Celebrating Useless Keyword Victories

First a little background...

My first foray online was 13 years ago. It was 1996... it was on a friends computer... it was love at first 'site'.

Over the ensuing months I'd get a taste of it now and then when I visited his place. It didn't sate my desire, all it did was whet my appetite for more.

I got more the next year when I bought myself a modem and hooked up with an ISP. A whole new world was open to me.

The year after that I would graduate from being a mere surfer to being AN ONLINE PUBLISHER.

A proud yet somewhat hollow boast. My first webpage was whipped up in less than an hour and uploaded to GeoCities. I may at times come across as a harsh critic but I'm not afraid to apply the same standards to myself. Within a couple of days after the elation settled down, I knew my site sucked. And thus began the long journey of learning web graphics and HTML. But I discovered something else of value along the way (website statistics) and I believe my ability to learn was unencumbered by the fact that I was making webpages for fun a long time before I started doing them for profit.

The website...

I'm not going to go into specific detail about what the website was about. It wasn't life changing by any means for the people that visited it. It was geeky, it was quirky. It was a novelty site. It can best be described as Digital Illustrations of Celebrities. Which is probably why it did so well with getting attention. Because it was about familiar faces. And because it didn't focus just on one celebrity it meant the potential audience was quite large, given the amount of fans that would appreciate the site.

Web Stats

It wasn't until 2000 that I really started to pay attention to the web stats. After all, when people are only finding your website because you've personally told them where it is, doesn't lend itself to inspiring visitor stats.

Before GeoCities put bandwidth quotas on their free accounts, they were actually quite a brilliant webhost. You could get a break down of referring traffic by URL, Search Engine and keyword for each and every page.

In 2000 I started a fulltime course in Digital Arts & Media. I figured I may as well get a piece of paper to prove the abilities that I had invested so much time and effort into developing in my spare time. It was an interesting time in my life. The teacher who taught us how to use Macromedia Dreamweaver had never actually uploaded a website to the internet. It became quickly clear that I knew more than most of my teachers. But I didn't let it become an excuse for inflating my ego. I knew that there were things that they would know that I didn't. Things that would be missed if I were the sort of idiot who sat with a head wobble at the back of the classroom.

While I won't take the time to pinpoint the things I did learn, I must have impressed them enough with my humility as well as my experience and knowledge, because within 6 months I got an offer to teach at another campus for semester 2. Keep in mind I had no formal teaching qualifications. Much to the delight of my fellow students our semester two timetable had Fridays free. Except for me of course. I got to teach on Fridays.

But back to my career as a student... I went one step further for an assignment which involved demonstrating how our proposed website would work, via a projector onto a screen at the front of the class. I was the only one to actually have my site live and online. And the Unique Visitors total was doing something strangely bizarre.

Up to that point I was getting less than 10 visitors a day on average. On the odd occasion it would push past 20, which for me was a cause for celebration. This day however it was sitting on 1000+. I thought something was broken.

But every time I refreshed the stats there was a dozen or more new unique visitors. My classmates were as excited about it as I was. By the end of the day I had 8000+ people who had visited my site. It was due to a backlink from cool.com, which back then, was actually a hip, cool and very popular site.

Over the next few days the traffic flow subsided and then leveled out. The unique daily visitors may have settled around the 100 mark, but didn't drop below that.

Over the coming months I'd see traffic spikes as other 'cool' sites would plug the site. After these peaks my Average Daily Unique Visitors would see a marked step up from what it had been before.

My First Domain Name

I moved the site the following year to its own web hosting. I had already bought a domain name and was using it as a domain redirection. People could find the site through both the GeoCities URL and my domain. So when I set the Domain Name Servers to resolve to my own hosting I didn't have a problem with people finding or following me over. That was more due to blind luck than forethought.

The new web site stats were good, though unfortunately it didn't break it down to individual pages. But I could still track and see where the traffic was coming from.

I would see a slow but steady climb of the unique daily visitors: 200... 300... 500. 1000 was a cause for celebration. Google played a major hand in giving me traffic as well as a lot of return visitors (I was updating the site almost every weekday). When I got to 5000 unique visitors daily and holding steady my traffic spikes would be in the 20k+ range.

I'd see backlinks from the cool sites, as well as blogs, occasionally a news site. I was also made aware (by visitors) when they found my site due to being mentioned in magazines (real ones made of paper!) and also newspapers (being featured in an Israeli newspaper really spun me out).

One newspaper, in Australia actually, which is where I am by the way, referred to me as being a geek with far too much time on my hands, and made a disparaging remark of my obvious lack of being able to have a real girlfriend.

