Many SEO articles promise secrets to find keywords that are profitable, but only provide a high level overview that don’t really tell you what to do. This article does not do that, but will focus on actionable items that you can apply immediately.
When you do keyword research, there are four important things you’ll need to look at:
- Keyword Competition
- Keyword Search Volume
- Ranking Keyword Difficulty
- Keyword Profitability
Before we get into that, let’s have a look at some of the common mistakes that are made when people do keyword research.
- A common piece of advice is to look for keywords that have low competition, but high volume. The problem with this approach is that so many people are looking for profitable keywords that the competition is fierce and it becomes very difficult to rank for them.
- Another mistake is that people blindly use keywords with high volumes and then create content to try and rank on the first page of search results. The difficulty with this approach is that a higher volume does not necessarily mean that the click through rate will also be high, leading to higher profitability. A keyword with a lower volume but a click through rate that is high is often more profitable.
If a person searches for something very specific, that keyword will normally have a lower volume, but a higher click through rate, for example a search for best wordpress contact form plugin rather than using a general search such as wordpress plugins.
- People also often choose keywords that don’t have commercial intent, but are used by people that simply want information and don’t intend to buy. The commercial intent of the keyword is actually often more important than volume and if you ignore this, chances are that you’ll get lots of visitors but very little sales.
- Ignore long tail keywords with lower search volumes at your own peril. Long tail keywords, i.e. keywords that are searched for less than 20 times per month have a huge potential and are actually used in up to 90% of searches.
With decreased search volumes, additional long tail keywords often appear while conversion rates actually increase. High conversion rates for long tail keywords is due to the specificity of the search that indicates a higher buying intent.
An average page that ranks on Google will not only rank for the specific keywords you used, but also for close to a thousand more relevant keywords. This is because people search for the same things in many different ways.
If you ignore long tail keywords that have lower volumes, you’ll be missing out on the huge amount of lucrative traffic that they attract.
Keep these common mistakes in mind when you do your keyword research and make sure you don’t make them and miss out on some huge opportunities.
Next, we’ll look at a number of keyword planning tools you should be using to assist you in building your framework to discover profitable keywords.
Keyword Planning Tools
Anyone that really want to find profitable SEO keywords should invest in various tools used for keyword research. Some of them are free, while you’ll have to pay for others.
These tools are an excellent resource when looking for profitable keywords, although they can’t predict keywords’ profitability with absolute accuracy.
The tools listed below can be used to learn about keyword metrics, generate keyword ideas, prioritize the keywords in order of profitability, and spy on your competition.
- SemRush (7 days Free Trial, then $99 per month). This tool is a market leader in the SEO industry and will help check competitor ranks, check backlinks, track keyword ranking, and do keyword research.
- Google Search Console (Free). Don’t confuse this with the better known Google Keyword Planner. Keyword planner used to be very popular, but nowadays Google uses it to show the keyword volumes in wider ranges. Search Console provides powerful insights that keyword planner does not.
- KWFinder ($29.90 per month). This tool finds keyword ideas, particularly long tail keywords easily. Although it does not have all the features SEMRush has, it does an excellent job if you have a lower budget.
- Ahrefs ($7 for first 7 days, then $99 per month). This tool helps to identify profitable keywords, both those you can use and those your competitors rank for. It also calculates traffic potential and analyzes ranking difficulty.
- UberSuggest (Free). This tool helps identify more keyword data, including volume, cost per click, seasonality and competition.
- LongTailPro (7 days Free trial, then $25 per month). Especially handy to find long tail keywords.
- Keywords Everywhere (Free). This Firefox and Chrome plugin will suggest keywords dynamically while doing a Google search.
When doing keyword research, it’s best to keep things simple by using the 3 simple steps listed below.
- Create a seed keyword list
- Expand the seed keyword list
- Prioritize profitable keywords
Different tools are used for diverse purpose and which tools you use will largely depend on your budget. Only using the free tools will still allow you to get the job done, but the process might not be as effective and you could miss out on some opportunities. You should be able to complete the total keyword research process in less than a week.
1. Create a Seed Keyword List
The basis of the keyword research is seed keywords. Use these seed keywords if you’re not sure what the profitable keywords in your field are. We suggest your start with 3 to 5 seed keywords to build a variety of different keywords that relate to your website or blog.
Find the keywords with lots of impressions
For a website or blog that has been running for a while, chances are that you already have a few keywords ranking in Google. Use these keywords as the foundation of the keyword research.
Google Search Console can be used to identify the list of seed keywords. Google’s Search Analytics Tool within the Google search console will allow you to identify the actual search keywords that users used to find your website or blog. It will also show you the number of impressions of those keywords. These are how often your website was displayed in Google’s search results for the specific search query. Google tracks the impressions whether they resulted in clicks or not.
