Important: This guide is made up of 3 separate posts as it was too big to fit in a single post (too many images) .
I suggest printing it out and reading it somewhere away from the computer so you can really concentrate and digest what I am about to reveal too you.
In short I lay bare the strategies I use to uncover and "steal" the work and success of other marketers.
In fact, after making a living full time online since 2004, I have finally come to realize that above all things involved with online marketing my real passion is reverse engineering and unraveling the businesses, techniques and strategies of other marketers...to the point of obsession :-)
My hope is that you come to better understand the power of using the hard work of others to more rapidly grow your business by letting them blaze the trails, make the mistakes and point you to profits.
Micro Niche Espionage: A Complete Guide
Purpose of This Guide:
The purpose of this guide is to layout strategies for reverse engineering (spying on) websites and competitors in markets you want to enter for the purpose of achieve top 10 rankings in Google.
I will show you how to use a number of tools to reduce the time effort and risk it takes to successfully and profitably enter a new market.
Who Is This Guide For?
This guide is primarily for those planning to use Adsense to monetize their sites but really anyone who wants to build niche content sites can use these tools, techniques and strategies regardless of how you plan to monetize your site.
What Is Micro Niche Espionage?
Micro Niche Espionage is the art of uncovering potentially profitable niche markets using various tools and techniques to spy or reverse engineer the competition.
But what is a micro niche?
A "micro niche" is a niche within a niche. Confused? :-) Here is an example using the "golf" market.
Golf --> Improve Golf Swing --> improve iron game --> master the sand wedge
See how as you go from left to right the topic gets more and more specific?
The deeper you dig into a market, you begin to uncover super targeted niches where people are hungry for any information or product they can get on the topic.
So in the example above, I would say the two micro niches are "Improving Your Iron Game" and "Master The Sand Wedge"
You don't always have to dig so deep into a market to find a micro niche. The golf market is MASSIVE so there are dozens and dozens of niches and micro niches to uncover in that market alone. But there are many entire markets that are simple micro niches and nothing else.
Perhaps an even better definition of a micro niche is:
A very specific product service or information that appeals to a very specific group of people.
(For instance, from the golf example, there are a certain number of people obsessed with improving their iron game but an even more targeted and passionate group of people that will consume any and all information about improving their golf game by mastering the sand wedge.)
Hopefully you're with me so far. (Don't worry if you're not. We have a long way to go.)
How To Find A Micro Niche:
This is the point in most guides and courses where people will tell you to fire up the trusty Google Keyword Tool and look for keywords with a certain number of search counts, costs per click, advertiser competition , etc.
Don't get me wrong, those things are important and I am certainly a fan of Google's Keyword Tool and we'll even get into those things a bit later on but that is not where I want you to start.
This is a guide about Micro Niche Espionage which means we want to take advantage of all the people that have come before us and left these huge trails of data for us to follow.
Think of a hunter tracking his prey.
A hunter doesn't go wandering aimlessly through the woods hoping to stumble upon the animal he is tracking. Instead, they carefully follow the signs and tracks left behind to locate their prey. (actually, if I'm being perfectly honest, a lot of hunters will somehow lure their prey to them so this hunting analogy want hold up to you hunters out there but I'm trying to make a point so please bare with me :-))
The same thing holds true for market research. We need to start by following the trail left by those that have come before us and entered markets successfully.
The Tracks To Look For First:
The ultimate goal (if you plan on promoting your site using SEO) when entering a market is to get to the top of Google and drive as much targeted traffic to our sites hoping people will buy something from us directly, through an affiliate offer or a click on an Adsense ad.
For this reason, it's important to begin the research process by finding out which keywords existing sites already rank for.
But to get ideas for a market/niche to enter you can't just research the rankings of any old site. You want to research the rankings of sites that rank for a lot of keywords in many different markets.
Sites that rank for many different keywords in thousands of different markets are what I like to call Rank Magnets.
What Are Rank Magnets?
Rank Magnets are sites that Google likes to rank for all kinds of keywords in hundreds and even thousands of different markets. They primarily rank for mid to long tail keywords which is even better since micro niches often fall under these kinds of keywords.
