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Why is Keyword Research the Most Important and Hardest Part of Building Niche Websites?

Why is Keyword Research the Most Important and Hardest Part of Building Niche Websites?

Keyword selection is by far the most important activity that you can do when building niche websites.  Keyword research is more important than providing great content, link building, and how your website looks.  All of these things are important aspects of building niche websites, but excellent keyword choice is critical.  You can do everything perfect, but if you chose a poor keyword to begin the process you will fail miserably (sorry if that sounds harsh).  Today, I want to discuss briefly why keyword research is both the most important AND the hardest part of building niche websites.

First of all, keyword research is the most important aspect of building niche websites because it determines where your traffic will be coming from (this is with the assumption that your focus is on search engine traffic).  So, if you pick a keyword that doesn’t get searched for enough every month, you won’t get any traffic or sales.  If you pick a keyword that doesn’t pay enough (CPC) or has no commercial intent you won’t make any money.  If you pick a keyword that is too hard to rank in Google for (even if it gets searched for alot and pays really well), you still won’t see any traffic or money because your site will be buried in the search results.  So, finding the right keyword is critical to your success with niche websites.

Is Keyword Research Really That Hard?

Unfortunately, keyword research is also the hardest part of building niche websites. The reason is that most people don’t know how, don’t have the patience to do proper analysis, or get too excited about a high traffic/high paying keyword.

Most internet marketers simply either don’t know that keyword research is so important or don’t have a clue how to do it.  I fell into this category in the fact that I didn’t even know how important keywords were until after probably building my 5th website.  I used to be pretty lame :) ! So, I spent a couple of years not even knowing that I needed to do intense keyword research, then I spent the next couple of years trying to learn how to do proper keyword research.  Now I finally have some things figured out!  I’ve done my best to teach about keyword research and the importance of analyzing the competition for those keywords on this blog.

Patience is a Virtue!

Unfortunately, even once you know the importance and have the know how, many marketers don’t have the patience to do it properly.  The reality is that it can take hours to find a good keyword and most people simply don’t want to try that hard to start making money.  The internet marketing community is full of quick profit promises and other misleading get rich quick schemes.  So, many “newbies” will get caught in the trap of thinking that everyone else is making a killing after a couple of months of trying.

Nope, not true.  Most people are NOT making good money online, and the ones that are, probably aren’t out buying get rich quick products if you know what I mean.  So, in an online culture of quick profits and ever changing strategies – I’m trying to convince you of the opposite. Slow down, have patience, stop listening to others.

You need to view an online business as a real business.  Its takes planning, hard work, and LOTS of patience.  My best advice is to develop a plan of your own and not try to follow exactly what everyone else is doing.  This includes keyword research.  You have to go out and find your own keywords if you hope to find any kind of success in building niche websites.

The Mental Shift

The final thing that makes keyword research so difficult is that its tempting to go after the “big money” keywords.  This attitude probably kept me from making any real money online for about 2 years.  Even once I knew how to do keyword research, I kept getting drawn in by keywords with really high traffic and that were really high paying.  Sounds good right?  Except for the fact, that ALL of these keywords were EXTREMELY difficult to rank for.  I had dreams of making millions with these keywords.  All I had to do was rank in the top 10 for “credit repair” and other “big money” keywords – and I would be set for life!

Well, turns out I never ranked anywhere close to the first page on Google for any of these keywords and so I never made any money.  So, what I’m getting at is that for me, once I finally made the mental shift to target low competition keywords (that also maybe didn’t get as much traffic), I finally started making money.  I encourage you to make the same mental change in how you approach keyword research if you are truly interested in niche websites.  Forget getting rich with one keyword – its probably not gonna happen (and if it does, it will take years and tons of money anyway).

You need to have the know how, the patience, and the right mental attitude towards keyword research.  These skills don’t come easily and most people will never have the discipline to try hard enough to obtain them.  For that reason, people like you (right?) and I that have put forth the effort to truly grasp the ability to do proper keyword research, will be able to profit from building niche websites for years to come.

