How to do Keyword Research

We’re sure there’s no need to waste time persuading you that keyword research is one of the most profitable SEO activities that is essential to your marketing success. There’s also no shortage of great articles that give you detailed instructions on how to perform professional keyword research, rank high for thousands of targeted search terms, and greatly improve your traffic from Google. But here’s an interesting observation: each of these guides will give you a slightly different set of instructions. Not that any of them is warning you wrong, it’s just that there’s no universal approach to the execution of keyword research.

It will vary based on:

§  Your website (authority, number of pages, quality of content, etc.);

§  Your goals and objectives (branding, exposure, traffic, leads, sales);

§  Your budget, resources and deadlines;

§  Your industry and competitive landscape.

That’s why you may find it hard to respond to a random step – by – step guide you encounter. So, I ‘m going to take a different route and send you a keyword research framework that can be easily adjusted to whatever your priorities and resources are.

And we guarantee that the tactics and methods described below will vastly improve your traffic from Google.


Seed keywords are the foundation of your keyword research. They define your niche and help you identify your competitors. If you already have a product or business that you want to promote online, coming up with seed keywords is as easy as describing that product with your own words or brainstorming how other people might search for it. For example, let’s say you’re launching an online store with GoPro accessories. The Google searches (keywords) that you would first think of are:

·      GoPro accessories;

·      gadgets for GoPro;

·      GoPro add-ons.

·      That’s a no-brainer, right?


But what if you’re looking to start an affiliate marketing website, and you have no idea which niche to pick or which products to promote? The challenge of “taking a place” requires a large and thorough guide of its own. Although broadly speaking, there are two ways to approach this:


Start exploring the available monetization methods. Choose the product or offer you want. And then think of the search queries that people might be using to find in Google. Amazon, for example, has an extremely popular affiliate program. What you need to do is search their website before you find a product (or group of products) that you are willing to promote. Another choice is to locate affiliate marketplace sites like ClickBank or CJ that bind product owners to affiliates.

Just look at the products and services you use yourself and see if you can become an affiliate.


You can start with a super wide keyword and narrow down until you see an interesting opportunity. For starters, I’m going to pick “music” as my super wide niche. Ahrefs ‘ Keywords Explorer tool gives me almost 5 million keyword ideas for that seed keyword:

In order to “niche down,” we need to focus on longer and more specific keywords with the word “music” in them. So, I’m going to use the “Names” filter to narrow down the huge list of keyword ideas to those with exactly four words.


You’ve found out your seed keywords. But that’s just the tip of an iceberg analysis keyword. EOLBREAK The next step is to create a gigantic list of relevant keyword ideas, while also getting a good understanding of what people in your niche are searching for in Google. There are at least four good ways to do this.


If you own a website that’s been around for a while, you should already be ranking in Google for a few hundred keywords. Knowing what they are is a perfect way to kick-start your keyword research. A good source of this information is a report called “Search Analytics” in Google Search Console:

Search Console shows your average position for each of the keywords you rate and how many impressions and clicks you receive. They do not reveal the monthly search volume, however, and you are limited to 1000 keywords only. If you need more info, try the “Organic Keywords” report in the Ahrefs Site Explorer tool:


Chances are, your rivals have already done all the time-consuming keyword research work for you. So, you can study the keywords it they list and pick the best ones. If you don’t know who your competitors are, just put your seed keywords in Google and see who’s on the front page. Let’s do that with the seed keyword I discovered earlier, “Gifts for music lovers.” I see an interesting site ranking on the front page, Now plug the website into Ahrefs ‘ Site Explorer and browse the keywords that it ranks for:

Sometimes even a single competitor will give you enough keyword ideas to keep your SEO team busy for months to come. But if you’re looking for more, you can go to the Competing Domains study to find more places like your rival.

And we’ve just closed the “competitive research loop”:

ü  Put your seed keyword into Google and see who ranks on top;

ü  Plug their site into Ahrefs to see their best keywords;

ü  Find more relevant websites via the “Competing domains” report;

ü  Go back to either step 1 or 2.

The secret to almost endless keyword ideas is to repeat this process over and over again. And do not forget tapping into related industries. You may find a lot of great keywords that don’t necessarily relate to whatever you’re selling, but can still draw really targeted visitors to your website.


Good competition research is often enough to fill your spreadsheet with a lot of relevant keyword ideas. Yet if you’re one of the pioneers of your field, the approach isn’t quite feasible for you. You’ve got to look for some unique keywords that none of your rivals are hitting yet.

And the best way to do this is to use a good keyword research tool. Fortunately, there is no shortage of them on the market:




§  & quite a few more

Irrespective of the method you use, there is no ideal workflow for finding great keyword ideas. Only enter your seed keywords and play with the reports and filters until you find something good. Some software can derive their keyword suggestions from the following sources:

§  scraping keyword ideas directly from Google Keyword Planner;

§  scraping Google auto-suggest;

§  scraping “similar searches” in Google.

These approaches are fantastic, but they can rarely give you more than a few hundred suggestions. For example, UberSuggest only displays 316 keyword ideas for content marketing. There are also advanced keyword research tools (Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush) that run their own keyword database and therefore give you considerably more keyword ideas.


The keyword research strategies listed above are extremely effective and provide an almost unlimited number of keyword ideas. But at the same time, they kind of lock you “in the box.” Sometimes, just by testing your niche well (and adding a touch of common sense), you can find some great keywords that nobody in your niche is targeting. Here’s how to continue “out of the box” by thinking:

·      Get in the shoes of your potential customers: who they are and what is troubling them;

·      Talk to your existing customers, get to know them better, learn the language they use;

·      Be an active participant in all of your niche communities and social networks.


During the execution of the strategies mentioned above, you will find yourself sifting through thousands of keyword ideas and trying to decide which of them deserve to be shortlisted. And to help you separate the wheat from the puff, there’s a bunch of cool keyword metrics to consider.


This metric shows you the overall search demand for a keyword, i.e. how many times people around the world (or in a particular country) have put this keyword in Google. Most of the keyword research tools derive their Search volume numbers from Google AdWords, which has long been considered a reliable source of this data. But it’s not anymore. Over the last few years, Google has gradually excluded data from SEOs.


Consider the keyword, “donald trump era,” which has a search volume of 246,000 searches per month (according to Google Keyword Planner). The huge search demand means that if you rank at the top of Google for that keyword, you should get a massive amount of traffic. But let’s see what the results of the search look like:

A fair share of Google’s real estate is the immediate answer to the search request: 70 years.

These “uncommon” search results are known as “SERP features” and there are quite a few different types of them:

ü  knowledge cards;

ü  featured snippets;

ü  top stories;

ü  local packs;

ü  shopping results;

ü  image packs, etc.

Some of them will greatly improve the search traffic on your website, but others will snatch it from you. On the screenshot above from Ahrefs ‘ Keywords Explorer, you can see that 86 percent of the searches for “donald trump era” do not result in any clicks on the search results. All because the searchers are faced with an instant replay via the Information Token. The Clicks metric is totally invaluable in weeding search queries with a huge search demand but a horrible traffic. And we’re proud to have this measure as the only resource on the market.

We can also show you how many clicks are “stolen” by search ads: on the screenshot above, you can see that a fair share of clicks for “wireless headphones” go to search ads, while clicks for “best wireless headphones” are almost entirely organic.


Search volume and clicks are excellent indicators for understanding the success and usage of a single keyword. But that keyword may have a lot of synonyms and similar queries, all of which may be targeted by a single page on your website. Let me explain to you what I mean by an example. The keyword “I ‘m sorry flowers” is not very good in terms of search demand or traffic: