When I first launched my SEO workshops, one of the most complex tasks we’d cover was keyword research. In a class that went for four hours, I was almost certain we’d be able to dedicate our entire time to SEO keyword research alone. The most common questions were:
· What is a keyword?
· Which keyword research tools do I use?
· How do I find out which keyword is best for my business?
And while keyword research is something you can’t skimp on, you don't HAVE to spend four hours finding hundreds of keywords. In fact, you don't need MORE keywords, you just need MORE VALUABLE keywords.
What you want to find is a list of highly profitable keywords that your customers are using to search for you when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Not a long list of semi-related keywords.
What is a profitable keyword?
“Profit” means different things for different people, but essentially it means a keyword used by customers ready to convert.
But what is a conversion?
A conversion could mean:
- Email opt-ins
- Form Submissions
Remember: When you’re writing your website copy, your goal should be to convert the end user by getting them to sign up for, purchase, or leave their email address behind for you.
But how do you decide which keywords are best for your business?
I have a few steps for doing this, which I’ll share with you below.
Note: I don't include Google Keyword Planner in this post. Why? Because there are hundreds of posts that outline this process already! I want to show you what I do to find profitable keywords using tools that give you much more powerful insights than Google Keyword Planner does.
To perform your keyword research, we'll be using:
- Google Search (FREE)
- Facebook Groups (FREE)
- AHREFS, one of my favourite SEO tools (PREMIUM)
- Moz Bar, which is easy to install (FREE)
- Amazon.com (FREE)
- Excel to sort your keywords (PREMIUM)
How to do SEO keyword research using my favourite tools
1. Google auto-suggest
You know when you’re searching for something on Google and a bunch of options pop up as a drop down?
That’s Google’s auto-suggest function, and it’s a keyword pot of gold. Best of all? It’s free to use!
You can also find a bunch of these lucrative keywords at the bottom of the search results, and just below the search bar on page one of Google.
Step 1. Type your query into Google.
Step 2. Scroll to the bottom of your search results.
Step 3. Add any relevant keywords to an Excel Spreadsheet.
2. Facebook groups
Private Facebook groups are HUGE. I’m a member of several, ranging in topics from entrepreneurship, to yoga, to spirituality, to fashion, to memes and way more.
People are always asking questions within these groups, which can give you valuable insight into the needs of your customers.
What I have found is that while mining these groups for keywords provides you with a lot of ideas, these ideas might be best for blog posts, rather than for direct sales. BUT, these keywords are nonetheless just as valuable. Why? Because content marketing – which includes blogging – is one of the best ways to demonstrate your authority and expertise. And people will purchase from those they trust. You never know – it could be that blog post you end up writing that might convert a potential customer.
For example, a lot of the questions in one of my favourite groups are related to marketing. As a copywriter, I’d be interested in what people want to know about copywriting, blogging and SEO so I search for that in the left menu of the group.
Step 1. Join FREE Facebook groups related to your niche.
Step 2. Search for keywords related to your niche in the search bar within the group. For example “Pinterest” or “SEO” or “Copywriting” would be terms I search for.
Step 3. Add keywords and key phrases to your Excel spreadsheet.
Typing in the search terms above and based off the results within a Facebook Group, I’ve come up with the following content ideas:
- How to get clients from Pinterest
- Blog post/social media planner
- The best free video editing apps for your Vlog
3. Mine Amazon reviews for customer queries
Full disclosure – this is a tip I got from Copyhacker! And as the generous person that I am, I’m going to share with you one of the best ways to find profitable keywords that demonstrate clear buyer intent.
At the moment I’m writing website content for a fertility clinic. After Google auto-suggest, I visit Amazon reviews in search of lucrative keywords and customer queries. Why? Because before someone contacts an IVF centre, they’ll likely do their research online first.
Book reviews are on of the best places to really get inside the hearts and minds of a person interested in your business services and products. By looking up books related to your business industry, you'll be able to better understand what it is your customer wants and needs.
Step 1: Type your keyword into the search bar. For this example, I typed “fertility” and clicked on a book titled “It starts with the egg”.
Step 2: Scroll to the reviews section. Notice how Amazon gives you a list of keywords? Genius!
As you can see above, people are interested in talking about research, supplements and dietary requirements.
