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Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword

Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword

Let me just start off by throwing out a big THANK YOU to everyone!  The warm reception to my first official earnings post last week was appreciated very much.  I expect to make the earnings posts more of a long term thing because of your great feedback – thanks!

Today I wanted to go in more depth in discussing search volume and Cost Per Click (CPC) values for a potential winning keyword for a niche website.  I did discuss search volume and CPC briefly in a recent post that was a general overview of the niche websites strategy; however, I want to go more in depth and hopefully answer some of the questions that you had.  For this discussion, I will be referring to the values shown on the Google Adwords Keyword Tool for search volume and Avg. CPC.

Also, as a caveat – these are all just guidelines! I do my best to explain how I look at search volume and CPC, but you need to realize that it can vary from situation to situation.  You need to do your best to understand these metrics and then make a good business decision based on your own knowlege and goals. You should never just simply try to copy exactly what I have listed here, because even I will vary from this criteria discussed based on the given situation.

Search Volume

I have stated in the past that the minimum search volume that I will accept for a keyword to target is 1,000 Exact Match Local Volume searches per month.  Yes, it must be EXACT match (not broad or phrase) and I always look at Local (US) volume – not global.  Google displays results differently for each country.  So, using global volume leaves a lot of uncertainty because you may rank well in Google UK but not anywhere else in the world.  However, if you are able to look at a local volume and rank well there, you can know with more certainty what sort of traffic numbers to expect.

I still use 1,000 exact match searches as a minimum, but prefer to target keywords with 3k to 10k typically.  A keyword with 1k is only worth targeting if you know 2 things:

  1. You know the actual CPC is really high
  2. You know you can rank in the top 5

I will discuss CPC further below, but to target a keyword with only 1k searches per month you probably need to get paid on average $1 per click from Google Adsense for it to be worth it.  Remember, if the Google Adwords Keyword Tool shows $1 on Average CPC, this is NOT what you will be paid.  This is what advertisers pay Google to be listed next to search results on Google.com.  Advertisers pay much less to be listed on the content network (your website), and Google takes about a 32% cut anyway (you get 68% of what the advertiser pays).  I will discuss this further below.

Secondly, even if you think you can get $1 per click on your site, if you can't rank in the Top 5 results of Google its still probably not worth it.  You just will not receive enough visitors to make enough money.  Let me break down the numbers real quick.  You can figure out your estimated earnings by using this basic formula:

Earnings = Estimated Search Volume x Adsense CTR x Adsense CPC

So, if you think your site is going to receive 2,000 visitors in a month and you have an Adsense CTR of 10%, and you expect an Adsense CPC of $1, then you can expect your earnings to $200 per month.  Remember, the 2,000 visitors is actual number of people to your website not the search volume shown in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.  Also, 10% is a pretty high CTR and shouldn't always be expected, but its very possible.

You can determine the estimated search volume (actual number of visitors to your site) by taking the search volume shown on the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and then multiplying it by how many searchers in Google will actually click on your website.  The higher you rank, the more searchers will click on your website.  I like to use the data provided by Aaron Wall at SEObook.com (originally from some AOL leaked data) to determine search volume. Here is a graphic from SEObook.com that breaks down the volume nicely based on Google rank:

So, if you are ranking #1 in Google, you can expect 42.13% of the traffic for that keyword.  So, now we can finally tie it all together.  If you are ranking #1 for a keyword that receives a low search volume of 1,000 searches in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, you can expect 421 visitors (1000 x 42.13%) to your website.

Using our Earnings formula listed above and using a 10% CTR and a $1 CPC – your expected earnings for this site would be $42.10 per month (421 x .10 x $1).  If you are ranking below #1 in Google, your earnings could drastically decrease, which is why I ONLY recommend going after a keyword with 1,000 exact match searches if you think you can rank well (top 5) and its a high paying keyword.

