SEO Keyword Research: The Complete Guide To Nailing Killer Keywords To Get On Google First Page!

[UPDATE: This post is part of a series on WordPress SEO written before the many updates by Google in the recent past. Though the info in this post are still very relevant, most of the tools and tactics referenced in this post have changed. You're therefore advised to use with caution.]

This is part 4 of our search engine optimization training series. I encourage you to read the previous entries.

In our last article we emphasized the importance of strategically placing the right keyword phrases in your content to effectively optimize your  wordpress blog. Having touched the WHY of implementing seo keywords in your content we want to shift our focus to the HOW in this our search engine optimization training updates.

But first,

What to Concentrate On In SEO Keyword Research

Ever heard of long tail, short tail and the other fancy words SEOs use when talking about keyword research? Do you know all of these have different impact when you are working on improving search engine ranking?

Some SEO experts classify SEO keywords into head and tail while others classify them into head, body and tail keywords. Not minding the classification here is simply what they are all about.

1. Head keywords are usually of one or two words. For example marketing, professional blogging, Amazon, etc. These type of seo keywords are most times brand names or general words. Though these keywords produce a greater percentage of searches every day the traffic generated from head keywords is usually not targeted.

2. Body keywords, which most seo’s put with head keywords are mostly a combination of two or three words. For example blog marketing tips; make money blogging, seo expert tips, internet marketing, home business etc. These types of seo keyword phrases get lesser searches than head keywords however; they are more targeted than the head keywords.

3. Tail keywords are most times referred to by many as long tail keywords. But the important thing to note is that these are keyword phrases of three or more words. These are searched far less than the head and body keywords. But from a search engine optimization point, they are far better in producing targeted traffic than the first two. For example, search engine optimization expert Houston, work at home business tips for single mothers, facebook marketing strategist dc, etc.

What you should note however, is that when you’re doing keyword research you should concentrate on “body” and “tail” keyword phrases and less on “head” keywords.

SEO Keywords Research: The Tools of the Game!

There are a plethora of tools you can use for keyword research. However, for this search engine optimization training, I want to concentrate on just a few free resources which I personally use.

Frankly, I don’t think you need most of the highly priced keyword research tools out there if all you want is putting your wordpress blog in the first page of the search engines. If you understand the strategy laid out in this tutorial, you can actually work on this whenever you’re creating your content.

However, if you intend to go deeper into search engine optimization as a professional offering SEO optimization services online then purchasing one of these keyword tools is a must. Also, if you want to speed up your keyword research and achieve quicker results then investing in a keyword tool is something you need to consider.

If any of the above applies to you here is a keyword tool you want to look into:

Having said that here are the keyword research tools I use:

1. Google Adwords Keyword Tool

This free keyword tool provided by Google has become one of the most accessed keyword tools out there. It returns results directly from Google’s own internal database of what people are searching for. Although no keyword tool is 100% accurate, Google’s own data is likely to be the most accurate. This tool gives you around 100 keywords. You can then dig deeper by taking some of the keywords it returns as seed keywords to find more body and tail keywords.

You can access the keyword tool here:

http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

2. Wordtracker – free version

This is similar to the google adword tool. While the google keyword tool returns a monthly search result this one gives you an estimated daily search results for each keyword. Though this tool gives you the opportunity to estimate the type of traffic you can potentially generate with a particular keyword phrase, I rarely use it except when researching for niche sites. Get the tool here:

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com

3. SpyFu.com

This one gives you some good intelligence for spying on your competitors. It helps you have an insider look at what advertisers are paying per clicks (PPC) for your target keywords on Google Adwords. As a general rule, if the cost/click hits anywhere between 50 cents and $3.00, it’s a good indicator that you potentially have a profitable keyword. Here is the link:

http://www.spyfu.com

4. Google Trends & Hot Trends

This is another tool from google that, if used well, can help you generate keywords that will generate a quick burst of traffic to your blog. This is very good if you’re running a news blog or a current affairs blog. Google Trends and Google Hot Trends basically show you which terms around the world are popular right now. There is a lot of useful information you can pick up with google trends and hot trends. There’s news volume, search volume, and several notable news articles displayed for you, along with where they occurred on the timeline. You can also see which countries, cities, and languages made the most searches. With Google Trends the work is already done for you. You just need to put it to good use. Get the tool here:

http://www.google.com/trends

SEO Keyword Research: A Step By Step Guide

Now let’s move on to a simple guide for keyword research. For this I personally use the Google’s Adword Keyword Tool and the Google Search Tool – two free tools from google! Here we go:

Step 1: Preliminary Keyword Research: Brainstorm

Ok, the first keyword tool you actually need for this is your brain! Oh, but that the truth! Remember, you’re writing for humans and people do not go scampering for some software before they look up what they want on Google! Right? So most times you need your brain to come up with the seed keywords for your keyword research.

