How to Pick a Market & Find Your First Keywords
by Spencer Haws
Picking a market is absolutely vital to creating a site that actually brings in some revenue.
And it’s not easy!
There are also about a million things to consider. A lot of them depend on the type of site you want to build. So before you pick a market, you should be asking yourself (at least) these questions:
• Most important: Are there plenty good keywords?
• Do I want to build a large site or a small one?
• How do I want to monetize?
• Is it absolutely clear there’s money being spent in this market?
• Are there several good competitors I can emulate?
• Is it important to me to write about something I’m passionate about?
Let’s go over each of these in detail.
Are there plenty of keywords?
For me, this is one of the most important things to consider—mostly because keyword research is what I’m best at. My whole niche site business has been built almost entirely on keyword research.
Don’t get me wrong: all the other stuff helps. However, even before I know about that stuff, great keyword research was making me money.
So, when I head off to build a new site, I fire up Long Tail Pro and check for keywords. Why? Because I’ve learned a few things over the years:
• Keywords consistently surprise me. It never fails. I’ll think I have some good ideas, and they turn out to be terrible keywords. And I’ll think some keywords are way too competitive, but they turn out to be fantastic.
• Finding good long tail keywords have been the single biggest source of revenue in every single site I’ve ever built. So why not start there?
Depending on the type of site you want to build, you may need a few keywords, or you may need a bunch. For the site I’m currently building, I used Long Tail Pro to find almost 1,000 profitable keywords before I did anything else. I knew it was going to be a big site, so I wanted to be 100% certain I could find enough keywords to support it.
Here are a few blog posts to help you get started researching keywords:
• How to Do Keyword Research for Authority Sites
• How to Rank in Google: The Beginner’s Ultimate Guide
• Good and Bad Examples of Low Competition Keywords
Do I want to build a large site or a small one?
This will probably depend on a few key factors: (1) how much work you want to put in and (2) how much time and money you have to invest.
Of course, a large site has the potential to make much, much more money. But not everyone has the skills, time or money to create one. So to some people, building a smaller site may be a more attractive option. And that’s cool!
I personally like to build authority sites because I like bigger businesses and bigger paychecks. But small niche sites still work just fine, and they can be a good way to get your feet wet, learn SEO and earn a bit of money.
Here’s how this plays into picking a market.
If you want to build a large site…
Pick a bigger, broader market. A lot of the time, these are going to be markets that most people think are “competitive.” For example, we know plenty of people crushing it in the health market. Obviously, the health market has thousands of blogs.
But it’s still a great market to enter. Why? Well, (1) there are tons of keywords; (2) there are tons of different categories you could add to any site; and (3) there are many, many opportunities to make friends, which gets you links. If you want to build a big site, look for bigger markets (just stay away from super spammy ones—casinos, pills, payday loans, etc.).
If you want to build a smaller site…
Pick a super-specific micro-niche in a bigger market. Basically, you want to pick a niche in which you can write 15 solid articles on some very specific thing that is part of a larger market. If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you’ll know that one of my very first niche sites was about buffalo nickels.
That’s really, really specific! It’s also a sub-niche in a much larger market: coin collecting. In other words, if your goal is to build a smaller site, go to specificity. Shoot for a sub-niche in a big market. All you need is about 15 great keywords to make this work.
How do I want to monetize?
Sometimes, it won’t matter, but if you have a particular monetization method you’re good at, you’ll want to choose a market in which you can really leverage those skills.
For example, I’m good at AdSense and Amazon. So most of my sites are built to capture the kind of traffic that converts on those platforms.
But there are plenty of other ways to monetize:
• Private affiliate programs
• Selling your own products
• Lead generation
• Selling advertising space
• And a bunch more
If you do have a monetization method you prefer, you’ll need to choose a market (and keywords!) that jives with that platform. For example, if you want to use Amazon to monetize, your site should be about a product your readers can find on Amazon.
Is there clearly money being spent in this market?
This gets overlooked far too often. You can’t just pick any market, set up a site and hope to make money. Even if you used Long Tail Pro to find a batch of great keywords, you may not make any money at all if there’s no money being spent in the market.
Here’s a quick example: I knew of a gal who had a recipes website. She was making about $5,000 per month. Sounds great right? Anyone would be happy with that. I know I would. But, she had over one million visitors per month. A million!
Not only is that an insanely low revenue-per-visitor, but it’s also impossible to achieve that level of success for the average site builder. For most people, lading on a site that big is like getting into the NFL. It’s the top 0.001%. Plus, it took her years and years to build. That’s not what we do here.
By contrast, Perrin, my full-time employee, created a shaving site that was earning $4,000 per month with 50,000 visitors—or about 5% of the traffic.
The major difference between those two sites is that there are loads of people spending money in the shaving market. There are relatively few people spending money in the recipe market.
And that makes sense right? If you want to find a recipe, you look it up, write it down, and leave the site. The visitor looking for a recipe is much, much different than the visitor looking to buy something.
Here are a few ways to check to see if there is money being spent in the market:
• Is the advertiser competition for keywords high?
• Is the CPC for keywords high?
• Are there a lot of ClickBank products in this market?
• Are there plenty of big sites/blogs?
• Is there lots of high-volume products on Amazon?
Are there several good competitors for me to emulate?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this to Niche Pursuits readers: COMPETITION IS GOOD!
Seriously… I would never, ever go into any market in which there was no competition. Why? Because if there is no competition, it almost always means that there is no money in that market!
I would also mean that there is no one for me to emulate. And emulation is one of the most powerful business strategies you have at your disposal.
If you build a site that emulates (not copies!) a competitor, you’re going to be making decisions based on what you already know is successful for someone else. That’s a much, much better option than just building something from scratch willy-nilly.
It gives you much better odds.
An even better thing to do would be to find several good competitors and emulate the things each of them are doing well while making improvements of your own.
After keyword research, this is one of the first things I do before building any new site: find some good competitors!
In the next email, I’ll show you how to analyze these competitors and siphon some of their best keywords. So stay tuned!
Is it important to me to write about something I’m passionate about?
I wanted to include this because it’s really important for some people.
Personally, my passion is SEO and business, so I can go into any market and have a good time, since no matter what I do, I’ll be applying SEO and business tactics.
For some people, though, investing a bunch of time into something they’re not passionate about is really tough, and it can be difficult to get motivated.
If that’s you, don’t sweat it! Just be sure to pick a market you really have an interest in. And don’t be afraid to take a couple weeks to find one. Trust me… it’ll be worth it.
Here’s what’s coming in the next lesson…
• Advanced keyword research
• How to find good competitors
• How to analyze your competition
• How to siphon your competition’s best keywords and tactics
Tools mentioned in this lesson
• Long Tail Pro