How to Find a Niche for your Blog
Hello again and welcome back.
I'm glad your still with me and I hope you have been following along with a blog of your own. In case you are feeling all alone in your endeavors I want to introduce you to one of my readers that has taken the bull by the horns and started his first blog and is proving to be quite prolific. His online nom de plume is Black Hat Jack and I will get back to Jack in a moment.
First I will give you a little glimpse of what I have in store today. I am assuming that everyone now has a blog set up according to my previous lessons. Last lesson I told you to find a niche. I didn't go into much detail about this at the time as I figured I would let you stew over it for a few days. Some of you may have come up with a decent paying niche but I'm sure most of you are still scratching your heads wondering how to find one. My favorite email this week came from Cindy H. (hi Cindy I told you I would mention you - there I did) and all she wrote was
Subtle and effective - I like that. I received several other emails looking for help as well. (by the way there are 33 of you that are corresponding with me over these lessons so you are not alone and anyone I haven't heard from please join in, I would love to check out your site). Anyway, I will cover niches in some depth today so you can all stop fretting over it. I will mention now that I am going to advise you to purchase a program later and yes it will be through an affiliate link - this means I will make a few dineros off of you if you buy it. Before you roll your eyes at me I haven't come this far just to plug a product, in fact I have avoided trying to sell anything as much as possible as I am trying to build up a base of like minded people who can all share and help one another succeed online. There is far more value to having online friends than making the odd one-off sale. (more on this later)
In fact I am just warning you ahead of time that I want to discuss 3 programs that I use a lot and have no qualms about recommending. Having said that I will tell you that two of them are not necessary at this stage of your development but you will need them later if you stick with this. The third program is something you probably should look at now if you are in any way serious about making money online. It has everything to do with finding the right niches. (for those that can not afford it I will help you out using my version until you get up and running - more on this later)
The long and short of it is that if you do end up purchasing these programs then I have used my links because I can't think of a better person for you to give your money to than me. (OK maybe sick kids) The intent of this lesson is not to make sales but to discuss the things you will have to do and the programs that do it. As I said, I don't want your money but if you are giving it away anyway...
All right, that's it for the pre-amble, let's get to the meat.
First let me show you what my new friend Black Hat Jack is up to. After following the lessons Jack sent me an email and asked me to take a look at his new blog. He said he wasn't adverse to me "ripping it to shreds" so here is my review of Jack's blog. You can see it for yourself here: Internet Marketing Rant and I wont be too critical as I think he is on the right track.
Jack's first post was Feb 13, 2007 and he has kept up a pretty stiff daily posting schedule which is impressive. The site is not yet indexed on Google and I would like to throw out a few tips that he could use to tweak the site;
- at the moment the site is user friendly for people but he might consider using a larger font. I have found that a lot of people can't see very well and have noticed a longer visit length (using my stat reports) on the blogs that I use a larger font on. Blogger lets you customize the fonts in the template section "Fonts and Colors". I find the "Georgia" font enlarged 1x gets the best results for text posts. Try and use one or at most 2 colors on your blog. More than this can be distracting and takes away from the aesthetic look.
- while user friendly for people he has not tweaked it for the search engines yet. By this I mean that his blog is quite broad in the sense of topics and the search engines like to pigeon hole sites by the keywords used. In Jack's case Google will not have a clear idea of what his keyword (niche) is.
From the title "Internet Marketing Rant" we know that "Internet Marketing" is his main keyword but his posts don't back up the title. This is easy to fix. Without changing his post subjects he simply needs to add his keyword at the beginning and end of each post and if possible make one instance in bold.
For example his last post begins
List Of Article Directories Part 2 (The Header)
"It's been a busy week so not had chance to post more of my article directory list. Here is part 2 I will try and post part 3 tomorrow." (the Post)
To optimize his keyword I would make the following change.
Internet Marketing - Article Directories List | Part 2 (for the header)
and at the end of his post I would add a quick recap blurb such as;
"Look for Article Directories List Part 3 on my next post here at Internet Marketing Rant."
By making these additions the search engines will know the blog is about "Internet Marketing" (main Keyword) and also "Article Directory Lists" (secondary Keyword).
Use your keyword at least 5 times for every hundred words you write. In Jack's case the search engines will pick up the keyword "Article Directory" as he uses it a few times but will not register "Internet Marketing" as a keyword.
