The Limitations Of Keyword Research

I’m a big fan of keyword research.

It’s a great way to identify existing demand in search engine traffic. You don’t have to specifically market a product to create demand, you tie into the demand that already exists. Doing well with keyword research means finding those keywords that have enough traffic to be profitable, and low enough competition to rank well easily.

But keyword research does have its limitations. For example, keyword research didn’t tell the original owner of that was a good keyword to target. Keyword research won’t tell you what the big craze will be during the next Christmas period.

In short, keyword research can only tell you what people are already looking for. And it doesn’t even tell you if the demand is building or drying up. You should always use a trend analysis tool along with keyword research to make sure that the promising keyword you just found isn’t on its way out.

So how do you find the opportunities before the online demand becomes big? How do you find the next big thing?

You network. Be active in your niche…not the make money online niche, but whatever niche you want to target. If you want to target kids toys, go to your local toy store and get to know the people who do the ordering. Find out what they’re planning on stocking up on for the season.

Read news in your niche. Look for hints about what might be coming next. To get in at the best time, you have to be willing to take risks based on what might be a false alarm. Register domains and actively develop them based on a few news articles, that sort of thing.

Keyword research is a wonderful tool, but it isn’t the be all and end all of identifying profitable markets.

Using Nofollow On Blogs

A post over at the Bloggeries Forum about an SEO trick using nofollow links caught my attention the other day.

While the poster made some points I didn’t agree with (namely using nofollow when linking to certain authority sites), the basic principle is an excellent one. Web sites and blogs are treated the same as far as Google goes, but blogs have some characteristics that make them less reputable in Google’s eyes. One of those characteristics is the huge number of outgoing links on the typical blog post.

Not necessarily in the post itself, but between comments and sidebars, most blog posts have tons of outgoing links. WordPress by default will add nofollow to comment links, but does follow for everything else (although this may also depend on your theme). This has a few effects.

First is that the value of any one of those outgoing links is diluted. Second is that a page with too many outgoing links isn’t as reputable, and will most likely rank lower in Google results. This is primarily a concern if you’re targeting highly competitive keywords, and have already nailed the rest of the SEO factors you can control.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a plugin that provides an easy way of adding nofollow to all the outgoing links except for in-post links. Most of the plugins are either designed to remove nofollow from comments, or to add nofollow in specific cases (such as links to Wikipedia). The best list of plugins I’ve found is Andy Beard’s Ultimate List of DoFollow/NoFollow Plugins. Scroll down to the nofollow section for some interesting ones.

If you experiment with this technique and have any results to share, head over to the Bloggeries Forum post and let us know.

Reducing Your Ongoing Projects

I wrote last week about needing to focus on fewer projects.

The first step of doing that is to identify all the projects you currently have going, even if you’re not doing anything active on them. A project that, in your mind, is still ongoing drains your creativity even if you don’t spend time on the project. It’s far better to give the project a decent burial, rather than continue to have it be on your mind.

I wanted to do this process publicly, to help anyone else out there who might be suffering from the same problem of having too many projects and not enough time.

Here’s my list of ongoing projects:

Online Opportunity — This blog, of course. I probably spend a couple of hours on average working on posts and doing research. Not all at once, but spread throughout the day.

Advisory Panel — The forum I started for anyone who wants to make money online. I spend about an hour or two a day on this as well, averaged out over the course of a week.

Neglected Niche Sites — Two niche web sites I created, and as the name suggests, totally neglect. One brings in absolutely nothing yet, the other averages about $20 a month via Adsense. I spend zero time on these. The nice thing is that, since they were meant to be neglected sites, I also spend zero time thinking about them.

Quality Niche Site — A niche site that’s intended to be higher quality than the neglected niche sites. This one suffers from lack of attention, I probably spend an hour a week on it. I really want to give this one more time, though, to develop it into what it could be, so this is a creativity drainer.

