With so many posts out there on keyword research, you may wonder, why do you create another one? Well, I feel that almost all of them are inherently missing one important piece of information and that is “how to do it step by step”.
So other than banging your head, now you can take action and follow this guide step by step. It’s simple, actionable and easy to follow. So let’s jump into it.
Before you start doing keyword research, you need to determine what type of site are you going to create? By “Type” I meant whether it’s going to be an affiliate or e-commerce website or you are a local business or something else.
The process of keyword research is little bit different for different types of sites. This is very important to understand. Many people follow the same procedure for any kind of site they create and fail eventually.
Anyway, so the type of keyword research I am going to talk below is specifically for sites that are monetized with adsense, amazon, clickbank or promoting any kind of affiliate offer.
This is NOT a guide for ecommerce website or local business websites. I am going to cover that in later posts.
Step 1. Brainstorming keyword Ideas
Do you think keyword research starts with GKP? The answer is “No”. It starts with your brain. You 1st need to brainstorm some topics which you’ll later use to expand your research.
So, how the heck this brainstorming process works? There are so many topics I can think about!! How should I start? I know, I know. Let me walk you through these steps.
You can start brainstorming in two ways:
a) Listing topics you are passionate about or good at
b) Finding topics that other people are looking for.
We’ll try both the ways. Let’s explain this whole process with an example:
If I am to list topics in which I am passionate about, I can think of a couple of things such as watching movies, coin collection, hiking etc.
I want you to take a notepad and start writing these topics in which you are good at.
Next, You want to see what other people are looking for. There are couple of ways to do so.
a) Looking in to the forums:
No matter what topic you think of, there’s a forum for almost everything. So you need to look in to the forums 1st. The simple process is to go to Google, pick a broad keyword you can think of and add the word “Forum” to it. Here’s how it looks like:
Search string: keyword + Forum(s)
I did a search to find “skin care” related forums and found these results.
Next step would be to make a list of 2-3 popular forums in that niche. Take a look at the number of posts in each section, views
etc and you’ll understand which one is a popular forum.
Now you want to take a look at some of the topics in that forum that sound like a keyword and jot those down in your notepad. For example, I went to that skincare talk forum and under “basic skin care” section I found topics like Self tanners for face, Redness around the nose area, Best Spot Treatments etc.
Don’t worry about perfectness or keyword length, search etc. Just Jot down whatever you feel like. From just one or two popular forums you’ll be able to brainstorm several hundred ideas.
b) Ebay and Amazon Categories
These are another great source of keyword ideas. Here’s the link to ebay category page. You’ll be amazed to see so many keyword ideas. For example, here’s what I found from one of ebay categories
You can also dig deeper into one niche and find other keyword ideas within that niche. For example, After clicking “Nursery Decor”, I came to this page:
So more keyword ideas to be added in to your list!
You can apply the same procedure for Amazon too. Look at the amazon categories and also in the best seller section and take note of ideas. Once again, they don’t have to look good or organized. Just keep adding ideas to your list.
c) Spying on competitor sites.
You can also gather ideas from some of your competitor sites. For example, in the skin care niche you can take example sites such as total beauty and plug that site into the GKP. Here’s what it look like:
This technique is especially useful for clickbank products. Most of the time CB products get a lot of search for their domain name keyword. So once you put the domain in GKP it will show you a lot of keyword ideas.
For example, one of the popular clickbank products is “Venus factor” and their official page is http://venusfactor.com. Once I put this url in GKP and sorted the result from high to low, This is what I got:
Did you think of so many keyword ideas? I am sure “No” would be the answer. So this is another way, you can brainstorm keyword ideas. You can also use “SEMRush” to see which keywords your competitor are ranking for and generate ideas from there.
d) Wikipedia Table of Contents
These are another great source of keyword ideas. For example, I did a quick search with “skin care” and came up with this page . When I scroll down to the page , I saw ideas like this:
e) Google Auto Suggestion:
You may be familiar with this technique. You can type some keyword in Google and it will come up with other related ideas to enrich your list! Here’s an example search with the word “skin”.
f) Analyzing the Private Blog Network Sites:
Often time you’ll see many sites are using PBN links to build backlink to their sites. They typically use exact or thematically matched keyword to create the backlink to their client sites. This can give you a better idea on what keywords other people are targeting
To do so, you need to find websites who has got a lot of links from PBN sites. Then go to each of those PBN sites and take a look at all the posts and anchor texts within that!
For example, I got this site from a website’s backlink profile and after analyzing the blog posts on the home page, I came up with ideas like this:
So, By Now You should have a large list of seed keywords in your notepad if you have followed these instruction so far :). There are other ways to come up with keyword ideas such as watching TV, going for shopping, asking friends and family etc. But the above mentioned sources will help you to come up with the most ideas.
