[Case Study] Watch Over My Shoulder As I Do In-depth Keyword Research For A Site In The Survival Niche
It always feels good to write something people love.
I try to do it every time I write a blog post, but you can never really predict these things, you know?
When I wrote 23 Places to Find the Best Keywords In Your Niche (& 29 Screenshots Showing You How to Get Them), my goal was to create something that was helpful & that would continue to be helpful to the NicheHacks audience and people who came by the blog in the future.
But even though I put a lot of work making the post good, I was still astonished when Stuart told me the time spent on that specific blog post was well over seven minutes.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever written a blog post that good… and I’ve been writing blog posts for a while.
Clearly, finding good, quality keywords for your niches is something you guys care about.
Stuart suggested to expand on this post (to better serve your guys and your obvious interest in finding keywords) by picking one niche and going through the post step-by-step to show you guys more practically how to walk through these different keyword resources yourselves.
I had no idea which niche to pick, so I asked the NicheHacks Private Mastermind group members on Facebook what niches they wanted keywords for.
I thought for sure at least two or three of you guys would overlap in the same niche and we could choose a niche that way.
Boy, was I wrong.
Not a single niche was repeated, and narrowing it down to just one niche was incredibly difficult.
But the Winner Was…. Survivalist.
We actually published a post on the survivalist niche in January about the possibilities of making money with this niche, and you guys loved it.
It’s also one helluva profitable niche market to be in, as seen in our case study on SurvivalLife.com.
But even if you’re not interested in this niche and think all the paranoid Doomsday worriers are totally out of their minds, you can still follow along with these steps, entering the keywords you find for your particular niche into a spreadsheet as you go along.
But if you are interested in this niche… BONUS!… you’ll get a free CSV download of all the 375 keywords I compiled with this research just by sharing on social media.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to find keywords to start with & how to expand your keyword research based on those.
- How to avoid finding the exact same keywords, over and over again
- How to find the exact keywords your competitors are using on their most successful pages
- What your niche audience gets emotional about
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
Basic Rundown of the Survivalist Niche & What We’re Looking at Specifically In This Post
Put simply, “This is a niche where people are hungry for information and products and willing to spend to get it,” as we wrote in the January report on this niche.
Perfect storm for a profitable niche, no?
Desperate/passionate people ready and willing to shell out cold, hard cash.
Basically, people who classify themselves as “survivalists” or “preppers” are typically normal, everyday people who are either paranoid about the state of the unknown future...
(Will there be an apocalypse? Will there be an unprecedented natural disaster we can’t recover from?)
They want the peace of mind that they’ll be able to care for themselves and their loved ones should things take a turn for the worse.
Though they live typical day-to-day lives now, they’re very into doomsday preparation and making sure they’ve got everything ready to go in case something bad happens.
With the desire to prepare for these possibilities, they take to the internet to get their information and look for the products they need that will be there for them if and when the internet no longer exists.
So, without further ado, the keyword research:
1. Google Auto-Complete - Where to Find Your First Keyword Research Stepping Stones
Google tries to predict what people are looking for with their auto-complete to make their experience faster, quicker, and more enjoyable.
We’ll start with two words that are central to this niche’s mission: “survivalist” and “prepper” to see what people look for most often.
From this quick exercise, I got some basic results like:
- survivalist forum
- survivalist generator
- survivalist blog
- prepper supplies
- prepper forum
- prepper list
2. Google Related Searches - The Easy Way to Dig Beyond the Obvious, Most Competitive Keywords
Exploring what auto-complete gives you, make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page to see what other kinds of golden keyword phrases people are searching for that are related to your niche.
Digging into things that aren't as immediately obvious, I found keywords like:
- survival preparedness forum
- survivalist groups
- cheaper than dirt
- self reliance forum
- prepper supplies wholesale (buy-ready!)
- prepper supplies at costco
- prepper supplies for ebola
- prepper supplies online
3. Chrome’s Sneaky Shortcut for Competitor Keywords - Don't Let Your Competition Hold You Back
The fact is, if there’s no competition in a niche, then it’s probably for a reason.
That reason that it’s probably particularly hard or impossible to make any decent money.
There’s no problem with creating a new authority website in a niche that already has a few “gurus”—people love a fresh voice and take on the subjects they love.
So don’t be ashamed of adding your competitors’ keywords to your list.
There’s nothing wrong with it, and they probably did the exact same thing to their predecessors when they got started.
And fortunately, there’s a cool Chrome trick you can use to find exactly what those keywords are.
Hold down command + option + u on a Mac (control + alt + u on a PC) simultaneously, and all of the page’s data will pop up—either in the bottom of the screen or in a new tab.