Backlink Service — I have a project in mind that would help bloggers build quality backlinks to their sites. This is still in the design stage, and needs a dedicated programmer. This one sucks a lot of creativity right now, because I don’t have the time to devote to programming it myself.

PPC Marketing — My ongoing experiments with Adwords, affiliate marketing, and CPA marketing. Some of these are done as part of the advertising exercises over at the Advisory Panel, others are done separately. I’ve seen some nice progress with these, and spend probably a couple of hours a week at them. I need to spend more time to see real results, though.

Marketing Pond — I tend to recommend Marketing Pond to a lot of people as a way to build their first income stream. These days I don’t do much with it myself, since I don’t have the time. I probably spend an hour a month here.

Various email courses — I’ve written various email courses and promote them in appropriate places. Probably an hour a week promoting these. I also have an email course I want to finish, but probably won’t (on creating niche web sites).

So there you have it, the list of projects (at least those I can remember) that I currently have going. I’m going to sit with the list for a while, and I’ll do another post when I decide what I can cut, if anything.

Using Google Docs For Mobile Creation

Lately I’ve been wanting to work on a couple of writing projects.

One is a design document for a new online service that I’d like to start. Eventually I’ll have to recruit a programmer or two and some other members of a team for it, but the first step is to get down on paper the details. Another is an ebook on blog promotion that I’ve been wanting to write.

I created both in OpenOffice (the word processor I use at home), but made absolutely no progress on either. The problem was that to work on them at work, I needed to put them on my USB stick, open them up at work, edit them on whatever machine I happened to be on, synchronize them back with my home machine, etc.

So I found myself not doing any of that because it was too much of a pain.

Somewhat belatedly I remembered about Google Docs. That’s a suite of word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation creator. The gimmick is that it’s all web based, with the documents themselves stored on a Google server somewhere. So you can work on documents anywhere you happen to be.

And for group projects, you can share a document with one or more other people, and can specify whether they can just view it or edit it.

Since I copied both documents up to Google docs, I’ve made quite a bit of progress on them. It’s very easy to pop onto Google Docs on whatever computer I happen to be on when I find myself with a few minutes, make some additions, and then log off.

If you find yourself working on the run, give Google Docs a try.

5 Tips for What To Do When You Run Out Of Post Ideas

I mentioned in my recent anniversary post that most of my material for post ideas comes from my actual experiences with Internet Marketing. That’s good, because it gives my posts a unique spin that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s also good, because every thing I do online tends to generate at least one post idea, so I rarely run out.

This week has been especially busy, though, so I haven’t had a chance to do much online. So I thought I’d share some tips for what to do when you run out of post ideas.

#5: Use a marginal idea

As you’ve been writing posts all along, there have probably been some ideas that weren’t quite good enough or fleshed out enough for a full post. Well, if you’re out of ideas anyway, you might as well use one of those marginal ideas. It might not be your best post ever, but you might surprise yourself once you start writing.

#4: Read other blogs in your niche

Head on over to your favorite other blogs in your niche, and see what they’ve written about lately. Maybe you can take one of their ideas, put your unique spin on it, and write about that.

#3: Use StumbleUpon for inspiration

Go to StumbleUpon and stumble a few sites in an appropriate niche. Maybe you’ll hit a web comic that provides you with just the inspiration you needed.

#2: Digg Deep

Visit Digg and see what sorts of related news stories are up and coming. If you don’t have any original ideas, you could at least write about one of those news items before it reaches the front page of Digg.

#1: Write a Top 5 List

If all else fails, write a top 5 (or 10, or whatever) list about what to do when you run out of post ideas.

What do you do when you’re just stuck for post ideas, but you’ve got a posting schedule to keep?

The Importance of Focus

I’ve written before about the importance of focusing on a limited number of projects, rather than diluting your efforts across too many of them.

