Before reading this guide, kindly read the niche selection guide here!
Finally, today is the day. I have been bombarded with questions regarding my keyword research and how I find my niches for the last 6 12 months or so. I have taken my time to help some, and some I couldn’t bother to help as it gets repetitive (and I run multiple business and have 8 hours of school per day during the week). I have said that I am going to write a guide about it, but it have been postponed for a long time now as it is hard to pinpoint my exact method.
Almost daily I get the same question “how do you rank so fast?“, my answer will always be the same “I target low competition niches”. It isn’t harder than that. In this guide I will show you how you can find these niches and my personal technique when it comes to analyzing keywords and how I target them.
Anyhow, let’s skip all the rambling and just get straight to the guide.
Disclaimer: Before we start, I do not claim that this is the best technique, I am sharing the technique I am using right now and what I have gotten great results from. In my opinion, the most fun part about IM is that you can experiment a lot and see what works, what doesn’t and make your own way of doing things. This is my way – for now.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the absolute most important part in my opinion especially if you are starting a site on a low budget (but also if you have a high budget). Keyword research is basically just figuring out how hard it is to beat the top rankers on the search term that you want to rank for. Doing proper keyword research can be really beneficial as you might be able to find keywords that nobody is targeting. Even though most highly searched terms are properly optimized, you can do just as good (money wise) ranking for less searched keywords but where the search term is more specific.
For my first site ever, I actually targeted a keyword that was “Best PRODUCTS* for Men”, the niche was almost brand new and people didn’t search for that exact term at the time. Once the niche grew, it became my most profitable pages without initially knowing there would be searches for it. I ranked #1 for it without moving a finger (and still do) and none of my competitors target the keywords till this day as far as I know (I sold the site in September, so haven’t tracked it since then). So you really need to be one step ahead of your competition, most of the time, the most profitable keywords might be those laying around 100 searches a month so don’t become blindfolded with a certain amount of searches each term should have, or exceed in order to be “worth it for you”.
* PRODUCTS = the niche products I promoted. Don’t want to out the niche.
You Can Beat ANY Site
You can beat any niche site out there. Anyone can. But most doesn’t have or can afford the resources, that’s why keyword research is such a crucial part in making your website. If you are just writing about whatever, without any keyword research, sure you can make a few dollars or so per month, but it is hard to go any further than that without keyword research. My third site was about car seats, and it made me $500 or so total in a year. I did not analyze the niche before and I didn’t understand that my weak web 2.0s and blog comments wouldn’t stand a chance against the sites on the first page.
If you are short on budget, or if you don’t want to throw a few hundred dollars away on a site that won’t make shit (I guess nobody wants to do that) you better do proper keyword research.
If you haven’t read the niche selection guide that is connected to this one, I highly recommend you to do so before we go into the next part.
After you’ve followed one of the recommended methods in the niche selection guide it is time to start analyzing the markets. The keywords I got were “graffiti removal”, “princess playhouse” and “bunk bed”. These are keywords that can be used for different type of sites. I’d just now assume that graffiti removal might be hard to actually find an affiliate site for as that’s a local service – and I am unaware if there are any products for this specific niche. That’s me just assuming, as I haven’t looked into the niche myself. Either way, in this case maybe making a website about how to remove graffiti and monetize it with Adsense would be a better option.
Let’s find out more about each market by googling it. Let’s start by typing in “graffiti removal” on Google and see what pops up.
Besides the ad and the images the first result is a site owned by Los Angeles City where you can submit request where you want graffiti removed. The second result is a site selling graffiti removal products – this is a great sign actually since then you know that there are products to be sold. And the third one is the same as the first one but in Chicago instead of Los Angeles.
I want to dig deeper into the second result to see what type of products they sell. Let’s do it!
Ok, so they advertise a sensitive surface remover which costs $24. If we were to sell this product we wouldn’t get more than 50 cent selling this. We need something more expensive. There is a box saying “Equipment” right under. Let’s click it!
My attention instantly got drawn to the price of this product. Selling one of these worth $1,450 would lead to a commission of $85 per sale (at the base commission fee of 6% on Amazon). Imagine selling one of these per day, that’s $2,550 per month. Flip that site and you got $50,000 in your pocket. Indeed a great potential.
I instantly put the keyword “best pressure washer” in Google Keyword Planner in order to find out how many searches it have per month – 5400 searches per month. Ranking #1 on there would mean that you get roughly 30% of the traffic, that’s 1620. Let’s say you have a CTR of 70%, that’s 1134. And now, let’s say that just 1% buys a pressure washer. That’s still 11.34 sales per month. Pretty much $1000 per month, and that is while assuming only 1% of the visitors buys one, excludes the additional sales you will most likely get and doesn’t include the other keywords that can be found for this niche.
