Looking back from where I started, I would say that much of my success was attributed to doing keyword research correctly. Even today, after panda and penguin, I've been able to rank domains at the top of Google and begin earning money without any backlinks. So today I've decided to disclose the methods of how this is done. I've posted this on our blog along with a few other tutorials, but I know many people would rather just read info straight from blackhatworld, so here it is. Keyword Research After initially trying out Market Samurai, we found that it was just too slow for our liking. So instead we decided to go with Long Tail Pro. Long Tail Pro not only does searches faster, but we find that by using their competition analysis page, we?re able to get a much clearer view right away of whether or not we can rank for the key term. Keep in mind that if you have Market Samurai already and don't want to get another tool, you can still use market samurai and try to follow this guide as closely as possible. Also, if you have no tools at all, you can apply filters on the Google Keyword Tool and use free PR and Backlink Checkers. It'll probably take 10 times longer to go this route - but if you don't have the capital to invest and you find it worth your time to spend the hours researching, then go for it. Here's the video of our basic keyword research: OVERVIEW OF VIDEO: The filters for our keywords using Long Tail Pro are as follows: At least 1000 Exact Match Searches in Google Keyword Tool At least $1.00 CPC **Notice in the video we chose to use $0.70 CPC. This is because occasionally we will go for keywords that have a lower CPC if the Search volume is much higher. Vice versa, we may go with a keyword that has lower search volume if the CPC is much higher. A general calculation you could use is SEARCH VOLUME x CPC is equal to or greater than 1000. For example, if a keyword has a search volume of 2000, and a CPC of $0.75, we would get 2000 x 0.75 = 1500. Since 1500 is greater than 1000, it would still be worth it to go for this keyword. We are going for Exact Match Domains. For example, if the keyword we are going for is ?dog training collars? we would buy a domain name like ?dogtrainingcollars.com?. Low Competition on the Google Top Ten : - Less than half are optimized for keyword in the title - Low PR on at least 2 or 3 of the top ten sites - Low amount of SEMoz/Juice links - Presence of other Sniper Sites Notice that unlike some ?guides? we do NOT include ?phrase match? competition as a limiting factor in choosing a keyword. From our tests and the tests of multiple marketers we know that ?phrase match? competition is not that significant. Consider this, would you have a better chance of winning in the 100 meter dash against 10,000 rookies or 10 Olympians? That?s why using these filters such as ?phrase match of 40k or below? is deceiving, because the top 10 could be Olympians. Likewise, seeing ?500k phrase match? may have top 10 positions still filled by rookies. So basically, if the competition on the first page of Google is weak, then we will go for it. KEYWORD TRICK #1 ? SNIPING THE SNIPERS (Blackhatworld only allows me to embed one video per post so here's the link to the video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSoueT6u_mU OVERVIEW OF VIDEO: By seeing sniper sites in the search engines you?ll have a better grasp as to where you may be able to rank with your own sites. The best case scenario is to see another new sniper site ranked at the top spots of google with No PR and no backlinks. Using good on page optimization and a little backlinking can almost guarantee that you?ll either be right up there with them or you?ll beat them for the top spot. KEYWORD TRICK #2 ? LEARNING FROM OTHERS (Blackhatworld only allows me to embed one video per post so here's the link to the video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwXnK7v3o7c OVERVIEW OF VIDEO: If you found what seems to be an open niche, but you see that other sniper sites before you have failed to rank for it, check their on page optimization and their backlinks to gather any clues as to where they may have messed up. If you can pinpoint their mistake, you can attack the same keyword and achieve better results. However, be careful to recognize when a legitimate sniper site with very little flaws fails to rank. This could mean that the seemingly open niche may be a bit harder then you anticipated. This isn't always the case, though - you can still go for these keywords if you'd like, and you may still rank. Keep in mind that these are just guidelines to giving you the highest percent chance of getting winning keywords while staying away from the bad ones. You can still break these guidelines and find winners. Hope this helps a few of you out there!