This is the second part of my website building guide. The first part can be found here: http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/guide-to-building-your-first-site-part-1-picking-your-niche.863733/ Keyword research: introduction I think keyword research is probably the most important thing to consider when it comes to building a website and heres why: a) At the most basic level (And this is especially relevant if you are new to SEO) you need to know whether there is any demand out there for whatever it is your website is going to be about. For example, you might be super passionate about stamp collecting and think to yourself you can make the most amazing website ever, you can produce tonnes of content etc etc. But, there may not be a demand, people may not be searching for that topic and further more, even if they are there might not be any adwords competition for that niche - in other words, no advertisers makes it very hard for you to monetise and also is a good indicator that everyone else also finds that niche hard to monetise. A good example of this occured some time back when my friend created a website in a particular niche without doing keyword research, he came up with a great system for scraping content, making it unique and then posting it on his site. He got tonnes of traffic, but the advertiser competition was so low that it barely made any money at all. b) The second reason why keyword research is so important is so that you know whether or not you can rank in a particular niche - for example you might be really interested in technology, you might already know that there are loads of searches relating to technology on Google, so you pick a small niche within tech, you build your site and start firing out content only to discover 3 months down the line that every keyword you are targeting is domincated by the tech giants and you don't have a chance in hell of ranking for any of them. c) Preparation is the key at this stage - the research you do now will help you to lay down the foundations for your site, it will give you an idea of where its possible to take the site and it will allow you to plan everything else based on the research you do now. If you dive in to your site design and start writing content without doing the research first you are likely to end up hitting a dead end and then backtracking to try and work out what you should actually be focusing on, how you should be structuring your site, where the site is likely to excel and so on. These reasons make keyword research super important and so its another part of your website creation journey that you should really focus on. Getting started with keyword research So you have your niche now - the one you picked in the first part of this gude. Lets say that your niche is coffee machines. Finding related terms The first thing I do is search for that broad term on Google, look at the first 5-10 sites and just grab some related keywords from those sites - the number of keywords that you need and how closely related they are to your "Seed keyword" will depend on whether you are building a micro niche site (where you want a few closely related keywords) or an authority site (Where you really want to branch out and cover all aspects of your chosen niche). Looking at search volume in Google keyword planner The next thing to do is chuck those keywords into Google keyword planner and use the option to generate new keyword ideas. With this you should get a big list of keywords that are related to your seed keywords. Download this list into Excel and set up some filters the same way that you did in the first guide. The next thing to do is hide everything outside of some set parimiters - lets say that you go for anything between 500-5000 monthly searches. Within the list that you are left with take out the terms that have the following metrics: a. Advertiser competition - a higher number (1 being the max) shows that lots of people are advertising for the term and that if you have adsense on your site and it gets clicked, you will make money b.Terms closely related to your niche and those that you consider relevant. c.Not too broad - you don't really want "coffee" or even "Coffee machines" because there will likely be millions of sites ranking for these terms already and they are very hard to dominate because they are so broad. Once you have picked out the best terms put them into order in Excel - I organise keywords into groups that are most relevant to each other - this grouping will help you later on when you are building out your site - especially if you are building a silo structure. With each of these terms its then time to start looking at the current competition - put each term one by one into Google and look at the top ten results, you should be looking for the following: 1.Are there authority sites (You need to also start learning the authority sites that dominate your niche) - these are hard to beat because they tend to be well establihsed sites with high DA and will be hard to outrank. 2.Are there well known sites like wikipedia, ebay, Amazon- again these sites can be hard to outrank. 3.Are there any niche sites - in other words smaller sites that are unknown within the niche and perhaps look similar to what you have in mind for your site - these sites should be beatable in theory and also tell you that the niche is possible to rank in. 4.What are the metrics of the websites currently ranking in the top ten? For this you can look at PA/DA, whether they are optimized for the keyword, how many backlinks they have etc. The ideal tools for this part are Moz.com, ahrefs.com and majestic.com but if you dont have paid accounts with these providers you can get plugins for chrome / firefox that will mostly do the job. Weed out the high competition keywords Put the keywords in order of how difficult they are, how competative the top ten is and so on then remove the highly competative ones (The ones where the top ten are dominated by authority sites, for example). Then you are left with a smaller list of what should be lucrative terms with high search volume but with low(er) competition. Remember these are really your top level terms and the ones you ideally want to