Keyword Research

Keyword Research


Keyword research is most likely the most important activity and factor in the success of your online business from the very beginning and throughout the whole marketing activities. How keyword research was performed is very important to the ranking of your website and therefore to your future income. Keyword research is a marketing activity with the highest return.

What keywords are? The simplified answer is - keyword is a single word or a phrase that somebody type into a search engine to find – a) information, or b) solution.

It is all about getting on the list of first 10 ranked sites on Google’s first page. The ideal keywords and phrases are those with high search volume and relatively low competition. So the aim is to find those keywords and phrases that your targeted niche market uses, and tailor your website pages around those keywords.

As stated earlier, keywords are very important element for optimizing your website. If your pages are properly optimized, you can expect much more targeted visitors from search engines. I will talk about this later.

There are two important things to know. First is that 90+% of the traffic comes from the first page on Google’s organic search.

Number of searches is not important as the volume of traffic. A first ranking page on the list gets 40+% of the traffic, second ranking gets 10+%, a third ranking page gets around 8% and so on. It’s a big difference in traffic volume between first and second place. So, the prime goal is to reach first place with your long tail keyword (phrase). Although, the big difference in traffic percentages between first two places, the volume of traffic is still huge for the first five places on the top of the list, but another five places also receive a lot of traffic measured in thousands. This makes our secondary goal - to be ranked at any place on the first Google page as high as possible.

When researching, keep in mind a) relevance [high] of the keyword to your content, b) traffic factor [low-medium], c) commercial value of the keyword, and d) competition [low]. About all of this will be written later in this text in more detail.

When analyzing competition, the focus should be on the number of competitors and their strength.

You might want to bookmark this page as it will take some time to work through it all.


Importance of Keywords

First advice from me – be unique with your approach to keyword research and do things differently than others. Finding your own way in keyword research gives you chance for success.

The majority of people are using the same approach, and they of course create even more competition. There are a lot of niches where is little or no competition at all.

As stated before, the most important element of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is keyword research. If you get good at it, then other SEO elements become less important (e.g. web page, backlinks, posts, etc.). Think logically, if your keyword brings visitors directly from organic search, then your job is done.

So, your keyword research strategy should be based on finding those undiscovered keywords/phrases related to your niche.

Within SEO there are 3 elements that have the biggest impact on results out of 200 elements included in Google algorithms – 1) keyword research, 2) on-page SEO, and 3) back-linking. Keyword research is the one with the biggest impact.

Keyword Research - Importance of Keywords

Keyword research should be the starting point for any online entrepreneur. First, you have to ask yourself, do you optimize your web page for general keywords or you optimize your page for specific long tail keyword/phrase that relates directly to your niche. If you optimize for general keywords, then you will fail to get any traffic, but if you optimize your web page for long tail keywords than you will get traffic with targeted visitors.

Big corporations with huge SEO budgets compete for general keywords. For the rest of us the key to profit online is in niche markets and with long tail keywords. No matter what is your product or service, well chosen long tail keyword directly related to your niche will bring you targeted traffic with commercial intent. The value is in traffic with commercial intent, not in volume of traffic.

Keyword Categories

As an unwritten rule, keywords are divided into three main categories: Head, Body and the Tail.

Head keywords are single-word keywords with huge amounts of search volume, as well as high competition (for example, “banking”, “finance”, etc.), but these are with very low converting rate.

Body keywords are 2-3 words in length with decent search volume and they are more specific than Head keywords (for example, “online banking”, “financing online shop”, etc.). These have a lower level of competition.

(Long) Tail keywords are 4+ words in length. Those are mostly pretty specific phrases (for example, “how to open online banking account”, “how to finance online shop”, etc.). They have lower search volume, but they convert better.

Keyword Research - Keyword Categories

In conclusion, mid-sized keyword phrases (3-4 words) give maximum chances of quick profit. The longer keyword phrase is, the fewer visitors you get, but you get targeted traffic that converts high.

Targeted traffic means visitors which are searching the web for exactly what you are offering. If they come to your website through organic search and look around and leave, it means that keyword doesn’t convert, but if they come and buy, it means your keywords convert.

