How To Guide SEO

The Ultimate Keyword Research Guide – Step By Step Guide

Written by Benjamin
Keyword research is probably one of, if not the most important thing’s there is for SEO’s. Good keyword research can be the difference between making tons of money or losing tons of money.

Unfortunately a lot of SEO’s hate keyword research, don’t know how to do it properly, or are just too dam lazy! In the guide below I’ll show you step by step how I do keyword research, and how I decide what a good keyword is and why.

Let’s start with the basics.

Types of Keywords

I like to divide keywords into brackets of intent. Here’s how I do it.

Informational keywords: These keywords provide information, here’s an example keyword: Weather in Tokyo. The searcher wants to get pure information. Informational keywords are usually low competition because of one reason:

  1. Hard to monetize: There’s not a lot of ways you can make money off a keyword like “weather in Tokyo”.

Questioning Keywords: Are keywords that are a question; for example:

How do I lose weight?, How do I stop procrastinating?, how do I stop my baby from waking me up every dam minute?

The keywords above end with a question mark, but it they don’t need to. Questioning keywords usually fall into the category of small to medium competition since they aren’t as profitable at they may seem at first glance.

The “How do I lose weight” keyword above might seem like it would perform well, but it probably won’t because:

  1. It’s generic. The searcher isn’t committed to anything, they’re not in a buying state of mind. They’re in a learning state of mind. The best way to optimize questioning keywords it to capture the emails of your visitors and build trust over time, then to sell to them. If you go for a sale right away you’re not going to get it.

When I make a website I like to build some content around “questioning keywords” for three reasons:

  1. It’s easy to write content for, all you need to do is answer the question.
  2. Not hard to rank for, since competition is usually low to medium.
  3. Can and does convert, just takes more time and work.

Review keywords: Pretty straightforward, someone searching for “review” of a product or service is using a review keyword.

Review keywords probably convert the best out of all keywords, and that’s also why it’s usually extremely hard to rank for them. Traffic for review keywords is also not that high, especially since review keywords bring in a lot of AdWords people into the mix, which just means less traffic to go around. Here’s an example review keyword: Samsung 28″ 4K U28E590D review. A keyword like this will perform well, if the review is positive!

A lot of people like to make amazon affiliate websites about keywords like the Samsung one above, but that’s not my cup of tea.

Lead Keywords: Lead keywords are probably my favorite type of keyword, and something I have a lot of experience with. An example of a lead keyword would be health insurance quotes Florida.

A searcher is looking to get info, in this case a health insurance quote. To get the information the searcher will need to give us information (a lead). Lead gen keywords are my favorite for two reasons:

  1. Easy to convert. Selling something to someone is hard. Getting a person’s email, name, address or phone number is much easier.
  2. Leads can sell for a lot. You can sell health/auto insurance leads for $5+ easily. Something more targeted like lawyer leads can do even better.

The 4 Keyword Types

Okay so lets have a quick recap of the 4 keyword types:

  • Informational
  • Questioning
  • Review
  • Lead

The 4 keyword types above are just what I like to divide keyword groups into, in no way is this something you have to do. This is just something I keep in mind when I’m looking for keywords and trying to assess if my time and money is worth the work required to rank a keyword. One important thing to note is that the above keyword types often have a lot of overlap with each other; so it’s not always so clear what group a keyword belongs to.

What makes a keyword good?

Is it a lack of competition, volume or a likeliness to convert?

It’s all three!

No competition, high search volume, and likely to convert; who doesn’t want to find keywords like that all the time? Too bad for me and you though; keywords that meet all these criteria are near impossible to find. So let’s focus on reality not dreams.

I target keywords with low/medium competition, with a high likelihood to convert, with low search volume. I’ve found that medium competition, high conversion rate, and low search volume keywords tend to bring the most ROI for me.

One thing to note, my experience has been mostly with lead gen; so I am heavily biased towards lead gen keywords. This is something to keep in mind as you read this post.

The ultimate keyword research tool: LongTailPro

When I started writing this guide, I planned on using the Google keyword planner tool to show you how to do keyword research. I’m a cheap guy and like using free software any time I can, but sometimes paid software is the way to go. LongTailPro is worth the money, so buy it. I’m not going to do a review here, there’s plenty of them on the internet. Spoke to soon, I wrote a quick review on Long Tail Pro, you can read it here: Long Tail Pro review . If you do buy it I highly recommend getting LongTailPlatinum.

The guide below still has a lot of useful information, even without the tool so I recommend you read it even if you don’t buy it.

You Can Buy LongTailPro Here

Finding a keyword

As I mentioned above, I like lead gen keywords. So let’s start by finding a decent lead gen keyword. Here’s a good way to find lead gen keywords if you have no idea what to search for.

