In the first post of this niche site series, we explained what a good keyword is, and how to find inspiration for you research.
Now that you have brainstormed any keyword you can possibly imagine, run it through your tool of choice and shortlisted the terms with the right attributes, you’re in for a (not so) surprising discovery: you have competition, meaning that other people have built pages around that keyword before. However, not all competitors are the same: some are less strong than others, and in this post we will teach you how to spot them.
Paste your candidate keyword in Google search and take note of the top ten results. A value that is normally used to evaluate the competitiveness of a keyword is the total number of pages in the SERPS (the lower the number, the better), but that really doesn’t matter: the first page is all you need to care about, because that’s where you want to be eventually.
Now that you have your list of competitors, this is what you need to check, to know how strong they are:
Are they using the exact keyword within the title of their page? If they aren’t, that’s a good sign, as it means that, all other things being equal, you have more chances to outrank them by including the full keyword in the title
It’s an SEOmoz metric, which aggregates different values to indicate how likely the page will rank in Google. It can easily be checked with the MOZbar Firefox extension. A sign of weak PA would be a score of 30 or less
Another SEOmoz metric called Juice Page Links will be useful here. It gives the page a score based on the quality and quantity of backlinks. Again, a maximum score of 30 or – better – 20 would be a good indicator that the page can be easily outranked
It’s the dear old Google metric, which assigns value to a given page. It is less popular than before, but you might still want to check if any of the pages has a zero PR, as that’s a good sign too.
All the data above can be easily checked with tools like Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro (the latter pulls data specifically from SEOmoz), but with more time available, it can be done manually and for free.
Of course, not all the pages in the top ten will have all those weakness signals at the same time, but if you find at least two of them that are weak enough, that means the keyword is worth exploring.
Congratulations, your search is over, now it’s time to get your hands dirty (so to speak) with the creation of the niche site. Indeed, the process of keyword selection up to this point hasn’t changed much over the years. The moment you start creating your website however, is when we need to care about quality more than before.
The code word now is: be useful. It’s very likely that the niche you found is something you know little or nothing about, but that’s no longer an excuse to pollute the internet with mediocre content. The first thing you should do is check your competition: what type of info do they offer? What do you like and what could be done better? After you have an idea of what you should offer in your own site, you need content, and here are a couple of good ways to get it:
Even if you don’t know much about the topic, with little research you might still be able to produce good insightful content. If the internet is not enough, you can still try with your local library
Places like Elance.com can offer good writers in your niche. The money you pay for the articles will be a one-time investment and will save you time
Aggregate information in a new, useful way. Maybe there is already a ton of information available on the topic, but it’s all scattered across different sources. Why not aggregate it and create a sort of hub for your visitors?
Also, bear in mind that the 5-post blog is gone forever. Once the site starts ranking and getting some traffic, then you can choose to leave it there and move on to the next one, but before doing that, make sure you publish at least 50 articles over time. That will also allow you to take advantage of the long(er) tail variations of the main term you’re targeting. Also, don’t forget to add pictures, a decent template, and an About page that is more than just blabbering.