(If you’re wondering what this Case Study is about, please read the introductory post from last week.)
When Suzy and I first chatted about her desire to have a travel blog, focused on a specific travel niche, upon which she could write about what she really loves and make money doing it, I put together a “flow chart” of action items that she would need to follow.
The Flow Chart consists of eight (8) Levels, and each Level is broken down into a few easy-to-accomplish tasks.
Here’s what Suzy accomplished in the first week with Level 1 of the Flow Chart, which has just three simple steps:
- First, she decided upon her travel niche. She had already picked a topic about which she is passionate and can write about with knowledge and enthusiasm;
- Second, she did some research to discover if there is a market for that travel niche – are there enough people who would be interested in reading her new travel blog?;
- and Third, she analyzed other websites and travel blogs who are already in that particular travel niche – assessing her competition – to determine if she can do a better job.
The steps in Level 1 that Suzy took can be visualized in the chart at right.
(Click on the image for a larger version)
It may sound easy to choose a travel niche…..you just decide to write about what you love, right?
You can write all day long, every day, about your passion – say, blue widgets – but if no one is searching the internet for blue widgets, you may as well be singing in an empty auditorium – no one will hear you. Before you spend a lot of time setting up a travel blog and writing your heart out, you should spend a little time doing some basic research.
You need to choose something that you love AND that other people love too.
To do that, you have to start with Keyword research – sounds technical but it’s not. It just means writing down any words or phrases associated with your travel niche that people might use if they were searching for it on the internet.
Your BEST FRIEND in this research project is Google. Google provides you with some basic, but powerful, tools:
- The Google Keyword Tool – use it to:
- Find out if anyone is searching for the words and phrases on your list;
- Discover additional keywords and phrases that you might not have thought of;
- Take a peek at what Google thinks your competitors keywords are.
Look for keywords and phrases for which there are at least a thousand or more people searching monthly for your primary words/phrases, otherwise you may get some readers, but you’ll never get enough to earn any revenue from your travel blog.
Suzy discovered that what she thought would make a good primary keyword phrase was hardly being search for at all. But she also found a couple of other related keyword phrases – that she had not thought of before – that together have roughly 4,000 people per month searching for.
- Google Search (yes, plain old google.com) – use it to:
- Search for the keywords and phrases on your list (and those you added using the Keyword Tool) to see who shows up – this is your competition, and in some cases, allies and potential advertisers;
- See who is advertising for traffic in your travel niche (the right side where Google displays paid advertisers) – these are also both your competition and potential advertisers;
Spend some time browsing the websites of anyone who shows up on the first page of Google results for each of your keywords and phrases – what are they doing that earns them first page results? Can you do a better job of it?
If your research reveals that there are enough people who would be interested readers of your new travel blog, and you think you can do a better job at providing expert information than the sites that are already ranking well for your keywords, then contratulations! You’ve found a viable travel niche!
Through this process Suzy honed in on what her focus would be, still within the travel niche she chose, and the future direction that her travel blog would take. This is vital information to have before you spend hours or weeks building a travel blog, and months of effort that could potentially lead to disappointment.
Stay tuned….Next week we’ll cover choosing a perfect domain name, arranging site hosting, and setting up your new travel blog. And in a future post we’ll discuss exactly how to rank well for those keywords you’ve discovered!
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Interesting case study. Doing keyword research is key. I take it one step further by doing other research other than keywords. Every little bit helps.
Thanks, Trisha for introducing me to Google’s search-based keyword tool! It’s already helping me to narrow down the focus of the posts that are upcoming in our editorial calendar!
@SarahQT – I would be interested in hearing about what other research you do – you’re absolutely right, every little bit of research you do upfront helps down the road.
@Daniel – It is a great tool and I love that it’s free! I have many more tools coming in future installments of this Case Study, so be sure to follow it.
Great post – I like how you’re teaching via a case study with a real live person! The flow chart reminds me of when I use to be involved with establishing new policies and procedures at my old insurance job. ;)
I never even heard of the concept of keywords or researching them before, but really it does make sense – I just never connected this with how people find you on the web…..I’m learning so much from this site in general but this case study is really interesting!