I have a confession to make… when I first started doing keyword research, I did not enjoy doing it. In fact, I despised it!
I knew it was important, but I didn’t understand the proper way of finding good keywords or going about proper keyword planning.
And not only was I terrible at it, it was a stressful experience for me. The thought of choosing the wrong keywords and ruining my chances of ever getting ranked on Google's coveted first page was a stressful experience for me!
But like anything else, the more you do something the better you get at it. And I'm happy to say that I've not only come up with a very good method of doing keyword research, I actually enjoy doing it now!
So if you have an aversion to doing keyword research or don't understand how to do it, I think the information I'm going to share will help. It's made my life easier and has helped get my content consistently ranked in the upper echelon of Google's search results.
Before we get into the research methodology, let’s define what keywords are.
Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines to find things. They are also referred to as search terms or search queries.
When someone does a Google search, they are looking for a specific piece of information. This can be an answer to a question or finding information on a product. Google does its best to show you the exact answer to your search question.
But since Google can’t be 100% sure if the exact information you were looking for has been delivered, it gives you a list of results in order of the highest probability that it answered your query to the least likely. Without proper keywords on your site, there is no SEO.
That’s why it’s so important to choose proper keywords when adding content to your site. The more accurate Google sees your content as it relates to specific search queries, the higher it will rank your information in the search engine results.
Not all keywords are created equal. There are actually nine different categories of keywords, but for this discussion we are going to focus on three categories. These are:
1. Primary Keywords are the main keywords that you are trying to rank for. Consider these the main topic for which you will build your content around. The search competition is high, and these words on their own are difficult to get ranked for.
An example of a primary keyword would be: golf balls.
2. Secondary keywords are more specific to your niche and play a supporting role to the primary keyword. Their search competition is lower but getting ranked on these terms is easier.
An example of a secondary keyword could be: best golf balls.
3. Long-tail keywords consist of 4 or more words and usually contain your secondary keywords. These are very specific to the topic and have low competition, thus giving you the best chance of being ranked. These keywords are also excellent indicators of your site visitors' buying intentions because they are searching for exact search matches.
An example of a long-term keyword could be: best golf balls for kids under 14.
Take a look at the chart below. It shows an example using 'shoes' to highlight each keyword type and the likelihood of being ranked for each category.
As you can see, the 1 and 2 word phrases have a low chance of being ranked on their own because they are very competitive. This drives home the point of using all three types of keywords when executing your keyword research strategy.
Take note that although the long-tail keywords have low monthly search volumes, they account for almost 70% of all search engine traffic. This is where the gold mine of SEO ranking can be found!
And since every blog post you write has the potential to be ranked under multiple keywords, you want to make sure that after you choose your primary keyword, you have at least 4 – 6 secondary keyword phrases to support the topic.
Remember, the more keyword-rich content you create, the better your chances are for getting ranked under lots of different keywords. The best part is this is a bi-product of writing thorough content. It happens automatically.
Now that we understand the different types of keywords and how they work together, it’s time to dive into the proper way to do keyword research.
The first thing to do is come up with a starting point by generating some ‘seed’ keyword ideas. Seed keywords are the thought generators for the topics that you want to rank for.
For example, if you have a golf related website, some good seed keywords would be: golf balls, golf clubs, golf apparel, golf for seniors, best golf instruction and so on. Come up with as many seed keywords as you can since you will use these later for additional blog content and writing ideas.
Once you’ve generated your seed keywords, record them in a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets. This is going to be the starting point for building out our content. And we’re going to do that by getting real-world intelligence directly from Google.
Now just type each of your seed keywords into the Google search bar and take note of each of the related search items that appear in the drop down box. Using golf balls as our first seed word, we would see the following search results from Google:
Record the relevant suggestions into your spreadsheet. By relevant I mean, you probably don't need to include the golf balls near me since this is out of context for what we are trying to accomplish.
Next, take note of the additional search suggestions at the bottom of the search query page and record these into your spreadsheet.
Ignore any duplicate results and omit any irrelevant items that you feel are not necessary. Continue this process for each of your seed keywords until your list looks something like this:
For purposes of keeping this short and sweet, I have only used 3 seed keywords and I cut off the list after the first 20 items. Can you imagine how many keywords you can generate by doing this exercise with another 20 or 30 seed keywords? Your list will get very big very fast!
This is a good thing since our content is going to come from creating lists like this. Just look at how many different directions we can go with our writing now. And combine a few of these into a single topic and your content starts writing itself!
PRO TIP: Download the Google browser add-on called Keywords Everywhere. This will give you all of the keywords search results and allow you to export the search results into CSV format. It will build your spreadsheets for you! All I do is copy and paste the results of each seed keyword and put them all together in a single spreadsheet as shown above. Simple and easy!
Here's a nice demo video that shows the main features of Keywords Everywhere and how you can simplify your keyword searches:
Now it’s time to sort your list into primary and secondary keywords. This is easy to do since your primary keywords will be anything 3 words or less and your secondary keywords will be everything else. Select the primary keyword that you want to get ranked for.
