How to Do Effective Keyword Research

If you're working on search engine optimization whether it's to help rank your company website in the search engines or you want your own articles to have high SERPs, it's important to learn how to do proper keyword research.

Before writing around a niche topic you should ensure these three things:

  • Your niche is something you can realistically compete in
  • Your niche can gain the kind of traffic you're looking for
  • Your keywords are things people actually search for

Getting Started: What You'll Need

You will need some tools before we move on, to help you find out how much you can make with Adsense. Don't worry, they are free!

You can go the easy route and install Firefox and SEO for Firefox which you can learn about (and download) on the list of 7 Must-Have SEO Tools. SEO for Firefox will help you find the PageRank of sites in Google SERPs. If you don't feel like using it, you can just use any of the many websites that have a PageRank checking tool.

You will need some sort of spreadsheet software (other than Google Docs.) Microsoft Excel is great, but I'll be using OpenOffice Calc in my examples since it's free and works great.

Setting Up Spreadsheets for Keyword Research

We're going to start with a bit of work in our spreadsheet so that it's all ready for our keyword research. Go ahead and open up a new Calc Document and name it something like "Keywords" and hit save. Fill out the spreadsheet by putting the word "keyword" in A1, "[searches]" in B1, "CPC" in C1, "Monthly $" in D1.

In the D2 cell we are going to input a function which will do some math to find out how much a particular keyword can earn per month. The example will use the HubPages function.

After you paste the function into cell D2, hit escape on your keyboard. Then, right click on cell D2 and then click "copy." Then, click and hold cell D3. While still holding cell D3, pull down your mouse, selecting several cells on column D3. Pull down until cell D500 or further (so you can do research on several keywords without having to constantly add the function to cells.) With all those cells in column D selected, right click, and hit paste.

Input this code in D2 if you earn with a niche site:

=(B2*0.5636)*(C2*0.68)*0.015

Input this code in D2, if you earn with HubPages:

=(B2*0.5636)*(C2*0.68)*0.6*0.015

Your Keyword Spreadsheet: What it All Means

You can edit the function as you see fit. As you become more and more familiar with keyword research and making money with AdSense, you will find yourself making changes to your spreadsheet functions based on your own experiences. You'll need to know what the function means in order to be able to tweak it to your liking. Here's what it all means:

Let's assume for a second that you get to the tippy top of Google SERPs. Even though you're #1, not EVERYONE will visit your site. Let's say about 56.36% of searchers click your site/page. (56.36% of searchers click the top search result.)

Take the number of searches a keyword gets per month and multiply it by 0.5636 to see how many visits per month your site could get if it is number one. This is expressed in our function with the bit that says (B2 *0.5636.) That says "Give me 56.36% of the number that I put in cell B2)

The CPC (or cost-per-click) is how much advertisers pay per click to Google. You can figure that Google pays out about two-thirds to publishers like you. What Google pays out to you is called PPC (or pay-per-click.) According to Google, they pay AdSense users 68% of the revenue brought in from a click. To figure out the pay-per-click, just multiply the cost-per-click by 0.68. Since CPC is in cell C2, the part of the function that is (C2/0.68) essentially means "get 68% of what's in cell C2."

HubPages users are on a 60% ad rotation which means that 60% of the time a person views your hub, the ad that shows is from your AdSense account. So here we will multiply the number of views your page could get times the pay-per-click times 60% (or 0.6.)

We're left with one last bit of multiplication: the 0.015. This number could really be anything depending on your niche, but you should figure (to be on the safe side) that 1.5% of the all people that visit your page will click an ad. This is called your CTR. CTR varies HIGHLY between niches. If your ads are closely related to your content, then your CTR could be much higher. If you write about things that don't trigger ads that are related to your content, then visitors won't really click the ads thus lowering your CTR.

According to a study at Cornell University, 56.36% of users will click the first search result. From there, the percentages fall drastically.
According to a study at Cornell University, 56.36% of users will click the first search result. From there, the percentages fall drastically.

What Is a Niche?

When writing online, you will quickly realize that you should write in what is called a "niche." Niches are essentially honed-down specialized topics. By focusing a blog or website around a specialized niche, you can more easily dominate Google SERPs.

How do you find a niche? Write down a list of things that interest you. Feel free to be really broad since this is just brainstorming for some ideas.

Here are some things I came up with:
Dogs
Gardening
Travel
Coffee

These, by far, aren't niche topics, but it's something to get us started in finding a niche. A niche is more specific than any of the interests I came up with, but we'll use my list to come up with a great niche!

Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool

You may have heard of the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and wondered how exactly it can be used to find keywords for a niche site or for a hub. It's actually fairly simple -- I'll show you how to use it here.

On my list of ideas, I wrote that I liked dogs, so we'll start with that. Go to adwords.google.com and login (or create an account if you don't already have one, then login.) To get to the keyword tool, click "Reporting & Tools" and then click "Keyword Tool."

Under word or phrase, type "dogs" and click "search."