Commercial Intent

Keywords also reflect the buyer’s intent, and it is important to distinguish between getting traffic volumes and getting commercial intent with your keywords. By looking at keywords, usually it is possible to detect in which stage of buying cycle is the buyer.

If keywords start with “How to” or “How can I” or “What is”, etc. the buyer is in early buying cycle just informing himself/herself. Getting so much traffic volume in this case will do no good at converting terms.

If keywords include in its phrase “Affordable” or “product name” or “Cheap”, etc. the buyer might be close to actual purchase.

If keywords include in its phrase words like “Buy” or “Discount”, etc. the buyer most likely already decided to buy, and purchase will be made.

So, what can be positive indicator of how converting keyword really is? The most accurate information you can get on Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool under the “Suggestion Bid” column. In that column you can see real data about the commercial intent of a keyword or keyword phrase. Column uses average CPC (Cost-Per-Click), so if advertisers are paying those amounts of money per click, then traffic must worth it. But, when you see a keyword/phrase with a significant volume of traffic and a Suggestion Bid low in price, it means that keyword/phrase doesn’t convert well.

Those are just a few examples of how to detect buyer’s intent. I will write more about this later on this site.

Keyword Statistic Tools

You can start with Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner, which is free to use. You can analyze their suggested keywords and estimated search volume. I suggest you analyze Monthly search volumes because it represents real searches. When you choose particular keyword(s) to determine volume, set the Match Type on Exact to narrow down the results. You can also select different languages and countries to search for keyword phrases, and make a download of search results in CSV format, so you can analyze it in Excel or in keyword research tools.

This tool will show you only keywords that are directly related to the keyword you input (your seed keyword), but keywords that are closely, but not directly, tied to your seed keyword will not show to you, and those keywords are most profitable keywords in your niche market.

But remember that Google Keyword Planner is not designed to find profitable keywords/phrases, it’s designed to provide information for advertisers about the statistics and cost if they bid on a certain keyword. So, Keyword Planner is not a keyword research tool. How to use Google Keyword Planner was explained and illustrated later in this section.

Google Trends is also keyword statistic tool that shows you visitors’ interest in your keyword(s) by regions (in details), past trends of your keyword(s) and related searches. This tool is also free to use. It doesn’t provide search volumes, but provides an easy way to compare multiple keywords (up to 5) in any time period you assign, so you can see which keywords are seasonal.

These two tools will help you in a start to figure out how keyword research is done and to assist you to single out keywords in your niche market that look promising to you. If you want more serious approach to test and analyze your selected keywords on a comprehensive level, you should consider using a keyword research tool developed by independent producers. There are many tools out there, but I can recommend only a few on my Resource Page that I used over the years.

Keywords and Webpage Content

Now that you have a list of low-competition keywords, it’s time to put them to work for you. For each blog post/web page you will have one main keyword/phrase and some additional secondary keywords/phrases.

First of all, the most important on-page SEO ranking factor is your page title tag. Carefully and with a lot of thinking decide on your title tag, which will include your keyword/phrase (phrase – long tail keyword). Remember, long tail version has less competition and converts better.

Second, when you create URL for your page, use the title as the URL. Besides search engines optimization element, this will also provide your audience with clear information what content is on the page. Let assume your title of the post is “24 Ways to Profit Online”.

Your URL should be –

ADVICE – When creating URL for page – a) use dashes instead of underscores, b) use lowercase instead of uppercase letters, and c) avoid using dates in the URL.
Another important element of on-page SEO is the meta description. The description that appears below the title in smaller text on SERP (Search Engine Report Page) and should describe in more details what is on the page.

When writing your meta description use the main keyword phrase in it and a short description of what is on the page. Do not overuse a keyword (just one time – see below in the text, why) and write it as a short introduction to the page.

In H1 and H2 tags of your on-page SEO enter text, synonyms of your keyword (which you will use in sub-headlines of your articles). Also, use both, derivative and semantic words in those tags, the words that are related or tied to your keyword phrase, and you will get better ranking.

