I have been practicing keyword research across multiple sites for the past eight months. I have done it for niche sites, for this blog, and for my clients. Most recently, I have been doing a lot of keyword research on niche sites for my mass niche site project.
If there is one thing I have learnt in the last eight months, it is that most people who are trying to build profitable niche sites are going about keyword research in entirely the wrong fashion. As soon as you start overcomplicating the process, your effectiveness in choosing profitable keywords disintegrates.
Here’s a simple fact – finding low competition keywords, when systematized properly, is in fact a relatively straightforward process. If you want proof of that, look no further than the likes of Spencer Haws or Justin and Joe – guys who are producing niche sites on a grand scale. If keyword research is that difficult, how are they able to keep rolling out tens (or even hundreds) of sites every single month?
Picking profitable keywords is a process that I want to cover in great detail in the future. However, I am only going to do that when I have ample evidence to back up my own methods. In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to three reasons why your niche site keyword research strategy if ineffective. If you take the below points on board, your likelihood of picking profitable keywords will be greatly improved.
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1. You Are Trying to Rank 1st
There are ten available spots on the first page of Google, and each spot will attract a certain percentage of clicks, depending upon numerous variables. I wrote an in-depth post on this topic over at Think Traffic, which I recommend you check out.
Let’s assume for a moment that 40% of searchers click on the 1st result, and 20% click on the 5th. You’re looking to find a keyword that will send you 1,000 exact match visitors per month. So a keyword with 2,500 exact match results for which you can rank 1st in Google will do the trick. But a keyword with 5,000 exact match results for which you can rank 5th in Google will also work.
In fact, you could argue that the second keyword is a better one to target. With the first, there is a definite theoretical ceiling of 1,000 visitors. But with the second, if you exceeded your expectations and ranked higher, you could attract up to 2,000 visitors.
Stop focusing on the 1st spot of Google – there are 10 up for grabs on the 1st page, and they can all send your website traffic.
Whilst I used to use Market Samurai for keyword research (old reliable), I now use SECockpit (hugely powerful, but buggy – I will be reviewing this tool soon). I actually use SECockpit’s method of dividing the first page of Google up onto three “sections”:
1. 1st-3rd spots
2. 4th-6th spots
3. 8th-10th spots
SECockpit calculates that each section will attract a fixed percentage of traffic. It isn’t perfect, but it is impossible to calculate the precise level of traffic you will receive from any given keyword. For my purposes, SECockpit’s estimates are good enough.
Once you have split the 1st page of Google into three parts (and taken the differences in traffic into account), you can analyze the competition in each section independently of the rest of the page. This allows you to consider keywords for which you do not expect to rank 1st in Google.
2. You Research Only One Keyword
I was guilty of this until only recently, and it is a really crazy thing to be doing. In looking to build a niche site, I would go out in search of a keyword. Once I found a keyword that I thought would do the trick, I would go about building the site.
This is wrong, wrong, wrong! No two keywords are created equal, and you want to have a considerable backlog of researched and ready keywords before you decide to build a site.
Justin and Joe of AdSense Flippers say that for every one keyword you build a site for, you should have researched 50 other potentially viable keywords. This may sound over the top to you, but the fact is, the more keywords you research, the better chance you will have of finding more profitable ones. If you only research one keyword and then build a site, you are reducing your chances of it being a success.
There is always strength in numbers, and keyword research is not an exception to that rule.
3. You Don’t Score Your Keywords
This follows directly on from my previous point. You must have a way of scoring your keywords. If you are going to research 50 keywords for every one that you decide to base a site upon, you need to know which of those 50 is the best one to target.
By no means is this an absolute science, and your scoring system is bound to evolve as you gain experience, but something is better than nothing. I personally score my sites based upon a number of variables, focusing on offsite and onsite SEO. I will probably reveal my scoring system at some point in the future, when it has been adequately proven to be effective.
In the meantime, you need something. I wouldn’t worry about getting too anal with your system to start with – just find a way of ordering your keywords, see how well your system reflects the performance of those keywords, and adjust accordingly.
Do YOU Have Any Suggestions?
I have covered above what I consider to be three vital areas of keyword research that are neglected by many niche site builders.
But there is certainly more to be said. For instance, there are various common keyword research mistakes that you must avoid.
So if you build niche sites, please feel free to reveal your tips in the comments section below! And if you think this article would be of help to your followers, please share it using the buttons below.
Creative Commons image courtesy of Brooks Elliott