How to Find Niche Keywords for SEO in 3 Steps

Mateusz Makosiewicz
Marketing researcher and educator at Ahrefs. Mateusz has over 10 years of experience in marketing gained in agencies, SaaS and hardware businesses. When not writing, he's composing music or enjoying long walks.
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    Niche keywords represent clear and specific topics that appeal to relatively small, often specialized parts of a given market.

    In other words, these are the “sustainable” and “recycled” jackets in the overall jacket market. 

    Niche keyword examples with "jacket"

    Niche keywords can be an opportunity to attract highly targeted traffic in a short time since they typically refer to specific things that don’t have a lot of competition. 

    In this guide, I’ll show you how to find niche keywords with Ahrefs in three steps.

    Open Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, type in broad terms that point to certain markets, products, or interests (i.e., seed keywords), and hit enter. 

    Inserting seed keywords

    Then go to Matching terms and set the maximum volume and TP filters to something low for this industry, like 1000. 

    Filtering for low-volume and low-TP keywords

    Why these two filters? The volume filter will look for keywords with a limited number of searches, while the TP filter will help make sure those keywords are specific topics and not just unpopular ways of looking for popular things.

    Sidenote.
    Since there is no set value that defines a niche keyword, we can’t tell you the exact volume value here. It depends on the size of the market and how “niche” you want to go. For some markets, it can be 500. While for some very big markets, it may be 2000. So feel free to adjust the volume and TP filters. You can also set the minimum filter right away if you’re not interested in keywords with very low search volume or zero-volume keywords.

    After step #1, you already have a very raw list of niche keywords. 

    The number of keywords in the initial keyword list

    But looking through the entire list manually can take a lot of time. So in this step, we’ll refine our list to make it more manageable. Here are some ideas you can use. 

    Low ranking difficulty with a minimum search volume

    This set of filters will allow you to find niche keywords with considerable demand and low competition. 

    • Set KD to max 10 
    • Set volume to 100–1000 
    • Set Traffic Potential to 100–1000
    • Click “Show results”
    Finding keywords with low difficulty and minimum search volume

    Next, browse through the results. When you find a keyword that piques your interest, you can add it to a keyword list right inside the tool. 

    Adding a keyword to a keyword list

    Use cases, segments, and features 

    This filter allows you to find keywords that focus on use cases, segments, and features within your seed keyword. 

    For this, add modifying words such as “for,” “alternative,” or “substitute.” You can also use the Terms tab or just add your own modifiers if you know what you’re looking for. 

    Sourcing modifier keywords in Terms tab
    • Set the Include filter to “Any word,” type your modifier keywords, and click “Apply”
    • Click “Show results” 
    Adding modifier keywords

    Next, browse through the results and add interesting keywords to your list. 

    Selecting keywords to add to list
    PRO TIP
    You may spot some additional ideas for modifier keywords as you look through the results. You can use them in the Include filter to show only keywords matching that criteria.

    Questions 

    This filter can be a good way to find opportunities for informational content with the possibility of featuring your product. 

    • Switch the Matching terms report to “Questions”
    Switching to Questions tab in Matching terms report

    Next, browse through the results. 

    Niche keyword posed as question

    Feel free to combine the filters shown above. For example, you may want to look for keywords with specific features and low Keyword Difficulty (KD). 

    Combining different keyword filters

    And here’s one example of a niche keyword matching those filters. 

    Keyword example from mixed niche filtering

    Stumbling across keywords out of your wheelhouse too much? Just use the Exclude filter. 

    Excluding unwanted keywords

    Now, let’s go to the final step of the process. 

    Before you start creating content for selected keywords, it’s highly recommended to understand what searchers are specifically looking for. To do this, analyze the top-ranking pages in three aspects: 

    1. Is there a more popular search query that points to the same thing? 
    2. What is the search intent? 
    3. How hard would it be to rank? 

    The first aspect is specific to niche keywords. Remember, you’re looking through rare search queries. Some of those queries can have more popular counterparts (yet still niche), and others can be just wrong (i.e., misspellings). 

    To illustrate, a better word to target than “diy soap sheets” may be “how to make soap paper”—the latter has more search volume. Keywords Explorer signalizes that through the Parent Topic column found on the right of any given keyword. 

    Parent Topic feature suggests a different keyword

    And it won’t make sense to target something like “nivia soap.” Obviously, it’s a misspelling. 

    Not a niche keyword, just a misspelling

    The second aspect, search intent, is about learning what Google recognizes as the dominating reason behind the search. In simple terms, it’s typically one of the three:

    • Learn – If most pages focus on explaining things: guides, tutorials, reviews, comparisons, etc.
    • Buy – If most pages directly offer products: product pages, product category pages, landing pages, etc. 
    • Go to a website or place – More often than not, keywords will contain the name of the product, brand, or place.

    If you can match search intent and it makes sense for your website, then the keyword is probably a good choice. But make sure to also optimize your content for search intent.

    If you can’t match the search intent or it doesn’t make sense for your website, it’s probably best not to target the keyword for now. 

    To illustrate, the keyword “cupcake soap” has a clear transactional intent, with only product pages in the top 10. So your best bet to rank for this keyword is likely with a page that offers soap bars in the shape of a cupcake. 

    SERP indicates the search intent
    PRO TIP
    Sometimes, identifying dominating search intent is not that simple. Google may show mixed intent with different types of content or no dominant content format. This video guide will help you make a more informed decision in such situations.

    The third aspect, estimating keyword difficulty, comes from the fact that multiple factors can constitute ranking difficulty. 

    You can filter out keywords where competitors have a strong backlink profile using the KD filter (as shown in step #2). For example, we estimate that in order to rank in the top 10 for “why is antibacterial soap banned,” you’ll need backlinks from ~123 websites. That’s a hard keyword to rank for, especially for new websites. 

    Keyword with low volume, high difficulty

    Judging keyword difficulty through KD is enough in most cases. But if you want a more thorough assessment, look for these things: 

    • Popular brands on the SERP – Results from popular, trusted brands are something that users expect in search results. Google is aware of that. 
    • YMYL topics – Topics like health, finance, and safety will be tough, if not impossible, to rank for a website with no topical authority and content written by people with no real expertise
    • Quality of content – If you can’t add anything useful and original to the information that Google already “recommends” on the SERPs, you may have a harder time ranking. Make sure you can create helpful, reliable, and people-first content
    • See if top-ranking pages target the keyword – If no one is covering the topic directly, Google may show pages that it thinks are relevant. Those pages can come from high-authority websites, and you may have leverage against them by covering the keyword directly. 
    Popular brands on SERP ranking for a keyword with low KD
    Although the keyword has 0 KD, it may be hard to outrank Amazon and Etsy because they are popular (and therefore expected) brands.

    Learn more: Keyword Difficulty: How to Estimate Your Chances to Rank 

    Final thoughts 

    If you know a website that targets a specific niche, you can use that site for keyword research too. 

    To do this, paste the website’s URL in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and adjust the filters to find what you need. 

    For instance, a website like mechanicalkeyboards.com can be a gold mine for keywords in the mechanical keyboard niche—almost 5,000 keywords with a volume of 100–1000 and KD up to 10. 

    Niche keyword research in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

    Want to learn more? Check out our other resources:

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    • Monthly traffic 42
    • Linking websites 64
    • Tweets 56
    Data from Content Explorer