This will give you significant on-page SEO boost.
Articles on your webpage should be as thorough as possible. The reason is higher ranking by Google. Blog posts are usually 300-500 words long and they are ranked low, but the article pages with content of 1500+ words are ranked high. When you write on some social-media blog and you link it to your webpage, its ok to write short articles, but when you write articles for your webpage it should be of high quality and in-depth. That will give you a competitive advantage over others from your niche market.

Beside, longer articles attract more links and also keep visitors to stay longer on your website page, which is good thing, because Google is also taking those things into consideration when ranking a page. In other words, the longer the visitor stays on your page the better ranking your web page gets.

Also, longer content provides Google with more information about the topic and the topic in relation to your title tag.

NOTE – You don’t need to include your keyword often in longer content. Few times is enough, but be sure to include your keyword/phrase as soon as you can in the article/page, at least in the first 80 words. The higher in the article you mention for the first time your keyword, the more consideration Google will give to linking up your web page to that keyword.

The other thing that matter is the length of your paragraphs and sentences in the articles.

Keep first few sentences of every article (on top of the webpage) as short as you can. Those few sentences are a great place to put your keyword/phrase for the first time. Research shows that most people, when visit any website for the first time, prefer to read short sentences just to get an idea about the content of the page. So, keep it short and sweet.

Try not to make too long paragraphs and too long sentences in your articles, because of the user’s satisfaction and better focus. Besides, content performance will be graded higher. Break up your articles in sub-headlines. Each sub-topic should be indicated separately (it helps content performance).

Also, insert in your sub-headlines related words/phrases to your keyword (the words that I mentioned earlier for H1 and H2 tags).

NOTE – DO NOT put too many keywords in the article. Only a few, as I suggested earlier, or you will have a problem with a Google Panda penalty.

NOTE - Google is able to identify synonyms for your keyword, so don’t waste time on creating a few web pages with articles, each of which, focusing on words from your keyword group. It’s a waste of time. Just create genuine, in-depth, long article and don’t worry. Google will connect all synonyms and rank you.

As you can see in my articles, my writing style, sometimes don’t let me to write shorter paragraphs or sentences, but I am trying. That’s a good thing.

Multimedia Aspects

Again, the research results come to rescue. Web pages with mixed multimedia content (graphs, charts, video, audio, etc) get higher search results and convert better. Google calls it – supplementary content.

Also important to know – when you add pictures, diagrams, etc. to your website/blog, don’t name them like Pic1, Pic2, etc. give them full name what they represent because search engines take that also in consideration. Those pictures are obviously related to your content, and by that related to the keywords that you target on that page.

Name the logo picture of your website as the domain name itself.

When creating pages, targeting both, the topic of article and keywords is a good move to achieve both – user satisfaction and SEO.

IMPORTANT – DO NOT over-optimize your text or you will have a problem with a Google Penguin penalty.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

This is a new technology developed by search engines with the aim to better understand what content is really on a web page and how it is related to keyword searcher entered. As expected, Google introduced LSI technology, which many other search engines adopted.

It focuses on synonyms and related words to the keyword on the web page. So, LSI determines the value of the site by estimating the relevance of the content to the searcher’s keyword/phrase. The logic behind this is search engines’ interest to reduce spam contents, and by that to provide the best possible results for users.

So, this technology has to be taken into account when creating content. Also, include, in the content, other related words to your keyword/phrase – semantic and derivative words, and try that those words are close to keyword in the text. Apply the same principle to anchor text – make sure those words and keyword are close to your link that leads to your web page. Anchor text is your article that you placed in the article directory.

Make quality, natural content, keeping in mind LSI principles and you will be just fine.

How to Use Google Keyword Planner

In order to use Google Keyword Planner you have to open account on Adwords. Don’t worry, to use this tool, you don’t need to advertise, but keep in mind that this tool was developed for advertisers to get information about cost they can expect when they bid for a certain keyword. This tool was not designed to extract profitable keywords, but it’s a good tool to search for new keywords, get traffic estimates for keywords, get average search volume for keywords and make multiple lists which you can save in CSV format and use for analysis to get new keyword ideas.

