How To Do Keyword Research for Your Niche Website: NSC Update #1

keyword-research-guideAs I ask people who subscribe to my email list about the biggest problem they have when it comes to niche website building, I often receive responses like these:

I’m struggling!!! How can I find a good keyword?

What’s your personal approach?

Why the hell is that you are able to find so many profitable keywords? Do you have any secret?

Well, in fact, I’ve written a very detailed post about this topic before, it contains some basic foundation on keyword research which is still very valuable if you’re just getting started.

But as I constantly learn new things and sharpen my method, I decided to write this article to keep you updated and hopefully it will answer every question you may have about keyword research.

Actually, as this is an official update of the niche site challenge, I’ll have Josh from FormYourFuture.com on and both of us will share our takes on this topic and we will walk you through the exact process we’ve gone through to choose the niche and keywords for this challenge.

Okay, let’s get started!

My Take On Keyword Research

As I implied on here and here, keyword research is still the most important step that if done right can give your niche website project a higher chance of success.

So having the skill to choose the right keyword is crucial. However, it doesn’t come to you naturally.

It takes experiments with trial and error to sharpen the skill.

I get so many emails from people each day asking for my opinion on keyword X Y Z and whether or not should they pursue those keywords. But after they receive my response, they do NOTHING.

And after a few weeks (or months), they reach out to me with a new list of keywords.

Holy shit!

I’d love to help people. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you’ve found a good keywords or not.

So if you already have some potential keywords in mind, just pick one and go with it.

Set up a website. Add some articles. Build a few high quality backlinks. And see what happens.

  • If it doesn’t rank after a few weeks, it’s totally fine. This means you’ve found one way to not find a good keyword. Tweak your method and do it again.
  • If it ranks, congratulations you’ve found the right keyword. Add more articles and backlinks to grow the traffic, and think about implementing some monetization methods.

I’m sure that this is the only way to succeed with niche website building. I’ve built dozens of failed sites (and lost thousands of bucks) before building the one that made me over $12,000 in profit, so don’t be afraid to take action and try things.

Here are some other thoughts on keyword reseach:

1. Monetization & Profitablitty Come First

This is a recent change in my approach. I no longer choose a keyword just by looking at it competitive level on the first page. That’s because I’d rather spending more effort on ranking a highly profitable keyword and make $1000+ per month than ranking for an easy to rank one that has the potential to make just $50-100 per month.

2. Analyze The Overall Competitivenes of The Whole Niche, Not Just a Single Keyword.

This is very important lesson I learned during my first niche website project. I made the mistake of jumping in the acne niche because I found an easy to rank keyword, and then soon after I gave up because it’s a super competitive niche. So keep this in mind when you do keyword research.

3. Good Keyword Research Alone Is Not Enough, Don’t Just Build a Website And Wait for Magic to Happen.

This is a huge mistake that a lot of people (including me) make when starting a new niche website. They just get the website up and do nothing else. No!!! Building a successful niche website is not that easy. You still have a lot of work to do.

Content creation. Promotion. You name it.

That’s all I can think for now. Here’s Josh to give you more lessons and insights on this topic.

Josh’s Take On Keyword Research

When I do my keyword research I pay attention to only a handful of criteria.

1. Search Volume

The first thing that I look at is the local search volume. If a keyword is not getting enough traffic (over 1500 searches per month), then that automatically bumps off my list of potential keywords.

2. Monetization

Like Tung mentioned above, I also make sure that the keyword is one that can be monetized. I’ll look at a variety of options here including: Does the keyword have high advertiser competition and can it be monetized well via adsense? If so, what is the average CPC? Can the keyword be monetized via affiliates links such as amazon or any other sources? If so, what is the average payout per sale?

These things can make a huge difference in determining how much money the site will make.

The last thing that I want is to spend the time, money, and effort to build a blog that ranks at the top, only to find out that it makes no money. Trust me, I’ve done this before and it’s a real headache.

