Keyword Research for Making Cash Money

Hi, do you like cash money? Me too.

This guide is designed to help you never make the stupid mistakes I did when I first started keyword research.

In essence, you won’t have to spend weeks or months trying to rank for keywords that will not give you a respectable return on your investment (time), like I did.

I have made this mistake more than enough times, so that no one else ever has to.

The good news is that my newb-like mistakes during the earlier part of my SEO career, made me pretty good at this keyword research thing.

I’m going to give you everything you need to know about how to find awesome BUYER keywords for your industry that will send super targeted traffic to your website.

Before you even start brainstorming potential topics, you need to think about some of the biggest debates regarding keyword research.

Authority vs Niche

This debate will never end, but it’s still very important. You have to ask yourself what your goal really is.

You have two options:
1. Create one or two authority sites.
2. Create dozens, if not hundreds of targeted niche sites.

Benefits of Authority Sites

  • Greater profitability potential
  • You can focus all your efforts
  • It can produce a long-term, stable income
  • Are generally much more fun

Pitfalls of Authority Sites

  • It takes a lot of time and effort
  • It requires a lot of dedication and maintenance
  • It may take longer to see profit

Benefits of Niche Sites

  • Super easy to create
  • Will make you money on autopilot
  • Quick profit
  • Require little, to no maintenance

Pitfalls of Niche Sites

  • Requires dozens, if not hundreds of properties to see respectable returns
  • Thin niche sites will get the boot from Google
  • There is just as much effort to build hundreds of these sites, as there is to build one authority site.
  • You will generally dislike the topic you have to build a site around, making it an overall miserable experience

Passion vs. Quick Money

Now that you see some of the pros and cons of creating each type of site, you must ask yourself what’s more important to you. Are you interested in writing about something you’re passionate about and that you truly enjoy?

Or, would you rather write about dish washers, so you can earn a whopping $30 in affiliate commissions a month?

I have done both, and the effort you put into an authority site is substantially more rewarding than any niche site. But this is up to you, and you must decide what route you want to take.


Because it will determine how you conduct your keyword research.

Fat Head vs Long-Tail

What separates authority and niche keyword research is the type of phrases you will target.

Traditionally, an authority site will target one beastly keyword (Beastly: high traffic, super competitive, will take awhile to rank for regardless of how good your links are, and is considered a “fat head” keyword) along with hundreds of other long tail searches.

A niche site on the other hand, will target 1-5 long tail keywords.

To gain a better understanding of fat head and long tail keywords read this post by Moz.

How to Find Cash Money Keywords

Blogging for passion is awesome, but making money while you’re doing it is even more incredible. I’m going to teach you how to find keywords that will actually help you make money from your blog or website.


Before you begin any type of keyword research, you must first brainstorm ideas. This is the most important part of the entire process.

Step 1: The Miracle Device – A Pen

Before you start opening up every keyword research tool on the market, I want you to grab a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.

I know, this is pure blasphemy, but trust me. Ideas will flow much easier with a pen and paper.

If you’re absolutely opposed to this, you can use to map out your thoughts.

Step 2: Think Broadly

Now that you have that weird device called a pen in your hand, you can begin mapping out. Create a list of things you love, a list of things you want, a list of things you need, a list of things you fear, a list of your biggest challenges (physical/mental/relationships), and list of things you don’t like.

Keep it broad.

Really think hard and try to come up with at least five ideas for each list. Once you have the lists, select your top two from each.

You will now have a total of 12 great ideas. Now look at these ideas. Use your own judgement and analyze the ideas. Ask yourself these questions (this is a part of narrowing down process):

  • Will I enjoy created a website about this idea?
  • Could I write 50 or more blog posts about this topic?
  • Does this topic have profitability potential?
  • If so, how could I monetize it?
  • Is this going to be super competitive?

Amazingly, you can answer these questions pretty easily without the latest keyword research tool on the market. Asking these questions alone should allow you to narrow your list down to around 5-8 phrases.

Step 3: Other Ways to Find Keywords for Non-Brainstormers

If you skip the brainstorming activity, then you will more than likely not be creating a website around any type of passion you have. The techniques I’m about to show you are for finding keywords that have potential to make money, but will more than likely be excruciating to write about.

Go to Google and type “Top 10 (insert your idea)” or “Best (insert your idea)”. So if one of your ideas is body building, then you could search “Top 10 body building supplements” or “Best fat loss supplements”. You have to use your imagination a little bit, but you get the point.

Step 4: Determine if the Niche has Profit Potential

Determining the profit potential for your ideas is critical before you start performing massive research. Making this determination takes both common sense and a little research.

Solve Problems and Win Big

Types of keywords that are always profitable are those that solve problems. This is the first question to ask yourself is: does this idea solve a problem? The problem doesn’t have to be how to get out financial ruin or something super extreme. It can be simple problem like, how to build more muscle.

A problem is a problem regardless of the size.

If your idea doesn’t have problem-solving potential, then scrap it. At this point, you should be down to 2-3 ideas that you’re pretty confident about.