My wife wasn't impressed by the statement, but it didn't worry me. I was getting web traffic!

Keyword Gold

My numero uno search engine keyword was seeing me sit firmly in the first page of results. In my heyday, which lasted for two years, saw me positioned in the top three. Though results would shift at least three times a day (I'd check in the morning, midday and in the afternoon). At least once I clawed my way into number 1. But I didn't see much of a difference in traffic. Anywhere 'above the fold' (before a person has to scroll down) is a fantastic position to be in. But this particular keyword itself was one that would see visitors dig deep in the Google results. I know this because even when it was somewhere down in the 40's on my slow climb up the SERPs I was already starting to get good traffic.

This wasn't the only keyword traffic tap that was turned on though. Because my site featured celebrities, I was also getting traffic for those individual celebrity names. Which was an interesting lesson in surfer behavior.

With 500+ celebrities on the site, and some of them somewhat obscure (because I was featuring Australian celebs who had not yet achieved international fame) I'd sometimes see a spike in the stats for a particular name. Why? Because this person had somehow, somewhere become newsworthy for some reason. I interpreted as being an actor or actress had done something or was in a new movie release and talk of them was either in the papers or on the television news, this prompted the fans and curious onlookers to do a quick search, finding my link in the results and clicking thru.

It must have been the movers and shakers who were the first to hear something and sought out more information online, because I could say to my wife 'Hey, what's such and such been up to?" and she wouldn't know, but then in the next few days that person was all over the news.

There were lessons learned that I can't quite put into words, but I kept a diary of random thoughts and sites. Though some of the thoughts are now outdated or the websites defunct.

But you can't beat simple, short keyword domination. "Longtail" is okay, if people are in fact searching for those terms.

As a newb, you need to realise that to understand and read web stats, you need a lot of data.

You need thousands of visitors and many many months of such traffic, to be able to see trends.

And if you think you can see a trend, or even go so far as to predict a trend, it's most likely luck.

And getting excited because you typed in a longtail keyword search term and being on the first page of results or even number one, is not a success story. It's not something worth wasting your time celebrating.

People partaking in useless keyword celebrations aren't stupid. In fact their hubs/articles/webpages are quite intelligent. Their only misdemeanour is that they're uninformed.

Celebrating Useless Keyword Victories

All too often I see webmasters and writers getting excited about coming in at number 1 out of however many millions of webpage results. The first thing these people need to learn is that webpage results are NOT an indication of the amount of people searching.

One keyword tool that's good to start with, is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

Lets look at these three phrases and see how some HubPages hubs fare in the the results:

Why the Easter Bunny Speaks Latin (currently 1 out of 9,370)
Fun and Interesting Easter Facts (currently 2 out of 778,000)
The art of Ukrainian Easter eggs (currently 5 out of 37,300)

But are people actually searching for these terms?

According to the Keyword Tool, no one searches for those terms. Or as they put it: Not enough data

You should also be aware that a longtail keyword search which reaps millions of results only means that is there that many pages with those words on the same page. It is no indication of its popularity as a phrase used by people in real searches. To get the number of pages that have the actual phrase on them you have to put quote marks around your search in google. Which will narrow down the number of returned results by a LOT. Which of course means less competition. But you need to go back to 'how many people are actually searching for this search term'?

And it's not only longtail keyword searches that people can find distraction. Short and ridiculous words can also be wasting a persons time.

I once saw a fairly new forum with a strange name, we'll call it Borkt.com (it was a totally made up word), and the founding members were absolutely delighted to see that a search for "borkt" was bringing their site up in number one position.

The competition was, of course, slim. There weren't any other internet surfers using that word anywhere else on the world wide web except for some completed stuffed typo's. And the only people actually searching for that term were the very few people on that forum.

These people were celebrating a useless keyword victory.

"You can rank #1 in Google, Yahoo and MSN for "purple baked dog doo", but if no one is searching for it, then no traffic, no clicks, no money."

lrohner

The Unimpressed Turtle is unimpressed with your unimpressive keyword selections.
The Unimpressed Turtle is unimpressed with your unimpressive keyword selections.

Controversial

It is a touchy subject to broach, asking a person "how many people are actually using this search term?". I see often in forums, not just HubPages, where people are excited, even ecstatic about their Keyword Victory. But they haven't thought much past googling the term. They haven't checked their web stats or Google Analytics to see if it is actually getting them traffic.

Even more laughable is when people give the glory to their God for being responsible for their Keyword Victory. Or self appointed SEO 'gurus' who are more in the business of selling snake oil than Search Engine Optimization.

