Easy Keyword Research Techniques
What is Keyword Research
Keyword research is done to help a website learn what words or phrases potential customers are already searching for in search engines. By learning which keywords your intended market is already searching for you can adapt your website to rank in search engines for these terms.
In a Nutshell: If Sally has a T-shirt business that predominately sells music related t-shirts. Sally would wants to show up in search engines when people type in search queries related to both t-shirts and music. So, Sally needs to come up with a list of keywords that her website should rank for.
I'm going to break down how you start finding relevant keywords, building a large list of keywords and then how to filter out low quality keywords so that you have the best list of keywords to start your website with.
Starting Your Keyword Research
- Music shirts
- Rock and Roll Shirts
- Band T-Shirts
- Bach Shirt
- Tupac Shirts
- Fleetwood Mac
- Short Sleeved Shirts
- Black Shirt
- White Shirt
Open excel or any other spreadsheet software and start brainstorming of keywords off the top of your head. In this example we will stick with Sally's Music T-Shirt Business.
You will want to make this list as long as you can. Spend about 15-20 minutes writing out keywords. Once you are done we will import this list into a keyword generator and it will spit out a list of keyword suggestions along with relevant statistics on each word.
Finding Long-Tail Keywords
A good place to find long tail keywords is right in Google. Simply search for anything and scroll all the way to the bottom. There you will find a list of long tail keywords, that are more specific, that you can add to your keyword list. The good thing about these keywords is that they are already being displayed on Google for the top keywords in your niche. Those links do get hits, and it's nice to rank at the top for them when they do.
In the image below I searched for 'knit sweaters'. At the bottom, I got these results.
Don't worry if you run out of suggestions, the keyword planning tool will fill in more than you could ever imagine. The hardest part of this exercise will be narrowing down the list and finding the gemstones in the mix.
Getting More Keyword Suggestions
I'm sure your list is pretty well set up by now, so lets look at growing that list and adding in relevant keyword statistics. The following online sites offer comprehensive tools to generate keyword lists and gather stats.
- Google's Keyword Planner - most widely used keyword planner. Completely free. What we will use to build our list today.
- SEMRush.com - A great SEO platform that can help you refine you keyword and SEO strategy. Tons of features and analytics involved as well. Is not a free platform.
- KeywordSpy.com - The free version of this site is very useful for finding stats of individual keywords. The paid version has a ton of other features that are very helpful for keyword research.
You will want to open Google's Keyword Planner and choose the option to "Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category".
Once you choose that option a box will show up where you can input all of your keywords. Just copy and paste them into the box that says "Your Products or Service". See screenshot.
The only other thing you will want to do is change your targeted location to USA (or another country, if applicable). This setting will help narrow down which search results are getting reported to you.
Feel free to change other settings if you wish, or if you want to play around. Each setting has it's own set of benefits, but I will not get that detailed in this post.
Step 2: Export Your Keyword List
Ok, now that you have run your keywords through Google's Keyword Planner Tool you can export the results into a new excel file. Simply click the Download link at the top of the Keyword ideas section and it should download automatically. This will download your keywords along with all the relevant stats into a CSV file so you can start to manipulate the data and assign value to each keyword.
Once the file is downloaded open it and analyze the keywords for any that are way off base for your website. Just do a quick run down, you can always refine this list better once we start manipulating the data.
The Average Monthly Searches Column
For now we want to look at one important statistic that is a bit too general in Google's Keyword Planner Tool. The average monthly searches is a really important statistic to take note of, it is what you will use to calculate the keywords value and whether it is worth targeting, so we will need to define this value a bit more. To do this we will want to add a new column after the "Avg. Monthly Searches" column and name it "Exact Searches".
Now sort your excel file by the original "Avg. Monthly Searches", which should be column D.
Use these values as a substitute:
- 10 - 100 Monthly Searches = 50
- 100 - 1K Monthly Searches = 500
- 1K - 10K Monthly Searches = 5,000
Once you sort your listings you will want to start assigning new values in the new column you made. Use this chart to assign the correct values to keywords with these search volumes.
Now after we hit 10K Monthly Searches we don't want to just be guessing at these values. You will now want to use another platform, such as KeywordSpy.com or SEMRush.com to estimate the value more accurately. This part can be time consuming if you are looking up the values one by one. Some platforms let you upload a list instead of checking each one individually. Check out the paid versions of SEMRush.com and KeywordSpy.com for this functionality.
We Have Our List, Our Stats, Now What?
So now we will want to start narrowing down this list even further. Go back to your excel file and sort your list by the "Competition" column. Now shade each cell according to the below criteria. If the competition value is:
- Less than .40, highlight the cell green.
- Between .40 - .70, highlight the cell yellow.
- Between .70 - 1.0, highlight the cell red.
You can copy the below values straight into excel
- Traffic Value (Column G): =D2*0.3*(1-E2)
- Traffic Costs (Column H): =G2*F2
- Potential KW Worth (Column I): =H2*0.02
Now you don't want to start using this as is right now. You will want to further reduce this list by assigning another value to them. So go ahead and add a few new column to your excel file after the "Suggested Bid" column. Your spreadsheet should now look like this, minus the values in the last few columns. Below are the formulas for those columns.
Your High Value Keywords
Now our keyword research is just about done and you can soon start smart content creation. Look at your list one last time and remove any remaining odd balls, this is your first High Value Keyword List. For my own list, out of the original 600 keywords I was working with, I was left with only 6 keywords in the end. This is ok and perfectly normal when doing keyword research, don't be afraid to cut out keywords for now. Once your website grows and gains in popularity you will be able to start going after more of those high value and high competition keywords that many new website can't capture.
You will now want to start doing this for every section, page, post and product on your website. It is a tedious exercise but it is worth the information, and knowing which keywords you can reasonably return valuable traffic with will be essential to website success.
In the next section of the Website Planning Guide we will review how to start using these keywords and how to implement them into content correctly.