Content Marketing / SEO

How to Do Niche Keyword Research for Bloggers (5 Steps)

Learn how to do niche keyword research so you can create content people are actually searching for, win traffic, and generate more revenue.

Sean Brison December 29, 2022
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If you’re a blogger creating content for your website, you need to know how to do niche keyword research. Truly. Otherwise, how will you know if people are even looking for your topics online?

It’s how you tip the scale in your favor and determine an article’s search demand. This post outlines an approach to finding the right subjects people want to read. 

You’ll learn the following:

  • What niche keyword research is
  • Why niche keyword research matters
  • How to find the best keywords for your niche
  • The best niche keyword research tools for your blog

But before diving in, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

What Is Niche Keyword Research?

Niche keyword research involves learning the language your audience uses to search for content about a narrow, singular topic (versus a broad category).

Once you understand the terms your customers enter into search engines (e.g., Google), it’ll make it easier for you to create things they want.

What Are Niche Keywords?

Niche keywords are a specific subset of terms within a broad category.

For example, cameras are a niche in the electronics industry, while dogs are a niche in the pet industry. Both of those words are smaller pieces of a larger pie.

However, “cameras” and “dogs” are still broad search terms.

It’s difficult to know what someone is looking for when entering the term “dogs” into Google. Are they looking for types of dog breeds? Dog food? Dog accessories?

This brings us to another point.

Why Niche Keywords Are Important

Niche keywords are important because the user’s search intent is clear, they’re easier to rank for, and they have lower competition.

Typically, broad topics (e.g., dogs) carry a higher difficulty level, and you don’t understand what problem the searcher needs help solving.

Sidenote: Of course, there are always exceptions. No hard and fast rule says every niche keyword will be easy to rank for. But, on average, I’ve found this to be true.

Let me show you what I mean with an example.

Take a look at the difficulty level if you’re we’re trying to rank for the term “dogs.”

keyword difficulty for dogs while doing niche keyword research

 

Using Ahrefs, you’d need backlinks from over 300 websites to rank on page one. Plus, it’s a competitive keyword with a difficulty level of “Super hard.”

Now look at what happens when you niche down using a term like “dog carrier.”

keyword metrics for dog carrier when doing niche keyword research using ahrefs

 

This term has a lower difficulty than the broader keyword “dogs.”

You can see what I mean when previewing the keyword difficulty scores for “pets,” “dogs,” and “dog carrier.”

Both monthly search volume and keyword difficulty scores decrease the more niche my queries get.

ahrefs keyword difficulty scores for dogs petss and dog carrier

“Pets” has a difficulty score of 95, while “dog carrier” scores 26.

If you’re concerned with search engine optimization (SEO) versus relying on Google Ads, this is an eye-opening metric regarding your content creation.

Now that we understand what niche keywords are and why they matter let’s find the best ones to monetize your website.

Further Reading:

How to Find the Best Keywords for Your Niche (5 Ways)

You can find keyword ideas by:

  • Observing your audience
  • Leveraging the ASP Method 
  • Focusing on high-converting content types
  • Using a keyword research tool (free or paid)
  • Seeing who ranks on the first page of an organic search

1. Focus On High-Converting Content Types

The two content types that should provide you with an abundance of keyword ideas (and where you’ll find the most success) are Informational and Commercial Investigation. 

Informational

Informational content helps you build trust and authority with your target audience. Typically, this type will have a modifier in the title, such as:

  • Tips
  • How
  • What
  • Guide
  • Resource

For example, this “how-to” article about bleeding a radiator includes affiliate links for the required tools (note the Amazon affiliate disclosure below):

how to bleed a radiator niche keyword research article using affiliate links for the required tools to do the job

Or this men’s fashion site about what an Oxford shirt is:

arrows pointing out all of the places in this informational post where there are affiliate links

You see affiliate links placed in four different locations near the end of the post after you get a detailed explanation of an Oxford shirt.

Writing “what is” definition-style posts fall in line with how old-school direct response copywriters would take you from unaware to solution-aware in a single page (i.e., you’d take your reader from top-of-funnel to bottom-of-funnel in a single blog post).

Start by asking what terms your readers want (or what they’d like to learn) and create content based on that. Then, weed out terms with low search volume using a keyword research tool (more on that in a minute).

Tip: Create a Resource page of your favorite tools (or products) to increase commissions. Using a tool like Lasso, you can organize your affiliate links into groups and create an entire page dedicated to that category.

Our Resource page generates 10% of our affiliate income. And that’s only one page!

Further Reading:

Commercial Investigation

Commercial investigation is when someone is close to making a purchase and is researching the potential product(s) they want to buy.

This person is typically searching for:

  • Best lists
  • Product reviews
  • Product comparisons

So, whatever your niche, consider the popular products your audience uses. Then, brainstorm for keyword ideas using one of the below modifiers:

  • Best
  • Review(s)
  • Comparison/vs.

Try these search terms:

  • Best + [product]
  • [product] + reviews
  • [product] vs. [product]

For example, if you’re in the electronics niche, you could search “best internal hard drives,” “seagate internal hard drive reviews,” or “seagate vs. western digital.”

