The Top 20 Topics in Search & How to Use Them for Good

Don thought it would be fun to write a post that “explains our methodology for quantifying an uber market.”

Do you know what that means? To quantify an uber market?

Thankfully I know enough to write this post, but I’m fairly sure that 99% of you out there don’t. And that the remaining 1% is probably exclusive to Mequoda employees and our Board of Directors.

See, that’s the thing we like about search engine optimization. The ability to find out what people are looking for.

There are zero people searching for “quantifying an uber market” (except those of you who just feverishly looked for a definition). So, while we’ll let Don get away with it, just like we admire his ability to write entire emails in acronyms, we certainly wouldn’t title a blog that way!

And we wouldn’t title a website category that way, either, which is the point I’m really getting at.


How the words and categories on your site define you

Do you know the 10 keyword phrases that best define your overall content? How do you answer if someone asks you what your site it about?

The category pages or topic pages that are on your site should align with your business model.

Six years ago, publishers didn’t really have the ability to find out what people wanted most. circa 2006

Back in 2006, BHG was still trying to figure out how to organize what they were offering, and they were using both top and sidebars to organize that content, throwing “tools,” “guides,” and “topics” around. circa 2013

In 2013, BHG knows what their “uber” categories are, and when someone
comes to their site they know exactly what topics they can find here.

How we determine both a business model and categories at the same time

If you’re just launching a website, or a website redesign, take time to research your niche. Find out what people want from that niche before diving in.

Having researched a few hundred website launches to support a niche media business going online, we’ve got a good idea of the most popular website niches (see below). Knowing these can seriously help you define your own business model.

If you already know your niche, you can benefit by finding out what your sub-niches are and how you’ll fare against the competition.

I’m going to give you a “big picture” example below of someone who might not even know their niche yet. You can use the same process to refine this niche.

We use a few calculations to model the size of a new online business. They’re estimates of course, but isn’t everything in life?

Let me show you the list first, and then I’ll get into how we came up with these numbers. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to stick with the global numbers, although we also look at US numbers when a publisher has no overseas distribution.

  • Keyword: The topic (what you’re publishing content about)
  • Monthly Searches: How many people are searching for that exact keyword, with no variation. For example, “games.”
  • Broad Match Annual Searches: How many people who are looking for that keyword with variations. For example, “games to play with kids.”

Note: the reason why some of these numbers are identical is because Google rounds up.

(pi factor)
(long-tail factor)
1 GAMES 618,000,000 7,416,000,000 23,286,240,000 116,431,200,000
2 VIDEOS 618,000,000 7,416,000,000 23,286,240,000 116,431,200,000
3 SEX 506,000,000 6,072,000,000 19,066,080,000 95,330,400,000
4 MOVIES 414,000,000 4,968,000,000 15,599,520,000 77,997,600,000
5 NEWS 277,000,000 3,324,000,000 10,437,360,000 52,186,800,000
6 MUSIC 226,000,000 2,712,000,000 8,515,680,000 42,578,400,000
7 TELEVISION 185,000,000 2,220,000,000 6,970,800,000 34,854,000,000
8 BOOKS 151,000,000 1,812,000,000 5,689,680,000 28,448,400,000
9 ART 151,000,000 1,812,000,000 5,689,680,000 28,448,400,000
10 SPORTS 151,000,000 1,812,000,000 5,689,680,000 28,448,400,000
11 TRAVEL 101,000,000 1,212,000,000 3,805,680,000 19,028,400,000
12 BUSINESS 101,000,000 1,212,000,000 3,805,680,000 19,028,400,000
13 FOOD 83,100,000 997,200,000 3,131,208,000 15,656,040,000
14 HEALTH 83,100,000 997,200,000 3,131,208,000 15,656,040,000
15 MONEY 68,000,000 816,000,000 2,562,240,000 12,811,200,000
16 DEATH 68,000,000 816,000,000 2,562,240,000 12,811,200,000
17 FAMILY 68,000,000 816,000,000 2,562,240,000 12,811,200,000
18 SHOPPING 55,600,000 667,200,000 2,095,008,000 10,475,040,000
19 TECHNOLOGY 45,500,000 546,000,000 1,714,440,000 8,572,200,000
20 FASHION 37,200,000 446,400,000 1,401,696,000 7,008,480,000

Runners up were: cooking, medicine, exercise, religion, celebrities, knitting, gardening and spirituality.

For each topic I have shown the global English broad match monthly search volume from the Google Keyword Tool. Google defines broad match as the “sum of the search volumes for the keyword, related grammatical forms, synonyms, and related words.”

  1. First I annualized the data. Monthly * 12 months in the year to equal a year’s worth of estimated search traffic.
  2. Next I multiply the annual search volume by pi (3.14) in order to estimate the trackable search. When I say “trackable” it just means phrases that have enough search volume to show up in the Google Keyword Tool. We use pi because even though broad match shows us synonyms and related phrases, there is inevitably a whole lot of other phrases that Google may not be able to identify as related.
  3. Finally, I multiply by five to account for the long-tail keywords. Those are the tiny ones with little search volume but equally little competition. Google doesn’t provide data for phrases with very low monthly search volume. Their lowest cutoff is a pretty unspecific, which usually shows up as <10. So this long tail factor ensures that we capture everything.

What does this tell us? Well it tells us that it’s no wonder that Game Informer is America’s #1 highest selling subscription.

If you came up with ten to twenty topics you think you want to go after on your own website and did the same calculations, you’d be able to determine where you are in the ecosystem of your niche.

We limit the list to 10 primary search terms because the next step is to search every term and record the top 30 websites that Google returns for each. These are the websites that are most authoritative on the particular keyword phrase.

There’s nothing automated about this procedure; it’s all done manually.

So, why do you think these are the top 20 niches in search? Did I make the process clear enough so that you can try to create your own keyword universe?


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