The SEO industry keeps changing with each new Google's update. And, no doubt, these changes affect the very cornerstone of your SEO campaign — keywords. Are you keeping up?
Wave goodbye to the old-school ways, and learn the basic concepts of modern keyword research that you can't afford missing!
How to find the best traffic-rich keywords? How to discover the phrases your competition doesn't know about? And how can you do keyword research quicker with maximum results?
Here's what you'll learn in each part of the guide:
Part 1: The whole new way to brainstorm keyword ideas — See how the new niche-based approach to keyword ideas doubles and triples the list of profitable keywords in your SEO arsenal.
Part 2: New ample sources of keywords to go beyond Google Keyword Planner — Learn why Google Keyword Planner is not enough to get a powerful list of keywords and discover new tools you can use.
Part 3: New efficient metrics to hit only most money-making keywords — See why search volume can be a misleading metric and discover new factors to determine the quality of a keyword.
Part 4: The not-yet-used powers of competition analysis in keyword research — Boost your keyword strategy with a strategic approach to competition research
Before you dive into the guide, here are the tools you might want to install so to practice the how-to recommendations straight ahead:
Rank Tracker — the power tool for getting keyword ideas and analyzing them automatically. The tool includes 16 keyword research methods and lets you see how competitive every keyword is.
SEO SpyGlass — the backlink tool to help you analyze competitors' backlink profiles and see how hard it'll be to outrank them.
WebSite Auditor — the tool to check and compare your and your competitors' level of onpage optimization.
Old way: Main/seed-keyword limited approach
How do most people find their keywords?
This tactic proves to be not so effective, leaving you robbed of hundreds of potentially profitable keywords!
Say, if you hear the word "office furniture," you may have the following associations:
Chairs, tables, equipment, office design, cubicles, sofas, chests, movables
And here's what you'll see in Google Keyword Planner
None of the associations shows up, because Google Keyword Planner shows you the most closely related search terms only — and leaves you blind to so many keywords (and especially most profitable long-tails) that are also related to your niche and have lower competition.
New way: Get ideas based on niche associations
How do the savviest SEOs find their keywords? By focusing on niches rather than "naked" keywords.
For instance a person, searching for office furniture, may also be interested in:
How-to: Use multiple sources for niche-based keyword ideas
Here's what can help you in addition to your smart brain:
If you are an SEO PowerSuite user, things get easier: in Rank Tracker, you can press the "Suggest" button and pick the following research methods to collect ideas from the search engines:
Pro tip: Scan competitors' top content for keyword ideas
Check competitors' sites and blogs - you'll be able to find more keyword ideas and also spot if they target just the key phrases from the Google Keyword Planner or if they have a smart keyword strategy.
If you use SEO PowerSuite, you can scan the ranking competitor's page in WebSite Auditor. Just create a new project for your competitor, then go to the Webpages tab, pick the necessary landing page and let the tool collect the keywords from the content, title, description, etc:
Your niche-based list of keyword ideas should be complete by now and you can move on to the next step!
Old way: Google Keyword Planner worship
Using just a single tool to generate keywords is quick and easy, but at the same time you can miss some really good keywords that won't show up in Google Keyword Planner.
New way: Go beyond the mainstream — close Google Keyword Planner window
Do not limit your keyword research to the Google Keyword Planner — you can use dozens of free and paid tools to generate much more key phrases to choose from.
Here's a list of the most popular keyword research tools and services:
How-to: Generate hundreds of profitable keywords with Rank Tracker
Can someone bring all these powerful keyword research tools together? Sure!
For SEO PowerSuite users they are all here in one place — in Rank Tracker's special keyword research module. The 16 Rank Tracker's keyword research mechanisms (including Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Google Autocomplete, and many other methods), you are sure to come up with lots of untapped, low-competition keywords in minutes.
After you install the tool and create a project, you can:
1. Get keywords using multiple research methods (remember your list of niche-based ideas? Use it now to launch the research). The best thing is that you are not limited in any way — you can run research as many times as you need and save as many keywords as you want!
2. Set up automatic rank tracking after you finish your keyword research.
Pro tip 1: Focus on long-tails to please the Hummingbird
Essentially, the role of the Hummingbird algorithm is to better answer those longer-tail queries users are typing in Google, that's why if your pages are better optimized for the conversational queries, you have higher chances of top rankings.
Pro tip 2: Use keyword modifiers and dig for more ideas in Google Webmaster Tools
You can get more keyword ideas by using such popular modifiers as
In addition to finding new keywords, you can boost your site's traffic by using this often ignored technique — optimize your site for the keywords you rank for at the 2-5 pages of search engine results.
If you're like most people, you have a handful of pages sitting on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th page of Google.