Sidenote: We’ve tripled our affiliate revenue using product displays in our content.

Below is an example of a Lasso single product display you could create for your site if you had an affiliate relationship with WP Rocket:👇

Start with a simple search including the modifiers previously mentioned, and it should provide you with a good list of keywords for potential articles to create.

Brainstorm all of the popular brands in your niche, then determine which of those are worth creating reviews, comparisons, or best lists around.

2. Leverage the ASP Method

ASP is an acronym I use to remind me to “Assess Skills & Processes” whenever I’m struggling with idea generation.

Here’s how it works:

Ask yourself what skills you have (or systems you’ve created to make your life easier) and how they translate to serving your audience.

Let me illustrate with an example for you…

Our personal finance site writes a lot of product reviews, with the bulk of its revenue coming from affiliate marketing.

When we first started writing them, it was messy. They lacked uniformity. There was no consistency from one review to the next.

With time and experience, we settled on a framework that worked.

Next, we documented it so anyone writing a product review going forward would have a clear path.

lmm product review writing checklist

Both writers and readers would know what to expect. And since this applies to anyone writing a product review, other affiliate marketers could use it.

So, we plugged a few terms into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and saw some potential keyword ideas.

Both terms had low to medium difficulty scores:

ahrefs keyword difficulty scores for writing a product review

So, we decided to turn our product review-writing Google doc template into an article. That post brings in nearly 1,000 monthly page views to our blog.

How you can model this:

  1. Brainstorm keyword ideas
  2. Think about skills you already have or SOPs you’ve created 
  3. Refine your process into useful content that helps solve your reader’s problem

Further Reading:

3. Use a Keyword Research Tool Or Search Engine Hack (Free & Paid)

You can use plenty of tools to help generate keywords (including search engines). Here’s what’s worked for us.

Ahrefs (Paid)

Ahrefs is our go-to all-in-one tool. It’s fantastic for helping us with keyword research and provides other useful metrics, including:

  • A keyword’s buying intent
  • Its traffic potential and search volume
  • Whether we have a chance at ranking for a keyword

One trick with Ahrefs is using its Phrase Match and Having Same Terms reports.

Try Phrase Match like this:

  1. Start with a broad keyword
  2. Click “Phrase Match”
  3. Set the KD filter to “0-10”
  4. Set the “volume” filter to (1,000 – max)

Sidenote: Using the filters is optional. It depends on the kind of keywords you’re targeting and your niche. For example, a low KD filter means you’ll have an easier chance to rank, while the volume filter gives you an idea about how many monthly searches the word gets.

Let’s use the “cameras” example from before.

When you type “cameras” into the search field and click Phrase Match, Ahrefs generates all of the specific keywords with that exact phrase.

You can see results, including:

  • Disposable cameras
  • Lorex security cameras
  • Night owl security cameras

To mix things up, try using the Having Same Terms report for the query “best cameras.”

You’ll see terms such as:

  • Best cameras for youtube
  • Best cameras for beginners
  • Best outdoor security cameras

Then, set the filters to levels that make sense for you and scroll through the findings.

Use the modifiers previously mentioned (e.g., reviews, how, what, best) in the “Include” filter and set to “Any Word” to find specific queries.

ahrefs terms match report

Tip: To find long-tail keywords, try applying the word count filter to four or more and see what you get.

Another useful feature is the CPC metric. 

ahrefs cost per click report for niche keyword research

It measures the average price advertisers pay per ad click. The higher the number, the higher the potential buyer intent for the keyword.

Sidenote: This metric shouldn’t be the only factor when deciding. For example, if you notice your word gets more paid clicks versus organic clicks, it might make sense to use it for a PPC campaign (if you’re using that strategy).

Ideally, when optimizing for SEO, you’d want a term with the following:

  • High organic clicks
  • Low paid clicks (if this number is high, it means Google Ads will steal clicks from you in the SERPs)
  • Low searches without clicks (if this number is high, it typically means Google presented the searcher with the answer in the SERP that didn’t require a click. For example, “what’s the current time?”)

These queries require no further action by the searcher because Google displays the answer in the SERP.

current time google knowledge card

Further Reading:

Keywords Everywhere (Free)

Keywords Everywhere is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. It returns keywords for both your search term and all related keywords (e.g., it pulls the People Also Search For and Related searches from Google and Bing).

For example, here’s what you get when entering the query “snowboarding gear.”

keywords everywhere query for snowboarding gear

There is a paid version of this tool that lets you see volume data in multiple properties, including:

  • Google Trends
  • Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Keyword Planner

You can also see data from eCommerce websites Amazon, Etsy, and eBay that you might find useful. But, in my experience, the free option should suffice if you’re looking for keyword ideas.

Search Engine Autosuggest + Wild Card Search Operator Hack (Free)

Depending on your need, you can always leverage the power of a search engine’s autosuggest function. This works with Google and YouTube (same owners) but not so much with Amazon.

Sidenote: Amazon’s autosuggest does work, but nothing happened when I tested using the wild card ( * ) operator. Most likely because Amazon’s search engine isn’t like Google’s.

