Heads up, Jake is the author of this post…
I'm excited to be back with our second coaching call for Niche Site Project #3!
Today, Ryan and I started digging into some light keyword research on the top 3 niches Ryan identified after our last call.
We discussed some of the possible sub-niches we could go into, and then let that guide us as we dove into Long Tail Platinum, Ubersuggest, and SEMRush to learn more about the kinds of things this audience is looking for.
At the end of this page, you'll find the articles and videos that I provided Ryan after the call to help him better understand long tail keywords in general, and get a few strategies for finding better keyword ideas. If those are areas you struggle with, be sure to read to the end of the page.
Let me start our second coaching call by telling you this…
Here is an important reminder for everyone as Ryan and I go through these videos:
It isn't a highlight tape.
You know how you watch Sports Center and see the 2 minute highlight tape of a 3 hour-long basketball game? You might watch the highlights and think everything that happened in that game was amazing!
But the reality is, the people who played in that 3 hour game could tell you that there were turnovers, bad calls, TV timeouts, and plenty of other not-so-exciting things that didn't make the highlight tape.
It's a similar circumstance when you read about other people's success stories and sites they've built from nothing into income-generating businesses.
Often you're just seeing the highlight tape.
This isn't necessarily intentional, but building a good site is a big project and when you look back on it months later it is easy to forget the not-so-great keywords you had to sift through to find the really great ones for their site.
Just because me, Perrin, and Spencer are experienced at doing this doesn't mean that we go pop Long Tail Platinum into a microwave and 30 seconds later we have a bowl full of hot keywords.
It takes work, and it's never perfect.
So if you've tried this before and thought “I don't know how these other guys find great keywords so easily…” it probably wasn't as easy as they made it sound – so hang in there.
Check out the video and if you'd like to skip ahead, I've written out the major things we covered below:
You can also listen to the audio only right here.
1. Review Ryan's Top 3 Niches
Our primary goal for call #2 was to review some of the sub-niches Ryan had identified for his 3 top niche ideas.
Really, the point of doing that was to help shape the kinds of seed keywords we'd use in Long Tail Pro, to expand our ideas and ultimately identify what the competition looks like in this niche.
None of it is set in stone at this point, but being aware of the directions you could possibly go is important.
We don't dig too far into the data or deep keyword research on this call, I really just wanted to get a lay of the land and take a peek at some of the sites we'd be trying to go head to head with if we went into that space.
Remember: One of our criteria from the outset was to pick a niche that Ryan was interested in, or had expertise in (or both). I'm a believer that you can make a site work in just about any niche if you have a good plan and execute.
So I really want Ryan to do something that he'll enjoy working on – we just need to make sure the topic has enough depth and get a glimpse of what some potential keywords look like from a competition stand point.
2. Looking For Other Niche Sites
I make a fair amount of decisions based on gut instinct. When I build out a site, I have a rough idea of the angle I'm going to take inside of a niche. That might mean being a little different from everyone else or at least give our site a brand-able identity so we have the opportunity to stand out.
If I really want to go into a niche, I don't let the existence of competitors stop me. I just know I have to build something better.
Think about Brian Dean, who runs the SEO blog over at Backlinko. His site is really only a few years old, but you can't hardly read anything about SEO without hearing about one of Brian's ideas like the Skyscraper Technique. The guy is seemingly everywhere and has become a well-known authority in a relatively short amount of time.
But ask yourself this, what do you think the competition was like for SEO blogs when Brian started Backlinko? Certainly with the thousands of other SEO blogs there wasn't room for one more voice, right? Brian knew that even with all the longstanding SEO sites out there, he could still build a brand by standing out from that huge and very competitive crowd. No doubt things have worked out very well for him.
The point is, as long as the niche is big enough I believe you can carve out your own space to be successful in that niche. The part about standing out from the crowd in some way is much easier when you actually know and care about your topic – which is why that's high on our list of niche selection criteria.
So back to my call with Ryan…
I like using LTP and/or SEMRush to get an idea of who we're going up against when we go into a niche. Is it all huge brands? Is it mostly small niche sites? etc. I get started by finding some keywords we'd possibly target and see who is ranking for them now.
If we find that they have results from other niche sites, that's a great sign!
When I go open up that potential competitor site, the uglier, the better. If the site looks dated and not user-friendly, I know I can beat them there in addition to creating content that is better overall.
Basically, I think if they can get there – so can I.
The same goes for seeing forum threads in your results. Even if the forum's domain has some nice authority, I think it's a good sign to see discussion boards in the top 10 – I feel like I can create a much better piece of content on the topic and outrank them.
In today's call, I saw enough in SEMRush on the potential competition that I know if we really put in the hours we'll have no problem finding plenty of topics and keywords inside of our niche that we've not even thought of yet.
We also talk a little bit about page and domain authority, where the lower the number the better (as far as what you want to see in a competitor).
3. A Variety Of Keywords
In our call, we cross one of the 3 possible niches off the list. One reason we did that is because after looking at some of the top sites in SEMRush, it seems like there is a lack of keyword variety (when compared to the other 2 niches we reviewed.)
This doesn't mean that Ryan (or someone else) can't build a site in that niche with success, I just think it was the weakest of the 3.
I prefer a site where there is a great variety of keywords – all kinds of things we can talk about and rank for.
4. A Rough Monetization Strategy
We don't end up spending much time on this topic, but I think with the 2 niches we're deciding between have plenty of monetization opportunities. Affiliate products should be plentiful, as well as the opportunity to build a list and create our own physical product down the road if we'd like.
5. Wrap Up
The point of what we did today was to get Ryan comfortable with different tools and techniques for discovering keywords and doing niche research in general. As we get ready to pick a niche, here is a reminder of how we're approaching it:
- Ryan needs to love the topic and/or be an expert in it.
- We want to make sure the topic is focused, but broad enough that we could easily find dozens of keywords and build a bigger site.
- We want to see other niche sites ranking for keywords that we'd also target. If we see really weak sites, that's a great sign.
- We want to see a fairly clear path to monetization.
In a nutshell, that's how we're thinking about it. I'm very confident that Ryan will be successful in either of his final 2 niches that he chooses and next week we'll dig even further into keyword research and be ready to make a decision.
Assignment For Ryan
I left Ryan with the task of continuing his own keyword research, primarily using UberSuggest and Long Tail Platinum. On our next call, we'll review some of the keywords Ryan finds and look at the competition together to determine if it's something we might target.
Since we'll really be taking a deeper dive into the keywords of our final 2 niches, we hope to make a decision on the niche soon so we can really focus our efforts.
To set the groundwork for what a long tail keyword is and how the strategy of using them to get organic traffic works, I shared the following webinar replay that Spencer and I did a few months ago:
For both your benefit and Ryan's, I'd like to share a few blog posts I've written at LongTailPro.com that can really help you make the most of the LTP + Ubersuggest combination: