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How to Find Profitable Keywords with Low Competition

By Chris Lee 63 comments

finding low competition keywords

The way I do my keyword research is a lot different than it was a few years ago. In the past, I would look for any low competition keyword that was getting 500-1000 searches a month and rank them within a month or two. These days, it’s not so easy.

Google gives so much weight to domain authority now that it’s getting significantly more difficult to build sites to a quick $10/day. But this does, however, make it easier to get to $100/day.

Why? Because once you build up enough authority to rank for anything these days, your domain carries enough power to rank for smaller long-tail keywords with far less effort than you needed in the past. You just have to know how to find the right keywords.

This is exactly why I begin my keyword research at the very top of the food chain. Instead of going for low-hanging fruit, I’ll aim for the ones with the biggest search volumes.

In this post, I go over how I find profitable keywords with low competition. Remember, keyword research is different for what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll monetize the site. For instance, someone who’s going to push an affiliate product will have different criteria than someone like me who’s looking to monetize with Adsense. I’m looking for traffic, and lots of it. That’s my main criteria.

Every Niche is profitable if monetizing through advertising

Too many people get caught up in the idea that some niches are just very profitable no matter what you try with it.

This is true if you’re an affiliate marketer trying to push products to your traffic. Some niches don’t attract buyers, and will just get annoyed with any sales tactics. Have you ever heard of million dollar launches in niches like sewing?

But with Adsense, niches aren’t profitable. Traffic is profitable. You don’t need to push anything. You just need to get people to your site, and Adsense’s ad targeting will do the rest to encourage clicks.

Sure, some niches have a higher CPC, and encourage a higher CTR, but in the end, traffic converts into clicks no matter what your site is about.

Ads are rarely related to your niche these days

If you didn’t turn off Adsense’s default targeting settings, your traffic will see more ads about what they’re interested in than what your site is related to.

By default, all of these options are turned on, and I like to keep it that way. It opens the door to more bidding advertisers for each of your ad blocks.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 1.14.50 AM

If they spend most of their time looking at mortgage options online, they’re more likely to see an ad from a mortgage broker when they visit your site.

This means you can stop worrying about your niche not having enough advertisers to get a high CPC.

You might remember in the past, when you put up ads on a site where there weren’t a lot of Adwords advertisers, you would see a lot of blank or miscellaneous ads about Google or Adsense itself.

Not anymore. These days, every business is on Adwords. Companies are being introduced to re-targeting. And Google’s ad targeting system has gotten a lot smarter.

Finding Low Competition Niches

Now that’s out of the way, let me show you how I find profitable keywords, and the way I find opportunities with very little competition.

I like to stay away from competitive niches; by that I mean niches that are popular with internet marketers. The ones that come to mind are finance, education, make money online, and careers.

They’re popular for a reason. The monetization opportunities are endless. You have countless affiliate products to choose from, a bunch of CPA offers that are super targeted to your audience, and readers who are hungry for more information.

With Adsense, my main objective is traffic. I’m looking for ad impressions, not to push people on a particular product.

Do Adsense ads on an authority finance or insurance blog give much higher CPC’s? Of course. But you’ll also always have to work your tail off to maintain your rankings (if you ever get to the top 3). Profitable keywords like that will always have new competitors and there will always be affiliates working their butts off to bump you off the top spot.

That’s not really my idea of a passive income.

Therefore, I like to go after niches that aren’t very popular in the internet marketing space. These are things like crafts, hobbies, special interests, cities, etc.

If the search volume is large enough, I can build a big money-making site around it that pulls in passive income through Adsense. And, I won’t have to worry about a bunch of affiliate trying to negative SEO my site.

Tools I use

The only tool I use is KWFinder combined with SEMrush for finding keywords. That’s it. I’ve never gotten much use out of using other softwares, and I’ve tried mostly all of them.

If you were expecting more technical details and secret push-button tactics with software, sorry there isn’t any.

What Keyword Volumes I Look For

I use KWFinder to discover big keywords with search volumes of 50,000+.

That might seem like a lot more than you’re used to, but it doesn’t mean my main keyword has to have a search volume of over 50,000. It means the top 2 keywords, and all of its variable phrases have to add up to 50,000+.

What do I mean by variable phrase?

By variable phrase I mean all the different ways you can type the keyword. They all count. They would be all the different keywords that I can target with a single page, and they add up.

