A few years ago, I was furiously making niche sites and struggling to see any real results from my efforts. I was reading tons of blog posts on the topic but still getting nowhere. It took me a while, but I finally realized that my problem was keyword research. I was buying the recommend tools and it wasn’t working for me. Once I made that realization, my online income started to finally creep up.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried a lot of different keyword tools from paid ones to free ones. And I’m going to tell you something that most people in this industry aren’t telling you.
You don’t need to use keyword tools to earn a lot of money from your niche sites.
And you certainly don’t need to pay for any of them! This includes the often recommended Long Tail Pro. I can tell you this as someone who has paid for Long Tail Pro Platinum, as well as a few other tools.
There is only one thing that you need to be successful at keyword research for your niche sites — a Google search box.
It’s true. You don’t need any keyword tools to be able to find kickass keywords for your niche sites. I rarely use any such tools and I’ve made over $70,000 from my niche sites in the past year (update: over 150K in 2016 doing keyword research just like this).
How I Do My Keyword Research
If you check out some of the blogs of the top internet marketers and SEO, then you’re probably going to find a blog post on keyword research. And most of those blog posts are going to look the same with a trusty affiliate link for Long Tail Pro. You won’t find that here.
Once I’ve decided on a niche, I start my research by opening up an incognito window in Chrome. This lets me see the SERPs without getting skewed results by being logged into my Google account. (Or, you can use the Tor browser to accomplish the same thing.)
Then, I just start typing in the search box to come up with keyword ideas. I’ll use a keyword with buying intent plus a keyword from my niche. And I use what comes up in autosuggest as my keyword finding tool.
Let’s say that the niche I’ve decided to make a site on is baby showers. So, I would start my keyword research by typing something like “good baby shower” into the search box and seeing what auto-populates.
Gifts looks like a promising option and when I start typing it out, I get even more options. After some clicking around on my options and seeing how they change as the keywords in the search box change, I was able to find a good keyword that I would use (if I was actually interested in making a baby shower site).
The keyword that I found was “most useful baby shower gifts” which has some heavy hitters on the front page like HuffPo, but also some weak sites like a forum and another niche site.
The key to being able to find profitable keywords with this method is to be able to accurately gauge your competition on the first page of the SERPs. For me, this is something that I can look at and know if competition is weak or strong in less than 30 seconds. It took me a while to get to this point, so you might not be ready for this just yet. But once you are, this is hands down the best way to find keywords for your niche sites.
QUICK TIP: This is why people use tools that give competition scores where page one of Google is evaluated for you.
As a general rule of thumb, you can assume that competition is weak if you see forums, web 2.0s and other niche sites on page one. You don’t always have to run scared if the first page of results is full of major brands, because you can out-rank them but it takes a bit longer. Likewise, you can’t assume that every single time you see page one with forums and web 2.0s that you can quickly rank.
When I Use Keyword Tools
Every so often, I will actually use a keyword tool. Whenever I get stuck on new keyword ideas for a site or keywords that I can use to expand my site with new content, I will use a keyword tool. Right now, I’m using KWFinder.com for this purpose. They have a free account option, but I have a paid basic account.
Honestly, I rarely use keyword research tools. I’d say maybe once or twice every three months I break one out. Otherwise, I’m just using Google’s autosuggest feature to help me come up with keyword ideas. Yeah, it can take a little longer, but since I’m not getting hung up on the number of monthly searches or a competition score, I end up getting a lot of content up on my sites that brings in a lot of organic search traffic.
Bottom line – if you know that people are putting it into Google, then you know that you can get traffic for it. Don’t worry about anything else.
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.