Find a Niche Step #2: Understand the Search Landscape - KeywordsBlogger.com

Find a Niche Step #2: Understand the Search Landscape

Lesson Summary

1) The search landscape is a birds-eye view of all search activity in a niche.

2) There are two steps to mapping out the search landscape:

a) Brainstorm seed keywords:

  • A seed keyword is a short, generic term for a niche topic 
  • Seed keywords are increasingly important in keyword research because Google is placing greater emphasis on topical authority than keywords when ranking web pages
  • Seed keywords should be either informational or commercial:
  • Informational keywords indicate the searcher wants to learn something
  • Commercial keywords indicate the searcher wants to buy something

b) Create a "topics map"

  • A topics map is an inventory of all informational and commercial (aka "buyer") keywords in a niche
  • The three best free tools for building your topics map are Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, and Answer the Public
  • There are three steps to create a topics map:
  • Enter your seed topics into a good keyword research tool
  • Add qualifier keywords to zero in on the most relevant informational & buyer keywords
  • Get search volume and competition data for those keywords
  • Using a paid tool like Ahrefs you can build a topics map either through keywords or analyzing competitor sites
  • The ultimate way to find low-competition keywords is to combine (1) keyword difficulty scores from a paid tool like Ahrefs with (2) the Keyword Golden Ratio calculation

Once you’ve settled on a promising nicheyou need to understand what that niche’s “search landscape” is.

 The “search landscape” is a birds-eye view of all the search activity in a niche. It consists of:
  • All the different types of keywords that your audience is typing into Google to find solutions to their needs. These keywords can be grouped into “topics” to create what I call a “topics map” (more on that below)
  • Search volume of those keywords
  • Competition levels of those keywords

Note

If we were talking about the entire landscape for a niche, we’d include search activity in all online channels, including Youtube, Facebook, etc.


But that’s not necessary when starting a niche site – focusing on organic Google search traffic is enough work!

To understand the search landscape, I follow two steps:

  1. 1
    Brainstorm seed keywords for the niche
  2. 2
    Create a “topics map"

Let's dive into each step...

Step #1: Brainstorm Seed Keywords for Your Niche

Seed keyword:
A short, generic term for a niche topic

In addition to being a short, generic term for a topic, a seed keyword can also be thought of as a “head” keyword.

A head keyword typically consists of one of two words - but, more importantly, gets lots of searches.

The opposite is a “tail” keyword, which gets relatively few searches, and usually consists of multiple words.

Here are examples of head and tail keywords in the “dog” niche:

Keyword

Search Volume

dog breeds

258,000

small dog breeds

84,000

best small dog breeds

2,500

best senior dog food small breeds

600

From the list above, I would consider the first two (“dog breeds”, and “small dog breeds”) to be head keywords, because they’re general terms that get lots of searches.

The last two terms (“best small dog breeds” and “best senior dog food small breeds”) are tail keywords, because they get far fewer searches (and they’re also quite specific). 

Why Bother with Seed Keywords?

When you’re brainstorming seed keywords, you want to go as wide as possible without straying into a different niche. So we need a better word than keywords to describe what we’re looking for: what we’re really looking for are seed topics.

The reason we want to focus on closely-related topics is because in recent years Google has been placing less importance on individual keywords and more importance on topics.

Here’s a great quote by Raven Tools that sums it up:

quote-left

Google isn’t going to give you authority based on keywords alone anymore. Now you need to show Google that you can holistically cover a topic as an expert.”

quote-right
raven tools

So if the topics that your niche site covers meander all over the place, Google will have a hard time figuring out what your site is an expert about.

That’s why you want a tight focus for your niche site. Focusing tightly on the topics for your site makes it easier for you to:

  • Research what your audience wants
  • Decide what to write about
  • Create content that meets your audience’s need
  • Signal to Google what your site is about

And the quicker Google understands what your site is about, the quicker your site can rank.

(Note: I’ll be using the terms “seed keywords” and “seed topics” interchangeably in this guide. Even though “topics” is a better word, I recognize that “keywords” is much more widely used.)

Focus on Head Keywords When Brainstorming

When you’re brainstorming seed keywords, you want to stick with head keywords - because if you start with the more narrow (lower search volume) tail keywords you might miss out on some good keywords that would be easy to rank for.

This brings me to another important tip: when you’re brainstorming niches to enter, it’s crucial that you brainstorm a list of related seed keywords.

By brainstorming a small list of (related) head keywords, you’ll ultimately:

  • Find more tail keywords that are low-competition. Simply put, the bigger your basket of keywords/topics, the greater your chances of finding some low-competition gems.
  • Find keywords you can rank for. You can’t be 100% sure ahead of time which keywords will be a winner for you. You might assume that a particular keyword will be easy to rank for and lead to lots of affiliate commissions (or ad clicks or info product sales), but you might simply be wrong.

In my experience, the “80/20” rule applies to keywords. Twenty percent of your keywords – far fewer than 20%, actually – will result in the vast majority of your site’s traffic and revenue.

What to Look for in Seed Keywords

Here’s my criteria for what to look for. Seed keywords/topics should be:

  • High search volume. Your seed keywords are going to be the “umbrella” keywords for the niche you’ll be entering. You’re not going to try to rank your website for those keywords (yet), because they’ll probably be extremely competitive – but you will be trying to rank for keywords that fall underneath those umbrella words.
  • Either “informational” or “commercial”. Informational keywords suggest that the searcher is looking to learn something; commercial (aka “buyer”) keywords suggest that the searcher wants to buy something.

What are examples of seed keywords that you don’t want to look for?

You might not be interested in “navigational” keywords, for one. Those are keywords that people use to find a physical location. In the dog niche, that could be a search term like “dog vet near me”, or “adopt a dog NYC”. (Unless you wanted to create a directory of dog vets on your site, of course.)

Alright, let’s jump into the tools you can use to find a bunch of seed keywords…

9 Free Tools to Brainstorm Seed Keywords/Topics

Make sure you have the Keywords Everywhere extension installed in your web browser. The KE extension automatically displays search volume for keywords on multiple websites, including some of the sites mentioned below.

There are a bunch of free methods and tools you can use to compile a solid list of seed topics. I’ll cover nine of those below, then in the next section I’ll take you through the best paid tool (Ahrefs) that I use every day.

I’ll try to make this section as practical as possible by showing you how I would approach the niche mentioned above: dogs. 

When you’re brainstorming seed topics, remember that you’re looking for terms that are:

  • Broad (but not outside the niche)
  • Informational or commercial
  • High-volume

Here are the nine tools we’re going to use:

Wikipedia
Encyclopedias (online)
Amazon product categories
Google Autocomplete
Google Related searches
Ubersuggest
KWFinder
Google Keyword Planner
Bing Keyword Planner

Let’s dig in…

Wikipedia

The best place to see a broad overview of topics related to a niche is Wikipedia


While Wikipedia won’t give you the search volume for topics, it’s a great place to get a feel for the main topics in a niche.

How to Brainstorm Seed Keywords Using Wikipedia:

1.

Go to Wikipedia.org

2.

Type in the broadest term for your niche (in this example, I’ll use the term “dog”)

3.