If possible, its simply more ideal if you can target keywords that get a higher search volume.  You can use the formulas I have shown you here to determine whether or not you want to target a keyword.

I do also want to make a comment or two about the “Traffic by Google Ranking” graphic.  I think the #1 position of 42% is pretty close; however, I think the other results are not as accurate.  I find that ranking 2 or 3 gets almost as much traffic as ranking #1.  I also find that ranking anywhere in the top 10 gets more search volume than the graphic shows.

So, I don't know the true search volume by Google Rank, but I believe its higher than shown.  The reason?  Most people will click on multiple results in Google.  So, even though a person only does 1 search on Google, they actually may visit 3 or 4 of the websites listed in Google.  This graphic does not take this into account.  So, even if you are ranking #5 in Google, I believe you can still get 30 to 40% of the searches on your website.

So in a nutshell, I would recommend targeting keywords that get closer to 3,000 exact match searches a month UNLESS you see a 1,000 volume keyword that looks really easy to rank for AND pays really well.  Even then, you should not expect to make more than $50 to $100 per month with such a site.  Anyway, hopefully this explanation of search volume has answered more questions than it has raised!

Cost Per Click

The Average CPC shown on the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is NOT the amount you should expect to make from Google Adsense on your website.  This number is how much advertisers will pay to be listed next to search results on Google.com for that keyword.  The content network (sites with Google Adsense on them) has a different CPC.  However, in general you can expect that keywords that advertisers are paying a lot of money for on Google will also pay a lot of money for on the content network (your website).

It will certainly be less on your website, but by how much is VERY difficult to determine.  First of all, Google takes about a 32% cut; secondly advertisers simply pay less on the content network. In addition, advertisers are changing their bids literally everyday.  Also, new advertisers are coming into the bidding market and others are leaving the bidding market everyday – so the actual CPC is constantly changing.  So, one day you might make an average of $1 per click on your site, and the next you might make only $0.20 per click on your site.  Anyone who has used Google Adsense can vouch for this fluctuation.  So, things are ALWAYS changing and all your calculations are really just a best guess.

(Click image to increase size)

However, as a quick way to see the value of a keyword – you can estimate getting paid about 30 to 50% of what is listed on the keyword tool.  So, a keyword with an avg. CPC of $1, you can expect to make around $0.30 to $0.50 per click.  This is a decent rough estimate.

However, I would NEVER estimate making more than $1 per click on average.  So, even if the Google Adwords tool shows a keyword is paying $30 per click (yes some do show this), you should never expect to make an average of $10 to $15 per click.  Remember these values are what advertisers are paying on Google.com – NOT your website.  For this reason, I would recommend simply estimating that the maximum CPC that you will actually earn to be about $1.

Its possible to earn more than $1 per click, but on average I would never plan on it.  Due to Google Adsense TOS I can't say specifically how much I have earned per click on certain sites, but I will simply say that I think you will find my above analysis beneficial.

So, a $3 CPC keyword is probably better than a $1 CPC keyword (as listed on the Google Adwords keyword tool); but a $20 CPC keyword may or may not actually pay anymore than a $3 CPC keyword.  Hope that makes sense.

Advertiser Competition

I want to also briefly touch on advertiser competition as shown in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.  I usually don't look at this column too heavily, but you do want to make sure there are a good number of advertisers bidding on your keyword.  I will usually just go over to Google.com and punch in my keyword – if there are lots of ads then I'm happy.  So, if you look at the “competition” column in the keyword tool this is simply showing the number of advertisers for that keyword.  So, for this column you want High competition – meaning lots of advertisers.  The more advertisers there are for a keyword, the more likely it is that you will make more money from that keyword.

However, always remember that advertisers are joining or leaving every single day – so sometimes a low advertiser competition keyword turns into a high advertiser competition keyword or a high goes to a low.  It just happens.  One way to know with more certainty if there will be advertisers for the long term is to look at the overall niche (rather than on a keyword level).  If the niche is a highly competitive one (based on advertisers), then its a safe bet that is will stay that way for a long time.  I will be discussing the future how to analyze an overall niche in the future.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts!

