“We need to target boring, niche keywords”, one of my colleagues messaged me one morning.
At first, I thought they were talking nonsense.
SEO isn’t always easy, and engaging an audience is hard enough without tackling boring keywords.
BUT then I realized…
Dull, niche keywords have one thing in their favor which makes them more useful than their generic, high volume counterparts.
The intent behind someone searching them is massive.
Think about it; if you search “swimming pool”, you could be looking for anything from the location of the nearest public pool to Louise Candlish’s novel of the same name.
However, if you were to search “swimming pool installation service”, we know that you’re in the market to pay for a new pool.
Unfortunately, the competition for these terms, as a result, can be quite high, and SEO in any form can be anything but cheap.
Allow me to demonstrate…
The first step in our keyword research process is to decide on which topic you want to produce content for (be it checklist software or swimming pool installation) and collect as many keywords relating to the topic as possible.
This will give you the best chance of finding the perfect high-intent niche search term to later target.
We do this by starting off with a base term, such as “employee onboarding”.
First, we have to make sure that our audience is speaking the same language as us, and I don’t mean that we translate into Spanish.
Punching the base term into Google to double check the kind of content which is already ranking well is a great indication of what the majority of people searching for that term are looking for.
If you find that the results being shown aren’t in line with your intended content or target audience, try experimenting with the suggested searches Google provides at the bottom of the first results page.
Another way to double check how your audience is phrasing their searches is to key your term into Quora.
Through the suggested questions (and answers to them), you can see how real people are investigating your topic, along with the terminology they are using.
When you’ve got these base terms down, it’s a good idea to also build out a list of slight variations on each of your results, such as “new employee onboarding” and “employee onboarding process”.
Then, when you have those slight variations, create even more variations from those; all of them should remain on topic, but for example, “employee onboarding template” and “employee onboarding checklist”.
While it may seem excessive, each of these is likely to have a different search volume and difficulty, so there’s always a chance that you can stumble across a high intent, decent volume search term which is easier to snatch up and rank well for.
Once you have as many long-tail versions of your base terms as possible, it’s time to analyze each term’s volume and difficulty.
This is actually one of the easiest parts of any of our marketing processes, as it requires very little thought or human analysis (at least, not right now).
We start off by shipping all of our keywords into Google Keyword Planner, ordering them by search volume, then exporting the results back into Google Sheets.
This gives us a fantastic picture of what the highest searched terms in our dull content sector are.
We don’t, however, rely on GKP for the difficulty of our terms; instead, we run the top results through Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
This is because Ahrefs does a fantastic job of breaking down the difficulty of the current top ranking content for each keyword, giving a much better picture of how solid their rankings are, and whether we would really be able to dislodge them.
Once you’ve put your keywords through the gauntlet and made a note of their volume and difficulty (along with the average strength of the current first page results), it’s time to get into the more vague side of niche keyword mining…
This is where things get a little tricky, as there are rough guidelines, nothing is set in stone to say that one keyword will definitely have a higher intent behind it than another.
Still, the theory here is to find a niche keyword which implies a higher conversion rate for whatever your ultimate goal is.
For example, if you’re trying to sell business process management software, the terms “business process management software” and “bpm software” will have a much more relevant intent behind them than “what is bpm”.
Again, there’s no surefire way to get the most out of your audience’s search intent, but here are some general guidelines we use to be as on target as possible.
This is one of those grey areas which provide a valid reason to not just go for the top volume keyword that’s relevant to your subject; the higher the intent, the more value you’re likely to get out of your volume.
High “suggested bid” on lower volume will usually indicate a high intent.
This is pretty simple; if your “suggested bid” for a keyword in GKP is strangely high for the search volume of the keyword, this will tend to indicate that the value of that volume is higher than your average, unfocused, high volume term.
The final piece of advice is basic, but nonetheless crucial and surprisingly easy to forget among all of the data comparisons; you need to use common sense.
Imagine that you’re searching any given keyword, and (assuming you know what the topic is about) think about what results and content you would want to see.
If your content fits that criteria, then you’re in luck.
So there you have it; the keyword research process we used to help us rank for dull niche content.
Now it’s your turn to go out there, test the waters for yourself and find the perfect niche to corner with your content.
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