Review the “Contents” menu and pick out the topics that you’d be interested in covering on your site.


Here are some of the topics I picked out:

These are the topics:

  • Origin
  • Anatomy
  • Health
  • Reproduction (i.e. breeding)
  • Intelligence, behavior, communication
  • Diet
  • Breeds
  • Health benefits for humans

All of those topics would be interesting to cover on a site - to me (and that’s an important point. While you don’t have to be passionate about topics to include them on your site, you should at least have an interest in them. This is supposed to be fun, right?).

We don’t have search volume data on those topics (yet) but that doesn’t matter at this point, because we’ll be using a couple of tools that will give us search volume.

And because there’s search volume for just about any topic you can think of, if Wikipedia devotes a section to it, rest assured that some people will be searching Google for that topic.

Encylopedias (Online)

If you’re under the age of 40, maybe you haven’t encountered this word before.

Back in the olden days, an “encyclopedia” was a big, thick book that contained information on everything.

The great thing about encyclopedias is they’re organized to cover the main topics of a subject, all in one book. They’re an offline version of Wikipedia!

Here’s the secret to finding seed keywords from encyclopedias in less than 20 seconds: scanning the table of contents in books on Amazon.

How to Brainstorm Seed Keywords Using Books on Amazon.com:

1.

Go to Amazon.com

2.

Click “Departments”, then click “Books

3.

Enter the broadest term for your niche. In this sample case, I use the term “dog”

4.

Look for books that seem like they cover the major topics of the niche. One way to do that is to search the page for the word “encyclopedia” (or “beginners” or “definitive”

5.

When I do that for the term “dog”, I actually find a book called The Dog Encyclopedia: The Definitive Visual Guide

6.

Click on the book title; then click “Look Inside”; then click “Table of Contents

7.

Pick out the topics that you’d be interested in covering on your site

Here’s what I picked out from The Dog Encyclopedia:

Section 3 of the book, in particular, contained a lot of interesting topics that I bet get good search volume:

  • Bringing your dog home
  • A balanced diet
  • Exercise
  • Grooming
  • Behavioral problems
  • Signs of health
  • Inherited disorders
  • Parasites
  • Breeding

You can also see that there are overlaps with the topics I picked out from the Wikipedia page on dogs (diet, exercise, health, breeding, etc.) So we’re starting to see patterns.

Google Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete

If you’ve ever seen Google try to “guess” what you’re searching for as you type a word into the search box, you’ve seen Autocomplete in action.

What you’re going to do in this step is simply type your broad niche term into Google.com and see what Google suggests.

Here’s what Google autocomplete showed me for the word “dog”:

Notice two things:

  • Search volume was automatically displayed (that’s the Keywords Everywhere browser extension displaying the search volume, not Google)
  • Results were personalized for my location (that’s not great, because you want the broadest results possible, but it’s not a big deal)

So here are the topics I recorded:

  • Breeds
  • For adoption [city]
  • Names
  • For sale
  • For adoption

Not a very useful list, but there are some overlaps that continue to show us a pattern (i.e. lots of people looking for info on breeds and adoption).

Google Related Searches

Google Related Searches

Google displays “related searches” at the bottom of every results page. I guess they put it there as a last resort for users who scroll down the whole page and can’t find what they’re looking for (shame on Google…).

Here’s what I found when I typed “dog” into Google and scrolled down to the bottom of the page:

Like Google Autocomplete, this list of related searches is short, but it still feeds into our “what patterns are there?” detective work.

Ubersuggest

ubersuggest

Ubersuggest.com is a free keyword research tool that pulls its data from Google Keyword Planner and Google Autocomplete.

Ubersuggest provides two types of keyword ideas: “Suggestions” and “Related”. “Suggestions” include the exact seed keyword you entered (in the order you entered it), while “Related” provides keywords that are conceptually-related to the seed you entered.

The tool also provides search volume, CPC (cost-per-click), and estimated competition in paid search (again, pulled from the Google Keyword Planner), along with an “SD” metric that measures competition in the organic search results (I’m not sure where it gets that data from). 

For brainstorming seed keywords, the “Related” feature of Ubersuggest is most useful. Here’s what the tool gave me for the term “dog”:

What I really like about this feature is the breadth of topics it provides.

For example, “animal shelter” is one topic I would haven’t thought of. In the next stage of my keyword research I can add the word “dog” and do searches for the term “dog animal shelter” to see if there are interesting and low-competition keywords to target.

I also like that Ubersuggest doesn’t skimp on the number of keywords it gives away. I got 600 related keywords from one search, without the need to register or pay.

KWFinder.com

keywordfinder

KWFinder is another free keyword research tool that can provide some useful seed keywords.

They also have three ways to search for keywords:

  • 1
    Suggestions” shows related keywords (most useful for finding seed keywords)
  • 2
    Autocomplete” pulls keywords from Google’s Autocomplete function
  • 3
    Questions” shows you searches that are being done on Google that contain your keyword and are being done in question form

KWFinder appears to severely limit the number of free searches you can do, so you have to register to get five free searches. But if you’re strapped for cash and can’t afford a paid keyword research tool, it’s worth giving them your email address.

Here’s what I found when I entered “dog” into KWFinder:

seed keyword research kwfinder

The results are similar to Ubersuggest, but with KWFinder you only get access to 50 keywords – even after giving them your email address. Much better to just use Ubersuggest, IMHO.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Ads

Now we get to the grand-pappy of keyword research tools – the original tool itself!

Google’s keyword tool was an awesome free tool between 2005 and 2013. Then in 2013 it was re-launched as the Google Keyword Planner (GKP) and Google removed precise search volume for non-advertisers, instead providing volume “ranges”. Not very useful…

But there’s a way to get access to exact search volume data without running a Google Ads (i.e. paid) advertising campaign. I’ll show you one way below.

(If you don’t already have a Google Ads account, go here to sign up. Note that Google will want you to set up an ad campaign, which you’ll need a credit card for. You’re going to PAUSE the ad campaign once you set it up, so just add any text to the ad fields – don’t worry about setting up a good ad campaign!)

Once you’ve set up your Google Ads account, click “Tools” in the top menu, then click “Keyword Planner”:

google ad keyword planner GKP

Then you’ll be taken to the homepage for GKP.

There are two ways to quickly find seed topics in Google Keyword Planner: (1) using keywords, or (2) using a competitor's URL.

How to Find Seed Topics in Google Keyword Planner Using Keywords:

1.

Click on “Find new keywords”:

find new keywords
2.

Enter a broad seed keyword that best reflects your nice. In this example I use the keyword “dog”:

b.	Enter a broad seed keyword
3.

Once you click “Get Started”, you’ll see the following screen:

Google Keyword Planner (GKP)

For the purpose of generating seed topics, you only need to pay attention to the sections I’ve highlighted in red.

For a plain-English explanation of what each section is, and how to use it to get the best seed topics for your new site, click on the tab below that corresponds with the section on the screenshot:

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E

This section is where you set the location, language, and search network for your search. 

Location and Language are self-explanatory. If you want data for the biggest market, choose “United States” and “English”.

