How to Do Keyword Research When You’re Just Starting Your Site – My Process

How to Do Keyword Research When You’re Just Starting Your Site – My Process
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker / Unsplash

In this guide, I'll show you how I do Keyword Research when I'm starting a new site.

We will use these tools:

  • Our Brain (free)
  • Google Search (free)
  • Google Docs / Excel
  • SEMrush (paid)

Yes, SEMrush is a paid tool, but you can start a free trial here: https://semrush.sjv.io/saint (aff).

(If you've already got a keyword tool, yes, you can use it for this guide, since we're going to do things every good kw tool should be able to do.)

Part 1: Getting to know our Niche

But before we even start to use any tools, we need to know our niche.

Best-case scenario, you already know which niche you want to go into – if you don't know yet, use this approach:

What's a topic you can spend a lot of time reading/watching/learning about without losing interest? What's something you know more about than most people?

Gardening? Mediation? Cooking? Fixing things? Scuba Diving? Beauty?

Or an even better question: “What group of people can I help?” You are welcome to ponder on this for a bit!

Finding a niche is an entirely different topic, that's why we're going to look for juicy keywords in the “productivity” niche as an example.

The first thing we do is write down all the questions, that come to mind when thinking about this topic.

  • What is productivity?
  • How is productivity measured?
  • Why is productivity important?
  • What are examples of productivity?
  • Are there different types of productivity?
  • Is it okay to be unproductive?
  • What decreases productivity?
  • ...

You get it.

Jot them all down in your Google Sheet and go to alsoasked.com to check if you've missed a few questions.

Part 2: Analyzing the Competition

Now, just google the word “productivity”.

You see that big authority sites like Wikipedia, Investopedia, Forbes, James Clear and hbr show up.

It also shows us that our term “productivity” correlates with “work” and “time management” – write that down, too, it's going to be important later :).

I also recommend you to (at least) read the top 5 articles that are currently ranking, so you get a better feeling for your broad niche.

Next step, Google “productivity blogs”.

Check the first few results and create a list of the blogs mentioned.

Let's use these 2 as an example:

(You should obviously take all the “competitors” you can get and add them to your Google Sheet)

My advice would be to study your competition like you'll be quizzed on their content:

  • Sign up for their email list
  • read their “about me”-page
  • analyze their (best) articles
  • take a look at their products

Alright!

Now the real fun begins.

Go to SEMrush (still an affiliate link) or your KW tool of choice and plug in your first competitor.

We see that David doesn't get a ton of traffic (he has a sh*t ton of backlinks, tho), but still manages to make a living from his website.

That's a great sign regarding your niche selection!

Next, we're going to check his most profitable (=most traffic) keywords.

Go to “organic research” and enter his site.

David seems to be a name in the productivity space, since a few people each month are searching for his name.

And “Emergent Task Planner” seems to be his best keyword.

He's got a page dedicated to the topic where he offers downloadable PDFs and does a product recommendation… the word count is around 1k words.

According to our tool, the difficulty is 7.

Add this keyword to your list.

Congrats, we've found our first real keyword (and potential product to sell 🤑).

David doesn't seem to invest too much time in content and SEO, so I'd say we move on to your next competitor: ClickUp

So, they're investing a lot of time and money in content marketing.

(I chose to analyze https://clickup.com/blog/ because all their articles have /blog/ in the URL and that way we avoid search queries like “click up pricing”)

As you can see on the screenshot, they get a lot of traffic.

Let's check what keywords get them the most visitors.

Nice topics, but virtually unobtainable with your new niche site.

I like to save the top articles of my competition anyway – I'll tell you why later.

Let's see what low competition keywords they rank for.

You can play around a bit with the filter settings.

In general, I filter a lot in the beginning:

  • Set the difficulty between 0-14 %
  • Intent: Informational
  • Sort by difficulty (low to high)

Yes, most of the keywords will be complete garbage – “the old fashioned meeting lyrics” for example, but a lot of the time there will be a few teeny tiny long tail keywords with a decent starter volume (50 searches per month +).

In this case:

  • “Work Day Scheduler” – 90 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 1
  • “Every scrum team must have” 50 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 4
  • “We're a team quotes” 50 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 5
  • “new week new goals” 720 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 13
  • “which of the following is true about brainstorming” – 210 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 14

… and my favorite: “Ice breaker Memes” – 210 searches per month – keyword difficulty of 14.

