The 5 Step Process To Great Keyword Research

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Attracting new visitors to your website begins with some words being typed into a search box.

Identifying the right search terms for your SEO efforts is the most important thing that you can do to ensure that you have success on the search engines. Without the right search terms, the rest of your SEO efforts will be doomed to fail. Doing keyword research will eliminate the risk of targeting search terms that either have no search volume or are so competitive that the search terms will be nearly impossible to get onto the first page of Google. Focusing on the right keywords is absolutely the glue that holds the entire SEO process together.

When doing keyword research, it’s not simply about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right visitors to your site. The usefulness of this intelligence can’t be overstated. With keyword research you can predict market shifts and conditions, services that potential customers are looking for and content that web searchers are currently seeking.

This presents a huge opportunity to understand one’s audience with an extremely low investment in terms of money. This is one of the reasons that SEO offers such a high return on investment for the advertisers willing to do the work necessary to succeed in this marketing channel.

Here is a formula I recommend when doing keyword research:

Low Competition + High Search Volume + High Visitor Value = Reaching Searchers Successfully

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 5-step process for conducting great keyword research.

Step 1 – Put together an initial list of search terms that you think your target audience would use to find your website. If you’re stuck for ideas, you can go to a competitor’s website and simply right-click on their website. Then view the source code and look for the Meta keywords that are listed. These are the keywords that your competitor’s have deemed to be their most important searches and could be a good list to use as your initial starting point in addition to the list you have put together on your own.

Step 2 – Take your initial list of search terms and plug them into the free Google Keyword tool: Then once you’ve entered the target search terms, click on the search button to reveal a list of related terms and their corresponding monthly traffic volumes.

Step 3 – Export an excel file with the list of search terms that were displayed in the Google Keyword tool and do a data sort of keywords with the highest traffic and lowest competition. Once you have this list, you’ll want to do an Excel sort of keywords by the highest monthly traffic volumes. Then select five to ten keywords toward the top of the list that you think are most relevant to your website.

Step 4 – Once you have this initial list, you will want to check on the overall competitiveness of the search terms on your list. Google gives you a competition score in their tool, but be aware that this only reflects the paid search competition and isn’t relevant for SEO purposes. In this regard, you can find a free tool here: to check on the overall competitiveness of the keywords on your list. You will want to only target search terms that are categorized as low to medium in competition.

Step 5 – After you have your initial list of search terms, you will want to enter them into a rank tracking software so that you can keep track of your target search terms while at the same time understanding how your activities are impacting overall search rankings for the search terms you are targeting. Here is a free tool that can be used for these purposes:

Finding the right set of keywords to target with your search engine optimization efforts is the first and most important step in getting to that very important spot at the top of Google. So make sure to get it right and you will be well on your way to achieving success on the search engines.

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  • Mark Carey

    Google keyword Link in your article is no longer valid and displays a 404 error.

    Is there an alternative available or is this no longer available?

  • Scott McKirahan

    I’ve written about this several times. By far, the most important thing in analyzing keyword phrases to target is user intent. More than 90% of the people I see that are not having success are unsuccessful because of mistakes made in the market research phase – at least in eCommerce.

    In addition to intent, you need to also consider whether the product is available locally, if it is seasonal, if it is something that people need to see or feel before making a purchase. If any of those things come into play, your search phrase is a dud!

    Far too often, people become enamored with tools that point to high search volume, low competition keywords and forget to use the best tool ever created for market research – their brains. Are they typing that phrase in because they are looking to buy something online, and NOW?

    Bottom line: Is it something someone would type in with one hand while holding a credit card in the other? If not, keep looking for a better search phrase or, more often than not, a better product to sell online.

  • Ryan

    Keyword Research boils down to conversions rather than traffic and search volume. I’d always prefer keywords that are more targeted, even with low search volumes.

    Competition is also dependent on your site. If you have a site that have lots of authority, it’s easy to go after keywords that have medium to high competition.

    I agree with Scott, that the best keyword research tools are our brains. But instead of just focusing on keywords and search volumes, I would also spend some time testing keywords and conversions via PPC.

  • Kuldeep SIngh

    Here it is the new link of Google tool‎

  • Nikita

    Nice article! Thanks for sharing. It’s very useful information. But as the others before me has mentioned, the link to the Google Keyword tool in the article still returns a 404 error.

  • Aakash

    Article is touching on basic steps of keyword research but has missed the most important part of it. “Targeted keywords” are the way to a successful keywords research.. User’s intent behind the keyword is very necessary to know.

    If not, you’ll end up in getting tons of keywords with thousands of searches per month but the keywords won’t actually convert because they aren’t convertible keywords..

    Hence relying on keyword tool to suggest you keywords is not enough. Conduct a market research first and find out what are the keywords users would willing to type while searching for a particular query.

    Once you know the types of keywords used do the keyword research on those keywords and select the best ones.