In the Search Analytics Tool, select the ‘Queries’ option and filter this by using the ‘Impressions’ option. Although there are more filters, we’ll focus only on these.
Find the search queries which have the most impressions. Many people use these keywords, which means they are highly visible. If possible, find between five and ten keywords that meet these conditions. This will become your first list of seed keywords.
As the search analytic tool always displays the query results of the last 28 days, it is a good idea to check them every month to see if new ones appear that you can add to the list of seed keywords, or even build a new list.
Find the questions people ask
A great way to find seed keywords is to look for search queries, especially those in the form of questions. Every query has a motivation and the emotions of a person behind it. Queries are often specific and center on a user’s problem. This provides opportunities for new keywords and is probably one of the greatest, but underutilized research resources.
AnswerThePublic is the best website to find the questions people ask. If you for example go to the site and search for “Wordpress Plugin”, you will find close to 100 questions, which gives you 100 new ideas for keywords. Experiment with different keywords by using questions beginning with Which, When, Who, Where, How, Why and What.
If you for example check the keyword “how do I install a wordpress plugin” in SemRush, you’ll find that its volume is 1300 and it has virtually zero competition (0,04). What’s even better is that the CPC is only $2.99.
You should however be aware that just because a keyword has low competition, it doesn’t mean that it will be simple to rank. It is only an indication that nobody is bidding aggressively for the keyword on Google Paid Ads. The Keyword Difficulty Score is a much better indication to determine how difficult it would be to rank for a keyword.
Use your competitors’ keywords
Every industry has its market leaders. If you are able to identify these, it is very likely that they have at some stage done keyword research and are ranking well for very specific keywords. You can take advantage of this by finding the keywords your competitors use and adding these to your seed keyword list.
In the WordPress niche, wpbeginner is one of the biggest websites. Using the Ahref Site Explorer tool will give two new keyword ideas – Best blog site and Best website builders. Using SemRush and switching on advanced filters on “best website builders” will reveal some very long keywords with a CPC as high as $118 per click.
The Ahref Site Explorer tool has a feature known as ‘Top Pages’. This feature can be used to identify your competitors’ pages that rank the highest and the keywords related to these. As one top ranking page can rank for hundreds of keywords that are related, focus on the best pages to generate a seed list that is specific.
Understand the Audience
The methods described above are extremely effective and will provide many keyword ideas that could be profitable. To up your game to the next level and discover hidden keywords that are not being targeted by your competitors, you have to take your thinking outside the box.
One of the best ways to do this is to get inside the head of the audience and understand who they are, what worries them, and what they search for. If you use that type of thinking, it will allow you to discover new keyword ideas that nobody else is using.
In for example the niche for gifts, everyone focuses on keywords such as ‘Best birthday gifts’, ‘Best wedding gifts’ and so on. Although there is nothing wrong with these keywords, if you can understand your audience better you can think up better, unique new ideas.
One way to do this would be to use a platform like Quora. Many people use Quora to search regularly and looking at what they search for and how they search will give you lots of new keyword ideas.
Although each of the new keywords may not have high search volumes, they should not be difficult to rank for. Once your page is ranked for those keywords, it would also be ranked for other terms that are similar. When you combine all of these, it could drive heaps of targeted traffic which makes such keywords very profitable.
2. Expand the seed keyword list
KWFinder is a very popular keyword research tool that focuses exclusively on keyword research. At a reasonable priced of $29.90 per month and featuring 3 kinds of keyword ideas- questions, autocomplete and suggestions.
Simply type in the seed keywords that have been collected from the first step and click on “Find keywords.” The tool will provide you with hundreds of ideas for new keywords. These have lots of potential of becoming profitable keywords as they could bring in tons of traffic. As such, they need to be added to your list of seed keywords. The suggestion feature of KWFinder will generate even more keywords if you start off with a good seed keyword list.
Another tool that will make suggestions using your existing seed keywords is UberSuggest. This one is free and you don’t have to pay anything to use it. UberSuggest will show the seasonal trends, competition and volume for the keywords. The tool will suggest many keywords by default and you need to use the filters to discover some really good keywords.
Once you have all the suggestions from the various tools, find those keywords that specifically indicate a user’s intent to buy. Those are likely to be your most profitable keywords.
Finding Long Tail Keywords
The success of your website depends on keywords chosen to target. It is critical to think innovatively to discover new keywords and build on the seed list.
Although you don’t need to purchase all the keyword research tools recommended here, it’s well worthwhile to try the ones with FREE trials so that you can determine which ones work best for you. Once you know what a tool can do and you can see its value to your business, continue using these at the monthly subscription. For the moment, continue generating new keyword ideas and capture the details, for example in a simple Excel sheet.
