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Sizing up a niche

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by FleshJoe, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. FleshJoe

    FleshJoe Power Member

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    I often get this question, how do you determine whether a niche is worth entering. So I'll outline what I do to determine that.

    The preliminary step is keyword research. There's books and books on that, I won't go into it. I use keyword spy, google cash detective, and similar tools that automate the process.

    The part thats interesting for this discussion is not finding the keywords but figuring out how competitive they are. Single word keywords are a bit harder to size up than multi-word keywords with my method, so I'll cover single word keywords another time, because it requires some enhancements to the basic method.

    So lets say you want to know how competitive 'build backlinks' is.

    Phase 1: competition

    Step 1: enter build backlinks into google and see there are 1.8m matches.
    Step 2: enter "build backlinks" and see there are 180K matches.
    Step 3: enter intitle:"build backlinks" and see there are 2140 matches.
    Step 4: enter inurl:"build backlinks" see 2090 matches.
    Step 5: enter allinurl:"build backlinks" see 2090 matches.

    I abandon a keyword if it has >4K intitle: and/or >4K inurl: matches as that indicates many pages are optimized for this 2 word keyword. The longer the keyword, the lower my cut-off goes.

    Phase 2: competition strength

    For each of the top five (sometimes ten) results on the result page of the broad match search, determine how many backlinks each has, and eyeball whether they're actually optimized for this keyword. If the keyword is not dominant in their backlinks then they are ranking mainly due to on-page SEO, and they're a lot weaker irrespective of the number of backlinks.

    I use http://backlinkwatch.com to examine the backlinks, some other people recommend Yahoo Site Explorer. It's a matter of taste, both have their plusses and minuses. I use Firefox SEO to deterimen page PR.

    For this keyword, I find:

    http://www.webconfs.com/how-to-build...article-16.php 118 links, 20% with anchortext 'how to build backlinks'

    http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2008/jul/2.html 10 links, 20% with same anchortext

    http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Link-Trad...Your-Web-Site/ 8 links, none with *any* anchor text

    http://www.work-at-home-jobs-iowa.co...-to-build.html 5 links, no anchor text

    OK we've seen enough to determine that this niche is probably possible to dominate with a few well written pages and >100 links with appropriate anchortext. The amount of effort required is (a) getting a good domain, (b) writing a few (>5, ideally 10) pages with good content about backlink building (c) building backlinks to them with >40-50% anchortext containing the keyword 'build backlinks'.
     
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  2. FleshJoe

    FleshJoe Power Member

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    I guess noone needs help with this topic, I wasted my time posting about it here :)
     
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  3. dsizzle

    dsizzle Registered Member

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    Thanks for this info !

    This is exactly the kind of SPECIFIC information that many of us are interested in. If you cannot size up a niche after reading this, you probably should apply at Burger King :)
     
  4. XRay

    XRay Junior Member

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    Hmmm I wouldn't say that FJ ... the ones who need it are probably looking in the wrong sub-forum :D.

    Thanks for the tip re: backlinkwatch.
     
  5. FleshJoe

    FleshJoe Power Member

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    XRay and everyone else, thanks :)

    I was having a discussion with someone over PM about whether inurl: is important to measure competition or whether intitle: is more important. After some more digging, I believe intitle: has a much larger impact on ranking than inurl:, so (a) you don't really need a domain name loaded with keywords, and (b) you can rank well just with titles containing your keywords. Of course you still need the whole package, i.e. on-page SEO as well as links back to your site with the right anchor text.

    Importantly, any link is a good link. Links from sites that are not in the same niche as yours work just fine, as long as the links have good keyword-loaded anchor text. Links that are nofollow contribute just as much to ranking for the anchor-text keyword as ******** links. That's because a low PR page with good backlinks can outrank a high PR page with bad backlinks for the same keyword.

    Read the above paragraph a couple times. The lesson: all links are good links, and do continue to make links on nofollow sites. They help, and PR is not the end-all be-all.
     
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  6. thesilent

    thesilent Supreme Member

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    This was exactly what I was looking for and your time was not wasted.

    So I went ahead and searched for more info on this and read this
    Code:
    http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=3131
    . There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding intitle and inurl

    Maybe you should shed some light on this.
     
  7. Micallef

    Micallef Supreme Member

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    Regardless of any confusion over the minor details, this information for sizing up a niche is top class. Thank-you. I am mystified as to why there have not been more responses.

    However, I would like to know more about automating the initial keyword research (keyword spy, google cash detective). Fleshjoe, can you provide any more details on these tools?
     
  8. XRay

    XRay Junior Member

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    Thanks for making these points, FleshJoe.

    I was thinking about the inurl vs. intitle issue a few days ago while doing niche research. I saw that the domain didn't matter as much for ranking purposes as having the keyword intitle and in the first few lines of the article, post, etc.
     