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Typing in “Insurance quote” into the tool will give you a big list of keywords, now we need to filter it through to get a keyword that meets all our criteria.

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After filtering through and taking a quick look I found some pretty good keywords that meet my criteria of

  • 500- 2000 local searches
  • Suggested Bid of $10 or more

The search volume and suggested bid above is flexible. I wouldn’t go under 500 searches, and I wouldn’t go under a suggested bid of $10. But every situation is different; you may find a keyword that will have low competition, high search volume, and a high CPC. Although this is very unlikely, it is possible.

Keyword Competitiveness

Before we pick a keyword we need to figure out how competitive it is. The more competitive the keyword the more it’ll cost to rank. If it’s too costly to rank, you’ll never make your money back.

LongaTailPro Platinum has a feature that can help us see how competitive a keyword is, it’s called “Keyword Competitiveness”. The name says it all, it helps you figure out how competitive keywords are based on data. The data it uses is:

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KC stands for Keyword Competitiveness. You can get more information about how KC is calculated at the LongTailPro website: http://www.longtailpro.com/how-is-keyword-competitiveness-calculated-in-long-tail-platinum/

I use the KC to begin analyzing how difficult a keyword is to rank, it’s a great tool to weed out 95% of keywords that are too hard to rank.

KC will spit out a number for you from 0 to 100, o being no competition and 100 being extreme competition. Here’s the scale of competitiveness from their website:

0 to 10 – No competition
10 to 20 – Extremely low competition
20 to 30 – Low competition
30 to 40 – Moderate Competition
40 to 50 – Somewhat High Competition
50 to 60 – Very High Competition
60 to 70 – Extremely High Competition
70 to 100 – Don’t even think about it!

I like my keywords to be between 10 – 40, sometimes even up to 50. I would recommend targeting keywords in the 20-30 range if you’re a beginner SEO or want quicker results. Ranking something in the 50+ range takes a lot of time and money, or a pretty big Private Blog Network! Something in the 10-30 range can be ranked for fairly cheap (less then $1,000) and in a quick time (less then 3 months).

Here’s one good keyword I found.

long term disability insurance quote

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It has a KC of 23.3, which is within my range. Taking a quick look at the titles I can see that almost none of the titles are optimized for my keyword; this is a good sign. Page Links are also fairly low, which is great.

What we need to do next is go to ahrefs.com and check out the backlink profile of the top 1-3 websites. First a look at the #1 website, zanderins.com

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Ahrefs has their own way of deciding authority of a page, it’s called URL Rating and Domain Rating. For us what matters right now is URL rating, it can be from o to 100. Here’s URL rating (also know as UR) explained:

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Explained at https://ahrefs.com/faqs

The number one page has a UR of 17, which is very low. Good news for us.

The postion #2 website: http://www.mutualofomaha.com/disability-insurance/plan/quote.php has a UR of 15.

The postion #3 website: https://www.policygenius.com/long-term-disability-insurance has a UR of 15.

Overall the UR is really low for the top 3 websites, which is good news for us. One important thing I’d like to stress is that while the metrics above like UR and KC might be nice and easy to use and understand, their not everything. You should look into the backlink profile of the top 3 websites manually and see what type of backlinks they’re actually getting. For example;

  1. Are the backlinks for the number 1 website coming from a shaddy private blog network?
  2. Are the backlinks coming for directories/ Social media/ normal websites?
  3. Are the backlinks coming for very reputable and well respected websites? ( Such as big news websites, univeristy websites, etc)

Tools can measure backlink quanitity easily; but they’re still not perfect and do not measure quality so well. Quality matters. If you’re going after easy to rank keywords doing a complete competetive analysis of your competition may not be worth the time. When you start going trying to rank more competetive keywords you should spend the time looking at the backlink profiles of your competition.

I took a quick look at the competition for our keyword: long term disability insurance quote and the quality of backlinks was good. Here’s an example backlink for the postion #3 website:

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As you can see above the postion #3 website has some pretty good links from huffingtonpost. While high quality links on a website may deter you, they shouldn’t. Quanitity can be it’s own form of quality.

When I see high quality backlinks on a website it usually means an SEO is probably not working on trying to get #1 for the keyword. If I see low quality backlinks or Private Blog Network links that means I will have some serious competition trying to fight for postion #1; because an SEO is trying to rank or is ranked for the keyword.

Most website owners or business don’t care about ranking for obscure long tail keyword like long term disability insurance quote. A SEO probably will care, and will not let you get to postion #1 without a fight.

I like to rank for keywords that don’t have a lot of professional SEO competition. Finding keywords that other SEO’s aren’t targeting is very very easy (as long as you follow my keyword critiera). The only time you’ll run into serious competition is when you move into keywords with more volume. Stick to low volume keywords until you’re making enough money to be able to fight the long and hard battles for high volume keywords.

