(Last Update – 25 Oct 2018)
How many times have you read SEO articles that promise to share their best secrets on finding profitable keywords but leave you with high level stuff that has no actionable takeaways?
Must be far too many times.
But, this is not that kind of article. I am going to take a different approach and show you different ways to find profitable keywords.
There are 4 important things that you need to consider while doing keyword research
- Monthly Keyword Search Volume
- Keyword Competition
- Profitability of the Keyword
- Keyword Difficulty to rank
Before that, let’s quickly delve into the common mistakes people make while doing keyword research.
Firstly, most SEO experts suggest to find high volume – low competition keywords.
Do you know what!!
Such keywords do not exist anymore or exist rarely.
Simply because when there is a large percentage of people searching for keywords (with buying intent), you will have lot of competition who will be targeting those keywords to make money.
I have used SemRush tool to analyze the keyword in the above example. Difficulty score 1 means the highest difficulty on the scale of 0 to 1.
Most of the high volume profitable keywords will be incredibly difficult to rank for.
The second mistake that people do is to blindly aim for high volume keywords, create content, and spend months fighting it out to rank in the first page of SERP results.
High volume doesn’t always mean higher click through rates and in turn higher profitability. A lower volume keyword with a higher click through rate is actually more profitable.
For example, someone searching for best wordpress security plugin (less volume) might be a better lead than someone searching for wordpress plugins (higher volume) as he is looking for a specific item and is therefore more likely to purchase.
The third mistake that people do is choosing keywords that have little to zero commercial intent. Meaning the keywords are informational keywords with no buying intent. Readers are only looking for free information and therefore they are not profitable.
So, in this case commercial intent is more important than keyword volume. For example, recently I came across a friend’s blog that has 100,000 unique visitors per month from organic search alone.
However, the revenue that the site was generating was less than $100.
The blog is not making more money because it has chosen keywords focusing on keyword volume while completely ignoring commercial intent.
The fourth mistake that people make is to ignore the long tail keywords that come with lower search volume. The long tail keywords i.e keywords with less than 20 searches per month make up 90% of the search engine traffic.
In general, as search volume decreases, more long tail keywords appear and the conversion rate increases. The conversion rate for long tail keywords can be higher because longer search phrases show more specific buying intent.
See the below picture to understand the amount of traffic that long tail keywords drive.
This combined with the fact that an average top ranking page in Google will also rank for nearly 1000 more relevant keywords (search queries) since people can search for the same thing in all sorts of ways.
Which means ignoring long tail keywords with lower volume is to sacrifice tons of profitable
traffic that comes with them.
Now, that you are aware of the top four mistakes people usually make, let’s take a look at the keyword planning tools that will aid in our step by step framework to find profitable keywords.
If you are serious about finding profitable keywords for SEO, you should definitely consider investing in keyword research tools.
Although, keyword research tools cannot predict the profitability of the keywords with 100% accuracy, still they can be powerful and an excellent resource when doing keyword research.
But which keyword research tool is best for your blog/website?
In the past three years of running multiple successful blogs, I have successfully used the below tools to generate keyword ideas, spy on my competitors, understand keyword metrics, and prioritize the most profitable keywords.
So, let me quickly run you through them
- Google Search Console (Free) – Yes, Google Search Console, not Google Keyword Planner. We used keyword planner in the initial days but now Google shows the keyword volume in wide ranges with keyword planner. We stopped using Keyword Planner but Search Console still gives powerful insights.
- SemRush ($99 per month after 7 days Free Trial) – A market leader in the SEO industry. Their paid tool helps to do keyword research, track keyword ranking, check backlinks, and check competitor ranks.
- Ahrefs ($99 per month, $7 for first 7 days) – This is a great paid tool that helps in identifying profitable keywords, profitable keywords your competitors rank for, analyzing ranking difficulty, and calculating traffic potential.
- KWFinder ($29.90 per month) – This is a easy to use keyword tool to find keyword ideas, especially long tail keywords with low difficulty. May not be as powerful as SEMRush but does a good job for people on budget.