In communities such as HubPages and Squidoo I've tried to help in the most subtle way as possible. I could have perhaps used harsher words in stronger tone, but being subtle has been crushing enough it seems.

Noses get put out of joint, sensitivities are walked over, enthusiasm is trampled, 'accomplishments' are stomped on, hearts are broken...

I'm not pointing out the obvious or publishing this just so I can rain on their parade. I'm doing it so people can learn, stop wasting their time, recalibrate their thought process and reset their sights.

I want them to find real targets, hit real goals, and find real success.

You can bet your sweet glutes I won't be popping open the champagne when this hub shoots to #1 with a bullet for a search for "celebrating useless keyword victories".

Recommended Reading

If you're serious about learning about what people are searching for online, you need to read this book.

It isn't a heavy read. In fact it's written in a conversational manner. It's as if a brilliant guy who knows how to communicate to normal people, is sitting down and having a one on one conversation with you. Read it while eating breakfast, sipping a coffee for morning tea break, on the toilet or when you go to bed.

You will learn more from this book than scouring through thousands of forum posts of conflicting (and unfounded) theories.

If you want to know what millions of people do online and why it matters, you need to read this book.

More by this Author


Comments 51 comments

dwilliamson profile image

dwilliamson 7 years ago from Kamloops, BC

darkside, this is a very informative hub. I'm a newbie to keyword research etc but not a newbie to the internet itself. I've read so many hubs and posts elsewhere that say do not put keywords in quotes when searching in google. I think I will now put in quotes. This hub made a lot of sense to me. Thanks.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand

Nice hub Glen - yes being #1 for nothing much is not really #1 at all! I am struggling with what to say and not say on the forums at the moment - most peole want to be paid for wiriting what they want to write - and the world and particularly Adsense just doesn't work like that.


newsworthy 7 years ago

Indeed this is a helpful, well written, keyword savy hub - as usual. When I first read somewhere, probably the hubpages forum, that you had 5 machines running as you write, I figured you knew what you were talking about. Is it 5?

Keyword victories are nice but so is being nice a victory, for some.


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

Not sure about the '5 machines running as I write' bit. Though if it was a very old post I could have been referencing there being 5 computers in the house. I wasn't using all five of them though! :D

I make do with a notebook and a 22 inch flat screen monitor attached to it for dual monitor luxury. I'd like to get myself a netbook. While a notebook would be alright to sit up with me in the loungeroom while watching Law & Order it would rearrange all the icons I have on my right hand screen and there's a LOT of those.


Kmadhav profile image

Kmadhav 7 years ago from New delhi

I want to know one thing when I create the hub page hub score is 49 -52 but you made this page 64 from first day.......this is good ..kindly help me how to increase the hubpage score ....


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

@kmadhav, I may have had the benefit of instant traffic. From my 'fan club' and also Twitter. Though I haven't posted it to Facebook yet (I'm going to do that in the morning).

The topic is also something that people, particularly Hubbers, are interested in.

Perhaps my 'reputation' helps too. A few of my hubs are targeted directly at Hubbers. And I make an effort to write it in a way that ordinary people (because I am one) can understand. I'm also actively involved in the forum here.

And I have a picture of a turtle.


caymanhost profile image

caymanhost 7 years ago from Cayman Islands

It's always refreshing to see someone telling people the truth :-)

I wrote about the same subject a while back in a blog post entitled "Getting On The First Page Of Google - A Reality Check" http://bit.ly/12Bgxw and get tired of seeing people ripped off by marketers claiming to be SEO experts and pushing another product of dubious value.

The amazing thing is that so many people sound really surprised when you explain this to them. Bravo for an educational hub, I've been flamed for pointing all this out on various blogs/forums etc. and have even been told that keyword tools are useless and using their stats proves nothing.

As I always respond, they can never be any more than a guide, but they sure beat shooting wildly in the dark and hoping for the best and that if they indicate that a keyword is receiving zero searches it's going to be far closer to zero than it is to a hundred.

I just posted a hub about keyword research and I'm off to add this to the resources section and a link from the post on my blog too :-)


Mrvoodoo profile image

Mrvoodoo 7 years ago from ?

Great hub, I followed via that comment about 'baked purple dog doo' or something like that in the forums and am glad I did. Informative and more than just a little bit funny. I'm sure I've been guilty of this before, but there's no arguing with the turtle. :D

'The Unimpressed Turtle is unimpressed with your unimpressive keyword selections.'

lol.


Mrvoodoo profile image

Mrvoodoo 7 years ago from ?

* Just in case you're interested you're in the number one spot in Google images for the search term 'The unimpressed turtle' and the 5th spot for Google search.

