Niche Site Challenge 3: SEM Rush and My Near Mistake!

Part I – Finding Keywords

Okay, I have been busy at doing keyword research, and I wanted to share one additional method for finding low competition keywords.  This is a bit of reverse engineering that I hope you will appreciate; I have actually found lots of great keywords using this less-talked about method.

One thing that I have said in the past a number of times is that I love it when I see article directories ranking for my chosen keywords.  In other words, I view article directories as lower competition overall.  I believe that I can beat them (and have many times) with a few backlinks.

Well, what if you could see all the of keywords that was ranking well for in Google?  What if you could see which keywords are bringing in search visitors to their site?  Well, you can with!

In fact, you can type in ANY domain (article directory or any other site) and see what keywords that site is ranking for.  This is some serious reverse-engineering!

So, here is a screenshot of some of the keywords that is ranking for as an example:

If you visit this link, you can see another example with information from

So, if you are struggling to find low competition keywords, try out SEMrush.  You can simply think of the websites that you believe that you can outrank, then find out what keywords they are ranking for and go ahead and beat them.  This method works from my experience.

Part II – My Near Mistake

Okay, just yesterday, I thought I had found my keyword, “CNA work”.  If you take a look at the competition in Google, it looks like pretty slim pickens!  The top result is a forum and the number 2 result only has 2 backlinks!  There are several other weak sites in the top ten as well.

And the keyword appeared to be a good one, according to Market Samuari it receives 498 exact match searches per day.  The CPC according to Google is also about $1.61.  I also used the old version of the Google Keyword Tool and it showed exact match results of 14,800 searches per month.  I thought I had a winner.  In fact, I almost hit “buy” on a domain name…

However, I checked the new version of the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and it showed something MUCH different.  It showed exact match search results of only 260 per month…what???

So, which tool should I trust?  I always just stuck with the old one because I was more comfortable with it, but now I really don’t know.

Luckily, I was able to find some conclusive evidence for how many searches are done for this keyword.  And unfortunately this won’t work for most keywords.  However, in this case the number one result was a forum!

So, if you are familiar with forums (and I’m sure most of you are), forums SHOW the number of times a thread has been read!  So, I was able to see that over the past 3 years this thread that ranks number 1 for “cna work” has only been viewed about 8,000 times.  Over 3 years, that’s only about 220 times per month.  So, it turns out that the new version of the Google keyword tool was pretty accurate in this case.

I also checked some of my other keywords that I rank pretty well for and as far as I can tell, the new keyword tool is indeed more accurate.  However, it WAS off on a keyword I rank number 1 in Google for.  However, it was probably only off by about 25% or so.  I would go through how I figured this out, but basically in a couple of different studies it has shown that the #1 result in Google will get about 43% of the clicks for the searches done.  Anyway, it wasn’t off by a huge portion, but the old keyword tool was more accurate in this particular case.

So, there is no way to know for every keyword if the new tool is more accurate, but my guess is that Google has actually made some major updates to their data and that this new tool is indeed more accurate; I would recommend checking it before deciding on any keywords.

So, I decided NOT to go after this keyword.  I wish there was one tool that was always accurate, but that simply is not the case.  You simply must look at all the resources available to you and use your best judgment.

So, I avoided this near mistake and hopefully it will help you to think twice when choosing a niche!

Going Forward

I am pretty sure I have found a niche that I am interested in, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on any domains yet.  I expect to be sharing my niche (hopefully) on Tuesday.

However, I wanted to give everyone a heads up that it will be a few days before I post anything here because I am heading out of town tonight and will not be back until Monday night.  I am actually traveling to Logan, UT to run in the Top of Utah Marathon!  This will be my first full marathon, so I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve done several other races including a half-marathon this year in Seattle, WA.  If anyone is interested, I will let you know how it goes!

Anyway, please leave your comments or questions below, and I will do my best to get back to you before I skip town!

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19 Responses to “Niche Site Challenge 3: SEM Rush and My Near Mistake!”

  1. thanks for this tool

  2. It looks like we’ll have to be very very careful choosing keywords/niches. Especially if we can’t afford the SEM.

    • Its always best to be as thorough as possible when doing your keyword research. Once you make a decision and buy a domain, you’re stuck with it! However, SEM Rush is not a must have tool; its just another method of uncovering keywords that can come in handy.

  3. I have seen a few keywords myself that show tons of searches yet do not deliver once you rank for them – these tools certainly need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

  4. Good luck with the marathon and thanks for the niche advice. I will defo be checking deeper from now on!

  5. Yes I have noticed this aswell, it actually happened to a keyword domain I purchased recently, but it didn’t matter as it was an extended version of a seed keyword I am targeting. I am actually in the Cna niche. Its a long term project. I was going to do my niche site on that site but figured it will take me close to 5 months to hit page 1 for the keywords I am after. I am building it into an authority site.

    I use alexa for doing exactly what you have shown semrush does. Looks like it produces way more data so I must take a look at it.

    • Shane:
      I actually believe the CNA niche is a good one overall as I do have a domain with lots of related keywords that does well. I think you could do quite well with a CNA authority site, lots of long-tail keywords.
      Thanks for pointing out Alexa!

  6. Hey Spencer, I had semrush and stop due to gross errors on their numbers as well. Try spyfu, I had better luck.

    I do adsense as well and find out that for every 10 sites, 1 or 2 are fluff, no matter if the research is great and the link building/content is good and the cpc is ok.

    Good luck in the marathon!

    • Claudio:
      Yes, building smaller niche websites can often be a numbers game. Some sites work, and some don’t. I’ve had the same experience. I will also have to look into Spyfu.

      Marathon…counting down the hours…

  7. The differnces in the number of searches per month between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Google keyword tool is really too huge. I discovered that a few weeks ago. Good that you brought this topic up. Has anyone any advice on any other tools or methods that can offer a more accurate results on the number of searches? Or which ‘version -old or new’ should we trust more?

  8. A lot of forums are crazy about this differences between the tools in the last week or 2.
    Just today there was an official statement from google as well (in their forum).
    The old tool was showing and the data from the search partners, while the new one shows just the searches as google.
    So, for keywords that have been bumped by the partners the old tool was incredibly inaccurate, some people reported 100s of times inflated figures of the old one.
    I’ve found 2-3 times more optimistic data for the keywords i checked, up to 10 times in rare occasions.
    Some words are the same.

    I’ve had quite a few domains ranked at #1/5 just to find that the traffic is miserable, hopefully it will be better now.

  9. Without paying a dime, you can also paste the URL of any Ezine article — heck any website for that matter — into the Google AdWords keyword tool and pull up several hundred keywords as well (…well several hundred if you are logged into AdWords).

    In the end though, no keyword research tool is 100% accurate, and it will only take testing the niche out yourself and analyzing the traffic that arrives on your website (and the keywords of how they got there) in order to see which keywords you should be targeting.

    • Yolanda, good point. However, the Google Adwords keyword tool only suggests related keywords; it does NOT tell you which keywords the site is actually ranking for and how well they are ranking. This is the advantage of other tools such as SEM rush. However, your suggestion is a great one for those seeking to simply generate a list of relevant keywords.

  10. Let us know how you did in the marathon…..also thanks 4 keeping us updated on your progress.


  11. Once again thanks for this great tip.I will have to keep it in mind when i start doing my keyword research.Don’t want to buy a domain,buy 10 or 20 articles and waiting for 3 months just to find out the keyword brings no traffic.


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