Do a text search for tags like <title>, <keyword>, <h1>, or <h2> to see what they put between these tags.
(The reason these tags are key rather than any random words on the page is because Google reads these tags to identify “important” words to learn what your site’s about.)
The <title> tag search gave me a TON of keywords that really exploded my list, including:
- Survival Skills
- Urban, Outdoor, and Nuclear Survival Skills
- Survival Life
- Drought Survival
- How to Survive Natural Disasters
- Wildfire Survival Tips
- How to Make Your Own Bows
- Bow Making Course
- Hurricane Survival Tips
- Home Invasion Defense
- Live Off the Grid
- Tornado Survival
- Keep Your House Cool
- Survival Foods
- Solar Lanterns
- Economic Collapse
- Bug Out
- Bug In
- Medical Trick
- Lost in the woods
- Running out of water
The <h1> search gave me the names of authors for this particular site, but since this site is popular and their individual fans might want to find out more about them, I add them to the list too:
- Above Average Joe
- Dave Canterbury
- Dave Scott
- Jason Hanson
4. Amazon Product Listings: Find the Emotion that Leads to Profit
And a big part of money-making in the survivalist niche is that you get people to buy physical and information-based products.
Clicking on the Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide, I check out the product description, suggested products, and customer reviews.
Then, I got to the good stuff… the raw emotion and candid thoughts of real people who are hard-core members of this niche. How? I read through the reader reviews on this book.
Here's some of the good stuff I got from Amazon's product listing (not mentioning the 1-star review, which is in the photo caption):
- short-term disaster
- social collapse
- failure of the grid
- long-term crisis
- creating a new society
- protect your family
- off-the-grid power
- survival medicine
5. eBay Keywords - Where I Found An Unexpected, Endless Treasure Chest of Relevant Keywords
eBay’s also pretty good at purchase-driven SEO.
And they’ve got everything.
Picking one of the keywords I’ve already uncovered, I go with “off the grid power” to see what comes up.
Right now, eBay’s got a lot of DVDs teaching people how to live off the grid.
I clicked on the Doomsday Prep product since that one seemed most related to the niche at hand. When I scrolled past the seller’s long-form description, I felt like I’d just found $5,000 buried in my back yard.
Here's just a taste of what I uncovered:
- raising goats
- primitive conditions
- new alchemists
- earth box planter
- backyard fish farming
- wood stoves
- solar hydro power homesteading
- doomsday prep
- alternative solar energy
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
6. Wikipedia - The Internet's Single Smartest SEO Master
A little background on Wikipedia, in case you didn’t already know: it’s #4 on Google with ZERO paid advertising, and it’s #6 in the entire world.
So, clearly they know what they’re doing when it comes to SEO.
I chose the keyword “post-apocalyptic” from what I’d already acquired in my list, since that seems to be a big fear among the survivalist/preppers group.
And this site didn’t let me down.
Tip: If you don’t want to spend time reading through articles, the introduction & table of contents are usually more than sufficient. Wikipedia front-loads their articles with inner-site keyword links to beef up their internal SEO.
Here's what Wikipedia gave me from the first paragraph alone:
- end of human civilization
- existential catastrophe
- zombie apocalypse
- nuclear warfare
- extraterrestrial attack
- cybernetic revolt
- technological singularity
- supernatural phenomena
- runaway climate change
- divine judgement
- resource depletion
- ecological collapse
7. Yahoo Answers - Find Out What Your Target Audience is Frustrated About (And How You Can Save Them)
Yahoo Answers is typically a place people go to out of frustration to find answers to questions they've searched for online, but haven't found.
People are desperate to find an answer to something, so they put it out there in the universe of the internet with hopes that someone, somewhere will relieve their stress and just answer their question already.
If a question has a decent level of engagement, you've found a great new topic for a blog post or downloadable item to grow your email list... it's information people want to know but aren't satisfied with what the rest of the internet is telling them about it.
It's also a great place for finding keywords.
Here's the keywords I gleaned from Yahoo Answers:
- tactical gear
- food stockpiling
- emergency medical
- freeze dried emergency meals
- food storage
- buy emergency foods
- survival gear
- survival tools
- army surplus
- buying in bulk
- ended civilizations
- global warming
8. Product Reviews - Helpful For Concerns Related to Bigger-Ticket Items You Want to Sell
Searching through pre-existing product reviews can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to push affiliate sales for a bigger-ticket item on your site.
In this example, we’ll look at customer reviews of “Israeli Style Civilian Protective Gas Mask” on Amazon. There’s loads of other review sites out there, so if your niche has a particular one, check that one out too.