I’m probably at the point where I need to focus a bit myself, so I figured I’d revisit the idea. When you find yourself with too little time to make much progress on the projects you have, it’s time to evaluate if you want to cut some of them loose. I plan on doing this by writing down a list of all the projects I have going, and estimating how important each is to me, and how much time each takes.

Then in some way I’ll decide which ones to cut loose. Or not, maybe I’ll feel better for just having gone through the exercise.

This comes at a time when I have at least two new projects in mind, too. While I could probably keep all my current projects going indefinitely, there’s no time to add anything new.

I’ll cut this post short tonight, since I’m not entirely sure it’s making much sense (I have a head cold that kicked off today). When I’ve gone through the process of figuring out which projects to cut, I’ll do a post on how it all went.

The Importance of Regular Site Updates

There’s a lot said about various SEO factors, but one that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the importance of updating your site on a consistent schedule.

More often is best, of course, but if you can only update the site once a week, then make sure you do update it each week at about the same time. Don’t publish a flurry of updates one week, then nothing for a couple of weeks.

The reason is that one of the factors Google uses to rank your site in search engine results is the consistency of site updates. Imagine that you’re Google, trying to figure out which web site to put in the number #1 slot for a particular keyword. All other things being mostly equal, would you go with a site that was updated inconsistently, or one that had regular updates? Google goes with the regular updates because, to them, that reflects a more reliable site.

Note that having no updates might be perfectly fine for your site. My neglected niche sites are ones that are not updated at all, and continue to get a trickle of traffic. You won’t get #1 in Google, but you might get onto page 2 if your other SEO factors are good.

Inconsistent updates really hurt, though. I have another niche site that I’ve had trouble finding time to update. It was on the road to being high on the first page of Google for its keywords, but the inconsistent updating has killed its rankings. I’m not sure how long it will take me to reestablish its credibility (assuming I can find the time to update it!)

My recommendation for new blogs starting out is to pick specific days of the week to publish new posts, and then to stick with those days. If you write more one week than usual, schedule the posts ahead. That will help if you come up short another week. And make sure that you pick a posting schedule you can live with long-term. There’s no sense posting 20 times your first week and then going to once a week after that.

Remember that creating a niche content site should be seen as a long-term investment. Don’t burn yourself out before you see the rewards!

Quick Web Creations Review

Okay, so anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a total loss when it comes to creating graphics.

I can manage to put together some block letters with a simple gradient in GIMP, a free photo manipulating program. It only takes me about three hours to manage, and it never looks very good. Someone who is good at that sort of thing does it in a couple of minutes.

So when I saw the ads come up for Quick Web Creations, that promises two minute creation of web 2.0 style graphics, I went over to take a look. And in the spirit of this blog, I plunked down my money to give you all the good and the bad about the site.

The Good

You really can create great web 2.0 style text and logos in a few minutes. You’ll spend more than that playing around with the different options, but I took about three minutes to create this graphic:

Online Opportunity

Yeah, I went a bit crazy with the different options (but took off the partial reflection at the last minute).

What I love about this site is that the tools are designed for people who know nothing about graphics. Using GIMP, to create a border around text, you had to select the text as a region, invert the selection, use the fill tool, etc. Using Quick Web Creations, you just select the size of the border you want.

Well worth the one-time $27 fee.

The Bad

There’s the obligatory one-time offer when you join that allows you to upgrade to premium membership.

Premium membership isn’t bad. You get the ability to see what other members have created, to get inspiration for your own creations. You can rate others creations, you get access to libraries of graphics, etc. Lots of good stuff there.

The bad part is that one of the premium features is the ability to save your graphics in a form that can be brought up and worked on later. Using the basic membership, you must complete your graphics creation in one sitting, and then download it as a PNG, GIF, or JPG file. If you decide you want to tweak something later, you must create it entirely from scratch again.

Having the ability to save is critical for something like this if you want to test slightly different banners for advertising, and vary the design elements between each. Yet saving is only available through the premium membership.