Competitiveness matters, but so does traffic

So let’s pretend we decided to go with the keyword: long term disability insurance quote. Even if we get it to postion #1; we can expect to get only about 30% of the search volume. The position #1 keyword gets about 30% of the traffic, while the position #2 keyword gets about 17%, and so on. Here’s the full data:

2015-11-10_18-44-29

Data is from https://chitika.com/google-positioning-value

30% of 590 searchers works out to be about 177 visits a month if we’re position #1, that’s not a lot of traffic. But quality beats quantity; this traffic is super targeted and will convert like crazy.

We still need more traffic, and a good way to do that is to target variations of the keyword above. When we try to rank for long term disability insurance quote we’ll end up ranking for other keywords. A good way to find variations of this keyword is to go into LongTailPro and search for them. For example:

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There’s a lot of close variations to this keyword such as: long term disability insurance cost, individual long term disability insurance, best long term disability insurance. When you rank for your main keyword, ranking for variations becomes easy.

When you create a website, or a post about the keyword above make sure it’s 2,000+ words of content and that you include the variation keywords as h2, h3 in the post somewhere.

Still doesn’t look like a lot of traffic?

No worries, we still have long tail keywords. Don’t know what long tail keywords are?

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Data from Moz: https://moz.com/blog/illustrating-the-long-tail

Long tail keywords are unique phrases that cover about 70% of all searches. The majority of long tail keywords don’t show in the Google keyword planner, or any other tools since they can be very unique. From the example above:

  • A Fat Head term would be something like insurance
  • A chunky Middle term would be something like health insurance quotes
  • A Long Tail term would be something like health insurance quotes online for seniors over 75.

The term we’re targeting (long term disability insurance quote) probably has a lot of long tail variations that we can’t see in LongTailPro. Some long tail keywords for it would probably be something like:

  • long term disability insurance quote Florida
  • long term disability insurance quote New York
  • long term disability insurance quote deals
  • long term disability insurance quote online
  • long term disability insurance quotes for seniors

All of the above keywords are long tail keywords that probably get searched very rarely (less then 5 searches a month). The keywords above won’t be shown in any keyword tool because of their low search volume. Long tail keywords make up 70% of all searches for a reason, the amount of variations for keywords that can exist is insanely high.

When you include our variation keywords + long tail keywords into our traffic we should be able to get 1,000 organic visitors a month for our chosen keyword.

1000 Visitors a Month

1000 visitors might not seem like a lot, and that’s because it isn’t. A lot of people get 1,000 visitors a day and don’t make any money. They don’t make money for two reasons:

  1. Targeted the wrong keywords. Like Informational keywords instead of review, or lead keywords.
  2. Didn’t optimize their website for the sale or lead.

When you’re selling you can expect a poor conversion rate, even amazon one of the biggest eCommerce giants has conversion rates of less then 10% for most affilates.

Lead gen is completely different though. A 10% conversion rate isn’t high for most people; it’s very doable for a well optimized website to convert at 10% or more. A 10% conversion rate for my website Boredmarkter.com would be great, but unlikely. But if this website was about disability insurance and a searcher was looking for a long term disability insurance quote I would have very little trouble getting them to give me some basic info (Name, Email, Phone number). Since we’re giving the searcher what they want with that info, aka a quote.

Leads, especially insurance leads can sell for a good chunk of money. Getting $5 per lead shouldn’t be an issue, there’s also a ton companies very happy to buy your leads. Here’s some pricing I found for leads:

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Pulled from: http://www.insuranceleads.com/insurance-lead-pricing

It’s important to note that the cost above is what agents pay to get the leads, if you’re selling the lead to a network expect to be paid a smaller amount. I would expect to get around 40-70% of the total. Luckily our leads are disability, which can pay pretty decently.

Take a look at the other lead types; like renters, seniors health and long-term care. You can get more lead keyword ideas from the above.

How much money you can make

1000 visitors x 5% conversion rate x $5 per lead = $250 per month.

1000 visitors x 10% conversion rate x $5 per lead = $500 per month

1000 visitors x 15% conversion rate x $5 per lead = $750 per month

1000 visitors x 20% conversion rate x $5 per lead = $1000 per month

1000 visitors x 25% conversion rate x $5 per lead = $1250 per month

Not bad for only a 1000 visitors, right?

Thing’s you should know

One very important thing to note, I have never made a website about disability insurance and do not plan on making one. The numbers above are a best guess on what I would expect from my experience in insurance lead gen (in totally different niches).

Also important to note is that the above traffic is long tail and laser focused, that’s why the conversion rates are so high. If you start to rank for more generic keywords like disability insurance, you can expect a massive drop in the conversion rate. Not that you’ll mind since you’ll be getting a ton more visitors.