Note: Do not use your keyword(s) more than 6-7 times per hundred words or your site will be flagged as a spam blog and dropped from the search engines - this is VERY important.
Jack has optimized his adsense ads correctly. Always place adsense in the top left corner or top center (these ads always get more clicks than any other location) The next best location is in the side panel and finally at the bottom. Studies have shown that the most viewed area of any site is the top left and decreases as you move down and to the right. In fact the lower right corner of a website or blog is dead man's territory as hardly any one reads this section.
Keep this in mind when designing your blog. People view pages on the internet differently than a magazine or newspaper. They SCAN first and read second. Most people do a quick once over and look for anything interesting when viewing a new page. If you want to get them to read something then make your main points jump out at them in the top left corner by using a bold header. You must grab them immediately or they will leave and never notice that you were offering $1,000,000 free to the first person who emailed you.
When in doubt think about how you read pages on the net. Do you start at the beginning and read every word through to the end? Probably not. Most people check out the headlines - then the index (still looking for headlines). If they haven't found a title that interests them by this point they usually leave. You may well have all the info they want but without an eye catching headline you will lose them.
One last thing I want to talk about before leaving Jack's Blog. Jack is zeroing in on an area that all you beginners can benefit from. He lists the top search queries from several important directories. Jack didn't take long to zero in on one of the most lucrative aspects of blogging - I'm referring to hot niches. If you want some quick ideas on what you can build a blog around then his lists are perfect. Britany Spears is blog fodder. She is always in the news for good or mostly bad reasons and people want to read about her - I of course shake my head in dismay at this aspect of our culture - but know a cash cow when I see it. Everyday thousands of people search out the latest gossip on celebrities or hot products, new music, movies and so on. Build a blog around the hottest trend and "they will come".
Keep in mind that this mostly falls into the spam blogging sphere and you simply milk a subject till it cools off and then move on to another "Hot" subject. I will get into this in more detail in another post so stay tuned.
A few General Tips for getting Indexed
Go to feed burner and set up an account. This service is free and allows you to syndicate your blog to others. It also allows you to add all the little features you see at the bottom of my posts such as "Submit to Netscape | Save to Del.icio.us | Digg This!" etc. These services are very important for getting indexed using the "Tag" system.
For example Google loves Delicious - if someone Tags your post on delicious Google will see it and index you much quicker. You can Tag your own posts (do it) but it is even better if a friend with a separate IP address does it as well. Technorati is also loved by Google and should be Tagged as well.
Once you get one blog indexed you can use it to post links to other blogs and this will speed up the indexing of them as well. Be sure the other blogs are related however as you don't want links that are irrelevant. Very Important - ONLY link related blogs!
Feedburner also provides a stats page for you which will tell you where your traffic is coming from, what pages are popular and more. They also tell you where your traffic goes when leaving. This is important if you are providing links for affiliate products. You want to know how many people click on these links as this will tell you how effective your sales pitch is. If you post an article about how wonderful FeedBurner is then you can follow up by seeing how many of your readers actually click the link and go to FeedBurner. If there are no clicks then you know that you need to work on your pitch. (I'll let you know how many people click the FeedBurner link on this page next time)
Keep this in mind - there are thousands of affiliate products you can sell online and you want to find the ones that convert the best. By using the "outgoing" stats you can eliminate the programs that don't convert and concentrate on the ones that make you money. Let's say that I have two products I want to test. I find that the links for both get clicked 100 times a day. I'll keep the product that shows up in my sales column and ditch the loser. Of course a loser is only a loser if it generates zero sales. If you only get 1 sale every 100 clicks you just have to get more traffic - simple. (OK traffic isn't simple but we will get to that subject in due course.)
I've said this before and it's worth repeating over and over again. WRITE some articles and post them on GoArticles.com and ezinearticles.com. Google absolutely loves these two sites and always ranks them high in the searches. Besides getting traffic to your site and backlinks, these two sites will help you get indexed fast. Because Google crawls these sites daily they will find your article and follow your embedded link back to your blog. Voila! You have been found and if you have optimized your site properly you will then be indexed. The more articles the better. The articles I post on GoArticles.com are usually found doing a Google search within a few hours after posting them. That's fast folks. The trick to getting indexed is simple - get your backlink on a site that Google loves and presto! Using these directories is an easy way to do this compared to asking a page rank 5 site to post your link. (They won't unless you pay them, use blackmail or kidnap their kids)
As much as this sounds crazy, since they compete with each other, but Google loves Yahoo Answers. You will regularly find Yahoo high in Googles listings. Go to http://answers.yahoo.com/, register and then start answering questions relevant to your site. Be sure to leave your link at the end of the answer. This will get you three things - traffic (sometimes lots of traffic if it's a popular subject), a great backlink and you will get indexed as Google crawls the site endlessly. Use this technique a lot - answer a ton of questions and you will get a lot of traffic. It is a very popular site.