This is quite easy if you know your target niche very well. You simply need to “think up” a few keywords/phrases people may enter into the search engines while looking for information about your niche.  For example, if you’re targeting the “credit card” market you may think of keywords like, “the best credit cards online”, “best credit card 2011”, “online credit card approval” etc. Write down a few of these and then proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Research the Demand

I usually do my keyword research having in mind the principles of demand and supply. I consider the demand as the number of people searching for information using a particular keyword/phrase while the supply is the number of webpages already targeting that keyword/phrase. To know the demand for a particular niche and the keywords to target, I simply take the keyword phrases I’ve brainstormed above and enter them into the Google Adword Tool. For example, using our topic in this article – search engine optimization, I entered, “how can i optimize my blog for the search engines” in the search box as shown below:

Keyword Research basics tips

Note that I have checked the “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” box.

And here is a graphic of the results:

keyword search results - seo

Ok, there was nothing for the phrase I entered but I’ve about 100 keyword phrases there to work with! Click on the “Download” icon and download this result.

Now, before going to the next step I do a little dressing up” of the list. If you’re monetizing your content with Google Adsense this “dressing up” is something you’ll want to do.

Here’s what you need to do:

Open the list of keyword phrases as an excel sheet. Then rearrange them in descending order according to “Competitors”. This will return the keyword phrases with the highest number of “Competitors” on top. To do this in excel you simply need to use the filter function.

Note: These competitors are Adwords advertisers targeting each keyword phrase. The idea is that the higher the competition the high they must be paying per click. If that is so then this can possibly translate to more high-paying adsense ads showing up on your content! Cool, right? ?

After doing this with the list I downloaded, this is how it looked:

Updated Keyword Research Results

The keyword phrases I highlighted are ones I considered as possible ones to use based on what I’m doing with this blog seo tutorial. However, before anything else I’ll need to analyze the competition.

Step 3: Analyse the Competition

In this step we want to analyze the keywords phrases bearing in mind these two questions:

Will this keyword phrase bring me enough traffic?

• Can I rank high with this keyword phrase?

To answer these questions I use the following formula to choose which keyword phrases to focus on:

At least 1,500 monthly searches

• Not more than 30,000 pages in Google “in quotes”

• Not more than 10,000 results for “allintitle”

The first criteria answer the question of traffic while the other two answer the question of ranking. Not doing this can result in a waste of time and resources because you might end up targeting a keyword phrase that is too competitive or don’t get enough searches.

The list of keywords you got from the Google adwords keyword tool already give you the approximate number of searches each phrase receives each month. And so using the criteria above simply trim the list removing any keyword phrase that is below 1500 searches each month and then go on to analyze for ranking.

For ranking you need to do two things, first, you need to find out how many people are using each keyword phrase on their pages. You do this by entering the keyword into Google in quotes. This will tell you how many other pages contain that exact phrase. The next step is to see how strong those other competitors are.

As we have seen in our previous articles Google and the other search engines usually give a tremendous amount of weight to the words appearing in the title of each page. You therefore need to see how many of those pages are also using the phrase in their title. You can easily know this by entering the following search command into Google:

allintitle:”keyword in quotes”

So let’s do this for our keyword phrases from step 2 above.

Before doing that I’ll open up the list of keywords and beside the “Competition” column I’ll create two more columns and name them “Competing Pages” and “Allintitle” like this:

updating your keyword research details

I’ll now go to http://www.google.com and taking each keyword phrase in the keyword list, I’ll enter them into the google search box with quotes.

For example, for the phrase “search engine optimization course” google returned 174,000 competing webpages:

researchkeywords in quotes

Take note of this number and write it down in the “Competing Pages” column against the keyword. Do this for all the keyword phrases.

Next take each keyword phrase and again enter them into the search box but this time enter: allintitle:”keyword phrase in quotes”  like this:

Keyword research with all in title checking

For “allintitle” you can see that this returned 9,070. Do the same for all the keyword phrases and enter them in the column named “AllinTitle.”

Here is a graphic after I’ve done these two steps for a few of the keyword phrases:

Keyword research results
Using the criteria above I’ve highlighted some of the possible keyword phrases I could easily optimize for in this wordpress seo tutorial!

All you need is to go through the list and note the keywords you can use in your content for search engine optimization purposes. Remove the seo keyword phrases that fall out of the bracket and then save your new list. These keyword phrases will now form the frame work for your content creation in the days ahead.

Ok, that is for now but before I sign off it’s important to point out again that researching and using the right seo keywords in your content is very crucial to your blog’s ranking. Targeting the right keyword phrase is the secret of this game. If you will use this search engine optimization training
guide as a game plan, I assure you that you will not need any SEO expert to rank your blogs and websites.

Over to you: What seo keyword strategy do you use? Is this search engine optimization training guide simple enough for even a dummy to use? Share your views in the comments below.

