Keyword research is very important whenever you want to write for the web, especially when you want to get a lot of organic traffic (i.e. traffic from search engines). There are basically three reasons why you need to carry out keyword research:

  1. To find popular keywords (i.e keywords with high search volume)
  2. To find less competitive keywords and
  3. To find buyers’ keywords.

If you use popular keywords in your website contents and in the anchor text of your backlinks, your website will stand a chance of appearing in the first page of search engine results whenever surfers search for the keywords. This will likely happens if the competition for those keywords is not very high. For websites that make money by selling stuffs, keyword research will help them to target buyers’ keywords.

There are many keyword research tools but we are going to focus on the Google Keyword Planner external. This tool shows you how popular a keyword is but it does not show you how difficult it would be to appear on the first page of Google search result if you target the keyword. This keyword tool is easy to use and it provides you with information in every niche you can think of. It is free to use and you’ll enjoy it more if you create a free Google account.

Actually, Google designed this tool to help Adwords advertisers in their advertising campaigns, but it can still help webmasters who want to optimize their website contents for search engines. The tool provides you with the following results base on the keywords or url you type into it:

  1. Global Monthly Searches
  2. Local Monthly Searches
  3. Competition
  4. Approximate CPC (Cost Per Click)
  5. Ad Share etc.

Most of these results are meant for advertisers and not for webmasters who want to optimize their contents for search engines. The most important result for such webmasters is the “Global Monthly Searches”. This data tells you the number of monthly searches for a keyword, thus helping you to compile a list of popular keywords in your niche. Webmasters running Adsense can also use the “Approximate CPC” to target high-paying keywords.

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You can also use this tool to strip out all the keywords your competitors are using. You can do this by typing the name of your competitor’s website into the field provided.

The Advanced Options

The “Advanced Options” helps you to filter the results the tool will generate. Below are the various options available.

Location and language: With the location filter, you can target either keywords people are using worldwide or the keywords people from a certain country are using. This option becomes useful if you have a business that depends on local customers. The language filter will enable you to target language specific keywords.

Filter Ideas: With this, you can specify the minimum search count that you want Google to display. For example, if you want to see only keywords that have not less than 300 “Global Monthly Searches”, input the figure in the text box that tally with the “Global Monthly Searches” as shown below.

You can use the “+Add another” link to add more filter options like the Competition, Approximate CPC and so on which are mainly for advertisers and Adsense publishers.

Keyword Research

In our keyword research with this tool, we are going to be targeting keywords with a minimum of 300 searches per month. Let us assume that your niche is “Affiliate marketing” and you want to promote an ebook that teach people how to succeed in affiliate marketing (Warning: This is just an illutration. Affiliate marketing is a very competitive niche!). To properly target the right keywords, think of a phrase your target audience will type into a search engine if they want to buy an ebook on Affiliate marketing. A little brainstorming and I came up with:

  • affiliate marketing guide
  • affiliate marketing ebook
  • affiliate marketing tutorial e.t.c

Type the terms into the text box. Specify a minimum “Global Monthly Searches” of 300 and enter the Capcha code (If you have not created an Adwords account).

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WARNING: This keyword tool will give you the result in different ways. There are different search patterns you can use such as broad match, phrase match and exact match. These match types will give you different results and some can be very misleading. Here is an example of what I mean:

If we tick the broad match option for the keywords “affiliate marketing ebook”, the Global Monthly Searches will include searches that have been made for different variations of the original keywords. This can also include:

  • keywords that contains one or more words in the original keywords (i.e. “affiliate”, “marketing” or “ebook”) in any order and
  • synonyms and singular/plural forms of the original keywords.

This means that if you see Global Monthly Searches of 19,000 for the keyword we’re considering, it doesn’t indicate that 19,000 searches have been made for that keywords, this number includes other keywords that are different variation of the original keyword such as:

  • internet marketing ebook
  • marketing book
  • free affiliate program
  • affiliate membership site e.t.c.

The Broad Match is good if you’re trying to find a niche but it is not good when your purpose is to pick keywords for your niche.

If you’re picking keyword for your niche, always tick the “Exact Match” type because it returns the search volume for the exact phrases the tool generate. If you see a phrase that says “affiliate marketing guide”, then you know that the Global Monthly Searches is for exactly that phrase and in that exact order. When you click on the search button, the result generated is displayed below:

Choosing Your Keywords

The keyword you choose depends on a lot of factors such as your niche and the competition in your niche. Someone may decide to choose keywords with not less than 300 Global Monthly Searches while another person may set his value at 1000. If your niche is highly competitive, then it is advisable to lower your minimum search count.

The Google Keyword Planner was able to show us the popularity of the various keywords. It also suggested many other keywords that we might not have considered. But it fails to tell us the number of websites competing for those keywords. The competition you see in the image above reflects the number of advertisers that are competing for the keywords.

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TIP: You do not need to copy out the keywords with high search volume, instead export them to a spreadsheet like excel. To do this, tick all the keywords you are targeting and click on the Download tab (see the image below).

After you’ve downloaded all the results, the next thing to do is to check the level of competition for all the keywords. For a more accurate way of determining competition, check my article on “How to Determine the Level of Competition for your Keywords”

It is usually advisable to analyse the top 5 or 10 sites for every keyword phrase you want to target. This way, you’ll know whether you can beat the competition or not.

Once you’ve gotten good keywords with little or moderate competition, save them in a text file. These keywords are your greatest assets. With them you can optimize your articles and the anchor text of your backlinks. Write plenty of articles around those keywords and publish them in your website, article directories, blogs e.t.c. Also build plenty of backlinks with your keywords in the anchor text.

The Adwords Google Keyword Planner is a good tool to use for your keyword research, but there are some other tools that can cut the work short for you and give you more accurate result. But most of these other tools are not free, few examples include SEO Power Suite, Market Samurai, Traffic Travis, and so on.

Don’t forget to read this article on how you can determine how competitive a keyword is. If you miss this step in your keyword research, you may end up seeing yourself in a very competitive niche you cannot deal with.