Keyword Research Training Part 1
2 votes, 4.00 avg. tacos (76% full)

Update (Jan 15, 2015): After you’re done reading this post, be sure to check out Han and Nate’s new keyword tool that makes it easy to scrape your competitor’s keywords and do bulk keyword difficulty analysis.

This is Part 1 of a video series showing how I do my keyword research.  This video shows how I do it manually using 100% free tools.  NOTE:  If you’re using IE9, please try Chrome or Firefox :)



In this video I go over:

  • How I use Google Adwords Keyword Tool
  • How to use the Contextual Targeting Tool to accurately judge CPC for content sites (DONT USE THE SEARCH CPC!).
  • A simple formula to determine how much your Adsense will earn
  • Avoiding brands and local results, and previewing searches as a user in any location.
  • Exactly how I judge the competition of a key phrase using the Keyword Difficulty Tool from SEOMoz (aff. link to free trial here –  note that I get paid whenever anyone signs up for a free trial, you don’t have to purchase after 30 days.  So if you think I deserve a tip from an 80 million dollar organization, use my affiliate link!).
  • How to find a list of 100,000 keywords with search data


Tools mentioned in this video:

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Google Contextual Targeting Tool

Google Ad Preview Tool

SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool (includes affiliate link to free 30 day trial)


I hope you enjoyed the video!  Please leave a comment if you have any questions or uh.. comments!


Edit: Part 2 and 3 of these videos are available!   If you haven’t seen them yet, they show how to scale these processes, and speed them up substantially!  Also if you want the details, you can see the exact formula I use to calculate the adjust page authority here.


Update July 16: Adrian pointed out that I neglected to mention all the universal search adjustments (I only mentioned place pages).

There are many verticals in which the rules are changed. Basically if universal search is showing something, then there is a real bonus for results of that nature. IE News results, shopping results, local results, video results, etc.

Now to really get the bonus associated with these results you need to be registered for the associated Google service. Google News, Google Shopping (with feed), Google+ Places, Youtube, etc. If there’s no-one registered that has a page matching the target query, nobody get’s the benefit. This is often why the APA / keyword difficulty score is so low on these SERPs, if you looked at the 2nd/3rd page results you’d likely see higher results. яндекс

So if the SERP has universal search results, either consider registering for the appropriate service, or skip it and move on.


Update October 17, 2012: Google has made some changes and I have posted an update to my keyword research tactics here:



Hayden “NoHat” Miyamoto

Keyword Research Training Part 1
2 votes, 4.00 avg. tacos (76% full)
  1. Thanks for this clarification! I thought I knew the best ways to work with GAKT but I had never gotten around to using the ad preview tool.

    BTW I’ve had good luck with locations in the past, it depends on choosing areas less populated with place pages – the affluent suburbs as opposed to major cities.

    • Yup there are plenty of places still unpopulated. But I wonder how long that will last?

      Also although your search may show no place pages, or perhaps just 1, a search from a different region (specifically the location the query is based on) can show multiple place page results. I think this may have to do with Google showing local results that aren’t registered in place pages / have less authority for users within the actual local area.

  2. Hayden,

    Before starting the video, I have a question for you,

    How many visitors do I need for $100/mo site targeting $1 CPC keyword?


    • If it’s $1/click on the contextual tool (not the keyword targeting tool), you’d need to targeting around 10k/mo LMS (which should get you around 2-3k visitors/mo). This is of course highly variable, based on click through rate of the niche, but that’s the average I’ve found.

      • So Hayden, are your numbers are based on the following assumptions…a number 1 ranking in the serps will give you a 20%-30% visitor rate of the total LMS, and a 3%-4% CTR on your adsense ads?

        • Vusal, John corrected me below, and actually it would take a higher LMS, around 25k not 10k.

          This assumes 20% SERP CTR and 2.68% CTR. The calculator will be included in the next video (I’m hoping to send it out tomorrow).