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50 Responses

  1. Chadrack, you are giving the very useful information about SEO. I have been posting here for some time and found the best solutions. I think keyword research is the main factor to capture it in right ways. There are some keywords which are not good to target, so choosing keywords is the most significant thing in SEO.

    • @bjohn,

      The whole essence of keyword research is about finding the right keywords. If you don’t care about keywords there is no need doing any research!

      By the way, what you regard as the right keywords is really relative. It all depend on your target market. If you noticed in the article I never mentioned anything about picking the best keyword to rank for. If you’re running a niche static site that will be neccessary. But as a blogger I believe going for the keyword phrases that will produce traffic and for which you can rank for is the best thing to do.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. I have never used Google Adwords Keyword Tool Chadrack, despite hearing about it before.

    A very useful article that’s given me a lot to take away with me to think about!

    Thanks for all the tips m8 :-)
    Christopher – Technology Bloggers Admin Team

    • @Technology Bloggers,

      Wow, it definitely shows you really do not care about seo. Frankly, I’ve used that tool to pick various keywords based on my target audience Every article I write on this blog is targeting a specific keyword! This tool has always been my #1!

  3. all i can say it is very insightful post i never thought how good the Google ad words,i cant wait to try this to my future works. thanks you so much for all the tips.

    • @Beth,

      Frankly, to me this tool is the best when it comes to keyword research. Yes, there are different paid tools you can use. But the fact is that most of this tools get their results from this tool. The only thing these paid tools do is to make the work faster and easier for you!

  4. Hey Chadrack!
    I really admire and appreciate your firm and well fabricated research on “How to find killer keywords”,i also use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for my keyword research,but in way you have described its use was just an awesome,for this i wanna bow down on my knees in front of you.Your idea is very much profound for getting the best use of Google Adwords,i have never ever maintain such kind of Excel sheet of data for the better outputs,i must say now i am gonna follow your tips on any cost.I don’t have words for giving you thanks.Thank you for sharing such a great,valuable,informative,considerable,educational and exciting knowledge with us.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!

    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua.

    • @Samuel,

      You just made go WOW! But frankly, I’m glad that you find this useful. I know many of us know about this tool but we use it differently. What I described here is not really my own system. Many other internet marketers are already using it. Most of these paid keyword tools are built on this system. If you’ve used any of them you will know that this is what they do. The only thing is that they are able to make things much easier and quicker.

      Thanks for the comment.

  5. Thank you very much for this tutorial … I spend great attention to select keys, your article helped me better understand mechanism of selection

  6. Hum… this is indeed a good method, but it’s just too “old school” for me. There are tools such as Market Samurai that will calculate all that competition data automatically. Although personally, I don’t even use those tools… I prefer using my SEO sense and trying to gauge the competitiveness of a keyword by eye. It’s not just about how many pages are indexed for a certain keyword, but most importantly it’s the relevance and authority of said websites.

    Whatever the method you prefer using to pick your keywords, it’s all about trying and testing. That’s how you develop a sense for the competition, and it gets a bit easier with each new experiment.

    • @Pedro Cardoso,

      Good method? Yes! Old school? Double yes! :)

      And I find it interesting that you do not use any of these tools but depend on your seo sense! Hmm, how did you get to use this? It’s because you understand how the whole thing work. Without that understanding your seo sense will amount to nothing.

      Can you see why this article is useful now even when it is old school? And about authority of ranking sites that is really true. But my aim is not really to displace these authority sites. I simply need to craft an inspiring and captivating description and once I can get into the first page I can *steal* some of the traffic from those authority sites! :)

  7. Loved the article, I am sure it will help a lot of SEO newbies out there. i would really appreciate if you could mention some of the best tools available on net for keyword research and in the future a good tutorial how how to ue the tools according to you!

    • @James H,

      The best tools? But is there really any that is the best? Well if you notice carefully, I refused to speak up for any as the best. I’m not trying to sell you any one here if that is what I wanted to do I would picked on any one and promote it as the best. But that is not my intention.

      What I’m doing is to present some usable ways you can do seo without recourse to any expert. And so for me I think the google adword tool is good enough. If you want some thing that will make thinks easier, then you may go for market samurai. I’ve heard good words about it but I’ve never used it. I’ve used some similar tools but from experience I think they all work on the strategy I’ve outlined.

  8. I think your keywords strategy is great and I don’t think that we can have the easiest one. Thanks for very detailed and full descirption as it is very hard to meet such one online.

  9. It is very difficult that you have to learn about all these steps of SEO . But this is important thing. I’will should be work on it .Thanks for your kind information

  10. Hi there. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a very useful tips you’ve shared here. Will make a good use of it!

  11. Great, sounds good you have a big point in this blog, it contains a good content.

    • @Janna, thanks for the comment. My aim here is to be happy knowing that others are getting something from what I’m doing. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice to the conversation. Will be glad to see more of you!

