When I am setting up a new website or even if I am just stuck for ideas on what to write for a blog post I like to do a bit of keyword research. Spread sheet programs like Microsoft Excel, which can be used to make all sorts of financial and business decisions, can also help me to sort out the keyword that I am looking for.
Keyword research is a bit boring but should never be overlooked when building a new website. Building your site around the wrong keywords can be a costly SEO mistake. If you use and optimize your site for high competition keywords it will probably take you ages to get any organic search traffic, optimize an e-commerce site for keywords that buyers aren’t using and you will probably suffer from a high bounce rate and no sales.
Finding the best low competition keywords to target is where a spreadsheet can help. Don’t have or want to pay for Excel? I use Open Office; Open Office is an excellent free alternative very similar to Microsoft Excel with all the same features.
To start my keyword research I do a few searches on Google and sometimes Bing, I search keywords around my current niche or the niche I am looking to target and I look at which sites are ranking high on search engines for those keywords. I try to think like a searcher when performing this initial research, I check the Google page rank and quality of these ranking sites. If I find Wikipedia and other websites with low or no Page Rank on the first page (not common these days) it usually suggests the keyword phrase or search term should be fairly easy to rank for.
However, a noncompetitive keyword phrase might not be a good thing; it might mean low search volume. It is equally important to check out the search volume for each low competitive keyword to see if there are enough interest / demand for that keyword phrase to be worth your effort.
I prefer to see good quality websites ranking high for keyword phrases I want to target, because people don’t waste time, effort and money working on websites that don’t produce results. So seeing a few good quality websites on the first page usually means that the niche will pay well and it will be worth my time and effort while creating a site for it.
Once I have done my initial keyword research I put the keywords that I like into a spreadsheet, then I go to the Google Adwords keyword tool, this tool uses Adwords data, it doesn’t tell us organic search competition but it gives us an idea, it’s quick, it does tell us search volumes and it’s free. When performing research on Adwords make sure you tick the box on the left that says “exact” match, by default it’s set to “broad” match, this will not give you a good idea of search volume for specific terms.
Once the Adwords keyword tool has given me some keyword phrases that I like with low competition and good enough search volume I put them in my spreadsheet and add another column to it. I call this column competition and I open my web browser then I search other keywords I like, I look at the competition of the keywords and quality of those higher ranked websites.
I sought my spreadsheet by the competition column and the best lowest competition keywords come to the top. There are a few paid tools that will do all the above quickly and efficiently, Keyword XP is one such tool that allows you to export results to a .xls file, but I still like to look at the keyword research results myself and check the search volumes with the Googlev Adwords keyword tool.