Handy Tools for Brainstorming:
Thankfully there are couple of tools to make the brainstorming process easier.
This is an excellent tool for brainstorming. Go to the tool and type in any broad keyword and hit “Kw search”
In the above example, I did a search with “skin care” which brought me keyword ideas like these:
You can also click on any of these keywords to get more ideas!
Another cool tool for brainstorming ideas. Just head over to the tool and type seed keyword:
With the same example keyword, it came up ideas like these:
All the bubbles are clickable and you can explore more keyword ideas
Step2. Expanding Your Keyword Research
The structure of affiliate or adsense sites is as such that there is usually one main keyword and other related long tail keywords. So the 1st step here would be to find an appropriate keyword for the “home page”. The keyword should have some characteristics which I have discussed below:
Beyond Search Volume and Competition…
Although both search volume and competition analysis is important, there are other things you should keep in mind for the selection of main keyword.
Keyword should cover a specific niche
The keyword should be as such that, there will be many other ideas that are closely related to that main keyword.
For example, If you find a keyword “how to tie a tie” which has over 550,000 monthly searches. But wait a sec.. ask yourself , “what else can you write if you are to make a site surrounding this keyword?” I am sure you can’t go deeper. So this is not the keyword you are looking for.
Instead, you want to find a keyword for which you can generate at least 20-50 other post ideas. One example of such keyword can be “how to get rid of acne”. You can find lots of other ideas surrounding this keyword. I think you get the idea now.
CPC and Other Metrics-
For Adsense sites, you need to choose a keyword that has a good CPC. I recommend choosing keywords with CPC $1.5 or more. Because, you’ll not get the actual rate as shown in GKP. Consider 30-40% of actual CPC.
For Amazon sites, Make sure there are at least 10+ items available on Amazon with 4.5 star or more. Otherwise, you won’t have many items to review. I don’t really care about price of the item.
For Clickbank sites, it’s not necessary to pay attention to gravity score. Some people say higher gravity products are good, which is a total myth. Some of my best converting products are in 5-15 gravity range. So for your keyword, try to find a related product which pays $20+ commission and have a gravity of 5+.
Buying Intention or Commercial Intent
Your keyword should have some sort of buying intention. To understand it even better, put yourself in a searcher’s position. Now think, you are searching for “how to tie a tie”. What would you do with this information? Is there any buying or action taking intention behind that keyword? I think “No”.
But how about you are searching for “how to get rid of acne”. Why are you searching for this keyword? Obviously you are looking for a solution to your acne.Either it can be a product, or program, ebook or whatever. So when this person lands on your website for this query he/she is most likely to click on your adsense ads or products affiliate link, in other word, they are most likely to “buy” something!
Remember we talked about “venus Factor” above? Those keywords are buying keywords. Why? Because people are searching by the name of the product. Either they have heard about it somewhere online, or may be watched it on TV or heard from friends etc and they are probably in a mood to check out this product.
So understanding the buying intention is equally important. In summary, Once You find a good keyword that match the search and competition score, then ask you these two questions?
a) Can I write at least 50 other posts that are somehow related to this keyword/niche?
b) If I were in this searcher’s position would I be willing to check out this product?
If your answer is yes, then you have found the right keyword.
How to generate more Keywords from your seed keyword’s list?
Obviously, most of you are already using tools like long tail pro, Market samurai etc. Though I am not a great fan of any of these tools, but still long tail pro is better than many others.
Remember you have gathered a list of seed keywords in the notepad? It’s time to play around with those !
Put some of those keywords into Long tail Pro.
No need to fetch “exact match domains” as they are not important anymore. Under “Apply Filter” section, Select “average Local searches” select 2000 to 15,000 (You can put any number but that are what I prefer). Next, select the number of words “2”. Hit “Generate Keywords”.
Let LTP fetch the keyword
ideas for you. It mainly uses GKP for pulling keyword data. Once the fetching is complete, the next step would be to do the competitor analysis.
Step3. Competitor Analysis
Before you do any competitor analysis, you need to know who your actual competitor is/are. There are few misconceptions regarding competitor analysis.
Misconception1. allintitle:”keyword” is your competition.
Some people will say, if you do a search with allintitle:”keyword”, the number of results returned by Google is your competitor. This looks like this:
This may be one of the factors, but this is not the exact measurement of your competition. Why? Because, the results you are seeing with this allintitle search, they are not necessarily ranking in top 10, even though they are using the exact match keyword in their title.
Do you think an average user ever search with allintitle? No one actually search this way. So there’s no way for someone to find these pages if they were not ranking in top 10. Hope that makes sense.
Misconception2. Competition column in Adwords is your competition.