  12. Thank you for posting this article.. Very useful.

  13. Its important because you want to identify your target audience and make a website that has content relevant to what your audience needs. Keyword research doesn’t place the same relevance as it used to in search engines like google, for spam related reasons.

  14. If you do not know which keywords are being used in search engines by users how can you use those keywords on your title and content in order for search engines to index you in appropriate category and show you for those keywords when searched by the potential buyer/user?

  15. I like your information.thanks for this nice post.it is really amazing post..

    • @Hen Dos, thanks for the comment. Just wondering why you decided to break up your comment instead of just posting it as one. Were you having problems with the system or that was delibrate?

      On the questions you raised I think the post make things clears about using keyword phrases. Yes, many people are trying to game the search engines with keyword stuffing but that does not mean the search engines are not using keywords to determine ranking any more. And about knowing what keywords to target that’s why you need to do keyword research. Read the post again and you’ll discover how. Thanks.

  16. Wordtracker’s free tool and Google’s External tool are the most popular ones right now. But when it comes to SEO, you need good analytics. Specifically, you need to know the keywords through which people landed on your site.

    • @wooden bedroom furniture, of course there are different aspects to seo. There are different tools out there but the most important thing is for you to know what you’re after. Too much analysis can really lead to paralysis! :) sure you’ve heard that one before. For me there are specific things I focus on when doing seo and those are the things I’m presenting in this series.

  17. Write articles about your subject and post them to article websites, there are about 10 of those and you are allowed to reference your website in them. Just Google articles and you will find them. Look for forums on your subject and participate in them as that is where you will find people interested in your chosen subject. In fact, I learned a few tips on this website.

    • @Barossa Tours, thank you for the comment and glad to know you learn a few things here. About article marketing, not all article directories allow links in your content but you can reference your blog in your bio.

  18. Do you have any experience with SEO Powersuite’s rank tracker which is a keyword tool as well? I’ve been using it for a bit and find it great. Thoughts would be appreciated.

    • @Barry Wheeler,

      No, have never used SEO Powersuite rank tracker. I’ve only used CuteRank checker. Most times I simply refer to Google Webmaster tools.

  19. Thanks for posting this. I have saved it and will try some of the tools to help my blog get better search results.

  20. It’s really a good idea to do your research and put your figures into a spread sheet. You will have everything in front of you and will know exactly which keywords to promote. I have a static site and I wonder if it will be a good idea to build a new page around every good keyword ? Maybe there’s a better approach to it.

    • @Vince, you’ve just said it. Do your research, decide on the keywords you want to target and create your content targeting each of your keyword phrases for each page. If you do this very well your site will soon be point for your target niche as every page on your site will be targeting some thing related to your topic.

  21. I definitely agree with you when you say that “Google and the other search engines usually give a tremendous amount of weight to the words appearing in the title of each page.” In my 13cm x 21cm soft-cover Moleskine, when I write my 500 word blog posts, I always have the URL at the top of the paper page to constantly remind me to focus on the 2.5% keyword density for my article. The last three to four words of the hyphenated URL are always the post title and these same words appear in the first sentence, ‘alt’ script for the photo, and 2.5% throughout the 500 word post.

    • @Russell Davison, that’s really great. It shows you’re an expert on seo. Once you cover most of these areas your page is tightly optimized. Those most times I don’t really care about the keyword density of a thing. I simply focus on the main areas and sprinkle the keyword with synonyms all over the content. With that I ensure that the search engines do not raise false alarms about my content! :)

  22. Greta Point for seo ! you don’t do keyword research, you can run into the problem of writing content that promotes your site but doesn’t interest the audience. Keywords is part of the battle because, you want people to have a clear understanding of what you are offering.

    • @Barossa Tours, nicely said. Online content is really about keywords that’s why we use the search engines.

  23. Getting traffic to your website is the hardest part and paid ads are an expensive way of doing that. Here are some free resources that worked for me. Use Google’s keywords analysis tool and evaluate what keywords will help to get the maximum traffic to your website and then you can start with your offsite SEO.

  24. Getting traffic to your website is the hardest part and paid ads are an expensive way of doing that. Here are some free resources that worked for me. Use Google’s keywords analysis tool and evaluate what keywords will help to get the maximum traffic to your website and then you can start with your offsite SEO.

  25. Am really new in this field and i want more info on Keyword research. I want help from you please add me sir on gmail than we can chat easily. Waiting for your chat invitation. Thanks.

    ~ Amit Shaw

  26. There are some fancy keyword research tools out there but I still prefer Google’s free keyword tool! What you said above “Too much analysis can really lead to paralysis!” is exactly right! Keyword research has many levels and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Do the research, and then get on with it. The more familiar you are with a subject, the easier it becomes.


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