I searched for the product on Amazon and then realized that all the products weren’t $1000+, most were $100-$300. Still a good price, but doesn’t give the same type of commission and the calculation I did doesn’t mean anything. However, I’d still consider this a great niche so far. Let’s check the competition!
The first position is PopularMechanics, a HUGE authority site in the mechanics niche. Really hard to beat (but not impossible!). The second result is an affiliate site and so is most of the other results as well except for BestReviews, CustomerReports, Lowes and Sears and a niched e-commerce site for specifically pressure washers. So 50% of the first page is filled with affiliate sites. That’s a good sign. It shows that it is possible for you to rank for this term as well.
However, most of the sites have thousands of links and the top ranking site have a lot of PBNs that obviously work, but they look absolute trash. Those wouldn’t stand a chance against a manual review. The site is only 1 year old according to SERPWorx so it might be the reason as well. Either way, ranking first there would mean a few thousand per month – do a quick flip on that and you have made yourself a great sum.
Not a easy niche, not at all but it isn’t impossible. Obviously, I wouldn’t really recommend this for those who cannot afford to put up a private blog network of about 30-50 sites (I haven’t analyzed that in-depth so I am unaware of how many actual PBNs it got, but I guesstimate somewhere around 30-50). Totally a good niche if you have a bigger budget however.
Just assuming now, I don’t think the princess playhouse niche is a good niche where you can make a site about. I doubt there is such thing as the best princess playhouse, there are just searches for individual princess playhouses that you could review and rank for but other than that I think the majority of the searches search for “pink princess playhouse” “blue princess playhouse” and so on. This is just me assuming. It will be interesting to see if there is some potential in this niche as well.
So as I have some doubt whether or not it is actually possible to make an affiliate site around princess playhouses I go directly into Google Keyword Planner in order to find related keywords to “princess playhouse” as that’s a term that is meant for e-commerce sites rather than affiliate sites. Google understands that the person isn’t interesting in comparing or checking reviews, they just want a princess playhouse or if they search for “pink princess playhouse” they already know what they want. So sending them through an affiliate site would be unnecessary as you cannot really compare princess playhouses in that sense.
I then start looking for keyword that can fit an affiliate site. So for example “where to buy a princess playhouse” or ideally “best princess playhouse” or “princess playhouse reviews”. But as I expected none of these keywords have any searches as people know what they want when they search for it. I doubt you would search for “best doorknob” for example (ironically enough, “best doorknob” have 10 searches per month). When you are buying a doorknob you don’t really mind to know that much indepth, or want to read long articles. You want to replace your current doorknob with a new one, and Google believes that serving e-commerce sites makes this process the easiest for the searcher.
Let’s take a look at how the search results for some of these terms look like to prove my point. Let’s take “cheap playhouses” as an example, it isn’t directly related to princess playhouse as there aren’t that many keywords about princess playhouses (that are picked up by Keyword Planner at least). Either way, writing an article about budget playhouses would be a great idea for an affiliate site.
So the first result is Amazon, an e-commerce store. The second result is also a e-commerce store, and the third result is the same. And guess what? And so are all the other results except one results which is an explore page on Pinterest for “simple playhouses”. I could be checking all the keywords like this, but I don’t think it would add anything. I cannot seem to find any great keywords for this niche at all. This is apart of the keyword research process, sometimes you don’t find good keywords for a niche – and sometimes you just find a great niche with a lot of great keywords that fit affiliate sites. For this niche, I will just drop it right there and move on.
I’d not recommend making an affiliate site about princess playhouses.
Let’s do the same for bunk beds. For this niche I am aware that there is a clear product to sell in this niche. Thus I will skip the part where I research about what potential products to write about. Instead I type in “bunk bed” on Amazon in order to see the price of the products.
The two first are sponsored listings and thus they are more expensive than the best selling ones (the sponsored ones got a bigger cost per customer acquisition because their product is more expensive). I usually skip reviewing those that are sponsored, and just go with the best selling ones as I assume they are the best ones and they usually have the most reviews. In this scenario, I might have considered adding the second sponsored listing just because it got 35 reviews and seems to be an overall great product – but generally I skip products that are sponsored. Under the sponsored listings we can see the average cost of the products. I scroll through the first page of the listings and I see that the cheapest one is the best selling one – thus the price of an bunk bed starts at around $150 and goes all the way up to around $780 (I am sure there are cheaper or more expensive ones but not judging from the best sellers).
