Choosing and researching a niche is the one thing you need to master first. Niches are NOT all created equal and while you can monetize any niche in theory, some are a lot better than others, and some will have more opportunities.
A large part of niche research revolves around learning how to do keyword research (which I’ll cover in the rest of this chapter), but before you get to keywords, you need to figure out how to brainstorm ideas and “hack” your way into a niche.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to do keyword research for free, and how to save time using paid tools.
I always start niche research with just a kind of “root” idea.
Let’s say I want to find out if “Chicken Coops” are a good niche to be in, I’ll make a note of it, then do keyword research to find out how strong the compeition might be.
This is where you need to start. You’re simply going to think of any hobbies or interests you have (it’s always easier to start out with something you’re interested in).
Then you’re going to think about whether there are people in that niche that have questions or problems.
Can you provide solutions to those problems? Maybe you recommend the best product for them, or maybe you provide them answers.
Your niche is “acoustic guitars”. People need to know what the best guitars are, what the best strings are, how to learn chords, and so on. You provide them the answers and recommend them the best products, and you’ll earn commissions via your affiliate links.
The rest of this chapter talks about using keyword research to narrow down niche selection. Get some background reading on keywords here.
Researching A Niche – How To Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is a huge part of niche selection. In fact, it’s the most integral part. However before we go jumping into which keyword tool is the best, we need to understand the basic theory behind keyword research.
Why do most people get it wrong?
There are dozens of tools out there that work to varying degrees of success. There are also even more “gurus and experts” who will tell you the secret method to the madness. It’s largely misinformation.
You CAN succeed in spite of the wrong information, and you can get page one rankings by just writing and writing and hoping for the best. Hey, it’s how I got started. Why bother though? Wouldn’t you rather get started the right way?
It took me around 2 years to really understand keywords, and to know how to research them correctly.
1.) Most people are focusing on metrics such as “exact match competition” or “monthly searches”, or even a combination of both. I used to do the same, but no more.
2.) People also treat long-tail keyword research the same for choosing their niche as they do for choosing a blog post or article within that niche. That’s not how it should be done.
Once you’ve chosen your niche you can select keywords with smaller monthly searches. For your niche selection itself, you need to choose a MAIN KEYWORD with a specific criteria. This is what I’m going to cover today.
How I Research Long Tail Keywords In 2014
If you already have your own method for keyword research, forget about it for now. I’m going to talk about the fundamental aspect that makes a HUGE difference between success and failure:
You HAVE to look at the strength of the competition. You HAVE to analyze page one to see if you have a shot at it. All other metrics are irrelevant by comparison.
As long as there are enough monthly searches to justify choosing something as a niche, then a keyword with weak page one sites is a go for me. I’m not interested in how many other sites have that keyword. I only care if I can beat page one.
Criteria for a niche selection:
When I’m building a website I want to know that it can rank for a main keyword, and that there are plenty of long-tail keywords around the same subject.
I want that main keyword to have a large amount of traffic searching for it, and I want to be able to monetize it if possible.
In the Google Adwords Tool, you want to look for search terms that receive at least 1,500 local searches a month. That’s enough traffic to know that the ranking process will be worthwhile.
You also want to know that you can get to page one for that keyword. This is the key (see what I did there?).
To find all this out, you’ve got a free, slow option, and a paid, quick, easy option. Depending on your budget, you’ll choose the one right for you. I’m going to teach you both.
The Free Method
To research your keywords, sign up for a free account at Google Adwords. You’ll need an Adwords account for the paid method too, so go ahead and get one: http://google.com/adwords
Go to the Keyword Planner and type in your ideas. You’ll see results like in the screenshot above. There’s a video below giving you ideas for what to search.
See what comes up. Make a note of any keywords with more than 1,500 monthly searches; later we’ll analyze them.
Bonus Tip: To get ideas for keywords to search, I recommend you use Google Instant (start typing a phrase in Google and see what else comes up), Ubersuggest.org (automated version of using Google Instant), and Google “related searches” (see below).
If you are seriously stuck for ideas, write a list of things you know about, hobbies you have, interests and passions, and go from there.
Watch this video to see how to do the initial ideas stage.
Checking Your Competition (Free Method)
This is the main thing most people overlook (or do wrong). Checking the PageRank of competition isn’t enough anymore. You need to use stronger metrics. The ones I recommend are Moz’s Page Authority, among others.
You can find out the page authority of a site by entering the URL into opensiteexplorer.org. You can do a few searches every day for free.
Metrics: You want to see multiple sites in the top 10 that have under 30 page authority. One isn’t enough, you need there to be three or more.
Note: If you see a page authority of 1, you should take the domain authority and halve it. See the screenshots and video below for more information:
Screenshot 1: The top results in Google.
Screenshot 2: Use OSE to find the PA of those results.
Video showing process:
The Paid (Easy) Method:
All of this can become quite long-winded, especially as OpenSiteExplorer limits your free searches. There’s a much, much easier way of doing all of this, using software called LongTailPro.
It actually comes with a 10 day free trial as well, so you can get your first niche selected for free using this method.
LongTailPro uses the Google Adwords data, and then lets you analyze the results using OSE data like this:
This means that you can research keywords by entering in a few seed keyword ideas here:
Filtering your criteria:
Then analyzing the ones that could be good here:
This will save you HOURS and HOURS and you can find a workable keyword for almost any niche in just an afternoon’s work. It’s amazing, and $97 is an absolute bargain.
The main things to look at are results with lower than 30 PA and fewer than 30 “juice links”. It’s a good idea to also check for young sites and see whether current results exactly match the keyword.
You should also be wary of results dominated by eCommerce sites – even if they have low PA Google will still prefer to rank eCommerce sites for certain keywords (like “buy” keywords etc).
See the video below for more info:
See my Long-Tail Pro review to learn more.
Once you’ve found your winning keyword, you need to check and double check. You also need to make sure that there are other keywords available in the niche. They don’t need to be 1,500 searches a month, although it’s a massive bonus if they are.
You just want to make sure that there are going to be plenty of other long-tail keywords for you to target with other pages of your site.
Even if they only have 30 searches a month, they’ll still add up to a nice amount of traffic.
Once you’ve got everything sorted, you’re ready to start planning your content!
Wow, You’re Good
You now understand exactly how I conduct the initial niche research for my sites and how you can too. Most people do this research wrong. Welcome to the top.
Chapter Two is all about content strategy.