I may have rambled on a bit there, but there is lots to discuss!  Remember these are just some general guidelines to follow and should not be looked at as strict rules.  Your own business strategy and techniques will determine the search volume and CPC levels that you may want to target.  If you are not using Google Adsense to monetize your site, then you may not even need to look at CPC for example.  Anyway, I am very interested in hearing your thoughts below.  What questions do you have?  Are there other details that I should cover? Let me know.

88 Comments for this Post

  1. Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    […] Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword (Posted June 6th, 2011) […]

  2. Trent Dyrsmid

    Trent Dyrsmid


    Another excellent post filled with detail. Thanks very much. After reading this post, I immediately revisited my profit forecast model an implemented the changes you suggested on the CPC side.

    The only thing you didn’t cover was how to estimate CTR. Do you run a short adwords campaign first, or is 10% just the rule of thumb you use?

    • Spencer


      Trent – its difficult to know exactly what the CTR will be (however, I usually try to use 10% as an estimate on all sites). This is the CTR that is on your website – so running an adwords campaign would have nothing to do with the CTR on your own website (if Im understanding you correctly).

      I will discuss the CTR you can get on your site in a future post in detail. Thanks for bringing this up.

      • Boris


        I think he confused Content Network with AdWords Search.

      • Online Income Lab

        Online Income Lab

        Just had a look at my site, howtocleananything.com and the CTR over the last 30 days was 1.58%. What do you think I could do to improve it?

        • Spencer


          Trent, I know we have discussed this site before. You could change the theme just to see what happens (sometimes this can really help). You could also make the unit under the titles a large rectangle, rather than a medium one. Finally, instead of having the text wrap around this unit you could simply have the unit displayed and the actual article starts below the ads. This last option may be a bit much, but it might improve the CTR. Also, I have noticed that some keywords just don’t get very high CTR. In other words, I have 2 sites with the exact same theme and ad layout, but one gets a significantly higher CTR than the other one. So, the low CTR may not be able to be improved upon much (you should still test) – it may just be the fact that people searching for “how to clean” aren’t the type to click on ads. Just a thought.

  3. aldo


    Spencer you are putting lot of effort for sharing some good stuff with us.

    Thanks for all the pictures and data you are showing here.

    I’m in the point of thinking of start making money with adsense and put amzon apatr

    • Spencer


      Aldo – thanks! I think its definitely worth testing out some niche websites with Adsense – works for me.

  4. aldo


    Yeah it a must, also its go to diversify and have different source of cash. You know that some affiliate programs wait for 2 months + check shipping to arrive and could be a hard situation sometimes.

    Adsense i think pay you each month without hesitating right?

    I will be making a few Adsense sites after test i will give you some feedbacks.

    • Spencer


      Adsense pays on a Net + 25 to 30 days. Meaning everything you earn this month, gets paid at the end of the next month (usually around the 25th to 30th).

  5. aldo


    By the way , you know I’m waiting for Long Tail Pro…,

    Is a pain doing all the process by hand.

  6. muzi mohale

    muzi mohale

    Hmm, then I’ve been missing the plot about competition column…all along I’ve been thinking it refers to competiting websites in that particular niche. I honestly wasn’t aware it refers to competition amongst advertisers in that niche. Locally travel and insurance attract endless advertisers but their cpc are very low…

    • Spencer


      Yes, it definitely refers to competition among advertisers.

  7. Boris


    This is quality post Spencer! But i would really advise you to start using Contextual Targeting Tool as it shows CPC on content network rather than search network.

  8. Ralph


    Hi Spencer,

    A question regarding the actual implementation of the Adsense. Do you manually fill in the adsense code everytime?