So, let’s do a calculation like I did above for the pressure wash niche. 1,300 searches per month, around 30% of those click the site ranking first – that’s 390 visitors a month. Let’s say you got a solid CTR at 70% – that’s 273. Let’s assume 6% of the visitors buy (that’s the average I’ve gotten on my 170,000 clicks I’ve sent to Amazon, I assume 1% CR on the pressure washer niche because of the price that I thought it had). Now that’s 16,38 sales per month. Might not seem like a lot but if we take that and multiply with 9 (the commission on the minimum priced bunk bed) we get $147.42. That’s taken from one keyword. A pretty good amount for ranking just one of the hundreds of keywords in this niche!
So, now it is time to analyze the competition. We know that the niche got a potential to make us a few hundred per month, which is a solid figure in my opinion. Now it is time to see what we are up against! Let’s search for “best bunk bed” on Google.
These are the top three results for the term. Let’s analyze them a bit. First off we got Amazon with their page for all the best selling bunk beds. The other one is an authority site of some sort and the last one is a comparison site. The word count of each of these pages are less than 1000 and if we take a look at the Keyword Density (KD) we see that none of these pages actually directly targets “best bunk bed”. It is not before 5th spot where they actually targets “best bunk bed” which is weird.
Then if we take a look at the page links. SERPWorx shows total amount of backlinks on the site as well as the amount of links pointing to the page (total/page). So Amazon got 30 page links, RedTri got 89 and the comparison site got 0. I am really certain that Amazon doesn’t use PBNs, nor can I find any sites that link to that specific page so it is not strong. The RedTri article have 2 blog posts talking about their article, one of them seem to be a paid blog post. That site isn’t even targeting the keyword “best bunk bed”, have 2 links that are semi-strong and rank #2 for a 1300 search term. Seems easy enough to me. This keyword we estimated that the first ranker will make $147.42 per month – $150-ish site is can be sold for at least $2-3K. 10-20 PBNs at most should need to be used for this term. A great ROI in my opinion. Especially since bunk beds have all sorts of different types and you could probably find a lot of other related keywords for this niche.
How To Analyze the Competition
When I analyze the competition I use a few various tools. These can all be equipped for cheap and trials are almost always offered.
These are the tools:
So, when I have found a few niches that I think might be good I start by doing a little research myself. I simply put in common buyer intended keywords such as “PRODUCT reviews” and “best PRODUCT(S)“. From just the first look at it I usually get a feeling of how the competition is like and that is because of SERPWorx but also because I have done this for 2 years or so and I can instantly find out a easy niche. What usually comes up when you’ve found an easy niche is e-commerce product pages with barely any links pointing to them, low-quality niche sites or if you are extremely lucky a web 2.0 or something similar.
So I quickly, with SERPWorx, get a quick glance of how many links each site ranking have and the amount of words they rank with. I then click on the sites ranking top three and see what type of sites they are and how much content they have. Are they selling the product themselves? Is it an affiliate site? How is the site structure on-page wise? What you should be thinking during this process is “can I do this better than them?”. That might mean the amount of content, or the amount of links – it depends on the site you are analyzing.
Once I’ve had my quick glance over each site I put them into SEMRush as well as Majestic to find all the backlinks that is pointing to it. This is where analyzing 3 sites (or more) is preferred as people can have hidden their links and you have no idea about them. You then assume that the whole niche is easy and then realize that the site ranking #2 have 40,000 backlinks pointing to the page it is ranking. If you analyze 3+ sites you can easily see how many backlinks they actually have. In Majestic and SEMRush I look more into what type of links they are and where they are coming from. If a site have 40,000 blog comments or if it have 40,000 authority sites linking to them makes an humongous difference. Unless you are in a really hard niche you should be able to get a grasp on how many backlinks you need in order to rank. I assume it might be hard in the casino niche where they need to be really careful and hide everything properly from each other, but for an product related keyword it shouldn’t be too hard.
By analyzing the backlinks you can usually easily figure out how many PBNs you’d need to build in order to rank. Always make sure to check out the other ranking sites’ backlink profiles in order to get an idea of how many PBNs are pointing as some hide their PBNs from crawlers such as Ahrefs, Majestic and so on. Actually, most doesn’t so I usually find their whole network and can get a big amount of niches just by copying what sites they link out to (like described in the niche selection guide).
If you ever come a cross a niche filled up with the usual TopTenReviews, TheWireCutter, BestReviews or any other of those sites. I wouldn’t recommend going into those niches unless you have a big PBN to back the site up with. It is just not really worth it if you are a newbie. It can be really frustrating to see them everywhere when you think you’ve found an excellent niche – don’t give up though, there are a ton of niches and more niches pop up all the time. And it is not like it is impossible to beat these sites, it is just that you’d need to have a bigger budget than other less competitive niches.
Google is smart
Something you need to understand is that Google is smart (at least in US) and if someone is searching for “red carpet” the person is clearly knowing that they want a red carpet, so they get served e-commerce sites. This does not mean that the keyword is automatically easy. Some keywords are buyers intended terms and they fit niche sites, while some are buyer specific terms where Google usually favors e-commerce sites.
