If you want to make money from a website, actually getting ranked on search engines is one of the most important parts.
There are different ways of doing this, but keyword research is the single-most important part of SEO and it is almost impossible to consistently rank a website without keyword research.
Keyword research might look a bit tricky, but it is deceptively simple and doesn’t take that long to learn. In this post, I want to take you through how to search keywords and how this benefits your site immensely.
What is Keyword Research?
At its most basic, keyword research involves identifying what keyword people search for when they are looking at information.
These keywords can then be used to determine what content you create for your website, and even the way that you write the content. In fact, keyword research is so critical that people shouldn’t develop a new campaign or website without first doing keyword research.
So, when you are looking something up in a search engine, you use some combination of terms to find it.
For example, your search might look something like this:
The words you use in your search are the keywords.
Keyword research is used to work out what keywords are relevant to your site and your content, and which ones are likely to make your site rank well.
To do this, people use programs like Jaaxy and Google’s keyword tool to look at the statistics of different phrases. In particular, they focus on how many people search for a given term and how many other sites out there use that phrase.
The key is to take this information and find keywords that a person can rank for on their website.
So, one of the most important things about any website is traffic – particularly if you are trying to make money from the website.
After all, your website isn’t doing much good if no one is actually visiting it.
The most common way that people are going to find your website is through search engine results, however, there are literally millions of different web pages out there.
To get people to even see your website, you have to rank well in search engines and this really is the point of keyword research.
Without keyword research, you are basically trying to rank for random keywords and against a wide range of sites. Odds are, you wouldn’t do particularly well in this venture. When you learn how to search keywords you can target your site better and increase your success.
For example, the keyword I mentioned above comes back with more than 500,000 results.
That’s a lot of websites.
If you were searching this term, you would probably only look at the first five or ten results.
If you were looking for very specific information, you might look as far as two or three pages deep, but most people don’t. In fact, people tend to use more specific keywords when they are looking for something specific.
So, if you can’t get on the first page of search results, you probably aren’t going to get much traffic.
Now, every page of your site ranks separately, so the concept is to find a decent keyword for each page and tailor the page towards that keyword. How do you do that? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in this post.
In reality, learning how to search keywords isn’t as hard as it sounds, and it is certainly worth the time.
Metrics are one of the more interesting things about a keyword. This term basically refers to the different information that you can find out about a given keyword, such as the amount of competition and the number of people who search for that term.
Generally speaking, you are looking for keyword terms that have low competition and high searches. However, it is almost always a tradeoff.
So, as the amount of searches for a given keyword goes up, the competition for that keyword will go up too. After all, everyone doing keyword research is looking for basically the same thing.
Now, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. There are basically an infinite number of keywords out there, so there will always be some high traffic keywords that no one has really discovered yet, so they have low competition.
Actually finding those is another matter altogether – and there’s no guarantee that the competition for those keywords won’t increase later.
When it comes to keyword metrics, everyone has their own preferences.
Some people look for high traffic keywords that have competition that isn’t too high. For example, Jaaxy measures keyword competition by a value known as the QSR. Basically, the lower the QSR, the lower the competition.
Many people recommend choosing keywords with a QSR of under 300. Now, 300 is actually pretty high for competition, and often new sites struggle to rank when the QSR is 300. This is particularly true if they are in a competitive niche.
Personally, I aim for a QSR of no more than 150 and preferably below 100 for most of my content.
Another approach is known as low hanging fruit. Here, people intentionally select keywords that are very easy to rank for, even if the traffic for those keywords isn’t that good.
The concept is that these types of keywords require very little effort because their competition is so low.
When it comes to choosing a keyword, it is almost always better to pay attention to competition first and traffic second. A high traffic keyword sounds great, but this is only relevant if you can rank for it. If you try for a high traffic keyword and aren’t able to rank, you get nowhere.
However, low traffic keywords also tend to be lower in competition, making it easier to rank.
Even if you rank for a keyword that only gets 30 searches a month, you’re still probably going to get traffic each month. This adds up over time, particularly if you have a large number of posts like that.
The Geography of a Keyword
There are different approaches to keyword research.
A lot of people basically take keywords at face value and just concentrate on the metrics surrounding them. In fact, if you asked people how to search keywords, many of them would only talk about keyword metrics.
However, even two keywords with identical metrics may be vastly different in other ways, and may have very different profit potential.