    Also ( I might be doing something wrong) I need to name a new banner everytime I want to add a banner and you can’t name the same thing twice so I end up naming my banner Sitename – banner size which seems stupid.



    • Spencer


      I use the Why do Work Adsense plugin.
      Why do you need to name a new banner everytime? Is that just for tracking purposes?

      • Ralph


        I don’t know, I was hoping you could tell me 🙂

        I guess I must be doing it wrong then !

        • Spencer


          Hmm.. I guess I don’t understand the question. You can use the exact same code on multiple sites if that is what you mean. So, you don’t have to create a new unit everytime – only if its going to be different (different colors, size, etc.). Not sure if that helps.

        • Ralph


          Yeah it does actually. I thought each site needed a different code but good to know that is not the case. Saves me a lot of time 🙂

  9. Jayson


    Another good one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding the keywords that only draw 1,000 exact match searches. Those are the kw I keep finding.

    • Spencer


      Hey Jayson glad you found this post to be useful! I hope the keyword research continues to go well!

      • john


        hi Spencer,

        yesterday i saw a local keyword with $80 cpc on it and with a little variation it gives $243 cpc … is this really true ?

        the advertiser is targeting a keyword that their customer will only pay them $150 to $300 .. how can they give $80 to google / adsense publisher ?

        — by the way, is there i check button where i can get an email notification for this question ?

  10. Justin | AdSense Flippers

    Justin | AdSense Flippers

    EXCELLENT post, Spencer. We follow this same, exact process to a T when evaluating new websites. As mentioned above, it’s really only good as a rough estimate…you’ll never know until you try it out…but it’s good as a comparison. While I might not expect to make a certain amount based on that research, it definitely helps me choose one niche over another, if that makes sense. I’ll add a couple of points that, hopefully, will help some out as well.

    1. Starting out, definitely Local vs. Global on the exact match searches on the GKT. If you simply must go after a particular niche, change the search parameters to find out what country most of those searches are coming from and make sure to use language and keywords that would relate to that country. (And make sure it’s coming from a developed country, UK, Australia, Canada, etc.)

    2. If a particular keyword REALLY stands out in terms of cpc versus related keywords, it’s likely a glitch. If keywords that are very similar have a $2.00 cpc and another keyword has a $28.00 cpc, it’s likely that’s not correct. Treat it as if it had a $2.00 cpc when decided whether to go for it or not.

    3. 40% – 50% of what the GKT states is a very rough, but decent estimate for us in terms of expected CPC.

    4. If you have a fairly large network of sites and know your average CTR for those sites, use that average as your base when choosing a keyword. If it’s 5%, use 5%. If it’s 10%, use 10%.

    • aldo


      Thanks justin for adding a few tips.

      What about if you see no competition the google keyword tool and the keyword is like exact 2.9k or 6k do it worth going for it or not because wont be enough advertiser to monetize it?

      • Justin | AdSense Flippers

        Justin | AdSense Flippers

        We’ve gone for keywords in this situation…where they have high search but low advertiser competition, based on the GKT.

        As Spencer says in his post, remember that advertisers bounce in and out and the GKT isn’t the most accurate when it comes to understanding the amount of advertiser competition…it should be used as a rough guide. You can also check out SpyFu.com to check advertiser competition.

        For the few times that we’ve gone after the keywords similar to what you’re suggesting, they have a lower cpc (and oddly, lower CTR) but if the search volume is high enough, the volume makes up for it…especially if the competition looks week and you think you can get on the first page pretty easily.

    • Spencer


      Justin – great points. I agree with your 4 points here, so thanks for sharing here.

  11. discount wedding invitations

    discount wedding invitations

    I really don’t agree with the cost per click parameter as the cost per click can vary so widely from one day to the next and from 1 hour to the next.No tool will give you an accurate cpc.

    • Spencer


      I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I stated in the article. I went into great detail about how and why the CPC fluctuates all the time. The CPC just gives you a rough guideline to look at.

