Profitable niche sites target the right keyword. If you pick the wrong one (I’ve done this countless amounts of times), you’re going to waste a ton of time and effort.
When you get started with internet marketing and making money online this is going to happen a lot, but if you follow this process it will help out tremendously.
Selecting the right keyword is a four step process:
- Brainstorm for ideas
- Research keyword potential
- Evaluate SEO competition
- Selecting the right domain name
Step 1: Brainstorming keyword ideas and niches
People are constantly searching for everything imaginable online, but how do you tap into these endless ideas… where to start!?
At this stage we’re just brainstorming. Some ideas will be good, others terrible but all of that will be determined in step two. Remember to let the ideas flow and don’t hold back anything at all.
Write down whatever comes to mind in a notebook or Google doc.
- 7 things you like to do in your spare time
- 5 nerdy things you wish you knew more about
- do some lurking on Google Trends
- popular movies, documentaries or other shows on Netflix (maybe gold digging?)
- look at recently sold [insert item] on eBay
- 5 products you’d buy if you had more money
- hawk the best sellers on Amazon
- go to the mall and look at the displays ie “neon running shorts”
- search for anything written above on Yahoo Answers then Quora
I’m building this niche site right now about armored cars and I got the idea from a Netflix documentary. No matter how dumb it might sound, keywords are everywhere you just have to start writing them down.
After you have a full list of keywords down, take your top five of them (any at this point) and then write three keywords that are similar but more specific. This technique is calling “niching-down”.
So for the keyword speakers:
- computer speakers
- ipod speakers
- car speakers
These keywords are still very broad and can be niched down even further. For that I like to use LongTailPro.
Step 2: Research potential
During this evaluation / research we will use the Google Keyword Tool to see how many local exact searches these terms get a month, the average cost per click (CPC) on the ads and the competition ie. will I be able to rank for this keyword?
So I navigate to the keyword tool and type in “computer speakers” first search.
There were over 800 results back and “computer speakers” has about 18,000 exact monthly searches. That’s a little bit too high for my criteria. I like to build niche sites that range from 3,000 – 8,000 exact monthly searches. These will not be as competitive as something with 18k.
When you’re in this position you have two options:
- Niche down and use one of the other keywords in the list
- Search for a new term that’s similar but not the same
I love electronic dance music (as you know from my blog), so I decided to search for “dj speakers”.
This keyword is much more viable. It has 3,600 monthly searches and an $.84 CPC. DJ Speakers are a product so there would be opportunities for affiliate marketing or even drop shipping if the site turns out to be successful.
Side note: Whenever you’re getting involved with any type of venture, it’s important to think about the long term and where the market cap might be.
While the keyword looks great right now, if there’s a ton of competition in Google it won’t be worth the effort.
Next level: I use Longtail Pro for my keyword research. It let’s you plugin a few terms at one time and does a better job of filtering the results and managing all of the different queries you might have. It’s a paid product, but comes with a free 10-day trial. You might want to use it for your first site and buy later if you find it valuable.
LTP in action…
This takes a lot of the painful manual effort out of keyword research because you can plug in a ton of ideas and let the software find what’s available out there.
Step 3: Evaluate Competition
The first thing I like to do here is open an Incognito Window in Google Chrome and search for the keyword.
Here’s what I’m looking for:
- No big name sites (Walmart, Target, Amazon, Wikipedia, Best Buy)
- Crappy websites that look spammy and don’t offer any value
- Keyword not found in the Header for each result
- Sites in the top ten are pages, not the root domain*
*It’s a lot easier to rank for something when you’re going up against benhebert.com/keyword-here than benhebert.com
The first glance looks promising.
Guitar Center is a well known brand name, but they don’t have the keyword in their header. When I click the link over to the site, it’s showing dj turntables and mixers not specifically speakers.
123dj.com is an old website that hasn’t been optimized and idjnow.com is pretty much the same thing.
The Amazon and eBay results are major websites, but they’re ranking for specific products / categories. While it would be better if these didn’t show up, it’s not deterring for me.
Other things that I take under consideration:
**Search intent: **When someone is looking for a dj speaker what are they searching for? Is it reviews or answers to their questions? How can I provide value for users and outrank these sites that are just selling items?
To examine this, I’ll go to Quora / Yahoo Answers and type in the keyword. This is a good way to get an understanding on what kind of things people are looking for.
**Buyers intent: **People making product searches are interested in buying. Whether I can send them to Amazon, eBay or any other site via an affiliate relationship, this may turn out to be more profitable than just another Adsense site.
Buyers intent for niche sites is sexy. If you’re looking to generate more money than just Adsense or later sell the site for a handsome profit, this can be very beneficial. For some keywords there’s a lot of action behind them, others there is not.
A quick shot over to page two shows that none of the results in spots 11-15 with the keyword in their header. I think this is good enough to move forward and there’s an opportunity to rank for “dj speakers”.
If I was making niche sites as a business, I would take a more calculated approach but because these are side projects designated for passive income I usually only work on 1-2 at a time.
Competitor analysis is another great feature in LTP. Basically looking at this I can see that the domain age of the sites currently ranking for “dj speakers” is super old and that could be a reason to avoid this niche all together.
Onto buying the domain name.
Step 4: Purchase a Domain Name
Back in September Google released the “EMD Bomb” that penalized a lot of exact match domain websites. I still recommend buying exact match domain sites and have seen them rank faster than unbranded domain names. A lot of the sites that were penalized were crappy and had a spammy backlink profile. You’re not going to do that so you’re going to be fine.
You want to use keyword+(filler word).com / .net / .org
Example: djspeakers + word.com/net/org
I like to use LeanDomainSearch.com to find domain names. Just type in the keyword that you’re looking for and it will match you up to the different names that are available out there.
Things to avoid:
- Numbers and hyphens are usually an indication of spam
- Other extensions are available, but aren’t treated with the same level of authority
- Brand names like Google could come back and bite you later
Some popular filler words include: site, blog, news, hq, web, net, guide, store and shop.
You might think of a name that you think is incredible, but it’s taken by someone. When you go to the site nothing is on there. This is called squatting and really there’s nothing you can do about it. It sucks but move on.
Using this criteria I decided to register….
(main keyword) + store .com
I went to Namecheap to register the domain name and got a free whoisguard with the registration that blocks all of my personal contact information from being stored online. Namecheap is cool because they’re against SOPA / CISPA and they accept Bitcoins! I moved all of my domains to them from GoDaddy a while ago.
If you’re using Namecheap to register your domain name and already purchased webhosting with Fatcow, make sure that you change your name servers over to NS1.FATCOW.COM / NS2.FATCOW.COM so we can jump right into WordPress.
If you have any questions leave a comment and I will do my best to help you out!
Note: As you can see from the screenshots above, Longtail Pro makes the brainstorming process and competitive research for niche sites much easier. You get a free 10-day trial (get yours now) and Spencer will send you a ton of great content on how to get the most out of the product. I recommend learning the Google tools, but also using Longtail Pro.
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