  9. dotthei

    dotthei Regular Member

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    Definitely not, some of those tips will help me in building my niche empire.

    Thanks man!
     
  10. FleshJoe

    FleshJoe Power Member

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    I'd rank the factors as follows:

    inanchor: > intitle: > inurl: > "in-domain" > "in-description" > "in-h1" > "on-page"

    I put "in-domain", "in-description", "in-h1" and "on-page" in quotes because there are no operators for these self-explanatory (hopefully) distinctions.

    Off-site (i.e. back links with relevant anchor text) SEO is way more important for ranking than on-site, because of the fact that on-site is easier to control and therefore "game". If you have back links with anchor text that is a good match for the subject of your page, Google infers that other sites also think that your page is relevant for that subject, so Google thinks it's relevant for that subject and ranks it high. This used to work before user generated content became common, but no more.

    I expect Google to improve their formulas so it'll become harder to game their off-site evaluation. It's a horse race, sometimes the SEOs lead, sometimes Google. Right now the SEOs lead, but it will swing back and forth. :)
     
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  11. XRay

    XRay Junior Member

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    FleshJoe I don't know if it worked, but I tried to give you rep for this thread. You've definitely added to my knowledge base and I appreciate it big time:cool:.

    Question for you re: anchor text links. Is it better for SEO to vary your links between anchor text and natural links? Wouldn't it appear more "natural" to the search engines if I threw in some "http://mysite.com/topic page" links in with my anchor text links?

    @ Micallef: My paid tool is from Howie Schwartz's "lab" (wierdest thing, I typed in the name, but it wouldn't show), but I also use Google's external keyword tool and Wordtracker's free keyword tool. No matter what tool(s) you use, you still have to analyze, drill down, analyze, drill down.
     
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  12. BHWCobra

    BHWCobra Newbie

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    This has the makings of one of BHWs top threads - thanks Fleshjoe for initiating it.

    Your post was clear, concise and loaded with instantly usable information.

    The so-called 'gurus' could learn a thing or two from you on this (they'd probably make your post into a 10 DVD product - LOL!!)!

    I like Micallef's post about learning how to apply some of the tools to the process to help automate/speed things up. Fleshjoe or anyone care to offer some guidance?

    Cheers
     
  13. DoeDoe

    DoeDoe Newbie

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    Thanks for the info this will be of great use to me.
     
  14. mrobeng

    mrobeng Registered Member

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    Lol. I would not mind working at burger king. I mean I love food and anywhere I can pinch free food is on my menu. Seriously though, this is a very clear and concise post and should satisfy anyone wanting to crack a niche. There are more automated ways of doing this though.
     
  15. MrDee23

    MrDee23 Newbie

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    Thanks, I appreciate you making this so easy to follow and understand. I know I've seen similar info elsewhere but you broke it down into simple steps and gave us numbers we can use to judge the worthiness of a niche. I think the "I abandon a keyword if it has >4K intitle: and/or >4K inurl: matches" will be useful to a lot of people who didn't have a concrete way to judge the competiton.

    I tested it right away on a niche I had in mind and found only 128 competitors with "intitle:" and "inurl:" and just a couple authority sites in the top ten for that search. Now I feel great because using your info and what I know already I'm confident I can dominate that phase. :)
     
  16. MrDee23

    MrDee23 Newbie

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    I keep reading this over and over and I appreciate that you added in this bit. :D

    Some people waste so much time worrying about nofollow and page rank. Last time I was at DP it's like all people were talking about. Not only does it probably not matter but I see traffic from nofollow links all the time.
     
  17. x4ng3l

    x4ng3l Registered Member

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    Good!

    (Can one moderator delete this? i posted another in down, sorry =/ )
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  18. x4ng3l

    x4ng3l Registered Member

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    This is a great post, more i have more one question...

    Can u say off keyword spy, google cash detective and firefox seo?

    Is possible give links for download?

    thanks!
     
  19. judarican

    judarican Newbie

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    Hey Fleshjoe-

    Awesome post, you've cleared something up for me that I've been trying to figure out for ages!

    One question...

    "Links that are nofollow contribute just as much to ranking for the anchor-text keyword as ******** links."

    Did I read that right? Inbound Nofollow links to my site still help me as long as they are an anchor I'm going after?
     
  20. FleshJoe

    FleshJoe Power Member

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    I wrote that wrong. Thanks for catching it. What I meant to say is that nofollow links contribute just as much RELEVANCE for the anchor text keyword as ******** links. And in the end google ranks not only by PR, so the link is still very significant for ranking, but maybe not as important as a link that passes PR. The bottom line is you shouldn't care too much whether a link is ******** or not, just create a link with the anchor text you want -- every link helps, and you can't have too many :)
     
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