How to do Keyword Research: 7 Techniques & Tools
In this lesson we will be covering 7 valuable techniques and tools to help you develop the best keywords for your niche.
You can have the best affiliate product in the world, but if your buyers can’t find your affiliate page, you might as well try selling a single sock. That’s where keywords come in: to help direct people who might want your product to your affiliate site and offers.
The first stop is uncovering how to use the best super-computer ever known, the human brain (in this case yours!), to come up with ideas.We’ll then give you helpful sources for inspiration to expand on these initial ideas.
Keyword research can be a fairly time-consuming process, so we’ll give a little tip for categorizing useful sources. Buyer intent is an important part of the selection process, to ensure you are finding the most profit-potential keywords, so we give you some insight on that as well.
We then cover how to generate long-tail keywords, which are essential for targeting the most relevant search terms for your niche or product.
Life is always a little easier when there’s less competition. Keywords are no different, so we’ll help you save time by trimming the words with the most competition from your list.
And finally, we’ll cover how to pull all your research into a complete keyword list for optimal effectiveness when you make your website and content.
1. Manually Brainstorm Keyword Ideas
One of the most frequently overlooked methods for keyword research is manual brainstorming. You’ve got a great brain … now put it to use!
You can use a piece of paper and a pen, but my preferred method of brainstorming comes in the form of an online tool called MindMeister. Let’s say we have “Footwear” as a Niche. This is how we would start our keyword building process.
On the front page, you can click on the green “Try a Live Demo” button to try it first, or “Get Started” to sign up so you can save your brainstorms.
Now, once you’re in, what do you do first?You need to begin with your niche and sub-niches as a basic starting point. After all, when talking about the topic of what to have for dinner, it pays to start with what you’re thinking of having. An obvious starting line is a good thing.
In the case of footwear, I place the word itself in the center.
Then you can enter sub-niches easily by pressing “enter”. In this case, we’re looking at phrases such as “Sports Shoes” or “Women’s Shoes.”
It’s important to evaluate your ideas as you go, eliminating irrelevant options, and using relevant ones in combinations wherever possible. For the sake of this example, we’re going to explore one sub-niche in particular to give us the chance to really dig deep. Lets face it, women are generally more shoe crazy than men, so we’ll look at women’s shoes to give us lots of options.
The first thing to ask is, which sub-niches are relevant to my focus here? With women’s shoes in this case, chances are “Men’s Shoes” won’t be applicable anymore, whereas “Summer Shoes” might still be.
Then, what types of product or service are available in your focused sub-niche? In this case, for example, I might put high-heeled shoes or casual flat shoes next to women’s shoes.
Simply select the “women’s shoes” bubble and click “shift” and “tab” together to enter the branches.
Finally, use the name of your sub-niche to create keyword branches on related sub-niches. In this case, with the sub-niche of women’s shoes, on the related sub-niche of summer shoes I could put “Women’s Summer Shoes” to create a new keyword that is still relevant. Adding one of the original sub-niche branches will give you an even more specific keyword, in this case, “Women’s Summer Casual Flat Shoes”.
2. Look for Seed Keyword Inspiration
So you’ve got a bunch of basic words and phrases in your brainstorm, and you’re ready to build a more in-depth seed keyword list from it. We’ve got some great tips on where to look.
If you have products in mind already from the likes of Clickbank, look at their sales pages. If you don’t have any products in mind, look at the most popular sales pages in your niche on websites such as Clickbank, or examine Amazon for physical products.
Looking at shoes on Amazon, if I select “Sort by: New and Bestselling” in the top right corner, I get a list of shoes that are top sellers.
The list also comes with hints about well performing products in my sub-niche. “Nine West” seems to be a well liked brand for example, and “pumps” is a descriptive word that potential customers could be searching for.
Let’s say I looked at the sales page for this particular product.
I learn that “Peep-Toe Pump” is a product type. This could be a seed keyword for this product. Scrolling down, I can look in the product description to find phrases like “trend-right footwear” or “semi-wrapped platform”.
Underneath that, I can see the customer reviews. This is great for seeing what issues people have with products in this niche, and what they have found as a solution.
Customers value comfort, so “comfortable shoes” could be a good seed keyword.
Google is another place to look for inspiration. Typing words from your brainstorm into a Google search will show you the top-ranking pages for those words. Have a look at some of them and see what words or language they use.
When you search with Google, it will show you “related searches” at the bottom of the page.
This is a really smart, fast, and easy way of getting popular relevant seed keywords that you may not have even known were there. Searching for “casual flat shoes” from my initial brainstorm has given me the term “casual ballet flats” as a popular related search, so I can add that to my seed keywords.
While you’re conducting Google searches, try adding “forums about” at the beginning to search for forums where people discuss your niche.Broad niche words will have more success in finding thorough forums.
The phrase “forums about shoes” has a lot of results, but consider whether your niche may have any hot topics or sub-niches that might have their own forums.
Replacing “forums about” with “Q&A’s about” will give you a similar series of relevant customer opinion sources. Forums and question & answer pages are amazing sources for finding popular terms and phrases related to your niche, as well as issues that they are searching for answers to.
Creating the best seed keyword list based on the variety of information you find from these sources is going to give you a real boost in the later stages of this lesson.
Seed keywords aren’t sufficient on their own, but having a wider range of quality seed keywords gives you the best possible chance later on when it comes to processing them into what you really want – that final winning keyword list.