Rank Magnets typically fall into four categories of web sites:
1) Article Directories (ezinearticles.com)
2) Web 2.0 Sites (hubages, squidoo)
3) Q&A Sites (ehow.com, wiki.answers.com)
4 Document Sharing Sites (docstoc.com scribd.com)
What these kinds of sites all share in common is that they rank for thousands upon thousands of keywords in just about any market you can think of especially for the more specialized and targeted keywords that make up micro niches.
These sites are not only helpful because discovering which keywords they rank for is a great way to get ideas for niches to build sites around but also because it is how these sites are able to rank that makes them an even more important tool for market research.
Rank Magnets typical have a lot of site authority (influence and trust) in Google's eyes which is why they are able to rank for so many different keywords. Taken as a whole these sites are massive and very hard to overtake in terms of site authority and ranking power.
But while these sites as a whole carry a lot of ranking power they have very little topic or niche specific ranking power.
As an example, EzineArticles.com is by far the largest and highest authority article directory. It has taken years to accomplish this and it takes a team of people working to improve, maintain, and grow the site.
To try and take on EzineArticles.com to become the biggest article directory would take a whole lot of time and money.
But EzineArticles.com is not an authority on most of the niches their articles talk about. They are not an authority on the golf market or the diet, dating, software or home mortgage markets. Pretty much any market you can think of they are not an authority on.
What this means to you is that even though a page from EzineArticles.com may rank in the top 10 or 20 in Google, it does not mean you cannot outrank them for that specific keyword or niche.
In fact it actually means the opposite.
The presence of a Rank Magnet in the Top 10 of Google represents a very good opportunity to achieve the same or better rankings.
If you build an entire site around a few closely related keywords, then that itty bitty site can have more authority or ranking power for those keywords than an huge behemoth of a site like EzineArticles. This is possible because we are not competing against the entire EzineArticles.com site but just a single page on the site.
Here's how to use Rank Magnets for your market research.
Reverse Keyword Research:
With traditional keyword research, you typically need to have some kind of topic or idea in mind otherwise you don't know what to put in the keyword tool to get ides.
In fact, thinking of a topic or niche is one of the biggest hurdles I see beginners facing when first starting out. Until you get an idea where to start, a keyword tool is pretty much useless
That's why using Ranking Magnets and performing reverse keyword research on them is so helpful and simple.
Here's the idea behind reverse keyword research.
Instead of starting with an idea and finding keywords you might be able to rank for, we take existing sites already ranking well in Google that we have a very good chance of outranking (Rank Magnets) and find the keywords that they are already ranking for.
This is an in credibly powerful concept and one I want you to think about for a minute.
Most of the research and keyword advice you read is all about finding certain kinds of keywords (certain search volume, cost per click, competition, etc) that you might have a better chance of ranking for. But even with the best metrics and formulas there is still no proof that those keywords will indeed rank well in Google for the kind of sites you want to build (micro niche sites).
There is still some risk vs. reward at play here but I think there is more reward than risk compared to other keyword research methods.
Here's How It Works:
For reverse keyword research, you need to start with one of the many keyword spy tools that are available like Keyword Spy, SpyFu and SEMRush.
These tools all offer pretty much the same features and functionality. My personal preference is SEMRush.com because it seems they update their data more often than the others and they gave a few more search options that allow you to dig into their data more efficiently.
If you are strictly interested in the total number of keywords available, KeywordSpy has the biggest database, then SEMRush, followed by SpyFu.
To keep things consistent, I will be using SEMRush.com throughout this guide but you can use any of the other services out there to accomplish the same thing.
Kicking things off we will look at the keywords ezinearticles.com currently ranks for in the top 20 results in Google. To do this, simply input the domain of the Rank Magnet you want to research (in this case ezineartilces.com) in the search box and hit "search"
Below is a screenshot of the entire results window showing a summary of all of the information available about EzineArticles.com.. A lot of information here but we are only interested in the area highlighted which is the organic keywords report listing the keywords EzineArticles.com ranks for in the top 20 Google results.
Here's a closer look of this part of the page reveals that SEMRush has found 1.3 million keywords ranking in the top 20 in Google
Pulling up the full organic keywords report allows you to more easily browse the list of keywords EzineArticles.com ranks for:
In the image above, I have sorted the results to list all of the pages ezinearticles.com currently ranks #1 for first.
