Keyword research is one of the most important parts of building a niche site.
It’s also an important step in selecting the niche, as you understand the true potential of the niche only once you have done the keyword research for it.
The internet is full of different ways to do keyword research and there are so many tools that can help you with it.
I also have a method that works great for me, and AHREFs is my preferred tool for keyword research.
While I have access to other similar tools and have tried these from time to time, I find AHREF quite easy to use. It also gives the best results (based on my limited testing with other tools).
When doing keyword research, my aim is to find at least 100 easy to rank keywords.
Now, let’s get started with the keyword research process.
For the purpose of this article, I will show you how to do keyword research for the Dog niche.
Since my aim is to monetize the site using display ads, I’m going a bit broad with the overall dog niche. If you plan to monetize it using Amazon affiliate (or any other affiliate program), you can go a little more specific (such as small dogs or a specific dog breed)
Keyword Research Using a Seed Keyword
In this method, I will start with the broad keyword which is mostly the name of the niche.
In this example, that seed keyword would be dog or dogs.
The aim here is to find out all those low competition easy to rank keywords that have the word ‘dog’ in it.
Let me show you how to do this using AHREFs.
Sign into AHREFs and click on the ‘Keyword Explorer’ option in the top bar.
In the Keyword Explorer section, enter the seed keyword – ‘dog’ in this case.
Also, make sure that you select ‘Google’ as the platform and ‘United States’ as the region.
In the next screen, that shows some data about the keyword ‘dog’, click on the ‘Questions’ options in the left sidebar.
This will show you all the questions that have the keyword ‘dog’ in it
Click on the Keyword Difficulty (KD) dropdown and set the maximum KD value for the keywords that should be shown to you.
I usually stick with a maximum of 10.
In case you get enough keywords with 10 as the maximum keyword difficulty, you can also go a bit lower and set the keyword difficulty to 5.
The idea here is to get at least a thousand keywords that have a low keyword difficulty (the more keywords the better).
When I set the KD to 5, I get ~9,739 keywords (which is a good starting point).
From this point onwards, I will be handpicking the keywords.
There would be a lot of keywords that are either not relevant or are a variation of an already selected keyword.
Hence it’s important to start with an overall higher number of keywords. The higher the initial number of keywords, the better would be my chance of having enough keywords when done.
Now that I have a list of low difficulty keywords, I will go through each of these and see the top 10 pages for each keyword.
If I can find a keyword where there is one or more low authority site (with a domain rating of 15 or less) in the top 10 ranking results, I put it aside as one of the potential keywords.
Here is how to check this.
Click on the SERP button for each keyword and see if you can find one of more sites with DR less than 15 (the lower the better).
In the below example, I found the keyword with high search volume, which has two low domain rating sites ranking for it.
This tells me that if I create a dog site that has an article about the same topic, there are a couple of potential sites that I can replace with my own site.
A couple of important things you need to know at this step:
- The keyword search volume data by AHREFs is not accurate. In fact, sometimes it can be way off the mark. But that’s alright because we’re choosing keywords based on the relative ranking in terms of their search volume. So if AHREFs tell me that the search volume is 4,300 per month, I think of it as a keyword that has some search volume (and it’s better than a keyword with 1000 searches per month)
- There is a possibility that some of the sites are hiding their backlinks from AHREFs (which can lead to a lower domain rating reported by AHREFs). But this is not a norm and if you can use the method shown here to get 50-100 keywords, you should be fine.
Once you find the keyword that is relevant and has some low domain rating sites ranking, copy it in a Google Sheets (or add it to the list in AHREFs, which you can download later in bulk).
To add a keyword to a list, click on the plus icon right next to the keyword, hover over the ‘Keyword List’ option, and click on the site/niche name in which you want to add the keyword.
If you’re doing this for the first time, you will see only the ‘New List’ option where you can first create the list and then add the keyword to it.
Now repeat the same process till you find at least 50-70 good keywords (I usually go up to 100).
This is a great starting point and you can find tons of useful low difficulty keywords here.
Reverse Engineer Low Authority Sites
In case you find enough keywords using the seed keyword method, you can choose to stop and not use the rest of the methods.
