How to Choose a Niche Through Keyword Sampling and Competitor Research: Spencer and Samara Coaching Call 2

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How to Choose a Niche Through Keyword Sampling and Competitor Research: Spencer and Samara Coaching Call 2

This is the official blog post for Niche Site Project 3, coaching call 2 between Samara and I.

If you are trying to figure out what niche to build a website on, you really need to watch or listen to this coaching call.  Samara and I take an in-depth look into how you can discover low competition niches through keyword sampling and competitor research.

This step is so critical in the entire process.  Before you run off and start building a website, you need to know if the niche you've chosen has potential for newer sites (like yours) to rank well in Google.

I also think it's important to clarify, that during this call we are NOT doing keyword research really.  The idea is not to find the keywords you will be targeting (at this step).  The goal of this call is simply to discover what broad niche you should go into.

A broad niche could be something like: kitchen knives, hiking equipment, youth football, financial planning, or so much more.  These are keywords we may or may not target; however, picking our general niche helps us establish what our site will focus on and helps us get to the starting line to then begin in-depth keyword research for the actual content of the site.

So, the goal today is to help Samara (and you) choose a niche.

Coaching Call 2 with Samara

For this call, I created a more formal presentation that I think makes the video easier to follow along with.  I also took a step back and defined some overall goals and processes for a successful niche website.

You can watch the full video of the call below.

If you would rather download and listen to the audio only, click here.

Samara's Thoughts…

I asked Samara to do a quick write-up on the project so far and what she learned in the latest call.  Below you will find out how the project is going from her perspective, along with a few questions that she still has (that we will get to…).  Here's Samara:

Hey Niche Pursuiters! Before I get into it, I just want to send a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me. I am beyond excited to be a part of Niche Site Project 3.

On our second call we dove headfirst into keyword research with Long Tail Pro. I prepared a list of 60 seed keywords, which were mainly a selection of interests and hobbies (mine and those of others), some common frustrations and problems, and ideas I got from Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

First I would say that it was so interesting to see Spencer’s strategy. We’re going to use hundreds of articles to target hundreds of low competition keywords to create an authority site, and focus on answering people’s questions. I really want to create something that helps people, something that provides real value, so this sounds fantastic to me. What I didn’t realize was how big this project is going to be, but it makes perfect sense. I’m very excited to learn, along with all of you, how to build a brand. Spencer says it’s important to think big from day one, and I like love the sound of that!

As for keyword research, it was a big surprise for me to hear that search volume doesn’t matter, or at least it’s not a major factor. In my previous experiences looking for keywords, I’ve tried to ensure that they complied with a whole bunch of metrics, including minimum monthly searches. To think we will be writing articles about keywords that get just 10, 20 or 30 searches a month sounds crazy to me, but it’s going to be super interesting to see how that works.

Spencer’s two-part research process begins with getting a quick “sample” from several niches and then comparing them to see where it’s easiest to find low competition keywords. This seems like a great idea. Keyword research is massively important and it’s vital that you get it right, or you could end up wasting both time and money, which is actually a problem I’ve had several times in the past.

In the second step, we look for “doppelganger” sites, as Spencer calls them (weak sites on the first page of Google, which means that you and your new site have a chance of ranking too). We used SEMrush, which I’m not really familiar with, so it was helpful to learn about all the data we should be looking at, such as daily traffic, competitors and the keywords the site is ranking for. SEMrush looks like an awesome resource that provides a lot more information than meets the eye.

On this call I also learned about domain authority and how to analyze the competition, among other topics, and I’m not kidding when I say I was on the edge of my seat. Keyword research is kind of daunting though, and I definitely don’t want to rush this part.

In fact, I still have questions about the process (Should I rule out keywords where the advertiser competition is low? Do I make sure the keywords have commercial value at this stage in the game? How many “viable” keywords should I have before going into a niche?), which I assume will be answered as we make progress.

And, of course, I’m so curious about the whole process in general, from how we’re going to use social traffic to how to write a good pillar article to what backlinking strategy we’re going to implement. This stuff is just ridiculously interesting! And we’re just getting started!

Well, I’ve got my checklist, my spreadsheet and a whole lotta coffee, so I’m off to do my keyword research. Spencer makes it look so easy! I guess we’ll have to see if it really is…

Notes From the Call

Here's a brief summary of what was covered in the call:

What Does a Successful Niche Site Look Like?