  3. Apologies to all trying to watch on an Iphone, the video doesn’t seem to work. It is HTML5 and downgrades to Flash, strange that the first 4 minutes and 22 seconds work though…

    I will try another WP Plugin next time.

  4. Thanks for the video. I was looking at SEOmoz and I know there is a 30 day trial for free. But it does cost $99 a month. It seems steep for someone starting out like me. If you were starting out from scratch, would the trial run of 30 days be enough to prove that it works? Do think $99 is to steep for that? It seems like that tool is really important in your assessment.

    Also, would you suggest just looking for words that rank 43% or under instead of messing with the higher ranked ones?

    • Hi Tony,

      30 days is more than enough to find enough targeted sites to work on for months to come :) No need to keep it if you don’t see the value in the other services SEOMoz offers.

      I am currently paying $800/mo to SEOMoz ($500/mo for their PRO API, and also rotating 3 other accounts). To me it’s worth it, there is no better data out there and it is a crucial tool. I’ll cover how I use this data in the final video.

      I am thinking of developing a free script for the subscribers that will allow you do this by just exporting from the Google Keyword Tool, and then uploading the CSV and inputting an SEOMoz API key (part of the free trial as well). It would then spit out a calculator showing how much all the keywords would earn as well as the PA of the top 10 results for each keyword.

      I will be including that calculator in the next video (without the SEOMoz stuff) as an Excel spreadsheet with Macros (not great compatibility, but hey it’s free and that’s how I do it). I will try to get the script done as well if there is enough interest, again, totally free and you can get what you want out of the SEOMoz account for 30 days and if you don’t see value just cancel.

      • Thank you so much for the reply. i was one of those people who started right before this last update with google and had 4 to 5 niche sites. I really didn’t know what I was doing but I bought Market Samurai and was using UAW to find my stuff. I wrote 101 articles for Infobarrel and through the other sites I was making between $20 to $30 a month. After the update, one of my sites got booted off the front page, which was my top earner and I am not making about $7 to $9 a month. I stopped using UAW because I realized that if I picked the right keyword, then 100’s of backlinks didn’t matter.

        I just spent a lot of money and it never seemed like I made it back. But, I do not have very many sites. I am very excited about your methods. I just freak out when I see a product for sale.

        I didn’t think about getting as much keywords through the system and then trying them out as you suggest. That should get the results that anyone needs to make a decision. Thanks and I am really appreciative. I would love nothing more than to make an income from my websites.

  5. I’m so excited to get into your next lesson. I’ve been steadily working on sites and learning how to do all this over the last couple of years. I’m feeling much more confident now. When I first started I learned how to use SenukeX and was getting some good results, but I think that was unwise. I feel like I’ve learned more today than I have in the last six months of reading blogs about seo and even as a member of seomoz. So thank you very much!

    Like Tony, I want to make a living off my sites (and the ones I’m going to pick up after using your technique for finding good keywords).

    • Hey Michael,

      Thanks so much for that comment, that makes all the effort worth it :)

      Best of luck, and like I mentioned to Tony (posted a little under since otherwise it would have been 3 words per line LOL), just start out with some domains using this strategy, and don’t spend money on anything else!

      The next video will have a little tool that will make this process a bit quicker, and it goes into targeting multiple keywords on a single domain if you want to spend less money on domains.

      • I always like the idea of spending less money on domain costs.

        I do have a question: You mentioned in your training video that the first 65 characters are important in the url. Does that apply to the domain name as well?

        For instance, using your technique yesterday I found a four word exact match domain name (.com) available with an seomoz difficulty rating of 36% and was wanting to go ahead and get that domain.

        And does a domain name that is super long (like 43 characters including the www. and .com at the end get picked up by Google as a spammy domain name at this time?

        Appreciate your thoughts on this :)

    • Michael, sorry I missed this, and thanks for the email, you found a great keyword :) You will find many more in that niche so hit it up hard!

      In response to your question, I’ve found that even 5+ word domains are still fine in Google. I always assumed eventually Google would hit this, but it’s been 3+ years now and the keyword in domain filter is still strong even for 6 work keywords!