Note: You'll notice that I didn't use a hyperlink for yahoo's URL. This is because I try and avoid two way links as much as possible. Yahoo answers has links pointing to this page and I don't want to reciprocate. Remember the search engines value one way links and frown on two way. Always keep this in mind when using links on your pages.
I will give you some more tips in future posts but I want you to concentrate on these for now. You have to get indexed before anything else can happen. To this end I have told those that have emailed me to give me their blog lists and I will Tag them on the directories as well as "Favorite" them on Technorati. I will also give them links from my indexed blogs if they are relevant. This is what I was referring to above about making friends online. Get to know others and you can all help each other out by doing things for each other that speeds things up. ie. Backlinks, "tagging" posts from different IP's, voting for best answer on yahoo, ranking articles on GoArticles.com etc. These are all things that you can't do yourself - if you vote for your own answer on Yahoo they will know - but if 20 other people vote your answer the best then you will get a lot of traffic. (You can also help each other make some money by clicking you know what that G**gle doesn't allow me to say - but I'm sure you have figured that out by now. Just remember don't go overboard - G**gle can spot a recurring trend a mile away.) If any of you want my help just send me an email - I don't and never will spam you. Eventually I want to get all of you introduced to one another and you can begin working with each other. I will always ask your permission before doing anything.
On a personal note I have to say that everyone I have met so far is wonderful - there really are a lot of good people online and I hope you discover this for yourself. Best of all I still find it amazing that people from all over the world can get to know each other so easily and that this was next to impossible prior to the "net". Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has contacted me.
Ok drum roll please...
Finally got around to what this post was supposed to be about. Not that I'm long-winded or anything.
First off - the 3 products I use constantly.
With a few exceptions these are all the tools you really need to get your blogs producing money. Let me start off by saying that there are other comparable products and I don't profess to know which is "better". These are the ones I use and since they provide everything I need I have no need to try the competition out. You can always check out the forums like Warrior or WhyDoWork and get opinions on what others think are the best. I do know that Wordtracker is considered a top notch keyword tool but I didn't like the monthly payment bit. I prefer to pay for something only once.
SEO Elite is probably considered the best tool for optimizing your sites but again there are others that may do most of the same things.
I haven't found another product similar to Brainstorm though. If any one knows of one please let me know and I will post it. Brainstorm finds the best keyword niches.
Note: You do not need any of these tools as you can do everything they do manually. This is fine when you are just starting out with one or two blogs. These tools should only be looked at once you begin to get the hang of this and a little money starts coming in. These tools simply save you an enormous amount of time and that will become very important once your little blog empire starts to take off.
Alright - how the heck do you find a niche and moreover a niche that is likely to produce some income. I am talking about long term profitable blogs and not the spam variety. (Jack's blog will give you plenty of ideas for short term blogs.)
To do this manually you can pick any topic you think might be good and using a free keyword tool (Overture - if it's working again, Good Keywords, Keyword Explorer etc - you can find links for these at Make Money For Beginners) you enter in your main keyword - let's say "Gardening" and run a search. You will get back a list telling you how many searches were done for that term the previous month as well as a list of related terms and their search numbers as well.
This will tell you how popular your term is.
Next you need to find out how many competitors you will be up against. Do this by using Google Search. They will show you a listing of relevant sites and how many pages are listed with your keyword. This is always shown at the top of the page.
A search for "gardening" shows me that there are 60,700,000 pages listed for that term. This is huge and tells you that this may not be a good niche for you to try and tackle right away. I say may not because it might be depending on the R/S factor.
This is a ratio of Results (competing pages) divided by the number of Searches done for the keyword. Your keyword tool shows you how many searches were done. Let's say that "gardening" was searched 1 million times last month. This would give an R/S ratio of 60 which is high but not impossible. Think of it this way - everytime someone did a search there were 60 pages of results for it. The more pages the harder it will be for you to compete.
