SEO: Free Keyword Research in 3 Steps - Practical Ecommerce

SEO: Free Keyword Research in 3 Steps - Practical Ecommerce

SEO: Free Keyword Research in 3 Steps - Practical Ecommerce

Posted: 08 Feb 2019 12:00 AM PST

There are many expensive tools that claim to simplify and speed up the keyword research process. If you don't have thousands of dollars in your budget, however, there's always the old-school, free method.

Keyword research is the foundation of search engine optimization. It provides a window into searchers' desires and needs. It's a free form of user data that's available to anyone with a little patience.

Start by assembling a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches for those words and phrases — the market demand, essentially. What you can do with the data is extraordinary. It can inform content strategies and even uncover the gaps in your natural search performance.

Keyword research in its simplest form starts with a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches for those words and phrases.

Keyword research in its simplest form starts with a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches.

Keyword Seeds

Seeds are the single-word stems of keywords. For ecommerce sites, seeds typically represent the products you sell and their attributes.

For instance, if you sell wall art, keywords could be major categories such as "metal wall art" and "canvas wall art." Seeds could include the genre (abstract, botanical, landscape), color (blue, red, green), and other attributes.

Be careful to consider seeds that are synonyms of your categories and attributes. For example, some consumers may refer to canvas wall art as a painting.

Seeds can be mixed in different ways — "green abstract metal wall art," "botanical painting," or "landscape canvas wall art." Use Mergewords or a similar tool to stitch your seeds into phrases that searchers may use.

This process can generate many thousands of potential keyword phrases. Depending on your resources, you may need to limit the number of phrases to those that are most likely to produce results. For instance, price and shipping-speed attributes rarely produce strong keyword demand.

However, limiting keywords introduces your own biases because you decide which data to collect from the tool in the next step of inputting into Google Keyword Planner. Instead, merge all high-value keywords and input all of them for the strongest results.

For more on keyword seeds, read "SEO 101, Part 4: Keyword Research Tool Tips."

Google Keyword Planner

I use Google Keyword Planner to extract free keyword data. Here's why: The core value of keyword research is the keyword paired with a number — this keyword theme, that many searches.

Yes, the numbers in Keyword Planner are rounded. Some SEOs don't trust Google to provide reliable data. And yes, the keywords are clumped into contextual themes instead of being listed individually. And at the end of the day, Google Keyword Planner is the only free tool that provides numerical data per keyword in bulk. It's straight from the source of 90 percent of natural search traffic and revenue.

If you have access to your company's Google Ads account (formerly AdWords), you have access to search volume paired with the keywords. If not, the tool is still free, you'll just receive ranges for the volume instead of individual numbers.

The top screenshot from Google Keyword Planner is without active AdWords campaigns. The lower screenshot shows results with active campaigns. <em>Click image to enlarge.</em>

The top screenshot from Google Keyword Planner is without active AdWords campaigns. The lower screenshot shows results with active campaigns. Click image to enlarge.

To use Google Keyword Planner, click "Find new keywords" and enter up to 10 keyword phrases at a time. You can also enter a URL, which is a good way to collect keyword data from competitors' sites. Click "Get Started," and you'll receive keyword data.

On the data results page, click on the filter in blue that says "Show broadly related ideas" and change it to "closely related." Broad is very broad — for our example of wall art, you'll see results such as wallpaper and paint. Choosing "closely related" should filter those less-relevant keywords out of your data set.

Now click on "Download Keyword Ideas" in blue, next to the date range, to receive a CSV file of all of the data for those first 10 keyword phrases.

Continue pushing phrases through the tool until you've exhausted your merged seed list. It will take time, probably a lot of time. But it's worth it for data to base your SEO and content strategy on.

Cleaning Keyword Data

Now you have many CSV files with keywords. You could copy and paste them together, but that would take almost as long as collecting the data. Instead, merge your files using the PC CMD prompt, or the Mac terminal prompt.

There will be many duplicate keywords among the CSV files. Even though you selected the "closely related" option, some of the data won't be relevant to your business.

Next, import the combined CSV file into an Excel spreadsheet. Use Excel's "Remove Duplicates" function to make sure that there's only one instance of each keyword phrase in your spreadsheet.

Sort your keywords by the "Avg. monthly searches" column, largest to smallest. There will likely be high-volume keywords at the top of your list that aren't relevant. It's important to remove those big phrases because they can wildly skew your analysis. Scan down the list to a reasonable point — maybe the top 1,000 keywords, or keywords that drive more than 1,000 visits each. It goes faster than you'd think.

When you find an irrelevant word, filter the entire list by that word — maybe it's "wallpaper" — so that you can delete all at once other phrases containing it.

Next, sort your keywords alphabetically. This groups similar keywords and makes it easy to remove clumps of irrelevant ones. Scan quickly at this point. Your previous sort by keyword volume should have uncovered many of the most irrelevant phrases. Sorting alphabetically is more of a safety check.

Now you have clean keyword data. Don't lock it away in a drawer. Use it daily as a quick reference for various decisions.

Share your keyword research with your team, especially those that love data or need content ideas. In my experience, most of your team will value your final analysis and suggestions, as opposed to handing them a mass of data.

How to Use Competitors Keywords to Make More Money - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 12 Mar 2019 12:00 AM PDT

This is a sponsored post written by SE Ranking. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor's own.

Keyword research is tough and tedious.

Finding the best-performing keywords that generate steady revenue – the so-called "golden" keywords – is even harder but once you find them, it's like striking an oil well.