Search networks” is made for advertisers, because this feature allows you to choose between advertising on Google alone (i.e. just the Google SERPs) or “Google and search partners” (which includes the Google SERPs and “hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as Google Video and other Google sites”). 

For the purposes of keyword research we want to stick with Google alone, so for “Search networks” just leave “Google”.

How to Find Seed Topics in Google Keyword Planner Using a Competitor's URL:

If this sounds a little weird, this is how GKP does it: when you enter the URL of a competitor site, Google scans the pages of that site and, based on the site’s content, assigns keywords/topics to it. GKP then shows you those keywords/topics.

Follow these steps to generate seed topics based on a competitor’s URL:

1.

Copy one of the high-volume seed topics that you found in step #1. For this example, I’ll use the topic “dog breeds”.

2.

Go to Google and search for that topic. This is what I found for “dog breeds”:

dog breeds keyword research

AKC.org and DogTime.com look like good sites to use for my GKP topics search, because both sites are focused on dogs exclusively (“AKC” stands for “American Kennel Club”).

Note that when using URLs to find seed topics in GKP, you want to use the URL of an entire website, not the URL of a single web page


That’s because we want Google to scan the entire site to generate as many topic ideas as possible. Using only a single web page would limit the topic ideas that GKP generates.

3.

Go back to Google Keyword Planner and click on the “Tools” icon at the top of your screen to go back to the Keyword Planner main screen.

4.

Click “Find new keywords”.

5.

Enter the URL for the first site (in this case, AKC.org) then click “Get Started”:

google keyword planner URL_search enter competitor URL
6.

GKP will then show you a list of keywords and topics that it associates with that site:

google keyword planner URL search AKC result

This resulted in a big list of keywords (2,492). If you do this for a few of the top sites on the first page of the Google SERP, you can generate a ton of ideas for your new niche site.

But first, remember that GKP displays the results by keyword relevance. When we’re searching using broad keywords that’s fine, but when we search using a URL sometimes GKP shows relevant keywords that are too long-tail (i.e. low search volume). 

To get broader topics, we need to re-sort the results by Avg. monthly searches. Here’s what I got when I did that:?

google keyword planner URL_search_AKC_result sorted by volume

This is an awesome list of seed topics that get good search volume and are very buyer-oriented!

“Dog beds”, “heated dog house”, “dog teeth cleaning”, “gps tracker for dogs”, and “dog playpen” get a minimum of 10k searches per month according to GKP, and all are commercial keywords.

I’m going to download this list of keywords by clicking the “Download Keyword Ideas” link near the top of the page, and add them to my seed keywords spreadsheet. 

Bing Keyword Planner

bing ads logo

Bing’s Keyword Planner is a hidden gem. Not only is it easy to use, it’s only one of two original sources of keyword data (the other being Google Keyword Planner). So you know the search volume numbers are accurate.

Having said that, you do have to sign up for a Bing Ads account to get access to Bing’s Keyword Planner. But you don’t have to actually run an advertising campaign or spend any money, so it’s well worth it.

Once you’ve signed up for a Bing Ads account, here’s how to use the Bing Keyword Planner to get juicy seed keywords:

1.

From the Bing Ads homepage, click on Tools > Keyword Planner

bing ads choose keyword planner
2.

You’ll then be taken to the Bing Keyword Planner homepage. As you can see, it’s pretty similar to the Google Keyword Planner set-up – the main way to search is by keywords or URL:

bing keyword planner homepage
3.

On this page I simply enter a seed keyword, and leave all the default settings as they are (if you want to research keywords for a particular country or language, you can change the settings under “Targeting”)

bing keyword planner enter keyword
4.

By default, Bing Keyword Planner will show you the ad group suggestions, sorted by relevance:

bing keyword planner ad group suggestions

You’ll notice one thing straight away compared to the Google Keyword Planner: the search volumes are waaayyy lower!

That’s why I find it more useful to sort the results by Average monthly searches instead of relevance:

bing keyword planner ad group suggestions sorted_by_volume

So that’s one way to see the most-popular searches. But a better way is to click on “Keyword suggestions”, which shows individual keywords (make sure to also sort by Average monthly searches):

bing keyword planner keyword suggestions

As you can see, we’re getting some similar keywords as with the Google Keyword Planner.

For example, the Bing Keyword Planner is telling us that some of the most-popular searches related to “dog” are:

  • Dog breeds
  • Dog adoption
  • Dog training

Here’s one big difference to keep in mind, however: the Bing Keyword Planner displays two types of keywords: “Search terms” and “Keyword”.

Here’s the difference, straight from the Bing Ads site: 

A search term is the word or phrase that customers enter when searching on Bing, AOL, Yahoo and their syndicated search partners. A keyword is the word or phrase you add to your Bing Ads campaign to target your ads to customers.

Pretty vague, right? It seems that a “keyword” is a generalized term that Bing assigns to a category of keywords – as opposed to the exact term that searches are typing into Bing’s search engines.

And , as you can see from my screenshots, the Bing Keyword Planner shows a lot more “keywords” than “search terms”! Not very helpful.

That’s why my go-to tool is always the Google Keyword Planner over the Bing Keyword Planner. The data from the GKP is just so much more accurate and useful. 

Amazon Product Categories

amazon products logo

This is a quick and simple one: just go to Amazon and copy the product categories related to your niche.

Here’s how to do it:

1.

Go to Amazon.com

2.

Click “Departments”

3.

Click the product category that best represents your niche (in this case, I chose “Dogs”)

seed keyword research amazon products
4.

In the left-side menu, copy the product categories.

seed keyword research amazon products

These are the product categories I copied:

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Apparel & Accessories
  • Beds & Furniture
  • Cameras & Monitors
  • Toys
  • Carriers & Travel Products
  • Collars, Harnesses & Leashes
  • Crates, Houses & Pens
  • Doors, Gates & Ramps
  • Feeding & Watering Supplies
  • Training & Behavior Aids
  • Flea & Tick Control
  • Grooming
  • Health Supplies
  • Litter & Housebreaking
  • Memorials

This is an awesome way to quickly see what types of “buyer” keywords you’ll be looking for during the next stage of keyword research.

How to Find Seed Keywords Using My Favorite Paid Tool: Ahrefs

ahrefs logo

If you want to massively reduce the amount of time necessary to find seed keywords, you have to check out my favorite paid keyword research tool: Ahrefs.

I literally use Ahrefs for hours every day.

You’ve heard of the social media rabbit hole, in which people think “Oh, I’ll just quickly check my Facebook messages” - and only emerge three hours later?

I often fall into the keyword research rabbit hole (trademark pending on that term). 

I’ll log into my Ahrefs account “just for a minute” and end up finding so many interesting keywords, niches, and niche sites that half the day is gone.

I’ve been a paid subscriber of Ahrefs for two years, and I used their suite of tools heavily to scale and sell two of my sites in 2018. So to say that Ahrefs is integral to my online business is no exaggeration.

By I digress!

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to use two Ahrefs tools to find seed keywords: 

How to Use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to Find Seed Keywords

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs’ keyword research tool, and it has the best feature set I’ve seen of any tool. 

How to Find Seed Keywords/Topics Using Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer:

1.

Click on “Keywords explorer” in the top menu, then enter your broad seed keyword:

ahrefs keywords explorer enter seed keyword
2.