- LongTailPro ($25 per month after 7 days Free trial) – Another budget tool to research long tail keywords.
- UberSuggest (Free) – This is another user friendly free tool that helps you find more data on keywords – from volume, to seasonality, to cost per click data, to competition.
- Keywords Everywhere (Free) – It’s a free plugin for Chrome and Firefox that will suggest you the keywords on the go when you do Google search.
We keep the things very simple when doing keyword research.
3 level process of keyword research.
#1. Creating a list of seed keywords
#2. Expanding keyword list based on the seed keywords
#3. Prioritising profitable keywords from the entire list
We will use different tools for different purpose but you can stick with less tools depending upon your budget. The entire process of keyword research may take from 3 to 7 days.
You can bookmark this article or email the article link to yourself for the future reference.
Seed keywords are the foundations of your keyword research. These are the initial keywords when you don’t have clarity of profitable keywords.
You can start with 3-5 keywords to get a range of different keywords related to your blog.
If you own a blog/website that has been around for sometime, you should already be ranking in Google for some keywords.
Make your existing keywords as base of your keyword research.
Google Search Console is a powerful free tool that you can use to identify that seed list of keywords.
Within the Google search console, we are going to only at look the Search Analytics Tool for our purpose of finding seed keywords. This is how it’s interface looks like
Now, what is awesome about the Search Analytics Tool is that it lets you see the actual search queries (keywords) that brought users to your blog as well the number of impressions those keywords clocked.
Impressions is the number of times your blog/website appeared in the Google search results for various search queries. Google tracks impressions for hundreds search queries irrespective of whether they resulted in clicks.
As seen in the above picture, you can select the option ‘Queries’ and filter it using ‘Impressions’. There are other filters as well but our focus is only on these two.
The idea here is to look for those search queries with lots of impressions.These are the keywords that a number of people are using which means they have high visibility.
So, identify those keywords that have a high impression count. Look to find at least 5 to 10 keywords that meet these criteria.
Now, these can be our initial list of seed keywords.
Tip: By default, the search analytics tool shows you the search queries results of the last 28 days. So, be on top of it and use it consistently every month so that you have a new list of seed keywords.
Search queries, especially the ones that are in the form of questions are a great way to look for seed keywords.
Each of these queries have motivations & emotions of people behind it. Often, the queries are specific and centered around a users problem and so provide new keyword opportunities. Perhaps, one of the best but very underutilised sources of research for your keyword ideas.
Now, the best platform to identify such potential questions your audience might be asking for is AnswerThePublic.
For example, I went to AnswerThePublic and typed in the keyword “Wordpress Plugins” and the results were 90 questions which means you can have 90 new keyword ideas.
I can choose different keywords based on questions starting with When, Which, Where, Who, What, Why and How.
I saw this keyword in the How list “how to install wordpress plugins”.
When I checked the keyword in SemRush and pleasantly surprised by the results.
1300 keyword volume with almost no competition (0.04) and still having CPC of $2.99
Note: Low competition does not mean easy to rank. It only means that people are not bidding for this keyword aggressively on Google Paid Advertisement. You should check Keyword Difficulty Score to see how tough is to rank for the keyword.
I kept on building the list of seed keywords using this method.
Another method that you can use to generate a seed keyword list is to piggyback on your competitors. In every niche or industry, there are a few competitors who dominate the market.
So, why not take advantage of these competitors? Chances are your competitors might have already done the keyword research work for you.
For example, wpbeginner is the market leader in wordpress niche.
I have got two keyword ideas from the results shown by Ahrefs.
- Best website builder
- Best blog sites
When I was doing further research on “best website builder” with advanced filters in SemRush, I found some really long keywords with as high CPC as $117 per click.
I don’t want to hide anything from you. Look at the snapshot below.
If you are in wordpress niche then you can copy my research work in your list and expand with your understanding from here onwards.
