Keyword Research: An Ultimate Guide

The foundation of any niche site is keyword research.

Without it, we would be throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s inaccurate and is just not smart business.

This guide covers everything I know about keyword Research.

I start here as I believe that it is the most integral part of building, ranking and profiting from a niche website.

If I can teach you just one thing in this guide, it would be this:

“Keyword research can literally make or break your website.”

If you follow this guide, you will have the ability to conduct keyword research like a pro. Which will enable you to find those hidden gems which have made me thousands in recurring profits each and every month.

Let’s get started.

CHAPTERS

CHOOSING A NICHE: Don't Go Looking For Trouble

I regularly refer to the sites that I build as a niche sites.

However most people misunderstand what I mean by the term ‘niche’. The reason some people are confused here is because of the history of niche sites.

It was not too long ago that a niche sites was understood to be a small 5 page site, targeting a singular specific keyword.

These sites would provide zero value to the reader and would be blasted to the top of Google by Black Hat SEO’s.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not judging, Google made it easy and people took advantage of that opportunity.

However a ‘niche’ no longer carries that meaning. In fact it never did – it was just misunderstood.

A specilized but profitable segment of a market

That is the definition provided by the Oxford dictionary, any easy way to understand it is like this:

[bctt tweet=”The World doesn't need another Walmart”]

We are in a time where niche businesses are prospering. Take Dollar Shave Club and Beard Brand for example.

They cater to a small ‘niche’ segment of a larger market – and they are killing it.

BUYER INTENT: Smart People Go Where The Money is

Now that you understand why keywords are so important, there is something else you should know.

Not all Keywords are created equal.

Let me tell you a little story.

Back when I first got started with niche site building, I was naive.

I went for the keywords with the highest number of searches each month. In my mind, searches = traffic and traffic = money.

One of my earlier websites was MakeFrenchToast.org which was targeting the keyword “How To Make French Toast”, which at the time received 74,000 exact monthly searches according to the Google Keyword Planner (or keyword tool as it was known back then).

I actually hit page 1 within a few months and was ranking in 4th spot for that very term. Traffic was good, however I had a problem.

The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to make money from that traffic.

I started brainstorming every way I could think of. Then it dawned on me.

I had the wrong buyer intent.

What I had was thousands of visitors coming to my site looking for free information. They weren’t looking to buy a product; they had some bread and eggs and wanted to know how to make French toast.

They were looking for a recipe.

So I had made my first mistake. Not understanding the intent of people searching for those keywords.

To further expand on how easy it would have been for me to avoid this mistake. Let’s take a look at the Google search results:

Notice anything strange?

Look down the right hand side of the image, where you usually see small ads that businesses are paying for.

BOOM.

There it is, staring me in the face. No one was willing to pay money to have people click to their site for people searching for this keyword.

This is a tell-tale sign that this was not a keyword that could make money and did not have BUYER INTENT.

Another obvious sign is that in the image above, Google themselves are providing the recipe! This is likely taken from one of the top ranking sites and displayed in an easy to use box right at the top of the search results.

How much traffic do you think this will take away from those top sites? My guess is A LOT.

So how do we break down buyer intent?

Let’s take another example:

Email Marketing - Keyword Planner

As you can see the Google Keyword Planner tells us that this search term gets only 14,800 exact searches per month.

A lot less than our 74k searches in the previous example. Let’s take a look at the search results.

Email Marketing - Google Search

See all those businesses paying Google for clicks and jostling for position?

They know something you don’t.

The user who is interested in Email Marketing has buyer intent. They are likely to be looking for a software solution.

Those businesses buying ad places are so confident in the buyer intent, that they are willing to pay Google upwards of £44 per click to direct that user to their landing page.

People don't like to waste money, businesses even less so. If this keyword didn't produce a positive ROI, it would have been dropped a long time ago and there would be no ads being paid for.

As it stands, this keyword seems to be highly lucrative and have perfect buyer intent.

The Head, Body & Tail of Keywords

If not all traffic is created equal your next lesson is this:Not all keywords are created equal.

There are 3 main types of keyword.

Types of Keyword

The Head

Head terms are shorter and more generic, usually containing 1 or 2 words and have a high search volume.

These are generally very competitive with little value as the buyer intent isn’t there. If a user is searching for the term “Football”, there is no telling what their intent is…

Are they looking for fixture listings? Results? Live scores? Team Jerseys?

Your guess is as good as mine and it’s the reason that ranking for these head keywords is not as great as you may think.

The Body

Body keywords contain 2-3 words and are a tad more targeted than our head terms.

They include the previously mentioned “Live Football scores” and “Today’s Football results”.

The buyer intent is starting to come to light; however we can still do better.

The Tail

This is where the tail keywords come into play.

These contain a combination of 4+ words words in a phrase, such as “Live Football score New England Patriots ”

We still refer to these phrases as keywords, just to avoid any confusion!

They are also referred to as “Long Tail keywords”.

This is where I want you to play close attention.

Long tail keywords are the single biggest reason why I am able to build, rank and profit from niche sites.