  12. Steve


    Hey Spencer,

    Your blog has been a real inspiration over the last couple days, thanks for all the detailed info and ideas! I do have a quite serious question I was hoping you would tackle, though:::

    Are you really getting a 10% CTR?

    That is out of this world! I have adsense on a few sites and some of those sites use the ‘optimal’ -type ad placements that you discuss on the site here (in content with text wrap, links where nav might be instead, etc.). But I get nowhere near 10% … I get about a 0.30% CTR. Now, my research on the net tells me that this is actually a pretty average CTR these days, so I’m not too bothered by it … but obviously I’d rather have a rate like yours! So do you have any specific ideas or tips in this area? Perhaps it is fodder for another of your posts. Anyways, thanks for taking the time!



    • Spencer


      Steve – This will be an entire post in the future. But yes, its very possible to have a 10% CTR. I have no idea what the averages are for all website owners, I simply know from my own experience. 5 to 10% seems to be a good rough estimate for me.

      • Justin | AdSense Flippers

        Justin | AdSense Flippers

        We can vouch for this as well. 0.3% CTR seems extremely low to me…I would expect that kind of CTR on maybe a forum or an article directory maybe? (ezinearticles, for example)

        With laser-targeted niche sites, you’ll generally find a much higher CTR. At .3%, it would require a fairly extreme amount of a traffic for niche sites to create to really be worth it.

  13. Steve


    Cool, I look forward to that one Spencer.

    One thing I imagine about CTR … it’s probably a lot about getting the right traffic. I mean, ‘duh,’ but probably you are finding keywords that are optimized toward people who are looking for a specific answer …. when they get to your site, but don’t quite find what they want, they click the link there that will take them there. I think my adsense sites are missing this quality of being a gateway … they might be more of an ending point (I’m thinking of a couple ‘fan’ sites I have.)

    Look forward to the post on this! Thanks!

    • Spencer


      I think you are exactly right.

  14. Bo


    Great post. I didn’t know about the 68% until recently! I’m up to 10 sites. Having trouble discovering new niches plus market samurai been taking forever to pull data. Frustrating.

    • rahul


      Do you actually use market samurai? It takes lot of time. So, that i use google tool only.

      • Spencer


        I don’t use Market Samurai any more. I think most serious internet marketers are finding that Market Samurai is not as useful as it once was.

  15. How to Brainstorm For and Expand Keyword Lists: Video Demo! | Niche Pursuits

    How to Brainstorm For and Expand Keyword Lists: Video Demo! | Niche Pursuits

    […] I demonstrate how to quickly and easily use the criteria I mentioned in a previous post (Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword) to filter out unwanted keywords.  Essentially, I like to only look at keywords that have a […]

  16. Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    This article really cleared up some stuff for me, especially with CPC. I found a keyword for one of my sites the other day that had a $17 CPC. It had very low exact search volume (less than 1000) but was really easy to rank for. I wrote an article for it and I’m now on page 1 of Google, but just at number 6. I imagine I won’t get much traffic until I get to number 1-3.

    About the Global vs. Local, I had a site I thought was going to do great but later found out the local searches were very low in the US. I randomly checked the UK stats and found that it got 3600 exact matches, so I changed the target country in Google Webmaster Tools and meta language tag to the UK. I got ranked for all sorts of long tail keywords in Google UK and my main kw is moving up (it’s at 11 now). The site makes about $1/day.

    Great post … I love this blog!

    • Spencer


      Kenny – glad you found this article helpful and that you are loving this blog! Thanks for sharing your experience with the Global vs. Local searches. I have never actually tried to target a country other than the US, so its great to know some info on that.

  17. Will


    I’m surprised you estimate $1 per click. I would think it’s a bit higher for medical, legal, or insurance related websites. Great website though. Thanks for the informative articles.