Make sure you read both the good and bad reviews to get keywords that will help you reinforce quality and reduce doubt while convincing someone to purchase.
Here's the keywords I found:
- civilian protective gas mask
- functional gas mask
- life saving piece of equipment
- threads for mounting
- NATO 40 mm filter
- filter canister
- drinking tube
Here's some other product review sites you can use to glean keywords from:
9. Internal Search & Customer Emails - What Your Audience is Directly Telling You They Want
These work wonders if you’ve already got a website with fans who use it regularly.
Inside your Google Analytics dashboard, you can go to the “Behavior” section of your main dashboard, click on “Site Search” and then “Search Terms” to see what information people want you to offer when they get to your site.
(For info on how to set up internal search, check out this post on the FG Blog.)
Further, since niche site owners typically operate as customer service, sales rep, along with being the site owner and content producer, if you’ve got a site selling a product or two, you’ve probably received at least a few emails from happy or unhappy customers.
Go back into those emails and search them for keywords.
10. Google Correlate - Expand Your Research with High Correlations
True to its name, Google Correlate shows you the exact search phrases that are the most highly correlated to whatever subject area you type in.
They also show you a fancy chart along with the phrases they give you.
Which is a bonus, if you like fancy charts.
I found a lot about the sale of bunkers (people thinking about buying - yay!), and about the plans for them:
- bunkers for sale
- survival bunker
- bunker plans
- build an underground bunker
11. Free Book Previews - Popular Niche Authors Know What's Important to Your Audience
The table of contents in a book that’s popular in your niche can be gold to help you realize which keyword areas you’ll want to focus on and how to categorize your on-site content.
Rather than checking out just one book, you can also check out the books in the “Customers Also Bought” suggestion section in the bottom right.
Some phrases I found here included:
- bugging out
- sheltering in place
- emergency gear
12. Google Search for ‘[keyword]’ + ‘most popular [posts/sites/article]’ ... So You Don't Have to Reinvent the Wheel to Find Popular Keywords
The step is particularly helpful if you’re just starting out in a niche and aren’t exactly sure who you’re biggest competitors or niche leaders are just yet.
Beyond showing you who you should follow, it’ll tell you which posts in your niche your target readers like the most… and, if you do a little digging, show you the SEO keyword terms the authors used to make those posts rank so well.
Going generic to look at the survivalist niche as a whole, I searched of the most popular posts in survivalism, and this is what I found:
Clicking on the result, and following an article in that list called “Where You Should Hide Your Food,” I used the Chrome trick to collect a lot more keywords.
Even though I ran into some repeats, I still added these to my list:
- urban survival
- hide your food
- food shelf life tips
13. Wordle - Visualize Your Keywords for New Ideas
I realized I didn’t have a lot of keywords about doomsday weapons, so I took the text from Survival Life’s article ‘Alternative Weapons | How to Defend Yourself Without a Gun’ and ran it through Wordle to see what results I could get.
Since 'weapons' is clearly the central theme here, I used other highly-suggested terms within the word map to create combinations like:
- steel weapons
- survival weapons
- self-defense weapons
14. Press Release Sites - Because Online PR People Know What's Up With SEO
The cool thing about press release sites is this: not many people visit them on a regular basis.
Let me explain.
PR experts know people don’t normally go hanging out on press release websites for the sheer joy if it, and they’re okay with that.
Because they’ve got other ways of getting eyeballs onto their latest news, and one of them is via keyword-based SEO for organic traffic results.
So, by checking out the keywords in a press release related to your niche industry, you’re effectively gleaning the SEO-based keywords the PR experts know work.
Some of the new keywords I got from this press release included:
- nuclear weapons
- global catastrophe
- Doomsday Clock
- global emissions
15. MetaGlossary - Turn One Word into 50 or More
Focused more around definitions of words, MetaGlossary works with one-word queries, so for this example I chose “pandemic.”
As you can see, a lot of the results were disease-specific, which could help me if I wanted to great a disease preparation section on my survivalist-based niche website.
Some of the disease-based keywords I found on Metaglossary included:
16. Thesaurus - The Old-School Method That's Still Effective
This is a rather low-tech way to go about finding keywords.
It’s the way your great-great grandfather would have done things.
You know, if niche marketing were a thing in his day.
But rather than getting up off my bum to take three whole steps to the book shelf, I just opened my computer’s dictionary app.
It’s the full-fledged New Oxford American Dictionary, so it’s totally legit.
