So you’ve got a brilliant idea for a shiny new website – you’re going to share information you’re passionate about and make your money via affiliate marketing. Or perhaps you’re going to promote your own products, or you’re going to set up a review site, or you’re going to compile and offer the best products from around the web. That’s awesome. Good for you!
But whatever niche you choose, you’ll be facing stiff competition from other sites that are well-established, rank highly in the search engines, and have a bunch of loyal followers. That’s the reality – but don’t let it stop you!
All you need is time and patience and some good keyword research. And, of course, this isn’t a get-rich-quick endeavour. Get that out of your head right now. Yes, there’s a tonne of sites and scammers out there promising you you’ll be raking in whole bags of cash in a week if you will just buy their product/training/book etc. But no, we hate to burst your bubble, it just isn’t going to happen. For one thing, even if you submit a sitemap and promote your site or posts heavily on social media, it’ll take a while for you to get ranked and start to see traffic.
But again, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make a living online. It is – but just be aware that it’ll take a while to grow.
So, where to begin? Lots of novices make the mistake of pursuing the most popular keywords for their niche right off the bat. This is often a fatal move.
Remember all those well-established sites you’re competing against? Well, in all likelihood, they will already have the authority to be ranking on the first 10+ pages of Google with those keywords. Even though the really popular keywords for your industry will have thousands or even millions of searches every month, there’ll also be thousands or millions of pages competing for them. And while you shouldn’t ignore them completely when you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t be focusing on them. You’ll struggle to rank, even within the first 20 pages.
So What Can You Do?
Go for the low-hanging fruit first. That means keywords with less competition, or with fewer pages or sites competing for that phrase.
Here’s how you can find them:
Firstly, come up with the main keywords you think you’d like to target. Write yourself a list. Then, pick the one you’d like to focus on first, and head over to Google. Start typing your keyword or phrase, and clever little Google starts to give you suggestions – usually long tail suggestions.
Go for the alphabet soup technique – type “[Keyword of your choice] a” and look at the suggestions, then “[Keyword of your choice] b” and so on and so forth. You’ll easily find a huge number of potential keyword ideas that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of on your own.
Take note of the ideas you really like and want to investigate further.
Next, head over to your keyword research tool of choice. There’s a massive number out there, and some are way better than others. My three top choices are Jaaxy, AdWords, and SEMRush.
SEMRush is good – huge database, updated regularly, nice, accurate suggested related keywords etc, but it’s membership is costly – particularly if you’re just starting out – and the sheer volume of suggested keywords can be a little overwhelming.
Google AdWords is free as a keyword research tool, but it’s of limited use. It doesn’t give you a particularly accurate competition count – it’ll tell you whether something is high/low/medium competition, and when you download the list, it’ll give you a competition percentage (the closer to 0 the better). However, it’s a good choice if you’re operating on a shoestring budget.
Right now I’m using Jaaxy – you get a free trial (which does have some limitations), but they also offer differing levels of monthly membership – and their Pro membership is super affordable, and contains everything you need. It even allows you to do the alphabet soup technique right from your dashboard if you want to bypass that step in Google, although there’s limits on the number of soup results you get based on your membership level. Jaaxy gives you the precise number of competing pages for each of the keyword phrases you enter, too, so you can easily see which ones to target.
So, if you’re using Jaaxy, enter one of the keywords you want to investigate. The tool returns the keyword you entered and a whole bunch of related suggestions. You’ll see:
If you’re going for the low-hanging fruit, make sure you go with keywords with a QSR of under 100 ideally. That’s keywords that have less than 100 pages competing for those terms.
But Doesn’t That Mean Less Traffic?
Um… yes and no. Could I be any vaguer? So, yes, keywords with fewer than 100 pages competing for them do tend to have less monthly searches – but that’s why they’re the low-hanging fruit. But think about it logically for a second:
Targeting a high-traffic keyword because it has, say 200,000 monthly searches, with average estimated website traffic of 20,000 sounds fabulous. However, there’s 500+ competing pages for that exact same keyword, and you’ll only get that amazing traffic if you rank within the top 10 of those 500+ competing sites. And, because that’s unlikely for a new site without much established authority, the chances are you won’t get traffic outside of sharing with your friends and your PPC campaigns.
Target low-hanging fruit. Choose to target keywords with a lower monthly search volume and a lower number of competing sites. Yes, the estimated traffic for those keywords looks lower – but – with under 100 competing pages, it’s so much easier to get ranked. And, providing your content is decent, that means you’ll get traffic. And, if you’re clever with your keyword usage, you can get ranked for multiple keywords with a single page. So, yes, there’s a lower average search volume, but because you’re ranking on page 1 in the SERPS – rather than languishing on page 20, what traffic there is, you’ll get a good portion of. And because there’s essentially an infinite number of these low-hanging fruit keywords, they offer an unlimited source of traffic.
Just remember, not every low-hanging fruit keyword is awesome. Only choose the ones that actually relate to your niche, are free of spelling errors, and don’t have missing words. In other words, they need to make total sense. Otherwise, it’s a wasted effort.
NOTE: That doesn’t mean you should stuff your post full of keywords. Your keywords should be placed naturally and they shouldn’t jump out as your reader. But we’ll go over keyword placement and usage in another post.
Other Reasons to Pursue Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords:
- Your site ranks higher in the SERPS faster for those keywords.
- Because your posts are ranking higher for those keywords, your site authority increases.
- As you increase your site authority, you’ll be able to target higher-traffic keywords and rank for them more easily.
- You can convert the traffic you draw from the low-hanging fruit into regular readers, encourage them to sign up to your newsletter, buy your products or services, and keep them coming back.
Now, a final note. While this advice is solid, as mentioned before, earning the big bucks won’t happen over night. It’s also important to remember that investing time in your keyword research alone isn’t enough. Google is smart – and getting smarter. And your readers are smart, too. For this to work, your content has to be solid – it has to give your readers value – it needs to be well-crafted, and it needs to be engaging. Remember – content is still king – and the foundation of your kingdom is clever keyword research.