    • Spencer


      Will, it could be more, but I would always still use $1 so that you don’t overestimate the success of a site. Just because a keyword is medical, legal, or insurance related does not mean that you can expect $1 or more per click on average. Its better to be conservative in your projections.

  18. Why is Keyword Research the Most Important and Hardest Part of Building Niche Websites? | Niche Pursuits

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    […] research.  Now I finally have some things figured out!  I’ve done my best to teach about keyword research and the importance of analyzing the competition for those keywords on this […]

  19. Andres


    “The more advertisers there are for a keyword, the more likely it is that you will make more money from that keyword”.

    Spencer, which do you choose? High advertiser competition or lower competition?

    How does it affect our earning?

    • Spencer


      Ideally you find high competition keywords according to the Google Adwords Keyword tool. This simply means there are more advertisers bidding on a term, which usually means they are bidding the prices up.

  20. Adi


    What if you find a keyword with over 1000 searches, over $1 cpc and very low competition but when you search for it in google there are no advertisers. Would that impact your development plans?


    • Spencer


      Perhaps. One way to see if there are advertisers on the content network would be to go to ezinearticles.com and find a related article. If the adsense ads are targeting your topic, then you know there are advertisers in your market. The content network is different from the search network.

  21. Adi



  22. Chris


    Spencer would you go after a “great keyword” even if someone else has the exact match in the top ten?
    I found a great keyword that has a high search volume, high cpc, low competition but like i mentioned above this person is sitting at #9 with an exact match with the .net extension, the best i could do i get the keyword with suffix extension, based on your experience, would G prefer his over mine?

    from your

  23. Joseph at Beginner Bowling Tips

    Joseph at Beginner Bowling Tips

    I just thought I was driving myself crazy because I could no longer find the CPC within the Keyword tool, but it turns out you need to be logged into your Adwords account now for it to be an option.

  24. What Domain Extensions Should be Used for Niche Websites? | Niche Pursuits

    What Domain Extensions Should be Used for Niche Websites? | Niche Pursuits

    […] to target the keyword “Pictures of Birds”. Now to clarify, this keyword does NOT meet my criteria – its doesn’t pay enough, and I haven’t looked at the competition, but I would […]

  25. Victor


    I dot think this has been brought up yet. How may words do you accept as a maximum for keyword length?

    4 to 5 words? 6 Words? 10 word keywords?!!


    Thanks Spencer

    • Spencer


      I really prefer around 2 or 3 words. I do have a couple of websites with 5 words I think, but not much more than that I believe. I usually don’t find great keywords that are more than 5 words long, but I suppose I don’t have a firm maximum. If its looks low competition and can be a money maker – why not get it?

  26. Victor


    Well put!

    Thank you Spencer !

  27. Anshul Dayal

    Anshul Dayal

    I haven’t read each an every comment on this post so may be someone else has already brought this up.

    You talk about advertiser competition on a given keyword as one of the guidelines.

    Wouldn’t high adword competition, in most cases, mean a highly competitive keyword meaning it would be more difficult to rank in Top 1-5 which is your other criteria for a winning keyword?

    • Spencer


      Advertiser competition does not tell you how easy it is it rank in google. Since one is for paid search and the other is organic search, the 2 will not always both be the same. I have found lots of keywords that have high advertiser competition but are very easy to rank for in Google.

  28. Jim


    Do you ever consider Estimated Daily Clicks from Google Traffic Estimator? Or is that not relevent?

    If Traffic Travis considers a keyword 4 stars (relatively easy) and exact match is 3600 a month…do you consider that worth going after?

    • Spencer


      I don’t look at the estimated daily clicks because this is for advertisers with ads on Google.com. I don’t know what traffic travis very well – so I don’t know what a 4 star keyword really means. However, here is what I like to look at for competition: https://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-analyze-the-top-10-google-competition-for-your-keyword/. If its low competition (according to what I discuss in that article) and has 3600 exact match local searches a month – then absolutely its worth targeting.