Okay, so I’d pay for premium membership if it was another one-time fee, but it isn’t. It’s a monthly fee. That might make sense for people who create graphics constantly, but my need for graphics just isn’t that huge.

For what I’ll save by not upgrading to premium on the site, I’ll be able to pay a professional to create whatever graphics I want when I need them.


The basic membership is well worth the $27 you pay for it. The premium membership is, in my opinion, over priced for what you get. But for quick one-off banners, logos, and stylized text, the basic membership will work well.

Click here for more info on Quick Web Creations.

Happy Birthday, Online Opportunity!

Today is this blog’s one-year mark. My “welcome” post was posted April 18th, 2007.

The blog has come a long way since that first post. My original thought with the blog, to chronicle my experiences in Internet Marketing, so that others can learn from them, is still my guiding mission. The level of sophistication in the tips and techniques has risen quite a bit, though, as I advance through the learning curve.

Most blogs don’t last six months of daily posting, because of the huge pressure to create posts. I’ve survived only because my posts are drawn, generally, from my experiences in Internet Marketing. That’s key…I’m actually doing what I talk about, and so always have ideas for new posts (generally from problems I’ve solved lately, or screwups I’ve made).

What does the next year hold for the blog and for me? Here is some of what I see in store:


I see so many people approaching Internet Marketing the wrong way, promoting the latest system or product launch using the same tired techniques that other people who don’t know what they’re doing tell them to use. I’ve tried creating targeted email courses to help people learn more effective techniques, but people sign up for the courses and then you never hear whether they learned anything or not.

This year my focus will be on personal mentoring. I certainly don’t know it all yet, but I’m far enough advanced on the learning curve to save newbies a lot of time and money, perhaps keeping them on the curve instead of having them quit in disgust, several thousand dollars poorer.

My mentoring will be available to Advisory Panel members only. It’s a free forum, so there’s no risk to joining to take advantage of the mentoring.

While I regularly help out Advisory Panel members with keyword research help, and we have regular contests for participation, the level of help my mentoring students get will be a cut above that. I’ll create a private forum area for each mentoring student where we can discuss what they’re doing and how to improve it, and measure progress.

Mentoring will be free, but there will be a limited number of slots (I only have so much time!) To qualify for mentoring, you must:

1. Be an Advisory Panel member
2. Be willing to take advice that might contradict what you’re hearing on “guru” lists
3. Be motivated to do the work!
4. Be prepared to be in it for the long-term

Read more about this offer and how to apply in the Announcements section, the thread titled Mentoring Available.

More Guest Posting Opportunities

This week’s guest posting binge was the first time that someone else’s writing was featured on the blog. For the next year, I want to provide other bloggers in the niche with a regular opportunity to get their writing posted here. They benefit because of the extra exposure, traffic, and backlinks, and I benefit because that’s one day I don’t need to write a post.

Guest posting will be limited to a maximum of once a week. Posts must be high quality (generally higher quality than my “one off posts”), and should link to non-spammy sites. Educational types of posts are the rule, although if you want to review something, go ahead and submit the idea. If I have no interest in reviewing the product, and think it would be useful to my readers, I may give you the go ahead.

To apply for the next available guest posting slot, use the contact form on the blog.


Yes, this blog will become monetized this year, in some way.

Right now, the only monetization on the blog is from affiliate links to products I have reviewed. I stick an affiliate link even into negative reviews, figuring that if you buy it even after I’ve told you it isn’t worth it, I might as well benefit.

The affiliate links on the blog actually earn very little. By the time I review any particular product, the chances are good that every “guru” has not only sent a ringing endorsement out to their list (said endorsement usually written for them by the product owner), but they’ve also offered tons of free bonuses for you to buy through their link. Affiliate marketing works better in other niches, where you don’t have the same culture of gurus and bonuses.

