How To Find Keywords That Forums Rank For – And Beat Them

Several months back I read an article over at nichesiteazon.com that consisted of a strategy that was quite frankly, genius. The strategy uses forums and Semrush to find a large number of keywords that forums are ranking on page one for.

It’s pretty well known in the affiliate site business that SERPS where forums rank on page 1 are generally easy to rank for. If something like Reddit is on page one, you’ve got a good chance of getting there too.

There’s never a guarantee of course, but experience tells me that finding these types of keywords is definitely a good thing.

The problem is, how exactly are you going to find a keyword with a forum (or two) on page 1? It would normally take an insane amount of trial and error to do so, which is why the tactic Josh blogged about here is so genius.

I put the strategy to the test right away with one of my niche sites, and found as many as twenty new article ideas from it. Not bad for an hour’s work.

I then published the articles over the course of the next 3 weeks (1 post per day), and did nothing with them for a few more weeks. I didn’t build any internal links to them, I didn’t build any backlinks, I didn’t even share them on social media. I wanted to see how well the strategy worked at the very basic level.

I’ll summarize the strategy below:

1.) You find forums in your niche.

2.) You put those forums into semrush.com.

3.) You find all the keywords that the forum ranks on page 1 for.

4.) You pick and choose the ones you also want to rank for.

Finding Forums In Your Niche

Depending on how well you know your niche, you may or may not already know what forums are active in the space. If you don’t, the easiest thing to do is just search in Google for something like “Niche + Forum” or “Keyword + Forum”. Do a few variations and you should find a couple of forums.

Note: It’s better if you can find a forum that is hosted on a Top-Level-Domain rather than a subdomain. Semrush works much better when NOT used on a subdomain.

For example, a perfect forum would be something like “petsforum.com” (I made this up, though it probably does exist). A not-so-good example would be “forum.welovepets.com”.

You CAN still make it work with a subdomain forum, but the data is harder to read on Semrush.

Putting Those Forums Into Semrush

The strategy would probably work with Ahrefs as well, since that has a similar competitor keyword data tool now too. However, I have a semrush subscription, and that’s the tool I used.

If you don’t want to pay for Semrush, you can still get a few ideas by using the free version, but the data you get from the paid version is well worth it. If you have the budget, it might even be worth signing up for one month, getting as much use out of it as you can, then unsubscribing.

How to use Semrush for this purpose:

1.) Enter the domain name in the top and hit search. Note, it’s better to remove the http:// first.

2.) Scroll down to where it says “Organic keywords”, and hit “Full report”.

3.) Click the “Pos” button to sort keywords by position. This will show all the keywords that the forum ranks position 1 for at the top.

This is an example using Reddit.com. You would want to use a much more niche specific forum.
This is an example using Reddit.com. You would want to use a much more niche specific forum.

4.) Ideally, the forum ranks for a LOT of keywords. Find all the ones that it ranks position 1-5 for. You can look for 1-10 if you want, but I’d rather focus on the ones where the forums rank high. You can also export this data, sort it in Excel, and delete all keywords position 6 onwards.

5.) Analyze these keywords to see whether you would want to rank for them too.

Fun Fact: Hidden Keywords

A lot of the keywords that you find won’t show up in normal keyword tools, so you get to find a LOT of hidden keywords. When I did it for my niche site, I found some keywords with a moderate buying intent that had thousands of searches per month.

Bonus: Look For Keywords With More Than One Forum

Some of the keywords you find will actually have two or three forums ranking in the top five. Not only are these keywords going to be insanely easy to rank for, but you’ll also have found some more forums. Put them into Semrush too and repeat the process!

How Did My Experiment Go?

As I explained at the beginning of this post, before I blogged about the strategy myself, I wanted to try it out so I could share the results.

In total I published 20 articles based on this strategy, which were targeting about 25 keywords between them.

It’s now been about 6 weeks since all posts went live and got indexed, so what positions have they ended up in?

I’m not going to share the exact keywords with you, but let’s take a look at where they ended up:

The keywords all have anywhere from 50 to 2,500 searches per month. They are mostly “review” keywords (it makes sense that forums rank well for some reviews). I deliberately chose keywords that were worth ranking for. Namely, they have searches, and they have buying intent.

Keyword

Position

1

17

2

8

3

20

4

13

5

17

6

21

7

24

8

18

9

22

10

17

11

19

12

21

13

18

14

16

15

16

16

25

17

21

18

27

19

32

20

27

21

7

As you can see, the results are pretty good considering that:

  • No linking has been done (internal or external)
  • No on page SEO has been done for the articles
  • Each post is only around 500 words long.

Aside from targeting the keyword in the title and hitting the publish button, I didn’t do anything else to get these results. Getting as many as two keywords to page 1 is fantastic, and the fact that more than half are on page 2 is equally great.

I’ve never before published 20 articles and had so many of them make positive moves. Hats off again to Josh Shogren for sharing this tactic.

How To Take The Next Step

Moving forward, I can start optimizing some of these pages more (put 1,000 words on the posts, add a few more keywords and meta descriptions) and then throw a few links their way too.

This is definitely a positive result and something I will be utilizing a lot more with all my sites.

  • Michael James McLeish

    This is such a good idea! I spend ages looking for keyword with forums ranking in the titles! Would you say you’d need a high DA for this to work as well as it did with your experiment?

    Cheers for sharing though, It’ll save me a lot of time!

    • Of course the higher your DA the more effective it will be, but the point is you are finding weak competition, so it is still better than targeting other keywords.

      • Michael James McLeish

        Yeah I got the point of the strategy. I was just wondering what your sites DA was to get those results. I’ve just seen the your update of this experiment as well. Looks promising!

  • EducatedDummy

    Hi Dom, this is someone you know from WA (Stadium) this is a nice idea. In my niches, since I write a lot of reviews on a specific products and my competitors the same, after some time I will notice certain sites which either constantly rank below me or close. I realize you spoke of “time consuming” but what I do is “site:these sites” to see how they rank for the different keywords they use in their titles. It does tell me if they are ranking on page 1 then I have a decent shot to also rank. I have had success doing this. But you may consider this too time consuming. Which it can be, but it also interests me and also helps me come up with more KW ideas by adding words to their main KW in titles. BTW, nice site!

    • Great tips Stadium (and good to hear from you btw). Would doing that get the same results as semrush? If so, that’s a good alternative for people on a budget or those who can’t bring themselves to pay for Semrush. How do you find out which ones they are on page 1 for? I assume you do site:domain.com to see all their indexed articles, then you manually search for those keywords to see which ones they are ranking well for?

      • EducatedDummy

        Yes, then I manually check where they rank. It does take time. But I think you would agree when a person has a decent understanding of their niche and KW competition in general, the person will know which keywords to check and skip checking those that are probably out of reach. So at least that would would save time.

  • Nicholas Hyrum

    Dom, Once again you’ve outdone yourself. Bravo on another fantastic post. It’s like you’ve read our minds. There’s been plenty of talk about how using this method (forums in SERPs) is great, but not much on the specifics. Until now. And, another good use case for SEMRush (and maybe a group buy)