I regularly contribute to a lot of blogs; maybe a dozen or so. One of these is Lame But Cool, which is essentially used as a glorified Amazon wishlist. I post once a week, with whatever cool looking things I’ve found on Amazon. It is not a good website and not much more than a thin affiliate site, which explains its meager PageRank of 3 (out of 10), and a total of four RSS subscribers.
In the last couple of weeks, some patterns have emerged in the website’s referrer keywords.
Two posts are receiving at least a few visits a day from Google searches: one on geek watches, and one on Japanese gore movies.
This tells me two things:
- People are regularly looking for information about these topics.
- There is very little competition for these topics, otherwise my insignificant website wouldn’t be ranking in the results.
A quick Google search shows that my lowly site currently ranks 7th for “Japanese gore films” and 23rd for “geek watches”. A rank of 23rd is not particularly good, but the constant stream of referrers implies that the search term must be fairly high volume for the website to be picking up the small percentage of searchers who browse the third page of results.
We can quantify the number of searches for these topics with the Google Keyword Tool. Note that the “Competition” in the screenshot refers to AdWords competition, not organic search results, though there is usually some correlation.
The data shows that there are at least 900 searches a month related to “Japanese gore films”, 1,900 for “geek watches” and 8,100 for “geek watch”.
These may not be large numbers, but the terms are fairly high intent; people conducting these searches are more likely to make a purchase compared to people searching for low-intent terms like ‘free wordpress themes’ or ‘world cup’.
With a little effort, a website or webpage could be created with a superior ranking to Lame But Cool for each of these topics, to take advantage of what we know: they are high intent, decent volume and low competition keywords.
For example, a $15 DVD earns approximately $0.90 affiliate commission at Amazon. If a first-position search result attracts 50% of those 900 Japanese gore searches, and converted just 5% of them into a single DVD sale, that’s $20.25 revenue a month ($243 a year). Sure, it’s not much, but it makes a pretty good profit on the domain purchase.
Just to prove a point, I registered http://japanesegoremovies.com/ over the weekend and spent just a few hours setting it up (thanks, WordPress!). After only a couple of days, it already ranks on the first page of Google for many of the relevant search terms, and I haven’t even started off-page SEO tactics yet. And yes, it has recuperated some of the $9.99 domain price already.
If $243 doesn’t sound like much, think about the “geek watches” example. Even if you could only gain a good ranking for the easier plural term, it’s a much higher-value product. A quick estimate yields: 900 visits a month (50% of 1,800) * 0.05 (conversion rate) * $60 (average watch price) * 0.06 (affiliate percentage) = $162 a month ($1,944 a year). This figure is conservative, and doesn’t take into account the seasonality of purchases.
This isn’t just relevant to commercial topics, though.
By purposefully maintaining a low ranking site, which has good on-page SEO (titles and headings), you can create a regular stream of small posts relevant to your subject matter, without having to create extensive, high-effort articles that your site/brand is known for.
Of course, as a content strategist, I’m not advocating that you purposefully pollute the web with more noise; the posts need to exhibit quality and value. But by disassociating them from your brand, you’re free to explore topics and experiment more than you might on your main website.
Then, track the referrer keywords to find low-competition, high volume topics, and use these as the basis for more sophisticated content on your main website, where you’ve proven an unfulfilled need. Everyone wins.
I’ve started to use this technique to discover latent content strategy topics for the Contentini blog.
About a week ago, I set up The Content Strategist Blog, which is nothing more than a tumblelog of interesting content/language links that I find through my normal daily web browsing. I use the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet to quickly post an extract from interesting articles; it takes less than 5 minutes a day to maintain (you could use the equally-quick Tumblr or Posterous too). It has attracted 25 RSS subscribers over the week, so hopefully that’s a sign that some people find it valuable, and it’s not just a public smoke-test tool.
I need to tweak my current approach to avoid the duplicate content wrath of Google, by altering the title of the original link to give my post a unique title, and adding a sentence-or-two of editorial around the quote in each post. As soon as Google starts to regularly crawl the site, I hope to find some great new topics to cover here in more depth.
On a final note, I found it a little amusing when Kristina Halvorson tweeted about the new Content Strategist Blog, and someone replied saying that the blog was just ‘an attempt to grab eyeballs’ and attract traffic. Actually, that’s the last thing I want – please don’t link to it! It needs to maintain a low ranking to serve its original purpose.
P.S. Yes, I registered geek-watches.com too.