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 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, 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 ( and 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.


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! 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 41 comments
Jason - October 24, 2013

Good tip on using that Squidoo page for a nice seed list. For those that don’t have SEMRush, Long Tail Pro + that pagr should do decently.

It seems like you guys are going after a product based keyword. It’ll be interesting to see the final result!

John Gibb - October 24, 2013

I like Josh approach just as much as Tung’s method.

I also look for keywords which are getting 1,500+ exact match queries a month.

I wonder when Google will stop providing this data, after their recent ‘not provided’ move.

With a keyword that gets minimum 1,500 monthly searches, you can generate sales even if you’re on page #2 for example. Particularly if you build a product review web site. This is not applicable to AdSense sites.

I have 300+ aged niche blogs, and none of them are monetized with AdSense. I’ve learned my lessons many years ago.

The Squidoo reverse engineering approach to keyword research is quite practical. Basically you get a wide range of topics, and then narrow your list to more specific keywords. I do this with Amazon , eBay and a ton other major web sites.

    Josh @ FormYourFuture - October 25, 2013

    300 niche blogs? Sounds like you have quite the empire going on. I myself had over 200 last year, but I let most of them go after the emd update. I still have a few that still earn, but I’m not planning on doing anything with them at the moment.

    Yeshua Quijano - November 2, 2013

    Over 300 niche sites?! That’s a whole freakin’ lot of websites? Are all of those on the first page?

Ha Bui - October 24, 2013

Hi Tung Tran 😀

In the ” and they do nothing” part, i feel like you are talking about me lol :))

I just start my campain today, after researching about last google update. The combine of hummingbird and penguin is very strange. I hope that you can write a post about it 😀

And forget about the “jean” keyword that i sent to you, i’m building a longterm site, in big niche. Maybe i can’t get much in this year’s BFday, but i belive that it’s going to be on page 1.

Best wishes for you, i hope you will win that guy.

Ha Bui

p/s: sorry for my bad english 😀

Amal Rafeeq - October 24, 2013

Wow Tung,
I’m outta words. Thanks a lot for rolling out this Keyword Research guide. Just what I wanted.


Reggie - October 24, 2013

Hey Tung, great write up about reinforcing quality KW research. Excited to see what you guys come up with. I bought a domain exactly a month ago, put up a site, did a just few backlinks and already seeing some rankings – signs I picked a good KW. I’ll be following and challenging your guys’ kung fu from the shadows haha

Marbles - October 24, 2013

Loving the Good and Bad Examples. Toughest thing about keyword research isn’t what settings to put in your tool, but how to analyze that 1st page, to see if a KW is worth going after, or the competition is too tough.

Allen L. - October 24, 2013

Tung and Josh,

Totally jazzed to follow along with your Niche Site Competition. I look forward, as a complete newb, to learning from both of you as you demonstrate your strategies and techniques.

I am curious, newb that I am, when you say, “Weak/Niche sites are using weak links” what you mean by this benchmark. How do you determine is a site is using “weak links?” Am I correct to believe that this has to do with a page’s authority ranking ? That linking from a page with a low page authority produces a “weak link”?

Looking forward to your clarification.

    Josh @ FormYourFuture - October 25, 2013

    Hey Allen, weak links are those such a@ blog comments and forum comments. These hold very little value and they are continuing to become less powerful as google keeps updating. A stronger link would be a link from guest posts, an established site, or from a solid blog network with high pa and high pr.

      Allen L - October 26, 2013

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for the clarification on weak links. Makes perfect sense. Looking forward to your next post.

      Aron - October 30, 2013

      I agree that most blog comments are pointless. I have noticed a trend happening lately though. If the blog comment is on a related niche, it seems to help with ranking. I have been studying the backlinks of my competitors in a specific niche over the last month or so.

Neel - October 24, 2013

Very helpful, thanks! One things thats been unclear to me…when you say “3000+ total searches across the first 3 keywords” what do you mean? I’m confused by how I should be looking at keywords and judging the total searches they get. Do I look at a group of related keywords and if that amount equals 1,500 (according to josh’s criteria), then I pursue it? Or do you mean 1 phrase in particular should equal 1,500 searches?

For example, if I decide to build a site around “Best Banana Peeler”, do I need that exact keyword phrase to equal 3,000 total searches? Or do you mean a group of keywords? If you mean a group, then aren’t those the “long-tail” keywords?


Jye @ Full Volt - October 24, 2013

Great to see the research portion of the challenge is getting started. I’m currently at the same stage with my own niche site project and I must say that point #3 you listed, leverage ecommerce stores, is a super easy way to pick up some solid seed keywords.

I’d agree with passing up on the “Best Juicer” keywords, there is some strong competition and it does have a lot of niche site competition, some not ranked on the first page though.

Magento tutorial - October 24, 2013

Great keyword research guide, many thanks to Josh and Tung Tran for sharing this
Hope you all will succeed

Winston - October 25, 2013

Nice post guys!

