Using SEO To Find Narrow Blog Niches
In the quest to find your ideal blog niche, utilizing basic SEO techniques will give you the insight you need to make the best possible decisions. This is part 2 of a 2 part series on evaluating and choosing blog niches. In part 1, Crystal started us on the path to choosing a niche that can drive traffic via both Pinterest and SEO techniques. If you’ve not done so already, go back and read part 1 before continuing.
We’ll begin our discussion with the list of blog niche ideas that you created with Crystal in part 1. Again, if you haven’t read part 1 already, go back and do so now. She had you choose from a list of topics that are popular on Pinterest and write a few posts on each to find which are the best fit for you. We’re going to start with a more in-depth evaluation of those topics you wrote about and then narrow the focus down to find the areas in your broader Pinterest niche that you can focus on that will also rank well through SEO.
Think of this post almost like a two-for-one deal. Not only will you know how to evaluate blog niches but you’re getting an intro to SEO optimization as part of the deal. These skills will definitely come in handy as you progress through your blogging adventure.
Table of Contents
- What Google Wants – It’s All About Great Content
- Finding Focused Blog Niches – An Intro To SEO
- Using Keyword Research To Evaluate Narrow Blog Niche Ideas
- Researching Keywords – The Secret To This Strategy
- Finding Keywords That Get Search Traffic
- Keyword Ranking Factors We’ll Examine
- Evaluating The Chances Of Ranking A Keyword
- Lather, Rinse, Repeat
What Google Wants – It’s All About Great Content
What does Google want? NOBODY has the exact answers to how Google ranks content in search results other than Google, and they’re not sharing their secrets. There is, however, some very good basic advice that they give that we can use in the process of narrowing down your niche. In short, Google wants authoritative, relevant, and fresh content. If you keep these concepts in mind at the beginning when choosing our blog’s focus, you’ll reap the benefits later. The best focus for you to choose is the one that you feel you’re most able to provide authoritative, relevant, and fresh content in.
When evaluating blog niches, you want to choose one that you can write about with authority. You want to be able to bring personal knowledge and perspective to the topic and be able to write content that informs the reader. An authoritative post is generally longer than one that isn’t – shoot for at least 1500 words as Google loves longer content. Posts should be accurate and thorough in the information they provide yet be easy for the reader to understand.
The concept of relevance is critical to understand as it applies to both Pinterest and SEO. The primary goal of all search platforms is to present peopel with information that is relevant to what they’re looking for. Try this out for yourself. Do a Google search on anything you wish and look at the results then ask yourself, “Does it make sense why I got these results?” Relevant content provides value / solves a problem for the reader. Ideally, relevant content is timeless, sometimes called evergreen, so it will provide continued value (readers) to your blog. When you choose your niche, be sure it’s a topic you can discuss in a way that is relevant to people who search for it.
Pinterest and Google, both, reward those who provide them with fresh relevant content regularly. For Pinterest this is fresh pins. For Google this is fresh blog posts. Your blog niche should be one you can write about regularly – however frequently you decide you’re going to post. Whether it’s once a weeks, every day, or something in between – you want to be choose a niche that will allow you to write frequently. In a manner of speaking, blogging can be considered a “numbers game”. The more content you have, the more opportunity there is for your content to be found. Additionally, in Google’s eyes, posting new well written content regularly helps to establish your blog as an authority.
A quick related note regarding fresh Pinterest pins – Crystal wrote a really excellent post that lays out a solid Pinterest strategy. I highly recommend that you check out. She understands Pinterest better than anyone else I know. With that said, let’s move on to evaluating blog niches.
Finding Focused Blog Niches – An Intro To SEO
Let’s recap where thing stand now. In part 1, we started with a list of popular topics on Pinterest to start the process of chosing your blog’s niche. You wrote some sample content to help get a feel for how these topics would fit for you. Next you evaluated the topics you wrote about with an eye toward deciding which topic you can write fresh content about with authority and relevance. After all of this you should now know what general Pinterest popular topic is best suited for you. This topic, however, is likely too broad to effectively SEO. The next thing we’ll discuss is how to narrow down to a niche that will provide your best chances for SEO success.
