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In the last post, I showed you how to identify subtopics within your niche. As I pointed out several times in that article, it’s a crucial step that needs to happen before you start the keyword research process.
If you missed that post, I highly encourage you to go back and check it out. For various reasons, many people skip that step, and it’s one that can severely limit your success when building a list of keywords.
Now that I got that out of the way, in this post, I will focus on the various techniques I use to identity optimal keywords within a given niche. In my opinion, this step is the most important one to get right if you want your site to succeed.
Although it might be tempting, don’t rush through the keyword research process. Take your time and build as thorough of a list as possible. Don’t leave any stones unturned.
As I mention regularly, these methods are just meant to get you off on the right foot. As you become more familiar with these techniques, you’ll find ways to tweak them to make them even more powerful.
Before we dive into the methods, I should point out that keyword research never ends. People are always searching for new things in any given niche, so there are always opportunities to be had.
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Use these techniques, along with any others that you come across, to identify as many keywords as possible. Tackle each subtopic one at a time and approach it from every angle you can think of.
As your list starts to grow, you’ll want to step back and check the competition for each keyword and put each in a bucket (no competition, low competition, etc.). This is quite the process on its own, so I’ll cover it in another article.
For now, let’s get started with the methods.
How to Find Keywords
While I have used ahrefs, Semrush, and several other tools for finding keywords in the past, most of them are quite expensive, and I’ve found that I seem to unearth considerably more keywords using a tool called Keywords Everywhere, along with Google Search. That is what I’ll focus on in this guide.
Gauging Volume with Keywords Everywhere
If you’re unfamiliar with Keywords Everywhere, it is a Chrome and Firefox extension that, once installed, will show you the estimated, monthly, search volume right next to a search term in Google Search, YouTube, Answer the Public, and several other sites.
While no tool is super accurate, I use Keywords Everywhere as a general guide to make sure I’m not wasting my time going after high-volume keywords (which are almost always also high in competition) or keywords with very little volume.
A major component of my team’s strategy for building niche sites is to only target low-competition keywords early on in a site’s development. As you might have guessed, low competition keywords also tend to be low in volume. That’s one of the main reasons we use Keywords Everywhere.
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To get the most out of the tool, make sure to search for variations of each keyword that you’re considering adding to your list. For example, if you search for “night fishing tips,” you’ll see a search volume of 390.
A volume of 390 is right in the sweet spot of what I target, which is generally between 30 and 1,000. However, if you search for the same topic worded as “fishing at night,” you’ll see a volume of 8,100.
This is why it’s so important to check any variations you can think of before targeting a keyword. Just because a search returns a volume of 50 doesn’t mean that the keyword is a low-volume keyword.
Now before we move on, I just want to point out that the steps that I’ll outline below do not require you to use Keywords Everywhere or any other paid tool. I simply like having a general guideline to save me time from chasing keywords that I’d eventually not target anyway.
You can definitely get by just fine without a tool. It will likely take a bit longer to build your keyword list, but that’s not something that should keep you from moving forward.
Using Google Auto-Complete
Believe it or not, after trying a multitude of keyword research techniques over the years, I pretty much exclusively find keywords using Google’s auto-complete feature. This involves several different approaches, which I’ll go into next.
When you first type a phrase like “can you go fishing” into Google Search, you will notice that Google tries to predict what you’ll type next. These predictions are based on past searches (from you and others across the globe).
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The first way to start building your keyword list is to start typing the beginning of every phrase you can think of within each subtopic that you’ve identified for your niche, then let Google tell you what people are searching for.
Simply add each auto-complete suggestion to a spreadsheet to come back to later to analyze the competition. If you’re using Keywords Everywhere, make sure to write down the estimated search volume as well.
The next way to take advantage of Google Search auto-complete is to place your cursor between two words in the search phrase. For example, type “how to a fish,” then place your cursor between “to” and “a.” You should see results similar to these:
As you can see, simply placing your cursor between two words will tell Google to auto-complete searches with phrases that have words between those two words. Again, add any keywords that you think have potential to your spreadsheet.
To take the auto-complete functionality a step further to really start uncovering some great keywords, start typing each letter of the alphabet, either at the end of the phrase or between two words.
For example, if you type the letter “b” between “for” and “fishing” in the phrase “tips for fishing,” you show see something similar to this:
Simply repeat this process with each letter of the alphabet, and you should be able to quickly grow your list of potential keywords to target.
The next tip starts to dive into more specific searches, also known as long-tail keywords. These are typically the ones that will have the least amount of competition, because less people will be searching for them.
For this example, start typing “how to fly fish” into Google Search. Now, simply add the word “with” to the end of your search. This will produce some specific searches related to fly fishing.
Along the same lines, you can add the word “without” to the end of a phrase like “how to fish without.”
Again, you’ll see a nice list of long-tail keywords to add to your spreadsheet. Now, simply add each letter of the alphabet after “with” or “without” to uncover additional specific search phrases.
My final tip for using auto-complete in Google Search is the toughest, but will give you the most unique results. If you can master this technique, you’ll find a lot of keywords that mostly go unnoticed.
This technique involves some creativity. What you need to do is think about various words and phrases that are specific to your niche, then combine them with the auto-complete techniques I’ve covered above.
For example, you would expect the word “water” to be in a lot of fishing keywords, so you might try something like “how to fish water,” then put your cursor between fish and water. You should see something like this:
While you might think that you would have already uncovered some of these keywords by typing “how to fish” then putting the letter “i” after it, as you can see below, that’s definitely not the case.
The final technique that I just covered above is what can really set you apart from your competitors. If you can think outside of the box and combine the methods above with some common phrases in your niche, you can find a ton of untapped keywords.
Checking Related Keywords
Whether or not you’re using Keywords Everywhere, another great place to look for keywords is in the “Related Searches” section at the bottom of the results page when you enter a word or phrase into Google Search. If you use the Keywords Everywhere extension, you’ll be presented with three related search sections on the right side as well.
Regardless of whether or not you use the extension, you can find plenty of great keywords listed in the related searches section, and clicking on one of those searches can lead to yet another list of related searches with more potential keywords.
Here’s an example of the related keywords section when entering “ocean fishing tips” into Google Search. Clicking any of these results will lead to another list of related search terms, and so on.
I have spent hours going down rabbit holes using this simple technique. Simply write down each keyword that you think might make sense to target, then move on to the next.
As you drill down into the related searches over and over, you’ll like come across several long-tail searches, which are typically the best ones to target.
If I had to choose only one thing to get right when building a niche site, keyword research would be it. The keywords that you end up targeting will significantly impact your site’s chance of succeeding.
With that being said, take your time on this step and be as thorough as possible. Attack it from every angle you can think of, using every method that you come across. Rushing this step will only hurt your site’s potential in the long run.
When done right, a high percentage of the articles that you produce around the keywords that you find will start to bring in some money, with each post helping to grow your overall passive income stream.
Hi, this is great post. But i have question. If keywords don’t have search volume that are shown by keyword everywhere. How you determine search volume of these keyword?
Good question. There’s really no reliable way to get the search volume of a keyword, but a good way to get an indication that people are searching for something is to search for variations of a keyword to see if Google auto-completes those terms. For example, if you’re searching for “can you swim in a river” and it shows zero for the search volume, see if Google auto-completes similar search terms like swimming in a river, can you swim in rivers, hot to swim in a river, should you swim in a river, etc. If you see similar terms like these pop up, it’s a good indicator that there is enough search volume to move forward.
Thanks for your useful tip
I’m glad it helped!