How I Choose Profitable Keywords…

I love pay-per-click marketing for the simple fact that I can cast a wide net and quickly test multiple keywords, determine which ones are driving sales, which are not and then take most profitable keywords and optimize my site so I also rank for them organically.

But if you’re just starting out, and don’t have it in the budget to effectively test your keyword universe using PPC to find the “money-makers”, then you’re faced with making an “educated guess”…

And this is where many new marketers are lured by the general keywords with high search volume, only to find out the competition is fierce and the visitors do NOT convert. ????

So if you don’t have the luxury of using PPC to unearth your money-making keywords, it ‘s critical you know how to pick the right keywords and hopefully this will help…

Understanding Keyword Types…

When choosing keywords for any niche I will segment them into the following five different categories. You can use these categories to determine what keywords to focus your SEO efforts on…

Keyword Category #1: They’re ready to buy YOUR product.

This category is always the most profitable but unfortunately only exists in more established businesses where people are actually searching for the name of a specific product or brand name combined with a ‘buy’ keyword.

For example if I had a website selling my own brand of wrinkle cream called “Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser”, the keywords in this category would include…

  • buy Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser
  • get Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser

So as you can see, all of these search terms indicate that this person actually searching to buy this product and the traffic you get from these keywords will have an insanely high conversion and does not require an extensive sales process.

NOTE: A straight brand search (i.e. Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser) may fit into Category 1 or 2 but if you focus your SEO efforts on both categories, you will typically achieve rankings for the general brand as well.

Keyword Category #2: They need more information on your product.

This keyword category includes general brand searches on their own or combined with what I call “need more information” keywords. In other words people know about your product and are considering buying it but need more information before they can make a purchasing decision.

These keywords could include…

  • Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser reviews
  • does Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser work
  • Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser price
  • Skintastic Wrinke Eraser results

Each of these keywords indicates a direct interest in the product, but also indicates that more information is required BEFORE they will be ready to make a purchase.

When optimizing for these types of keywords, you are going to get the best results by optimizing individual pages that provide the information they are looking for.

TIP: If you have an affiliate program, affiliates writing reviews for your products will typically compete for and rank under these types of keywords.

Keyword Category #3: Wants to buy a product LIKE yours.

This keyword category contains searches for your type of product but does not reference your product directly. Continuing with my wrinkle cream example, keywords may include…

  • Wrinkle cream
  • Buy wrinkle cream
  • Wrinkle cream reviews
  • Best wrinkle cream

In this category the person wants a wrinkle cream and is actively searching for information on wrinkle creams, and may potentially buy a wrinkle cream but they’re not yet aware of or sold on YOUR product.

So although these keywords can convert very well, you need to have a strong sales process to sell them YOUR product.

Keyword Category #4: Looking for a general solution.

In this category we face two conversion obstacles… first we must convince the visitor that our type of product (wrinkle cream) is a viable solution to their problem and then we need to convince them that our specific product (Skintastic Wrinkle Eraser) is the product they should choose.

Keywords in this category would include…

  • how to get rid of wrinkles
  • reduce wrinkles
  • reduce laugh lines
  • reduce crows feet

These keywords indicate that someone wants to reduce wrinkles but has not indicated they want or know about wrinkle creams.

Keyword Category #5: Shot in the dark.

Keywords that fall into this category are typically general and vague keywords and the searcher could be looking for any number of things.

Continuing the ‘wrinkle cream theme’…

  • anti-aging
  • look younger
  • reduce aging

These keywords may include people interested in buying wrinkle creams but it will be such a small fraction, the effort required to rank well for these keywords will not justify the return in most cases.


If you are fortunate enough to have keywords in category one with significant volume then you need to make those keywords your top priority. It is not uncommon to see conversion rates in excess of 10-40% on Category #1 keywords.

Category #2 keywords are a close second but you still have some ‘selling’ to do so make sure the landing page provides the information they are really looking for!

Most new websites will have at least a few category 3 keywords to start with and although conversions are substantially lower (expect between 1-10%), the actual search volume will be a little higher.

If you offer a unique solution that is really in a ‘category of its own’ then people probably do not know it exists and are not actively searching for it. This means you will end up starting in category 4 and have a bigger sales job ahead of you. The conversion will be lower than previous categories.

And finally stay away from category 5 until you are an SEO Jedi Master, already ranking for your top keywords in all of the other categories.

My Favorite Keyword Research Tool: Over the past decade I have tested almost every keyword research tool imaginable and my current favorite is Market Samurai for numerous reasons, but rather than listen to me ramble on about all the reasons it’s my favorite, you can click here to download a fully functioning free trial to find out for yourself.

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  1. hey Derek, as a LONG OVERDUE thank you to our mutual late friend, how bout I get that Twitter account off the mat for ya? (3 million followers, nearing 100 accts under mgmt) no charge @pawmarks Cheers!

  2. Well done Derek. easy to bundle up kw’s based on similar terms and particular phrases and miss not only the real intent but where the people typing them actually are in the buying cycle. I appreciate the reminder <:-)

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