Found a niche? Let’s go!
Once you’ve found a niche that seems easy, it is time to collect the keywords you want to target. As I already have some money to spend on each site I target every keyword there is in the niche that I can find. I put in “best PRODUCT” on Keyword Planner and grab every keyword there is. I also then type in “PRODUCT” in Keyword Planner to really make sure there aren’t other variations or synonyms for the product that I’ve missed.
Interesting fact: My keyword collecting process have actually changed quite a bit since I started writing this guide (as you can see in the beginning the 6 is crossed over as I didn’t get it done when I started 6 months ago). Previously I’d gather every keyword over 40 searches a month and then have a list of 8-9 pages of different keywords that I needed to sort into the right article. I sometimes sent 100+ keyword to my writer to include in a 3000 word text – it was getting out of hand and I spent around 1 hour on each article. I cannot afford to spend that much time on each article as my time is limited (and valuable) and the 2-3 articles my writer writes daily took me 2-3 hours to prepare.
Now I only include keywords that I feel are important. For example different synonyms for a product, and of course the most searched terms. This have made my process so much faster. Previously I even did keyword research for each and every product included in the “best of”-articles, which is ridiculous. I let my writer just write based on 10 keywords and hopefully he might add some accidental (or natural you might call them) keywords.
To make this easy to understand I am going to use one of the niches above and visualize how I would do keyword research for the main article ending up on the homepage. And as I found out, the bunk bed niche is the easiest to make an Amazon affiliate site so let’s go with that one just to have a easy example.
So now I am going to make an article about the best bunk beds, these should be general and not a specific type of bunk beds therefore I will only collect keywords that are general and not “best bunk bed with slide” or anything like that those will be keywords you target in other articles.
best bunk bed – 1,300 searches
best bunk beds – 170 searches
bunk bed reviews – 90 searches
best place to buy bunk beds – 110 searches
top bunk beds – 70 searches
top rated bunk beds – 70 searches
That’s about it what I found on my quick little look for keywords related to bunk beds. The only keyword with a good amount of searches is “best bunk bed”, but the other ones are great as well to add for the extra traffic but nothing that shines in most peoples eyes as there are just a few people per day that looks search for these. During the process I was close to add loft beds as well to the list but then I looked up the difference and it is a fine difference between these two products. Definitely something I’d include in another article on my site about bunk beds however.
The best thing to do is to just put an hour or two away, go through all the different keywords and variations on the product so that you are finished with that right off the bat. It is irritating to do keyword research throughout the process and then finding more keywords that would’ve been great to target in other articles that you’ve already written. Sure, you can add them in later on, but that is a process that you can avoid by simply doing all the keyword research directly.
And that is basically it! I hope you got something out of reading these 4000+ words about my keyword research process. I wanted to make something that visualize the process and walks you through it properly so that is why I gave a lot of examples and showed a lot of pictures. If you have any questions or don’t agree with certain points of mine kindly write it down below so we can discuss it properly!
- Always write down niches that look interesting in a notebook or a document on your computer. This will help greatly if you ever stumble upon a niche while doing keyword research for another niche. Write the niche down, continue focusing on the niche you are currently in and once you are ready to take on a new niche you can bring up your document (or notebook) and pick the one you see the most potential in.
- Never be afraid of testing. I am still testing, my keyword research guide might change in the future if I find a better technique or if it turns out that my current technique isn’t the best one. I am open for testing and experimenting with my technique. And you should be open to it as well.
- The formula I use to estimate roughly how much each keyword will make me is simple, and not proven to be accurate. It is however something I use just to get a feeling of how much I should expect. Anyhow, if you want to use the same formula here is how. First off, find out how many searches the keyword you want to estimate have. Take that figure and multiply it with 0.3 (30%), because that’s the amount of visitors going to the first ranking site (and we are not aiming below #1). Now you have a rough figure on how many visitors you’ll get from this term.
I have my own figure I use for CTR as I generally get 70% click-through to Amazon on all my sites. So take your own, or use my figure, to see how many of the visitors are going to Amazon (in my scenario, take the amount of visitors and multiply it with 0.7 – which is 70%). Then I use my own figure once again as the average CR (conversion rate) I’ve had during my 2 years on Amazon (6%). I’d say 4-7% CR is what people have unless they sell really expensive products). So take the amount of visitors clicking to Amazon and multiply that with 0.06 (6%) in order to see how many sales. As said previously, I do not claim that this is the most accurate technique – but it gives you a grasp on how much you will be making from ranking #1 on a certain term. If you wish to do this more accurately I will write a guide about a method I use for that shortly as well.
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the services to talk about them in this guide.
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