The downside is that you can’t research keywords by device types (desktop, mobile, tablet). Google had that option in older version, but the good news is that they announced that they are working on an update for new version of the Keyword Planner to include that option again.

Access Keyword Planner and Choose the Tool

After you login to your Google Adwords account, you will be presented with four different tools. Choose option highlighted in the screenshot below –

Keyword Research - Find New Keywords

Now, we will start to search for new keywords based on your seed word. I hope you remember from the earlier text that the keywords you get here with this tool are very closely based on your seed word, and you will get some useful variations which you will use in future analysis. Here you will not get completely new keyword ideas.

After you have selected a tool from previous screenshot, a menu appears with a list of options -

Keyword Research - List of Options

Let see what those options are.

Your product or service – This field is actually for keywords. List here your keywords (up to 3 recommended) which differ slightly but all related to your niche. Enter each keyword in another row.

If you enter broad, general keywords you will get a list of highly competitive head keywords and you will not have any use for it.

Your landing page – This field is for advertisers, but you can enter your web page to check for more relevant keywords.

Your product category – This field allows you to access Google’s internal database of keywords for major industries.

Below, in Targeting options you can select the country or region you want to check, language and search engine. By default, this option is set on the English speaking population from the US. If your interest is somewhere else, just set it up here. You can also add additional countries here, just click on the pencil icon. If you want to reach a wider amount of web users modify search engine to “Google and search partners”.

You can always modify these parameters later.

Negative keywords, is an option that applies to advertisers. Basically, it’s a field where the advertiser enters keywords on which he/she don’t want to advertise.

Keyword filters

Average monthly searches field - set minimum search volume.

Suggested bid field - is an approximate measure of commercial intent.

Keyword options - tells how broad results will be. This option I suggest you just leave as it is.

Keywords to include – an option.

Keyword Results Page

When all is set, click on “Get Ideas” button and you will land on the “Keyword Results Page” as shown below.

Keyword Research - Keyword Results Page

You can see two tabs – “Ad group ideas” and “Keyword ideas”. By default, the “Ad group ideas” are shown.

Here is what those terms mean.

Keyword (by relevance) – This is a list of keywords that are most relevant to your seed keyword (search Term).

Average monthly searches – In this column is an estimate of the number of searches for that exact keyword/phrase for past 12 months. This is monthly average, which doesn’t mean it can be applied for different months of the year.

Traffic fluctuates constantly. Some keywords are more seasonal than others, so, the monthly traffic could be lower or higher each month than the average result you see on the list.

Competition – In this column is shown how competitive the keyword is, relative to all other keywords. The results depend on the region and search network selected.

- If not much advertisers bid for that keyword, then competition will be presented as Low.

- If there are many advertisers bidding, then competition will be presented as High.

Suggested bid – This is an estimate of how much advertisers will pay per click for the keyword. The real cost will most likely vary. The number is calculated using CPC (Cost-Per-Click) that advertisers already paying for that keyword, taking into consideration region and the search network.

Ad impression share – This number is the total number of impressions received, divided by the total number of searches for the last calendar month.

With Download option you can save your list in CSV format for further analysis in MS Excel or in other Keyword Research Tool like SECockpit, etc. After you click on the Download button dialog box will appear and you can choose a file format and you can choose in which format your keyword list will be saved. You can save your list segmented by months (past 12 months) or you can choose just average monthly stats list.

Keyword Research - Keyword Results Download

Keyword Planner has a very useful feature that graphically presents traffic trends of keywords and groups for past 12 months.

Just hover with cursor over the graph icon (see below) and trend graph will pop up.

Keyword Research - Keyword Results Graph Icon

This option is useful to identify seasonal fluctuations and to determine popularity trends over a year period. For further trend analysis you can use “Google Trends” tool, which will do the same job but with a period measured in years.

Keyword Research - Google Trends

NOTE - The goal is to end up with a small list of refined keywords that will appeal to your audience. Around those keywords you will optimize your web pages, blogs, anchor texts, etc.

First, make a small list of keywords/phrases closely related to your niche, those keywords that you think you can rank for.

Then plug them into the Keyword Planner to generate long tail keyword suggestions.

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