3. Weak/Niche Sites ranking in the top 10

This is actually my strongest criteria for finding good keywords. Back in the day when I built microniche sites, I had a method that I called “sniping the snipers”.
Basically I specifically targeted keywords that already had microniche sites ranking at the top. My thought process here was that, if someone else could build a simple site and rank it at the top, I should be able to as well.

For niche sites, it’s a little harder to pull off but the same concept applies. Here’s a list of things I use to identify weak sites:

  • There are pages with site age under 1 year
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles
  • Pages with PA below 35
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links

If I find weak sites ranking at the top of google, then to me, that means that the door is potentially open for me to slip right in next to them.

My Favorite Ways To Find Potential Keywords

If you’re struggling with finding potential keywords, hopefully this section will help you solve the problem. Check out my 3 methods below.

1. Uncover Unlimited Keywords with Semrush

This is,by far,my biggest source of keywords. It’s a paid product but it’s totally worth every penny.

You can do a lot of things with Semrush. Just be creative. I’ve talked about the method before, check out this article if you want to study the method.

2. Reverse Engineer Other People’s Work on Squidoo

Do you know that people are putting lots of effort on making and ranking Squidoo lens for profit?

We can take advantage of that and uncover hundreds of potential keywords easily. Just go to http://www.squidoo.com/topics, pick a categories and take a look.

Sounds simple but hey, it works!

3. Leverage Ecommerce Store’s categories

Thousands of seed keywords are waiting for you there. Just go to one of these popular ecommerce websites and look at their categories. Grab some and put them into Long Tail Pro or Keyword Planner. Here’s is the list:

It’s your turn again Josh!

Josh’s Favorite Ways To Find Potential Keywords

1. Long Tail Pro/Platinum

I use many of the methods that Tung mentioned above, but the main thing that I use is the tool called Long Tail Pro/Platinum (LTP). Many people have LTP, but the problem is that they are not using it correctly.

When I use LTP, I like to enter 5-7 seed keywords and make use of the “Include” function. The “Include” function allows you to view only keywords that contain the included word. I’ll include buying keywords such as “best” and “review”. I’ll also set my search volume filters to anything above 1500.

Just doing these two things will allow me to blast through thousands of keywords within a few minutes.

2. SEM Rush

Like Tung, I have my own subscription of SEM Rush. With SEM Rush you can pick apart other sites online and find out which keywords they are ranking for. If you find a weak site that’s ranking for several good keywords, you’ve found yourself a gold mine.

With the use of SEM Rush last year, I literally found dozens of keywords from of a couple of sites which led to the developement of a third of my microniche empire. This amounted to over $2000 per month in adsense income. Ever since then I’ve become a SEM Rush believer.

How We Choose Keywords For This Project

Using those methods above, we have finally picked keywords to target for this niche site challenge, but after discussing, we decided to keep it “secret” for now and we will reveal the sites after a couple of weeks.

Here’s our process:

  • Come up with a list of potential keywords using Semrush & Long Tail Pro.
  • Sort out the ones that don’t meet our criteria.
  • Analyze the competition for each of the remaining keywords.
  • Pick the one that we like the most.

Here’s the list of criteria we like to see:

  • 3000+ total searches accross the first 3 keywords.
  • Lots of long tail keywords
  • CPC: At least $0.3.
  • Low competition niche.
  • Highly profitable ($100+ product on Amazon available)

Examples of Good & Bad Keywords

Best juicer

  • Local search volume: 33000
  • Product pricing: low end = $50, high end = $200+
  • Weak sites/Niche sites in the top 10: Yes (2)
  • Page with site age under 1 year: Yes (1)
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles: No
  • Pages with PA below 35: No
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links: No
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links: No

Things We Like: We like that this keyword has a very high search volume and the product pricing is in the medium to higher range. Two sites are also obvious niche sites (bestjuicerreviewsguide.com and bestjuicer.biz). Typically seeing niche sites in the top ten is a great sign for us.

