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Keyword Research is Tricky


When starting a new website, its always better to start your work with the keyword research. I do the same. Most people do their keyword research at Google adwords keyword tool. Some people also use other tools like like wordtracker. I use them both extensively.

Many people face a dilemma when doing the keyword research and deciding on what to create a website on. They are not very sure whether to go for a more generic keyword with very high ‘average search volume’ or go for a more targeted keyword but with lesser average search volume numbers.

My suggestion? Its always better to go for a more targeted keyword. Not many people will actually search for that so generic keyword.

Does that mean what Google shows in that tool is not correct? Well, the answer is a yes and no. Lets understand with an example:

Have a look at this screenshot below:


The above screenshot shows that the first keyword (resume) in the list gets 6 million+ searches per month while the second keyword (sample resume) gets around half a million searches only.

Does that mean if you site is ranked very high (like first or second position) for the first keyword, you will get 6 million visitors to your site? The answer is no. In this particular case, if you site is ranked at the top positions for keyword like resume, then you will get around 100,000 visitors from Google for this “specific” keyword. Similarly for the second keyword (sample resume), your site will get around 65,000 visitors from Google. I am telling you this with my experience.

Now if you compare the results for the generic keyword (resume) and the more specific keyword (sample resume) you will think that the keyword resume will send around 12 times, that is 1100% more traffic. But the truth is not that. It will just send you around 50% more traffic only.

Why is so?
The reason is that Google has a typical way of showing the numbers in this tools. For example in our case, the number for keyword ‘resume’ include all the number of searches which has resume in it and not just the resume itself. For example the number of searches of other keywords like ’sample resume’, ‘resume objective’, ‘free resume’, ‘education resume’ (all without quotes) etc. are included in it. So the number shown in the tool is very very different than the number of visitors you will get for that keyword.

Again, coming back to our main question, whether to go for a very generic keyword or a more precise and targeted keyword? I would say, do your research but remember the numbers for the generic keywords may not be what you see in the tool. My advice (again), is: “more targeted, the better.”

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47 Responses to “Keyword Research is Tricky”

  1. Sky Xavier responded on 15 Jan 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Really interesting research Jim. Also will be helpful to many SEOs who are always seeking help on keyword research. I would most of the time go for targeted keyword as you mentioned very less people search for exact keyword. Great research. Thanks for sharing

  2. Download Games responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 3:18 am #

    You can get more accurate results with selecting match type as exact. But also, even then, you can see that more specific keyword ’sample resume’ has better CTR than more generic keyword ‘resume’ cause it’s more targeted search.

  3. Zak Show responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 6:46 am #

    Good research, and that what I noticed too, the more targeted, the better even if the audience is smaller!

  4. BecauseILoveJimKarter, :) responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 10:42 am #

    That’s a very interesting analysis and very well written piece. Yes, you are right and I see you are talking from experience. That’s why I always like reading your posts. By the way, for the records, I have been reading your posts for years now and never posted. :) So, I have always been one of those fans of yours lurking in the corridors. Thanks for sharing, once again.

  5. Free Directory responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Great Research Done. I’ll keep those things in my mind next time when I’ll make a niche site.

    Thanks Jim!

  6. Niz responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    What you are seeing are “Broad” match results. Just select the “Match Type” to “Exact” and you will get the results like you want.

  7. att responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Great post as always Jim :)
    I guess you are using the wordtracker commercial version ?

  8. Manju responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Quite interesting stuff. Never know about it.

    Thank you for the research :)

  9. Ravinderjit responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Very very good suggestion indeed. I will definately work on the same lines.
    Thanks a lot Jim.

  10. Adi Moga responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks Jim.. thanks :)

  11. zoki responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    It is pretty strange.When i tried with exact match still there was 450 000 for resume and just 100 000 for sample resumes.

  12. ????? ??????? ??????? responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Great Research Jim, i want to ask you what the number for monthly searches that we can consider it good to pick this keyword ? im building a website now for one of the local famous football players so i made my keyword research to find that t has 40000 monthly researches in arabic languge which is the main languge for searchers since he is an egyptian player and 3600 for his name in english ,how can you say this is a godo number to target this keyword ! is there any minimum ?

  13. Jim Karter responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    What I told is even good for “Exact” match type. For exact match also [resume] brings 450K results and [sample resume] brings 74K results. It shows resume is searched 500% times more. But the fact is not that.

    But yes, exact match types produces somewhat better results than the broad match.

  14. High Ranking Keywords responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    It’s part art, part science but going for the long tail keywords with less competition makes a lot more sense than trying to rank for generic terms that will have far higher levels of competition. So, when doing your keyword research folks, consider more than just search volume. Consider whether the term you are targeting is aligned with what you are trying to achieve and the level of competition in order for you to rank well.

    - Dean

  15. Armaan Bhati responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 9:38 pm #


    I had no idea about this.

  16. Job Openings responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    Thats A nice research,
    i do not go for keyword searches most probably but i put keyword which i feel Users Will Search for,will try some tools like this and improve while Reasearching

  17. FasterE responded on 16 Jan 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    Nice explanation of what the #s Google provides really indicate. I think a lot of people get thrown, not understanding that “resume” numbers include “good resume”.

    Even then, though, people need to remember that those numbers are good estimates, not ironclad facts. That’s why it pays to use mult. keyword tools.

