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Why Some High Volume Keywords Lead to Disappointment, Even When You Get to # 1

Why Some High Volume Keywords Lead to Disappointment, Even When You Get to # 1

By Pat Flynn on

Poor Dog :(My security guard training niche site, born from the Niche Site Duel here on SPI, has some pretty decent numbers to report since it’s birth in September 2010:

  • 224,655 Unique Visitors
  • 758,065 Pageviews
  • $25,389.24 in total Adsense earnings

There are a couple of other numbers that I feel are significant too:

  • $224.08 in earnings from the job board

The job board, integrated from, has only earned a fraction of the total earnings, but what’s important to me is the fact that it’s actually being used.

This month alone, the job board on the site has been viewed over 2000 times, and I haven’t gone a single day without helping at least one person find a potential job. I earn as little as $0.06 per lead, but that’s a real human being who is now one step closer to their goal because of the site that I built.

I love that.

The is the one that blows me away:

  • 55,621 different keywords have driven traffic to my site through organic search

That’s more than half of the total number of words in the first book of The Hunger Games (99,750)!

So what does this tell you? 

For one, there’s a lot of content on the site. I wrote about a third of the 124 total articles myself and the rest were completed by writers that I hired through Elance (affiliate link – I earn a commission if you buy) or privately. (Editor’s Note: As of 2015, Elance has combined with oDesk to create Upwork. The link still works, but the company name has changed.)

Secondly, long tail keywords rule. I’ve only actively targeted three specific keywords on the site: security guard training, armed security guard training, and guard card.

I’m sitting at #1 for the first two, but for guard card I’m still working my way up—I think I’m at 11 right now. Each of those three keywords combined don’t even make up 25% of my total organic search volume.

The point of this is that you can be found quite often for keywords that you don’t actively target.


Produce more content.

But how much content can you actually produce for a niche?

Well of course, that varies depending on the topic.

Let’s keep going…

An Often Overlooked Approach

The niche that you select is extremely important in reference to the scope of how much relevant content you can create.

When we think of proper niche selection, we usually think of finding a niche with high search volume & low competition—but we hardly ever hear about content potential – how much content you could actually create in a particular niche.

By not thinking about content potential, you can easily set yourself up for disappointment, possibly getting into a niche with hidden limitations on traffic and earnings.

High search volume, low competition, but a narrow scope of content means less findability.

And content potential in a particular niche comes on two levels:

  1. How much there actually is to write about; and
  2. How much you can actually write about it.

There is so much more to the success of a website than getting to #1 in the search engines for a few highly searched keywords.

This is why you see some sites that are ranking #1 for high volume keywords that are just doing okay, and why some sites that aren’t even close to #1 are just totally killing it.

Strictly from an organic search point of view, long tail keywords are where the traffic is at, and that is directly proportional to the niche’s content potential

I’ll admit—I got very lucky with the niche I selected for the Niche Site Duel. After selecting security guard training, I came to realize that every single state in the U.S. had a different set of requirements.

My first thoughts were: “Man…this sucks! I have so much work to do! It would have been so much easier if all of the requirements were the same!”

But, as it turns out, it was the best thing ever. It gave me 50 times the work upfront (probably more than that), but that means an exponential number of more opportunities to be found—and it has paid off.

The big takeaway is this:

When deciding what niche to get into, realize that although search volume and competition are extremely important, the amount of content you can produce is just as important too. Before making a decision, brainstorm a bit—do some research and see if there are hierarchies and an organization of topics and categories within that niche you could potentially write about.

If you already have a website, it’s not like you need to start over—but you might have to get creative and think about expanding your content scope to get the results you deserve.

It’s going to take time, but it’s work that will pay off in the long run.

And don’t forget you’re writing for human beings too, and although search is important, there are several other ways to be found that ultimately always comes back to the content that you have on your site.

Thanks, and if you enjoyed this content, please share! If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments.


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