For instance, if the keyword was “blue blankets” then I would look for all the different phrases like:

big blue blankets
best blue blankets
blue and red blankets
new blue blankets
get blue blankets

‘Blue blankets’ might only get 25,000 searches, but the combined total of all of them can be multiple times that.

Remember the days when you would create pages for every single one of those keywords, optimizing it different each time just to target a variation?

Not anymore.

I can target all those search terms with just one page, and those search volumes would add up. These days, if you optimize your page properly, ranking for one phrase ranks you for all the variable phrases. It’s happened for me for all my new sites, and you may have noticed it too.

It’s really… really awesome.

Do a Manual Analysis

Maybe you’re used to doing all of this with software, but here’s the way I do it:

When I find a big volume keyword, I’ll go through the top 20 results on Google manually. One by one. I’ll run them through Moz and Majestic to get a good idea of their backlinks and authority.

Second, I’ll read the content one by one. I’m hoping the content is really thin or outdated. I want to know how much of a difference my new site will be in terms of quality of information on the page. I’m looking to build the ultimate guide and take over as the #1 resource for the topic.

The Perfect Keyword

I recently wrote about ranking #1 for my biggest keyword ever. I won’t reveal the exact niche it was in, since it could be my biggest traffic site from Google search, but I will say it was in the hobbies niche.

I literally jumped off my seat when I found it. The top 5 keywords had close to a million searches per month in total, and every site in the top 30 searches were very, very outdated. It was clear there was no leader in the space. That’s what I’m looking for. Niches where I can easily claim the spot as the leading resource.

Where to Get Big Niches

1. Stumbleupon

If you’re not using Stumbleupon to find niche ideas, then you’re really missing out.

Stumbleupon has a list of “Interests” that you can choose from. There’s close to 100 (or more? I never counted them all) and it shows you how many people are subscribed to it. You can get a lot of new ideas for brainstorming by looking at this section.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 7.05.31 PM

Create a free account, then from your home page, click “Add Interests” to see the whole list.

Additionally, you can view top performing pages in each topic so you can get an idea of what type of content is popular.

I’ve gotten a lot of niche ideas from StumbleUpon. It’s one of my favourite places to hang out because I’ll always discover a new website opportunity.

2. Amazon

Amazon, the biggest e-commerce site in the world is a keyword researcher’s dream. They sell everything and it’s so nicely organized.

Without the slightest clue, you can visit the site and leave with a huge list of niche ideas.

The massive range of categories and products on the site can be a little overwhelming. Just browse and click around on things.

Tip:When you’re browsing, don’t just think of the products as a niche, but think of their uses and applications. For instance, if you’re looking at lawn mowers, don’t just think of keywords like ‘best lawnmowers.’ Think outside of the product like “how to cut grass like a golf course” or “how to get greener grass.”

3. Your local bookstore or library

I love visiting my local Chapters. For one, I love reading, but it’s also a fun way to do keyword research. I guess it’s pretty similar to going on Amazon’s website, but the experience is different. You’re physically browsing around looking for topics to write about.

When I visit a bookstore or library, my favourite section is the business and computer science section. However, I literally look around the entire store just browsing for topics I can create niche sites about. I’ll take note of some subjects I’ve never considered in the past, then run them through Google Keyword Planner when I get home.

4. Niche Book

Niche Book is a resource I created for people having trouble finding profitable low competition keywords, but also have the ability to scale to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.

It contains 112 niche ideas, keyword examples, and the average CPC of the entire niche.

Click here to grab your copy of Niche Book.

Focus on High Traffic First

The most important part about finding profitable keywords is traffic volume. CPC and CTR are important metrics, but not as much as traffic.

The majority of people starting out spend too much time thinking about CPC and increasing CTR, but their traffic is minimal. Even at a ridiculously high, CTR or CPC their income wouldn’t be near 100 with the level of traffic they get.

Keywords that bring in $100/day with Adsense need a lot of traffic, plain and simple.

Look for unconventional keywords in topics you never thought about before. Heck, even go run keywords related to sewing in the Keyword Planner and see what it brings back.

Get started

If you keep the things I listed above in mind, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to find great low competition keywords that are capable of $100/day. You’re just not looking hard enough.

If you’re new at this, and thought keyword research was a complicating, technical skill, then I just showed you that it isn’t, and if you do it the way I do it, it’s even simpler.

Leave a Reply


  • Reply Franklyn

    Hiya! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My site looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone.