      • Is this still true in 2014? I thought google’s EMD update in September 27, 2012 deemed EMDs ineffective, unless you make it into highly authoritative site. Or is this not that important for low-end LMS keywords?

        Great site btw, Hayden! Thank you!

  6. WOW!
    I listened to your strategy on Spencer’s site and I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
    Thanks for posting this video of your keyword research techniques.
    My main ecommerce site was hit badly by an over optimisation penalty earlier in the year.
    The question that is most important to me is… will you be showing us how you find and buy the expired domains you’re using to build links to your niche sites?

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      I’ve had my ecommerce sites hit by OOPs – you CAN get out of it! First thing make sure all site-wide links are removed. And then go out and get as many brand/naked URL links as possible (and if you can change existing optimized links to brand/naked URL do it!).

      I definitely will be showing how I find and buy expired domains :)

  7. Tony,

    Keep your head up and try purchasing a few domains using this technique, I’m sure you’ll make it! I really advise people starting out to NOT spend money on anything except for domains. Don’t spend it until you’ve made it, and once you’re earning then you can invest in scaling.

  8. Hi Marc,

    In this case I’m referring to just purchasing the domains that will be his Adsense sites. Exact match is a bonus but Phrase match is fine ( IE

    I would say expired domains come into play when you’re ready to scale (if you have 10+ sites you can linkbuild with them). You have to pay for the hosting of them and write content on them, and it takes time to find them – if you have under 10 domains right now I’d say that time and money is better spent on building more adsense sites.

  9. Thanks for all the help. I am super excited to get started again. I think like most people I have been afraid to pull the trigger again on websites after the google mess. But I am really excited about your help and SEOmoz. I have started doing some research and SEOmoz seems to have a really good following and sounds like a really good tool.

    If you could put a quick ratio down on winning sites to failing sites that you create, what would it be? I mean if you had to put down how many sites you make that make the money you want opposed to how many sites that don’t make it, what would it be?

  10. Hey Tony,

    No problem, I’m glad this has inspired you! Judging the competition is key.

    My first batch of really uncompetitive sites were targeted to terms that would make $20-$50/mo. 9/10 of the sites ranked in the top 10. Of those, they all earn something, but some earn $5-10/mo, others earn $100/mo, and a couple earned $1000/mo. It totally depends on the niche’s CTR, and whether you end up being #1. They averaged out at $75/mo.

    So I guess the ratio would be probably 1:1 on $10/mo site vs $100/mo site, with a couple $1000 outliers.

  11. Hi Hayden,

    I am using the trial version of seomoz via your referral link, I really appreciate the information that you are providing.

    It might be soon for you to answer such questions, but can you recommend me to a service that will provide a separate c class ip for the expired domains that I currently have that I would like to set up as part of my private network?

    Also, it is safe enough to just to pay for privacy to block the whois info, or is there another method that you are using?


    • Hi Aron,

      I will get into this a bit deeper in future videos for expired domains, but I’ve had good success with indianets ($2/C-Class). I’m trying out IdeaStacks right now ($1/C-Class) but indexing seems slow on this server. IXWebHosting (aff link) is great in that it gives you a bunch of different IPs (search for coupons first). But you want to request them overtime since they seem to just constantly rotate IPs.

      I still vary up cheap shared hosting. Bluehost (aff. link) and Justhost (aff link) are great and have unlimited hosting if you also want to hose some of your Adsense sites on those IPs.

      Again always do a search for coupons, you’re bound to get a better deal :)

      Google is already a registrar and can probably see past WhoisGuard. I have never heard of them hurting people based on their Whois info though, although lots of very cautious people do that. I have seen Google kill an entire IP though.

      Really I’d use WhoisGuard (and hosting on different IPs) to hide from your potential competitors and not from Google. I have found lots of niches by reverse engineering based on IP and registrar info.

  12. Hey Michael:

    In response to this comment:

    You mentioned in your training video that the first 65 characters are important in the url. Does that apply to the domain name as well? For instance, using your technique yesterday I found a four word exact match domain name (.com) available with an seomoz difficulty rating of 36% and was wanting to go ahead and get that domain.