To start off with, you can really section off a keyword into three parts, the head, the body and the tail. The head is kind of like the main word in a keyword. If you were looking for basic information on a broad topic, you might type this word in. For example, this word could be coffee.
Search results for this word tend to be very broad and there is almost always a huge amount of competition because a one-word phrase can occur just about everywhere.
The body of the keyword is still pretty general, and it might be something like coffee beans or black coffee.
This is more refined, but it is still pretty broad.
The tail of the keyword is really what to keep in mind. This is why people refer to long tail keywords. A keyword with a long tail might be something like ‘health benefits of coffee’ or ‘green coffee bean extract’.
The longer the keyword, the more specific it is and this is important.
Longer keywords tend to have lower competition because there are so many different combinations and variations of them.
When people search this type of keyword they also have the most intent behind their search, which I’ll go into in a minute. In general though, the more intent to purchase a reader has, the more likely that you will make a sale.
Intent, Conversion and Traffic
Internet marketers have a huge focus on traffic.
They often think that choosing high traffic keywords will mean that they will get lots of traffic.
It would be nice if it worked that way, but it really doesn’t.
The thing is, even if you rank for a keyword, traffic isn’t guaranteed. Furthermore, traffic doesn’t actually mean you’ll get conversions.
With most internet marketing, your whole aim is to sell things to people. Traffic is nice, but it isn’t really relevant unless the people who come to your page are willing to buy.
This is where considering the keyword itself is relevant.
Keywords provide some indication of the intent of the visitor. For example, if someone is searching for the ‘fastest way to lose weight’, they are more likely to want to buy something than someone looking for ‘weight loss success stories’.
The most effective way to get the sales you are after is to look for keywords that are transactional in nature.
This means keywords that indicate some level of purchase intent.
Precisely what keywords these are will differ depending on your niche. However, you should be able to look at the keyword and get some idea of whether that person is interested in purchasing.
One way of doing this is considering whether that person is trying to solve a problem. The first keyword I mentioned ‘fastest way to lose weight’ is certainly an example of this. The searcher is looking for a fast way to lose weight.
If you can provide a product or service that helps to solve this problem, there is a good chance they will buy it from you.
You can sell things to people who don’t have purchase intent, but it is much harder and takes more work.
If the person doesn’t have purchase intent, you basically have to step them through the purchase process, which involves comparison shopping, research and multiple exposures to the product.
Some sites do this, but if you are getting started in internet marketing, it’s best to stick to keywords with purchase intent, because these are easier to convert.
Things to Avoid
When you find a really good keyword (or just one that seems to fit really well), it’s tempting to use it for multiple pages on your site.
For the most part, this isn’t something you should do.
The problem is, when you do this, your pages end up competing against each other, which doesn’t really help you at all.
Generally speaking, you want each page to be ranking for its own separate keyword.
Now, you won’t be able to completely get around competing against yourself. After all, your pages aren’t just trying to rank for a single keyword. Instead, they’re trying to rank for all of the keywords in them.
Odds are, if you have a website on a given topic, there are some keyword phrases that most or all of your pages will contain.
For example, on a site about internet marketing, most pages will have keywords like ‘making money online’ somewhere on the page. However, this isn’t something to worry about. Instead, you need to put your focus on the keywords that you are trying to rank for.
Another thing to avoid is keywords that don’t make sense grammatically (this includes misspellings).
Keywords like the one below look appealing because they often have high traffic and low competition. This makes sense, because a lot of people don’t search in complete sentences.
It can be risky to use keywords like this for a few reasons.
Google prefers quality. Google is increasingly ranking sites based on quality, and this includes your spelling and grammar. If you have a site where you are often spelling things wrong, that practice will probably harm your rankings.
People don’t like bad grammar (or spelling). Website audiences tend to be pretty picky when it comes to grammar and spelling. If your spelling and grammar is bad, you’ll probably lose a lot of your audience and your site will look unprofessional overall.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to matter that the people coming to your site spelled the term wrong to get there – they still expect websites to get it right.
To make matters worse, if you do get your spelling and grammar wrong, it tends to make your site look untrustworthy, and this decreases the odds that people will actually buy things from you.
Misspelled keywords don’t always work as intended. One of Google’s areas of emphasis has been on providing relevant search results. There are many outcomes of this, but one outcome is that Google will correct some spelling errors in search terms.
This correction is automatic, which means that people won’t even see the results for the misspelled terms.
Keywords and Grammar
This is a bit of an advanced technique, and you should only use it if you are familiar with keyword research and the English language overall.