The wild card search operator (asterisk [*]) functions as a “fill in the blank” in Google’s eyes and will generate contextual keywords related to your query. More on that in a minute.

Head to your search engine of choice and type in a broad keyword. For example, if you’re in the home improvement niche, you might enter “cordless drill.”

Now experiment with the “how,” “what,” and “best” modifiers to see what autosuggestions you get.

Using Google Search

using the wild card asterisk with a how to query for cordless drills

 

Auto Suggestions from the search term “how * cordless drill”:

  • How to use a cordless drill
  • How to remove cordless drill chuck
  • How to convert cordless drill to corded
  • How long do cordless drill batteries last

Using YouTube

using the wild card search in youtube for a how to query

 

You get other keyword suggestions using the same search query, such as:

  • How to choose a cordless drill
  • How to repair cordless drill motor
  • How to repair cordless drill batteries

These ideas can all be used when designing your content marketing strategy.

For example, even though Google owns YouTube, you won’t get identical results when using its search engine, which is good news.

Tip: Use Google autosuggest by testing every letter of the alphabet after your keyword.

It might take some time, but your findings might surprise you.

Further Reading:

4. See Who Ranks On the First Page of an Organic Search

If you know your niche well, put a few keywords into Google and see what your competition ranks for. Google puts only the most relevant content on page one.

The ranking pages will provide clues regarding the type of content you should create and keywords to consider.

For example, if you ran a beauty blog and wanted to write a post about popular beauty products, enter that term into Google to spy on the competition.

Try using the wild card (*) search operator here. You’ll get results you may not have considered.

using wild card search operator

 

You can see that the wild card yields more results, like:

  • Popular 90s beauty products
  • Popular TikTok beauty products
  • Popular Korean beauty products
  • Popular Japanese beauty products

These are terms you may never have thought of. Plug any of those keywords into Google and see what you get.

When I enter the search term “popular TikTok beauty products” into Google, the types of content are list posts — ideal for writing this if you’re a beauty blogger.

Then, analyze the top performers to get an idea of what your article should include (so your post is relevant).

Why?

Because not every search query displays blog posts in the search results. For example, if you enter “pet supplies” into Google, you get eCommerce shops.

Further Reading:

5. Ask Your Audience

If you have an engaged audience, try asking them questions about what they want or what they struggle with.

We do this at Lasso.

Ask your readers to complete a short questionnaire or take a quick survey. You can create yours using a simple Google Form.

Case studies and testimonials are an excellent way to learn more about their needs.

For example, we created a Google Analytics best practices article when we learned many of our users have questions about the tool.

Sidenote: If you’re a Lasso customer, head here to complete the form and get featured on our blog.

Based on your audience’s feedback, you may gain fresh insights into the kinds of content (and keywords) you should target.

Some of the results you’ll get will be eye-opening. Here’s an example from one of our customers who completed our questionnaire:

lasso customer survey response

Reading comments like this informs you whether you’re on the right track with your customers.

Best Keyword Research & SEO Tools

Below are some of the best keyword research tools marketers use to gain the upper hand over the competition.

Google Keyword Planner

You can use Google Keyword Planner to find target keywords, but you’ll need to set up an ads account.

However, it’s free to use and does provide useful terms you may not find elsewhere (though it’s more relevant if you’re running an ad campaign). 

Ubersuggest

Neil Patel’s free keyword research tool. Just type in a domain or keyword to start. It lets you gain insights into what’s working in digital marketing.

You’ll see your competitor’s domain overview, top SEO pages and get keyword suggestions.

Ahrefs

If you’ve got a budget, I highly recommend Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. Their CMO, Tim Soulo, even created a comprehensive educational resource for those wanting to expand their knowledge on the topic.

In addition, you can find relevant keywords by searching for terms appearing in other search results pages (e.g., find new keywords ranking in YouTube or Amazon search engines) instead of going to YouTube or Amazon’s site.

find keywords by search engine

 

And its Backlink Checker lets you spot link-building opportunities.

Google Trends

You can enter a search term into the field, and Google spits back both “Rising Data” and “Top Data.”

google trends with top query and rising query reports

“Top” is the most popular search query in a given category while Rising includes terms with the biggest increase in search frequency.

You’ll find interest by region and related terms when you scroll down. You can also set up Trend alerts by clicking subscriptions in the left sidebar.

You can choose to get alerts by either topic or trending searches.

Tip: To find additional info on what’s trending, try Brian Dean’s tool Exploding Topics. It sources rapidly growing subjects before they take off.

SearchResponse.io

SearchResponse.io lets you plug in a seed keyword, and the tool scrapes Google’s People Also Ask and presents you with an aggregated data set of questions.

search response.io people also ask tool

Google’s People Also Ask and Searches Related To appearing in the SERP (scroll to the bottom of the search results page) are also excellent places to source keyword ideas.

It presents you with questions related to your search query.

google's people also ask box

Niche Keyword Research Fills Your Blog with What People Want

If you’ve been creating content for a while but aren’t pleased with your results, consider whether people are actually searching for your topics. It may be a simple case of unmet search demand.

But no worries, with a little fine-tuning of your niche keyword research approach, you should start reaping the benefits in due time.

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