  • Helps readers/customers find answers/solutions to their questions/problems in your chosen niche.
  • Hundreds of articles based on hundreds of very low competition keywords.
  • Not targeting 1 keyword…targeting all of them!
  • Start small, but perpetually grow as the success continues.
  • More concerned with answering specific questions and low competition keywords than search volume.
  • Main source of traffic is Google
  • Some articles will be “Pillar” articles and linkable assets; others just short answers to queries; a good mix of types of articles
  • Social traffic will be utilized; perhaps a great deal depending on niche
  • More Concerned with building a brand than EMDs or linkbuilding short cuts
  • Long term goal is to built a large email list and sell your own products
  • Examples: http://survivallife.com/ and http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/ and http://hydrationanywhere.com/

Project Overview

  1. Brainstorm general market/niche ideas
  2. Pick a niche through keyword sampling and site Doppelgangers
  3. Begin In-depth keyword research (find hundreds of low competition keywords to create content on)
  4. What problem is your site solving?  How will your site stand out?
  5. Domain, Theme, Logo, Voice, and more to help build a brand
  6. Develop a long term content strategy
  7. Writing and publishing content
  8. Monetization strategy: short and long term (possible product ideas)
  9. Getting noticed: Outreach, PR, and Linkable Assets
  10. Social Media strategies
  11. Maximizing revenue through list building
  12. Paid traffic strategies
  13. Long Term strategies to continue growing

Pick a Niche Through Keyword Sampling

  • Like sampling ice-cream: very small samples, just to get a “taste”
  • Input 10 or so quick seed keywords using “Best Practices”
    • More specific seed keywords are better
    • Consider using modifiers like: best, reviews, how to, vs, under, for, etc
    • Sort to only show “long tail” keywords (4 words or more)
    • Filter based on words, like “best”, “reviews”, etc
    • Look for keywords under 30 KC

Find Your Website Doppelgangers

  • If you can find a weak site that is newer (like you!) ranking on the first page of Google, you may have hit the jackpot.
  • The “Doppelgangers” can also reveal great keywords and prove that success is possible…quickly.
    • Look for sites with Domain Authority (DA) under 25 or so
    • Look for sites less than a year old (ideal but not required)
    • Ideally you will find sites both under DA 25 and less than year old

Analyze Your Doppelgangers

  • Use SEMrush.com
  • See what kind of traffic is possible
  • See what keywords they are ranking for
  • See other competitors
  • Expand vision for your site

Is This a Good Niche? A Checklist

  1. Am I interested in starting a long term project in this niche?
  2. Can I easily produce 100+ content ideas?
  3. From my keyword sample, how many keywords had under KC 30?
  4. How easy was it to find long tail keywords in this niche vs. others I tried? (rate easiest to hardest)
  5. From the under KC 30 keywords; how many “weak” (Doppelganger) sites did I find? (Under DA 25-30, less than year)
  6. Using SEMrush, how many other weak sites was I able to find?
  7. How much traffic do each of these Doppelganger sites get (in SEMrush)? (maximum of 10 per niche is more than enough).
  8. Do I see the potential to create products in this niche?
  9. Can I think of any unique angles to stand out in this niche?

Assignment for Call 2

  • Do Keyword Sampling for 3 to 10 Potential Niches
    • 10 seed keywords
    • Filter (4 words or more, modifiers, etc)
  • Find the weak (doppelganger) sites ranking in top 10 from your 3 to 10 keyword samples
    • Under 25 to 30 DA
    • Less than 1 year old (ideal but not required)
  • Complete the “Is This a Good Niche” Checklist for your 3 to 10 potential niches
  • Now think about…what niche “tastes” the best?

Final Thoughts…

Overall, I'm excited to see how this project is progressing!  We haven't decided quite yet what niche we are going into, but I think we are getting much closer.

Samara still has a few questions and so our next coaching call will focus on looking at more competitors and keywords in a few niche options and trying to narrow down which one is the best.  Expect to see that call published next week.

Also as a heads up, both Jake and Perrin have completed their second coaching calls and both of those blog posts will be published before the end of this week as well!

As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.  Or if you would like to join our Niche Site Project 3 Facebook group, you can do that right here.

Yes! I Love to Learn

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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74 Comments for this Post

  1. Louie Luc

    Louie Luc

    This is awesome!
    Great info and new insight in here.

    So it seems Spencer’s niche site tactics & strategies have evolved a great deal from NS2!!