I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t use keywords that are ungrammatical or that are spelled wrong. However, there is a bit of an exception to this for ungrammatical keywords.
When Google looks for keywords, it ignores punctuation.
This means that you can sometimes take an ungrammatical keyword and make it natural by the way you use your punctuation. This won’t work for every keyword, but it can sometimes be a way to make a keyword usable that wasn’t before.
Even though it has pretty bad metrics, this keyword is a good example of the strategy:
The keyword itself would look pretty bad in a sentence, but you could say something like:
Best Way to Make Money Online: Tips for the Uninitiated
As you can see, it looks completely natural in that context.
Honestly, this is an approach you should only consider if you find a really good keyword that happens to be a bit off grammatically.
A lot of people don’t bother to do this, and it certainly isn’t necessary for you to develop an effective and profitable website. However, it is one approach for how to search keywords, which makes it worth discussing, however briefly.
Using Keyword Research
The underlying concept of keyword research is that you will develop content around the keywords you discover.
As a general rule, you want to focus on a single keyword for each post. Now, some sites do more than that, but focuses on more than one keyword increases the risk that Google will think you are keyword stuffing, which can get your site penalized.
When you have worked out what keyword to use for your content, your aim should be to write this content based on the keyword.
This means that the content should try and solve whatever problem is inherent in the keyword. You also want to make sure that your content matches the intent behind the keyword.
For example, if someone is searching for information on how to do something, you don’t want to send them to a sales pitch for something that is only vaguely related.
Instead, you want to send them to a content page that focuses on how to solve that problem.
Whenever you use your keyword in content, you need to make sure it sounds natural.
This means that your keyword should sound like any other part of your text. Ideally, anyone reading your page shouldn’t even be able to tell what words are part of your keyword.
Writing naturally is more important now than it was ever before.
The reason is that Google’s algorithms now pay attention to the context surrounding how things are written. So, Google tends to penalize sites that are using keywords for the sake of using keywords.
Many websites use a call-to-action approach to turn their visitors into customers. This approach involves developing content and using this as a way to funnel users to a specific page or pages, which are used to promote whatever the site wants.
For example, this could be a product you are selling, a page to capture email addresses or something else entirely.
This approach means that you can turn the traffic from your keywords into conversions, even if there is a disconnect between what you are promoting and what the visitors were searching.
When you are choosing keywords, it’s critical to choose ones that are actually relevant to your products, site and content to start off with. Otherwise, you will end up spending a lot of time making content for your site that isn’t relevant and won’t help you get conversions.
One of the first parts of how to search keywords is figuring out what keywords to look at to begin with.
For any topic, no matter how specialized, there is a large amount of different keywords and keyword combinations that you could use to describe what you are after.
However, it can often be challenging to actually figure out what those keywords are.
The basic process of finding keywords is one that you will go back to often. You need an idea of some keywords before you even start keyword research, and you will often find that you need to find more because none of your original ones had good metrics (more on that soon).
There are a number of free and paid tools that can help you to find keywords.
One approach is a technique known as Alphabet Soup. This technique is based on Google’s attempts to predict what you are going to type.
When you search something in Google, the search engine will give you a short list of possible results based on what you typed and what people commonly search for. So, for example, if you were doing a website about coffee, you might start off with this:
As you can see, the suggests that Google offers here are pretty broad and probably wouldn’t all be relevant (unless you had a very unusual coffee site). However, you can drill down into these keywords further, like this:
Now personally, I don’t like any of these, because most of them aren’t very grammatical. However, if I rewrite one of them, we get an entirely new set of results, as such:
You can keep going with this for any phrase, basically for as long as you like.
Alphabet Soup is an interesting technique and it can reveal a lot of interesting information. However, Google wasn’t really designed to be used that way, so it doesn’t record any of the information.
This means you have to take screenshots or write it down manually if you want to remember what you have found out.
Another cool tool is Ubersuggest. Ubersuggest is actually developed for keyword research, so it does provide you with more information. It’s even set up to make it easy for you to copy all of the keywords it finds.
For the term coffee, Ubersuggest gave me 280 suggestions and you can select any of the suggestions for additional ones, like this:
Of the two, Ubersuggest is a better tool if you are really stuck for ideas, but be prepared to spend a while going through the outcomes it gives you.
Once you have an idea of what keywords you are interested in, it’s time to perform more detailed research.
Tools for Keyword Research
There are a lot of different tools out there for keyword research, and everyone has their own favorites.
