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The Keyword Research Guide

Posted on 12.22.2014

:: Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO

Although SEO and online marketing are becoming more complex every day, there is one component that has been crucial since the beginning and still is today, keywords. While the way we use keywords has changed, the fact that you need to find great keywords has not. Whether you are trying to decide if there is a need for your product or you are wondering what might be a good topic for your next blog post, finding the right keywords can make all the difference. Below, we are going to take a look at a few methods you can use to find them.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Finding the Right Keywords for Your Site.
You should look for keywords that get a high search volume, are reasonably competitive (unless you have a ton of money to spend), and that are “buyer” keywords. Below, I am going to show you a few ways to find great keywords, without any expensive tools.

Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start your search for keywords. Many people make the mistake of plugging in a few generic terms and looking through the closely related results returned by Google. Today we are going to take it a step further. The first thing you should do is make a list of your top 10 competitors and their website address. Once you have that list, you are going to enter the competitors URLs one at a time into the keyword planner where it says “your landing page”.

Once you have done that, you will get a list of keywords that Google thinks your competitors’ site is about, including some golden keywords they spent countless hours finding.



Export those keywords and then repeat the process until you have a suggested list from all of your top 10 competitors in a single Excel document. It is very likely that you will have some duplicates in your list. To remove duplicates from Excel, simply select the “remove duplicates command” from the Data Tools Group which is located on the Data Tab.

 

Now you are ready to remove keywords that do not apply to your business. Let’s say you sell coffee online, your competitors may sell brands that you do not, so start by removing those keywords to begin narrowing down your list. Continue this until all non-relevant terms have been removed.

The next thing I do is segment the remaining keywords into two groups, buyer keywords and educational keywords. Buyer keywords are terms like “buy coffee online” or “best online K cup retailer”. Educational terms on the other hand would be “what are the types of coffee” or “how to choose flavored coffee”. Segmenting the terms allows you to focus your product pages on buyer terms and your blog and content pages on educational terms. For now, just set the list of educational keywords to the side for later reference.


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The next step is to review the competitiveness of your potential keywords. While you may be tempted to instantly pass on competitive terms, do not eliminate them just yet. In just a minute I am going to show you how to determine how much you should be willing to spend on a keyword.

The list you have in front of you now should be keywords with buyer intent; further reductions can be made based upon the traffic potential of each keyword. Several people will suggest eliminating keywords with less than 1K monthly searchers or some other number. I like to take an ROI focused approach instead and here is how to figure the earning potential of your keyword.

Let’s say that you sell a product that goes for $10 and you must spend $500 a month to rank for that keyword, you would need to sell 50 items each month to break even. If you consider that about 1/3 of search traffic goes to each of the top 3 search results, you will start by dividing the monthly traffic by three. The next step is to consider your average conversion rate for said product. If you are not sure, running a paid ad for the keyword and landing page combination is a good way to quickly gather insight. If you do not want to use paid ads, just estimate using the average conversion rate for your industry. For the sake of this, we will say it is 5%. We will say that our selected keyword gets 900 monthly searches.

Keyword ROI Potential Formula
 
Monthly Searches X Click Through Rate X Conversion Rate X Average Cost of Product
900 X 1/3 X 5% X $10 = $150

Using the details above, we can determine that our example keyword is not profitable as you would spend $350 more per month than you would earn. Repeat the same information but raise the average profit per sale to $100 and you would earn $1,500 per month from that keyword, making it a good choice. While this method takes a little more work, it allows you to find some great keywords that others have passed on.

 

Now is the time that you should review the competitiveness of terms that you found earlier in the process. If you are an SEO you should be able to determine the cost of ranking for terms based upon competition and if you are not an SEO, you should get estimates for your keywords. Since you know the earning potential of your keyword from the formula above, you should now eliminate terms that are not profitable based upon the estimated cost to rank. If you still haven’t found the perfect keyword yet, don’t worry, we are going to look at a couple of other places you can look to find more unique keywords.

Ubersuggest  
Ubersuggest is the self-proclaimed “Google Suggest on Steroids” and I am inclined to agree with that statement. Whenever you do a search on Google, you will see suggested searches in the search box and at the bottom of the page (see below). This method alone can help you discover some unique terms, but we are going to take it even further with Ubersuggest.

 

Ubersuggest uses the same principle, but the numbers of suggestions returned are far greater. To use the tool simply enter a broad keyword from your earlier research and click “suggest”. As you can see below, entering the term returned 255 suggested terms, sorted alphabetically. Screen the results and add the relevant ones to your list for further research.



Now, Let’s Take a Look at another Free and Powerful Research Tool

SEMRush is a paid tool with a free option and unlike other similar tools; you can actually get some useful data without having to upgrade. Get started by entering the URL of your competitor on the homepage. 

Once you enter the URL and hit search you will be brought to a dashboard that looks like this:



While it may seem overwhelming at first, you will quickly get the hang of this tool as each option is clearly labeled. For the sake of our research, scroll down on the page until your find the box labeled “organic keywords” and then view the full report.



The report will show you keywords your competitor is ranking for and if they have a golden egg, you will find it here. Export the keywords relevant to you and repeat the process for your top competitors. Once you have a list, refine it using the steps outline above.

Congratulations!

You should now have a list of keywords to guide you in your content creation in 2015.

What is your favorite way to find keywords?

Author Bio: Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a search marketing and design agency located near St. Louis, Mo. Travis loves researching and writing about SEO strategies and implementing innovative strategies for his clients. Connect on Twitter @theseoproz.

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