I’d be interested to know your Ways To Find Potential Keywords when not looking for product-based keywords. For example, the methods to find KWs like Security Guard Training (Pat Flynn), Pay your Student Loans (Jon Haver), etc. and other KWs with potential that have no relation to specific products.

Uche - October 25, 2013

Thanks man for the info especially the one on the acne niche…huge profit making but very hard to get rankings… thanks man

Jabbar Miller - October 25, 2013

Thanks for the great information! Are “about .com” articles are strong competition for niche sites?

David - October 25, 2013

Yo make a very importat statement “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”.

I have a site not ranking for my primary keyword, Google has 300 results for this keyword. I have 3 articles, EMD domain, some backlinks from the previous owner and what I think low competition based in your “metrics”.

Some questions:

1) How many articles do you think are necessary for a site with low competition to rank?

2) How much time; aprox, is necessary to appear in google?

3) I think the competition is low, how can I know what roblem my site have with ranking?

Any ideas will be very appreciated, thanks Tung!

    Tung Tran - October 26, 2013

    1) I usually start with 10 articles
    2) I dont know 🙂 it just happens naturally
    3) If the competition is low, you can rank, otherwise it’s not 🙂

      David - October 26, 2013

      1) Do you think that your would have ranked with 2-4 articles? You know, I suppose that you don’t upload all articles at the same time and this way you can check how many articles need a niche to rank (aprox)

      This question is not about laziness, it’s all about how to maximize time knowing that a niche will be rankeable or not (I have very little time 🙁 )

      George - November 1, 2013

      One question TUNG, after you build the site and you are ready to start link building! what approach do you take here, is it the same approach for all of your sites? and one final dumb question, when you do link building where do you start? do you use any tools to do link building quicker?

      thanks in advance!

        Tung Tran - November 5, 2013

        I usually start the backlinking campaign right after I added articles to my site :D… I’ll have a post about link building soon

Casey - October 26, 2013

Great guide, guys! I normally look for keywords getting at least 2,500 local US searches a month, as this will get me some good traffic (ranking in the top 5). Then I just write content that pulls in lots of ‘long-tail’ traffic.

With the recent events of ‘Hummingbird’ (Google’s recent update to how they deal with ‘conversational’ search queries), I’m going to focus my content around real human questions that people are likely to be asking.

Anyways, looking forward to following the rest of this ‘NSC’ – Peace!


MMD @ My Money Design - October 26, 2013

Nice write up guys!

I’m actually at this phase right now with my plans to start a fourth niche website. So far my previous three sites were all personal finance related. For the next one I’m going to open the topic up to any possibility. But I also plan to make it something that you can buy on Amazon, which will then serve as my income strategy.

For either of you: When using Long Tail, what’s the highest or typical KC you’ll accept as a keyword to use for your post? What is the minimum or typical level of traffic you search out?

Iain - October 27, 2013

Thanks for sharing the differences in how your go through and eliminate keywords.

I find it’s best to take a systematic approach when it comes to keywords. Try to base it on as many numbers as possible that way you don’t have so many subjective variables.

I love the direction the niche site is going. Keep it up guys.

Marie - October 28, 2013

Great article, Tung! Just bookmarked this page. I’m still in the process of building my sites and I hope to make a lot of money from them. : )

Marie - October 29, 2013

Hi Tung, I know I posted a previous comment but I want to ask you something. What if I’m targeting a product-based keyword and I see some Amazon and Walmart links in the top 10, does this mean the competition is tough?

Arbaz Khan - October 29, 2013

Superb article mate.
I too have just started working on a niche site as I just stumbled upon a product that no one was promoting and it had some nice searches on Google keyword tool.
I hope that the keyword would turn out profitable this time as I haven’t had any success with my last few sites 🙂

ceejay joe - October 30, 2013

Good tutorial on keyword research tung and josh!
Am definitely going to dig deeper into that acne keyword and see if there are some weak easy to rank among them.

Thoufeeq - October 30, 2013

Excellent tips on keyword research.


.. entering 5-7 seed keywords in LTP and making use of the “Include” function didn’t work for me. After all, LTP pulls keywords from Google planner, and hence can’t expect to see a good no. of keywords. Anyways, LTP is excellent for competitive analysis.

Tutorials, NSC Update, and NEW Project – Form Your Future - October 31, 2013

[…] There’s a lot of really great material there so make sure to check it out Here. […]

About The Keyword of My Niche | Newbies Up - November 2, 2013

[…] How To Do Keyword Research for Your Niche Website by Tung Tran […]

Isaiah Joe - November 7, 2013

you’re killing it Tung and Josh, and am loving it over here, i have a huge blog network and am using one of the best article spinner out there, i mean human readable and it’s cheap.

Please i want to rub shoulder with you guys, which keywords are you guys targeting? i would love to join the race too.

Thanks Tung Josh for this awesome post, very informative and wonderful!

Iain - November 9, 2013

Hey Tung,

Hope all is well. I wasn’t sure where to put this comment, so I thought I would put it here for the time being.

Are we going to see a blog post about your link building service at some point>? I am really curious how it is going and what are the results post hummingbird.

Keep up the great work man.


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