Choosing a Niche and Keyword Research

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A few things were taken into account when I chose the niche for this Niche Site (the Dumb Way) Follow-Along. For starters, I know it can be risky to reveal my niche, keyword and URL to others. One reason is that somebody could steal my idea and build a better site around my targeted keyword. Another is that somebody could attack me (for various unknown reasons) by click-bombing my Adsense ads and putting my Adsense account at risk.

For the sake of this follow-along, I wanted to minimize those risks by choosing a very specific niche that will only be good for a limited time. Actually, I said that backwards. I already had the idea for this niche and decided that it would fit perfectly for this follow-along because it will be a short-lived site. Being that the site will have a very short life, I needed to find a keyword that I thought I could rank very quickly for. I am 1 for 2 on ranking quickly with my first two niche sites. Let’s hope that improves to 2 for 3 after this attempt.

Choosing My Niche (the Dumb Way)

I decided to go after a niche built around the upcoming 2012 presidential election. This explains why this site is going to have a very short life. As soon as the election is over the site is going to be dead. So why would I choose this niche? Partly because politics is very interesting to me. I follow the latest news in politics and listen to a lot of political talk radio (conservative and liberal). I know this topic is going to be hot up until the election and I also know that I see political ads all over the internet. It is not secret that hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars are going to be spent on advertising for the upcoming election and that some of that money will be absolutely spent on Google Adwords campaigns. I figured, why not build a site around the election and get a piece of that action!

So yes, it is probably very dumb that I am spending so much time building a site that is going to have a very short life. But then again, I am still learning the niche site building process and this fits perfectly into this little follow-along that I am doing. My two concerns I talked about above are greatly minimized. I doubt anybody else will be as dumb as me and steal my idea and build a site that is only good for a couple of months. As soon as the election is over, I can simply take the Adsense off the site. Boom. Those risks are gone.

Keyword Research (the Dumb Way)

As mentioned, I do my keyword research the dumb way. This simply means I don’t use any of the paid tools, yet. The Google Adwords free keyword tool suits me just fine for now. Keep in mind that this tool is designed for advertisers who are looking to spend money on advertisements through Google Adwords. It just happens to be useful as well for site owners who wish to place Adsense ads on their sites. It is best if you are signed up for, and signed into, your free Adwords account. This way you don’t have to complete a captcha to do your research.

Signed into my Adwords account, the first thing I do is un-check the box next to Broad and check the box next to [Exact] over on the left-hand side of the screen. When doing keyword research, we should always be analyzing only exact match searches. Next, I typed in the keyword election 2012. The screenshot below shows my results from July 24, 2012 (click to enlarge).

As you can see, the keyword election 2012 and most of its top suggested keyword ideas all have Low competition ratings. This means that not a lot of advertisers are currently bidding to place their ads on sites containing these keywords. Normally, these are keywords that should be avoided. In this case though, I am making an educated guess that advertiser competition will pick up especially as we get closer to the election.

Keyword Research – First Page Analysis

The next step in my keyword research process was to analyze the competition on the first page of Google for several of the suggested keyword ideas. I first checked election 2012, which gets 74,000 monthly global searches and 14,800 local (U.S.) searches. I could tell immediately at first glance that there was no way I could beat any of the sites in the top 10 for this search term. They were sites like Reuters, NPR, RealClearPolitics, etc., and all had page ranks (PR’s) of 4, 6 or 7. I looked at Google first page results for several of the keywords from the list in the screenshot above.

The keyword that intrigued me the most was election day 2012. It’s global and local search results were the same (and good) at 8,100. It also had the best CPC (cost-per-click) of all of the top suggested keywords on that list. The Google first page results on that day looked like this (click to enlarge).

I am still not an expert at first page analysis, and admit I hardly knew what I was doing when analyzing this keyword. The top two pages are Wikipedia entries. I knew I couldn’t beat them. But after that, none of the other sites in the top results were specifically built around the exact keyword election day 2012. Many of them simply had parts of that keyword somewhere within the title of the post and not necessarily the exact match for the keyword. Based on this, I decided to go after this keyword. I think I can beat out some of these sites simply with my on site SEO strategy and some simple link building.

Note: Since doing this initial first page analysis, I’ve downloaded a Google Chrome extension called SEOQuake (also available for Firefox) which greatly helps me analyze first page results. I highly suggest this FREE tool if you are serious about doing keyword research the dumb (free) way like me.

Keyword Research – Other Considerations

There are a few other reasons I like this keyword as well, including:

  • It’s potential monthly Adsense earnings according to my keyword value estimation calculation if my site gets to the first page in Google is $73.51, with a potential to reach $367.54 if I could get to #1 (not likely).
  • The content possibilities are endless, with several state and federal elections, and hundreds of different candidates running for election all on this same day. Also, recent and up-to-date news stories around the election will always be good to target for content.
  • There are several Amazon affiliate sale possibilities with different political books I could review and feature.
  • The exact match domain was available! The .com had already been taken, but I was able to pick up electionday2012.net.
And that’s about it for my initial “choosing a niche and keyword research.” Keep in mind, that all of this occured in late July, 2012. I am writing this post on August 15th, and do have some work done on the site. What I am trying to say is that the niche site itself is a little ahead of this follow-along. Regardless, my intent is to post in detail everything I am doing or have done to build this site and then follow-along with the results.
Readers: What do you think about my process so far? Would love to hear any comments, questions or suggestions.
-Matt