How To Pick A Profit-Pulling Niche With Google Insights

Want to work out whether that brainwave you had at 3.10am this morning about your new niche is worth consideration?

Here’s a step-by step journey to help you find and get some of the answers you need to make that decision!

We’re going to put an affiliate marketing niche through its paces using Google Insights for Search, as an example of how this tool can help you nail down a niche.

Let’s assume you’ve decided that it would pretty cool to promote a product that teaches a foreign language. And let’s say you’re thinking that learning French could be a worthwhile option.

First up - take a look at the Google Adwords Keyword Tool results for “Learn French”. Check out the volume of searches for this term each month around the world. When I looked, it was a humungous 368,000 searches!

Google Adwords search results

Looking at the sponsored links (the results that advertisers pay to have ads appear on the right hand side of the page) you’ll also find over 100 competitors with ads. That tells us there’s some great demand with this topic, given that you’ve got strong competition who are willing to pay for advertising with it.

If you want to do a comparison, you’ll find if you enter the search term “learn Italian” into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, there are about 135,000 searches globally a month. Still a good market size, but nowhere near as big as “Learn French”.

Keywords from Google Adwords search results

When you check out the “Learn Italian” competitors to the right hand side of Google Search as well, you can see that the competitors are only on this page - not a whole lot of others as well. So this tells us that there’s less competition for this category.

So we now know that while the “learn Italian” niche has fewer competitors than “learn French”, it’s also a lot smaller. This would also be a good thing to drill down for as a potential niche as well, but I digress!


How To Get The Low-Down On Your Niche

Let’s head over to Google Insights, and we’ll take this a step further.

Put the search term “learn French” into the search term box.

With this free tool, you can check two competing niches at the same time if you want to. For example, you can enter “learn Italian” and “learn French” together to give you a comparison. 

If you do decide to research two competing niches together - don’t forget the comma between the search terms in the search box. Otherwise, you’ll get the results for only one term, rather than both. For now, just keep all the filters as they are - apart from the time frame. 

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just stick to our single “Learn French” example for now.

Use the dropdown menu to change the timeframe to 2008 since, first up, you really want to know where things are with the most up-to-date whole year available.




Looking at the “totals” graph, you can see “learn French” sits around at around 86. (You'll need to be signed in to your Google Account in order to see any numbers on the graph. The numbers do change around a little bit, and are a rating out of 100.) These show you how many searches have been done for these terms, given the total number of searches done on Google over time. Bear in mind that they don't represent exact search volume numbers. It’s only possible to see a proportion of all the global searches done with any tool that you use.

Now check out the “interest over time” graph. 

In the 2008 results, you’ll see that a news article about Brad Pitt and his efforts to learn French appears to have created a small spike around the end of 2008 in terms of search volume. Might be just a coincidence and something else could have helped cause this, but I doubt it. That’s why they call it “star power”, I guess - endorsements from celebrities work.)

Google Insights shows interest over time in a niche



One of the drawbacks of this tool is that if you want to compare two different affiliate niches with this, you have to do separate searches for each comparison - one at a time - with both the “regional interest” and “search terms” sections of this tool. This not a major disadvantage, although it would be good to look at both results together in comparison.

There’s also one trap you need to be aware of when using this - or other niche research tools, for that matter. It’s important to use Google Insights as a starting point - not your finishing one. Don’t just grab the first results that come up, and race off to target what comes out of it. Why? Bottom line - you could end up shooting yourself in the foot big time! Make sure you do your homework on who’s buying.

You need to ask questions - especially if you get an answer that seems a bit odd.

A classic example of this is our “Learn French” example - the top rating country for regional interest is Ghana.Take a look at this:

Google Insight with search results in a niche

Not probably what you’d expect - it certainly surprised me anyway!
 
Having a Google round the web soon digs up what’s actually going on here. With Ghana being surrounded by French-speaking countries, the authorities have decided to go all out to improve the learning of French in the country.