A 25% conversion rate is not that high for super focused organic traffic, but I wouldn’t go in expecting it. It should be very easy to get a 10% conversion, as long as your keywords stay laser focused.

Affilate Links

The links above for LongTailPro are affilate links, so if you click them I’ll get a commission. If you hate me and this guide, but like LongTailPro you can delete your cookies and buy it. This will stop me from getting a commission 🙁

Please leave a comment below!

This post is nearly 3000 words long and took a lot of time to write, your comment doesn’t need to be 3000 words long! Have something to share about keyword research? Comment! Like the article? Comment! Hate the article? Let me know why so I can write better articles in the future.

Hope you enjoyed this guide!

About the author

Benjamin

Welcome to Boredmarketer. My's name's Benjamin.

I have around 9 years of search experience and nearly 7 years of PPC experience.

Love Facebook ads and Adwords. Paid traffic = ROCKS.

SEO = SUCKS

Even though I'm anti-seo as can be, I still do SEO daily. I enjoy creating sites, and I enjoy ranking sites in the most competitive niches possible.

I made this blog so I can share what I find, and to connect with other marketers out there.

Since there's still so much I don't know, especially when it comes to paid advertising.

For SEO I got you covered :)

14 Comments

  • Hey! Great post and very well written. A lot of people are a great fan of Long tail pro especially for it’s competitiveness checking feature and other stuff. But I like to use free stuff. Takes a bit more time and some manual work.

    I wouldn’t agree with local search volume being low. Google KP will always show it to be zero or less but it’s not true. Keywords like long term disability insurance quote Florida and long term disability insurance quote New York are far easy to get ranked to #1 on Google if you optimize your entirely site around them – A typical lead generation tactic. All people living in Florida when searching for long term disability insurance quote may or may not add Florida to it but in both the cases if your website is all about it, Google will rank it up on page 1. May also require a little bit of link building upon checking the competition and the other top ten ranking websites. I am not doing it for this comment 🙂

    This strategy is really good for local lead generation. If you check the demographics of Florida, the population 21 years and above is 11,736,378 and you can do a bit of more research to see how many people are not insured. I think the search volume should be decent for selling these leads on a pay per lead model. Bot to mention it should work very well for any long tail lead keyword (for any service/business) targeted locally (for any city) instead of being general.

    • Hey Tam, agree completelty. I use a few tools as well. I still like using the google keyword planner alongside longtailpro (old habits lol). But wanted to simplify things a little on this guide. Good tip on checking the demographics. When I was making insurance related websites I would go to wikipedia, search cities by population + states by populaiton. Create a list of keywords in excel that have a CPC of $20+ and search volume of 1,000+. Then bulk check for domain name availability (.Com/.Net/.Org). I’d find a ton of websites that would meet all the criteria.

      Exact match domains were a pretty easy way to rank for stuff, not so much anymore since Google devalued them.

  • Thanks for sharing on keyword research
    We think this is the most important part of SEO
    Currently we already have the Long Tail Pro. This is a great tool
    Really helped me in analyzing competitor
    Once again, thank you

    • Hey Sandra. You can use Long tail platinum to see the difficulty of a keyword. Or check backlinks of competitor websites (Much more complex).

      If you want to check out a few keywords, you can use this site for free:https://kwfinder.com/

      It’ll tell you how competitive a keyword is. Hope this helps

      • @Sandra – You can also test the keyword difficulty using your own algorithm so you’re not tied to what the website owner thinks is easy or difficult. http://keywordjudge.com/ does this (disclaimer: I’m the owner).

        @Benjamin – You nailed the 4 keyword types right in the head. Knowing what type your keyword falls under makes it easier to build the type of content your users need.

  • Becoming a fan of your posts. This is the best keyword research guide I have read so far and trust me I have read plenty of them. You actually provide actionable insights on what to do rather than just repeat what others have said so far. Great

  • Hey Benjamin! Superb and clear post that hits the (often missed) keyword research nail on the head. It is easy to get tied up in ‘vanity’ keywords (the shiny ones like Widgets New York) but you’re absolutely right that 70% comes from Long-Tail and it takes some work to dig out the many gems too small to pop-up at the top of AdWords or indeed Long Tail Pro. Thanks for spending the time to outline (and yup, I clicked your affiliate link!). Looking forward to more content from you!

    • Thanks Mark!

      Vanity keywords are a big problem, especially for newbies. When I started SEO all I did was go for big hyper competitive keywords that even if was #1 wouldn’t make me much money. Took a while to realize it’s not about volume, but conversion rate x value of conversion that matters.

  • Thanks for sharing on keyword research
    We think this is the most important part of SEO
    Currently we already have the Long Tail Pro. This is a great tool
    Really helped me in analyzing competitor
    Once again, thank you

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