My challenge to you is to develop the keyword research skills and obtain the proper mental attitude and patience that you need to be successful in this business as well.  Of course, I will be here sharing my thoughts and insights on the Niche Websites Hub, so be sure to follow along here. Best of luck!

62 Comments for this Post

  1. Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    […] Why is Keyword Research the Most Important and Hardest Part of Building Niche Websites? (Posted June 17th, 2011) […]

  2. Steve

    Steve

    Good reminders as I start by day Spencer. Hey, I have had a question bugging me for a couple days… you once said you have had good success with ‘info’ sites. Without being tooooo specific, can you elaborate on what you mean by this? Info equals something like the ‘salary’ or ‘scholarship’ keywords you used in your 4 Examples post? And info is differentiated from ‘product site’, am I right?

    Thanks Spencer!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Steve – “info” based sites are very broad. Yes, the scholarship and salary sites are perfect examples. This blog is an info site. Wikipedia is an info site (so any topics there). Essentially, if its not on Amazon.com its probably an info topic. Even lots of the Amazon products could also be info based keywords if in the right context. “How to” anything – all of ehow.com. Here’s a few quick niche info ideas: drivers license, GRE test, how to become a nurse, floor plans, ant farms, and billions of other keywords…

      Hope that helps.

  3. Tom

    Tom

    Spencer,
    Your share bar blocks part of your post. you may want to correct his. The post is still readable but I have to look toward the bottom of the screen.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I’m not seeing any issues. What browser are you using? I checked both Mozilla and IE and both look fine.

    • Ben

      Ben

      I’m on IE and having the same problem. It works fine on firefox though.

  4. Tom

    Tom

    I meant “this” but I’m sure you can figure that out.

  5. kevin

    kevin

    Spencer
    How do you know that the keyword you find is going to be good for an Adsense site & you will get clicks.

  6. KimP

    KimP

    Great article, Spencer. You’ve focused on such a simple point, but often overlooked point. With IM, sometimes you have to know when to move on or readjust your approach, and I’m realizing that failure to do that is a variation on insanity, lol.

  7. aldo

    aldo

    I agree spencer,

    Keyword research could be a very time consuming task but is something you need to do right or everything after that will be a waste of time.

    If you have a good keyword easy to rank you could even start doing crappy content but is something you could fix later.

    Another important part of niche website is link building , if you try to spam your site with lots of backlinks you will get flagged to the point that you will need to wait for several months doing it properly so google start giving you some chance. (in this case i prefer to start over with a new domain)

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I agree with everything you said here.

  8. Youssef

    Youssef

    To The Point Spencer…not so many out there can admit that this business takes time, proper planning and most of all “know how” to be successful at it.

    I may add one more thing (which been discussed here), If you find something that it is working, you may want to focus on that instead of trying a new thing.

  9. Seanski

    Seanski

    Spencer,

    Great post and could not agree more. I wish I had read this advice a year ago. I went mad and built 30 sites thinking they would rank easily. Some did rank in the top 10 but only after endless hours of creating back links and they were low value keywords.

    As you pointed out I was impatient with keyword research and I regret that now. Like you I have learned the importance of keyword research the hard way and I have learned many valuable lessons. If it takes 2 weeks to find one good keyword I will do it.

    My sites and income took a hit from the May update even though they all had original content. I am now starting over again but with a wealth of experience of knowing what to avoid. I am taking your advice from what happened to you last year and I am starting with new hosting, adsense accounts etc.

    For anyone starting out take heed of Spencer’s advice and get good at keyword research. Start slowly and only expand once you have gained the experience and knowledge of getting your first group of kw’s in the top 10.

    Thanks again Spencer, your success has inspired me to keep at this until I succeed.

    Seanski

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Seanski for the real life experience! It takes time, effort, and know-how to succeed.