In fact, they’re looking to train specialists in French language for professional purposes, and create multimedia centers as a part of things. So there’s some serious investment going down with this. That’s the good news - at least it would be if you were the wholesale manufacturer of a language product. Kind of hard to sell to a foreign government as an affiliate though. The really bad news here is that about 30% of the consumer population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day, according to Wikipedia

Hardly a market likely to have lots of money to spend on a language product - even if they want to.

If you had just torn off and started marketing with the first results you’d got from this, you’d now be kicking yourself. So does that mean this niche is now dead in the water?

Not necessarily! 

As we’ve seen with Ghana and “learn French”- just because a country is at the top of your results list doesn’t mean that’s the one you’d automatically go for. I have a not-so sneaking suspicion that at least Kenya and Nigeria would fall in a similar category to Ghana in the case of this example - yet they are ranked as 2nd and 3rd for this search term.

A country like Canada - a country with a good percentage of French-speaking population - and good disposable income comes in way down at number 10 on this list.You’d have to wonder what would be under Canada on this list if you could actually see it.

Where do all the other areas such as the United Kingdom sit with this, for example? Not exactly a non-existent market in either of these regions. In fact, I suspect they would generate some majorly big dollars for this sort of product’s sales. (We’ll soon see if I’m on the money here!)

As you can see, the problem with the Google Insights tool is that you’re not able to drill down any further than the first 10 results for regions.  
Because of this, you have no idea why these regions are interested in your search term. It’s up to you to drill down and do your research on the little ins and outs on a market you’re interested in. That’s the only way you can work out whether something’s a go or not.

So - that said - let’s drill down a little further with this and see if we can shed some light on things. Click on “City” to the right hand side of the regional interest section, and there’s a surprise waiting for you. (The graph heading remains as "regional interest" when you do this.)


Search results from Google Insights

Not a city from Ghana, Kenya, or Nigeria in sight!

Despite these being the top three regions - with the cities - you’re now talking a whole different ball game. This time, Delhi in India leads the charge - with the major other contenders from Canada, Australia, England, and the United States.

The Ghana-Learn French example shows the value of drilling down further with this particular tool - as well as some of its limitations. Not to mention the need to cross reference with different tools to find out different stuff! 

The other thing to consider here is how countries which are now online, such as China, India, and others that have not had access to the internet until relatively recently, may be affecting some the results you get.

Take a nosey now at the Search Terms section of Google Insights. Here you’ll find both the top search terms related to the search you originally entered, plus the “rising” searches.

(Don’t forget that these top search terms are linked directly back to the location and timeframe that you originally entered.

Double-check that you’ve got exactly the same search as before, because it’s an easy thing to forget, and will skew your results. Take it from one who’s done just that! In fact, if you change any one of those, you can get slightly to very different results in each section.)

You can see that you’ve discovered a number of search terms similar to your original one - the number one being “to learn French”. 

Search terms for niche

Check out the "Rising Searches" section beside it, which shows you those search terms worldwide that have experienced significant growth when compared with the last time frame figures were recorded. 

You’ll find that “rocket French” currently has the number five spot. This has fluctuated over the last few days between the top spots, as search volume for this term does the same. Digging further, you’ll find that this is in fact an affiliate program for learning French. So that definitely means you’re going to have to take a closer look!

Given this search term’s so popular, as well as increasing in popularity - if this was your actual potential niche - you’d now want to check this out as a potential affiliate program and see how it shaped up. And that’s a whole other ballgame! 

One last thing before you tear off to do this and leave Google Insights. 

Once you’ve plugged in all the results of the last year to give you the most up-to-date results with this tool, get the same info looking at around an 18 month timeframe. That way you can check out whether there’s any real or differing seasonability to the niche. A really important factor in assessing its profitability as an affiliate niche! And not so easy to see if you just grab a single year’s worth of data.  

