Can you tell me where the real work of a niche site building process starts from?
It’s KEYWORD RESEARCH.
Keywords are like the compass of your SEO campaign. They give you directions and help you track if you’re on the right path. You’ll understand in a bit why I’m saying this.
What are Keywords?
For those who don’t clearly know; simply put, a keyword is any word or phrase that people type in the search bar to find information on that topic on the internet.
Suppose you want to know about the perseverance rover mission of NASA to reach Mars. To find information on that topic, you’re likely to search with ‘NASA perseverance mission’, ‘perseverance rover’, ‘mars mission 2021’ etc.
These are keywords.
What’s Keyword Research, Then?
Quite simple. When you do a little research to find out what are those search terms aka ‘keywords’ that people usually type in to know information about your concerned topic, analyze them, and plan to use them accordingly, that is keyword research.
It’s all about getting to know the language of your potential visitors.
So here’s a simple 3-step process to keyword research:
- You discover more and more relevant search terms on your topic.
- You analyze them (from the perspective of competition, intent, and so on).
- You create a plan to create new content around them or optimize the existing ones.
Why is Proper Keyword Research Absolutely Crucial?
What’s the most important factor of a building? Is it the architecture, interior design, or so on things?
Sure, those are important, but if the foundation is weak, nothing else matters on a rainy day.
Take keyword research as the same for an SEO campaign. You do it wrong, then you build your whole project on a weak foundation.
But thankfully, it’s not unfixable as a foundation of a building, and it’s not something like – you did it wrong, so there’s no way your campaign or website will succeed.
However, it’s going to be costly – you’re going to give up on quite some resources trying to recover the mistakes you did initially on your keyword research, so it’s recommended to put all your efforts and as much resource as you can to get it done in the first attempt.
Keyword Research does not only lay a solid foundation for your website, but helps you to understand your audience better as well.
Think of Amazon Niche Sites, most of them are not really built by actual experts on the concerned topic, fact be spoken.
Rather an individual who’s not an expert on the topic makes the website with affiliate commission as the end goal in mind, and usually, the contents are curated by hired experts on the topic.
But as a webmaster, the website creator who puts everything together needs a solid understanding of his potential audience and also a good understanding of the topic itself, to figure out content gaps on the topic on the internet and so on.
For that too, keyword research lays a solid foundation.
How Keyword Research Has Changed Over Time!
You know how keyword research looked like in the 2000s and also early 2010’s?
You had to head over to Google Keyword Planner, pick the keywords with the highest search volumes on your topic, and stuff them in your website text.
And voila! It actually worked. People got rank.
But not forever. It was sort of manipulation. Many irrelevant or low-quality articles would get rank because they had more keywords in them, and it was ridiculous – ridiculous for the users because they often would not find what they were looking for.
Google had to do something about it, right? Because Google’s goal with the search engine is to provide the users with content that satisfies their needs.
So they introduced algorithm updates, a number of them, over a long period, at regular intervals. Google Penguin and Hummingbird were two significant updates to deal with unnatural usage of keywords and Google’s attempt to understand the intent behind every search made.
With Google’s introduction of RankBrain, it’s more enriched than ever.
Now Google understands the intent of every search made and shows results accordingly. Google now understands how well the desired topic is covered in an article.
And how does Google do it?
LSI (latent semantic indexing) and long-tail keywords, two significant contributors to this phenomenon. We’ll go into details about them later in the article.
So the bottom line is, keyword research has become a lot more topical now. You just can’t anymore stuff a piece of content with a particular phrase and make google think that the content goes in-depth of that topic.
With LSI, Longtails, and something else up their sleeves (maybe), Google will understand your content and its quality to a good extent, and rank you accordingly.
You know what’s more interesting?
With Google’s advancement in understanding search intent and judging content, you can rank for a phrase based on a relevance that you haven’t used on the article, even once. Isn’t that amazing?
I’ll say keyword research may have become a little more complex, but it has also become more wholesome, meaningful and genuine, and fun if you can get the concept.
How Many of The Marketers are Still Doing it Wrong?
You know how keyword research can be deceptive?