Things We Don’t Like: The main thing that We don’t like about this keyword is that the niche sites that are ranking have a lot of juice links and have high PA values. After looking at majestic seo, it’s also clear that they are using blog networks to rank these sites. In order to outrank these sites We would likely need to invest a decent amount of time and money building backlinks.

Final words: This is not an easy keyword to go for. We’ll pass on this one.
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Best pocket knife

  • Local search volume: 5400
  • Product pricing: low end = $8, high end = $30+
  • Weak sites/Niche sites in the top 10: Yes (3)
  • Page with site age under 1 year: Yes (2)
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles: No
  • Pages with PA below 35: 3
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links: No
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links: Yes

Things We Like: This site had a couple of niche sites at the top along with a forum (forums are typically very weak sites). The niche sites were young in age and after looking at majesticseo the links that I saw pointing to the site were mainly forum comments and blog comments (weak links).

Things We Don’t Like: We don’t like that the price of this product is so low. Even at the highest amazon commission rates, We would only be seeing around $3 per sale.

Final Words: This could still be a profitable site, but We like to see higher returns. This keyword is a “maybe”.

Best messenger bags

  • Local search volume: 1900
  • Product pricing: low end = $20, high end = $100+
  • Weak sites/Niche sites in the top 10: Yes (1)
  • Page with site age under 1 year: Yes (1)
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles: Yes
  • Pages with PA below 35: 6
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links: No
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links: No

Things We Like: The titles being used for the sites in the top ten is overall not optimized for the keyword. Also there are quite a few sites in the top ten that have a PA that’s below 35. Even though the low end price of this item is low, it doesn’t matter to much because we’re looking to focus on the “best messenger bags”, which will likely be the higher priced versions. Another thing that we noticed is that the niche site that’s ranking doesn’t look all that impressive from an information and content standpoint.

Things We Don’t Like: The search volume is a little lower than we like. The niche site at the top has a few more stronger links than I like, but it doesn’t look unbeatable.

Final Words: Even though search volume is lower, we think that we can build better content than the niche site that’s ranking in the top ten. This site could be profitable especially if we sold it later on. We would rank this keyword as a “maybe”.

Best vacuum for pet hair

  • Local search volume: 8100
  • Product pricing: low end = $50, high end = $200+
  • Weak sites/Niche sites in the top 10: Yes (6)
  • Page with site age under 1 year: Yes (2)
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles: Yes
  • Pages with PA below 35: Yes (5)
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links: Yes
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links: Yes

Things We Like: This is definitely a very good keyword. It ticks all the criteria that we’re looking for.

Things We Don’t Like: But from my experience (Tung), the overall niche (vacumm cleaner) is very competitive so it’s pretty hard to scale up the website.

Final Words: Josh said that he would totally go for that keyword but I would rank it as a “maybe”.

Best acne treatment

  • Local search volume: 14800
  • Product pricing: $100+
  • Weak sites/Niche sites in the top 10: No
  • Page with site age under 1 year: Yes (1)
  • Competition is NOT using Good Titles: Yes
  • Pages with PA below 35: No
  • Weak/Niche sites have less than 30 juice links: Yes (5) 
  • Weak/Niche sites are using weak links: Yes

Things We Like: This is a very profitable keyword with the potential of making $X,XXX per month.

Things We Don’t Like: This is a ultra competitive niche. Don’t even think about ranking it if you don’t have a big blog network to use for backlinking.

Final Words: Avoid the big niche. Yes you can make more money but you also have to invest a lot.
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Conclusion

We’ve found the keywords, the next step is to build up the sites and add the first round of high quality content.

I (Tung) hope that this 2000-word guide will answer all the questions you may have about keyword research, and don’t forget to take action.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments about this topic. Please let me know by leaving a comment! 

Tung Tran

Tung Tran is the founder of CloudLiving.com.

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