For the amount of time I invest into the blog, I’ve decided it needs to pay for itself. I’m not sure yet what method of monetizing I’ll use, but I still want to make sure that nobody mistakes an advertisement for something I endorse, as happened on John Chow dot com (somebody used Adsense site placement to place a graphic ad that said, “John Chow Recommends This”).

I will likely test various monetization options over the spring and summer, giving each two or three weeks to see what works best. I plan on using the Who Sees Ads plugin to make most ads not show to regular readers, but you’ll still see them until the plugin decides that you’re a regular (however it makes that decision).

Mostly Same Old, Same Old

I might cut back on the number of posts each week if I think that I can produce higher quality posts that way, but right now I don’t have any plans to do that.

Otherwise, you can expect the quality of content on the blog to remain the same, and for the sophistication of it all to increase as I continue to learn.

Thanks for being a reader!

Separating Comments & Trackbacks With Threaded Comments

The last guest post of the week is from David over at, with a technical how-to article for WordPress blogs. If you try this out, let us know how it worked!

Brian’s Threaded Comments is a very widely used plugin for WordPress that allows your websites visitors to reply to comments in a threaded fashion. This means that you do not need to address your comment towards people, you can instead just reply to their comment, and the comment is formatted accordingly.

I recently wrote a post for my website which informed my sites visitors how they could amend their comments.php file to separate the comments and trackbacks, thus making the comments section of your blog look alot smarter. As part of Jay’s Guest Blogging period, he thought that it would be a good idea for me to do a follow up to my previous post, but this time teaching how to separate the comments and trackbacks on a blog that is running the ‘Brian’s Threaded Comments‘ Plugin, as this plugin uses a different comments.php file.

The best way to go about making the changes is to have the plugin on your PC and edit the files locally, then upload them. I would also recommend that you make a backup of all files that you edit, just in case something goes wrong.

Once you have the files on your PC you will need to locate the comments.php of the plugin. This is the file that is used to output the comments from the plugin onto your blog.

Once you have the file open you need to locate this section of the code, it is just over half way down:

comment_parent][] = $c;
$GLOBALS['__writeCommentDepth'] = 0;
if( is_array($GLOBALS['threaded_comments'][0]) ) {
foreach($GLOBALS['threaded_comments'][0] as $comment) {
if ( get_comment_type() == "comment" ) {
$GLOBALS['comment'] = &$comment;

The above code is used to output the threaded comments.

You need to replace the above code with the following code which filters to find comments and displays them and leaves out the trackbacks, I will give you the code for the trackbacks shortly.

This is the code for filtering out the trackbacks and displays just the comments, put this code in the place of the above code:

comment_parent][] = $c;
$GLOBALS['__writeCommentDepth'] = 0;
foreach($GLOBALS['threaded_comments'][0] as $comment) {
if ( get_comment_type() == "comment" ) {
$GLOBALS['comment'] = &$comment;

You have now separated the comments from the trackbacks, you now need to display the trackbacks, it is advisable that you put the trackbacks underneath the comments, to make things alot smarter. You can do that by adding the following code directly underneath the code you added above:

Responses to this post:

You may need to edit the format of the above text slightly to fit in with your website. If you do not want your trackbacks to be displayed as a list you can display them as they would normally be seen using the code below instead:

Responses to this post:

You should not have the a comments.php file that has the where the ‘#commentlist’ Div tag looks like this:

comment_parent][] = $c;
$GLOBALS['__writeCommentDepth'] = 0;
foreach($GLOBALS['threaded_comments'][0] as $comment) {
if ( get_comment_type() == "comment" ) {
$GLOBALS['comment'] = &$comment;

Responses to this post:

You now have a plugin that threads comments and separates the trackbacks. You can now upload the files to your plugins folder, and away you go.

This was a guest post by David Shaw lead author of and freelance web designer. David provides great tips on expanding your blog and optimizing it for search engines. If you would like to see more great articles from David Shaw sign up for the ProTycoon RSS