One useful tool is Google’s Display Planner. This planner can give you a lot of additional information about keywords and the groups of people who search for them. It doesn’t give traffic information or much information about the competition, but there are other places to go for that.
Another similar tool is Google Trends. This lets you see the way that searches have changed over time. This tool can give you an idea about whether something is getting more or less popular.
Although it’s not too relevant, this is what the tool looks like for coffee.
Now, Google Trends won’t give you any idea about the actual traffic for a term, but it will show you relative traffic.
As you can see, coffee makers is a term that doesn’t get nearly as much interest as coffee itself (which kind of stands to reason).
I’ll admit, looking at trends for coffee is mostly pointless, but Google Trends can be very relevant for looking into keywords that may change in popularity over time.
For traffic and competition analysis my personal pick is Jaaxy (which I reviewed in another post). Jaaxy provides traffic and competition information about any keyword you search, in addition to a list of related keywords for you to explore.
In Jaaxy, the search for coffee as a keyword looks like this:
For Jaaxy, QSR is the main measure of competition, and lower numbers are better. Most internet marketers try to keep under a QSR of 300 or 200, with some looking at even lower QSRs, such as under 100 or even under 50.
Another tool is Long Tail Pro, which was discussed in detail in another post.
Long Tail Pro can provide a lot of valuable information, but it is a little trickier to use.
Both Jaaxy and Long Tail Pro offer trials where you can learn the software and figure out what works for you. Personally, I think that anyone new to internet marketing should at least try out Jaaxy, it is an amazingly helpful tool and is very easy to pick up and use.
For looking at competition, another interesting tool is Moz’s toolbar. This tool shows the competition present for the first page of Google for whatever keyword you choose, as well as a range of information about the specific sites competing for this keyword.
Another useful tool is SERP IQ. This tool provides information about the competitiveness of a keyword, as well as the search intent surrounding it.
A final interesting tool is Wordtracker Scout. This is actually a free tool that installs to Google Chrome. Unfortunately, it won’t work with any other browser, but it’s still worth checking out.
The tool provides information on the main keywords in the article that you are looking at as well as some other information, like the meta tag description and the title of the page.
The information provided can help you understand why your competition is ranking and can be useful for improving your own site. For example, this is the output that the tool provides for a coffee review site.
The tool also shows you information about some of the keywords on the site.
How relevant this information is will depend on what site you are looking at. As you can see, the keyword information isn’t too relevant in this case, because it is showing almost entirely one-word keywords.
Once you get more familiar with keyword research, there are more advanced approaches you can take to improve the process and improve your conversions.
One specific example, which I have discussed in another post, is the concept of a keyword matrix. This is an approach that helps people to keep track of their keywords and content as well as work out the different intent associated with various keywords.
Likewise, you can start to pay attention to what is known as the conversion funnel, which relates to the way that people move from first considering a product to purchasing. This funnel goes through four phases:
These phases are important, as they are each associated with different types of keywords and words within keywords and they can be targeted. Generally speaking, the further a person gets down the funnel, the more likely they are to purchase.
This is why many internet marketers target the desire and action phases, because this is the easiest phase to make a sale.
However, it’s also possible to start from the beginning and guide people throughout the whole process.
At any given moment, the bulk of website viewers will be in the early stages of the funnel, which also means that there is a lot of competition up there.
The reason for this is that the further people get down the funnel, the faster the process is, so they don’t stay in the desire or the action phases very long. So, most of the time a keyword related to lower down in the funnel will be easier to rank for, and once you get people on your site, easier to convert for.
You can really target any keywords in the intent funnel, and the best approach is simply to mix it up. Target some transactional keywords and some informational.
The thing is, even though the people in the early phases of the funnel aren’t ready to buy yet, if they come across your site you do start to have some influence on them, and they may keep browsing your site.
Online business relies on keyword research, so it is worth taking the time to learn it.
Even if you just pick a single tool to use, you can really help to boost the traffic to a website and improve your conversions overall.
There is no real secret to keyword research. The most important thing to do is to keep trying and keep learning. Over time the process will get easier and you will notice things about your keywords that you didn’t before.
And don’t worry – keyword research gets faster the more experienced you are at it.
If you’re looking at using keyword research for any type of website, one great place to learn more is a training site called Wealthy Affiliate. Through this site you have access to a wide range of training on just about every internet marketing technique out there, including keyword research. This makes it a great place for beginners and even for people experienced in the field.