Hopefully from what we’ve gone over here, you can see how you can get a feel for your potential competition and market with Google Adwords Keyword Tool. You can also see how Google Insights can be used as a great resource in helping nail a niche - one way, or the other!
 
We’ve taken a good look at how to use this tool and drill down step-by-step for the info you need to make the right decision.

You now know how to get the most out of it as a tool, while still being aware of its limitations.
 
So there you have it - the good, the bad, and the not-so ugly on Google Insights as a niche research tool!

Let me know how it works for you.

September 8, 2009

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Comments (20)

Said this on September 10, 2009 At 11:23 am
I have to say reading this I realise there's more to Google Insights than I'd understood. Thanks for the article.

BB
Said this on September 11, 2009 At 01:39 am
Allan,

Thank you for the insights! Good article, I have not actually used Google Insights for Search yet, but I have been exposed to the process previously. You have done a great job of walking us through the process.

[Don't thank me, thank a new member of our team, Sally Evans. :) Sally did the research and wrote the article. We appreciate the feedback. Allan.]
Said this on September 11, 2009 At 12:28 pm
Thanks for sharing this. I have one comment/question. I always thought that when that competition green bar is filled, it would be too difficult to get a decent listing for that search term. Have I been misinformed? I ask the question because quite frankly, I don't know. I would appreciate some sage advice from you experienced marketers. Thanks a lot.

[Good point. If you tackle a highly competitive niche, you need lots of experience, persistence and preferably sound knowledge of the industry. The less knowledge and experience you have, the more you need to look for less competitive sub-niches. Whatever niche you choose, you need to study your potential competitors and look for ways in which you can do better. Allan.]
Said this on September 11, 2009 At 01:09 pm
I must say that I am really impressed with the detailed illustration. As someone who is planning to start an affiliate marketing entreprise as well as product development, I have a match made on google. Thanks Sally.
Said this on September 13, 2009 At 05:29 am
Great Article!!! There is a lot of opportunity on the web today,
http://www.mpcapital.com
investment manager
Said this on September 13, 2009 At 10:26 am
Sally,

As an Niche finder I would say I got another degree of level today. I was always banking on Adwords keyword tool and there "Exact" searches, now i can combine "exact searches" from Adwords Keyword tool and Google insights and will see some which I wanted to target for my affiliate sites.

Thanks a Ton
Said this on September 13, 2009 At 06:31 pm
Besides the Google's Adwords tool, Insight is about as good as it gets in terms of keyword research. There is no reason to pay for KW research anymore, unless you are really want to dig down into words and phrases from multiple SE's - or need to find thousands of long tails.

Since Google has 60 to 70 % of the search to begin with - you can't find a better set of KW research tools. Actually, I am really amazed that Insights is free. Ok Google - if you are reading this - don't get any ideas!

Great detailed explanation...

Robert C - The Wholesale Products Guy
Said this on September 13, 2009 At 09:25 pm
Thanks for the excellent article. I've learned a lot from using these free keyword research tools from Google.

When there's a chance, please consider writing another article that elaborates on the use of the filters offered by Google Insight to drill down results. Thanks!
Said this on September 13, 2009 At 10:11 pm
Thanks for sharing this. I must say that I am really impressed with the detailed illustration. As someone who is planning to start an affiliate marketing entreprise as well as product development, I have a match made on google. Thanks Sally.
Said this on September 14, 2009 At 03:39 pm
Very good info on the drilling down. But looking deeper in the per capita income of country is something most do not do. Wouldn't you think that just the rich 10% of the population will spend on the French program? You could still dominate a large population maybe 1,000 or more people times affiliate income of $35 each is not something to sniff my friend.
Said this on September 14, 2009 At 11:25 pm
Great article!!!
MP
www.mpcapital.org Investment Manager
Said this on September 15, 2009 At 11:47 pm
Gust, by looking at this kind of information about the general/short-tail search terms for the niche (like "learn french"), you get a great feel for the markets for your product. Your comment on competition in the niche is right-on, and as an affiliate marketer, we have to find ways to get around the high bids (this, in my opinion, is what we work the hardest at). You can look at developing longtail keyword campaigns and other methods to try to compete in high-traffic/competition markets. And that's just one of many ways I can think of to compete (on a budget). If you want to chat more, leave me a comment on my blog and I'll get in touch.