  18. Envirogle responded on 17 Jan 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Very true, because the more general the keyword/niche the harder it is to get into the top 5 or so.

    And there is a severe decrease in traffic from being number 1 for a search term and being number 6 for a search term. From experience if you rank low in the first page you get about 50% less traffic than the website ranked 1st.

    Better to rank higher in more targeted niches. :D

    ie, get long tailed niches, with relatively high search terms.

    Must balance, the competition, money made/Click, and search volume.

    Not so easy when your first starting out, but like all things you do get better. :D

  19. Make Affiliate Money responded on 18 Jan 2009 at 8:53 am #

    Keyword tool + competition on a Google search is how I select a URL.

    Having the keywords in the URL is the best thing you could ever do for free in SEO terms.

    In my experience anyway.


  20. Inspiration Quotes responded on 18 Jan 2009 at 9:01 am #

    A great tool that I use for keyword research is run by sitesell, inc. called brainstorm-it. I have tried a lot of tools and is my favorite.

  21. Neil responded on 18 Jan 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    One thing you can do is change the match type to “exact” instead of “broad” for more accurate search volume results.

  22. YJ responded on 19 Jan 2009 at 12:03 am #

    hmmmm pretty cool tool!

  23. Jimmy responded on 19 Jan 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    This is very true, I have learned this the hard way.. but to pain no gain.

  24. Dalirin responded on 20 Jan 2009 at 12:07 am #

    If you plan of monetizing your site with adsense use broad keywords, but you are doing affiliate program especially PPC, target keywords are better.

  25. Make Money Online Brian responded on 20 Jan 2009 at 8:32 am #

    Great post. I use this tool every day, and I must admit it took me a while to realise that you need to drill down on the niche words. Also try taking one of the phrases the tool gives you, and re-type it in the box at the top. You’ll get further niche words which you can focus on.

  26. Rowen responded on 20 Jan 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    thanks 4 the tips Jim

  27. Rowen responded on 20 Jan 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    thanks for the tips Jim

  28. SEO Tips responded on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:29 am #

    I always advise people to go with precise keywords first for a new website. After they have ranked well for the more precise keywords then you can reach out and focus on the short one or two word keywords.

  29. best videos responded on 24 Jan 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Keyword research is the most important aspect of SEO, and for newbies i think its a must do thing. But when your website grows and become big, the keywords does not matter anymore.

  30. responded on 28 Jan 2009 at 8:31 am #

    I think with this post I have got only half food for my brain. I want to read more about this topic as this one is very vast and you should start this one in episode wise.

    I do not think that only 4 to 5 paragraphs is enough for this.

  31. Make Affiliate Money responded on 29 Jan 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    It is so funny when you hear people complaining that their website called doesn’t rank No.1 for “buy drill”.

    Domains based on company names are fine if that is what people are searching for, but most of the time people are searching for “things” to buy not “where” to buy them.

  32. ebali responded on 30 Jan 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    it’s shocking facts for me, but thanks for telling everyone that we were wrong.

  33. Online Deals Blog responded on 01 Feb 2009 at 8:05 am #

    Short generic keywords are really hard to rank for but when you do the traffic is great. You end up getting way more longtail searches too.

    Thanks For the research Jim.

  34. responded on 03 Feb 2009 at 1:59 am #

    I am requesting again to start a weekly base post. Because this is that kind of topic on which you can write at least 10 posts with every ins and out about this.

    So looking forward more from you.

  35. Ruby Web responded on 04 Feb 2009 at 2:12 am #

    With the great tools out there, they make keyword research much easier. But the real trick is finding the right tool to do the job, that will pull accurate reports.

  36. Travel Dude responded on 09 Feb 2009 at 8:58 am #

    I experienced this a couple of times…Yes, I did try to rank for the ‘general keyword’ like a noob and it took more effort, but I ended up ranking for the generic keyword as well as more specific keywords.

  37. Mega Champ responded on 09 Feb 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    If i want to conquer a niche, i would go for long tail keywords related to that niche, even though they might not be getting much traffic. Nice post btw :-)

  38. Fozia responded on 11 Feb 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Is possible use photo gallery in this blog??? Thanks

  39. ZK@Internet Marketing Blog responded on 12 Feb 2009 at 1:49 am #

    Even till today only serious and professional webmaster are taking keywords trick seriously. I was not serious about this but one day when I saw the traffic is coming from search engine with a particular keywords … I become very much serious.

  40. Easy Internet Marketing@RohKat responded on 12 Mar 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    So Jim according to you what volume should be consider before choosing any keyword.

    Whether it should be high visitors or medium one.

    Tell us some idea in figures. :)

  41. Against Weight responded on 12 Mar 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    Usually I used this keyword tools:

  42. rahul responded on 15 May 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    i use many keywordcountry, keyworddiscovery, and few othes..

  43. WASEEM responded on 06 Jul 2009 at 12:04 am #

    This article is very helpfull for my new site. Thanks a lot.

  44. qamar responded on 06 Jul 2009 at 12:06 am #

    Best information for keyword research. Thanks

  45. Executive Training responded on 06 Jul 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    Nice post. It’s really helpful information for keyword research. Thanks.

  46. learn html online responded on 07 Aug 2009 at 3:45 am #

    This article is very helpfull for my new site.

    i have good idea about information for keyword research

  47. marcus@make money online responded on 17 Oct 2009 at 8:13 am #

    Great article. I think you should target several longtail keywords derived from the original generic keyword

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