    The first 65-70 characters are important in the title tag. For domain names, I still find 4 or 5 word domains rank well. Go ahead and definitely get that domain if it’s projected earnings are good for you (multiply EXACT MATCH LMS * Suggested Big on the Contextual Tool and buy if the number is 5000 or higher).

    You may have found a good low competition niche – the next step is looking for all the similar terms in that niche and buying up the sites that match the above criteria.

    • Hayden,

      I’m a little puzzled…based on your formula in this comment response…Exact LMS x contextual CPC = 5000+ (which usually produces an estimated adsense income of $20/m), shouldn’t your response to Vusal’s question on how to reach $100/m with a $1 CPC KW be 25,000 LMS instead of 10,000?

      I know there is no exact science to all of this, but I want to make sure I understand your methods.


      John Lee

      • Thanks John, you’re absolutely right, my mistake.

        I also replied to the previous comment to clarify. A calculator will be included in the next part which should go out tomorrow.

  13. Hi Hayden,

    Great video. Can’t wait for the rest.

    Have you ever used SECockpit? And if so why would you not recommend using it? I find results load up very quickly and you can check for competition for hundreds of sites almost at a glance.

  14. I’d like to repeat one commenter’s question because it went unanswered and I’m curious. Would you suggest just looking for words that rank 43% or under instead of messing with the higher ranked ones?


    • Hey Nick, thanks for pointing this out and apologies to Tony, I skipped over it.

      If you can find keywords under 43% you’re almost guaranteed to rank. But if you just skip over everything else you may miss a gem.

  15. Hayden,
    Thanks for the video and responses. When we analyze the Page Authoriity you recommend that they all be <40 for no links ranking or <50 with links. You suggest we avoid them if all the urls don't meet these requirements.
    Is this for a #1 ranking? If the searches are high and the payout good could we use those same numbers to project a position 4 or 5 if 4-5 of the sites meet the above criteria?
    Hope I explained that well enough!

    • Hey Josh,

      You could definitely do that. But I would be careful with it and hope that 7 or 8 met the criteria, just in case. If you have link building options you could relax the criteria some more.

      Having all 10 and getting a #1 ranking will mean you can earn easily double what I outlined in the video.

  16. One thing I don’t quite understand with the finding keywords part. Why would you want keywords with a local monthly search above 9000? Isn’t that too competitive?


    • Competition is based on the quality of the sites ranking in the top 10, and not necessarily how often they are searched. I have sites targeted to 2 and 3 word keywords that have all 10 with an APA <50. These sites that get almost 5 figure pageviews per week - it just happens that no big sites are targeting that specific phrase.

  17. Hi Hayden!
    Loved the interview with Spencer and the first video. I’ve been following Pat Flynn for awhile and been running one niche site since September by following his Backlink Strategy That Works. While it did get me to number 5, I am stuck there. I am determined to get it to number one with all the time and effort invested at this point, but finding a strategy that would require less backlinking is definitely intriguing. It is making $30 dollars a month, and every month it makes a little more then the last. Its encouraging, but not going to pay the bills unless I can move it up.

    With your keyword research videos, will you discuss how to get these to rank, and rank quickly? I’m curious to know how to get these to number one quickly, in order to move on to the next keyword.

    My goal from the start was to make $1000 a month, and that would significantly improve my financial situation. I think if I can get 100 sites over the course of the next year making $10 a piece it would accomplish this goal. Do you think creating 8 a month is a realistic goal with your strategy?

    I love a strategy that includes formulas, and a step by step process, and I think yours is just that. I can’t wait to see the next video! Thank you for sharing!

    • I will indeed discuss how to get them to rank, but the first step in link building is choosing an uncompetitive niche.

      I think even with brand new sites chosen using this technique, you can make $1000/mo within 4 months. This is assuming you can build 50 sites within the first 2 months. The most time-consuming part will be the content, but aim for 6 new sites a week for 2 months and you will make it.