To narrow down your niche, we’ll start by doing some brainstorming. Grab a notebook and a pen – or even better create a spreadsheet to track all of the data you find in your research – and start making a list of topics within your chosen Pinterest topic. Don’t overthink it – just jot down whatever ideas come to mind.
As an example, I’m going to choose Health & Fitness as my broad Pinterest popular topic. Topics that could fall under this broad category could include:
Next, we’ll take these narrow subtopics and do some more brainstorming to narrow things down further. For our example, under Exercise, we could choose more narrow subtopics like:
Write down as many of these narrow blog niche ideas as you can come up with on your own. I’ll advise you to not write down any ideas that you would not be interested in or qualified to writing about. So for example – if you are not qualified to write about Medicine or you’re not interested in writing about Exercise, do not put those ideas on your list.
The last thing we’ll brainstorm are possible topics that we could write about under our narrow topics. We might come up with ideas under Yoga like:
- Yogi Lifestyle
- Best Yoga Products
- Yoga Clothing
- Yoga Routines
- Best Yoga Poses
Write down as many of these ideas as you can as these are potential posts that you could write about. When we move on to the next step in this process, we’re going to evaluate the potential for these posts to rank well for SEO. The idea here is that the topics with keywords that you are more likely to rank well for are the topics you want to be blogging about.
Using Keyword Research To Evaluate Narrow Blog Niche Ideas
There are a plethora of SEO tools out there – most of them require some form of payment to take advantage of. For our purposes today, however, we’re going to make use of a couple free tools to help us evaluate our narrow blog niche ideas.
Keywords Everywhere is a browser plugin that works with either Firefox or Google Chrome that we can use to do keyword research within our Google search results page – in particular showing us the search volume of keywords. Mozbar is a Chrome specific plugin that we can use to evaluate the relative authority of websites that show up in search results.
Together, they’ll allow us to determine what niches have good search traffic and how difficult it might be to get a good SEO ranking in these topics.
If you have both Firefox and Chrome installed on your computer, I recommend using Firefox for Keywords Everywhere and Chrome for Mozbar. This will allow you to keep both tools open at the same time – switching between browser windows as needed.
If you’re the type of person that isn’t afraid of spending some cash to make your life a little easier and you’re interested in a paid SEO tool that won’t completely break the bank yet does a good job of the type of evaluation we’re about to do ourselves, look into KWFinder. They give you 5 free searches a day to try the service out. While this will speed up the evaluation for you, you can definitely do this yourself without it.
Researching Keywords – The Secret To This Strategy
Using keyword research to help you decide on your blog’s niche gives you an advantage over new bloggers who don’t put in the time beforehand. Before you’ve even started your blog, you already know that your topic is one that people search for and that you stand a better chance of driving traffic to it. It’s a lot like the old cliché about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. The more you’ve researched your blog’s niche in advance the faster you’ll see success as a blogger.
Finding Keywords That Get Search Traffic
Continuing with our example, let’s search for keywords related to Yoga. If we do a Google search for Yoga, on the right side Keywords Everywhere will give us a list of “Related Keywords” as well as a list titled “People Also Search For”.
We can repeat this process to find additional keywords by searching some of the suggested keywords. But which keywords should we search? First, determine which keywords are the most relevant to what you want to write about then take into consideration the search volume for that keyword. We want to look at keywords that get a decent amount of serach traffic. In our initial search, we got a suggestion for Yoga Excercises that gets over 27000 searches per month. Let’s see what suggestions we get if we search for Yoga Exercises.
The results we get from searching Yoga Exercises are even more specific and could potentially be the main keywords / titles of blog posts. Repeat this process for as many ideas and keywords as you can. In the end, you’ll have a more complete picture of what your blog’s niche should be by doing so.
The next question you’re likely asking is, “How low of a search volume is too low?” Some people suggest only going after keywords that get at least 1000 searches per month or more. I generally feel that a keyword that gets as little as 300 searches a month can be valuable if you can rank for it easily enough. If you have 5 posts that rank easily for 100 pageviews in a month, that’s 500 pageviews and you’re building authority with these easy to rank for posts. This is what’s often referred to as going after low hanging fruit. Ultimately, though, this is up to you.