    Looking forward to continued learning!
    Good luck Samara!
    Louie

  2. Sebastian

    Sebastian

    Great video…but are you sure that semrush shows daily traffic? I thought its monthly and when I look at ahrefs it shows more or less the same number but monthly.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Its daily organic traffic.

      • Firas

        Firas

        i think it’s monthly Spencer !

      • Will Blears

        Will Blears

        The main traffic statistic on the organic page entitled ‘traffic’ that is located just under ‘keywords’ is monthly total, not daily total.

        The graph on the right hand side shows daily total, however I don’t think this is daily traffic volume (I am waiting for confirmation from a friend at SEM Rush).

        Will update soon.

      • Matt Hagens

        Matt Hagens

        It is monthly. Great video! Some very good tips. I can tell that Samara is going to hit a homerun!

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Yep, I agree…she’s great!

      • Aaron Geremia

        Aaron Geremia

        I think it is the average of daily traffic per month. I tried to view it using the ‘1M’ tab and it shows the daily traffic.

      • Ray

        Ray

        Spencer is correct, these are all daily traffic numbers at any given date or span of time you are viewing. As Aaron pointed out in his reply if you look at the 1M view you can mouse over each day of the past month and each day count is over 3,000.

        Spencer great job, just love your teaching style! 🙂
        Appreciate all the info you give us, and you most certainly earned our trust.

        I will definitely be following along!

  3. Marco

    Marco

    Awesome call again, thanks Spencer and Samara!

    I also have a question about SEMrush: In his last Call, Perrin told us that Semrush greatly exaggerates the daily/monthly traffic for the websites. Do we take this into account while looking at our Doppelgangers?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      In some cases SEMrush is exactly right, in other cases its exaggerates traffic a bit. So, yes, there is a bit of gray area there; but in general it shows you a websites traffic.

  4. Victor

    Victor

    Hey Spencer,
    great Video, thanks for that!
    Could you share the Google Docs Checklist Links (readonly)?

  5. john

    john

    I love how Spencher points out that, this (authority-big site, making a brand for long term asset) might not what you sign up for but this is what im coaching you to do…..

    personally i love hearing 7 pages site making $2000 monthly, link building shortcuts, but then again Spencher is pointing Samara into the right direction which is a long term brand / asset … the more we focus on 1 big site the more we learn that there are many products connected into that 1 niche site, we just failed to see it cause we sometimes distracted in making $$$ fast not really helping people online….

    Very glad for Spencher approach… cause right now im also focused on 1 site and trying to make it big… you are very lucky Samara…. i look forward for more calls….

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, building sites with a long term strategy is much better than the “churn and burn” strategy.

  6. John

    John

    Wow, I really appreciate the extra mile you went to produce the visuals and show live examples, and place it on the page here too! Super helpful Spencer. I had a feeling you were going to up your game due to Perrin’s over delivering in the video, comments and everywhere. He’s been a complete animal on the call and in the Facebook page! Keep it up gentlemen!!!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks John! While Jake and I took it easy on the first call with strategy, goals, and other pleasantries…Perrin skipped most of that and dove right in from day one! Hopefully we can all catch up 🙂

  7. Gary

    Gary

    Agree with Louie, pretty Awesome stuff! I am a little over 15 minutes into the video and feel like I am right there on the call as well! I was pursuing niche sites 6-7 years ago and never got going, lack of good training available at the time. These one-on-one calls and videos are a treasure and a great resource…thank you Spencer and Samara! Samara…you ask excellent questions, keep picking his brain 🙂

  8. Tung Tran

    Tung Tran

    Awesome video Spencer. It seems like we all agree that building a bigger site / authority brand is the way to go now 🙂

    I have a small tip to help brainstorm for broader niches easier.

    First, select a few seed keyword.
    Then, go to about.com… paste the keyword in the search bar and hit Enter

    Now look at the results. Pay attention specifically to the sub-domain names.

    For example: I put in “pressure cooker” and here’s what I got:

    homecooking.about.com
    housewares.about.com
    busycooks.about.com
    cookingequipment.about.com
    spanishfood.about.com

    These are all great broader niches that we can target 🙂 and the best thing is that you can scrape titles from that sub-domain and instantly have lots ideas for your articles.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great idea to look for possible broad niches to jump into. Thanks Tung!

    • Ciara

      Ciara

      That’s super helpful, Tung. Thanks!

