Are you a niche website pro? Do you already make $10,000 a month in passive income? Does everything you touch turn to gold?
Great, you can stop reading. This tip is for the rest of us. It’s something that’s fiendishly simple, but can make a big difference in brainstorming topics. Best of all it’s free.
When you’re hunting down a niche website… or ideas for SEO-heavy topics… or simply want to get a pulse on what people are searching Google for, there are a couple of ways you can go.
First, you can check out a tool like Long Tail Pro. This is keyword research software. You put in a high-level phrase you’re interested in and it spit back a bunch of awesome data.
It will come up with hundreds of related keywords. It will tell you how much average monthly search traffic goes to those keywords. It will even tell you how competitive it is to rank on the first page for that particular phrase.
We’ve used Long Tail Pro, and it’s a killer system that saves a lot of time. The problem is that it costs money (they offer a free 10-day trial, but it’s $37 a month after that).
The other way to research is to do manually what Long Tail Pro does automatically. It takes a lot more time and effort, but the upside is that it’s free.
Where the software has manual searching really beat, however, is when it comes to finding other phrases that people are searching for.
For instance, in Long Tail Pro I can type in “Craft Beer” and it returns 800 (literally) different variations and extensions of that keyword. That’s 800 more options that I can write about, build a site around, or optimize for.
The thing is, you can do this manually without spending a dime. It takes a little longer, but it gives you the same results. And there’s an easy trick to speed up the process. Check it out…
By now we all know about Google’s autocomplete feature. You can put in a keyword and see other popular searches that continue off of what you’ve put there. This provides you instant ideas on popular ideas that people are searching. Take a look:
That’s no big secret. But what you might not realize is that you can use a feature called a wildcard to expand your search for keywords and article topics. All you do is place “*” (an asterisk, with no quotes) within your search. Google will then replace the asterisk with the most popular keywords to fill that phrase.
So say you have a site about craft brewing and you want to find more ideas for articles. Simply write your idea for a base and add the wildcard modifier to your search. So if you want to know where else you can go with “craft beer” just type in “craft beer *”
The cool thing is that the modifier works anywhere you want to use it. It can go at the middle, beginning, end — anywhere. Google just automatically replaces the modifier with other search terms.
Here’s a search for “craft * austin” to show how it works:
Again, it’s easier to use automated search with software, but this trick does come in handy… and it’s free!