Ideally you want a keyword that returns a R/S of 50 or less. To find these keywords you have to use two and three word keywords or more like "organic gardening" or "how to grow an organic garden". You may find that they only get searched 500 or 600 times a month but this is great if there are only 1000 pages of competition. You can easily beat out 1000 others to rank number 1 on the search list. At number 1 you may get most of the 600 searchers to your site and if you have the right product you will make money. Remember if this generates $100 a month in sales it will keep on doing that over and over again without you doing a thing. 10 sites doing this and suddenly you are making some decent money - recurring money.
The more general your keyword the more competition you will have. The more detailed your keyword the less competition and ironically the more likely you will make a sale. Huh? you say. Hear me out on this as it's important.
People searching for the term gardening are just browsing - they aren't looking to buy "gardening", how could they. They have a vague interest in something about gardening and are just out sunday driving. If someone searches for the term "How to grow bonsai trees" then you know they have a particular interest and are more likely to buy a product like an ebook that tells them "how to grow a bonsai tree". Get the picture. The more refined your keyword the more likely that the people who do find your site will be looking to buy something.
After figuring out your R/S ratio you want to find the KEI rating. This is a complex formula that kinda tells you how profitable a keyword might be by using a lot of factors that I won't get into right now. Generally the higher the KEI factor the better the keyword. I'm not sure how you can get this figure without a special tool like Keyword Elite aside from Googling "KEI" and copying the formula. Don't get to hung up on it though as most people don't put a lot of stock in KEI. It works better at telling you which keywords won't work as oppossed to which will.
Next you need to know how many adwords ads there are for your keyword. Google your keyword and count the ads listed on the right side of the search listings under the column "Sponsored Links". If there are no ads you might want to find a new keyword unless you have a killer product for the term. Generally no ads signifies that there are few searches of the term and probably no products either.
You will also want to know how much money the adwords ads cost the advertiser when clicked. Overture gives this info but as I said I'm not sure it's working. (I'm to lazy to go and find out) Google doesn't release this info.
One more thing - you can find out how profitable your niche is by tracking the adword advertisers. If you see different ads everyday or every week then that means nobody is doing well and they keep changing their ads or they stop advertising completely. If you see the same ads for weeks and months at a time then you know they are making money. Advertising is expensive and why would you keep spending money if you weren't making sales?
Oops... almost forgot. When you start to hone in on a good niche do a Google search using the " (quote) sign before and after the term. This will return a list of competitors that are optimized for the EXACT phrase and not the GENERAL phrase. I will explain.
If you do a search like this - how to grow and care for a bonsai tree - Google will return every page in the universe that has any or all of those terms in it - and they can be in any order. A page that tells you how to grow a big fat pumpkin will show up if they also mention that they quit growing bonsai's to concentrate on pumpkins. What I'm getting at is that the list generated by Google does not give you a good indication of how many REAL competitors you have. The pumpkin site really isn't a competitor of the bonsai site yet it is listed. By using the " symbol you are telling Google to give you a list of sites that only contain your term exactly - the same words in the same order. This will give you a much smaller list - sites that are optimized for your keyword only.
To compare the difference - how to grow a bonsai tree - gives a general list of 536,000 pages
The exact phrase - "how to grow a bonsai tree" - gives a list of 48,000 sites.
See the difference - this will help you in deciding on your keyword as you want to know how many REAL competitors you have. By the way I just picked Bonsai trees out of thin air but seeing these results tells me there is a market here - only two adword ads though which means not a lot of adsense income. If you had an ebook about Bonsai's this could be profitable as 48,000 competitors would be easy to out rank. Using this example I would now do a keyword search and see how many people are searching for the term. I just cheated and used Keyword Elite and this is what I found out. The table below is not how it looks on Keyword Elite - just the result of my quick cut and paste. I really should learn how to do this the right way. That's right - I'm too lazy.