HOW Will You Make Money

The next step is to determine how you can actually make money from this idea. You could use affiliate marketing, sell services, create your own info products, or even develop a paid forums. Either way, you’re going to have to see if there is actually a demand for whatever niche you’re targeting.

Research Affiliate Sites/CPA Sites

Don’t spend a ton of time doing this, but visit the most popular affiliate sites like Clickbank, Commission Junction, and even Amazon to see if your idea has a demand. You can also check out CPA websites like Offer Vault or Odigger.

Step 5: Let Google Work Its Magic

Start with one keyword idea that is really catching your eye. Before we jump on the keyword tools, we are actually going to use Google for research.

So what I do is start very broadly by searching “dentist”

Go down to bottom and look at the suggestions that Google generates. Click on the first one that catches your eye. The first I saw is “becoming a dentist”. Copy the keyword to your notepad and now do it again. I then found “becoming a dentist later in life”. Copy it and do it again.

uber suggest-minDo this over and over with the hundreds of suggestions that Google gives you. As an alternative, you can use Uber Suggest or Word Tracker. The only reason why I like to do it manually sometimes, is because these tools aren’t 100% accurate and will not catch every keyword variation.

Repeat this process with your 2-3 ideas that you came up with. This brainstorming session is incredibly important because it allows you to flush out ideas and save you valuable research time.

Nothing is more annoying than picking a keyword, researching it for hours, and finding out that it sucks. Hopefully the brainstorming process you just follow, will put an end to this.

Now that you have a nice list of both fat head and long tail keyword ideas, we need to start plugging them into the tools.

Whip Out the Keyword Research Arsenal

Even though you have a large list of potential keywords, I still recommend plugging the original phrases into whatever tool you’re planning on using. You can use fun tools like Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro, but I prefer taking the free route.

The Google Keyword Planner gives me all the research and niche information I need for free.

1.) Insert your potential keyword by clicking “Search for keywords and ad group ideas” and click “Get Ideas”.


Focus on one keyword at a time because you’re going to be branching out.

2.) Click the “Keyword Ideas” tab and then click “Avg Monthly Searches” to sort the list from the greatest to smallest amount of searches.


step 3-min

3.) Go through the list are start taking note of keywords related to your niche.

step 4-min

4.) Continue until you reach about 10 or more variations of the original keyword. Unless you already found these variations from the previous step.
5.) Repeat this process with each variation of the keyword you found. For example, find variations of “tooth extraction”.

At this point you’re going to have many different variations of your keyword, and now you’re ready to “do work”… just kidding. You’re not even close.

Now you have do the fun part: competitive analysis.

Before I jump into analyzing your competitors, I just want to review the process of finding keywords.

Seed keyword/Idea/Fat head (Don’t even try) >>> Keyword Variation (If you’re good) >>> Long Tail Keyword (Your best bet)

Just keep repeating the all of the steps above to find more and more keywords. You’re going to to find so many keywords that you’re going to be stressed out of your mind. I recommend choosing one idea and just working on it to see if you can find a hole in the niche where you can capitalize.

Keyword research can absolutely consume you, so just be smart about it.

Testing Out the Waters

So if you don’t already, download SEO Quake. It’s a plugin for Mozilla Firefox that will save you a ton of research time. I also recommend downloading the Moz bar as well.

Before you start putting a bunch of effort into a keyword you need to make sure the competition isn’t too insane.

Step 1: Search Your Original Keyword

I can predict that your original keyword is going to be super fat head and way too broad. Yes, these types of keywords have huge searches, but they are generally not profitable.

Look at this example when I search “dentist”:
With both SEO Quake and Moz Bar, I can instantly see that trying to rank for this fat head term would be SEO suicide. Wikipedia #1 with 3,137 links, 1800dentist #2 with 6,687 links, and American Dental Association #3.


It took me two seconds to realize that this is a horrible keyword and not worth the time at all.

Step 2: Search a Variation

For my example variation, I searched “dentist St. Louis”. By simply adding a city, the competition decreases drastically and has now made my original keyword into a “buyer” keyword.

Why? Because someone searching for a dentist in St. Louis is obviously looking for a service.

When it comes to determining whether a keyword is a “buyer keyword” or not, it is best to use your common sense and try to put yourself in the shoes of a searcher.

What seems more profitable?

Someone searches for a dentist in St. Louis or someone who is looking for NBA highlights? Please know the answer.

Believe it or not, this took me a very long time to understand even though it’s very simple. I have wasted a lot of time trying to rank for pointless keywords, so please don’t make this same mistake.

Like your parents say, “I made mistakes so you don’t have to.”


If I were a dentist who was trying to rank for “dentist St. Louis”, then I would be very pleased with the results on the first page.

Yes, there is Stl Mag and the Yellow Pages in the first two results, but this wouldn’t stress me out at all.

Why’s that?

Because my page would be way more super targeted and optimized for this one phrase than theirs. And of course, I would build the most relevant, high powered links imaginable.

Don’t be afraid of authority sites on the first page when you’re doing your research. The only time to scrap a keyword idea is if the first page is littered with authorities 1-10.

