This is a guest submission by Dan Thompson, the co-founder of mylocalseo.ca,
Keyword Research: The Backbone of Any Niche or Authority Site
“Find niche/topics/keywords to target” was the number #1 obstacle for readers of Niche Pursuits.
There is a ton of information about this topic - so why are we struggling with keyword research?
Look, here are the issues:
Issue #1: Article Age: If I were starting out I wouldn't trust an article from 2011. If you’re new to this, you’re going to have a LOT of questions. “Is this information still relevant” shouldn't be one of them.
Issue #2: Subtopic: The majority of the articles that aren’t outdated aren’t focused on niche or authority sites. Performing keyword research for a business or start-up is dramatically different than performing KW research for a niche site.
Issue #3 Extremely Thin Content: A lot of the articles are only 600-700 words. Long form articles aren’t always better. But usually they are.
Issue #4 You’re Stuck In “What If “Mode:
What if my topic isn’t broad enough.
What if I can’t rank for this keyword.
What if I can’t monetize this keyword.
The one “What If” that is perfectly predictable that should worry you is
What if I never start.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1244 expensive Amazon products click here or the image below)
What You Will Learn:
- Should Your Niche Be Specific Or Broad? And Two Real Examples of Great Niches.
- The Actual KW Research Process I've Used To Replace My Old Income With Amazon Sites.
- Which Tools I Use (And How To Get A Full SEO Suite For $60/Month).
- Should You Pick Something You're Passionate About Or Something You Can Monetize? And The One Golden Rule.
- The Key Elements of Successful Niches And The Key Traps To Avoid Failure.
This article will give you the tools to pick a profitable niche.
Part I: Should I Be Specific Or Broad?
Your keyword should be specific but your topic should allow you to grow broadly.
Results can be a powerful motivator. If you start with the low hanging fruit, you’ll have something to show for your efforts in a relatively short period of time.
If you pick a broad enough niche, there will always be another branch to climb.
Consider some of these examples with a specific keyword and a broad topic:
Example #1: Woodworking Tools
Best Drill Press 720/KC 20
Planer reviews 720 searches/KC 22
Jointer reviews 320 searches/KC 19
Best Wood Lathe 320 searches/KC 21
Let’s assume things go well, the site ranks for those four keywords. You've written articles on the different types of Drill Presses, Planars, Jointers and Lathes.
You've highlighted some of the better brands. And even created a round-up post highlighting some of the best DIY woodworking projects/plans.
However, because you had the foresight to plan you’ve picked a niche that will allow you to grow. Now you're writing for larger, more competitive topics such as cordless drills (27,100/month) or miter saws (40k searches/month).
You’re not going to rank #1 for either of these terms. That doesn't matter.
When you're dealing with massive search terms you're going to rank for hundreds of long tails.
Example #2: Cosmetics
Cosmetics, in general is ultra competitive. Yet even, in the highly competitive makeup niche, there are great sub-niches.
Airbrush makeup reviews -1600/KC 22
Best airbrush makeup – 720/KC 27
Luminess air reviews – 9900/KC 29
Once again, I’m confident that we could get the targeted keyword “airbrush makeup reviews” in the top five.
Personally, I think the airbrush makeup niche is a big enough by itself. You can discuss the foundations, the compressors, the wands, the brands or how to apply it.
Of course, if you dominate that niche there is more then enough room to grow in the makeup vertical.
- Choose a specific keyword and a broad topic. Find a keyword(s) with a search volume of 500-5000 and a KC below 30.
- I will always initially target a term that is closer to 500/KC 20 than 3000/KC 30.
- The broad topic should be large enough to eventually write 50+ articles on the subject. This is even more important if you’re sticking to white hat link building methods.
Part II: My Process: Finding The Perfect Keyword
Step 1: Digging On Amazon
Not surprisingly, my process starts with Amazon. I would recommend starting in one of the following categories:
- Health & Personal Care
- Home & Kitchen
- Sports & Outdoors
- Tools & Home Improvement
For this exercise I’ve chosen beauty.
Click on “Beauty” under departments. Scroll down and choose a price point. I normally either start with either $25-$50 or $50-$100.
All we’re doing is looking for a product that is unexpected and sells a lot.
On the second page, I came across a Conair Foot Spa tub. Clicking on the listing and scrolling down to “product details” it tells me that it is ~#1,100 in Health & Personal Care.
I sell physical products in this category so I know, that at that ranking, this particular product sells > 60 a day.
Other products that stood out:
- Bath Bombs
- Yoga Toes (Once I discovered this was a brand I ruled it out)
- JWOW One and Done Tanning Bed Lotion. Oops... Tanning Bed
- Nail UV Lamp
- Callus Remover
- Make Up Brush Set
- Derma Roller Ceramic Rollers
I generated this list in under an hour.
You should aim to spend at least three to four hours to find your keywords and your niche.
Using the bold and underline markup is not something I take lightly! (Check out these 50 red hot Amazon products you can promote and make money with)
Step 2: Volume and Competition
We’ve now got a list of potential keywords. Now head over to UberSuggest.org to begin exploring deeper.
Generate a small list of potential terms and start firing them into Google Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro.
You’re looking for one to five keywords that you can rank for.
These are your going to serve as the core keywords you target.
If you don’t own LTP find someone who has the platinum version and pay him to run 40 or 50 keywords for you. It will take them less then an hour.
Let’s continue with the Foot Spa product.