Oftentimes, you may find a keyword that looks great on the paper – the numbers are great, high SV, low KD, and what not?
But on many occasions, it fails to bring you the money.
Probably because you’ve judged it wrong – because you haven’t judged it from the few other perspectives that you should have. Or probably because it was good from a few aspects, but not all around.
And that’s a deception many niche marketers fall for, and end up losing their resources and time on.
For a general insight, here are a few more perspectives to judge your keywords from, that you probably haven’t done before –
1. The Need for a Solution
Why do you, and I, search google for it?
To find a solution to one of our problems. Now that could be anywhere from “yamaha r1 2021 pictures” to “best local bike repair shop in [somewhere]”.
The first keyword is likely to have a way higher search volume than the second one, and many would be tempted to go after the first one.
But think about it, even if you rank for the first one, how are you going to earn money from it? Adsense, at max?
The possibility to monetize the first example doesn’t look so lucrative, and it’s not going to load up your bank. Because people searching for “yamaha r1 2021 pictures” are mostly the admirers of this bike who’s not going (and probably doesn’t have) to spend money on it.
The people that are willing to and have the capability, will probably search for “where to buy yamaha r1”, and visit the showroom and see the bike by itself, instead of looking at pictures online.
What about the 2nd one?
Its search volume will be quite lower and hopefully, so is the competition. But the monetization possibility looks to be wider and healthier.
If you could rank for that, you could partner up with local bike repair shops and sell them the leads, which will bring way more handsome money than Adsense.
The context of this example might vary from location to location but you get the idea – that you have to find keywords that have money potential.
2. Keywords with Buying Intention (or Commercial Intent)
Does your picked keyword express the buying intention of the searcher?
And, how do you understand if it has the buying intention or not? – You ask.
A keyword with buying intention will have some word or phrase in it that’ll express the buying intent of the searcher behind this search.
Take this keyword for example: “Nikon D700”. When someone is searching with this term, he/she is probably looking for more information, images, etc. of the camera and just want to learn more about it.
It’s still great, but how about: “buy Nikon D700”. This search clearly shows the buying intention of the searcher and the fact that he/she is well aware of the product already, and now just looking for places to buy it from.
Think how more profitable the second keyword (with buying intention) could be. If you’re ranking for that, you could easily redirect those users to any camera vendor and earn handsome affiliate commission from that, right?
Say you’re hunting for great keywords, and you suddenly find “best christmas gifts” with a great search volume, and it shows the buying intention of the searcher too. Will you be on the moon?
Now, let’s keep the competition aspect aside. Let’s just say you have the time and resources to rank for this apparently lucrative keyword. But will it be worth it?
Sure that keyword is going to make you money, but for how long? Maybe only for a month, or a couple of months at max every year. That’s because, people will only search with this term during November and December when it’s close to Christmas.
For the rest of the year, it’ll be dry.
And that’s not the ideal sign of a golden keyword. Many newbies, even intermediate marketers fall for this deception and end up investing their resources on a keyword that just won’t bring expected results throughout the year.
You don’t wanna be among them.
Ask Questions Before You Start Researching Keywords
Over time, people have made keyword research a very tool-centric job, and all they care about is numbers – SV, KD, and whatnot!
They matter, definitely, but not everything, and not the point to begin with.
The prerequisite to start keyword research is to understand what your audience wants to find through their searches.
That’ll help you to brainstorm keywords in the latter part.
And how can you understand your audience?
Imagine you’ve been assigned to execute an SEO campaign for a musical instrument shop anywhere in the world. Now, you want to get going by doing thorough keyword research.
But as I said earlier: There’s a prerequisite for that – asking questions to know your audience.
You first want to know the audience demographics, which will help you to brainstorm keywords well. What are the questions you might want to ask?
- What types of musical instruments people are mostly searching for? Is it the guitar, drums, or something else? (Having an answer to this question will help you prioritize which instrument sale increment to target first)
- Who are these people searching for these instruments? (Gives you an understanding of audience demographics)
- Who are our primary customers? The professional musicians? Or people that do music as a hobby? (Help you understand exactly what type of content you should be creating – beginner or intermediate or advanced level?