  9. Tim

    Tim

    Am in on the call following each step as it goes. Spancer you guys here are great! I have a question. Are we focusing on Phsical product niches or information product?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You can do either. Or software 🙂

  10. Hassan

    Hassan

    Hi,

    Very good post.As Samara mentioned that Spencer told him that monthly searches are not the big factor now.I want to ask Spencer what is his opinion about suggested bid.While looking for long tail keyword should we only look for above $1 or anything b/w 0.5-1 is also acceptable.

  11. Alan Hayden

    Alan Hayden

    Awesome video Spencer and Samara.. I learned a ton, I especially liked how you focused on finding the “doppleganger niche sites” and finding the data on them to further validate your keyword research. Tons of great info. Looking forward to coaching call #3

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Alan, glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Roger B. Williams

    Roger B. Williams

    Really great, Spencer! Listened to it twice.
    so, it seems to me that you are creating an online magazine. Is that right?
    More along the lines of artofmanliness.com?
    If so, I should start thinking how I can do this form my own site.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure, if it helps to think of it as an online magazine, then yes. Thanks!

  13. Pablo

    Pablo

    Lots of value on this call, Appreciate that! I have a couple of questions Spencer. How many sites developing attempts do you need for one to earn over 500 USD in 6 months? How many articles do you need to publish as an average on each of these sites to figure out if they will earn over 500 USD in 6 months?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      This all depends. There are no formulas and cookie cutter patterns. Each project is different.

  14. Natalie

    Natalie

    Another great call! I got so much out of listening to this Spencer and Samara. Thank you so much for going above and beyond and sharing your knowledge with your listeners/followers. I think your approach with this project is great because you are going to be focusing on being of service to the site’s audience/customers, rather than just focusing on making some cash. My 8 year old daughter is helping me with the keyword research for my first niche site! She’s so fascinated with this!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome, glad you enjoyed the call! Cool to hear that your daughter is getting involved.

  15. Brad Rickerby

    Brad Rickerby

    What a great resource. Thank you for sharing all of that information. There is so much to know at the start of this trip and I feel completely overwhelmed. I look forward to the next call.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Brad, the next call has been recorded, but won’t be published until next week.

  16. Earl

    Earl

    This is really helpful, thank you! This is the kind of stuff IM rip off artists nail people for. Samara, you’re asking great questions, keep it up

  17. Dean

    Dean

    Hi,
    Really enjoyed the first video. However, as I prepared to watch the second video, I saw a link for something called “Fresh Store Builder”. Just curious as to why a link like that, would be on this site.

    Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on whether an eCommerce type of site using that platform would work as well has the type of site that’s being built by Spencer & Samara? Also, is the link, by being on this site an endorsement that Fresh Store Builder works?

    Good luck Samara

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Fresh Store builder is just a plugin and would go very well on the type of site that we are talking about building. It doesn’t build your whole site, it just builds the amazon links/store listing on some of your pages. Everything else from writing your own unique and original content remains the same.

      • Dean

        Dean

        Thanks for the reply Spencer-awesome. I can see now how having an ecomerce element on the type of site your building would be advantageous. Looking forward to the rest of the training.

  18. Savvas

    Savvas

    Really solid information here Spencer! I’ve been a fan since NS2 but this project has actually motivated me to eventually start a site on a niche I had sitting for months. Having you guys giving such awesome tips and guidance in such a unique and transparent way is more than a newbie could ask for!

    Good luck on Samara

    Savvas

  19. andreea

    andreea

    I love the process and all the questions she is asking. Ouff Cant actually wait for the next call
    Thanks

  20. Ahmed

    Ahmed

    Hi,
    I will go step by step with you and your awesome student Samara, please can you tell me how much money i need to go through the all process and steps.
    Note: 1) i Can’t write any article my own, so i will out source all my content to be written.
    2) i have long Tail Po. and shared hosting on BlueHost

    Thanks so much for all your Effort

  21. Sariah

    Sariah

    Spencer, thank you for another great project! REMrush is such an amazing tool. I’m shocked by the traffic of some not so great looking site. Learned a lot!

  22. Sariah

    Sariah

    Spenser, I have a question on whether it makes sense to build a website on high volume and low competition keywords from google keyword planner. High, at least medium competition are normally recommended for business adequate intent , right? Even people without intent to spend money( indicated by low competition value), can you use Adsense or other ways to monetize by utilizing the traffic from high volume keywords?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      High advertiser competition shows that there is money being spent in niche. Targeting high volume search keywords isn’t necessarily required though.