Sally - amazing article! Simply, this information will change the way I develop PPC campaigns! I'm new to the site, and you've got me hooked!
Said this on September 23, 2009 At 01:47 am
I have been an affiliate marketer for almost 2 years and never tried Google Insights. Your article has inspired me to check it out. Looks like a useful tool but as with any has some limitations as you have explained.
Finding profitable niches is not a fluke. It takes time and effort to and the glut of information on the web seems to make this process even more difficult.
I understand that you are also in the business of making money online but I respect the way you write your articles and educate you redears.
Cheers
Said this on September 24, 2009 At 05:34 am
Hi Sally / Allan

Excellent article on Google Insights - I haven't yet used the facility but will check it out now.

Thanks very much for such a detailed explanation of what to look for when using it to drill down into a niche.

Aidan
PlanetSelf
Vince Krish
Said this on September 28, 2009 At 07:45 am
Hi Sally,

Thanks for the excellent information about choosing a niche. I am not sure if I am missing something, but what is the outcome of the research? Is the niche "learn french", good enough to go? And why choose french instead of italian, if italian has lesser competition?

How do I decide whether a particular niche I am considering is valuable enough or not, for eg. what are the numbers I should looking for in terms of avg. monthly search volume and so on?

Thanks a lot again for the excellent info.
Vince Krish.
sallyevans
Said this on September 29, 2009 At 10:21 pm
Affiliate marketers have many different different ways of choosing niches. For example, you can "go where the money is", arguing that if there is heavy demand and lots of advertisers, then there's obviously money to be made. Or you can hunt for niches that have useful demand
but not much competition. (If there's almost no competition, that may actually be a sign there's something wrong with that niche.) After doing careful research and studying potential competitors, the decision you make won't depend just on the numbers but also on your
instincts and how comfortable you feel with your choice. Also, the more experienced you are, the more competitive a niche you can tackle.

Here's a VERY rough guide. Go to the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Select "All Countries and Territories". Do a "get keyword ideas"
search, for example " learn italian". Normally, you would use "Exact Match", but this time search for your main keyword using "Broad Match". As a very rough rule of thumb, you want a result that is somewhere around 100,000 "Broad Match" searches a month. That will
give you a handy size niche, not too large, not too small.

Before you make a decision, do searches in Google and carefully study the top 10 for your most important keywords. Study those sites carefully. They're the ones you have to beat. They're your REAL competition. Think about your own knowledge, or where you're going to get material to publish on the site. Think about what sites would want to link to you. Imagine yourself working in that niche. If you don't feel good about it, you're not likely to persist with it long enough to make it a success. In the long run, those factors may turn out to be more important than any numbers. Sally.
Said this on October 16, 2009 At 05:41 am
Great Article. We will be reading your posts from now on with great anticipation. Thanks.
Mahesh
Said this on November 4, 2009 At 11:01 am
Thank you very much for useful information. I am working in fastener field. I try to find out the market niche for different kind of fasteners but the data is not sufficient. Can you explain to me how can get the data relating to my products and how can I compare myself with my competitors?


[Check out www.associateprograms.com/articles/841/1/8-Easy-Wa... I think you'll find both this article and the tool it talks about really useful. Sally]
Said this on December 7, 2009 At 04:46 pm
Wow! As a beginning blogger this is a great source of information!

Will try it out and see if it works for me!
Isaac
Said this on December 23, 2009 At 05:42 pm
Thanks a lot. I have been greatly enriched by the information you provide to some one like me planning an affiliate marketing. Great stuff-this Google insight. Thanks once more for the article.

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