  10. Lemuel

    Lemuel

    Hi Spencer,

    great post. You hit the right term.

    You are right, as a blogger we need to create a Mind set that will focus on the right keyword.

    Thank you for sharing your expertise in this blog. I’m starting all over again and this time I will make it right.

    Lemuel

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      You’re welcome! Best of luck with your new niche sites!

  11. Akil

    Akil

    Hi Spencer great tips as I am in the same position of trying to rank an exact match domain name. I think the best paragraph is what I copied below and I think every one should read it twice and take note.

    “You need to view an online business as a real business. Its takes planning, hard work, and LOTS of patience. My best advice is to develop a plan of your own and not try to follow exactly what everyone else is doing. This includes keyword research. You have to go out and find your own keywords if you hope to find any kind of success in building niche websites.” – Spencer

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Akil! I agree – I can’t stress enough how important it is to develop your OWN plan to accomplish success in your business.

  12. Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    This is not only a great practical view of building niche sites, it’s also a great way to help people where they are and to learn to form their own attitude about their online business. I’ve spent years chasing get-rich-quick reports and videos… they lead no where.

    Thanks for such a helpful and direct article. It really encourages me and my business.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Agreed. Most of the training courses out there won’t make you successful – its the hard work and dedication that will.

  13. Yeok Heng

    Yeok Heng

    Thanks for sharing a great post again. I am just started into niche site and your every single post is very useful to me.

  14. Will

    Will

    Hey Spencer!

    Thanks for a great post. This sure is some real motivation. I definitely like how you put emphasis on having patience =-D

    Truly takes time and work to obtain the skills but it’s worth it when you love what you do.

    Thanks again!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      You’re welcome Will!

  15. shakd

    shakd

    I agree strongly with this post. My first ever keyword was first of all. BROAD matched search, at 33,000 searches and low first page competition! I thought I hit the gold mine accompanied by other smaller keywords. Boy was I wrong and you quickly Learn you’ll never want to do that again! Time is money and you can’t get your time back, causing me to almost call it quits! Do your research right and it will benefit you. I recently started my next niche and I’m now at 13th position in Google with the same exact traffic strategies as my last, but I would never be able to hit top rankings. Lets hope this does!

    Cheers

    ShakD

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for sharing, and best of luck with the new keyword!

  16. Adi

    Adi

    Do you use wordpress on all of your sites or do you use simple/small css templates as well?

    Thanks,
    Adi

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      All wordpress.

  17. Federico

    Federico

    Hello Spencer, thanks for the mind set…
    Do you think is worth keep a niche site that makes $5 – $10 a month or is a bad keyword choice?
    I mean, How do you know when you make a wrong keyword research ?

    Regards,

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I agree with Adi. You need to look at how much it costs you to maintain. If all you are doing is letting it sit there, then $5 to $10/mth is still turning a profit (although not much). If your domain costs are $10/year and assuming you have hosting for other sites anyway. Essentially as long as you are making more than it costs per year ($10) then you are good. Of course you want to find better keywords that you can make more money with, but essentially its $60 to $120 a year for doing nothing.

  18. Adi

    Adi

    @ Federico – why wouldn’t you keep the site if you are not spending too much time updating it? The only expense you have would be the yearly domain renewal and hosting and I assume you host more than one site on the same server.

    Just my honest opinion ;)

  19. Niche, Where’s My Money?- Adventures in Keyword Research | The Smart Income Blog

    Niche, Where’s My Money?- Adventures in Keyword Research | The Smart Income Blog

    […] Traffic Travis, you can do a lot of damage in researching your keywords.  Like Spencer Haws from NichePursuits.com mentioned in his post, it took me a couple niche sites to figure out that I was doing keyword […]

  20. Chris

    Chris

    Spencer

    What will be the key benefits of Long Tail Pro over MS?

    Looking forward to seeing your product. Nice content.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Chris, I will do a full post on this.

