Keywords are the building blocks of search. Using the right keywords is vital to driving relevant and valuable traffic to your website.
Before you can optimise your website, you need to know what your ideal audience are searching for. This will help you make sure your content appears in search for the terms they use but also help you understand what they are interested in and ensure you’re creating content they want.
Using appropriate keywords in your content and code will help you drive the right traffic to your website.
Search engines measure the use of words and phrases in various elements on your pages to determine relevance to search queries.
In this guide we’ll show you:
What keyword research is
Things to think about when choosing keywords
How to find great keywords that your audience is searching for
Exporting & organising keywords
Even more keyword research tools
What is Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of the most important activities you can undertake to improve your visibility in search engines.
Researching keywords in your niche gives you the opportunity to understand your customers, what they search for, the terminology they use most frequently and how to target them with basic SEO practices.
The key to good keyword research is focusing on relevance, being creative and finding tools that work.
Things to think about when choosing keywords
Keyword Search volume
During your research, you are likely to find that broad terms have more people searching for them. ‘Living off-grid’ is searched for more than 22,000 times per month, but if you target this keyword, you’ll be going up against Wikipedia and some big sites that have invested a lot in SEO.
These popular searches make up only about 30% of searches, the remaining 70% are ‘long tail’ (four to five words in a phrase). Long tail keywords are more specific, often questions and help searchers find more relevant results.
More specific long-tail terms like ‘how to live off-grid,’ have a lower search volume (Google Chrome’s Keywords Everywhere add-on shows 3,600 monthly searches) but the competition is lower too.
And if you get even more specific the competition is likely to decrease further, giving you a better chance of gaining visibility for that keyword.
Keyword Research Competition & Difficulty
Before you decide which keywords to target with your content, you need to understand how difficult it will be to beat the competition to the top of search results.
Keyword research tools can help you with this but one of the best ways to get a feel for a keyword is to search Google and take a look at the competition.
What are their listings like?
Does the title or description make you want to click?
Does it look like they optimised their title and description or had the search engine pulled some relevant text from their page content?
Are they big brands or portals with big budgets for marketing?
Let’s Get Started with your Keyword Research
When I start keyword research I generally begin with some scribbles on paper. I think about what I have to offer and who my ideal audience is.
Let’s say you’re thinking about keywords for a homestead blog. What are your audience going to be searching for?
Homesteading, living simple, self-sufficiency, how to grow…, canning secrets, how to can…, off-grid living, offgrid systems, how to live off-grid, benefits of…, organic gardening, farming with kids, gardening with kids, homesteading with kids etc
Once you have a good list you can start finding out if any of these keywords actually have people searching for them. Sometimes the results are surprising!
There are a lot of keyword research tools available but my favourite by far is the Keywords Everywhere browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox. It’s free and works on Mac OSX or Windows.
By installing this small add-on you can see search volume, CPC (Cost per Click for paid advertising) and a competition score for Adwords. Technically the competition score isn’t based on organic search but it gives us a good idea.
Follow these steps to get started with your keyword research
Install Keywords Everywhere
Go here to install Keywords Everywhere browser extension. You’ll need the Google Chrome or Firefox browser installed.
Follow a short process to get an API key that will allow you to actually get data when you search in your browser.
Enter one of your keyword ideas into the search bar, take a look at the data for that keyword, take a sneak peek at the search listings to check out the competition and look at the keyword suggestions on the right.
Add keywords to your list by clicking the stars
Adding keywords is simple, just click the star and that keyword will be added to your list of favourites that you can access and export. You can also use the handy ‘Add all keywords’ button to import the whole list.
Upload a list of keywords
Already have a list of keywords and just want to find out if people are searching? You can just add your list to the Keywords Anywhere tool to see the search, cost per click and competition data.
Just click the K in your browser toolbar and select Bulk upload keywords.
Export your keywords
It’s always a good idea to keep your keywords in a spreadsheet somewhere so you look at your data, sort it or import it into other tools like Adwords or Google docs. Click the K in your browser toolbar and select ‘My favorite keywords’ to view your list of saved keywords. When you’re happy with your list just export it as an excel, pdf or csv file.
Organise your data
Once you’ve exported your keyword list you can start to work with it. Think about the sort of content you want to create or the posts you’d like to optimise for search. Group keywords by topic so you can easily find relevant keywords for each post or page in your data set. I create a new column in an excel or Google sheets file and create categories that match my blog categories, this allows me to sort and filter the keywords and find exactly what I’m looking for whenever I’m optimising content.
Plan your content
One of the best things about doing keyword research is getting a better understanding of what my audience is searching for. With data in hand, I can plan posts I know people want and make sure they’re optimised with keywords that people search for.
Putting your keyword research to good use is the next step. We've created a complete guide to optimising your website pages and posts to make the most of your work - you can check it out here. Or, if you want to take a deeper dive and really get to grips with the foundations of SEO, you might be interested in our SEO Bootcamp.
More Cool Stuff About Keywords Everywhere
Keywords Everywhere even works on other search engines like YouTube:
And even Amazon:
*note this data is still based on Google search volumes
You can customise the results
Set different locations and currencies as well as selecting which search engines you want to see results on. Just click the K and select ‘Update settings’.
A good way to sound out the competition is to analyse pages that appear in search for keywords in your niche.
A search for ‘Make Money Off-Grid’ showed that longer posts from popular niche sites were at the top of the rankings, even though the specific articles weren’t optimised all that well. The result at number 5 was pretty well optimised with the keyword in the meta title, description and post title/heading 1.
To analyse a page just visit it in your browser, click the Keywords Everywhere K and select ‘Analyze this page’.
You can filter the results by keyword length and select ‘Found In’ to see keywords used in titles and headings.
Even More Keyword Research Tools
There are soooo many keyword research tools available. Here are our favourite keyword research tools to help you on your way to understanding what your customers are searching for on the web:
Feel free to comment if you have any questions, or ask our community here.