How to find good keywords and niches for your websites
All internet marketers know that the key to making money online is selecting the correct niche to target and the correct keywords within that niche.
But the difficult thing is actually generating ideas that will help you find the niches. The best niches are profitable but with low competition as no one else is targeting it. So many foolish Internet Marketers think that the way ahead is to simply copy the niches of those who are successful - they don't realise that copying niches and ideas means that those niches get saturated and very very competitive, and late entrants rarely prosper unless they are willing to put in a shedload of time and effort to get their page ranked above everyone elses - that is if Google will even index the page (and they won't if it looks very similar to the x million they already have on the subject). The profit is in thinking differently to everyone else when looking for profitable niches.
This is a resource page for those who want to find good niches for their website.
Way back when (in 1980), a creative writing teacher called Peter Elbow came up with a technique he called "free-writing" to help break writers block. Most creative writing instructers have now adopted his methods. Even if you are not a writer, it's worth buying his classic book "Writing With Power" (which got republished in 1998) to get to grips with his ideas on brainstorming, lateral thinking and how to focus on what the audience wants (for audience substitute "buyer" for the internet marketer - understanding how the buyer reads your material is a key to success online).
Most brainstorming processes involve lists and whiteboards. Where Elbow's process differs is that it taps into the stream of consciousness, and takes advantage of the fact that our unconscious mind has been soaking up literally everything we've seen and heard in real life and the media, so you are already have a massive database of ideas even if you don't consciously realise it. This method takes no longer than the list-and-whiteboard method, but a bonus is that when you find your keyword you sometimes end up having most of your article or page written already! It's then just a question of a bit of editing and you are good to go.
Here's how to do "free-writing":
Sit down in a quiet place with a pen and a pad of paper (it works better when you do this by hand) and simply force yourself to write for ten minutes. Even if you have nothing to write, just write "I am sitting here trying to write and have nothing to write". Just record your thoughts, as fast as you can, without pausing to think about what you are writing. Just get it on paper. If you find yourself jumping from one topic to another mid-sentence, just put a dash and go straight to the new topic. Just follow the threads wherever they lead, whether it's memories, anecdotes, observations, feelings, whatever.
Once you are done, get yourself a coffee and read what you've written. Sometimes it's just garbage, but often you've tapped into an idea. Sometimes a phrase will leap out at you, or your thread branched off into a completely different direction giving you new ways of looking at old ideas.
How to check if your idea is profitable
When doing the freewriting process above, I ended up somehow reminiscing about my childhood and I remembered buying Cream Soda and wondered whether it was still made and sold.
I headed for the Google Adwords tool, and typed in the phrase "cream soda", being sure to make the match "exact" and looking at the cost per click. There is a healthy number of people searching for "cream soda" and "icecream soda", but the cost per click is low - but looking down the list I see that "how to make cream soda" has a CPC of over $1. Note that the CPC listed is what the advertiser pays, and as a publisher you will only get about 20% of the amount quoted. So this keyword will not provide riches, but it's not too low to be worthless either, and on the plus side, I doubt the heavyweight internet marketers will be beating down the door to compete with me for this phrase!
The next thing to do is to put the phrase into Google to see what the competition is like. The page holding position 1 in the Search Results is a pagerank 2. I should be able to compete with my hubpage especially if I make sure I back it up with a couple of backlinks.
Here's the hub I made: How to make cream soda
The key to this exercise is to find keywords that will allow you to rank on the first page of the search results and which has a decent non-trivial CPC. Any keywords that are less than $1 in the keyword tool will provide you with extremely low value clicks as publishers only get about 20%-30% of the quoted CPC - keywords under $1 are a waste of time, unless you can get massive volume to your page. If you think you can get a lot of traffic, go ahead, otherwise give the keyword a miss. Note however that the cost of keywords fluctuates with the economy
On the other hand you can't make money unless you get traffic, so you want to choose a keyword where you have a decent chance of being on the first page of the SERPS. It's pointless choosing a keyword with CPC of $10 if that niche is so competitive you'll be lucky to make page 20 of the SERPS. Most visitors to search engines rarely browse further than page 3 of the SERPS. So don't choose phrases where you will get buried.