  21. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    Spencer .. couple of questions … 1) When a keyword has been decided and you are going to build the site. Do you max out the adsense .. ie use all the 3 ad units and 3 link units on the site or do you use them more sparingly ?

    2) I’ve read recently that google devalues domains that have been purchased for one year only .. being suspicious of them being spam and ‘sandboxing’ them .. any thoughts ?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      1. It depends. I usually don’t max it out though. Usually 2 or 3 ad units and only 1 link unit.
      2. You mean domains under 1 year old? I’ve haven’t seen any evidence of this. This also wouldn’t make any sense for google to apply a filter on all new websites; I wouldn’t buy that rumor for a second.

  22. emile monestime

    emile monestime

    Great post, excellent article.

  23. Federico

    Federico

    Yes Adi and Spencer I was think about it the same way, I have over 20 sites making around $5-$10 monthly but the only thing I’ve done to them was bookmarking them…uhhh by the way,they are very thin sites with just 2-3 articles.I’ve never touched them ever since I’ve published them.

    • Boris C.

      Boris C.

      Personally i think if you get manual review and all they see is 20 mini-sites, they will devalue or deindex them. So if you keep them and build additional high quality authority sites that make you money at some point, then think about manual review and how mini-sites can influence decision of reviewer. But if these mini-sites are expandable, then you can grow them into quality websites and not worry about them in the future.

      In the beginning i would keep them if i plan to let them sit as i am building another quality authority websites until these websites are bringing fair income and ditch mini-sites.

      If i planned on expanding mini-sites into big sites later, i would keep them and work on them.

  24. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    any approx eta of the updated software Spencer?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I will keep everyone posted here. However, no definite date at this point.

  25. Chris Guthrie

    Chris Guthrie

    Hi Spencer,

    Got a question for you. Once you find a great keyword and accompanying EMD, what criteria do you use to pick keywords for the other pages of the site you build?

    Do you pick slight alternatives of the EMD keyword? ex EMD keyword = cat litter box, page 1 = kitty litter box, page 2 = cat litter saver, etc

    or

    Do you pick keywords that are in the same niche category? ex EMD keyword = cat litter box, page 1 = cat toilet training, page 2 = which cat litter is best, page 3 = why do cats use litter, etc

    This might a little much for just a blog comment, so I might suggest this as a whole new blog post. Thanks!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Chris: Probably closer to your second example. I wouldnt use the same keyword on all the pages of my site – which is why the second variation is closer to correct.

      • john

        john

        hi Spencer based on the question above, would this pages be correct ?

        main page keyword = cat litter box
        page 1 = list of littler boxes for cats
        page 2 = best seller litter box
        page 3 = frequently asked question
        page 4 = contact us
        page 5 = privacy policy
        page 6 = photo gallery

        am i doing the correct important pages of a micro niche site ?

  26. Aaron

    Aaron

    Hi Spencer, my question is how do you balance finding keywords with decent traffic vs keeping your search within something you are interested in so that you are able to write quality content?

    Also I notice that some keywords in the keyword tool will have high competition and a decent amount of searches, within 2-5k local like you said, but then I go and put that keyword into the traffic tool and it gives 0 CPC. Makes no sense, is that a glitch, do I need to ignore that if the competition is good, or do I need to move on to something that has both high competition and a decent cpc number (over $1)? Thanks for all your insight by the way. Anytime you are starting your own business in anything it takes patience to learn to do it and do it right. Its sad that most people dont want to hear that and add to the number of those that fail miserably. I myself am not one for a whole lot of patience for something like this, but I refuse to fail so im forcing myself. :)

  27. Sheyi Shobayo

    Sheyi Shobayo

    Spencer, as for me, i still need you to give more information on how you do your link building. Specific infos will be highly appreciated as this will help us all.