rank for, but you are going to further drill down and get some very easy to rank for terms as well so don't worry if these seem daunting. Look at the intent for each keyword that you have left Intent is important - it dictates whether a searcher is looking for information, an answer to a specific question or to directly buy a product - this intent will determine how much money you are likely to make from a search term as well as telling you what sort of information you need to present in order to rank. For example if you have a term "where to buy coffee machine XYZ" then you can assume the intent is to buy and thus its likely to be a lucrative term. However, if you put up a 1200 word article about this term then you probably wont get very far because the searcher is going to be looking for a buy button or links to several products that they can buy. Looking at the top 3-4 results for each term will quickly give you clues on the intent of searchers and will show you what sort of content you need in order to compete. Take note of your competition As you are doing this research it is important to take notice of the competition as well - actually its VERY important. When I am doing keyword research I gradually build up a list of the competition in its entirety - I make a note of all the authorative sites in the niche as well as all of the niche sites and any other competition that I see along with notes about what they are doing, how good they look how strong a competitor I think they are, what sort of content they are producing and so on. This information helps you to do the keyword research well, it helps you to understand what the audience is looking for in terms of content and it will also give you a nice list to steal a lot of information from Drill down with longtail keywords The next step once you have your initial list of lucrative keywords for your niche is to drill down and find longtail variations on those keywords - this is where you tend to find keywords that are easier to rank, even if they are lower in search volume. With each keyword that you have in your first list put it into keyword shitter, this will give you a big list of variations on your keyword. You can also add additional variations depending on your niche - so you might add in where to buy coffee machines, what is the best coffee machine, coffee machine reviews, coffee machines to fit in small kitchen. etc etc. When you have this new list of longtail variations, put each one into the Google keyword planner in order to get an idea of search volume and also to discover additional related longtail terms. I produce a seperate spreadsheet for each term at this stage and then look for the best terms within that spreadsheet. Now you should be looking for longer terms that still have a good advertiser competition but that have a lower search volume (This is not a requirement of course but these tend to be the terms that have less people trying to rank for and thus are easier for you to rank for). As you find relevant longtail terms check the competition for each one by looking at the top ten results and add them to your master list in order of relevance. By the end of this stage you should have a list like this: instant coffee machines -instant coffee machine reviews -instant coffee machines under $100 -instant coffee machines with steam addon nespresso coffee machines -secondhand nespresso coffee machines -how to use nespresso coffee machines -nespresso coffee machines with two cup holders This could be a very large list or a small list, depending on the size of the site that you are trying to create. You can also repeat the process depending on how many levels deep you want to go. Getting this list refined now is great because it gives you a full structure to work with and it means you will not run out of content to write for your site a few weeks or months down the line. It also shows you what you are working with and how best to structure your site from the beginning so that it wont outgrow itself. Finally it should also put things into perspective - if you started of with a niche like technology for example, then you will probably realise by now that you picked a niche that was too big and you just have keywords and LSIs coming out of your ears - go back and pick a smaller niche where you can finish this part of the guide within a few hours and not a few years. Check out what your competitors are ranking for Now that you know who your competitors are never leave them alone - ever. You should be looking at everything they are doing, how they are ranking, how they are building their sites, what content they are posting, where they are posting links / comments / social posts etc. The goal is not to copy them but rather to look at all the best parts of their strategies and then do it better for your own site. This starts with keyword research - using a tool like ahrefs you can search for all of the organic keywords that your competitors are ranking for - you can grab this entire list and go through the same process as you did above - look at search volume, look at the top ten competitors, look at the intent of the seacher etc. From the list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for pick out the most lucrative and low competition terms and slot them into your list in the appropriate place. the best part about this is that you can instantly gauge how competative these terms are by the type of site that is ranking for them - for example if you pinpointed a particular competitor that has a new site, it looks like its been built from home etc, on page isn't great, BUT they are ranking for a couple of terms that get a fair amount of searches per month - BINGO they are terms you should definitely be going after youself - add them to the list. Moving on At this stage you should have a nice big list of keywords that is structured in such a way that everything is sectioned out into specific areas. This keeps things organised, it lets you know how to structure your website in terms of categories, sub-pages, related content etc and also it will help you to put together a silo structure later on so that every page on your site enhances those that it links to and vice versa.