How To Do Keyword Research for a Competitive Niche
We have all heard it before – keyword research is the most important part of building a website. Well for an Authority website keyword research is not as important to me as it is for my micro-niche sites. However, if I were to create my authority site and right away try to rank for my primary keywords I would simply be banging my head against the wall. Let me share with you how I plan on getting traffic to my highly competitive student loan site via the “back door”.
Key Strategy #1 – Backdoor Keywords
When I will be creating my authority website I a will be going up against tough competition (banks, Universities and the Government!) each of these organizations have significant costs with each piece of content they publish and therefore target only keywords with high commercial value or high search volume. This leaves a large swath of keywords in most niches with no one targeting them either through PPC(in the case of the low commercial value keywords) or SEO and a great opportunity for a scrappy start-up authority website to come into a niche via these “backdoor keywords”.
A Niches “Backdoor Keywords” Have
Low Commercial Value with Moderate Traffic
You may be wondering if I am planning on targeting these low/no commercial value keywords how do I make money? It’s a fair question, my answer to that question is I will still have the high commercial value pages/posts on my website and traffic will flow from the low commercial value pages/posts to the high value pages/posts.
Key Strategy #2 – Usefulness of my Website is More Important Than Low Competition
Keyword research is important but it is more important to have a complete body of work on the subject. If the visitors to my website are looking for a piece of content that I have no chance of ranking for I will still include it on my site to improve the websites usefulness. Keyword research is the #1 concern for my micro-niche sites because I can rank based solely on the lack of competition. Using a keyword research tool can help you do keyword forecasting along with finding low competition keywords for your content. However, for an authority site I need to provide lots of value to my visitors and generate natural links to help boost my SEO efforts. Therefore, I don’t worry as much about competition as I do when I am building Micro-Niche Websites.
At the end of the keyword research phase I will have a sitemap for the website written out. This sitemap will be used to assign writers to create my content. I will provide a link to the keyword research template I use to create my sitemaps.
Step 1 – Create Initial Keyword Seed List/Sitemap
Now that the niche I am targeting has been defined here it is time to lay out the type of site my target avatar would like.
To do this I visit similar websites and create an outline of the key pages on the site that will be of THE MOST VALUE to my visitors.
Step 2 – Identify Pillar Content Page Titles
Now that I have the outline of my sitemap I want to identify my pillar article titles and the subpage titles. Using google adwords keyword tool makes this process very easy.
The structure for my pages will be one main article for a target keyword with several sub-pages in the form of a drop down menu.
- Target Keyword
- “Long Tailed” Version of Keyword #1
- “Long Tailed” Version of Keyword #2
- “Long Tailed” Version of Keyword #3
- “Long Tailed” Version of Keyword #4
Step 3 – Identify Low Competition Keywords and Post Titles
The final step of keyword research for my authority website is to identify the post titles I will need to have written. These posts are not big enough keywords to have a page and subpages dedicated to it but there is the potential to rank for the keyword so I want to include it as a post.
The trick here, see Key Strategy #1 at the top of this tutorial, is for me to identify the “low hanging fruit”, keywords that will be easier to rank for.
What Makes a Keyword Easy to Rank For? Low competition in the top 10 in Google, here is what I am looking for…
- 50% or less of the results have the keyword in the title
- 2 or more PR0 websites with no Backlinks in Top 10
- 2 or more Weak websites in the top 10 (ehow, yahoo answers, ezine, forum)
In some highly competitive niches it will be very difficult to find keywords that meet the above criteria but the goal is to get keywords as close to the above target as possible.
I will put a lot of effort into this stage of the keyword research since identifying these easier keywords to rank for in a highly competitive market is one of the only ways for me to have my site get traffic at the start.
This technique is not perfect for all niches but it generally gives you a good idea of what some of the less competitive keywords are to target.
As Promised – Here is my initial sitemap (Public Google Document – Click Here)
What I Just Did Was The Hard Way…
Here is The Easy Way To Find The Best Keywords
Watch as I find low competition keywords in a competitive niche in under 5 minutes!
This technique is not perfect for all niches but it generally gives you a quick idea of what some of the less competitive and therefore easier to rank for keywords are.
The strength of LongTailPro I love which isn’t directly related to an authority niche is its ability to find exact match domains for keywords that can easily rank with decent content and a few backlinks. Although this site is talking about 1 authority website, my team is still building niche sites using LongTailPro.
Try LongTailPro free for 10 days – Click Here (aff. Link)
Other Keyword Research Tutorials
- SEOMoz Begginers Series is Great – Chapter 5 Keyword Research
- Spencer Haws is probably the best to learn from when it comes to keyword research he has some great tutorials to go with LongTailPro – Here (aff. link) and a really good post on how to analyze the top 10 in Google
- How the guys at AdsenseFlippers do keyword research here