When you click the orange button you’ll be taken to the “Overview” page for the keyword, where you’ll see a crapload of metrics:

ahrefs keywords explorer overview page

Let me quickly explain them one-by-one, starting with the metrics below the word “Overview”.

Click the tab below for an explanation of the "Overview" metric that you're interested in:

  • Keyword difficulty
  • Search Volume
  • return rate
  • global volume
  • top countries
  • clicks
  • its volume
  • traffic potential
  • parent topic

Ahrefs’ proprietary metric that indicates how difficult it would be to rank in the top 10 results (i.e. the first page) of Google for a specific keyword.

Difficulty ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 being the “easiest” to rank for.

Under "Keyword Ideas" there are four metrics:

  • having same terms
  • also rank for
  • search suggestions
  • newly discovered

Shows keywords that contain your seed keyword and were recently added (i.e. are new) to Ahrefs’ database. 

Next up is the vertical menu on the left side of the page:

  • Overview is the page that’s currently being displayed. As the name suggests, this page gives an overview of the keyword’s search metrics (volume, return rate, clicks, etc.) and related topics/keywords
  • Under Keyword Ideas there are three other pages you can access besides the ones we covered above:
  • all
  • phrase match
  • questions

The "All" screen shows…all of the keywords (that include your seed keyword). That means every keyword from each of the possible screens you can select from.

Needless to say, these types of informational keywords are GOLD for new niche sites and should form the foundation of your site’s informational content.

  • Under Traffic Share there are two choices:
  • by domains
  • by pages

Shows the amount of traffic, and percent of traffic, that the top-ranking web pages get for the keyword you searched.

So having gone through all the features of Keywords Explorer, which ones are best for generating seed topics? I use two:

  • Having same terms
  • Search suggestions

Do the results for these two tend to overlap? Yes, quite a bit. But sometimes one screen will show me a golden nugget that the other one doesn’t.

Let me show you the results I got for the seed keyword “dog”.

The “Having same terms” screen gave me these results:

ahrefs keywords explorer having same terms result_for dog

You’ll see in the screenshot that I’ve done two things:

1. Highlighted a handful of keywords from the “Keyword” column.

In scanning the keywords in this column, I wanted to choose the most general topics that fall into the “dog” category.

That’s why I did not choose keywords like “bernese mountain dog” – because that keyword itself would fall under the topic “dog breeds”, which I did select.

 

 2. Highlighted a handful of keywords from the “Parent topic” column.

“Parent topic” is one of the coolest features of Keywords Explorer. Here’s how Ahrefs defines it:

For any keyword that you put into Keywords Explorer 2.0 we will check the #1 ranking page and determine the best keyword that this page ranks for.

This little trick gives you an idea if your keyword belongs to a broader topic and if you can rank for your keyword while actually optimising your page for this broader topic.

When looking at high-volume keywords there’s often overlap between the keyword and its parent topic (i.e. they’re the same).

But with lower-volume keywords the parent topic is often different (and higher-volume), which is why I always scan the Parent topic column to see if I can pick
up any new seed topics.

Now here’s what the next screen (“Search suggestions”) showed me:

ahrefs keywords explorer search_suggestions_result_for_dog

You can see that there’s some overlap with the “Having same terms” screen (i.e. dog breeds, dog food, dog names), but there’s also a ton of new ideas:

  • Dog memes
  • Dog park near me
  • Beds & Furniture
  • Dog tags (oops, I just looked that up and it’s not actually for dogs)
  • Dog grooming
  • Dog boarding near me
  • Dog dna test

Those are all great topics that I can add to my seed topics list.

How to Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to Find Seed Keywords

Finding seed keywords/topics using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is similar to entering a URL into Google Keyword Planner – but Ahrefs returns a ton more ideas.

Here are the steps:

1.

Just like with Google Keyword Planner, the first step is to copy a high-volume seed topic that you found using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

As with the GKP example, I’ll use the topic “dog breeds”.

2.

Then go to Google and search for that topic. Again, one of the top sites ranking for that term is AKC.org. I’ll use that.

3.

Once you’ve clicked on “Site explorer” in the top menu of Ahrefs, you’ll be taken to the screen to enter the site’s URL:

ahrefs site explorer enter URL
4.

After clicking the orange button, you’ll be taken to the “Overview” screen, which displays Ahrefs’ metrics for the site. 

Click on “Top Pages” in the left menu to see the web pages that get the most organic traffic on the site:

Ahrefs Top Pages

Note: if you’re familiar with Ahrefs you might be wondering why I chose “Top pages” and not “Organic keywords”.


The reason is simple: I find the Organic keywords report for large authority sites displays a ton of keywords that are irrelevant to seed keyword research, and the Top Pages report simply makes it easier to see relevant seed topics.

5.

By default, the Top Pages screen displays pages by the amount of organic traffic each page receives per month (from highest volume to lowest volume). Here’s what it found:

ahrefs site explorer top pages akc dot org

Some interesting topics that we didn’t see using Keywords Explorer:

  • "puppy shot schedule" (I would shorten that one to the seed topic “puppy shot” and “puppy shots”)
  • "dog breed selector" (which would fall under the more general “dog breeds”)

Wrapping Up Step #1: Brainstorming Keywords

In this first section on brainstorming seed keywords/topics, I covered a bunch of free methods and tools (and one paid tool) that you can use to assemble a solid list of topics to build your niche site on.

But before you jump into creating content, you need to dig a little deeper and build out a full set of keywords that will be the foundation of your site – a keyword set that satisfies two important criteria:

- The keywords can be used to create both informational and commercial content
- The keywords are not too competitive

I show you how to nail those two criteria in the following section...

Step #2: Create a "Topics Map"

dog exercise topics map

In the previous section I covered nine free ways to brainstorm topics for a new niche site, and I also covered my favorite paid tool, Ahrefs.

Once you’ve brainstormed a big list of seed topics, the challenge is to whittle down the list to a manageable number.

You want your final seed topics list to satisfy two criteria:

  • Comprehensive enough to cover the major topics in the niche; BUT
  • Short enough to not be overwhelming

After going through the lists of seed topics from each method/tool for the dog niche, it appears that people are looking for either:

1. Information on a specific breed of dog:

  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Golden Retriever

2. Information for a dog they already own (without specifying the breed):

  • Dog food
  • Dog names
  • Dog park
  • Dog groomingt
  • Dog boarding
  • Dog training

So at some point we’ll need to make a decision. Is it better to start a site that targets:

  • A specific breed of dog (and cover everything to do with that breed); or
  • A sub-niche that cuts across all breeds (such as dog grooming, dog training, etc.)?

That will become more clear as we dig into the informational and commercial keywords that fall under each topic.

Which is a nice segue into…

Topics Map: Your Master Keywords Plan

I define a topics map (my made-up term) as follows:

A topics map is a list of all the low-competition informational and buyer keywords in a niche.

Let me illustrate with an example right away…

When researching seed topics for the dog niche, I came across some low-competition keywords related to dog exercise.