Here’s why:

  • They are easier to rank for – competition is generally lower as they are not targeted
  • They will make up over 85% of all traffic to your website
  • One long piece of content can target many long tail keywords
  • You can fly under the radar of other website builders
  • They are more specific and often indicate buyer intent, meaning you can make a lot of money

Here is an example of a long tail keyword:

Best RC Car Under 100

It has everything we are looking for in a keyword.

  1. More than 3 words in the phrase
  2. Has buyer intent
  3. Has low competition on page 1 of Google
  4. Is an evergreen topic
  5. Has plenty of “Group Keywords” we can also target

KEYWORD BUCKETS: Building A Strong Understanding of The Niche

When you find a keyword or topic that interests you, the first thing you should do is look for highly related keywords and put them into a “Keyword Bucket”.These are closely related search phrases that we can use to dig deeper into our topic and find those hidden gems our competition doesn’t know about.

However we need to go beyond just using the Google Keyword Tool if we want an insight into the mindset of the niche.

This brings us back to buyer intent and ensuring that we are building our site on a solid foundation or great keywords, with people looking to buy.

There are many ways we can create our keyword buckets, they involve using a number of tools to scrape various information that would otherwise take forever to do manually.

Before I take you through each of my favorite tools, we need some seed keywords.

What Is An Evergreen Topic?

Earlier in this guide I mentioned a phrase “Evergreen Topics”. Let's take a look at exactly what that means.An evergreen topic is something that stands the test of time. Something that will be around in years to come, and is not part of a trend or the latest craze.

There will be trends WITHIN the topic, but the topic itself will be something that will be talked about in 5, 10, 50 years from now.

Some examples of evergreen topics are;

  • How to make money online
  • Planning for retirement
  • Losing weight, gaining muscle
  • How to be more happy
  • Dog training, collars and leashes

Above we talked above Google Trends which is not only helpful for our keyword research but also to understand if a term is evergreen or just a fad.

Essentially what we are looking for is an understanding of the keyword popularity over time. Some will be on an upward trend, some downward and some will remain constant.

What's important is to generate as many evergreen keywords for your niche as possible so that you can create pillar content around it to form the foundations of your site.

Go to chapter 2: Keyword Research Tools

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 36 comments
Doug - last year

Hey Lewis, I have been looking for a guide like this that is actually up-to-date.
You really knocked it out of the park! You could be charging for a guide like this.
cheers!

Reply
    Lewis - last year

    Thanks Doug, there are so many tools out there that I had a fun time gathering them all, I probably still missed a ton out but there are only so many hours in the day I guess!

    Reply
Cesar - last year

Hey Lewis.
Just in time. Was looking for an updated guide on Keyword Research for mid 2015. Looks Good!

Reply
Yordi van Dijk - last year

Thanks Lewis,

What an outstanding detailed guide! So much takeaways! Thank you very much:)

Cheers,

Yordi

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David Arthur - last year

Thank you very much for this guid man makes keyword research much easier

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Jeff - last year

Great work lewis – really enjoyed this. The keyword bucket thing is something I’ve been using for a while, and thought I was one of the only ones.

Reply
    Lewis - last year

    Hey Jeff – thanks man, yeah building up a niche set of keywords is a big step of the whole process!

    Reply
Josh Shogren - last year

Wow, good stuff here man! I will be referring anyone that asks me about keyword research to this guide. I even learned some cool tips in here that I didn’t know. Thanks!

Josh

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    Lewis - last year

    Thanks Josh I really appreciate it buddy – I was reading some of your FBA stuff today!

    Reply
RJ - last year

Hey Lewis,
This is a great guide. The term “buyers intent” will definitely change peoples perspective on what a quality keyword represents.

Cheers!

Reply
Noah - last year

Awesome work sharing this information Lewis.
I have to admit lately it hasn’t been very easy for me to rank my post by doing kwr the old ways. This great and I’m exited to give it a try.

Thanks buddy

Reply
    Lewis - last year

    Hey Noah, I’m glad you found it useful buddy. I plan on doing some in-depth videos on different aspects ok KW and competition research soon

    Reply
Jon - last year

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the outstanding guide. This is the best that I have seen.

Maybe it’s just me, on this page, a number of the images are not visible on my Mac at Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Cheers,
Jon

Reply
Andrea - last year

I’ve been through several guides on keyword research but yours really makes my day! This is concise and well-written. I gain more understanding and important insights into what go behind the scene whilst we perform keyword research. The best part is this guide based on the middle of 2015.

Reply
    Lewis - last year

    Thanks Andrea I’m glad you liked the guide, SEO & Keyword research is always changing but this is one of the more up-to-date guides out there right now!

    Reply
Ed - last year

Hi Lewis,

Just found your site and I’m addicted to it. Your keyword research guide is simply the best there is for getting started, hands down. Your approach is refreshingly honest and easy to follow. I’m a long term subscriber.

Ed

Reply
Sonakshi - last year

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for this. Learnt a lot about keyword research and about writing thorough posts!