      The second and third videos are now published by the way:

      There’s a spreadsheet there for you to download, if you like formulas :) The video also talks a bit about content targeting, in most cases I would recommend starting with a few pieces of content now, instead of just 1, and adding more once the sites are ranked in the top 3.

      • Hi Hayden I’m a numbers guy. I have a budget that I can invest in this.

        6 new sites a week for 2 months= $480 for domain costs.

        What about outsourcing content? Do we need to consistent fresh unique content?

        Let’s run the $ for outsourcing content.

        • Start with 1-3 pieces of content. 1 is all I have needed in the past, but I think 3 is better as it would provide more value and is likely safer (Google may change things). So identify the content targets like I showed in the 2nd video.

          If you go to you will pay around $4/article, or $12/site. So your content will cost $600 at most if you do it this way, or $200 if you do it with just 1 article.

  18. Okay, thank you. I’m new fairly new to IM. I’ve been lurking around the warrior forum asking a tons of questions and researching. After alot of time I finally decided that I wanted to take the micro niche route.

    Now my biggest problem is that it seems like I keep getting different advice from dozens of people. Seems like just when I thought I’ve come closer to understanding how this whole process work I discover something completely new that goes against what the other person just said.

    I’ve always heard that you should go with keywords that have atleast 3000 local monthly searches minimum and less then 100k global searches and a CPC of $1 or more, but now it seems like the only thing that matters is the first page of competition in google now.

    I have another question, so a keyword needs atleast 5000 searches a month to make $20 a month regardless of the CPC. Is that correct? Sorry for the long comment!


    • 5000 searches if the suggested bid on the contextual tool is $1. Multiple the LMS by the suggested bid. If the contextual tool says $5, you only need 1000 LMS.

      Good luck,

  19. I’m waiting 2nd video with impatient (:

    When will you publish 2nd video ?

    Thank you for all ( I hope I would buy Seomoz pro acc. on your aff link :) and sorry for my bad English )

  20. Since Search CPC is generally higher than Content/Contextual CPC, a further filter could be added to work alongside the filter for 1600 searches.

    For example, for 1600 searches to produce $20 per month you need a Contextual CPC of $3.50 – so if you add, say a min of @ $3 as a filter you clean out all the results which aren’t likely to earn the required amount.

    Following from this, you could set a range of filters such as 5,500 with min of $1 or even 700 with min of $8

  21. Pingback: Pure Passive
  22. Hi Hayden I have a BIG problem.

    It seems that the Contextual Targeting Tool will give you difference suggested bids for the same keyword. The bid seems to be based on the suggested ad group for that keyword.

    For example, do a search for “little girls clothing”

    I found two listings for the exact keyword and differing suggested bids.

    In this case the difference is minimal (0.39 and 0.46). However when doing a search for a keyword I am actually targeting there is a HUGE difference (0.26 and 1.19)!!

    What’s up with this?

    Has me confused about the accuracy of this tool.


  23. Hello everyone here just like to introduce myself and hope to become part of this community. I like the openness of everyone here and the willingness to share and help. I am now kinda retired and trying to be self sufficient in Hungary but need to find some way of making some income in order to be ‘an independant woman’. I have been very interested in the IM arena but have been disappointed by the amount of scamming and lies that are being told. oh and then the flitting from one method to the other and never staying long enough, that is all my own and the informational overload syndrome’s fault. so i am making a commitment to now do what is suggested here, although i am still not sure if i do follow exactly, i will make any money. is there any space left for me? lol. Anyway this may be of interest to you guys – instead of a 30 day free SEOmoz trial i found a link with a 120 day trial and just signed up for it myself – it works. please reply to me and say hi and give me hope!! here is the link: (you dont need to be namecheap customer ie no verification of this needed).

  24. ARE EMD’S STILL VIABLE after google algorithm change targetting EMD’s? see this thread of detailed consequences to others. just as i wanted to go down this route with adsense sites. please respond hayden thanks susan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>