How to Do Keyword Research the Right Way

Do you want to get traffic to your website? Traffic, or visitors, is the only way to attract customers online. And it all starts with a good keyword. This is true for both SEO, PPC and local SEO campaigns. In this article, we will be covering a number of topics:

  • How to find keywords
  • How to check a keyword’s popularity
  • How to check a keyword’s competition

(Note: If you purchase products through this website or its advertisements, I may earn a commission. This helps support the website and does not affect you at all. Thanks!)

Step 1: Finding Your Keyword

The first thing you need to know is which keyword to target and how to find great keywords. For the purpose of this article, let’s pretend that you have a business that sells golf clubs online. You might want to target a keyword such as “Golf Clubs.” However, this is not always a good choice. For one, it will be extremely hard to rank in Google for such a broad term with organic SEO.

Even if you are concentrating on PPC, using such a broad term might take away from the relevance of your ad, which will decrease your click-through-rate and increase your cost-per-click. Someone who is typing “Golf Clubs” into Google might not even be looking to buy golf clubs. They might want to find out the definition of “golf clubs,” how they look, or even how to draw them. You don’t know what they are looking for.

Therefore, you want something more targeted. The way to find targeted keywords is simple: Type your basic keyword into Google, and Google will suggest potential keywords for you to use. These keywords really are search terms that are popular, which is why Google is suggesting them. To dig even deeper, add a letter of the alphabet before or after your keyword (separated by a space) for even more suggestions. Let’s take a look:

As you can see, Google suggested golf clubs for sale, golf clubs for kids, golf clubs cheap, and other potential search terms. Someone searching golf clubs for sale obviously is interested in purchasing golf clubs. Let’s dig even further:

Golf clubs and bag, golf club bag, golf clubs cheap, golf clubs complete set, and others are all great keywords to target, especially for PPC.

For local SEO, you would always want to have the name of your town in the keywords, like heating repair in Anytown.

Great! Now we have our keywords. The next step is to plug your keyword into a keyword tool to discover the popularity.

Step 2: How Popular Is Your Keyword?

Before choosing a keyword, you need to find out how popular your keyword is. The easiest way to do this is by using a keyword tool. There are many keyword tools out there, some free and some not. We’ll be getting into a number of great keyword tools at the end of this article, but first, here’s what you need to know:

A keyword’s popularity is measured by the average number of monthly searches it gets per month. If your keyword gets very few searches, don’t despair! Most keyword tools will automatically bring up for you additional related keywords, and finding great keywords won’t be difficult.

So how many searches do you need per month?

If you are setting up a PPC campaign, more searches per month is usually better, although they may cost more. A keyword with 5,000 monthly searches will bring more traffic than a keyword with 500 monthly searches. If you are willing to pay the higher price, then the more popular keyword is better, although there probably is more PPC competition, which drives up prices. If not, you can choose the less popular keyword. Many keyword tools will tell you if a keyword has a high PPC competition.

However, with SEO, more searches may not be better. That’s because a lot of websites are competing to rank for this popular keyword, and only 10 of them will reach the first page of Google. With organic SEO, the key is to finding low-competition keywords that STILL get reasonable numbers of monthly searches. This depends on your business and industry. Some people find that they can easily rank for a keyword that only has 200 competing websites, while others like to use keywords that have less than 50 competing websites.

So, how do you find out the competition?

Step 3: Finding the Competition

Now you have to find the competition. This is NOT the number of Google results, which are very broad. Instead, it is the exact number of websites competing for the same keyword, word-for-word (remember that many of them may not actually be competing for this keyword, they might just mention it in passing).

Look at this screenshot. I simply typed into Google golf clubs, and I got a lot of results. Remember, this is NOT the competition you want. Instead, follow the steps below the screenshot. Remember, this is for organic SEO purposes.

So here is what to do :

Step 1: Type the keyword into Google WITH QUOTES

The number you see is STILL not the competition.

Step 2: Go to the last page of the Google results:

On the last page, at the end of all the search results, you will find the competition. In this case, it is 368. That’s a little high if you are trying to rank for organic SEO.

The reason I am telling you this method is because most keyword tools won’t give you the competition, making your job much harder.

Keyword Tools for You

There are many keyword tools you can use. Google Adwords has a keyword tool that will give you the approximate number of searches per month, as well as the PPC competition. BingAds also has such as tool, but the metrics there are only from the Bing/Yahoo network.

Here are three other tools you can try out:

Jaaxy is the only one that will actually give you the competition along with your search results. This way you can look at all the suggested keywords and find out right away which one is the best. You can even try Jaaxy out right now, by typing any keyword in the search box below. Jaaxy will give you a free trial that lets you search 30 times. Jaaxy also gives you an estimate of how easy it is to rank for each keyword and the PPC competition.


Conclusion

Keyword research has three basic steps:

  1. Finding the keyword (use Google’s suggestion feature)
  2. Researching the popularity (using a keyword tool)
  3. Finding the SEO or PPC competition (using a keyword tool or manually)

The SEO competition is for finding out if you can rank easily, while the PPC competition is for finding out how expensive the keyword will be in Adwords.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

 

2 Comments

  1. Craig | UK TV Services Abroad

    Hi Ben,

    This is great information for doing KW research. I use Jaaxy and I find it to be an excellent tool not just for checking KW’s but also for suggesting other keywords.

    I find I use Google and Jaaxy combined. Once I have my KW I then check Google for the competition and also look at their websites to see their content. I find it gives me an idea of what to aim for.

    It’s interesting what you say about Bing Ads having a keyword tool which shows their metrics. I have a PPC campaign running just now and I didn’t see they keyword tool when I created my campaigns!

    Reply
    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Craig!

      Yes, checking Google manually for the competition is very important! If you see sites like Amazon, CNN, Yahoo, Forbes, etc, then you know you can’t compete, no matter what the keyword tool tells you.

      As for Bing’s keyword tool, you can find it under Tools on the top menu from your BingAds dashboard. They call it a keyword planner. In addition, they have a better keyword tool with more information in their Bing Webmaster Tools! Just go to tools from your side menu. It’s pretty new!

      Thanks for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

      Reply

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