I’ve linked to it in my blog on content promotion – bit.ly/promotionchecklist. Would be wonderful if you could give it a read & maybe a share? Only if you find it worthwhile though 🙂 Also, any feedback is most welcome – I’m very improvement obsessed!

Thanks again.
Sonakshi

Reply
Darren Davis - last year

Hey Lewis,

I’m popping over from ahrefs… so thank Doug C., and Brian Dean cause I guess he inspired that post 😉

This is awesome! I will take the time to go through this all…but it really rocks!!! Thanks for taking the time to put it together – I preach buying intent to clients all the friggin time. So I love your breakdown here. I may steal it as my new way to explain it >:)

Best,
Darren

ps – you might way to update the predefined tweet for this when you hit the social share button on this page… it just says “keyword research” – would make it a heck of a lot easier to share 😉

Reply
    Lewis - last year

    Hey Darren, thanks for stopping by and for the heads up r.e the Tweet I will ge that fixed!

    P.S – Feel free to steal it 🙂

    Reply
Joseph de Souza - last year

Another thing I would like to mention is we have to target keywords which include all stages of the buying funnel including informational ones e.g. samsung j7 is an informational one whereas buy samsung j7 is an end of the funnel keyword.

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Marcelo J Vieira - last year

Gotta say this is by far the most complete post about keyword research i have ever read.
Thank you for sharing this with us, it really is a lot of good information.
I personally have done a lot with my blog after reading your suggestions and it was a positive result.
Keep making the difference like that, we are so glad for this.

Reply
James - last year

Lewis:

what’s the first step you take in choosing a niche?

Do you look at Google trends and then randomly select a niche from there? Or are there a set list of niches that you stick to, such as health and beauty?

Or do you constantly play with keyword tools and your choose your next website from the latest hidden gem that you have found?

Thanks for creating such a detailed guide.

Reply
    Lewis Ogden - last year

    Hey James, I usually find inspiration from everyday life or Amazon Bestsellers. I don’t stick to just one niche, anything is fair game in my mind!

    I like to use Google autosuggest once I have a topic/product in mind to discover even more keywords.

    Reply
      M. Schneiders - 11 months ago

      Hello, and congratulations for your successful business, Lewis. I am an upcoming book author, ready to publish my book on Amazon. While doing some research on how to get the best exposure for my book, I came across KWFinder, recommended (or developed) by Alinka Rutkowska. KWFinder doesn’t have their own tutorial, but they send me to your video that you posted on youtube. I tried to watch your video, but I got lost. And I have the feeling you are doing a more complex research. I only need to find the best keywords for my book and how to select an ideal target SEO keyword for Kindle. I need to check how competitive these keywords are. I am not handy when it comes to IT, and I am well aware of my weakness. It seems to me you specialize in websites. If I will buy one of KWFinder package, I won’t be able to use, because, as I said, I am simply too stupid for that. I would also need to download the KindleSamurai, and I heard it only works on a PC 🙁 That app should tell you instantly a list of popular terms that relate to my keyword, a list of long tail keywords, the number of books that compete for a specific term and the strength of the competing books. Here is my question: will you be able to help me in finding the best keywords/SEO, or whatever I need in order to release my book? I need an expert like you. I am simply overwhelmed with all these tutorials, and links, and honest to be, I lost my patience and I don’t have the time to start learning new things at my age 🙂 I would really appreciate an answer, Thank you, Mihaella

      Reply
        Lewis Ogden - 11 months ago

        Hi Mihaella, wow that was a long comment! In short what I explain in the video is simply how the tool works. The “SEO Score” it provides for each keyword is an indication of how tough it will be to rank #1 in Google for that keyword. In my guide above, I recommend start with “Keyword Buckets” where you take things related to your niche and use those as seed keywords. So if you are in the “Romance novel” arena then type that into KWFinder or the Google Keyword Planner or direct into Google and you will get a bunch of other suggestions.

        I don’t know what you book is about of the target market, so you will have to do this yourself if you want to market your book effectively. The other option is to Pay Amazon to advertise your book for you with thie CPC program.

        – Good Luck!

        Reply
Jacob - 7 months ago

Hi Lewis,
A very comprehensive and wonderful post on keyword research,
We all know about how important it is to building a successful site. Anyone that really want to start a niche site as a business must not ignore keyword research because, that is the only way you will know whether you’re going into a profitable niche or not.

Thanks for sharing man.

Reply
Jeff - a few months ago

Might be interested in your assistance building an information tips site that will tie back
to the products that are going to be sold. Create and generate good will by being informative
and an authority in this particularly sector prior to selling any products.

Do you have an e-mail address and phone number so we can communicate?

Regards,

Jeff

Reply
    Lewis Ogden - a few months ago

    Hey Jeff, unfortunately I work solely on my own projects and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I wish you luck with your project!

    Reply
Yogesh - a few months ago

Hey Lewis, I must say this really is a nice and lengthy post giving out a lot of value!
I will be using the tips as suggested by you and will create a new post and rank it! Will update the results here soon 🙂
Thanks!

Reply
Khal - last month

Thanks Lewis…much apprecaited…amazing guide!

Reply

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