And there could be many more of them, depending on the niche. But you got the idea – asking questions will pave your way towards more meaningful and successful keyword research.
What is Keyword Stemming and Why You Need to Know About It?
Have you heard the term “Keyword stemming”?
Well, it’s a really impressive feature of Google and it should give a sense of relief to many SEOs that weren’t aware of this feature of Google (it did the same for me).
So, keyword stemming refers to Google’s ability to understand different forms of a query. ‘Stem’ itself means root, or base, and that’s where the name comes from.
Let me simplify with an example.
According to us, humans, ‘buy’, ‘buys’ & ‘bought’ present the same meaning, roughly. But that was not the case for google’s algorithm, and SEOs had to stress a lot about it.
But thanks to Google’s continuous effort to make their search engine better and more convenient for all, Google now understands different word forms of a specific query.
For example, Google now understands that ‘run’, ‘runs’, and ‘running’ all boils down to the same meaning. And it has made the life of SEOs much easier.
Prior to this, we often had to stress about which form should I use of a specific query to optimize a piece of content.
Most of the time, for the same keyword, many variations are found with their respective search volume and competition difficulty as different people tend to search with different forms of the same keyword.
So, we had to make the tough decision of which form to use to get the best results. On many occasions, we had to unnaturally optimize the content with all the variations just to stay safe and rank on Google, which was not the best scenario for the users.
Well now, that’s not the case anymore. You can go ahead and stay natural with your keyword optimization, and Google will understand what topic you’re talking about, and give you rank considering the other factors.
All the SEOs certainly get the benefit of this feature and it’s great for the users too as they get naturally optimized content.
Keyword Research for Local Business
What you’ve read till now, I did most of it keeping general SEO in mind. By general, I mean having no specific segment in mind – it mostly applies to all.
But what if I had to write specifically for Local SEO?
On that note, Local SEO is SEO but done for local businesses of an area. It differs a little from traditional SEO keeping in mind how the process is executed and what’s the end goal.
Organic listing is not the only judgment parameter here, rather the local pack is also important (probably more than organic listing).
However, keeping the differences in mind, how should one research keywords for Local Business SEO?
It demands a dedicated piece on itself but here’s the basic approach to go about it:
Understanding The Anatomy of a Local Keyword
Here’s how a general local keyword looks like:
“Modifier + Core Term + Location”
Which as you can see, is a little different than traditional SEO keywords
The core term is the product or service that the business sells or provides. That could be “hairdresser”, “hairstylist”, “haircut”, etc. if you run a salon. If you are doing it for a law firm, your core terms are “law firm”, “lawyer”, “attorney. You get the idea.
The modifier makes the core term more specific. Like the “best hairstylist for bob cut”, “best criminal lawyer, etc”. The modifiers are in italic font here that made the core term more specific – exactly what service the potential customer is looking for.
Location, self-explanatory, is the mention of an area where the searcher is looking for that product or service. This could be states, towns, countries, and so on, like “best criminal lawyer in NYC”.
Now, here’s the 3 step process for a local keyword research:
1. Finding out The Different Forms of Core Term (s)
The very first step is to find out the variations of the core term, or terms.
Not the most difficult of the tasks. What exactly are you selling, and if you were to search for it, how would you do so?
Now, hop on to any keyword research tool, insert that core term(s) for your service, and it’ll show you the similar variations of that term.
You could also look at your competitors that appear high in Google and see what are the variations of the core terms they’re using.
You’ll have a good “seed” list.
2. Extent With Modifiers and Location
For each term in your seed list, find out the modifiers of it, and add the location to get your ultimate keyword.
Quite simple, and a similar process to the earlier one. Insert the core term in a keyword research tool like ahrefs, semrush, etc., hit enter and it’ll show you a bunch of extended versions of that core search term.
You could also add location right from the tool so it’ll show keywords relevant to that specific location.
It’s not difficult, but it’ll take a while. You’ll come out with an enriched list of keywords.
3. Sort Out
Now it’s time to sort out what you’ve found.