Step 3: I also think it’s really useful to read the actual reviews themselves and incorporate some of these turns of phrase into your own copy. This might not necessarily boost your SEO, but it can help boost conversions. Using the example of fertility, by reading these reviews, I discovered the following pain points as described by customers themselves:
- Conceiving after 40 is difficult
- Running out of money to afford IVF
- Lack of confidence in medical industry
- Unaware of how diet plays a role with infertility
With these pain points and concerns in mind, I could weave these complaints into the copy to demonstrate that I empathise with my audience’s concerns, therefore making an emotional connection. This is important because our customers want to know we understand them on a deeper level. When they can feel this, they're more likely to click that button to buy now or get in touch.
4. AHREFS to spy on your competition
I know that we’re supposed to espouse community over competition, but SEO is a battle to be on the first page, and ideally positions #1 - #3. So, using the example of my fertility research, I decided to analyse MelbourneIVF.com.au.
Note: AHREFS is a premium SEO tool that you have to pay for. It’s my SEO tool of choice at the moment, and well worth the investment if you’re serious about your SEO.
Step 1. Go to AHREFS.COM and input your competitor’s URL into Site Explorer.
Step 2. Click on organic keywords.
Step 3. BAM! A list of keywords my chosen URL is ranking for and corresponding URLs.
Step 4. You can also click on Top Pages to see which pages are getting the most traffic from Google.
Step 5. Add these keywords to your Excel spreadsheet.
5. Moz Bar to analyse meta data
Moz if one of my favourite SEO companies, and they offer the Moz bar for free. This freebie is a plug in you download that allows you to analyse the meta data on any web page, including the SEO title, meta descriptions and any header tags.
Step 1. Download Moz Bar here.
Step 2. Go to any web page you want to analyse. For the purposes of finding profitable keywords, go to those websites that rank higher in the SERPs for your chosen keywords. You could even get this list of URLs from AHREFS when using Keyword Explorer.
Step 3. Activate the Moz Bar by clicking on the M symbol to the right of your search bar in your chosen web browser.
Step 4. Click the magnifying glass and page icon to the left of your screen.
Step 5. You’ll see all of the meta data revealed.
Step 6. Identify keywords they’ve used in their meta data, and add to your Excel spreadsheet. We can see above that Melbourne IVF are using the keywords 'Melbourne IVF' (which they've conveniently made their business name too), 'fertility specialists', 'best IVF' and 'fertility treatments'. No wonder they're #1 on Google!
Step 7. You can also go back to AHREFS and cross-reference this data in Site Explorer.
Step 8. Add these keywords to your Excel Spreadsheet.
6. Prioritise your keywords
By now you'll have a quite a list of keywords and be wondering, "Camilla, how do I sort through these?".
Don't be confused. In this next step I'm going to show you how to select the keywords best for your business based on keyword search volume and competition.
Step 1. Open up AHREFS Keyword Explorer.
Step 2. Enter all of your keywords separated by commas (there's a limit of 100 per search).
Step 3. Under the metrics tab, you'll see the metrics for all of your keywords. You can easily see search volume, which is an important metric to have. But generally, high search volume keywords are highly competitive. Is it worth trying to rank for these keywords? How can you beat the competition, especially if you're up against Fortune 500 companies?
Step 4. Now it's time to assess the difficulty of your chosen keywords, and determine which keywords will be easier for you to rank for.
The first metric you see next to your keyword has the initials KD. This stands for Keyword Difficulty. This is an estimate of how hard it would be to rank for that keyword, based on a scale of 0 (easy peasy) to 100 (don't bother).
Step 5. Click on any keyword to assess the keyword further. What I love about AHREFS is that it actually tells you what you'd need to do to start ranking in the top 10 for that keyword. As you can see on this page, AHREFS estimates you'd need about 6 backlinks from other websites to start ranking (the font is very light and not easy to read
(If you're not sure what a backlink is, check out my post here - How to build SEO backlinks).
The big questions are: what keywords are worth going after? And which will be too hard to rank for? This all depends on how much time you have, or if you're willing to outsource your backlinking process.
Ask yourself: Can I realistically get 15 backlinks myself? How about 85? Do I have the budget to outsource this?
Step 6. Export your list to Excel and cull any keyword that's out of your reach (for now).
And there you have it! 5 easy ways to discover and prioritise highly profitable keywords for your niche. Now that you’ve got a list of potential keywords, you can start planning how you'll use them in your content. Will you use them on static web pages? Or are they better suited to a blog?