Surely that deserves a celebration.


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

I found the image of the turtle (or is he a tortoise?) at a free stock photography site while looking for images to accompany this hub and I just loved the look on his face. Next thing I came out with that ridiculous line.

I so want the number one position for 'the unimpressed turtle'! :D


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

Ramen to that Glen - but looks like either people never learn, or we constantly get a fresh supply :)


lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

This is a great read, Glen. I am going to refer people here when they ask me about keywords. :)


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

It's a great hub.

Can I ask, what sort of monthly global searches for a phrase or word should be a minimum, when looking for something good?


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

@LondonGirl, provided there is some actual traffic, it shouldn't really matter. The more better of course, but if you're focused on a small niche you may only get a small trickle of traffic, but it could convert really well. Some of the highest traffic keywords may not have buyers at all, it could be people merely interested in that keyword in terms of seeing how their competition is doing. I'd be willing to bet that most of the searches for 'mesothelioma' are people looking for content to scrape for their own sites and pages.


Mrvoodoo profile image

Mrvoodoo 7 years ago from ?

* 'I so want the number one position for 'the unimpressed turtle'! :D'

If only all dreams could come true so swiftly. :)


marinealways24 profile image

marinealways24 7 years ago

Good Information


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

@mrvoodoo, looks like hubpages has got positions 1 AND 2 now.

I'll be sure to add an acknowledgement to you in my upcoming book "The Unimpressed Turtle: SEO Tips, Tricks and Tactics " :D


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Thanks, DS. I asked because my Henry VIII is on the top of the second page for a phrase which gets 4,000 searches on average a month, and gets about 60 google hits a day.


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

I'd be very pleased with that result LondonGirl. 60 visitors per day from Google for that sort of subject matter is a nice trickle of traffic.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England

Darkside (Glen) - you are a constant source of wisdom and reality checks re SEO.

Nice to hear a bit more of your web history. Keep on 'doing what you do'. You are always a good read!


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks Rik. I like to share from personal experience in the hope that it will save others time and speed them along on their own journey.


CarpetDiem profile image

CarpetDiem 7 years ago from Southern California

hi darkside,

You are right that ranking #1 for a phrase won't get you much traffic if no one is searching for that phrase, but sometimes you can learn from the experience. With non-competitive terms you can see the effects of different promotion techniques, which would never show up on a competitive term.


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

Simply by publishing the useless keyword combination you have yourself results in the Search Engines within a few hours. No need for back links. So I'm unsure how that sort of experience would prepare a person in improving their technique.


Tim Blackstone profile image

Tim Blackstone 7 years ago

You make some good points here but it does help us keep working away at promoting our pages to find that we have had some success even if it is for some obscure keyword phase and you never know, someone might just type that into google one day. :o)


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

Tim, celebrate the real successes. The stuff that is pulling in the crowds.

You can waste a lot of time targeting niches that don't exist in the vain hope that someone, somewhere, sometime might type it into Google. And of course there's no guarantee that any revenue will come out of that.


lrohner profile image

lrohner 7 years ago from USA

Fantastic hub. Question for you -- Google's keyword tool and Wordtracker's Gtrends tool generally give me very different results for the same keyword or phrase. Which one should I rely on more?


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia Author

How much of a difference? I'd be inclined to go with adding the two together and dividing by two to get what's probably a more accurate figure.


Increased Website Traffic 7 years ago

Good to see you get across the point of search engine result pages for keyword terms that are basically useless. It is a point that needs to be absorbed by so many. But much more importantly, it is good to read someone elses experiences over the last 13 years. I myself have been in the game now for just over 14 years. I can remember the days when you could put up a simple web page with affiliate links and be ranking for your choosen keyword term within a couple of days in the first couple of pages of Excite.com and then manipulate your way to the number 1, 2 or 3 spot within a day or two. Sales coming in within the first day or two was the norm. These days I am spending at least 20 hours of keyword research alone before I even start creating any site on any subject.


mailxpress profile image

mailxpress 7 years ago from New York

Hi,

Target keywords are a very important part of submitting to search engines. Always make sure you have your keywords or tags fit the topic of your website or hub. Great hub. Thanks for all of the interesting info.


mp 7 years ago

wow great hub and great insights... i liked your example of the easter bunny speaking latin results and related keyword data... i never thought of it that way... thanks for the very relevant and important info.


waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

I was one of them people back when I first started out online...yay...lets celebrate for the keyword term dark demonic art, but then oh dear what about the others like demon art and fantasy demon art, it's seems I'm slowly catching up now with demon related keywords and it is opening up a few more doorways to my articles, but the keyword thing goes on the more different but related stuff I write especially here on hubpages and on my blogs.

