How to Do Keyword Research for Your Online Side Hustle

If you have started an online side hustle, or have been considering starting a 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 for your online side hustle

At the start of any keyword research project, you’ll need to 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 be able to 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 your ultimate website goals and doesn’t attract your target audience.

Been there, done that. I’ve had to revamp my online side hustle through keyword research to be more focused to 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 start gathering ideas for my keyword research.

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

So, if you start typing in “coffee”, for example, you will see a list of things like “coffee quotes”, “Coffee mugs”, “French press coffee” etc. Pinterest, will sometimes have little boxes at the top of the search results page with suggested searches to narrow down what you looked for too, which is helpful.

These are all things people are looking for.

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 ones 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 really fit. This is why focus and target audience are important first steps in how to do keyword research. You have to 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 finding great keywords and phrases, based on the autocomplete suggestions you found on Pinterest, Google, and Amazon. Thankfully, there are a few good 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 of the ideas you’ve already found helpful from autocomplete, these two services can generate far more ideas that are more targeted. In other words, instead of just “French Press Coffee”, they may suggest ideas people are looking for like “Where to buy a french press” and “What is the best french press”, as well as others you may not think of.

Here’s the way I look at it. 

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 of 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 if you’re active in the gourmet coffee niche and selling high end, quality french presses to hear it called a coffee plunger, but if there are 100 searches a month on average for this phrase, and 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 have to hide that page from within regular site navigation. 😉

In particular, if you are selling a product, any long tail keyword (that is, a keyword that is a specific, targeted phrase) like “Where to buy a….” will bring you visitors who are 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” instead of ranking well for the more generic “French Press” or “coffee”, which 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

How to do Keyword Research: a step by step guide to finding great keywords for your online side hustle

Finally, in doing keyword research, you need to figure out which of these keywords (and again, that can and should include phrases and not just words, though the name is a little confusing) are the most promising for your website and niche.

This step can also help you, as you consider a business idea, 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 oversaturated field. You’d face an uphill battle.

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

What I do is type in the keywords I like best into this service. 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 be a bit misleading 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, in addition to the number of people who have ads with that keyword. They also use color coding to show me whether or not the competition is too high for a keyword.

The whole idea behind longtail pro is to give you long tail keywords (that is, very targeted keyword phrases that really narrow down the topic), instead of just generic words. I’ve discovered since using long tail keywords on my different online side hustles, my traffic from organic searches has gone way up, and 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, to help my target audience with problems they are facing 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.

When it comes to books and ebooks I’ve written and sell on sites like Amazon, 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.

I have several different, smaller websites that serve highly targeted niches. Most of these micro niches are based on keyword research I have done, and include only posts titled with actual long tail keywords. As a result, they all get great, targeted traffic and are quite 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.