    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this
    problem. If you have any recommendations, please share.


    • Reply Chris Lee

      Hi Franklyn,

      It’s going to be near impossible to find a plugin that can make a non-responsive site mobile friendly without any errors. A mobile site uses media queries targeting specific divs (classes/id’s) of that theme. So a generic plugin can’t be used without getting at least a few errors.

      Best of luck!

      – Chris

  • Reply aLVANPILOT

    Hi Chris!
    GREAT work you’ve accomplished. I WAS creating and profiting from Adsense sites a couple of years ago until Google had their algorythm changes and the bottom fell out. :O)

    Now, I am wondering if you prefer WordPress sites or just a normal website? Is there a preference and, if so, why?

    What type of site layout do you recommend?

    Thank you. Highest regards,

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Hey Al, thanks a lot. I do prefer WordPress for most sites since the very first site I ever built was on WordPress and it’s what I’ve been using ever since. It makes it really easy to build and manage sites.

      Layout will obviously depend on your niche, and how many pages/categories your site has. But my sites are mainly just a standard blog/magazine type of site with a right sidebar.

  • Reply han

    Thanks for this article, it really helped me to get a clearer picture about this.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Awesome, thanks Han.

  • Reply Elena

    Hello Chris
    I have a websites in the health and fitness niche..From what I read from your blog I see that also this niche is very competitive..do you think it is possible to rank on the first two in google searches? Or I need lot of time and effort? I will be glad to hear your opinion

  • Reply Danijel

    Hello Chris! Another great post! Could You please tell me more how You do it:
    “I can target all those search terms with just one page, and those search volumes would add up. These days, if you optimize your page properly, ranking for one phrase ranks you for all the variable phrases.”
    Keep on! Regards

  • Reply Martin

    Great stuff on website, and some fresh views..

    Would you mind going into some more details on what you look at in your competitions website before you choose a niche?

    Do you have specific limits on number of backlinks and type of backlinks your competition has?

    If you see big sites like wikipedia, webmd ect… on page 1, do you skip the niche?


    • Reply Chris Lee

      Thanks Martin. I’ll note it down for a future post.

  • Reply Leon

    Hello buddy, One question. I got this keyword with: xxxx value $104 ppc, only 50-200 searchs a month. do you think building a small directory of people providing that xxx keyword service will help to rank? I also researched that many of the competitors dont have any SEO rank at all and their PA DA are useless to nothing. Do you think theres a good chance? Im planning to cold email service providers of that keyword as well.

    Thanks for any help.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Not exactly sure what you’re asking. If competition is really weak, and the keyword is as profitable as you say it is, then go for it.

  • Reply john

    have you write a topic about – how to increase domain authority?

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Not specifically DA. But good idea for a future post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply steve

    Hi Chris, I was wondering if you thought a niche with very low competition and search volume pushing 100,000 would be good if keyword planner was showing most keywords in the niche with no suggested bid? Does that mean nothing would show up in the ads or something unrelated?

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Yeah, I would go for it.

      It doesn’t mean that you won’t get any ads to show for those pages. What ads are shown will vary depending on the user’s browsing history, and what other keywords in your niche have advertisers.

  • Reply Nathan

    Chris, you say traffic and lots of it is the key with Adsense. What if your traffic is kids? A keyword like “magic tricks” or “cool things to draw” will have high volume, but a lot of them will be kids?

    Is this a problem? Thoughts?

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Nope, it’s not too big a deal. There are a lot of big adsense sites that cater to kids like online games websites that do very well.

  • Reply Donahvan Robello

    Thanks for the article. Love the strategy, I’m actually trying something in the local niche. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Nice! Let me know how it goes.

  • Reply Kavitha

    very useful articles thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Cool, thanks.

  • Reply harrist

    I am curious with your methods! cause I just build forex sites, I know its competitive niche! is it possible to find no competition keywords ? if so how, cause I can writes almost every forex niches! cause you said in previous articles https://www.rankxl.com/100k-searches/
    you as long we target big searcher keywords and writes that related with can get first page ? is that only or I have to build more backlink ?
    I really appreciates if you can give clear answer.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Forex is one of the most competitive niches out there. It will take a lot of links, and great content to gain traction.

      But because it’s so profitable, each visitor is worth more than in other niches, so you don’t necessarily need to go for huge keywords.

  • Reply Jon

    what’s your alternative to google keyword planner since it is useless now?