Sometimes you'll find that you're even ranking on Google's inner pages for long tail keywords that you're not even optimizing for. And when you give these pages some SEO, they'll usually hit the first page within weeks.
You can easily find these 2nd and 3rd page keywords in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
First, login to your GWT account and click on "Search traffic" on the left sidebar. Choose "Search Queries" from the menu:
To find the keywords on the 2nd and 3d page, sort the list by "Avg. position":
Next, set the number of rows to show "500":
Keep scrolling down until you start to see an average position of about 11. Then, take a look at the keywords that are ranking in those positions. Put any promising keywords into Rank Tracker for further analysis.
Old: Choose keywords based on search volume and competition
Evaluating keywords based on search volume and competition from the Google Keyword Planner doesn't take much time, but is it a good way of finding the right keywords in 2014? This way can be misleading since:
New: Apply new effective metrics for keyword evaluation
So here are the criteria to rely when choosing keywords:
If you haven't heard about long-tail keywords yet, you'll love this discovery! Those longer (3+ words) phrases can't boast huge search volume, but they are:
Do you want your website to bring more sales? Then stop choosing keywords based on the search volume, focus on the commercial intent. Even if you have a lot of traffic, but most of it comes from the informational search queries, your sales may be lower than expected. But with little research, you can find keywords that will bring real buyers to your web pages!
So here are the words to look for in your keyword lists:
Quick sale words — those are the keywords people type in when they are completely ready to make a purchase. So choose key phrases that include such words as:
These words will usually bring you sky-high conversion rates.
Product description words — people use these words to find a bit more about the products they are interested in. They are not quick-converting words, but may perform well in the longer run:
Focus on these 2 categories and be more careful with informational keywords (how to.., best way to.., I need to..) and keywords that are unlikely to convert (free, torrents, etc.).
Finally, you can apply the search volume metric for keyword choice! But it's better to rely on the searches to competition ratio, also known as the keyword effectiveness index (KEI), as that's how you'll spot the words with the highest search volume and lowest competition. Read on to learn how to do this in a couple of minutes!
How-to: Use Rank Tracker to sort out keywords
Rank Tracker is super easy and quick when it comes to analyzing big lists of keywords. Here's what you can do with the help of the tool:
Pro tip: Detect keywords with higher commercial intent by looking at their CPC bid
One of the tricks to define the money-making words is to look at the estimated cost-per-click bid:
As you can see, some keywords cost times more compared to other related ones. This means that more people compete for these words in Google AdWords, since they bring them more conversions and sales.
If you are doing your keyword research, pay attention to the "Cost per click" column (you can also find it in Rank Tracker tool):
Old: Limit your competition insight to "Competition" numbers
Competition analysis often ends after people look at the "Competition" column in the Google Keyword Planner. Some people go a bit further and analyze the PageRank of the competing pages on the first page of Google.
If you are doing the same, you risk wasting time and money on keywords that are too hard to rank for. What you really need is strategic competition research for your keywords.
New: Strategic competition research — smell-test your competition
To finalize your list of keywords, you need to understand how hard it will be to outrank competitors for each of them — this is the best way to evaluate your true opportunities.
Here are the factors that you need to check for the top ranking pages that pop up for your main keywords in Google:
The search engines consider backlinks as votes for a certain page, so the more links your competitor has, the harder it may be to outrank this site.
The second thing to look at is the quality of on-page optimization of the competing pages — scan their titles, descriptions, content, internal link anchors, etc. to tell whether they've been doing good on-page SEO.
Users love unique and useful content and so does Google. Inspect competitors' page for quality content.
Finally, check the age of the competing domains, their Alexa rank and see how popular they are in social media.
Depending on the amount of keywords you have, checking all these factors for competing pages can take all of your time. Read on to learn how to check the competition factors in a single click!
How-to: Using the keyword difficulty tool for competitive research
The keyword difficulty tool in Rank Tracker will check the top organic results for every keyword in your project. By looking at multiple metrics, the tool will show how difficult it is to rank for a keyword.
Pro tip: For deeper analysis of competitors, use SEO SpyGlass and WebSite Auditor
If you want to get a better picture of your competitors' SEO, check their sites in SEO SpyGlass and WebSite Auditor.
Using SEO SpyGlass, you'll be able to see the quality of competitor's links and decide if you can beat such a backlink profile:
And using WebSite Auditor, you'll tell how well your competitor's pages are optimized for the chosen keyword:
Congrats! You've worked hard on the keyword research process and put together a list of lucrative, low-competition keywords that will bring you lots of conversions.
But if you still struggle with the research, it's just the time to get your Rank Tracker license and let the tool find awesome keywords for you!