Keyword Ranking Factors We’ll Examine
Now let’s look at how to evaluate keywords to determine what kind of chances there are to rank well for them. We’ll be using Mozbar for this. A quick word about Moz and Mozbar. Moz attempts to do their best to make educated guesses about how Google ranks websites. This is not easy and by no means are they or anyone else who does this perfect at it. When Moz evaluates a site they calculate two different scores – Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). We’ll discuss what these are in a moment.
In order to evaluate keywords, we need to have a basic understanding of the information we’ll be basing this evaluation on.
Domain Authority is a score determined by Moz to indicate the relative authority / ability to rank of an entire website with scores from 0 to 100. Higher scores have more authority. DA scores are what’s called a logarithmic scale, which means the higher you go up the scale the more difficult it is to advance. A simpler explanation would be – it’s easier to move from 10 to 20 than it is from 60 to 70.
Page Authority is Moz’s score of the relative ability for a specific page on a website to rank. Again, scores range from 0 to 100 on a logarithmic scale. While we won’t rely heavily on these scores, they can be helpful when evaluating some situations.
Backlinks are links from other websites to the site or page in question. When we look at the Mozbar information, it will show us the number of links that there are to the page in the search results. Generally speaking, the more links there are to a page, the more authoritative / likely to rank it is.
We talked about relevance briefly already, however it is absolutely crucial to keep in mind here as we evaluate keywords. Google and other search engines strive to provide highly relevant information to users. If a site has information that is highly relevant to a search term, the relevance alone can propel it to rank better than a website with higher DA and PA scores.
The last thing we need to discuss before we start evaluating keywords is click through rate or CTR. In general, CTR represents the percentage of people who click through a search result. What we’re going to keep in mind when evaluating keywords is some general estimates for CTR based on search ranking position. There’s a lot of variables that go into this but for our purposes, we’ll assume the following CTR based on search position values:
So, if for example a keyword gets 1000 searches in a month, we can estimate that the #1 result will get 300 clicks, #2 will get 150 clicks, #3 will get 100 clicks, #4 will get 75 clicks, #5, will get 50 clicks, #6 will get 25 clicks, and below that the numbers get even lower.
Evaluating The Chances Of Ranking A Keyword
We’ll examine the top three keywords that were suggested by Keywords Everywhere in our ongoing example – yoga poses for kids, yoga poses names, and yoga poses for two – to give you an idea of how to go about this analysis. Let’s get started!
Note: all values shown in these examples were current at the time of publishing and will likely change over time.
Keyword Evaluation – Yoga Poses For Kids
Starting with the keyword yoga poses for kids – the first thing we want to keep in mind is the search volume for this term is 14800 searches per month. Let’s have a look at the information that Mozbar gives us when we search for this term.
Looking at only the 1st 6 results, let’s start by looking at the DA for each result. There are a number of high DA sites listed here, however take notice the DA for the #2 result is only 27. Also notice that the highest two DA values are #5 and #6. What might cause the results to be this way? Let’s investigate further.
Examining the number of backlinks each result has, in this case, shows us more about how popular the websites are in general than anything else. The #6 result has over 1000 backlinks more than the #1 ranking result. Again, why might this be?
Let’s look now at the actual sites in the results, starting with the bottom half of the list. In positions 4, 5, and 6 we see some big names – Parent’s Magazine, Pinterest, and She Knows (a hugely popular online magazine). These sites are going to have a high DA regardless of what results they show up in, but all serve a more general audience.
Taking a look now at the top results, we find in 1, 2 and 3 Yoga Journal, Namaste Kid, and Do You Yoga – all of these sites have something to do with yoga and considered to be more relevant to the search query, hence the higher ranking. Let’s look specifically at #2 here – Namaste Kid. If you remember, their DA is only 27 yet they’re ranking #2. This is specifically becuase the entire point of this website is yoga for kids. You do not get more relevant than this. Over time, as this site grows and builds more authority, you can expect that it could overtake the #1 spot.
