You have found a niche and you are interested in looking deeper to figure out whether it has any long term viability. This means looking for enough search to warrant building a site around it, today we discuss the TES method I use.
A Traffic Estimation Study (TES) is a evaluation of the niche to get a gauge on the overall monthly search volume without using tools. Tools are balanced over a period of months which can lead to miscalculations if, for example, a fad has ended. This can save you time and effort in the long run.
So what do I do to research my topics and niches to see what the levels of traffic are? Tools can help you know a little but it isn't perfect which is why I usually just eyeball everything to make a real decision on a go no-go.
I always will start by looking at the trends, any niche I start now I try to make sure is a yearly niche without any specific seasonality. This helps to manage stability in income, so you should always start at Google Trends.
A step many people will skip when looking at building a blog is to really take time to know when it is heavily searched, this will influence your income levels far more than you understand if you choose to rely on organic traffic alone.
The two I have used most are Google Trends because Google has the largest dataset available online on the topic of search data. I then will sometimes look at Exploding Topics as it can help show you the trend line with a scoring system that can be easier for many to understand.
Building a site takes a tremendous amount of time and expenditure, it isn't for the "get rich quick" folks anymore. With many sites taking 6-9 months to get out of the "Google Sandbox" making the right decision prior to starting is very important!
The reason I have always loved using Google Trends is a chance to see the short term to long term of a topic or keyphrase or keyword. You can look short to long term and see if it is stable, growing, or shrinking.
After you have this detail you can dig a little deeper in Google Trends to look at the locationality and how the search trends differ between countries and/or states helping identify other keywords many times.
Where many get confused in Google Trends is the scaling, many confuse this with "Search Volume" and this is not what they are showing, Google Trends is showing you on a scale of most searched to least searched over time.
So this just gives you an overall understanding of when your term is searched for, not the volume of these searches, don't get those confused as they aren't the same thing and volume will be evaluated later.
For people who find random line graphs hard to interpret you can go over to Exploding Topics and look at the data in a more concise graphical view. The benefit is they also provide an aggregate search volume estimate which can help give you a barometer.
They have complex math that is done behind the topics to show the potential for growth and whether they are exploding (huge growth fast) or in a decline and the range inbetween.
Many people haven't visited the site before, I would urge you to go take a look and I bet you will see the same value I do. Again as with Google Trends this data isn't perfect but it can show you what they see as search volume and growth.
The next up would be to look at what Social Media is telling you as to the topic and interest from people outside of Google alone. I never want to base traffic and interest on only one area as you may miss other solid opportunities to gain more views.
Forums are typically pretty dated as to functionality but some niches thrive still in them constantly having discussions around topics that may help you learn more.
Additionally for most new sites having forums in the top 10 of the SERP is the sign of an easy topic for you to write a high quality and concise post around and will rank faster.
Additionally on forums you can become one of the people giving answers to users and say, for example, "check out my site where I go much deeper if you want to learn more".
As long as not every post you make is like this then you will begin to add some valuable traffic to your site along with links that Google can see, while not of much value these get Google to see your site more frequently.
Quora and Reddit are interesting websites, as they are aimed at being very similar to older style forums with a group consensus on answers, this can lead to good answers but also lots of junk content.
You can use them though to find the total amount of users are watching a given topic with the higher the number showing a bigger overall interest.
Similar to forums you can join and watch for questions in your niche and provide high quality answers, for many as long as you don't link out on each answer you can get some links back to your site.
This can give you some solid traffic over time but each question on either of these platforms won't provide much longevity or distinctly huge spike on its own that I have seen.
I know many are averse to making a YouTube channel but even if you don't want to make a channel YouTube can give you some understanding as to the volume that exists.
When looking at videos you can easily search for keywords in the same way as Google has, there are tools like TubeBuddy that are available to help you search this much easier if interested.
What I like to do though is to look and see what the posted time is for the video's lifespan along with how many views versus the channel age and subscribers.