Incidentally, we also discovered that topics like scrum, agile and how to motivate a team are also correlating with the topic of “productivity” – add those topics to your Google Sheet, too.

Now: We've analyzed two sites in the productivity niche.

Davids site was a dud organically but gave us a product idea, Click Up was a gold mine and gave us plenty of keywords with low competition we can target.

Hint: Please make sure you Google those keywords before you start writing …

… and manually check if it actually makes sense to write about this search query.

If you repeat this process for 10-30 “productivity” sites, you should have a list of 100(+) low comp keywords that you can write about.

A solid base!

Focusing on these first 100 articles will lay the groundwork for your later success.

Firstly because you'll get your first 100s of visitors this way, secondly because you'll become a mini authority in the productivity niche (and according to Google).

I talked about low traffic / low comp keywords in my “SEO avalanche” thread:

Now, you could stop here and just start publishing your first articles, which would be fine.

But we'll go a step further and do a bit of niche research while ignoring the competition for now – not really, but you'll see what I mean.

Part 3: Analyzing the Niche

Open up SEMrush (affiliate link, yep) again and just put in the broad keyword “productivity” into the Keyword Magic Tool.

Set those filters:

  • Phrase Match
  • KD: very easy
  • English language (or your targeted language)
  • Advanced filters: word count 2+

Now hit apply.

You should now get a very limited number of keywords – in this case, it's just 62.

That's okay, tho.

Check which keywords make sense for your site.

Examples:

  • 100 days of productivity challenge
  • blackberry productivity tab alternative
  • productivity consultant
  • surplus productivity
  • productivity funny pictures

If you play around with the filter settings, you'll find even more interesting keywords:

  • which productivity variable has the greatest potential to increase productivity
  • best and worst part of your day
  • correctly measuring the productivity of service workers
  • I procrastinate but still get the job done
  • what is done to prevent a plan from becoming confusing
  • your newest coworker is not as productive
  • distributor machine
  • symbol for productivity

Your base keyword list should now contain more than a hundred queries you can write about and get traffic with a new site that go no backlinks and no authority.

Pretty good start, no?

If you're wondering how I research, write and publish an article, feel free to read this thread:

Okay, that's how I'd do keyword research for a brand-new niche site.

Now what?

After you've published your first grandiose articles, set up the search console and built the foundational links, your first visitors should roll in after a few days or weeks.

Congratulations, now what?

Do you remember those “additional” keywords and topics we've found during our research?

  • Scrum
  • Agile
  • How to Motivate a Team?

Well, … You could repeat the process outlined above for those sub niches as well.

This way, you'll build out your authority in those sub topics, too.

Alternatively, after you've leveled up, you can target keywords that are a bit more difficult to rank for – just increase the KW difficulty scope in your KW tool to the next “level” :).

Keep up the momentum, publish content regularly and you'll get there!

You're not satisfied yet

Alright, here's another way to find BILLIONS of related keywords:

Using this technique also proves to be super valuable for our “productivity” niche:

Writing content around those keywords could also be very profitable.

Make sure to check those queries with your keyword tool.

But keywords like …

  • productivity desk setup
  • productivity apps for students
  • producitivity engineering

… seem very promising.

Bonus:

One thing – the first thing, actually – I like to do when entering a new (sub)niche is to build a master guide / hub page.

It has plenty of benefits, writing this “master guide” before.

To name a few:

  • You get to know the (sub)niche
  • You answer the most important questions in one central place
  • Makes you an authority
  • Great for internal links
  • Great as a link magnet
  • Potentially ranking for the broad keyword

Make sure to read this thread if you want to learn more about this strategy (and why I asked you to brainstorm related questions in the beginning):

Bonus 2

I generally still write the best possible article for keywords that are basically unreachable for a new site – think about those top traffic keywords for ClickUp.

Will they rank? Probably not – at least not yet.

But having those articles up, …

  • Reinforces your authority on the topic
  • Ages the article, which will help it to rank in the future
  • Makes sense for your users (Imagine talking about “how to care for a cat” but not talking about the best toys or the best food for cats – would be weird, right?)
Think like a brand, not like a neesh site owner that just wants to make a few bucks a real brand would elaborate on a topic, show expertise and deliver value to their visitors anyway regardless of “search volume”.

Alright, alright, alright …

That's a wrap!

In the end, everyone got their own way of doing keyword research. I really hope you learned something new reading through my process.

Have a great day and best of luck on your keyword research journey!

Dan

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