Finding LSI keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are normally seen together within one topic and relate to each other semantically. LSI keywords are used in an article to inform search engines that an article is actually about the main keyword that has been focused on.
When any keyword is searched in Google, the search results show more searches relating to the target keyword at the end of the search results page. These are the LSI keywords.
There is also a tool named LSIGraph that suggests keywords related to the target keyword.
Using Google’s Auto suggestion feature
When you start any search on Google, it will automatically show you similar searches that are done often based on popularity. This is a powerful feature that you can use to find new keywords, and works especially well for finding long tail keywords.
To extend the power of Google’s Auto suggestions feature, simply type a * before you type in your seed keyword. The auto-suggestion will then suggest one or more words that are commonly used before the keyword.
If you for example use the keyword ‘* wordpress plugin’, Google will display:
- best wordpress plugin
- top wordpress plugin
- free wordpress plugin
- must have wordpress plugin
- how to install wordpress plugin
- best free wordpress plugin
- nulled wordpress plugin
- top 10 wordpress plugin
and many more…
You can do the same with LSI keywords that were discussed in the previous section. This is a huge new source of long tail keywords that could lead to more opportunities for new keywords.
If you want to see the competition data of the keywords, cost per click, and keyword search volume on the right hand side, simply install the free browser addon tool called Keywords Everywhere.
Use the ‘People Also Ask For’ option
We have mentioned before that it is good to understand your audience, what type of questions they ask and how they ask these questions. One way to achieve this is by looking at the Google search results and find the “People also ask” box that is normally displayed at the bottom of the search page.
This section shows questions that relate to the search that has already been done. When you click on any question in this box, it will expand and show snippets. As these questions are focused on users’ problems, this is a good way to find new hidden keywords.
3. Prioritize the Keywords List
If you use all strategies for keyword research described above, you will end up with hundreds, if not thousands of keywords. The trick is to now determine which ones could be profitable in order to prioritize those.
Look at CPC, Keyword Difficulty and Volume
When you start prioritizing your keywords, remember the following two rules of thumb:
- The longer the keyword phrase, the lower the keyword difficulty and the search volume.
- When a keyword has a high difficulty score, there are probably at least one authoritative site ranking high for that keyword and it would be difficult to outrank these sites.
When you prioritize your keyword list, use one of the research tools such as KWFinder.
If you for example research a phrase that is 4 words long and the search volume is 1368, while the score for keyword difficulty is 19 which is ‘Easy’ to rank, this keyword is probably one that you could rank for in the top search results.
Once you have captured all the metrics in your spreadsheet, use a filter to show all these keywords in your list.
Use Language and Location Options
If you identify search volumes in various cities or countries, it will help you identify where the biggest demand for the niche is. You can then target the specific keywords and audiences based on this.
All the keyword research tools mentioned in the article provide these filter options to help you to filter your keywords, including Google search console.
If you for example think that the right audience for your website is Greek speakers from California, then you can configure filter options to reflect this. The numbers in the keyword results would then only be from searches by people matching these criteria.
Using search Intent
Early on in this article, we mentioned that a mistake often made is to select keywords that have no commercial intent, and this will make the keyword non-profitable.
To determine whether a keyword can be profitable or not, look at the intent of the search behind the keyword.
- If the words “What”, “How to”, “Where”, “Which”, “Best way to”, “Who”, “Ways to” are included in the keyword, they are informational and will likely not have any commercial intent.
- If the words “Review”, “Best”, “Cheap”, “Top”, “Womens”, “Mens”, and product names are included in the keyword, they are commercial but don’t indicate high buyer urgency.
- If the words “Buy”, “Coupons”, “Discount”, “Deal”, “Shipping” are included in the keyword, they are transactional by nature and indicate high commercial intent. These are the ones you should ideally be looking for.
Although your initial reaction might be to not use the first group and only concentrate on the last two categories, the majority of keywords people are searching for are actually informational. Although these may not be profitable directly, they could result in huge volumes of relevant traffic which could in turn lead to sales eventually.
If you are able to target informational keywords and many people visit your website as a result, when they are ready to purchase something, your webpage could be one of the first they would visit because they are familiar with it.
To use keywords that have virtually no commercial intent, find those with high search volumes but low competition.
This article on keyword research is longer than what some paid courses are, and we hope that is has been useful.
We described the mistakes most people make when doing keyword research and moved on to the 3 step process that you can use practically to find profitable keyword ideas.
Although we have described multiple tools, only buy those that you have the budget for. Before you do so however, make sure you fully understand their functionality by trying their FREE trial.
If you do keyword research for the next week, you’ll end up with many profitable keyword ideas you can work on for at least 90 days.