The Guru Guide to Keyword Research

Here is my guide to Keyword Research. If you’ve been hanging around the internet-marketing space for any length of time, you probably understand the importance of keyword research already. The topic has been written about frequently in the past, however, much of the information that’s available is not very in-depth or too vague to take any real action on.

SEO booksIn this post, I want to break down the process of creating an initial keyword list, the specific criteria I use to evaluate a keyword, and provide some basic tools to get started with your research. Ready? Let’s go.

Getting Started

Whenever you’re about to get started with keyword research you’ll want to open up an Excel spreadsheet to help analyze the data. You don’t need to create anything fancy. Just add the following column titles to your spreadsheet:

Keyword / Search / Volume / Competition / Searcher / Intent

The information you enter into the above columns will serve as an aid to help evaluate keywords later. Next step, time to start looking for keywords.

How to find Keywords

Typically, I use three techniques to start researching keywords:

1. Industry: Start typing a big list of the keywords you think would be relevant to the niche your getting into. This includes technical phrases, jargon, or branded keywords that people might use to discover websites about your topic.

2. Competitors: Make a list of 4 – 5 websites that sell similar products or services to you. Reviewing the title tags of competitors’ websites is a great way to quickly learn what keywords other businesses are targeting and profiting from. A great tool called SEMRush can also be used to speed up the competitive research process.

3. Tools: There are about a thousand different keyword research tools online, but the ones I use the most frequently are the Keyword Tool in Google Adwords and Wordtracker.

Don’t forget to copy and paste all the keywords you’ve found into the Keyword column of your spreadsheet.

How to Evaluate Keywords

There are three metrics I always evaluate to help determine whether or not I want to go after a particular keyword phrase. They are….

1. Volume

Are there enough people actually searching for the particular product or service you’re trying to sell? If not, it might be wise to re-evaluate the market you’re planning to enter. But how do you know when there is enough volume?

This number will depend on who you ask of course. However, I like to use affiliate marketing master Andrew Hansen’s advice to go after keywords with at least 1,000 exact match searches per month according to Google’s Keyword Tool. In my opinion, this is a really solid baseline.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t still need to develop content that targets the long tail as well, however, you should set the goal of targeting high-volume, high-conversion search phrases as a long-term goal.

2. Searcher Intent

Are you able to provide a solution to the searcher’s exact query at the precise time they need it? If so, does this keyword suggest any sort of commercial intent?

A deep understanding of the searcher intent behind each of your keywords is critical. Sometimes searcher’s intent is straightforward. However, it can also become more complex when keywords have multiple meanings.

For example, consider the thousands of variations of searcher intent that include the keyword “insurance.” Potential searcher intent could include insurance for homeowners, life, cars, boats, motorcycles, trucks, discounts, or free quote-related phrases just to name a few.

Bottom line: Get to know what searchers want when entering a website through your keyword. Even if it is more than one thing.

3. Competitiveness

No matter how great of an SEO or internet marketer you are, there are just some keywords that are too competitive to even consider entering the fray. These types of keywords are dominated by large companies with substantial advertising budgets and resources that you probably don’t have.

One quick way find out whether or not your keywords are too competitive is to check the backlink profile of the top five ranking websites in Google for the keyword(s) you’re considering. If the websites listed at the top of the SERPs are on domains with thousands of unique linking domains this is cause for concern. Consider going after longtail search phrases first or consider a less competitive market.

Tools of the Trade

When you’re conducting keyword research knowing the tools of the trade helps. Fortunately, most of the keyword research tools I use are free or have free limited-access versions.

Here are a handful of tools that can come in handy in the discovery and evaluation of a keyword for your website:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool: In my opinion, this is the best and most accurate keyword tool available in your keyword research toolbelt. Nobody has got more data than Google and best of all the tool is totally free!
  • This is the industry standard back-link analysis tool. This tool can help you identify how many inbound links you’ll need to develop to compete with top domains in your market. You’ll also find the anchor text competitors are using to build backlinks.
  • SEMRush: Looking at the organic and paid search keywords of your competition allows you to gain insight into potentially lucrative keywords. This tool lets you examine keywords being targeted on the organic and paid side within the same tool.
  • Wordtracker: This is my second favorite keyword research tool.
  • Excel Spreadsheet: It’s tough to do good keyword research and analysis without the old reliable spreadsheet.

Wrapping it all up…. So there you have it. How to find and evaluate keywords, along with the tools you’ll need to get it done. Any other questions? I’ll be happy to respond in the comments.

This guest post was written by Brett Alan of Visit his website learn more about the business side of search engine optimization. Image credits to Suttonhoo under CC license. You can also submit guest articles here.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.