Looking further into those keywords brought me to this niche site, which was registered only in February 2018:

barkercise dot com homepage

Despite being a relatively new site (and having few backlinks), the site already gets nearly 3,000 organic visits per month (probably much more, because Ahrefs tends to significantly underestimate traffic levels, in my experience).

The site is also ranking for a crapload of keywords:

barkercise ahrefs overview

This is a great example of a site that has chosen a focused sub-niche - in this case, dog exercise (covering all breeds).

Before I get into the three steps I follow to create a topics map, let’s quickly cover an extremely important topic: the two types of keywords you should be looking for

Two Types of Keywords to Target on Your Niche Site

Informational Keywords

Commercial (aka "Buyer") Keywords

A common mistake made by newbies is to create a niche site that only targets commercial (“buyer”) keywords, i.e. keywords that imply intent to make a purchase.

Buyer keywords typically include qualifying words like “best” or “review”. For example:

  • best dog training collar
  • caspar dog bed review

But it’s a mistake to load up your new niche site only with articles that are trying to sell something. The reason is obvious: Google will see through your plan and penalize your site!

Google wants to provide its searchers with the best experience possible, and that doesn’t mean sending searchers to sites that are full of affiliate articles.

Specifically, Google grades websites on something called E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust).

Do you think a site that only has affiliate articles is trustworthy (not to mention authoritative and an expert in its field)?

Definitely not. That’s why Google wants to see other types of content – specifically, informational content and content that’s attracting links from other relevant and authoritative websites.

So if you want Google to send lots of organic traffic to your site AND make money, you need to focus on two types of keywords:

  • Informational keywords
  • Commercial (aka “buyer”) keywords

Which means creating two types of content: informational and commercial.

Let’s take a moment to cover exactly what this content is, including a tweak on informational content that I use to get lots of backlinks from other sites:

How to Turn Informational & Commercial Keywords into Magnetic Content

The type of content you create for your site depends on whether that content is targeting informational or commercial keywords.

In this section I'll quickly show you how to create both:

Informational Content


Informational content is just what the name implies – articles that target informational keywords and contain good, useful information related to your niche.


Keywords associated with this type of content tend to be questions (including interrogative words) and qualifiers that imply the desire to learn:

Interrogative Keywords

  • How
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where

Qualifiers Implying a Desire to Learn

  • Help
  • Guide
  • Tutorial
  • Tips
  • Secrets
  • Ideas

Here are examples of informational keywords that would be great to build articles around:

  • “How to put on a dog harness” (3,700 searches per month on google.com)
  • “How to discipline a dog” (2,800 searches per month)
  • “What can I give my dog for pain” (8,000 searches per month)

“How” keywords are especially awesome to create articles on, because the searcher is looking for step-by-step instructions. When Google sees a handful of instructional articles on your site (with no affiliate links) it improves the E-A-T of your site.

There’s also a certain type of content that you can create from informational keywords that is extremely effective in getting other sites to link to you. Some people call that content “link-bait content”.

Link-bait content isn’t something that’s talked about a lot in the affiliate marketing world, but it’s a type of content that’s worked out very well for me.

In a nutshell, the purpose of link-bait content is to easily attract links from other sites in your niche.

Essentially, you’re “baiting” your s?ite to attract links from relevant and/or authoritative sites.


What kind of content easily attracts links?

Here’s my secret sauce: content that is based on scientific/academic research.

That content typically focuses on the benefits of something, or interesting/educational statistics that can be taken from scientific research.

Here are some articles that were published in the past year and "reeled in" a lot of backlinks:

  • "Turmeric Tea Benefits & 5-Minute Golden Milk Recipe"
  • "10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex"
  • "Massage Therapy: Styles and Health Benefits"

Where can you find scientific/academic research for your niche? Google Scholar.

If you’ve never heard of Google Scholar before, it could be your new secret weapon in creating amazing content and attracting links.

Google Scholar is Google’s search engine for research papers. All you have to do is type in a search term and Google Scholar shows you all of the studies/papers that have been published on that topic.

I could go on and on about how awesome Google Scholar is, but I’ll let you test it out for yourself:

Try this sample Google Scholar search: type in “dog benefits”.

You’ll see research papers on the benefits of dogs for disabled people, the benefits of having a guide dog, etc.

Do you see the potential for unique and link-worthy articles from those topics?

Commercial (aka "Buyer") Content


Commercial content is also what its name implies – articles that provide lists of the best products in a niche or reviews of specific products.


These types of articles include affiliate links, links to your own products, or ads.


Keywords associated with this type of content tend to include these qualifying words:

Commercial Qualifying Keywords

  • Best
  • Review/reviews
  • Top
  • Cheap
  • Under $ (e.g. “best dog training collar under 100”)
  • Vs (e.g. “merrick dog food vs wood buffalo”)

When you target money keywords (especially “best” keywords) that have low competition, it’s an awesome formula for monetizing a niche site.

But remember: you shouldn’t only target buyer keywords on a new site! Google will see through your craven attempt to make money (Google’s founders aren’t into making money) and they won’t rank your articles.

So how do you actually find these two types of keywords? Three simple steps…

Three Steps to Create Your Topics Map (aka How to Find Low-Competition Informational and Commercial Keywords)

In the previous section of this guide I covered how to brainstorm a solid list of seed topics for your new niche site…

And so far in this section I’ve outlined why you should create content around two types of keywords: informational and commercial.

Now you need to combine the two to compile a list of keywords that you’ll be targeting on your site.

Here are the steps:

1.

Enter your seed topics into a keyword research tool. In the next section I cover my three recommended tools.

2.

Add qualifiers to find informational and commercial keywords. In this step you’re going to add the qualifier keywords that I covered in previous paragraphs:

To get a list of informational keywords, you’re going to add these qualifiers to each seed topic:

  • How
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • Help
  • Guide
  • Tutorial
  • Secrets
  • Ideas

To get a list of commercial (aka buyer) keywords, you’re going to add the qualifier “best” to each seed topic

Note: in the previous section I gave a list of qualifiers for commercial keywords, not just the word “best”.


But in my experience the word “best” is not only – by far – the keyword qualifier with the highest search volume in any niche, but it’s also the highest-converting, i.e. articles that target “best” keywords make the most money.

So if you want to take the “80/20” approach to keyword research, just stick with “best” for your commercial keywords.)


3.

Find search volume and competition data. There are two things you’ll be looking for here:

  1. 1
    Keywords with low search volume; and
  2. 2
    Keywords with low competition

Related to this, here’s the secret to quickly getting organic traffic from Google to a brand-new niche site:

When launching a new niche site, target keywords that:

  1. Are informational
  2. Have low search volume
  3. Have very low competition

The reason you want to create content targeting keywords that are informational and have low search volume and competition is as follows:

  • By targeting informational keywords (not commercial keywords) you’ll be telling Google that your site isn’t a money-grubbing affiliate site, but rather is a trustworthy member of the community
  • Keywords with low search volume tend to have less competition
  • Keywords that have low competition are easier to rank for

And here’s a little-known benefit of ranking quickly on the first page of Google: your site will start to quickly pick up backlinks from other sites – without any outreach on your part.

That’s because websites tend to link to informational pages ranking on the first page of Google.