There are various ways to do the keyword research – from collecting semantics manually to using tools such as Keyword Planner or Keyword Suggestion tool.

But if you want to find the best-performing keywords with a proven history of success, you might consider looking at your competitors' semantics.

It could well be that the "golden" keywords have been already discovered and all you need to do is to use them for your own benefit.

In this article, we'll talk about how to find and use competitor keywords to generate the best results from your SEO efforts as well as some other ways to use competitor semantics.

How to Find 'Golden' Keywords Using Competitor Research

Let's illustrate the process using Competitor SEO/PPC research from SE Ranking. The steps here would be as follows:

Step 1: Evaluate Paid Semantics

  • Enter the list of your known competitors or use the tool to find the top 10 in your niche.
  • Check the keywords those competitors are using in their Google Ads campaigns.
  • Review the advertisement history and pick the keywords that your competitor has been using to run campaigns for a long period of time. This is an indicator that the keywords are successfully performing – otherwise the competitor would not be blowing their PPC budget on them.
  • Repeat the third item above for all of your main competitors.

Valuable tip: Also check "common" and "missing" keywords to enrich your semantics with a cluster of keywords that work.

top paid competitors

Step 2: Evaluate Organic Semantics

The approach here is similar to what we discussed in the previous paragraph with the exception that we are going to review the competitor keywords that are at the top of the SERPs.

The dynamics in organic search is much slower and not representative.

  • Collect a list of your main competitors.
  • Select the top-performing keywords.
  • Create your main semantics deriving data from all of your main competitors.

Step 3: Merge Keyword Data from Paid & Organic Semantics

This step brings together the information you found in two previous steps. This is your oil well that is going to fountain out with "golden" keywords.

  • Take the list of keywords from paid semantics data.
  • Add the list from the organic data research and find the keywords that are also present in the paid semantics list.
  • The keywords that are present in both paid and organic lists are the best-performing keywords that your competitors are using to bring highly-converting traffic to their sites!
Golden Keywords

Valuable tip: Use common sense and logic. Your competitors aren't always smarter than you. Apply your own knowledge and judgment when working on creating your semantic core.

How to Develop Best-Performing Content Using Competitor Intelligence

Competitor intelligence is a whale of information that could be used in enhancing and optimizing the landing pages that you already have. Or for creating brand new landings developed for specific lead-generating campaigns.

To find those ideas employ the following approaches:

Use Competitor 'Keywords with Potential'

Those are the keywords that your competitor is under-using but can potentially yield great results for you.

For example, you found competitor pages optimized for certain keywords that rank in the 20th to 25th positions that are very relevant and Google seems to be liking them – but something is missing in terms of search intent or content quality.

Review these pages or resources and enhance or create similar content optimized for those keywords on your site.

Use Keywords with Low Search Volume

Those kind of keywords are relevant and targeted for you but have a low or medium level of search volume. Such keywords might become a ground for your growth.

How to Find Them:

Remember the "golden" keywords that are found where the paid and organic semantics merge?

Look again in the advert's history as well as data collected from organic competitor research and pick the keywords with low and medium search volume. Then create content based on this intelligence.

How to Avoid Errors & Mistakes Using Competitor Intelligence

Paid and organic competitor research data are lifesavers in the costly world of SEO.

Don't Use Keywords That Your Competitors Dismissed

Google Ads is great at driving quality traffic to your resource. But it's also a costly channel, especially if you're trying to find the best performing ads with a hit-or-miss strategy.

A smarter way would be to analyze the history of your competitors' ads. Here you will see what keywords they played around and dropped as the ones that didn't bring results needed.

paid keywords

Be careful, though: your competitors are not necessarily always correct when dismissing keywords. However, it can be a good indicator. Just be cautious and avoid falling into the same trap.

Save money – create better campaigns.

Don't Use Keywords That Google Treat as a Missed Intent

When doing competitor research, you might find good keywords that don't generate as much traffic as anticipated.

For instance, you detected a strong competitor page that is nicely optimized for the keyword of your interest but it's stuck in the 30th position in the SERPs.

This might mean that Google understood the user intent differently and didn't rank their content as initially expected.

So carefully evaluate what keyword the content has been created for and avoid replicating the same tactic.

Do Keyword Grouping

Competitor intelligence is a great way to find "golden" keywords, discover new ideas that can potentially boost your revenue, and avoid errors.

However, you should never blindly apply competitor intelligence to your site. Your competitor site might be suffering from keyword cannibalization or poor site structure.

One way to straighten your strategy and avoid errors while discovering new ideas for optimization and content development is to do keyword grouping.

How to Do It:

  • Take the competitor semantics that you've collected while running competitor research.
  • Copy-paste the list of keywords into grouping tool and run the grouping.
  • Analyze the clusters to discover search queries that match the same website's URLs that are in TOP-10. Use this knowledge to develop a better content strategy.
  • Keyword Grouper from SE Ranking also checks the keywords search volume which helps you to decide what would be the best way to distribute them across the website pages.
keyword grouping


Hopefully the tips and techniques listed above have provided you with valuable information.

Curious how you can derive and apply competitive intelligence in creating the best-performing marketing campaigns?

Just sign up for a free trial and see for yourself the kind of magic you can do by simply analyzing your competitors' data.

Try SE Ranking for Free

Try SE Ranking for Free

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by SE Ranking. Used with permission. 
In-Post Photos: Images by SE Ranking. Used with permission.


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