And what did I get from going old school? These cool keywords:
- impending doom
- judgement day
- last judgement
17. Amazon Auto-Fill - Quick Search Keywords Focused Around Purchases
This performs a lot like Google’s Auto-Complete feature, but is more focused around products that people want to buy.
(Which is good, considering you’re trying to make money here.)
Some of the still uncovered keywords I found here included:
- prepper food
- prepper gear
- prepper books
- doomsday preppers
18. Blog Comments & Industry Forums - Find Out Which Content Areas to Prioritize, Based on Popularity
Basically, the idea here is to find places where people are readily active and talking about the target subject of your niche and find out the phrases and things that get them most excited and peak their interests.
Controversy is good, but not always necessary.
You can also find great keywords where a lot of people are agreeing on one thing.
I went to SurvivalistBoards.com to see what kind of popular topics I could find:
In this forum, I found words like:
- stories from the outdoors
- live in the woods
- items in your pack
- wilderness survival items
19. Ubersuggest - Say Goodbye to Mind-Numbing Keyword Matching
This is a keyword tool that really takes a lot of the time-consuming, mind-numbing work for you (or your VA) by figuring out all the letter-based possibilities someone could use surrounding one specific keyword phrase.
After typing in survival retreat, it gave me a whopping 122 suggestions that I could add to my list. (For the sake of not spending all day re-typing “survival retreat +” over and over again, I added the first keyword in each sub-list to the document… still around 20 new ones.]
The list of new, possible keywords from Ubersuggest goes on forever, here's five of the ones I added to the list:
- survival retreat design
- survival retreat locations
- zombie survival retreat
- survival retreat book
- survival retreat kit
20. Soolve - Find Out How to Rank in Respective Search Engines
Rather than going to individual search engines to collect results, Soolve shows you the top searches around the keyword you type in for Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, Answers, YouTube, Bing, and Yahoo all at once.
If you want to explore one in particular a little deeper, Soolve lets you click on the search term and it takes you to the results for that particular search engine.
To rank high on certain search engines within topics related to doomsday, you might want to try out these keywords:
- What is the doomsday clock?
- How close are we to the end of days?
- doomsday clock live
- doomsday clock time
- doomsday clock watchmen
- doomsday clock current time
- world doomsday clock
21. SEM Rush - Dig Up SEO Dirt on Your High-Performing Competitors
If you’re just breaking into paid traffic strategies for your niche site, finding out what’s working for your competitors—including the keywords they use—is a great way to make sure you don’t get left in the dust and have a fighting chance at getting more fans to your site.
22. Keyword Tool Dominator - I got 193 Relevant Keywords With Just One Search
Be careful what you type into this tool… you only get three free searches per day.
But, when you do type in a word, it gives you the top long-tail results from Amazon, Google, and YouTube that are most related to your original query.
Unfortunately, each one (Amazon, Google, YouTube) each count as a separate query, so choose wisely!
Another cool thing, is that with the Google results, it shows you the keyword rank based on popularity.
I'll save you the agony of writing out all the 75 keywords I added to the list, but here's a few good ones:
- jungle survival weapons
- outdoor survival weapons
- survival bladed weapons
- survival defense weapons
- survival hunting weapons
- survival weapons and tactics
- survival weapons kit
Your Action Plan
So by now, if you've followed along and found your keywords, you should have a long list of keywords ready to be used.
What exactly do you do next?
That's what this section is for.
You could just take the starting plan we have here for an all round strategy.
Go to Google and type in the keyword of your choice, let's pick "items in your pack" for example.
In the search results, you'll see tons of content related to the keyword and most probably what people want to find.
The very first result is "How to Pack a Backpack: Tips & Instructions".
And it seems like it can be improved in many ways. For one, it could use more pictures, possibly of the items to carry.
And another is that maybe it could be longer, more epic.
If you were involved in the survivalist niche, then you could just take this piece of content and create something bigger and better.
Brian Dean calls this the skyscraper technique.
You could take this technique and apply it for any niche.
You also could use the same keyword for multiple content idea as you can see in the screenshot below:
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
Tell Me Your Favorite Ways to Find Effective Niche Keywords
Alright, now that I’ve taken you through the pain-staking process of how I found all 375 keywords in this document (really, it wasn’t all that hard… I promise), here it is:
Personally, my favorite sources were Keyword Tool Dominator, Soolve, and Ubersuggest.
Best for last, right?
I like them because, for me, they're the easiest way to find the long-tail keyword phrases people are already using to make searches, so they take out a lot of the guess work.
I'm not the only one who's shown keyword research on the blog here...
Here's James with how he found 100 keywords in under 30 minutes.
What are your favorites?