How To Do Keyword Research

Conducting proper keyword research from the beginning can mean the difference between ranking well for a keyword with just excellent on-page SEO or not ranking at all. Learning how to do keyword research is actually quite simple once you know what you should look for and what you should avoid. Due to having covered this in an article on this website titled, “A Comprehensive Keyword Research Tutorial”, I’m going to simply discuss what I’ve already gone over in that article.

Tools You’ll Need

All of the tools below are free to use, so you do not need to worry about making any investments.

  • The Google Keyword Planner: This is what you’ll use to find keywords. You’ll need to create a free Google Adwords account in order to use it.
  • The Moz Toolbar: This is what you’ll use to estimate the competition level of a keyword. This toolbar only works for Firefox and Chrome, so you’ll need to use one of those browsers.

How To Do Keyword Research The Simple Way

While there are more advanced methods that you can use that provide better results, this method is simple and provides decent results in a short amount of time.

Step 1: Perform A Search Using The Google Keyword Planner

This will require you to have a Gmail account connected to Adwords. If you don’t have one, get one.

Now, to log into the Google Keyword Planner, follow the steps below.

  1. Log into the Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  2. Press the tab “Search For New Keyword…“.
  3. Type any keyword (really, any keyword related to the topic of your article) into the “Your product or service” box.
  4. Scroll down and press the blue “Get ideas” button.
  5. Press the “Keyword ideas” tab.

Step 2: Select A Keyword Based On What You Think Your Site Can Rank For

Try looking for a keyword by organising the keywords in the “keyword ideas” tab by “Avg. monthly searches“. Generally, the keywords with the lower searches per month are much easier to rank for as other search engine optimisers tend to target the larger keywords receiving 10,000 searches per month. Remember to select the keyword that is the most relevant to what you’re looking for and move onto step 3 of this keyword research tutorial.

Step 3: Determine The Keyword’s Competition Level

This is the part of the keyword research tutorial that I’m sure will intimidate a lot of people, although it’s not as difficult as it sounds. In order to estimate a keyword’s competition level, you’re going to want to look at several different parts of the search engine results pages (SERPs), which are the search results for the keyword that you just searched for.

Avoid Using A Keyword If The Following Appear

  • Google Maps: If Google Maps appears in the SERPs, it’s best to avoid targeting that keyword.
  • Google Images: I typically avoid keywords that bring up Google Images.
  • Paid Advertisements: The ads you see in Google are actually from advertisers using Google Adwords (these are called pay-per-click advertisements, or PPC for short). If you notice that the page is filled with these advertisements, then the keyword you’ve selected may not be the one for you.
  • Google Entities: I wrote an article about Google Entity as the topic is rarely discussed on other websites, but they’re essentially just special boxes that appear at the top of the SERPs when you search for a keyword. If you would like to get a better idea of what they look like, view the images in my article titled, “What Is Google Entity & How To Become One”.
  • Sitelinks: The image If you search for a keyword and see 1 result with 2-8 smaller results with a “more results” link under it (sitelinks), then avoid these keywords. Sitelinks appear for websites that dominate that keyword (usually because it’s a brand name that web users are almost always looking for when they search for that keyword, as I discuss in my article, “How To Get Google Sitelinks The Easy Way”).

Determining If Your Website Can Compete For A Keyword

Determining whether or not your website can compete for a keyword can be done by doing the following:

  1. Use the Moz Toolbar on your website and take note of the Domain Authority (DA). This is not a factor is Google’s algorithm, although it serves to estimate your website’s authority.
  2. Go back to Google (or the search engine you’re trying to rank in), type in the keyword you found, and activate the Moz Toolbar. You’ll notice that a bar appears under each result with the sites’ PA and DA, so you’ll want to take note of that.
  3. Here’s the hard part. You’re going to want to compare the DA of the results in the first 7 positions to your own website’s DA while scanning the results for instances of the exact keyword (not variations) being used.

Once you’ve done that, you’re going to want to make a decision to either avoid or use a keyword based on the following results:

  • High DA & Exact Match Results: Avoid
  • High DA & No Exact Match Results: Possibly Use
  • Low DA & Exact Match Results: Use
  • Low DA & No Exact Match Results: Definitely Use

While everything in this keyword research tutorial may sound complicated right now, you’ll actually find it rather simple once you get the hang of it (I can personally quickly scan keywords in the SERPs in a matter of seconds as I’ve used this method several times). Now, it’s time to move onto the next part of this guide.

Next In This Guide: Understanding Keyword Density In SEO