ALL of SEO begins with a keyword. Keyword Research is the critical first step that will make or break your entire SEO campaign.
Around 90% of all traffic on the internet begins with a keyword and a search engine, and this is why your keyword research is so important. It is the foundation for all of your on-page and off-page SEO. Without further ado, let’s learn how to do keyword research and find some killer keywords.
Finding the Right “Type” of Keyword – Buying Keywords
One of the reasons why organic traffic from the search engines can be so effective is because it is often very targeted. Why does this matter?
Let’s say you have an Amazon review site and you are trying to get people to click-through your links to buy HD TVs. Would you rather have 1,000 visitors who get to your site with the keyword “hd tvs”, or “buy an hd tv”? Clearly, the second keyword is going to produce much better results because it is a buying keyword.
If you’re trying to sell, you need people looking to buy!
Now, you aren't always going to be selling something, you might just be sharing information. The goal is to be very specific. Provide exactly what people searching for your keyword are looking for.
Be relevant to the INTENT of the searcher.
A really targeted, buying keyword will produce great results and tons of sales even if the search volume isn’t that high. So how do we find these buying keywords? With the simplest, and best keyword tool available – Google’s own keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Target Long-tail Keywords
A long-tail keyword is a keyword that is 3 words or longer and is typically much easier to rank for.
Short keywords are typically very hard to rank for so you'll want to spend most of your time on longer keyword phrases. You’ll discover the importance of having 3 or more words in your keyword phrase as you read this guide.
How to Find True Search Volume
Let’s figure out how we can establish an understanding of how much monthly search volume a keyword receives. The first thing you want to do is enter your keyword into the keyword tool. My example is going to be “buy an hd tv”. These are the results we get:
Right now, the results are sorted by relevancy. This is one way to find your related keywords, but that’s not what we want for our keyword research, so we reorder our results by Global Searches. If you are promoting something that isn’t available internationally then sort it by Local Monthly Searches.
Local Monthly Searches does NOT mean your city – it is the United States.
These are our new results:
We sort the results by Global Monthly Searches because we want to make sure that we don’t want to skip over a keyword with a higher amount of searches that we can compete for. That being said, the goal is to try and rank for a keyword that we can actually rank for in a relatively short period of time.
You could spend years trying to get ranked for a really competitive keyword and spend a LONG time and a LOT of effort without getting any traffic. Or, you could target a keyword with a lower search volume and much lower level of competition and rank in a MUCH quicker period of time and start getting some traffic to your site.
For example, you could target a keyword that gets 100 searches a day and be number one in two or three months. Or, you could target a keyword that gets 1,000 searches a day and be on page 30 after two or three months of work.
TIP: You will only get 100 results if you search without signing in to a Google Account first. Once you sign in you will get up to 800 results -> much better.
Now before we move any further I have something SUPER IMPORTANT YOU NEED TO READ: You need to select “Exact” under Match Types (left-sidebar). If you do not do this, you will an inflated number of projected searches for your keyword. By default, “Broad” is selected so you need to change this.
What is Broad Match?
Broad means that the words in your keyword phrase can be in any order, have different plurality, and there can be other words used in the search. In other words, people not searching for your keyword lol.
What is Phrase Match?
Phrase Match Types refers to searches made with your exact keyword EXCEPT there can be other words in front of or after your keyword phrase.
Exact match means that we are looking at the search volume for literally that exact keyword.
You’d be astounded how many people neglect this, not to mention how many keyword research guides leave this entirely out! I admittedly have built niche sites in the past around keywords that get 40 searches a month because I had forgotten to use exact match types. Don’t let this happen to you!
Fun Fact: Because we look at exact match, we ignore some of the random searches that will naturally lead people to our site. People can use whatever terms they want for a search so only a few keywords will have such a uniform search pattern. It’s important to know that only 30-70% of your organic SEO traffic will come from your ranking for your targeted keyword. Finally, some good news!
So now that we know what kind of keywords to look for and how to find them, let’s see how we can gauge our competition!
Gauging the Competition
Gauging your competition can be difficult and there is no golden rule for judging how competitive a keyword is. It really depends on your SEO competency and also what kind of web property you are trying to rank.
There are a lot of factors to consider when analyzing your competition. I did a guest post on Basic Blog Tips that served as a short competitive keyword research guide you can check out. However, I thought that my process might be better illustrated through video.
This is basically the way I do competitive research before doing in-depth backlink analysis and decide to target a keyword. (Sometimes this the extent of my research if I'm just optimizing another blog post).
(Woops: the 9th result had the exact match…)
Some Closing Tips and Pointers
The more words the better
Having a long-tail keyword with 4 or more words is very helpful for ranking. As a rule of thumb, the longer your keyword the easier it is to rank. This is simply because there will be less pages optimized specifically for your keyword.
Google’s “Competition” Bar
From my experience, the “competition” bar in Google’s keyword tool is about as reliable as [insert witty joke here]. I don’t know where they come up with it, but it seems to mean absolutely nothing, so cover it up, ignore it, do whatever just don’t worry about it. If someone here knows the formula to it or to what aspect of competition it equates, let me know and I’ll rewrite this. But, until then I’m going to say its garbage.
Don’t Target Misspellings
A surefire way to waste your time is to go after a misspelling. Yes, people do misspell things, but Google has a correction to the spelling right underneath every misspelled search. I always click on the proper spelling suggestion because I know I’ll get better results this way, and I’m sure this is what the majority of people do as well. So don’t go after a misspelled keyword!
Before you choose a keyword you should at the “Local Search Trends” on the right-hand side of the Google Keywords Tool. This will give a quick insight into if your keyword is searched equally year round or not. Unless you’re well aware that you are targeting a holiday or seasonal keyword and you’re okay with it, you’ll want to target a keyword that gets searches year round.
Cookies and Diets: Google’s Keyword Tool is sometimes fun just to examine and view the seasonal trends of searchers. After all, we are the proponents of its results which are an aggregate of human search behavior I was searching for recipe keywords during the holiday season and I couldn’t help but notice some funny trends. Every “cookie” related keyword had WAY more searches in December, and every “low fat” or “diet” search term was WAY down on searches. It goes to show that you can observe many trends that take place offline, in the online world especially in how we search.
I hope you found this free keyword research guide helpful, and maybe learned a thing or two Keyword Research is a topic where practice truly makes perfect. You will learn much through your own experimenting. And you don’t have to build a new niche site every time either. If you want some practice without spending any $$ first, you can make a free blog or other web 2.0 property such as a squidoo lense. Pick out a keyword that is really uncompetitive and has a few hundred monthly searches, it will help give you a feel for how things go, and you will also come to respect the options that you have when making a full-fledged website.