It’s a virtuous circle:

How to Rank a New Niche Site Quickly in Google

How to Rank a New Niche Site Quickly in Google

Now let’s get into the three free tools I recommend for finding those low-competition keywords, as well as the best paid tool (it’s Ahrefs, of course!)…

Three Free Keyword Research Tools for Building a Topics Map

As I mentioned elsewhere in this guide, make sure you have the free Keywords Everywhere extension installed in your web browser before going through the steps below.

The KE extension automatically displays search volume for keywords on a bunch of sites, including Google and AnswerThePublic (which I cover below).

Here are the three tools I recommend:

Let’s dig into each one…

How to Use Ubersuggest to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords?

To find keywords related to my seed topic (“dog exercise”) I simply entered that term into the search box in Ubersuggest.

As you can see in the screenshot below, a bunch of relevant keywords jumped out at me immediately:

How to Use Ubersuggest to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

But to expand my list of seed topics for a new site, I’m going to drop the word “exercise” from each of the high-volume keywords that Ubersugest recommended.

This leaves me with a solid list of topics related to dog exercise:

  • Dog pen
  • Dog equipment
  • Dog wheel
  • Dog toys
  • Dog ball
  • Dog machine

And many more that I added to my spreadsheet...

Next I’ll enter each seed topic one-by-one and get the suggested keywords:

topics map ubersuggest enter individual topics

The topic “dog pen” generated 124 keyword ideas, so I entered all of the remaining seed topics (one-by-one) and got a list of 1,813 keywords:

Ubersuggest Output for Dog Exercises-Related Topics?

Ubersuggest Output for Dog Exercises-Related Topics

Not bad, but here’s the problem with Ubersuggest - its database has hardly any “best” keywords.

I only found seven “best” keywords:

Ubersuggest Output for Dog Exercises-Related Topics

And the results were similar when I plugged in the informational qualifiers…

Boooo!!

As you’ll see below, the other keyword tools are much better at digging up the informational and commercial keywords we need.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

After logging into my Google Ads account I went to Tools > Keyword Planner, clicked on “Find new keywords”, then entered the terms “dog exercise” and “dog exercises”.

I kept the filter on “Show broadly related ideas” (not “Closely related ideas”) because I wanted to find topics that are related to “dog exercise”.

The GKP gave me a bunch of interesting related topics:

topics map google keyword planner output

Similar to Ubersuggest, GKP suggested “dog pen” and “dog playpen”, but also “puppy playpen”.

I also looked at the “Grouped ideas” screen, to see if GKP had some more ideas:

topics map google keyword planner output

Indeed it did, including these new ideas:

  • puppy fence
  • dog crate
  • walking dog toy

Now, here’s a cool trick to find informational keywords from this list of seed topics:

1.

Go to Filter > Keyword text > contains

2.

Enter the list of informational qualifiers:

  • How
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • Help
  • Guide
  • Tutorial
  • Secrets
  • Ideas
3.

That filter will return only the keywords that have one of those qualifiers.

In this case, GKP showed 240 keywords that contain my seed topics and one of the qualifiers. Here are some of those keywords:

Google Keyword Planner: Sample of Informational Keywords for “Dog Exercise”

Keyword

Search Volume

How to exercise your dog

1,478

Dog exercise ideas

66

How to make your dog muscular

66

How long should I walk my dog

61

Where can I walk my dog indoors

10

Now, that might not seem like a lot of search volume – but the thing with long-tail keywords is that when you create good content that targets them, you’ll end up ranking for a whole lot more keywords (and often get much more traffic than you expected).

So here’s the next step: find commercial keywords from the same list of seed topics:

4.

Again, go to Filter > Keyword text > contains

5.

Enter our main buyer qualifier (“best”)

For the list of seed topics related to “dog exercise”, GKP showed 23 keywords that contains the word “best”

Google Keyword Planner: Sample of Buyer Keywords for “Dog Exercise” Topics

Keyword

Search Volume

Best puppy playpen

1,064

Best dog playpens

154

Best indoor dog playpen

31

How to Use AnswerThePublic to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

How to Use AnswerThePublic to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

If you’ve ever done a search on Google and seen the word you were typing automatically “complete” in the search box, you’ve experienced Googl?e’s autocomplete function first-hand.

AnswerThePublic is a brilliant tool that automates that automation – by showing you the top autocomplete questions, prepositions, comparisons, and “alphabeticals” for any keyword you type into their search box.

Specifically, AnswerThePublic shows you the autocomplete results for these interrogative words, prepositions, and comparison words:

Sample Prefixes & Suffixes Used by AnswerThePublic.com

Interrogative Words

Prepositions

Comparison Words

are

can

and

can

for

like

how

is

or

what

near

versus

when

to

vs

where

with

which

without

who

why

will

The “alphabeticals” section of AnswerThePublic simply adds each letter of the alphabet to your search term (one-by-one) and displays the autocomplete results.

AnswerThePublic is most useful if you have the Keywords Everywhere extension installed in your browser.

Keywords Everywhere will automatically display Google search volume in the AnswerThePublic results when you have the extension installed.

When I entered “dog exercises” into AnswerThePublic, I got some interesting results:

How to Use AnswerThePublic to Find Informational & Commercial Keywords

Can you picture a series of articles on how specific body parts of a dog can benefit from exercise, and which exercises are the best (maybe even broken down by breed)?

That series of articles could also helpfully include which Amazon products assist with the exercises (hint, hint)… 

Learn more

If you’d like to get the most out of AnswerThePublic, do this:

  • Watch Sophie Coley’s presentation on AnswerThePublic at the BrightonSEO conference
  • Sign up for a free e-course offered by the tool’s creators on how to maximize its use (scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up)

How to Find Competition Metrics for Your Informational & Buyer Keywords

Following the steps above will give you lots of ideas for informational and commercial/buyer keywords, along with the search volume for those keywords.

But what about competition? The whole point of this is to find low-competition keywords that you can create content on. 

Two Ways to Find Competition Metrics for Free

1.

Use the built-in competition metrics from free keyword research tools like Ubersuggest.

topics map competition levels ubersuggest

Ubersuggest has a “SEO Difficulty” metric that ranges from 0 to 100 (0 being the easiest to rank for).

In the image above you can see what I found for the keyword “dog exercises for back legs”.

A score of 32 seems like it would be moderately difficult to me, but Neil’s face says, “This keyword is easy to rank for”.

For the life of me, I haven’t been able to find out exactly how Ubersuggest calculates their SEO Difficulty metric, which limits my confidence in the metric. 

2.

Use the “Keyword Golden Ratio” (KGR) metric

This fanciful-sounding metric was popularized by Doug Cunnington, and I’ve used it to prioritize keywords for my own sites.

Bottom line: it works (but for long lists of keywords, it’s a heck of a lot of work to calculate).

The KGR calculation is based on the number of pages ranking in Google that have the target keyword in their page title.

To make that a little more tangible, let me show you an example:

Say, for example, you want to see how competitive the term “dog exercises for back legs” is. 

Here are the steps you follow to find the Keyword Golden Ratio:

A.

Find the search volume for the keyword, using a tool like Ubersuggest, Keywords Everywhere, Google Keyword Planner, or Ahrefs.