The first filter to apply is intent. Basically, every keyword fall under these three categories of intent –
Commercial: These are keywords that show the buying intent of the searcher. He/she is ready to buy or take action.
Informational: When someone is looking for some information. They can be sent through the funnel to convert them in later phases.
Navigational: When someone is using google to navigate to something on your website. These are supposed to have your brand name in the query.
So first, sort out the keywords that you’ve found under these categories. Next up, have a look at numbers like search volume, keyword difficulty, etc. to prioritize among those in each category.
And by now, you should have a list of organized targeted keywords that are ready to be taken to the next stage of the SEO process.
Keyword Research for Amazon Niche Sites
Now, researching keywords for amazon niche sites is quite mainstream – similar to researching keywords for any other website. It’s not that much distinctive as local keyword research, but here are the steps in brief that’ll help you navigate through the process:
1. Use Amazon’s Categories to the Fullest Potential
Amazon’s categories are the goldmine for niche ideas to create an affiliate website. You go to Amazon, navigate to a category, then to a subcategory, then to another subcategory of that until you niche down enough.
The key here is to go as deep as possible and you’ll have a greater chance to find lucrative, money-making yet low competitive niche ideas.
2. Check the Metrics and Do Manual Research
Is the niche big enough? Does it get enough searches?
Check for the monthly search volume.
Tip: Try to get something with at least 500 searches per month.
Check other metrics. Is the KD too high? If you’re just starting out or in the intermediate phase, I recommend going with low competitive niches, even if the money-making potential is a little low.
Get other vertical keywords to your niche. Look for different forms of the same query. Find long tail and KGR keywords. Check on buying intent.
In short, it’s quite similar to mainstream keyword research now.
Keyword Research for Ecommerce
The process remains the same:
- Brainstorm a few pillar keywords that you think are super relevant.
- Use tools, more brainstorming to beef up that list with vertical keywords, long-tail, and other keywords.
- Refine the list judging with metrics and perspectives, organize.
So, what’s different about E-commerce keyword research?
For mainstream keyword research cases, we usually refer to information-focused websites. Websites that are meant to give away information on various topics and find a funnel to make money in the process.
For E-commerce, it’s a little different.
Because for the main operation of it (selling products directly), there’s barely any visible funnel.
So for this case, you want to look for keywords with direct buying intention, or at least give them the top priority.
Keywords containing words like “buy”, “where to buy”, “order ‘something’ online” etc. are highly buying intended keywords and have the most chance to convert.
However, you might also want to work with keywords not having direct buying intention but that can be the part of a funnel to ultimately convert the visitor.
I’m talking about informational keywords here. You can write blogs on those topics to get traffic from those information-intention searches, provide them value and ask them to buy your item.
Words on Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research tools have made our life much, much easier. Sure you can find good keywords without a tool, but the whole process is a lot easier with tools, and also way less time-consuming.
There are a ton of tools, a few paid and few free, that’ll help you at different stages of your keyword research process. Here are a few keyword research tools that’ll help you a ton with your job –
The Google Keyword Planner
Google’s very own tool to help you with keyword research, and THE most reliable source of information on keywords online. Since the data is coming directly from Google, on Google, you can tell that it’ll be accurate.
However, a tough google keyword planner will help everybody looking to do keyword research, but it helps those people more researching keywords for Google ads, not SEO.
An amazing, lightweight tool on-the-go. It’s all about an extension.
You install that and boom, next time you search anything on Google, you get a ton of other relevant information regarding that, like keyword suggestions, data on each of those keywords and so.
Ubersuggest was already good quite a while back, but recently it has got a massive upgrade and got even better.
When you need a great Google suggest scraper, Ubersuggest is one of the top choices.
SEMrush & Ahrefs
I’m talking about Ahrefs and SEMrush together because none are primarily keyword research tools. Rather both are a complete digital marketing tool package and need no introduction for themselves – they’ve been that popular.
However, they’re greatly capable of assisting with keyword research which usually gets overshadowed by other great features of them. Give them a try.
If you’re with me till now, I hope you have enjoyed my piece. What key thing you’ll be taking away from this read?
Let us know.