You can use this to see if they are very active in views and this can be a hint that there is a lot of available traffic that may be visually oriented making the niche possibly better for YouTube channel work than traditional blogging.
If there are groups and they have a large amount of members this is a good sign of a healthy community in that topic and niche, what you are hoping to see is a few larger groups and then many branches on sub divisions on the topic.
What you hope to not see is groups that have very little being posted, some of those are groups where you see one new post a week or similar where there is a larger number of users than active participants.
The one weirdo in the group, there are some niches where images will pull you far more traffic that is engaged than search traffic. Some of these are things like Recipes, as you may or may not know recipes are not easy to rank by themselves.
This means if you look to Pinterest you can see what's there and then maybe be able to build a solid traffic strategy by making a few different unique pins around your content, note this has some aging time now in 2021+ also.
The old strategies of making an image and just re-pinning it a billion times will now just get you locked and shut down. As with Google, Pinterest appreciates fresh new content and pins so you will want to make new images to pin.
While many will worry that there is competition this is actually counter productive, you WANT competition. Competition means there is traffic that people are trying to gain, where there is no competition there is almost never any real volume.
For example, I did a test public site on Footbag knowing I was worried before I started that there was almost no competition other than 8+ year old sites. Like I expected there was not really anything there so I folded it as there is just no current reason to push a dead blog further.
So take on the fact that there is sites for the understanding of there is actionable traffic available and the more the better for you. Then look at what these blogs are offering as Ads, Info Products, and more signal there is money available to them and to you.
This is where the real traffic understanding can start, see ads almost always require some base level of traffic to be able to have specific ad companies show on your website, I use these a lot to know how many blogs and what ad levels to help me get a overall guesstimate.
Ezoic has a base of 10,000 sessions for you to apply for nearly all websites, they do have their new Early Access Program that allows people in prior to this number but it can help you see there is a base level of traffic.
Similar to Ezoic, Mediavine requires a even higher level (currently 50,000 sessions a month) to join their program. This means for each site you see running Mediavine Ads you can know there is at least around 50k sessions in searches they fill per month.
Typically viewed as a pinnacle to get approved for, AdThrive requires a even higher level (currently 100,000 pageviews a month) to join their program. This means for each site you see running AdThrive Ads you can know there is at least around 100k pageviews in searches they fill per month.
The next thing to look at is whether these blogs offer any info products, this would signal to me that there is topics that the visitors are willing to pay for in addition to the free content.
For me I try to write down these as base ideas for me when I reach a good volume of traffic to figure out whether I can create the product or whether it could be outsourced to ad onto the blog.
Do they offer only single products, are they selling a package of multiple eBooks? What do they run for pricing and what "discounts" do they show the visitor?
Each of these will be helpful down the road so make sure to grab the information when you find it to help you later assemble your own.
This would be a good sign that people are interested in ongoing community based activity and or information that is consistently changing. These are big within blogging communities like Project 24 and MoneyLab.
If you are looking to make huge money then courses and memberships are a good signal that you have a very good top end if you are willing to put in the consistent time and support.
When you look at the big single keywords do they have bigger brands or big authority sites on them? This would be a large signal that they do provide the volume larger sites care about to get them income from products and ads or other income.
For example, in camping, REI is typically towards the top of most search phrases. This is due to selling goods and services around these topics and if it is big enough to support million dollar companies then you have some room to get a chunk yourself.
The whole point of taking the time to do this process is to ensure you are making a sound decision on the blog you are planning to build, it helps to ensure some rate of return is possible and to help you begin building ideas for later stage monetization.
Many people will start their blog without any thought being paid to traffic level maximums and monetization, and while this is fully ok I am planning to run these as income sources for my time also.
Since this is the goal for most bloggers, learning where and what traffic exists before ensures that you are making the best choice for you over the next 12+ months of work where little results are typically seen.
Good luck on your next project and if you follow the above to understand your runway there is very little chance that you will be surprised in what is possible!