Tip: Ahref’s Site Explorer tool comes with a feature called ‘Top Pages’. You can use this feature to identify top ranking pages of your competitors and their corresponding keywords. Since a single top ranking page of your competitor can rank for thousands of related keywords, you can focus on these top pages to create a more specific seed list.
The keyword research methods that I have shared above are very effective and provide you with a ton of profitable keyword ideas. But, if you want to go a notch above and uncover hidden gems that none of your competitors are targeting, you got to think outside of the box.
The best way to think outside of the box is to get inside the shoes of your audience.
Who are your audience, what bothers them, and how exactly do they search for?
This kind of brainstorming will help you uncover new keyword ideas.
For example, you have a blog in the gift niche. Traditional way of focusing on keywords would be ‘Best wedding gifts’, ‘Best birthday gifts’ etc.
While these ideas are fine, if you get inside the shoes of the audience, you can get more specific and can come up with ideas like
Take help from platforms like Quora.
That’s how many of us would search in real life. Don’t we?
Now, each of these keywords might have low search volumes but they should be easy to rank for. And when your post gets ranked for these keywords, you would also get ranked for other similar terms, which when combined, can drive a lot of targeted traffic.
Making all such keywords very profitable to go after.
KWFinder is one of my personal favorites that is completely focused on keyword research. It has three types of keyword ideas- suggestions, autocomplete, and questions.
Just type in your main seed keywords that you gathered from Google search console, competitor research, and your own intuition and hit the button “Find keywords” to explore hundreds of new keyword ideas.
They have lot of potential to become profitable keyword ideas as they bring in ton of traffic and therefore must be part of your seed keyword list.
If you have a good list of seed keywords in place, you can generate tons of keywords by using suggestion feature of KWFinder.
The best news is that KWFinder is pocket friendly. You can take their monthly plan at just $29.90
There is one more tool that gives suggestions based on the existing keywords.
UberSuggest : It’s a free tool, recently bought by digital marketer Neil Patel.
You can see the volume, the competition, and even seasonal trends for each keyword. By default the tool will spit out a hundreds of keyword suggestions.
You have to play with filters to find some good keywords.
Tip: From amongst the suggestions, look for keywords that are specific indicating a user buying intent and therefore are profitable keywords. Don’t worry about volume though, remember what I have said about long tail keywords?
Your blog/website’s success relies heavily on the keywords you chose to target. It’s therefore important to think creatively to come up with ways to get new keyword ideas, building upon your seed list.
You don’t have to buy all the tools but it’s worth trying all the FREE trials to figure out what works for you.
If you like the tool then you can continue using at just $25 per month.
Right now, keep generating keyword ideas in an excel sheet.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are are commonly found together within a single topic and are semantically related to each other.
LSI keywords are mentioned in the article to let the search engines know that the article is truly about the main keyword you have focused on.
Whenever you search for any keyword in Google, it shows more searches related to your target keyword at the end of SERP results. These are your LSI keywords.
For example, let’s say your seed keyword is ‘board games for kids’. Here is one such results for the keyword ‘board games for kids’ from Google search.
Similarly, there is a free tool called LSIGraph that can suggest a few keywords related to your target keyword.
As you can see from the below picture, this tool suggested LSI keywords for my target keyword ‘board games for kids’. I can use at least a few of these suggested keywords to expand my seed keywords list.
Here is another trick that can help you to come up with new keyword ideas, especially long tail keywords.
Google has something called as Auto suggestion feature which auto-populates keywords i.e search queries based on popularity. All you need to do is prefix your seed(target) keyword with *, start typing it, and then select the options that are populated from the auto-suggestion.
For example, I typed in the keyword ‘wordpress plugins’ prefixing it with * and these are the suggestions it has populated
Also, remember the LSI keywords we discussed earlier?
As a secondary benefit, the search results when your target keyword is prefixed with *, are different leading to potential new keyword opportunities.
Tip: In the above two screen shots, if you observe you can see keyword search volume, cost per click, and competition data of keywords on the right hand side. I used a free tool called as Keywords Everywhere which is a browser addon, that shows you this data.