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    […] have gone over how to calculate earnings in detail in this post: Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword.  But I wanted to discuss some deeper nuances that I skipped over in that post.  The formula that […]

  30. Paul


    Hi Spencer,

    I’ve new to all this, but loving your blog and learning heaps of great stuff.

    At risk of sounding a bit thick, I have a very straight-forward question. How can I get access to Adwords CPC information? As far as I can tell it used to be one of the ‘Columns’ that you could opt to display on the Keyword Tool screen. But since I’ve been experimenting with this these past two or three weeks, there is no ‘Average CPC’ column on offer in the ‘columns’ drop down menu.

    Any thoughts ? Cheers, Paul

    • Paul


      Whoops, – sorry! I see Joseph up above has already answered this. My Apologies !

  31. Wesley


    Do you ever find it to be the case that you find a High CPC, Low Competition keyword(s), but when you take a peak at the top 10 they just seem unbeatable?

    I even see keywords I’ve researched against Page 1 Google Results that have PR0-1 with 5-20 backlinks, but they are pretty legit sites and it just doesn’t seem possible to pass them?

    (that question may sound dumb, but I’m pretty new to all this still and it’s just how I feel)

    • Spencer


      The way you determine the competition level is by looking at the top 10 competition. If it looks like you can beat the top 10 – then that’s all you need to look at.

  32. Andrew Richardson

    Andrew Richardson

    Spencer, just had a quick question. How are you getting the CPC value to show up on your google keyword tool? I cannot find that option anywhere, I must be overlooking something.

    • Spencer


      You need to log in to get cpc.

  33. Nathan


    Hi Spencer,

    You mentioned that you look for a maximum of 10,000 exact match US local searches. Is there any chance you might be able to elaborate on this? I’ve just randomly stumbled upon (using Longtail Pro of course) a two word product keyword, that has two root domains, $2 CPC, five sites in the top ten with PR 0 or No PR, four of which have zero page links. The problem? It get’s 110,000 exact match US local searches! Am I right for being scared off here?

    • Spencer


      Hey Nathan – I don’t limit myself to a maximum of 10k searches – that just seems to be where I find most of my keywords with low competition. If you have found a keyword that gets 110k searches AND has low competition – then go for it! There is NO maximum.

    • Dean


      Hey Nathan,
      What is that keyword? 🙂 Just kidding! Go luck with that!

  34. Mary


    Hi Spencer – enjoyed your article and learned a few things as well. I’m with you about the top 3 rankings. If I’m searching for something I usually click not only on 1 but 2, 3 and maybe 4 and 5. I like to look around to see which I site really has what I’m looking for.

    Your whole site is very informative. I’m curious about what you used for keyword research before your own longtail pro. Was it just the Google KWT? I’ve got the trial Market Samurai, although to get the very best from it you need to get the whole enchilada and it’s not in my budget right now.

    Looking forward to your next article. Regards,

    • Spencer


      Before Long Tail Pro you are right…I used the free Google keyword tool and the free version of Market Samurai. I used the free firefox plugin to analyze the competition called “SEO for firefox”…great free plugin.

  35. Income Report for 90-day Old Sites | Niche Pursuits

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  36. Joe Sova

    Joe Sova


    Wow! love your site! Thanks SO much for sharing all of your GREAT info! Now I am confident about my website writing future!
    Question: Have you ever noticed a sharp decrease in visitors after a change in a page’s title? I just wanted to mention it, it seems to mess-up Google’s indexing system for 2-3 weeks if you change the Title. I’ve noticed this over and over again. So lesson: be sure to choose your title carefully! -and Keep it!

    PS: I’m a programmer and would also love to see an analysis of Google’s data with a Spencer twist. But I too, don’t have the time yet!

    • Spencer


      I agree, don’t change your titles if at all possible.

