[Arvin] Niche Site Duel Update #4: Niche Keyword Research and Site Architecture

word scrabbleWhy Niche Sites Fail?

The only reason why niche sites, authority sites and blogs altogether fail is due to lack of keyword research. It’s either you picked a keyword that is too competitive to begin with or chose a keyword that lacks commerciality. In my previous post about how to find a profitable niche, niche keyword research starts from choosing your topic and domain name. 

What is Keywod Research by the way?

Keyword research is the first thing to carry out when doing search engine optimization (SEO), or perhaps when starting a new niche site, blog, or authority site. It’s like digging for information which serves as a basis for effective content strategy. I can’t think of any better solution to leverage available search volume data.

Let’s take it from seomoz:

“Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the “right” keywords can make or break your website. It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.”

In this niche site duel update I’ll just teach you how to do a simple niche keyword research. I already tried many keyword research tools around including free and paid. Sem Rush, Wordtracker, Seomoz Keyword Difficulty Tool, Keyword Researcher, Market Samurai, and Long Tail Pro, etc. However using all these tools is overkill for niche sites, let’s just keep things simple, and let’s just stick with a few tools.

A Note on Keyword Competitioin

Keyword difficulty a.k.a. keyword competition or keyword competitiveness is simply the difficulty of the keyword to rank for the first position in SERP or search results (I’m going to use any of these terms interchangeably). The lesser the competition the easier it is to rank for that keyword. This way we can prioritize which keywords we should target first for our content development.

For this research we’ll be using Long Tail Pro, one of my favorite tools in doing niche keyword research. What I like about it is it has a built in competition checker, it does the job automatically. However that feature is not for free, but I’m not trying to sell you anything here. I also included a free alternative to check for keyword competition. I’ll discuss it in a few minutes.

Now let’s get our hands dirty and do some keyword research.

First download a free trial of long tail pro, then follow these step by step.

Remember the keyword is “K9 Training” I’ve already done competition analysis and the chances of ranking at the first position are high, and we’ll get it there for 2-6 months. Let see how it will go…

Step 1: Click “create your first campaign” button

Create a Campaign in Long Tail Pro

Step 2: Type your campaign name which is anything you want

Setting a Campaign Name in Long Tail Pro

Step 3: Log in to your Adwords account, select exact match and enter your keyword.

(You can sign up for an Adwords account here)

long tail pro settings

Step 4: Hit “generate keyword” button

Long Tail Pro Generate Keyword Button

Here’s the excel file I pulled from this report.

Step 5: Remove unnecessary or off topic keywords by clicking the x button.

filtering keywords in long tail pro

Remove keywords which are

  • Too broad
  • Not related
  • Wrong spelling
  • Can’t be used in a sentence

Once you’ve filtered the keywords, for Platinum users we can take advantage of the competition module labeled “Average KC” which is something like this.

Long Tail Platinum Average KC

Just hit the “calculate button”, and then it will give you an estimate of the keyword competition from a scale of 0-100. And as I promised, I’ll suggest a free alternative in a couple of minutes.

Going back to Average KC here are the official values along with my own interpretation enclosed in parentheses/brackets.

  • 0 to 10 – No competition (takes 1 month to rank with basic keyword optimization)
  • 10 to 20 – Extremely low competition (takes 1 month to rank with basic keyword optimization and some link building)
  • 20 to 30 – Low competition (takes 2-3 months to rank with keyword optimization and some link building)
  • 30 to 40 – Moderate Competition (takes more than six months to rank, moderate link building required)
  • 40 to 50 – Somewhat High Competition (takes more than six months to rank, moderate link building required)
  • 50 to 60 – Very High Competition (takes more than a year to rank, massive link building needed)
  • 60 to 70 – Extremely High Competition (takes more than a year to rank, massive link building needed)
  • 70 to 100 – Don’t even think about it! (self-explanatory)

Please note that the interpretation enclosed in parentheses above are just my guestimate, no one can really tell the exact time a site will rank, and to add Long Tail Platinum’s Average KC values are not absolute, it’s merely based on an automated algorithm, but at least we have a way to make things easier and faster when checking for Keyword Competition.
Now for the free alternative to check for keyword competition, we’ll be using SEO quake toolbar and google by doing a simple search with any keyword.

How to tell if a keyword has a low competition manually?

  1. If the average number of PR (page rank) are less than 4 (please refer to my first duel update)
  2. If indexed content less than 100 (please refer to my first duel update)
  3. If hubpages, ezine article, squidoo, ehow are dominating the first page of SERP (search result)
  4. If forums and Q/A sites are in the top ten search result
  5. If you can find social media pages in the first page including facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.
  6. If you can find other niche sites in the search results, it means that you can do it too (these sites usually have few content, some backlinks, and have exact match domains)

You don’t have to check all the keywords; I bet it will take hours if you’ll do it for 300 keywords. That’s a waste of time. Just check the main keywords (with good amount of search volume – above 100). Keywords that are searched less than 100 are usually long tail and less competitive. Then, rate it as very easy, easy, moderate, high and very high based on the six criteria above. Nothing really beats the human intelligence, when judging keyword competition.

Now let’s check the data we’ve gathered so far. Here’s the excel file of all the data we filtered with its corresponding competition. I usually strip Global Searches and Advertiser competition in this part…

The Hardest Part of it all – Categorizing Your Keywords Logically

There’s no shortcut to categorizing keywords, you have to do it manually, and you have to take advantage of Microsoft Excel advanced filter options along with your common sense. This is the most difficult part of it all. It takes me hours to categorize and filter all keyword correctly depending on the topic, but it will pay off sooner or later.

Based on that data we will decide which keywords will be the main categories of our blog, and this part is pretty subjective, you can categorize it in any way you want it as long as it make sense and as long as you can use the data from the keyword research. Preferably, each category will have its own content having the main keyword along with the long tail phrases. And if you have keyword difficulty data, use it to prioritize which articles should be written first.

Here’s the finished product of our keyword research. Enjoy!

If you missed any of my updates, feel free to click on the links below:)

Niche Site Duel Challenge Part 1:  How to Find a Profitable Niche Market?
Niche Site Duel Challenge Part 2: Niche Site Content Strategy
Niche Site Duel Challenge Part 3: How to Make Money with Niche Sites?

Or you can check all our updates here.

P.S. Could you use an affordable and reliable web host that makes it easy to start and run your profitable website? Click here to find out why I use Hostgator »


  1. Jessie D.



    Thanks for this post. I’m going to try the KeyWord search tool, the Long Tail thingy. Thanks again Arvin :)

  2. Arvin



    My pleasure Jess :)

  3. Gary



    Thanks for the tips. I used Long Tail in the past. But it was a very long time ago. It looks like it may even have some new features since the last time I used it. I guess I will have to check it out again. Finding those little gems is what it is all about. Thanks again. :]

  4. Arvin



    Thanks Gary! I think I forgot to mention that the AVG KC feature is provided as an upgrade for $17 a month, but it was worth the money.

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