3. Save Juicy Keyword Sources
As an extra tip, while browsing these forums and Q&A threads, it pays to save the best ones for later by bookmarking them. Anything that saves you time in the long run can’t be a bad thing!
While browsing these forums and Q&A threads, you will discover some are better than others as sources for ongoing keyword research. If they are constantly active, they will always have the latest language and terms thrown about in your niche, which is what you want for your seed keyword building.
If you used MindMeister for your brainstorming, you’ll see it has an option for inserting links or files. When you have the branch that the link relates most to selected, go to the menu on the right.
Make sure you have the blue right-facing arrow selected, to enter the link in the box underneath that says “URL.”
Making sure your bubble is selected–in this case I’m going with “shoe forum”–click “URL” to make the link appear as the encircled arrow at the edge of your bubble.
Now whenever you look at your brainstorm for up-to-date seed keyword inspiration, simply click on the link most relevant to your new product, offer, or content.
4. Don’t Ignore Buyer Intent
It’s easy to get swept up with only targeting high-volume keywords. But you shouldn’t ignore buyer intent. So what does that involve?
Buyer intent keywords are words or phrases that include the indication of a sale. In other words, adding words or phrases like “buy” or “lowest prices on” to the beginning of a keyword usually means that people are browsing with that keyword to buy.
Brad Zomick at Skilledup refers to these as “transactional” keywords, and has a great info-graphic to demonstrate his point.
You need to avoid using only keywords which get conversational or social attention, and instead discover what will get more hits on the sales end of the scale.
For example, someone searching for “shoes” could just be looking for general information, or could be bored and browsing. Someone who searches for “best price on peep-toe Nine West pumps” is practically gripping their wallet in anticipation of buying what they’re looking for.
Keywords with buyer intent often have lower competition because they have a lower search volume than general words. But in theory, they have a much higher conversion rate when they are searched for, and that makes them a very valuable resource to explore.
Now that you have buyer intent on the brain, look through your keyword list and add in any missing transactional keywords.
5. Use Tools to Generate Long-Tail Keywords
Like with buyer intent, the more specific your keywords are, the more likely you are to get people who actually want your product. This is where long-tail keywords come in.
With AffiloTools, you can start plugging in those ideas you came up with earlier. You can download results as a CSV file, including useful data such as search volumes and Costs per click. In this example, I’m entering “shoes”, making sure the relevant country is selected, and then clicking “search” to get all these results.
This is only the top few results, there are many more below. Keep an eye on that first column after the results, “local volume”, to see which ones are most sought after. If there is a low number of monthly searches, that keyword might not be worth your time.
It’s a similar process with Ubersuggest: Just enter the relevant details, then click suggest.
And there you go, generated lists of keywords that people are searching in relation to your words.
At this point, you can search to your heart’s content. Take phrases that show up from one search run and then add them to the search box for even more ideas.
Keep a list of all your keyword data by exporting to CSV so you can organize and refer to it later. By the end of this stage, you should have a rather large inventory of relevant keywords. So out of that multitude, which ones do you really want to use?
6. Filter Out High-Competition Keywords
This is where the filtering process comes in. We’ve expanded our list further and further to get the best scope possible, and now it’s time to refine for true quality. With Traffic Travis, it’s easy to determine the search competition for any given keyword.
When Traffic Travis is loaded, make sure you have the SEO tab selected, and then choose the competition option within that.
Click on the Keywords typing box, and a small window will pop up for you to enter keywords into.
Copy and paste words in groups, click “ok”, and let the search do its thing! You can then see the difficulty levels of different words.
“Shoes” and “buy shoes” are very general, so it makes sense that they have a result of “very difficult”, whereas “best price on peep-toe pumps” is a little more specific, and has a medium difficulty.
You want to eliminate words with “high difficulty” wherever possible, especially if you are a new affiliate, as your chances of ranking high enough with them to be worthwhile are unlikely.
Make sure to export these search results to CSV so you can organize and refer to them later.
7. Make Your Final Keyword Selections
So now that you’ve eliminated low search volumes and undesirable competition, it’s time to make a primary keyword list that consists of the best 30 or 40 keywords for a beginning site. You’ll want a larger list for larger sites.
Remember, the higher the search volume and the lower the competition the better, so make your selections with this in mind. Those transactional keywords are the most important after that initial rule, because of their higher level of profit potential.
A good way to put this all into perspective is to think of keyword research like selling apples from an orchard. If you just go and pick up the first few you come across on the ground, chances are they’ll be half rotten and no one will buy them.
You have to harvest the whole orchard and put the apples through a quality filtering process.
It may seem like a lot of work for the same amount of keywords, but the quality difference is what could make or break it for you in this phase of your affiliate strategy.
With that in mind, you’ve worked for these results! Be sure to use them to help guide your content-creation and marketing efforts going forward. Use a maximum of 5 keywords per page, but preferably less.
A last quick tip for your keyword strategy is to only use as many keywords per page as you can naturally fit into your content without spamming or listing. If you are just pumping the page full of keywords, you will put search engines, and people, off and they won’t come back to your site.
So there you have it! We’ve shown you how to develop your seed keywords. We started with brainstorming usingMindMeister, and then developed our inspirational sources to save for later. We stressed the importance of buyer intent or “transactional keywords” in your keyword research process.
With the seed keyword list all up and running, we expanded the quality and variety of keywords with tools such as AffiloTools and Ubersuggest. Traffic Travis then helped us to eliminate the highest-competition words, to end up with our final keyword selection.