  23. Ken

    Ken

    Do you have a resource on niche research that doesn’t use LongTailPro? I’m just starting out and $350 for a 12 month license is way too much for me.

    My biggest problem right now is where/how to get started trying to narrow down to a niche.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You can start with the Google keyword planner.

  24. Ciara

    Ciara

    Spencer, what’s an example of a “pillar” post, like you mentioned in your presentation? Perhaps if you could give an example from one of the sites that you noted (survival life etc.).

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure, here is a pillar post: http://www.nichepursuits.com/self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/

      • Ciara

        Ciara

        Are pillar posts also referred to as power pages? I looked at the link. So pillar posts are very long articles with detailed steps on how to do something, and they empower the reader to take action.

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          I’ve never referred to them as power pages; but maybe others have. Doesn’t matter what you call it…just great/in-depth articles…usually longer.

  25. Martinos

    Martinos

    I learned a lot again today, so thanks for the call guys! Am going to follow along the process with a niche site as well. One thing that I wanted to check.. I found a niche with very high CPC, good search volume and pretty low KC’s. However, the niche would be to build out a kind of directory site, where you would help people to find this specific niche service in certain locations. Do you think this kind of thing could work as well? My main worry would be that there would be relatively thin content on the site and difficult to write a lot of articles, that weren’t reviews of businesses offering this service!

    Any tips welcome! Keep up the good work!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I know there are some directory type sites that do well. However, its difficult to say without you revealing the niche.

  26. Jub

    Jub

    Hey Team,
    Awesome write up about call 2. When these 100 articles are written focusing on answering questions with less than 30 search results monthly, how long do these articles tend to be? Guessing 100-300 words or should it 300-500, 500+ ?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Almost all my articles are over 1,000 words; many are 1,500 words or more.

      • Avi Nathan

        Avi Nathan

        Hi,

        100+ Ideas – How can I decide if I can get that many idea or even close? Based on the longtails?

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Right, based on long tail keywords.

  27. Ahmed

    Ahmed

    when will you add the next call

  28. Sanjeev

    Sanjeev

    Thanks Spencer that was brilliant… thanks for sharing so much useful information.

  29. Hung The

    Hung The

    What a excellent post. Could you add transcript? I couldn’t hear full of call. Thank you!

  30. Justin

    Justin

    Hi Spencer,

    Great project! In your opinion, would this approach to building an authority niche site be just as effective if you were building a directory website? It seems like this it might be more focused more for adsense/amazon type of monetization rather than something like a directory website where the monetization strategy would be to sell ad space.

    Thanks!

  31. saifuzzal

    saifuzzal

    Thanks for the post.
    I am a new in online marketing. I have a question. What is the benefit of finding out keywords for a specific site for those the site got rank ??
    Thanks again..

  32. Frank

    Frank

    Hi Spencer,
    i have one question: I found a really nice niche, but there are only few keywords with more than 3 words. But I checked the KC of the 2+ word keywords and even those have a KC at about 20-25.
    Now my question, is it good to choose this site even if there are no longtail keywords at all?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      If there are no other keywords, I wouldn’t go after that “niche”. Broaden the niche a bit.

  33. Arif

    Arif

    Hi Spencer,

    Awesome video. Just a quick question. What if a particular keyword has product/company related sites in top three results of google having a domain authority over 50 and two or three small websites that has a DA under 20.

    So is it good to select these keywords or can we outrank them.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure, if there are small affiliate sites ranking; you can rank as well.

  34. Mohamed Yasser

    Mohamed Yasser

    Hello, spencer what are u doing here is just amazing 🙂 i have just one question i had decide for a niche that had very low competition (10- 12 – 14 – 18) but after 1 month still ranked 250+ on google any idea?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      If its a new site, it can take a few months before anything starts showing up.

  35. Pablo

    Pablo

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank you for all this very useful information.

    I have two questions about the keyword research:

    1) If a keyword has a KC below 30 but every sites on the first page of google have an high DA and some years of existence. Is it still a keyword that we can try to rank for? Is the low KC enough to consider the keyword?

    2) If for a keyword with a low KC I find a site on the first page of google with a DA of 12 and some years of existence. But this is not a “twin” site because it only ranks for some common keywords but not all of them (e.g. I try to do a site for vegetables and it only ranks for potatoes related keywords). Is this site a doppelganger even if it is not want I want to do?

    Thanks.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      1. Yes; unless its lots of strong ecommerce sites in the serps.
      2. Yes

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