I just searched all three tools, and this is the search volume I got from each one:

Search Volume for Keyword “Dog exercises for back legs”

Ubersuggest

Keywords Eveywhere

GKP

Ahrefs

20 searches/mo

20 searches/mo

20 searches/mo

0-10 searches/mo

There’s a bit of discrepancy between Ahrefs and the other tools (which all get their data from Google Keyword Planner) so I’ll just use 20 for this example.

B.

Find the number of “allintitle” results from Google.com (or whichever Google you want to rank on). 

Allintitle” is the Google search operator that shows you all of the web pages in the Google index that have a specific keyword in the page title. 

When I searched Google for “allintitle: dog exercises for back legs” this is what got:

topics map competition levels allintitle

So Google only has one web page in its index (on the site GermanShepherds.com) that has the phrase “dog exercises for back legs” in its page title.

That’s great! You’ll see why in a moment…

C.

Divide the number of allintitle results by the monthly search volume.

Here's the exact calculation:

Keyword Golden Ratio calculation = # of allintitle results
monthly search volume

In the case of the keyword “dog exercises for back legs”, the calculation would go like this:

Keyword Golden Ratio = 1/20 = 0.05

Now, the number of 0.05 is meaningless without a rule of thumb to compare it to. The rule of thumb for the Keyword Golden Ratio is this:

A keyword is low-competition (i.e. easy to rank for) if the KGR is less than 0.25 and search volume is less than 250.

When you think about it (or do the math), this means that a keyword is low-competition if there are no more than 63 pages in Google’s index with the keyword in their page title.

There’s a corollary to that: some people have found that the search volume for a keyword can be higher than 250 searches/month as long as there are no more than 63 allintitle results in Google.

At this point you might be wondering why there’s such a fuss over the number of allintitle results.

The reason is this: the allintitle search operator shows the number of web pages in Google’s index that have a keyword in their page title…

And page title is an on-page ranking factor for Google (for evidence and discussion, check out these articles by Backlinko, Matthew Barby, and Ahrefs).

As Moz.com puts it:

Meta title tags are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and they are the first impression many people have of your page.

Although I haven’t seen any studies on this, my assumption is that with keywords that aren’t targeted by many pages Google doesn’t have much to go on, so they place more importance on page titles.

How to Use Ahrefs to Find Low-Competition Informational & Commercial Keywords

ahrefs keyword index

Ahrefs has 7.8 billion keywords in its index (last time I checked), which makes it one of the largest keyword databases on the market.

What separates Ahrefs’ keyword database from the competition, however, is the quality of its Keyword Difficulty metric.

Ahref’s calculates a number between 0 and 100 for every keyword in its index that assesses how difficult it would be to rank on the first page of Google for that keyword. Ahrefs calls it “Keyword Difficulty”, with 0 being very easy to rank, and 100 being frigging hard (my term).

It’s important to understand what the metric means. Here’s a graphic that summarizes it nicely:

In a nutshell, the Keyword Difficulty score shows you how many other websites you need to backlink to your page to get that page to rank on the first page of Google.

There are tons of keyword tools that try to estimate the difficulty of ranking for a keyword, but according to a number of studies, Ahrefs has the most accurate keyword difficulty score:

authority hacker

Starting at $99/month, [Ahrefs] offers you an excellent keyword research tool, a super-reliable keyword difficulty scoring system, and a robust SERP analysis feature backed by a ginormous index of over 14 trillion links

HPD looked at the keyword difficulty scores provided by four keyword tools and found that the “…best correlation with our test articles was with Ahrefs' keyword difficulty score.

So among the current keyword tools on the market, Ahrefs seems to have the most accurate for assessing keyword difficulty.

But it’s important to keep in mind two things about all keyword difficulty tools:

1. There’s no such thing as a perfectly accurate keyword difficulty metric

I can tell you from experience that just because Ahrefs says a keyword has a Keyword Difficulty score of “0” (meaning it would take very few – or zero – backlinks to rank for that keyword), that does not mean your site will be ranking!

But there’s an add-on to the KD metric that does make it much more accurate. I’ve mentioned in before – the Keyword Golden Ratio – and I describe below how I use it with the KD metric in Ahrefs.

2. Keyword Difficulty in Ahrefs applies to the whole first page of Google

Some people mistakenly think that a low KD score means they’ll be able to shoot to the top of the SERP. Not so.

Keyword Difficulty indicates the number of backlinks it would take to rank anywhere on the first page of Google, not at the top of the first page.

How do you figure out if you can rank in the top 3 of the SERP, where all the clicks are?

Here’s what Ahrefs’ Tim Soulo says:

tim soulo a hrefs

Tim Soulo

The only way to learn how difficult it would be to rank on top of Google for a specific keyword is by carefully analysing the pages that already rank there.

And here’s a great caveat on keyword difficulty tools provided by Authority Hacker’s Lewis Parrot (bolding is mine):

authority hacker lewis parrot

Lewis Parrot

The honest truth is that you can’t and shouldn’t put all your faith in a keyword difficulty score.

Just because Tool X says a keyword has little or no competition doesn’t mean that’s true.

It simply means that according to the tool’s internal metrics, this is how difficult it will be to rank for that specific keyword.


You should always, always, manually check the SERPs before building content around a keyword.


Basically, ask yourself if you can publish a better blog post than your ten competitors.”


With that explained, let’s move on to how you can use Ahrefs to find informational and buyer keywords AND identify the ones with the least competition, so you can start getting traffic fast.

Two Methods to Find Keywords Using Ahrefs

These methods are similar to how I find seed topics using Ahrefs but with a few tweaks to zero in specifically on informational and buyer keywords:

  • Keywords Method (Using the Keywords Explorer)
  • Competitor Method (Using Site Explorer)

“Keywords Method” for Finding Informational and Buyer Keywords

1.

Click on “Keywords Explorer” in the top menu of Ahrefs

2.

Enter your list of seed topics/keywords that you brainstormed (see the previous section of this guide).

(Note that you can only get SERPs metrics for a maximum of 10 seed keywords at a time, so only enter 10 seed keywords at this point.)

Here are some of the seed topics I brainstormed for the “dog exercises” niche:

Sample of Seed Topics for the “Dog exercise” Niche:

dog pen/playpen/play pen

dog exercise/exercises

dog food

dog equipment

dog fitness

dog diet/diets

dog wheel

dog program/programs

overweight dog

dog ball

dog agility

fat dog

dog machine

dog muscle/muscles

obese dog

dog fence

dog activity/activities

You can see that I’ve grouped the seed topics into three broader categories.


These could be three silos that I start a new site with:

  • Topics related to equipment for dog exercise (e.g. dog pen, dog wheel, dog ball)
  • Topics related to the concept of dog exercise (e.g. dog fitness, dog program)
  • Topics related to diet for dogs, which I would argue is integrally related to exercise, and dog health more generally (e.g. dog food, dog diet)

When I entered the first 10 seed topics from my list, Ahrefs said those exact keywords get a total of 81k searches per month – but only 44% of those searches get clicks (probably because for the remaining 56% Google displays the answer the searcher is looking for right on the SERP).

topics map ahrefs overview_10_seed_topics

But that doesn’t matter, because we’re interested in seeing the full list of keywords that contain any of the seed topics, not just the seed topics themselves. So we’ll click on “Having same terms”.