As you can see from these results, only the first two will present any challenge at all. In seconds, I can see that results #3 and #4 (I blurred them out to be nice) have very limited links and are not authoritative.

Step 3: Math Time

Okay, so I settled on “dentist St. Louis” for this example. This search gets about 590 searches per month.

Now an amateur would look at this number and be like “YEAH RIGHT BRO, I’M NOT WASTING MY TIME WITH THAT”. These kinds of bros make my job easier.

Bare with me and let’s do a little math for a second. Keep in mind, my math skills are on the same caliper as a first grader. So, if I can make these calculations then you definitely can too.

  • “Dentist St Louis” gets 590 searches per month
  • If you rank #1, you will get about 30% of these visitors or more.
  • This equals 177 targeted visitors to your website every month for ONE keyword.
  • Let’s say you convert 13% (the average percentage of conversions for SEO leads) of these visitors.
  • That means a dentist could potentially be getting about 23 new clients PER MONTH, which equates to 276 new clients per year.
  • According to many studies, the average dentist client spends between $200-$3,000 per year. So, on the small scale of $200 per patient, a dentist could potentially earn an additional $55,2000 in revenue every year.

Of course, there are many factors to be considered, but this shows the potential of ONE legitimate buyer keyword. This example should be enough to change your mindset of “how many searches per month”. All that matters is the quality of the searches and the traffic you’re getting.

Step 4: Additional Research

For some niches that have more competition, you will need to perform additional competitive analysis. Most of your efforts will be focused on the link profiles of the websites on the first page.

Utilize the free versions of Majestic SEO and Ahrefs to get all the information you need.

If you want to learn how I dissect competitors, then I recommend you read The Surgical Guide to Competitive Analysis.

I Never Said Keyword Research Was Easy

Keyword research is the most important step in any SEO campaign. It will determine how much traffic you get, the TYPE of traffic you get, and how much money you will actually make.

It is absolutely vital that you take your time, and test every single keyword to make sure it’s not too competitive, you have a chance of ranking, and it has the potential to produce revenue.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and remember that every other person doing SEO for their website is using the popular research tools. Your advantage is always going to be your creativity and ability to find keywords that aren’t saturated.

What techniques are you guys using to find awesome keywords?


  1. This isn’t the one you promised us when you get more than 150 followers in twitter? a great post for wanna be internet marketers

    • Jafeer, thanks for the comment! It will be released this week, be patient :) I have a lot going on.

      P.S. it’s not going to be a blog post. It will be in PDF format and not available on my blog.

      Stay tuned

  2. Great Post Nathan! There’s a lot of good info in here, I noticed you focused on majestic and ahrefs for back link research tools. I use OSE and Link Research Tools, do you see some specific benefits with the two you use over OSE/LRT?



    • Thanks for reading and commenting Chris! I have always liked Majestic and Ahrefs. I just feel like it shows the most accurate information. I use Open Site Explorer from time-to-time, but it reports internal links, which is annoying. I have never used LRT, but it looks pretty awesome. I’m always looking for ways to save moolah, so I naturally haven’t tried that one and I can get all the info I need from the free tools.

      Thanks Chris

      – Gotch

  3. Fantastic post Nathan. Wow, there is so much good info here. Thanks for taking the time to lead us down the keyword research journey. It can definitely be a little intimidating at first but it really helps to see how you go about it. Bookmarking this one for sure 😉

  4. Amazing article Nathan. really loved how you have explained the topic and given the exact steps to find profitable Keywords before starting a Authority site or niche websites.

    Thanks for the share.

  5. This is a great walk through.
    It’s always very interesting to read other bloggers tactics and views on keyword research.
    I really enjoyed this article!

  6. That’s a lot of great information packed into one article. I definitely appreciate the screen shots!

  7. Hi Gotch,

    I actually stumbled upon your site and wanted to see what I could learn about keyword research. I currently have a site I’m building into an authority site and I like doing that better than niche sites.

    I’ve done niche sites in the past and that worked well to. But switched over.

    Who knows maybe after reading your keyword research article, I may have to consider getting another niche site set up. You explain the process so well.

    I especially liked all the screenshots, it makes it easier to understand. Thanks for sharing this, have a great day.

    • Well, you’re making a great decision going with authority websites because they are much more stable and can bring you in way more moolah. Thanks for the comment Susan!

  8. Qaseem Aslam says:

    Thanks for this great post now I am going to do bombardment of questions hope you woll not mind.

    I am very new to SEO and my goal is to promote affiliate offers using SEO and currently I want to get a good rank in a highly competitive KW. Can you tell how to find a large number of DoFollow blogs and how much backlinks do I need and do I have to build multiple web 2.0 sites if yes then how many?? and is there any way to find see all the backlinks of a website even if we don’t own this site excluding alexa ans is it neccessary that backlink and KW should match. My KW is “how to get traffic fast” and I want to promote a paid traffic generation product abd most of all I have read that Google does not read more then 100 links in one page if it’s right than should I post a comment in a blog having more then 100 links?

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