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How to Do Keyword Research for Your Online Side Hustle

If you have started an online side hustle, you’ve probably heard about keyword research. But how do you do keyword research? What does keyword research entail? Here’s my step-by-step method on how to do keyword research that works for me and my side hustles.

How to do Keyword Research: Start with Your Focus

How to do keyword research: a step by step guide to finding great keywords

At the start of any keyword research project, you must decide on your focus. What are you trying to accomplish with your online side hustle and website? Who are you talking to? Who is your target audience?

By having focus, when you do keyword research, you will pick out more targeted keywords for your goals and audience. There’s no point in optimizing your content and ranking well for a keyword that doesn’t fit. You want it to match your ultimate website goals. Keywords need to attract your target audience.

Been there, done that. I’ve had to revamp my online side hustle through keyword research to focus on what the purpose of my side hustle is, and who my target audience is. Focus makes all the difference.

How to do Keyword Research: Brainstorm Keywords & Gather Ideas

Next up, we’re going to gather up some ideas for keyword research. This step can be time consuming when you do keyword research, so take your time. This bit of work will pay off in the long run.

How do you do keyword research brainstorming? I have a few websites that I like to use:

  • Pinterest (yes, Pinterest)
  • Amazon.com
  • Google

Here’s how I use these websites to gather ideas for my keyword research.

Go to Pinterest, for example, and start typing in a general word from your niche. Pinterest (and Amazon and Google) will try to autocomplete your words for you with things people are searching for.

So, if you type in “coffee”, you will see suggestions like “coffee quotes”, “Coffee mugs”, “French press coffee” etc. Pinterest gets even more specific. It will sometimes have little boxes at the top of the search results page. These have suggested searches to narrow down what you looked for too, which is helpful.

These are all things people are looking for.

There’s no point in optimizing your content and ranking well for a keyword that doesn’t fit. 
You want it to match your ultimate website goals. 
Keywords need to attract your target audience.

Now that doesn’t make them great keywords. There is more to how to do keyword research than just finding words and phrases. This is a good starting point, though.

As you look at those suggestions from autocomplete, which one’s fit the purpose of your online side hustle and your target audience?

If you are selling coffee supplies, “French press coffee” may be a good idea, but coffee quotes and coffee mugs don’t fit. Therefore, focus and target audience are important first steps in how to do keyword research. Filter out which keywords fit with what you’re trying to accomplish.

How to do Keyword Research: Generate More Keyword Ideas from Your First List

Next up, you’ll need some more help to find great keywords and phrases, based on the autocomplete suggestions you found on Pinterest, Google, and Amazon. Thankfully, there are a few wonderful services that help with this, all free.

The two services I like to use are Ubersuggest and (pardon the unfortunate name) Keyword Sh*tter. (I wouldn’t share that if it wasn’t helpful, though I try to avoid profanity on this site).

By typing in some ideas you’ve already found helpful from autocomplete, these two services can generate more specific ideas. Instead of just “French Press Coffee”, they may suggest ideas people are looking for. This can include “Where to buy a French press” and “What is the best French press”. You may also find others you may not think of.

Here’s the way I look at it. 

Use words your audience uses

You and I know the niche we’re focused on, inside and out. We know the lingo and the “right” terms. Our target audience may not know all the right words that a professional might use. They just know they are looking for something that will accomplish something. So one of the suggested keywords is “Where to buy a coffee plunger” (coffee snobs everywhere recoil in horror!).

It may offend our coffee snob sensibilities to use that word. If you’re active in the gourmet coffee niche and selling high end, quality French presses you won’t use that word. It’s weird to hear it called a coffee plunger. But if there are 100 searches a month on average for this phrase, why not? With no competition, you can’t lose with it.  Few in the coffee niche are going to call it that. But if customers are looking for a French press to buy using this phrase, then use it. Even if you hide that page from within regular site navigation. 😉

In particular, if you are selling a product, any long tail keyword like “Where to buy a….” will bring you visitors ready to buy or trying to make a buying decision. So, this would be a better phrase to rank for “Where to buy a coffee plunger”. This is more specific than ranking well for the more generic “French Press” or “coffee”. Those could mean pretty much anything from coffee recipes, coffee jokes, graphics, and so forth. Someone searching “where to buy” is ready to buy.

How to do Keyword Research: Find Which Keywords are most promising

There’s no point in optimizing your content and ranking well for a keyword that doesn’t fit. 
You want it to match your ultimate website goals. 
Keywords need to attract your target audience.

Finally, you need to figure out which of these keywords are the most promising for your website and niche.

This step can also help you, as you consider a business idea. You can see which niches are likely going to be profitable or a waste of your time.  If something has few searches and way too much competition, it’s an over-saturated field. You’d face an uphill battle.

I used to always use Google’s Keyword Planner, which is a free service with Google Adwords. Recently, I have since switched to a paid service called LongTail Pro. It is easier to use and much faster to do my research.

What I do is type in the keywords I like best. From there, I can see how many average monthly searches these keywords get. I also can see what the competition looks like.

Google’s keyword planner ranks competition based on how many people are paying for ads with those keywords in them. So this can mislead when using the keyword planner to determine keywords and competition.

Services like LongTail Pro take into consideration websites that have pages that rank well for that exact keyword. They aren’t just showing you the number of people who have ads with that keyword. They also use color coding to show me whether the competition is too high for a keyword.

The whole idea behind LongTail Pro is to give you long tail keywords, instead of just generic words. This technique has caused my traffic from organic searches has gone way up. People stay on the page longer than they used to. This means they found what they were looking for. This is what we want!

How LongTail Pro will Save you time and make you money

How to do Keyword Research: Applying What You Learned

Once you’ve done all of this keyword research, what do you do with it?

The basic rule is to have each of your website’s posts or pages optimized for one keyword. The more specific the keyword (ie, longtail keywords) the better, even if the number of searches is lower. If there is low competition and it’s very specific within your purpose, create content with it.

I use my list of longtail keywords as topics for individual posts or pages I’m creating. This helps my target audience with problems they face that relate to products and services I offer.

You may have heard of sales funnels. Using longtail keywords can be a great way to get targeted visitors into the start of your sales funnel, too.

With books and ebooks I’ve written and sell on sites like Amazon, I use this technique. I use long tail keywords to title the books and write the description of the books. I also use keyword research to determine if the topic is even worth my time to write the book.

There are several smaller websites I have that serve targeted niches. I base most of these micro niches on keyword research I have done. When writing posts, I include only posts titled with actual long tail keywords. As a result, they all get great, targeted traffic and are profitable monetized with affiliate marketing or Google AdSense.

You can learn more about how to do this in this excellent course on Udemy on microniche affiliate marketing.