This is what I got:

topics map ahrefs overview_10_seed topics having same terms

A couple of things jump out right away:

  • Ahrefs found over 162,000 keywords that contain one of my ten seed topics. That’s a lot, which is good. But even better…
  • There are lots of low-competition keywords in this group.

    I’ve highlighted a few in the screenshot (dog walker, dog playpen, dog agility equipment), but overall you can tell from Ahref’s color-coding that this batch is not competitive (when a Keyword Difficulty score is 10 or less, it’s displayed in a dark green box).

But we’re not stopping here! We want to go even deeper and find keywords that meet our specific criteria for informational or commercial keywords.

So we’re going to use the “Include” text box to enter our qualifier keywords

3.

Enter “Include” keywords to ensure you’re only getting relevant informational and buyer keywords

Here's the list of qualifier keywords we're going to use:

Qualifiers for Informational & Commercial Keywords

Informational Qualifier

Header

Commercial Qualifier

how

help

best

what

instruction

review/reviews

when

instructions

under

where

guide/guides

cheap

who

tutorial/tutorials

affordable

why

tips

discount

can

secrets

vs./vs

are

ideas

compare

will

beginner/beginners

Here’s what the Keywords Explorer displayed when I added the list of informational and commercial qualifiers:

topics map ahrefs having same terms 10

As you can see, there are lots of interesting, low-competition ideas in there. 

But we want to refine this list even further, so we can zero in on the lowest-competition.

That leads to the next step…

4.

Set filters for Keyword Difficulty, Volume, and Word Count, to ensure you’re getting the most relevant results:

  • Set Keyword Difficulty (KD) to maximum of 5. This will show only keywords that Ahrefs scores at a KD between 0 and 5.
  • Set Volume to maximum of 200. This is an arbitrary number that I often use to get to the lowest-competition keywords. Why 200? Because most website owners only target higher-volume keywords.
  • Set Word Count to minimum of 4. This is another arbitrary number and will vary based on the niche. But the bottom line is to look at keywords with more words in them, which tend to be lower competition in my experience.

You can see that setting those additional filters has really narrowed down the keyword set, to 427 keywords (still a good-sized set):

topics map ahrefs having same terms 10

But even with the filters I’ve used, we still have hundreds of keywords to go through. And Ahrefs recommends that to find the easiest keywords to rank for, you go through the first page of the SERPs for each keyword.

With 427 keywords, that would take a lot of time!

Fortunately, there’s a quicker way of finding the keywords with the least competition

Ultimate Formula for Finding Low-Competition Keywords: Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty + Keyword Golden Ratio

So the final step we’re going to take is to calculate the Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR) for each keyword – which will be much quicker than looking at the SERPs for each individual keyword.

As a reminder, the KGR calculation is this:

Keyword Golden Ratio = # of allintitle results
# of monthly searches

When I went through a handful of the keywords from the list of 427 above, I found a bunch of great low-competition informational keywords.

Let’s look at two of them:

Keyword: "how to train a dog with an electric fence"
Search volume: 150 searches/month
Allintitle results: 6
KGR = 0.04

Allintitle Results for Keyword "how to train a dog with an electric fence"

topics map allintitle results how to train

Sure enough, a look at the first page of the SERPs shows that there’s one very weak site ranking in position #6, and the remaining sites have very few backlinks:

topics map ahrefs keywords explorer how to train

Here’s another one:

Keyword: "how to build muscle on a dog with food"
Search volume: 100 searches/month
Allintitle results: 8
KGR = 0.08

Allintitle Results for Keyword "how to build muscle on a dog with food"

topics map allintitle results how to build muscle on a dog with food

And a look at the SERPs competition confirms that there are some weak competitors:

topics map ahrefs keywords explorer how to build muscle

Bottom line: using the Keywords Method I was able to quickly find a handful of targeted keywords with very little competition.

But there’s another way to find easy keywords that can take even less time...

“Competitor Method” for Finding Informational and Buyer Keywords

As the name suggests, this method uses competitors’ sites to find informational and commercial keywords that we can easily rank for.

It’s based on the idea that if weak niche sites are ranking for keywords, those keywords are probably low-competition and easy to rank for. This is especially the case with sites that are new and have few backlinks, and appear to be affiliate sites.

This method uses both Keywords Explorer and Site Explorer tool in Ahrefs.

Let’s go through the steps:

1.

Click on “Keywords Explorer” in the top menu of Ahrefs

2.

Enter your list of seed topics/keywords that you brainstormed, and set KD to “0” (because we want to zero in on the absolute lowest-competition keywords)

3.

Click on the “SERP” button next to each keyword to see the metrics for the top-ranking pages

Here’s what I found:

topics map ahrefs competitor sites method keywords explorer results

So to recap, what we’re looking for when we click on the SERP button is niche sites that satisfy these criteria:

  • Low Domain Rating (DR), which means they have few backlinks
  • Clearly an affiliate site (you can usually tell that from the domain name)
  • Newly-registered domain

I skipped over the first keyword (“robot dog toy”) because a quick look at the SERP showed that there aren’t any low-DR sites ranking for that keyword.

But the next keyword (“portable dog fence”) unveiled one site that is clearly an affiliate site: WirelessDogFencePoint.com.

A quick look at the site confirms that it exists solely to make money from reviews of Amazon products (specifically, dog fences and collars):

topics map ahrefs competitor method wireless dog fence

This is a poorly-written affiliate site that was registered in May 2018:

wireless dog fence point domain registration

And is already getting a couple thousand visitors a month (probably double that) and is ranking for nearly 3k keywords:

ahrefs wireless dog fence

And many of the keywords it’s ranking for are buyer keywords:

ahrefs wireless dogfence organic_keywords

Do you see the benefit of going “micro-niche” when starting a site? 😉

But back to the lesson…

Once you’ve found weak niche sites like this one, you want to “steal” the easiest keywords they’re ranking for.

You do that by going to the “Organic keywords” for the site and filtering for Position, Volume, and/or KD.

For example, when I set Position to a maximum of “9” (meaning I only wanted to see keywords that the site was ranking from positions #1 to #9), and maximum Volume of 200, I found this gem of a keyword:

topics map ahrefs competitor_method electric dog afence

Two discoveries here:

  • The keyword “electric dog fence with remote trainer” not only has a low KD in Ahrefs (0), it also only has 7 allintitle results on Google.com (for a low KGR of 0.09). Should be easy to rank for.
  • Looking at the SERP for that keyword revealed two more weak niche sites that I can dig into: WirelessDogFenceGuide.com and FastDogs.org.

Wrapping Up

In this lesson I showed you how to map out the search landscape for your niche and find low-competition informational and commercial keywords using some good free and paid tools.

Now that you’ve found a solid set of keywords to build your new niche site on, you need to figure out how to monetize your site. So the next step is to find solutions to promote (or create yourself). Click here to go to that lesson now.

About the Author Moe Muise

I've been making money online since 2009 and have a passion for research. My focus is niche research: finding profitable niches, keyword research, and competition analysis, as well as creating outstanding content.

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