Competitor Sampling: Spencer and Samara Coaching Call 2
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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 how to choose a niche, 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.
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/
- Brainstorm general market/niche ideas
- Pick a niche through keyword sampling and site Doppelgangers
- Begin In-depth keyword research (find hundreds of low competition keywords to create content on)
- What problem is your site solving? How will your site stand out?
- Domain, Theme, Logo, Voice, and more to help build a brand
- Develop a long term content strategy
- Writing and publishing content
- Monetization strategy: short and long term (possible product ideas)
- Getting noticed: Outreach, PR, and Linkable Assets
- Social Media strategies
- Maximizing revenue through list building
- Paid traffic strategies
- 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
- Am I interested in starting a long term project in this niche?
- Can I easily produce 100+ content ideas?
- From my keyword sample, how many keywords had under KC 30?
- How easy was it to find long tail keywords in this niche vs. others I tried? (rate easiest to hardest)
- From the under KC 30 keywords; how many “weak” (Doppelganger) sites did I find? (Under DA 25-30, less than year)
- Using SEMrush, how many other weak sites was I able to find?
- How much traffic do each of these Doppelganger sites get (in SEMrush)? (maximum of 10 per niche is more than enough).
- Do I see the potential to create products in this niche?
- 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?
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.
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