    Great site btw…

  • Reply Dave Murray

    I use Infinity Google Keywords for really long tail niche application ideas.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Haven’t tried that one before, but thanks for sharing Dave! Will check it out.

  • Reply Yogesh

    Really nice article! I’ve been trying to learn some way to do some good keyword research but all the pages I find on google either use Semrush or Ahrefs and they are both paid tools. This post is the only one with real value.
    Thanks for explaining in detail. I will be using the tips and will try and find some profitable Adsense keywords! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Glad to help Yogesh ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Dane

    Hi Chris,
    Do you think health is competitive niche? I want to target health related niche like weight loss, fitness, body building and the like. What do you think about this, will this have high potential of getting negative seo from competitor if I able to sit in first position? One of the main keyword in weight loss with very high search volume have page authority around 70, do you think that too high?
    Should I take it or leave it? I really like to know your opinion on this Chris.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Yeah, it’s definitely competitive. Weight loss, fitness, body building… don’t target all of them. Pick one tiny niche and laser focus your audience targeting. That’s the way to get a site to stand out in a big niche like health.

  • Reply iggfollowers

    This is very unique way to find niche for low competition keywords

    • Reply Chris Lee


  • Reply asif

    great article. thanks for sharing such a informative things

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Thanks for reading Asif!

  • Reply Jeff

    Any paid free tools that scrapes Google results aren’t reliable nowadays.
    Exact search volume I mean.
    For long tailkeywords it’s a serious damage.
    Even I tried to bid the highest in gkp as advertiser the impression counts varies.
    With so called “exact match”.
    Google just does doesnt want to reveal exact search volume anymore.
    Check it out an article published by wordstream in March this year .
    The exact match from Google is not exact match.
    Maybe you can come out a topic on how to resolve this?
    If no exact match search volume then how to calculate the ROI?
    How can we gauge whether the keywords are worth our time to go for it without traffic estimation?

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Hey Jeff! You’re right, it will never be completely accurate.

      Another way to analyze it is to use a tool like SEMrush and see what pages are doing best for them, and what keywords they’re targeting. You can also use SimilarWeb to view how much traffic that site gets.

  • Reply Mohammed Anzil

    Great post Chris Lee. I will try StumbleUpon from now to find some big niches. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Great! Thanks for reading Mohammed!

  • Reply azhar

    Hi Chris

    This is Another best post from you and thanks for sharing this post this works on my blog. You are the one who helped to improve my blog’s traffic and earning thanks for this post…

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Glad it was helpful!

  • Reply Shoaib Raza

    Keep posting these kind of articles it inspires to every internet newbie like me.
    Continue your good work

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Thank you!

  • Reply Rahul Sharma

    Great article Chris Keep it up

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Thanks Rahul!

  • Reply Jaspal Singh

    Excellent writeup, i love your style of writing. Its so simple to understand and apply. I have seen many SEO blogs but your one is surely quite knowledgeable. Keep writing and inspiring.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      That’s great to hear. Thank you!

  • Reply Kaos Distro

    Hi Chris..
    Keep posting these kind of articles it inspires to every internet newbie like me. Now I will try to make good content for my local target..
    Thanks from Indonesia

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Cool, glad you liked it Kaos!

  • Reply Chris Adam

    Hi Chris, nice article and thank you for all the information above. I notice your affiliate link to Keyword Snatcher it doesn’t work properly, the page is not opening. It opens only if I remove your affiliate id from link structure. I use chrome.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Hey Chris! Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately, it’s been doing that for a while. Still waiting for a response from them :/

  • Reply Anson

    Great article Chris, I’m already doing some of things which you have mentioned however the Get Big Niche ideas like, going to local book store and Stumbleupon are which I have not explored. Need to try

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Awesome to hear that, Anson! I always love when people take action ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply dramabeanz

    Great! Much easy to understand and start. Thanks

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Thanks! I actually used to read your blog haha ๐Ÿ˜€ Nice to see you here.

  • Reply Waqar

    That’s the amazing info I got in last couple of weeks. I am trying to get traffic on my site and seeing different SEO methods.

    Thanks for this share.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      No problem. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply Anushka Kapoor

    Thanks, CHRIS!

    Great article, its help me lot.

    • Reply Chris Lee

      Happy to hear that ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Hunny Ahmed

    Hello Chris! First time Iโ€™m reading your article and it will definitely help me alot in finding keywords!


    • Reply Chris Lee

      Glad it helped!