    Sheyi

  28. Marc R

    Marc R

    Hey guys,

    I found two really juicy keyword groups but the exact domains are already gone but I thought about combining them. What do you think in general?

    e.g.
    keywordgroup1: keyword1 keyword2 keyword3 (2900 – 2,36EUR)
    keywordgroup2: keyword2 keyword3 keyword4 (1000 – 1,71EUR)

    http://www.keyword1keyword2keyword3keyword4.de

    Would you recommend me combining the keywords? Competition analysis is excluded here.

    Thanks,
    Marc

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Seems like it would be a really long domain. I would personally just do something like: keyword1pro.com (I would just add a suffix – any word after the keyword).

  29. John Pickering

    John Pickering

    Hi Spencer – I really like your post and am busily trying to find my first gem in the dirt.

    But, I must admit I’m finding it very difficult – I am targeting UK searchers, so I’m guessing that search volumes will be about 25% of what they would be in the USA.

    I know, I know if I’m successful in creating long tail sites the income will therefore be 25% of what I could make if I hit the big time in the USA. But, my reasoning is that there will be 75% less competition over here… hopefully.

    So, is it feasible for me to look at search volumes down to 250-300 per month exact match? I’m finding it mighty difficult to find 1000/mth keyword phrases that aren’t highly competitive.

    Or, am I just being too impatient and need to keep on panning for more gold nuggets? When you started out, how long would it take you to find a keyword that fitted most of your criteria to go ahead and start building out a site?

    By the way, many thanks for spending the time and energy on this blog, it is building into a real mine of valuable information!

    Thanks again, John

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sure, you can go after lower search volumes, but the income will be very small. UNLESS you plan on putting lots of content on your site. If that’s the case then going after these low search volume keywords is a great business startegy.

  30. John Pickering

    John Pickering

    Ok, I think I understand, if there are only 300 exact searchers/mth then its going to be very difficult to make any profit with a micro niche, targeting these terms, even if they are UK based.

    I’ve been reading your authority site posts and it makes a lot of sense to me. I could choose a big keyword with 15,000 exact and surround it with lots of 200-400 search terms… over time working on getting the BIG keyword to page one in 9-12mths time.

    Many thanks for the no nonsense information and advice your giving out for free here!

  31. 6 Essential WordPress Plugins for Niche Sites

    6 Essential WordPress Plugins for Niche Sites

    […] alot of plugins to get a site to rank well in Google.  Rankings are much more dependent on the quality of your keyword research and your ability to get links to your […]

  32. 38 Free Wordpress Themes for Niche Websites | Niche Pursuits

    38 Free Wordpress Themes for Niche Websites | Niche Pursuits

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    38 Free WordPress Themes for Niche Websites

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  34. Global Marketing Mix | 38 Free WordPress Themes for Niche Websites

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  35. Global Marketing Mix | 6 Essential WordPress Plugins for Niche Sites

    Global Marketing Mix | 6 Essential WordPress Plugins for Niche Sites

    […] alot of plugins to get a site to rank well in Google.  Rankings are much more dependent on the quality of your keyword research and your ability to get links to your […]

  36. How to Avoid Smart Pricing on Google Adsense | Niche Pursuits

    How to Avoid Smart Pricing on Google Adsense | Niche Pursuits

    […] If you are like me and build sites that target specific keywords and rank in Google for those keywords, then you are probably already getting traffic from the search engines and likely have little to worry about.  This is why keyword research is both the most important and most difficult part of building niche websites. […]

  37. Niche Sites Basics Part 1 | Lifestyle Business Design

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  40. Chai

    Chai

    Hi Spencer,

    Niche site for my site use long time to write article and I agree with you to keyword researcher is important. I will try now and make my money site as you. Thanks So much for I deas.

  41. yvonne

    yvonne

    Hi Spencer
    It is good article, and I truly agree with that not a lot of people realize keywords research is important, or people are not patient to do so, or they do not know how to use these keywords in their website to get better rank.

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