  37. Laura


    The graph you showed really helped illustrate how page rank works with your potential earnings (with the exception of people clicking on more than just one link in the results.) You really helped clarify how to use the keyword tool. Thanks.

  38. Adrien


    Hi Spence,

    Great post, as usual! I hope my comment won’t be so late that it gets ignored!

    Now I have 2 niche sites targeting 2 keywords. 1 keyword has Adwords CPC of $1.61 and the other one is $1.89. They both have high advertiser competition as shown in the Google Keyword Tool.

    The problem comes when I have put adsense in both site and received the first click in each of these sites. The $1.61 AWCPC site only gets $0.03 for Adsense CPC! However the $1.89 site gets $1.29 in Adsense!

    It is so weird. Can you tell me why does that happen and it there a more accurate estimator for Adsense CPC?


  39. Adrien


    One more thing, will Adsense CPC change? If not, should I give up the $0.03 Adsense CPC site and focus only on the other one?


  40. How Much Content Should You Be Using on Your Niche Sites? | Niche Pursuits

    How Much Content Should You Be Using on Your Niche Sites? | Niche Pursuits

    […] keywords.  Of course, I always use Long Tail Pro to search for keywords, and I have shown how I do keyword research here and here, and many other places.  Then once you have decided on a keyword/theme for your site […]

  41. Patrick


    I have a question – I have keyword like this :
    exact US matches – 1600 ,
    Competition – LOW (Not many advertisers for the
    CPC – around $5.50 (Pretty high)
    Google ads – None ( when I click my word in google, there are no ads at the top or side bar)

    – What do you think of this kind of keyword ?

  42. The Leaving Work Behind 100 – My Top 10

    The Leaving Work Behind 100 – My Top 10

    […] Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword […]

  43. How to Calculate Profit and Traffic for Niche Website | Hey! welcome to my porfolio site

    How to Calculate Profit and Traffic for Niche Website | Hey! welcome to my porfolio site

    […] have gone over how to calculate earnings in detail in this post: Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword.  But I wanted to discuss some deeper nuances that I skipped over in that post.  The formula that […]

  44. Ray Smith

    Ray Smith

    Hi Spencer,

    Recent purchaser of LTP and satisfied user! Quick question: do you generally find 2-4 words in your most successful keywords? I read on another forum, you prefer not to have more than 3 words in your keyword. I’m searching for 2-3-word keywords right now but was wondering if it’d be better if I increase to 4 words on LTP. Thanks.

  45. Survey the Competition: Understanding the Importance of Keywords

    Survey the Competition: Understanding the Importance of Keywords

    […] Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits – “Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword.” […]

  46. Melody


    Great content here. It’s pretty confusing and overwhelming to me. Sounds like a lot of work, I don’t know where to begin.

    Thanks for explaining further the art of niche sites. I’ll need to be re-reading this particular page a few more times.

  47. Chris Hills SEO

    Chris Hills SEO

    Great post thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  48. mahadzira


    Wow tq admin, I should have seen this informative easy adsense and google SEO earlier for my blog. Never to late though. Very easy to implement and hope more tips from you plus some good news for your adsense earning to. tq

  49. Tips on Getting Trafic From Search Engine and Profit Adsense | Breaking Latest News Malaysia | World News Current Affairs 2013 | Business Politic Gossip | Malaysian Review Blogezine
  50. David A

    David A

    very informative…I was looking for this…but I also got confused a bit……

    I had watched a video that talked about how to get free traffic with long tail kw..

    that said you should target low competition kw ….but then this is the problem you won’t get much money from it

    great post..

  51. Julius


    Excelent post… after 3 years it’s still very accurate. I like to be conservative so I always estimate getting paid about 25% of what is listed on the keyword tool, but never thought of never expect CPC average to be over $1, great advice!

    “Even though a person only does 1 search on Google, they actually may visit 3 or 4 of the websites listed in Google. This graphic does not take this into account.”, very true, I never took that into consideration and that increases the % of the rest of positions.

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