, which can provide you with tons of useful information.

Update – sadly, Yahoo site explorer is now closed. Some of the functionality has been merged to Bing Webmaster Tools, however, you can check the links only for your own website and only after creating an account and registering (verifying owenrship of) the site.

2. Open site explorer – the free version could give you some valuable data such as the total links to your site, the total number of unique domains, where these links are coming form, as well as the page and the domain authority of the sites, linking to you. The paid version provides detailed reports for up to 10 000 links and additional important SEO data that you might need.

3. Link diagnosis is another backlink checker, which gives you the anchor text of your links, the link type, PR of the pages, their OBL, MOBL, the link strength, and more.

4. Backlink Watch is another free backlinks checker, which displays your site’s links along with the page’s PR and OBL, and the anchor text of the inbound link.

5. Backlink Falcon is a software bundle, which includes backlink checker called Quick Spy, link to link checker called Backlink Falcon, as well as small tool, which performs quick on-page check named KW Cloud. Quick Spy performs just as well and better than many of the backlink checkers that we have tested. Backlink Falcon works differently than the conventional backlink checkers as you need to have the URLs of the sites that you wish to check for a link back to your own site. This is an excellent software suite and a definite must-have for any seasoned webmaster.

backlink falcon screenshot

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How to get back links

How to get back links – ten easy methods for getting free back links

1. Web 2.0 properties – sites like Squidoo, Zimbio, and Hubpages allow you to post content and include a link back to your own website. Keep in mind that some of these links are no follow.

2. Forum profile links – much debated after the Google Panda Update, the forum profile links are still good to add in the mix. Some forums allow you to post only a bare link (no anchor) to your website, while others allow you to have a signature, where you can include a contextual back link.

3. Article submission – many article directories accept articles and allow the authors to include links to their own sites in the resource box.

4. Blog comment links – websites, built on certain platforms like WordPress allow comments, and you can use these comments to get a link back to your site. Keep in mind that the majority of these links are no follow, and if you find a high PR page, which allows do follow comment links, you should try leaving a relevant comment with a substance since this would increase its chances of being approved.

5. Edu links – these can be built on edu forums or edu blogs. Again, most of the back links, coming from comments on edu blogs would be no follow, while almost all of the edu links, coming from forum profiles would be do follow.

6. Directory submissions – submitting your site to various directories will give you easy back links.

7. Social bookmarks – you can post your site or blog to the various social bookmarking sites for some easy one-way links.

8. Guest posting – this is a tried way to get relevant and top quality backlinks. You need to find a site, close to your own site’s niche, and contact the webmaster with an offer – you agree to write a relevant and quality post in exchange for a backlink. This is a win-win for both parties!

9. Wiki links – most of the wikis that allow content posting also allow hyperlinks in the content, however, most if not all of these are no follow.

10. Press releases – write a good press release, submit it to as many press release sites as you can, and you will get free links to your site instantly.

Now that you know how to get back links, it is time to get to work!

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Google Panda update and backlinks

Google Panda aims at improving the search engine results by rewarding high quality websites and reducing the chances of autoblogs and poor quality websites of ranking high. Whether successful or not, some changes did take place and many webmasters have found it difficult to improve their SERPs, using the same old backlink building techniques.
What backlinks should I build after the Google Panda update?

Some of the top Google experts claim that the Google Panda update rendered the “low quality” backlinks worthless and that if you want to see some upward movements, you should aim at getting quality links from high authority sites only. The truth is that this is more of wishful thinking on their side rather than the fact – a quick look at some of the well-ranking websites shows that both quality and quantity matters. While getting contextual backlinks from high authority sites is as powerful as ever, building thousands of back links, even from forum signatures and blog comments, some of which coming from PR0 pages and some of which no follow, seems to help a great deal. Whether your site ranks well or not depends on various factors, some of which the age of the site, its content, its on-site optimization, and structure. When you have two sites, which are well-optimized, have relevant and unique content, and are built on aged domains, then the one with more and better quality backlinks is likely to be ranking higher.

What backlinks should I build after the Google Panda update?

  1. Contextual links from same niche, high authority websites.
  2. Side wide links from same niche, high authority websites.
  3. Links from Web 2.0 properties – building high quality Web 2.0 properties, such as unique content Squidoo lenses with links back to your site is likely to help you rank higher even after the Google Panda update.
  4. Article directory links – even though the article sites were the ones that were heavily hit by the update, gathering links from the top article directories will not hurt your rankings, despite what many “SEO experts” are calming.
  5. Profile links, blog comment links, social bookmarks – adding these to the mixture of links is always a plus and can make a difference.
  6. Edu links – links from edu sites still carry some weight and you should add them to the mix.

Backlinks that can trigger Google penalty after the Google Panda update: none!

Some “SEO experts” claim that these or that type of links can harm your site, but again, this is far from the truth. Some links carry lower weight and some are likely to give your site much stronger boost, but there is no such thing as “bad links.” Well, there might be actually a few exceptions to the rule – getting most of your links form malware and virus infested server is not going to do your site any good and building thousands of links per day for a brand new site is definitely a risky strategy, but this was valid before the Google Panda update as well.

Happy back-linking!

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