Some people say, the competition column in adwords keyword planner is your competition. I am referring to this actually:
The competition column here is actually advertiser competition. This is not your SEO competition. The “High” or “Low” competition in this column means how many advertisers are competing for these keywords for PPC campaign. So this is nothing to do with your seo competition.
So, who is your actual competition then?It’s the Top 10 sites ranking for your target keywords.
So, in competition analysis we’ll actually analyze the top 10 sites metrics to see if we can come up with any low competition keyword.
Fortunately, LTP makes the process faster for you.
There is no exact formula for finding the golden keyword. But I will share my exact strategy below, so keep reading
Here are some of the key metrics you should look at while analyzing top 10 sites:
2) Page Authority
3) Number and Quality of backlinks
4) Moz Rank
5) Check if similar site is ranking or not.
You need to understand, how relevant these top 10 results comparing to the search query. Understanding of “relevancy’ is a perception skill which will grow over time as you do more keyword research.
To understand it even better, take a look at the page titles of the ranking pages and see if they are using the exact match keyword or not.
Also visit the pages and see what type of content they have written, content length, social share etc.
If you see that the results are not using the exact match keywords, then it’s a good indication for you.
Authority of the Website:
The Next thing to look at is “Page Authority”. The lower the PA is, the weaker a page is. Usually PA less than 25 is a good indication of low competition. So you want to see many such PA’s in top 10.
Another thing to look at here is the presence of authority website. In the above example, you can see many authority website such as webmd, mayoclinic, Wikipedia etc are ranking in top 10. So this tells us that this keyword is obviously competitive.
If you are not sure whether a site is an authority website or not, then take a look at the domain authority column. Anything over 80 can be considered as high authority website.
So if you see lot of pages with DA 80 or above, then you should avoid that keyword. Ideally, you want to see many pages with DA less than 50 in top 10.
Home Page Ranking or Not?
Next thing to look at, whether the “home page” or an “inner page” is ranking. Home page ranking in top 10 is an indication of strong competition. So if you see too many home page URLs in top 10 then you should avoid that keyword.
Number and Quality of Backlinks
Number and quality of backlinks is another important criteria. The higher the number the stronger the page is usually. So, target is to see many pages in top 10 with less number of backlinks.
To analyze the quality of backlinks, Take the top 3 to 5 results and enter the URLs in opensiteexplorer.org
Click on “Search”.
When the results are returned, set the filters to see all external backlinks (as shown below) and click on “filter”.
Now take a look at the backlinks column and the PA, DA metrics beside. You don’t have to analyze all the backlinks.
Just take a look at the top 10 backlinks and their PA, DA. If you see the links are from low Page authority sites then it’s a good indication for you. PA less than 20 is usually good.
You also want to see some other things such as linking domain. If the top linking domains/page are web2.0s, QA sites, cheap directories etc then you can consider that as a positive sign for you.
Similar sites ranking:
This is not absolutely necessary but it gives you some sort of surety about the ranking. Sometimes, you’ll find results where all other metrics will match but there is not any similar site ranking. By “similar” I meant the type of site you are about to build.
This case can be found often for “Ecommerce” keywords. One example can be, “Numbing Cream”. If you take a look at the top 10 results you’ll see:
So, even though other metrics are very low, I don’t see any other affiliate site ranking in top 10. The top results are usually ecommerce results which give me a feeling that Google is probably giving more preference to ecommerce results than affiliate results.
Now, you must be wondering, what’s the exact figure I should take into account or when should I avoid a keyword.
So I have set up a rule for me that I follow every time I do keyword research. Check my preferences below:
Step4. Gathering Secondary or LSI Keywords and Organizing
Now that you have found the main keyword, it’s time to find other related keywords. It’s not 2011 where you can go far with a 5 pages website. Your goal should be to create a website which carries some sort of authority.
So the higher number of quality article you can publish the higher the authority will become over time. You’ll be ranking for other long tail keywords too which will drive more traffic as well.
Keeping that in mind, you need to look for other keyword ideas. Other than finding some random low competition keyword, you want to keep the keywords in an organized way which is popularly known as “SILO Structure”.
This is not absolutely necessary but I prefer to do it because it helps search engine to understand the architecture of the site and rank for other themed match keywords.
To understand this structure even better you can check out this article.
For our above example of “best tanning lotion”, I would structure the site as following:
How did I do it? I went to Google and searched for different tanning lotion types and put those as category keyword. I will expand my search using those category keywords to find other related sub-category keywords.
Long Tail Keyword Generation
They are very important and it’s not hard to find such keywords. I don’t put much research effort on long tails. You can use a tool like Scrapebox or Ubersuggest to find long tail keyword ideas for your posts. Keep everything above 200+ monthly search volume and try to fit those into your posts.
Wrapping it Up
So this is how you should complete your keyword research. How do you do your research? Do you check anything else? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!