If I normally came across results with majority of the sites in the top 6 with DA values over 60, I’d run for the hills on this specific keyword. However, in this specific situation we see that there’s a good opportunity to rank with content that is highly relevant to the search – especially since we see PA values that aren’t impossibly high for many of the results. Let’s factor in the CTR for this keyword. I would estimate it wouldn’t be difficult with some time to rank at #4 for this keyword. With 14800 searches per month, we can estimate that the #4 spot would get around 1110 clicks per month. If I were starting a website about Yoga, this would be a keyword I would definitely want to go after.
Keyword Evaluation – Yoga Poses Names
Let’s look now at the keyword yoga poses names. The search volume for this keyword was 12100 searches per month. Mozbar gives us the following results. Take note, I pieced this graphic together from split search results. This will be important as we go on.
I’ve included 7 results on this example. When we look at the results, the 1st thing you might notice is that the 1st three are all to different pages from Yoga Journal magazine and that most of the results are for yoga related websites. In this situation, Yoga Journal’s high authority pushes it ahead of everyone else. If you look at the remaining 4 results, however, the DA for the yoga specific sites are all under 40. I would estimate that a site about yoga, with time, would be able to rank up as high as #4 in these results after it builds up enough authority.
Remember that I mentioned I had to piece this image together from split results? Let’s talk a bit about that. When I searched this term, the 1st results I got at the top of the page were images with the names of each pose underneath like this:
After the 1st two search results, I was then given links to videos like this:
Google often likes to include information directly in the search results pages. These results can drastically reduce the CTR for the pages in the results.
In this situation where there’s a volume of 12100 searches per month, and given the fact that the content that would be associated to this keyword might be essential to any website that discusses yoga, I would still go after this keyword – even though there are a number of obstacles – though I wouldn’t expect to drive a huge amount of traffic to this page from Google.
Worth noting here – just because a keyword might be somewhat difficult to rank for in Google, don’t discount that you can still drive traffic to the content via Pinterest. Remember our basic strategy for choosing our blog niche is to leverage BOTH Pinterest and Google.
Keyword Evaluation – Yoga Poses For Two
For our last example, we’ll look at the keyword yoga poses for two. The volume for this keyword is 9900 searches per month.
This is another interesting result. Notice that the top spot here went to Pinterest. Remember in our 1st example how we said that Pinterest isn’t a very relevant result, generally speaking. The fact that it tops a list of other more relevant results says to me that their authority was enough to push it ahead of the much lower authority results. In fact, Moz likely recognizes this as they list the result in the #2 spot as having a tied ranking with the #1 spot. It’s likely in this situation that many people are going to SKIP a #1 result that goes to Pinterest and move right on to #2.
So let’s look at the rest of the results. We see a lot of lower DA scoring sites with two notable excptions. At #4 we find Elite Daily which is a popular online magazine and at #6 we find Yoga Journal again, though this time they’re nowhere near the top of the results. Why is that? In this situation, it seems that Yoga Journal doesn’t have content that is exactly relevant to the results but was still relevant enough to be included further down in the list.
This is a keyword that I think if targeted, a yoga specific website would be able to get as high as #2 without much difficulty and over time with enough authority, would overtake Pinterest at the #1 spot. If Yoga Journal were to decide to go after this keyword, I feel they would quickly bump Pinterest down a notch – making the top spot a bit harder to reach. Regardless, if we rank #2 our estimated clicks on 9900 searches per month would be 1485 and at #3 we’re looking at 990 clicks per month. This is definitely a keyword I’d go after.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
As you evaluate your own blog niche ideas, you’ll repeat through all of these steps until you’ve exhausted every possible keyword you came up with. Do this for as many niches as you are considering. When you’re done you’ll know which one has the best potential for you to find success AND you’ll already know what keywords you should target with your content, giving you an advantage over new blogs that haven’t put in the time to learn and do research.
As you get started on your blogging adventures, the skills and information you’ve picked up here will serve you well as an introduction to the basics of SEO optimization and you know now how to evaluate what niche(s) are the best for YOU to blog about. As you put your new blog together, you should take a read over my piece on technical SEO optimization tips that can help your site make the most out of the great content you’re going to give it.
If you found this two part series helpful, be sure to give it a pin on Pinterest, share it on relevant social media, and subscribe to my email newsletter. Be sure to leave questions or thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
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