At this point, it is simply a matter of looking for keywords that look like promising candidates to build a micro niche site around. To find these keywords I follow a few simple guidelines.
Each keyword must have:
1) At least 1000 Local Exact Match searches a month according to Google's keyword tool
2) A cost per click (CPC) of at least $.75 ( a lot more on this later)
3) "Medium" advertiser competition or higher.
For a more in depth overview explaining this keyword research technique in detail, watch the video below:
After going through the steps outlined in the video using the 4 keyword criteria above, I settled on these 6 keywords that are showing some promise:
Before we verify the data for these keywords and eliminate the losers, I wan to show you how you can identify ranking magnets that are losing, gaining or maintaining favor with Google.
Finding Ranking Magnets That Google Loves:
The whole idea behind Rank Magnets is they get a lot of their pages ranked high in Google.
EzineArticles.com is one of the best examples of a Rank Magnet.
A lot of people already know this and use EzineArticles.com to find markets and reverse engineer the competition but what if for some reason EzineArticles.com begins losing its influence with Google or there was some new up and coming site that Google was fond of?Wouldn't it be great to spot this before everyone else?
You would have a head start on mining keywords and finding markets from a new data source before others catch on (and they will...it just a matter of time so do what you can to stay ahead!)
Once again, SEMRush.com provides a way to monitor this kind of trend.
For every site in their index, SEMRush provides several trend/performance charts you can use to spot sites that are gaining or losing rankings in Google. They provide an easy to use tool to build these charts for any site you can think of. The tool can be accessed here
Using the tool is pretty self-explanatory.
You enter the domain you are interested in and select the type of graph you want. So instead of showing step by step how to build the charts let's jump in with a few examples.
The only chart we are concerned with is the "Num of Keywords" (number of keywords) chart.
Here's the chart for EzineArticles.com
EzineArticles.com Num Of Keywords:
While it looks pretty basic this chart is actually very informative.From about March 2010 through September 2010 there appears to have been a slight increase in the number of keywords ranking in the top 20 of Google.
As it turns out, the "slight increase" in the number of keywords over the past few months is actually an increase of more than 336,000 pages!
If you mouse over a data point when using SEMRush's graphing tool, it will give you the value for that time period. So in the image above there were 978,037 keywords ranking in the top 20 in April which rose to 1,314,596 pages in October!
Not only is this impressive but also important because SEMRush's database of keywords is more or less very consistent from month to month.
This means they are checking the data for the same keywords with each update to their database and if a site shows a steady increase in the number of keywords present in Google you have a pretty good idea that the site is on the rise in terms of grabbing rankings in Google. (ie keywords they didn't rank for last month they rank for the next month)
From this chart we can see that EzineArticles.com is a consistent and reliable Ranking Magnet on the rise.
Let's see what a Ranking Magnet in decline looks like.
DocStoc.com Num of Keywords:
Here we see the trend chart for the document sharing site Docstoc.com.
For the first part of 2010, DocStoc was definitely a site on the rise in terms of the number of keywords ranking in the top 20 in Google but sometime in mid April, the number of pages took a huge hit for some reason.
Possible reasons are that Google picked up on some sort of spamming technique that people were using to get rankings through DocStoc and nuked the site or DocStoc themselves started nuking spam accounts or enforcing stronger editorial standards for submitting documents to the site.
Either way, the site isn't ranking as well or as easily as it used to. It ranked for 577,000 fewer pages in Sep 2010 than in April 2010 (833,669 pages in April vs. 256,148 pages in Sep)
At this point, DocStoc is still a Rank Magnet (SEMRush has them ranking for more than 250,000 keywords) but it is a far cry for the over 800,000 they were once ranking for so while it is still a good place to find ideas for markets and keywords but it would not be a site that would see a steady influx of new keywords and ideas like you could expect with EzineArticles.com
As a final example, here's another site on the rise:
Scribd.com Num of Keywords:
From April - Sept 2010 the number of keywords Scribd.com ranks for increased by 271k pages. So while competing document sharing site DocStoc.com took a dive, Scribd, has steadily been grabbing more and more Google rankings.
This is a simple technique for spotting sites on the rise that can be a source of more and more keyword and market ideas.
Here is a list of some other ranking magnets you may want to monitor in no particular order:
Now back to our regular programming....