Keyword Research: An Ultimate Guide
The foundation of any niche site is keyword research.
Without it, we would be throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s inaccurate and is just not smart business.
This guide covers everything I know about Keyword Research.
I start here as I believe that it is the most integral part of building, ranking and profiting from a niche website.
If I can teach you just one thing in this guide, it would be this:
“Keyword research can literally make or break your website.”
If you follow this guide, you will have the ability to conduct keyword research like a pro. Which will enable you to find those hidden gems which have made me thousands in recurring profits each and every month.
Let’s get started.
CHOOSING A NICHE: Don't Go Looking For Trouble
I regularly refer to the sites that I build as a niche sites.
However most people misunderstand what I mean by the term ‘niche’. The reason some people are confused here is because of the history of niche sites.
It was not too long ago that a niche sites was understood to be a small 5 page site, targeting a singular specific keyword.
These sites would provide zero value to the reader and would be blasted to the top of Google by Black Hat SEO’s.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not judging, Google made it easy and people took advantage of that opportunity.
However a ‘niche’ no longer carries that meaning. In fact it never did – it was just misunderstood.
A specilized but profitable segment of a market
That is the definition provided by the Oxford dictionary, any easy way to understand it is like this:[bctt tweet=”The World doesn't need another Walmart”]
They cater to a small ‘niche’ segment of a larger market – and they are killing it.
BUYER INTENT: Smart People Go Where The Money is
Now that you understand why keywords are so important, there is something else you should know.
Not all Keywords are created equal.
Let me tell you a little story.
Back when I first got started with niche site building, I was naive.
I went for the keywords with the highest number of searches each month. In my mind, searches = traffic and traffic = money.
One of my earlier websites was MakeFrenchToast.org which was targeting the keyword “How To Make French Toast”, which at the time received 74,000 exact monthly searches according to the Google Keyword Planner (or keyword tool as it was known back then).
I actually hit page 1 within a few months and was ranking in 4th spot for that very term. Traffic was good, however I had a problem.
The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to make money from that traffic.
I started brainstorming every way I could think of. Then it dawned on me.
I had the wrong buyer intent.
What I had was thousands of visitors coming to my site looking for free information. They weren’t looking to buy a product; they had some bread and eggs and wanted to know how to make French toast.
They were looking for a recipe.
So I had made my first mistake. Not understanding the intent of people searching for those keywords.
To further expand on how easy it would have been for me to avoid this mistake. Let’s take a look at the Google search results:
Notice anything strange?
Look down the right hand side of the image, where you usually see small ads that businesses are paying for.
There it is, staring me in the face. No one was willing to pay money to have people click to their site for people searching for this keyword.
This is a tell-tale sign that this was not a keyword that could make money and did not have BUYER INTENT.
Another obvious sign is that in the image above, Google themselves are providing the recipe! This is likely taken from one of the top ranking sites and displayed in an easy to use box right at the top of the search results.
How much traffic do you think this will take away from those top sites? My guess is A LOT.
So how do we break down buyer intent?
Let’s take another example:
As you can see the Google Keyword Planner tells us that this search term gets only 14,800 exact searches per month.
A lot less than our 74k searches in the previous example. Let’s take a look at the search results.
See all those businesses paying Google for clicks and jostling for position?
They know something you don’t.
The user who is interested in Email Marketing has buyer intent. They are likely to be looking for a software solution.
Those businesses buying ad places are so confident in the buyer intent, that they are willing to pay Google upwards of £44 per click to direct that user to their landing page.
People don't like to waste money, businesses even less so. If this keyword didn't produce a positive ROI, it would have been dropped a long time ago and there would be no ads being paid for.
As it stands, this keyword seems to be highly lucrative and have perfect buyer intent.
The Head, Body & Tail of Keywords
If not all traffic is created equal your next lesson is this:Not all keywords are created equal.
There are 3 main types of keyword.
Head terms are shorter and more generic, usually containing 1 or 2 words and have a high search volume.
These are generally very competitive with little value as the buyer intent isn’t there. If a user is searching for the term “Football”, there is no telling what their intent is…
Are they looking for fixture listings? Results? Live scores? Team Jerseys?
Your guess is as good as mine and it’s the reason that ranking for these head keywords is not as great as you may think.
Body keywords contain 2-3 words and are a tad more targeted than our head terms.
They include the previously mentioned “Live Football scores” and “Today’s Football results”.
The buyer intent is starting to come to light; however we can still do better.
This is where the tail keywords come into play.
These contain a combination of 4+ words words in a phrase, such as “Live Football score New England Patriots ”
We still refer to these phrases as keywords, just to avoid any confusion!
They are also referred to as “Long Tail keywords”.
This is where I want you to play close attention.
Long tail keywords are the single biggest reason why I am able to build, rank and profit from niche sites.
- They are easier to rank for – competition is generally lower as they are not targeted
- They will make up over 85% of all traffic to your website
- One long piece of content can target many long tail keywords
- You can fly under the radar of other website builders
- They are more specific and often indicate buyer intent, meaning you can make a lot of money
Here is an example of a long tail keyword:
It has everything we are looking for in a keyword.
- More than 3 words in the phrase
- Has buyer intent
- Has low competition on page 1 of Google
- Is an evergreen topic
- Has plenty of “Group Keywords” we can also target
KEYWORD BUCKETS: Building A Strong Understanding of The Niche
When you find a keyword or topic that interests you, the first thing you should do is look for highly related keywords and put them into a “Keyword Bucket”.These are closely related search phrases that we can use to dig deeper into our topic and find those hidden gems our competition doesn’t know about.
However we need to go beyond just using the Google Keyword Tool if we want an insight into the mindset of the niche.
This brings us back to buyer intent and ensuring that we are building our site on a solid foundation or great keywords, with people looking to buy.
There are many ways we can create our keyword buckets, they involve using a number of tools to scrape various information that would otherwise take forever to do manually.
Before I take you through each of my favorite tools, we need some seed keywords.
What Is An Evergreen Topic?
Earlier in this guide I mentioned a phrase “Evergreen Topics”. Let's take a look at exactly what that means.An evergreen topic is something that stands the test of time. Something that will be around in years to come, and is not part of a trend or the latest craze.
There will be trends WITHIN the topic, but the topic itself will be something that will be talked about in 5, 10, 50 years from now.
Some examples of evergreen topics are;
- How to make money online
- Planning for retirement
- Losing weight, gaining muscle
- How to be more happy
- Dog training, collars and leashes
Above we talked above Google Trends which is not only helpful for our keyword research but also to understand if a term is evergreen or just a fad.
Essentially what we are looking for is an understanding of the keyword popularity over time. Some will be on an upward trend, some downward and some will remain constant.
What's important is to generate as many evergreen keywords for your niche as possible so that you can create pillar content around it to form the foundations of your site.