I just wish I could clone myself and do several different things all at once!!

A good read this hubpage Glen and a good book recommendation too!!


Jeffrey Neal profile image

Jeffrey Neal 6 years ago from Tennessee

Informative hub and good reality check. Thanks for the info. I've started looking to see if you've already answered a question I have about hubbing, and usually you have and I need no further information. :)


aquaseaCreative 6 years ago

Great hub. I haven't got the keyword selection or analytics down yet. I've been just approaching it with a marketing mindset but I really need a bit more tech savvy (which you obviously have in spades). Will be perusing your other hubs & taking notes!


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

I was so impressed with this hub, I decided that the book recommendation would be worth heeding, since it seems to obscure to find at my local used or library I bought it via amazon.. 4 refreshes later i found star wars, your commission will be minuscule, but a charity in California just received a purchase! Im looking forward to this book


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

3 months later and the information and outlook I received from Click has directly led to a 400% increase in earning via one of my aff networks. I mean directly, with very little tweaks on my end I adopted one search trend outlined in this book and the daily targetted traffic has put a big smile on my face. thanks!


darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

Sunforged, Brilliant!

People spend a lot of time fretting, fussing and frustrating over incorrect ideas and wrong assumptions. This book is a real eye opener, I think it's about time I take it off the bookshelf and give it another read.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 6 years ago from Sheridan, WY

When I first got into SEO I sure celebrated some useless keyword victories until I realized no one searched for them.

Good hub and you sure tell it like it is.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

Thanks Glen. This has been useful.:)


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Thanks Darkside! I've put this book on my list of "must reads". As you said many SEO gurus teach only the importance of making it to the front page of Google, but that is not substantial without traffic. So, if by chance the individual you were attempting to help in the forum does not "get it". It looks like at least shazwellyn and I did. Thanks again! :)


mod2vint profile image

mod2vint 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Thanks so much, I admit it I'm guilty of such victories.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Very good hub as usual,and of course informative but it is even interesting reading other peoples take on your comments and most agree with you which is really great to see.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Enjoyed your reminiscence about the early computer days and teaching. As industry evolved from rubber stamps, adding machines and data processing on green bar paper, soon enough we found ourselves staring at green screened monitors for hours on end, sending memos to our cubicled work neighbors.

It's interesting to see what people seem to get from keyword statistics, which I admit to not understanding or celebrating. I'm happy just to be read from time to time and to see my views increasing.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

When will I ever make sense of all of this? I dunno' either. Thanks for a thought provoking article to archive in the recesses of my brain.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

The book is 17 USD. I will buy it. Interesting, you had a good start and continue to share to us. It is true that there are so many gurus out there with conflicting analysis of SEO etc. Looking at the mindset of people who surf the internet is good. Finding the best that works for you is the second best. Hit and miss is all I can say. Been only here for 11 months, my first year of publishing online that I should know and learn to discern on my own what works for me. Of course I read your hubs but at times, don't comment anymore as it is always excellent share.

Thank you, Maita


darkside profile image

darkside 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you Maita. You've come a long way in your first 12 months! Continue learning, and earning! :)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 5 years ago from Great Britain

Hi Glen, I bought the audio book version and listened to it on the school run - you are right, it does expand an understanding in what people are searching for. Tancer has a strange relationship with statistics - totally obsessed. But then, looking at correlations with online behaviour, I realised that there really wasnt much difference to psychological behaviour in the real world.

People are easily side-tracked in life (generally) and this is the same with the Internet. Their searches are a result of a trigger - as writers we need to provide that trigger.

Im glad I came back to revisit,

Respectfully,

Shaz :)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 5 years ago from Great Britain

p.s. shared, tweeted, FB, rated up and 'awesome'.


Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 5 years ago from Maryland

Thank you for this article. I will be getting the book.


warrioRR profile image

warrioRR 5 years ago from Rawalpindi Pakistan

Cooool

Thanks for sharing


darkside profile image

darkside 5 years ago from Australia Author

Hey Shaz, yes Bill Tancer is a total data geek, and thankfully he manages to write in an almost conversational type of way so the rest of us can understand.

Having read it gave me the opportunity to recalibrate my thinking.


Skylar Spring profile image

Skylar Spring 5 years ago from New York

Great hub! Very informative. I'm still pretty new to hubpages and have been trying to learn all that I can. Normally I just write whatever inspires me and don't much bother with keywords research. But I started seeing people raving about longtail keywords and keyword research, so I've been trying to find out all that I can. This was very refreshing to read.

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