One of the best ways to uncover new keyword opportunities and expand upon your existing keyword ideas is to understand the types of questions and topics your audience are interested in.
One of my favorite places to do this is through “People also ask” section that shows up in your Google search results. This section contains questions related to the search you already entered. Each of the questions in this section, upon clicking, expands to show a snippet.
For example, you have a personal finance blog and one of your seed/target keywords is ‘How to invest in stock market’.
As seen in the snapshot, when you type in the above keyword in Google and you get to see a whole bunch of questions that people are actively searching for.
Since, each of these questions is centered around a users problem, this is a great way to uncover hidden keyword gems.
All the above keyword research strategies that I have shared with you, will yield a ton of keyword ideas. But, it’s important to know which of them can be profitable so that you can prioritize them among the hundreds of keyword ideas that you gather.
My excel sheet was looking like this after doing the initial level of keyword research.
In general, there are two thumb rules that you need to remember
- A higher keyword difficulty score means that there are authoritative sites ranking on the first page of results and it might be hard to outrank the sites in the organic results.
- As the length of the keyword phrase increases, the keyword difficulty and the search volume decreases.
For example, I am using the keyword “best wordpress security plugin” and KWFinder as the keyword research tool.
The keyword looks promising in terms of search volume 1368 (keep in mind it’s a 4 word long phrase).
The keyword difficulty score is 21 which is ‘Easy’ to rank.
So, from all the three metrics point of view, this keyword is something that you can rank for in the top SERP results.
Filter out all such keywords in your list.
Identifying search volumes in different countries or different cities can help you evaluate where there is the most demand for your niche so that you can target those keywords and in turn those audience accordingly.
All the keyword tools that we discussed in this article including Google search console provide filer options like location and language among others to help you filter keywords.
For example, if you think that for your blog/website, Spanish speakers from Los Angeles are the right audience, then you can set up the filter options that way.
You can set these options in SemRush tool.
The number/volume you see in keyword results will accordingly reflect searches from people matching your criteria.
In the beginning of the article, I said that one of the mistakes that people do is to choose keywords that have little to zero commercial intent, which means they are not profitable.
So, how do you know which of your keywords are profitable?
Well, we can identify whether a keyword is profitable or not by looking at the search intent behind it.
1. Keywords that include the words “Buy”, “Coupons”, “Discount”, “Deal”, “Shipping” are transactional in nature indicating high commercial intent. For example, Buy wireless earphones or Buy perfumes online.
2. Keywords that include the words “Best”, “Review”, “Top”, “Cheap”, “Mens”, “Womens”, and specific product names are also commercial in nature but they don’t display buyer urgency as high as the transactional ones discussed above.
For example, best home theater systems or cheap android phones.
3. Keywords that include the words “How to”, “What”, Which”, “Where”, “Who”, “Best way to”, “Ways to” are informational in nature with zero to little commercial intent.
So, our initial reaction would be to dismiss them off and just focus on the first two categories.
But, a majority of your keywords that people search for are informational in nature. Yes, they may no be directly profitable but they can bring huge relevant traffic.
For example, let’s say you are running a wordpress niche site. The keyword “How to Speed up WordPress Sites” may not be commercial in nature but enough people are searching for it.
Which means if you can target keywords like these , you can get a ton of traffic on your website and when the time comes to buy something, your website would be the first things they would refer.
Tip: The best way to make use of keywords that have little commercial intent is to find keywords that have high search volume and low competition.
This is a long guide on keyword research, not less than a paid course.
We started with the common mistakes that most bloggers do with keyword research, then we set up a 3 step process to generate profitable ideas.
We have used multiple tools but you should buy only those tools that you can afford. To understand the functionality, you must try the FREE trial of all the tools.
If you spend next 7 days on the keyword research then you will have a lot of profitable ideas to work up on for next 90 days.
If you want me to write a similar post on any related topic, just let me know in the comments.