Hacked – Why Longtail Pro is the Best Keyword Software, and How to Use It

It’s a rare week that I have time to post twice on this blog. Heck, it’s a rare month, at this rate. Well, it’s been a productive day. Below I’m going to outline a crude but revealing process I learned using a keyword research software.

But first some background…

I’m going to assume readers of this post have some familiarity with Four Hour Work Week, and further with muses, passive income, and niche websites. If not (and bless you for reading this far into the post), please check out some of my earlier posts on the subject.

I’m well into the process of trying to create the third of my niche websites. The first two are “long game” sites – sites for which I realize there’s fierce competition, but which I’m launching because I love to write about the subject matter, and which I believe will eventually become “authority sites”. The third, I’m going “cold blooded” about. As you may know, one of my gurus for online business is Pat Flynn, whose original blog series on niche sites (published in 2010), was the “101 class” for the launch of my two existing sites and search engine optimization of one of them.

This is like business school for me, and niche sites are the canvas – the case studies.

Anyway, Mr. Flynn is launching the second installment of his niche site series, “Niche Site Duel 2.0”, and its criteria are stricter.

Stock in Trade

Niche sites live and die by ranking on the first page of Google for keywords. Say you noticed a lot of people asking about the best grips for female golfers but no web resources devoted to supplying information about it. In theory, you could build a site to satisfy the people searching for that information, and monetize it by trading your traffic for advertiser or affiliate dollars.

But how can you be sure of those two crucial contingencies?

1) Get on the first page of Google


2) enough people searching for the term that your site will get enough visitors to make it relevant to advertisers.

Keyword Research – that’s how. There are various tools, but Google itself supplies the crucial data on who’s searching for what and in what numbers, to anyone willing to sign up for an account. In order to make sense of the data, though, you need to cull through hundreds of variations on your keyword, checking each for competition, value to advertisers, etc. It can be an exhausting process.

Several softwares simplify it. Market Samurai and Longtail Pro are two such softwares, and I’ve used both. Both seek to import data from Google and organize it in a manner more useful to the user.

Here’s what an effective software needs to do – display, at-a-glance, the most relevant information on value and competition for an ever-evolving multiplicity of keywords, allowing the user gradually to winnow down thousands of possibilities to the most optimal few.

Pat Flynn calls this “panning for gold”.

Here’s why Longtail Pro (platinum) does the best job, and how I’ve managed to make it even more efficient.

-You can enter multiple keywords at once. The software searches for relevant data on all of them, then eliminates the ones that don’t qualify for certain preset “filters”, for instance 3000 minimum exact-match local searches per month.

-In the platinum version, there’s an algorithm that distills down multiple factors – page rank, domain authority, something called “SEO Moz” (don’t worry about it), etc – into a single number indicating average competitiveness. It’s not a be-all-end-all, but it’s a useful early filter. Basically if things tick north of 30 in this metric, there better be a compelling reason to keep the keyword (maybe you love the subject, think you can write better posts than the competition, etc).

-Here’s the best part – you can distill down all your historical searches to only keywords that pass muster, then continue to add new ones. I have my “dirty dozen” sitting in Longtail Pro, and I keep trying to “beat” them with any ideas that occur to me throughout the day.

And here’s my hack…

I’ll surely face accusations of being too binary, but you can use math to mirror the spirit of the basic function of keyword research. Every keyword needs to be investigated thoroughly, and qualitatively as well as quantitatively, but you can eliminate a lot of hassle by using simple math.

-Basically, a keyword’s value is some combination of the average Adwords cost-per-click (a measure of your phrase’ value to advertisers) and the number of monthly exact-match local searches, diminished by factors limiting its chance of getting seen – i.e. competition that will make it difficult to rank on the first page of Google.

(CPC * Local Searches)/Average Competition coefficient

…with shades of gray, of course.

To find this, do your keyword search in Longtail Pro for several days until you have a decent “distilled” list. Then run the “average KC” function for everything left over. Eliminate every word over 30 that you wouldn’t absolutely love writing about/researching.

Then click the “export” button on the bottom right of the form, and export the file as a CSV. Import it into Excel.

Now make an extra column, and assign that column a function based on the above: “= [CPC] * [Local Searches] / [Avg KC]”. Copy and paste that formula down the column, then sort by that column in descending order.

And there you have it – a list of your keywords in descending order of potential reward/hassle.

Of course now the most difficult work begins, but thought I’d share this little hack.



2 thoughts on “Hacked – Why Longtail Pro is the Best Keyword Software, and How to Use It

  1. WOW – this is a lot to digest for a novice whose grandcats like to walk on the keyboard when she is typing, but also chock-full of good “bites”! (Consume slowly and don’t forget to drink plenty of water!)

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