Some of the results that I came across:
- Best Foot Spa (720/KC 27)
- Best home foot spa (210/KC 24)
- Best foot spa with heat (90/KC 21)
- Best foot spa machine (210/KC 26)
- Best foot soak (480/KC 30)
- Detox foot soak (590/KC 24)
That’s a pretty specific product. The topic isn’t as broad as I’d like it to be, but it’s not bad. Foot care would include terms such as bunions, calluses and nail fungus.
Alternatively, you could target at-home spa products.
There is a general misconception that in order to make any money your primary keyword needs to be > 2000 searches per month.
If you pick the right niche the income those small terms generate can help to spring board your site into a larger one.
Step 3: Expand Your Keyword List
You’ve selected your niche and now we want to find more keywords to target. Like anything, there is a hard way to do this and an easy way.
The hard way is to continue to pour through Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner+LTP.
It does work, it just takes a little bit longer.
The easier way is to find niche site(s) who are currently ranking for the primary keyword you’re interested in and use SEMRush. These do NOT need to be perfect.
Remember, we're just expanding our list so we have 50+ potential articles.
Once you’ve found a site, head over to SEMRush and insert the URL.
In this case, this site ranks for 80 keywords. Export that list and add any potential keywords to your keyword list.
Browse through the keywords of your competitor to generate some additional ideas.
Check this term out: best foot massager 1900/KC 26
I found a reflexology site, which has a subpage that targets “best foot massager”.
That page ranks for 100 terms. I’ll export this list and add it to my master list. This site gives me an entirely different angle in terms of a broad category – reflexology, which gets searched 135,000/month.
Once again, I’ll browse through additional competitors to see if I can find more keywords. I will rinse and repeat until I either run out of competitors or I've uncovered enough keywords.
Step 4: Pick A Niche
Once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole four or five times select a niche. You’ll likely discover dozens of different niches that look good. Do not get stuck in “What If” mode. Do not pick the first niche you come across. Three to five rabbit holes and then pick a niche.
- You’re not going to wake up one morning and have found “it”.
- Keyword research is an iterative process, which requires an investment.
- SEMRush makes keyword research easier. Without SEMRush you can expect to spend three to four hours going down a rabbit hole. With SEMRush you can get it done in one to two hours.
- Ask yourself: is $80 worth saving 5-10 hours on the keyword research stage.
Part III: The Tools I Use Or Have Mentioned
I own the basic version of LTP and whenever I want to start another site I upgrade to the platinum version. The platinum version is $17/month. I use it for one month and then cancel. It’s not a tool you need to always have on hand.
For keyword research it dramatically speeds the process up. Once your site is up and running it’s extremely useful to analyze competitors and discover additional topics you can write about.
A note on SEMRush, there Keyword Score is junk. Stick to LTP for evaluating individual keyword competition.
Insert a keyword and it spits out hundreds of similar results. It’s “Google Suggest” on steroids.
Google Keyword Planner
If all the other tools didn’t exist you could still get KW research done with a good ol’ fashioned keyword planner.
This isn’t a tool per se but it is extremely useful for those on a shoestring budget.
You get access to Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Keyword Canine, Moz and SpyFu for $60 per month. The downside, it’s an agency account and you’re just one user. I find that with SEMRush it frequently exceeds the usage plan.
Part IV: Should I Pick Something I’m Passionate About Or Something That I Can
Monetize: The reason I select best sellers on Amazon is because I know lots of people are buying these products.
Passion: I primarily selected athletic topics because I like sports.
Monetize: Despite the fact that I love golf; I’m not going to start a site in that vertical. It’s too competitive.
Passion: I prefer to find writers that have a vested interest in the subject.
Monetize: I pick boring niches and hire writers all the time.
Passion: I prefer to partner with writers who are knowledgeable on the subject.
This is the bottom line: There is no right answer. But, there is a wrong answer.
Picking a topic that you have a passion for, but fails to meet one of the key elements of a successful niches is a mistake.
Part V (a): The Key Elements to Picking A Successful Niche
Can it be monetized? There are three options here: advertise, sell someone else’s products/services or sell your own products/services.
Here is a basic list of monetization methods. If you’re choosing a keyword based on an Amazon product, you’re set.
Can you compete? This comes down a wide range of factors. The easiest way to determine this is by using LTP. If the KC score is below 30 you’re golden. If it’s above 30 pick something easier.
Do you have the right type of website? Certain searches favor certain types of websites. Here are some examples:
A search result that leans heavily towards e-commerce
A search result that leans heavily towards local
KC scores can be extremely deceiving. Often times both local and e-commerce related searches display a very low KC score.
The reason why keywords such as best "product" work is because you're aligning your content with the searchers intentions.
Did you pick a specific keyword? The metrics I look for are: 500-5000 searches/month and KC <30. Of course if you can find a search term that has
more volume AND a KC score <30 go for it.
Did you pick a broad topic? You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself. If you can’t write 50+ articles in the broader category, the category is too small.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1244 expensive Amazon products click here or the image below)
Part V (b): Common Keyword Research Pitfalls & Misconceptions
I have to solve a problem. I agree you do have to solve a problem. But that problem can be as simple as helping someone choose a product. Don’t over complicate this.
Picking an E-Commerce or Local Term. If you’re choosing a term that favors e-commerce or a local websites, you ought to have an e-commerce or local site.
Starting with a hyper competitive term. Believing the content myth. Quality content won’t rank itself.
Quality content won’t promote itself. You’ll either need to build links or earn links.
Not starting at all.
Author Bio: Dan Thompson is the co-founder of mylocalseo.ca, an SEO company dedicated to creating a positive ROI for small businesses through SEO. He creates, builds and flips niche and authority sites to stay sharp and continually experiment. You can get in touch by emailing him at dan [at] mylocalseo [dot] com or via twitter