Keyword Research Tutorial

This tutorial is part of an email course I’m developing on creating niche websites. So if it seems like it’s a tutorial out of the blue, that’s why. It makes more sense in the context of the email course, but I thought that my readers might get some use out of it even without the course itself.

The point of keyword research is to identify existing online markets. These are people who are already looking for the information you have to offer. While Google’s keyword tool isn’t the best option for making a final choice of topic for a niche website, it is great at narrowing down a list of choices to the top two or three, and eliminating the obviously poor choices.

You can get to the keyword tool here. This will open in a new tab or window, so you can continue to follow along with the tutorial.

You’ll leave all the radio buttons and check boxes just like they are. The first thing to do is to take care of the test to make sure you’re a human. It’ll look like this:

Just type in the word that you see in the box below it.

Then, type the first of your topics into the keyword box, and click “Get Keyword Ideas”. You want a topic that is between one and three words. Two word topics are best.

What you’ll end up with is a listing something like this. I used the topic “golf swings” as an example.

The column labeled Advertiser Competition is intended to show people thinking about advertising sites like this how many other people are already doing it. We don’t really care about that column, except to note that having a lot of advertising competition means that when we start selling ads on our niche website, there will be plenty of people to buy ad space.

The columns labeled December Search Volume (and Avg Search Volume, not shown in my screenshot), are more important. These show actual amounts of people who are searching Google using specific keywords. Since Google is offering this information for free, we don’t get actual numbers, but rather a general idea of how large the search volume is.

How full the bar is represents how much search traffic that keyword gets. A nearly empty bar means that it gets practically no search traffic. A nearly full bar means it gets a lot of search traffic. “No Data” means that it hasn’t gotten any search traffic for the period shown.

The average search volume shows how much search traffic the term has received over time. This is important to contrast with the last month’s search volume, because some keywords are seasonal. They might get more searches at different times of the year. If we create a niche website on a seasonal term, we need to understand the season so we know when to expect traffic.

The first way to use Google’s keyword tool is to sort by the average search volume column (by clicking on Avg Search Volume). This shows you the highest traffic keywords first. When I do that with “golf swings”, I get the following:

From this, I can tell that the term “golf swing” is searched more often than “golf swings”. Further, I can see that “super swing golf” is either seasonal, since it had no search volume in December, or it was a fad that came and went. I’d stay away from that unless I knew more about why the search volume is so inconsistent.

On the other hand, the top searches mostly deal with people wanting help with golf swings. The top keyword, “golf swing”, has about the right search volume for the main topic of my site (that full of a bar usually means about 400 people a day are searching on that term). The other, related keywords, I’ll target with individual pages in my site (more on this later in the course).

The other way I can use Google’s keyword tool is once I have identified the main topic of my site for each of the possible topics I’ve identified, I can compare those main topics to see which is best. Let’s say that I have identified the possible niche topics, “golf swing”, “board games”, and “sewing patterns”.

I can type all three of those into the keyword box, like this:

Then I click “Get Keyword Ideas”, and when the list comes up I click on the Filter My Results link. It’ll show this expanded set of options:

Click on the checkbox that says, “Don’t show ideas for new keywords.”, and then click the “Apply Changes” button. The display should now look something like this:

From this, I can easily compare the search volume for the main topic keywords. I can see that the average search volume for each is good, and about the same. There might be some actual difference that Google’s tool doesn’t show, but I’d need to switch to professional keyword research tools to narrow it down farther.

I can also see that “board games” was higher in December, so obviously there’s a slight seasonal surge during the Christmas season.

So using a free keyword research tool, I’ve identified three possible topics for a niche website. There are lots of other factors involved, too, that we’ll deal with later in the course, such as the amount of competition (not advertiser competition, which is good for us, but other niche sites trying to attract the same organic search traffic), and how well each topic could be monetized.

But for now we’ve made significant progress! And your goal at this stage is to simply get your three best topic ideas identified.

See you at the next lesson!