And in case you don’t find enough keywords, here is another great way.
The idea here is to find out those low domain rating sites that are already ranking for some keywords, and figure out all the other keywords these sites also rank for.
And to do this, you need to keep a list of all the low domain rating sites you encounter while using the seed keyword method (covered above).
You can use a simple Google Sheets or a note pad and whenever you come across a site that has a DR of less than 15, copy that domain in the Google Sheets
I spent 5 minutes with the Dog keyword and it gave me a handful of low DR sites. I have also sorted these based on the DR (with the lowest DR at the top).
Note that I’ve only spent a few minutes doing this. If you go through hundreds of keywords I’m sure you’ll find a lot more low DR domains.
Now it’s time to see what are the keyword these sites are ranking for.
To do this, open AHREFs, click on ‘Site Explorer’, and copy-paste the domain in the search box.
You’ll see a screen as shown below when you click on the search icon (or hit the enter key)
As you can see, AHREFs shows the overall organic traffic for this site to be ~250.
While this may not be accurate it tells me that there are some pages that are ranking according to AHREFs.
Click on the ‘Top pages’ option in the left sidebar.
This will show you all the pages this site is ranking for (including the main keyword and the estimated traffic each page is getting).
We need to find out what are the pages that are ranking in the top 10 and are also getting some traffic.
Set the position filter to only show you those pages that are ranking in the top 10 (for a given keyword)
Now, you can manually go through the entire list of top pages and pick up the keywords that are relevant to your site as well.
I recommend you maintain a Google sheet where you keep on copying these keywords (as it’s faster). Also, it’s a good idea to copy the URL of the page that is ranking. This will help you when you are writing your own article on the same keyword.
The seed keyword method (covered earlier in this article) and this method (to reverse engineer low DR site) should give you enough easy to rank keywords.
In most cases, this is usually where I stop the keyword research and send these topics to my content writers.
But you still need some more keywords, the next method can help.
Find Keywords Using Forums and User Generated Content
Question Answer sites such as Quora and topic-related forums can be a goldmine for easy to rank keywords.
The idea is to reverse engineer and see what are the keywords these user-generated sites are ranking for, and then create an article for the same keyword/topic.
Now you may be wondering whether your new site with a DR 0 would be able to outrank these big authority sites such as Quora and many other forums.
The answer is Yes!
And the reason for this is relevance.
Let’s say you create a site in the dog’s niche, that has articles only about dogs.
Now, if I ask you what percentage of your site is about dogs, your answer would be 100%
And if I ask you what percentage of Quora is about dogs? Maybe 1%, or even less.
When Google looks at your site, it thinks of it as a dog site. But when Google looks at Quora, it would not consider it as a dog side.
And this is why you’re hyper-focused niche side is a lot likely to outrank high authority broad sites.
And what about niche-specific forums (say a forum dedicated only to the topics related to dogs).
Sure, these forums are high on relevancy, but they’re low on optimization.
In most cases, you will find that these forums rank for keywords that are not even used to in that entire page. And most of these pages are orphan pages that are not well interlinked with other pages on the forum.
If you can create an article on the same keyword, and also optimize your page (by using the keyword in the title/subtitles/URL, covering all the important points, and interlinking with other articles on the site), you have a high chance of outranking these forum pages.
Here is what you need to do to find some good keywords using Quora. You can also do the same with forums in your niche.
Open AHREFs, click on ‘Site Explorer’, and enter the domain URL of Quora or the forum (in this example, I will go with Quora).
Click on the ‘Top Pages’ option in the sidebar.
This will show you all the pages that are ranking for Quora.
Now set the filters:
- The position between 1 and 5
- Keyword to include the word ‘dog’
This will show you all the pages that are ranking in the top five in SERPs for a keyword, and the word dog is there in the keyword or in the URL.
Now you can go through all these keywords and if it is relevant to your site, copy and add it to the Google Sheets document that we have already created.
So, these are the three keyword methods that I use for all my niche sites.
In most cases, if the niche is broad enough, you will find enough keywords using the first method itself (which is by using a seed keyword).
In case you don’t find enough keywords from there you can then try the other two methods shown in this article.