Research Without Tools

We actually don’t need any keyword tools to figure out what people are searching for. Technically, if we were familiar enough with the topic we chose we could just write off the cuff and search engines would find our site. It’s not “required” to do research and target a phrase in order to rank. We just do it to increase our chances of ranking.

If you don’t want to invest the money into a keyword tool right now, here are a few ways to find out what people are searching for in your niche.

Google Instant

This is probably the most fun, and easy to decipher. Simply start out with any word or short phrase related to your niche. Type it into Google. Hit space, and then type a letter. Yup, any letter. Google will automatically try to guess what you are searching for based on other people’s similar searches. You can also type the letter before the phrase or in the middle.

Using this tactic will give you some serious insight into what people are searching for because Google creates these predictions based on what real people are searching for. It’s also much more up to date than any keyword tool because most tools use some kind of historical data. Not only that, but you will end up with a ton of long tail keywords, which tend to have very low competition. *NOTE: “Long Tail Keyword” simply means a keyword with more words in it, usually 3-5+

Q&A Websites

Yahoo Answers is probably the most famous and well ranked, but Quora and a few others exist. Reddit would fall under this category as well. See where people are asking questions and discussing your topic. Notice which topics get the most comments, cause controversy, or are asked several times.

You can not only get insight into what makes people in your niche tick, but you also get some real answers, and start to gain more knowledge that you can use to create original articles for your own website.


Join a forum and see what new topics are getting posted. See who’s answering the questions, and how they are answering them. Notice what the brand new people are asking, and what’s frustrating or confusing them. What are they excited about?

People dedicate time out of their day to participate in discussions on these forums. They are not paid, and the vast majority of them have get no monetary value out of participating. It’s like spying in on your potential customers to find out what they are passionate about.

Remember! A keyword can be a simple question. If someone posts, “How Do I Replace The Fuel Filter In My Honda Shadow vt1100?” in the forum, that’s a perfect idea for a YouTube video or blog post tutorial.

Other Blogs

Browse some other blogs in your niche. See what their most popular posts are and which ones are getting the most comments. Take note of what new stuff they’re posting. Get on their email list and check out what they are talking about. You can even investigate what stuff they are promoting on their website and get some ideas of what you can promote on your own.

I don’t advocate copying at all! But there’s nothing wrong with doing research and seeing what works for other people. Don’t just creep one persons blog and drool over their traffic stats. Keep an eye on a few big players you see ranked a lot, borrow some ideas from each, and keep in mind that you want to work on developing your own brand over time.

I have seen a lot of people copy my websites in the past (or currently) and it’s annoying. Please just use this for learning, not leeching.

Making Up Keywords

The more familiar you are with your niche, the more you can just write anything you think of and have it stick. Seriously. Some of my most popular posts were done just by using my brain. Sometimes, this is the only choice!

When news comes out this week, you won’t find it in any keyword tool because they rely on historical data. For example, when I was living in China and promoting VPNs, Gmail got blocked one week. So I wrote a post, “How to unblock Gmail in China”.

The post was ranked within a week, and doubled my traffic over night. I probably made a few thousand dollars just from that one post over the next month. Of course, I eventually got pushed out of the #1 spot by websites like Mashable and Lifehacker, capitalizing on the traffic and ad revenue, but it was nice to know that I truly was on the top of my game, and had real insight that only I and a select few could provide.