grow nursery----1,360,000-------No Keyword Search Results
indoor grow-----1,650,000-------No Keyword Search Results
bonzai pots-----259,000---------No Keyword Search Results
tree soil-------10,100,000------No Keyword Search Results
how to grow a bonzai tree-------N/A-----No Keyword Search Results
how to grow a bonsai tree-------N/A-----No Keyword Search Results
Keyword---------R/S Ratio--Google Campaigns
how to grow a bonzai tree--N/A--N/A
how to grow a bonsai tree--N/A--N/A
Before knowing these results I would have thought there might be a market for this keyword. These results tell me otherwise. Neither the main keyword nor the associated keywords have low enough R/S ratios for me to look at them further. Too much competition for me. Notice how the keyword tool will find mis-spellings in the list. This is something you will want to pay attention to when selecting keywords. You can rank high for a mis-spelling as well. I'll bet as many people search for a Banzai tree as they do for a Bonsai tree or a Bonsai tree. Words like this guarantee mis-spellings. You will face less competition for the mis-spelling and find it easier to rank high as a result.
Take a site I have on Betta Fish. I optimized on page for "Betta Fish Compatibilty Chart" and another page for "Betta Fish Compatability Chart". Guess what. I get more traffic from Google for the misspelled keyword phrase. (I rank number 1) Traffic I would not get if I hadn't created the second page. If you find a profitable keyword and it has an obvious mis-spelling then create a second blog using the misspelled word.
By now you can see that finding keywords can be a tedious task and can take hours to weed out all the relevant info. This is manageable for one or two blogs but you can now see why you will want a keyword tool eventually. The Bonsai Tree is a good example as I came up with it after doing a few Google searches. At that point it looked promising. Had I continued on manually I would have spent an hour getting all the info just to find out it was a no go. The keyword tool came up with my answer in a couple of minutes.
Keyword Elite is all fine and dandy if you have already got an idea for a keyword. It doesn't find your ideas for you though. And this is the real trick to making money. I'll discuss SEO Elite in another post because I really want to discuss Brainstorm Generator as it will be of the most use to you.
Update: March 2008
Please disregard the following - as of March 2008 Brainstorm Generator has ceased to function properly. I have been led to believe that a fix is in the works but until I can verify that it is once again operating correctly please do not purchase it.
This program does the guessing for you. You can sit down and start writing out ideas of what you think might work or you can have Brainstorm Generator do it for you. It is a simple little program - actually there is not much too it, just a small screen on your console and nothing much to learn to operate it. Basically you pick a couple of parameters like telling it you only want keywords with a R/S less than ten or a KEI higher than 200 and a few other variables. Then you hit go and it searches the net for keywords that meet your criteria.
This is an example of what it spits out.
Each time you use the Generator it will give you 25 keywords just like this - random things that you would probably never think of. I just listed a few of the terms from a list I generated months ago. These results may not be valid now if some of you are thinking of using them. The point is that this tool comes up with ideas that you wouldn't and provides all the info you need to make a decision and does it all in one step.
All of these keywords are likely candidates but the keyword "Glowstick" jumps off the page. 20,000 searches and only 317000 pages of competition - thats not even a hiccup to overcome for top ranking. There is 8 adword ads for adsense income and the clicks will pay you roughly $2 a click. The KEI is very high (1346 it got cut off in my pasting hack job) - anything over 400 is good. Over 1000 screams money to be made. Best of all - Glowsticks are a product that can be sold! This is the ideal kind of Niche - lots of ways to make income, low competition, high click $ and lots of searches. This is why I love this program - it gives me ideas that I would never think of and best of all things that others will never think of. No competition. This my friends is the real secret to making money in amounts worth speaking of.
Anyway this has been an opus and I think it's time to stop for now. You now have an idea of how to track down a niche. For those that can afford it get Brainstorm and you will have 25 fresh ideas in an hour from now. (There is a video on how to use it and it takes about 1/2 an hour for it to generate a list) The instructions are quite simple. By the way it gives a different list each time it runs so that everyone using the program doesn't get the same keywords. (There are many variables you can use to get different lists with it).
For those of you that can't afford it just send me an email and I will send you a fresh list for you only. (If I post the lists on here everyone will use the same keywords) Each of you will get a different set of keywords. This will get you going till you can afford the tool yourself. If you give me your blog I can have it generate a list specific to the kind of blog you already have set up. This is a very cool feature.
Anyhow, get cracking.
Reminder: If you want me to check out your blog, let me know. Don't worry I won't put it on here unless you want me to. Thanks again to Black Hat Jack for his permission to use his site.
I will spend some time showing how to get your backlink building in high gear in the next post so stay tuned.
2 years ago