In reply to where a customer is asking about niche results and available automated ranking tools to use, this is my reply.
Using ranking checking tools makes you lazy, the only way to learn about rankings is getting your hands dirty and checking google.com yourself and observing what sites rank high consistently via a broad range of niches. Understanding simple things like this gives you a much clearer ability to understand a terms competitiveness in google and know if you can tackle it or not, and reveals the terms you can dominate much faster. = more income
I do use tools. but prefer one FireFox window open with a tab for each of the terms I'm checking (generally around 15 on the go at one time), which I check 3 times a day.. call it old skool but works nicely for me, gives me a very good understanding of google rankings. After observing the same niche over and over , your mind gets to understand all the domains in these markets and it knows at a glance where they are and their history while im searching. I do this across a very broad range of non related niches, and there are domains that pop up in each. I know how I can rank compared to these domains. better or worse, either way this gives me a good understanding of niches at first glance in google of the first couple of pages.
Do this for a long time and your minds DataBase of sites gets extensive and makes niche research that much easier and faster. and more profitable obviously..
Its a good thing to train your mind to do.. like any muscle just takes a bit of time to train it up..
Ok.. while im here..
If I'm targeting a new niche,
I go to google.com / advanced search/ change to 100 listings per page..
Then I slowly scroll down and see who is in the first 100. if they are TLD's or internal page listings and the % of each.
In simple terms. if the first 100 listings are all listings with internal pages, well its a no brainer, this alone means using my methods I can get a very high if not Number 1 listing in google for this term .
Conversely, if the first 100 were nothing but TLD's (top level domains) with no listings of internal pages, well I'd run a mile from this niche, though I'm yet to find any niche with the first 100 that are TLD's , but this gives you the idea.
Next I'm looking at who these higher ranking domains are in this first 100.. from a glance you can see if these domains are optimised for this term or not.
I'm looking to see if these domains get these rankings from some on page work, e.g words in an article or such, and its got this listing purely due to this domains authority only. Or, If this domain has my term in the title for example and it actively after this term. I can out rank a stronger authority site that is listed highly with only internal none title listing. But I cannot out rank a stronger authority site, that is optimised for this term. So seeing a big name site in the first page of google. its not about this site, but why this site is listed for this term, determines whether I will target this niche.
One example that you would know is the aweber.com site (which holds massive authority in google), I'm currently working a very competitive niche, where this site came in listed at No 51 for the term I am targeting.
see my article here http://www.peterdrew.net/linking-loophole/very-competitive-niches-must-read/ where I go more into targeting tough niches.
This entry into this niche in google by aweber is
1. a TLD only, not internal page listing.
2. Has niche in title tag.
Normally I would not go after this term , though I'm in the process of continually learning like all of us. Currently my site once the title tag updated entered the serps around 150 I think and each week its been moving up the serps. Now sitting on page 2 at 16 (I'm still working this)
I suppose this is more a testament to my backlinking strategies, than about niche research. Though with this example, I was intending on pushing the boundaries to see where we end up. And do this experiment over time.
Ok, i have gotten a little of track here, though the main point being. in terms of niche research, you need to use your eyes, and check competitors for the indicators I have listed above. And use them a lot. To get the full understanding of researching a niche. Typically a quick scan of the first one hundred entries gives me a pretty clear idea about this niche.
I can then use different operators in google to nut down further, though I rarely do this, only if I get really excited about a niche and want to confirm it further..
revealing how many pages a domain has listed in google. in itself doesn't say much. e.g my sites rank very well with only a handful of pages in the index. Though sometimes this operator can reveal a lot about a site. e.g if it has a million pages in google, this is an indicator of its authority.
2. "my niche"
putting the target keyword phrase in quotes, at a glance gives me a better understanding of how many sites are more targeting this phrase.
e.g in quotes, google reveals the sites with only these words within the quotes beside each other somewhere on this site or page. This can sometimes reveal how easy a niche is, if the returned results are very low.
3. allintitle: my phrase
This returns results of only those sites or pages with your targeted term in the title of this page, this shows the sites actively targeting this phrase.
4.allintitle: "my phrase"
same as above, but with these words in same order. excluding those results where there may be a word in between your phrase words. This further reduces the returned amounts. to give you a better indicator of how many sites are vying for this term.
5. inurl: keyword phrase
show the amount of sites that have this term in the URL of the listed domains in the index.
Having your term in the URL does give you a slight advantage over those that do not, and this operator reveals how many competing sites are using your term in their URL.
These are the ones I use, there are more listed below.
As noted previously, the returned number count for each of these gives me a good idea about the competitiveness of this niche Im checking out, though also keep in mind the authority of those domains listed in these results.
These are the methods Ive gained after doing this for a very long time, I remember back in the day, when all you had to do to get indexed was, go to the search engines "Add URL" field, enter your site and BANG your in there!! Just like that and receiving traffic.. LOL back when all SEO involved your keyword phrases in title , img and within the body tags a bunch of times, and your receiving bucket loads of traffic for your term... I remember my clients looks of astonishment when I showed them their sites listed for the terms they desired, almost instantly back in those days
hope this helps with your understanding of niche reseach, get your hands dirty and do it in google visually, doesn't take long to get a overall view of whats going down in there, once you start to understand, it all gets a lot easier
all Google operators listed here
Feel free to comment here http://seofightclub.bruteforceseo.com/showthread.php?t=1924