In this case, we will use golf balls. So our primary keywords list could look something like this:
And our secondary keywords list could start looking something like this:
There's lots of different options to choose from so just use what you like and go from there. As you can see, we do not have a shortage of keywords to choose from! Before moving on, give your list a quick sanity check to be sure things make sense from a readability perspective and that your keywords are in the appropriate category.
Now that we have built a list of search terms that people are searching for every month, it's time to start collecting the appropriate data to be used for further ranking analysis.
Keeping with the free Keywords Everywhere tool, we will use the metrics based on monthly search volume, keyword difficulty and CPC price ranges.
This information is important to us because we are looking for keywords with high monthly search volumes with low competition.
To obtain this information, we will use another excellent tool from Neil Patel called Ubersuggest.
Ubersuggest is an awesome free tool that can help you find tons of new long-tail keywords in just a few seconds. It aggregates data from Google Suggest which provides keyword ideas similar and related to your searches on Google.
So for our golf ball example, we would see the following data:
We can see that our main seed keyword has very good monthly search volume but it also has a rather high SEO Difficulty score. And since the Paid Difficulty score is at 100, this means it will be virtually impossible to rank for this keyword.
This tells us that we want to try another keyword and look for a lower SEO and Paid Difficulty score to better our chances of being ranked. Without this critical information we would be wasting our time and chasing our tails trying to rank for a keyword that we've now learned is not going to happen.
One last tool to use in order to capitalize on the best keywords to use and to make sure our choices are validated is Google Trends.
Google Trends analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google across and compares the search volume of different queries over time.
As expected, the search volume is higher in the summer months and lower during the winter months. So now we know this keyword is seasonal and could yield different success rates depending on the time of year.
Having this information is extremely valuable because now you can optimize your content schedule and take advantage of the trend opportunities. It's a good idea to run your keywords in Google Trends fairly regularly so you can identify potential opportunities and capitalize on them when certain niche keywords are starting to trend upwards.
So far we've brainstormed a list of seed keywords, created a list of primary and secondary keyword lists, acquired data on search volumes and SEO competition and validated our keyword choice by looking at trend data. And we've done all of this by using a set of free tools. Not too shabby!
Now we need to start eliminating some of the items on our list to really identify the best keywords that will bring us the most value.
To do this we want to remove all keywords that have low monthly search volumes and high competition values.
Next, remove any keywords that don't fit with the theme of your niche and the affiliate products you are promoting.
For example, one of the keywords that we generated earlier is, 'are recycled golf balls any good'. The monthly search volume is low (50 searches on this exact phrase) so investing our time with this one would not be worth it. Especially when we have a ton of other much better options to work with.
And finally, we want to make sure our remaining keywords have commercial (or transactional) intent. Think of this as the level of readiness someone is to buy.
This not only has a direct influence our conversion rates but also our click through rates. We want to make sure we keep our site visitors engaged enough to stay on our site and to take a desired action. Most specifically, to buy something from us. For that reason, we want to find keywords with high commercial intent.
Way back at the beginning of this discussion, I mentioned that people use search engines to find answers to questions or information on products or services. The Navigational and Informational types of searches are being executed by people who most likely not looking to buy anything. They are looking for information.
In contrast, the Transactional search category indicates that people are looking for things to buy. These will be our highest value site visitors if we can get them to our site. And how do we do this? By targeting the highest value keywords that will rank on the first page of Google!
Take a look at the search data above. This information was acquired by using another awesome keyword search tool called Jaaxy.
We can see that by using one of our secondary keywords, 'best golf balls', we not only have an excellent chance of getting ranked for this keyword, but it also fits into the Transactional keyword category as well. This means people are actively searching this exact sequence of words and looking to make a purchase.
Congratulations grasshopper... You've successfully identified an awesome keyword to build content around and attract active buyers! < microphone drop >
Finding optimal keywords for your site is absolutely necessary if you want to optimize your chances of getting ranked high for your relevant content in the search engines, and perhaps even ending up on the first page. When this happens you'll enjoy the awesome benefits of having site visitors with a high level of commercial intent. This is how we, as affiliate marketers, make our living.
Keep this in mind, doing keyword research is not based on some secret formula nor is it overly complicated. The best way of going about it is always having a crystal clear definition of your target audience and then choose keywords around them.
Then all you need to do is come up with a list of primary keywords based on your target audiences' possible search terms, revise the list with the free keyword research tools discussed in this article and sort the list based on keyword difficulty and transactional intent.
The more you do this the better you will get at it. It may seem a bit overwhelming or confusing at first. That's because it is. But practice makes perfect and the best way to good good at keyword research is by putting these concepts into practice and start doing it on your own.
Your efforts will not be wasted and don't be surprised if you start seeing major spikes in your site traffic on Google Analytics. This is how to make it happen!
Please feel free to shoot me a comment below, especially if you have a method or process that you use for doing keyword research. Again, this is not an exact science and there are many ways to go about it. I'd love to hear your thoughts and how you do it!
Digital marketing has been a passion of mine for over 12 years. I am a successful online business owner and I have my own digital marketing agency. I love helping people learn just how amazing the world of affiliate marketing can be and I'm committed to helping folks make money online while avoiding the mistakes I made along the way.
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