On the left deselect "broad" and, instead, select "[exact]". This is because you want to see the information for when people search for just "dogs" and not other things with the words dogs in it like "I like dogs" or "dogs bite." You will notice in the spreadsheet, I have keyword written with the brackets around it. I have like this in the spreadsheet to serve as a simple reminder to make sure I use [exact] in the Adwords Keyword Tool.

Note that the tool doesn't just give information about the keyword [dogs] but other similar keywords. This is extremely helpful in finding more honed-down niche keywords.

Source

In your spreadsheet, put the word "dogs" under the heading "keywords" (since it's a keyword.) On the AdWord Keyword Tool, note the number of Global Monthly searches. Put this number under [searches] in your spreadsheet. Also, put the dollar amount of "Approximate CPC" from your Adwords Keyword Tool under "CPC" on your spreadsheet. You will see that the "Monthly $" is automatically filled in. This is because of the function we added earlier. Handy!

Refer to the chart below for help.

keyword
[searches]
CPC
Monthly $
dogs
673,000
1.66
3853.41
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Note: The data may differ. For example, as of this printing, [dogs] receives 673,000 searches per month. It may receive a different number of searches at the time you use the keyword tool.
How to view the PageRank in Google SERPs
How to view the PageRank in Google SERPs | Source

How to Find Long-tail Keywords

Wow! If I ranked #1 in Google for the keyword "dogs" I would make $1500 a month from just that one keyword!

That would be amazing, but it's nearly impossible. I know this without even researching the keyword any further, but if you're new to keyword research, it's important to learn how to find out whether a keyword is doable.

Since you have SEO for Firefox, we can take a quick look at the Google search results page (SERP) to see if this keyword is something we can rank for.

Do a quick Google search for the word "dogs" (without the quotes.) You will see there are a bunch of blue links under each result. Click the little question mark next to PR for each of the search results.

Generally I look at the title of each search result and make sure they have the keyword in the title. If the keyword isn't in the title, then it's possible you could beat them in the SERPs if you put the keyword in your title. More importantly I look at the PageRank.

PageRank is a number (0-10) that essentially says how important a site is. If you see a site that is ranked 5-10 in the Google SERPs, ditch the keyword. It's highly difficult to rank against those sites.

If you're new to SEO try something more realistic like ranking against sites with a PR of 0, 1, or 2. Even a PageRank of 3 can be difficult to rank against, but not nearly as difficult as a 5 or higher. Just go with your skill level. If you've never done SEO before, don't try to compete against a site with a 4. If you are experienced, you probably don't need this guide.

As you can see, [dogs] will be too difficult to rank for. Go back to the AdWords Keyword Tool and look at other keywords. Even words like [dog clothes] may be too difficult to rank for, but go ahead and hone into [dog clothes] by replacing [dogs] in the keyword tool search area with [dog clothes.] The keyword tool will give you words related to [dog clothes] that perhaps you can rank for. It's trial and error. If you spend time with the keyword tool, you'll learn the types of keywords that'll work and the ones that won't.

Keywords to Avoid

Keywords that have a CPC of just 0.05 are usually worthless unless you get a ton of clicks. Generally these are the type to avoid unless dominating the niche will be cake. You have to decide if the possible monthly earnings are enough to make up for the time spent developing content around the niche (and getting backlinks.)

Another type of keyword that you'll generally want to avoid are one word keywords like "France", "Coffee," and "Red." These types of keywords are not long-tail and usually have really high PageRanks.

That said, keywords that are things that people seldom (or never) search for are kind of pointless. I usually avoid keywords with less than 500 searches per month.

It's a good idea to save your spreadsheet when you're doing your keyword research so you have something to refer to later. Your spreadsheet is an invaluable resource, so it's important to keep it around.

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Comments 69 comments

centermassmedia 2 years ago

Melbel: thank you for the article. This is great information for keyword analysis. You find tons of information on short tail keywords but focusing on the long tail keywords has been very good for local results fond from mobile device traffic.

Thank you!


Emily Richey profile image

Emily Richey 2 years ago from Florida

Hi I have a new blog and this was SO helpful. Thank you so much!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Thank you for putting this together. I love writing but because I've only been on HubPages for 6 months I've just been concentrating on creating good content. I have been pleasantly surprised that people actually search for topics I write about and find my content through Google etc. Now I figure maybe I should look into keywords, page ranks, and other analytics. Thank you for this excellent primer! Voted awesome and more!


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

Wow Melbel, this is the most concise and practical explanation I've read anywhere about keywords and finally, I think I get it. You even gave us the spreadsheet and that's awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you. In my book, you are A+++++


Adventure Colorad profile image

Adventure Colorad 4 years ago from Denver,CO

Great tips Melbel, I'm still trying to hone my keyword skills. Hopefully I'll catch on one of these days!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

Thank you. Finally a 'how to' maunual that is so detailed and simply written that I think I can follow it and finally make my keyword research effective. It is what I've neeeded for months now, invaluable material. Pinning and voting.


rumintasari profile image

rumintasari 4 years ago from Sleman

this is awesome, thank you for the detailed information you share here.


Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

Great, thanks for the tips. I almost forget about using Adwords until now. Nice one.


Green Art profile image

Green Art 4 years ago

I'm just starting to look at key words and how they can help bring more traffic to my hubs. Great suggestions in this hub I will refer to often! Voted Up, Useful, and Interesting!


safiq ali patel profile image

safiq ali patel 4 years ago from United States Of America

Awesome hub. This hub is genuinely what I call highly original useful content. Brilliant hub.


cyoung35 profile image

cyoung35 4 years ago from Corona, CA

I've been using a tool called Market Samurai and it does many of the calculations for you. Have you ever used this software and what do you think about it? Great hub by the way...voted up and interesting.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

This is really helpful. I hadn't thought about using a spreadsheet to keyword research, but I can see how it would come in very handy. So much of this is new to me, especially the page rank stuff. thanks! Voted up.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

melbel,

This is an excellent and very informative hub. I really must do all of the things you suggest if I really want to be more financially successful on hubpages. Voted up and sharing with followers.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is such valuable information. I was searching for keywords without using the CPC feature. I now have a new level of understanding. Thanks so much for writing this.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I know that I have actually read this before... but I can also tell that I have been learning stuff because I have been playing around more with Google Adwords and Analytics... I actually understood this a little more. Still not sure how to effectively use the keywords to get your article to rank higher.. but at least it is a start!


susiebrown48 profile image

susiebrown48 4 years ago from Clearwater, FL

Very useful, I couldn't get SEO for Firefox to work, but I can surely use everything else!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Great information. The whole Google SERP thing is new to me so this was very useful!


GoForTheJuggler profile image

GoForTheJuggler 4 years ago from Texas

Good job, and a lot of great info here - voted up and across!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Melbel, this is very good information. Since I hardly know much of SEO I will need to really understand how the whole thing works. I'm bookmarking this to go through it again while I download the essential tools needed to put this into practice.

This a ton of useful and interesting information. Bookmarked, voted all ends up and yes shared it all over and pinned for the benefit of others.

Glad you shared this. Thanks.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Amazing hub! Sad I missed it before:( Glad I have it now though - better late than never, eh?


philliden profile image

philliden 4 years ago

A brief yet very informative hub on the most important aspect of making a web content, keywords! Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this. This has been very helpful.


Mommiegee profile image

Mommiegee 4 years ago from Alabama

Great Hub! Thanks for sharing.


yeagerinvestments profile image

yeagerinvestments 4 years ago from Wisconsin

Great information. Keyword research is crucial to making money on here. I will have to try using the software you recommend vs. Excel.


klevifusha 4 years ago

This is definitely one of the best and most useful Hubs I've come across on this site. However, like one of the other commenters stated, it takes not only reading, but studying. I'll make sure to come back and visit it regularly. Thank you for posting such useful information.


AlanRimmer profile image

AlanRimmer 4 years ago from Southwest UK

At last I have been able to make logical sense out of the whole keyword research thing. I've read so much about how it should be done that my technique has been a bit of a mash up. Thanks for sharing your ideas this will certainly help.


SteveSpencer profile image

SteveSpencer 4 years ago from USA

Great information. I'm still very new here and this is one of the better articles I've found on this topic because you go into such detail. I am not able to see the CPC but another commenter indicated that will change when I log into adwords so I'll try that next. Definitely voting up on this one.

One note. I noticed you said you email documents to yourself to protect them in the event of a system crash. I've done that for years as well but recently have begun using Dropbox and it does the same thing and makes it much easier to access those documents when working remotely.


roxygurl464 profile image

roxygurl464 4 years ago from New Jersey

Such a big help! I'm an hp newbie so I feel a little overwhelmed with all the information I've been taking in the past few weeks. However, I really love how you broke this method down step by step for us! Two thumbs way up!


KimberlyLake profile image

KimberlyLake 4 years ago from California

Very informative Thanks for Sharing!


Trinity M profile image

Trinity M 4 years ago

What a brilliant hub melbel! I must admit this is the best article on the subject I have ever read. Thank you so much for writing it and for the great information and clear details. Voted up, useful and shared.


Distant Mind profile image

Distant Mind 4 years ago

Voted up & sharing. Great and useful hub!


george looney profile image

george looney 4 years ago

Very informative and helpful for new users of hubpages... thanks for the info


forlanda profile image

forlanda 4 years ago from US of A

There are also tools out there to help automate a lot of the work in determining the value of key words. One of them is Market Samurai and the other is Micro Niche Finder. They aren't free though.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Don't know much about all of this but I will keep it in my Hub Tools folder and when I get a chance try to figure it all out. Lots of good information thanks for sharing. Voted up.


iefox5 profile image

iefox5 4 years ago

Google Adwords Keyword Tool is used by most online marketers. It is also a useful research tool for Google Adwords Campaigns.


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago

I've read so much about keyword research, but a reminder and a few extra tips are more than welcome! I find the spreadsheets a bit confusing at the moment, but I'm sure everything will fall into place with another detailed reading. I do like coming back to this hub :)


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Melanie, I'll have to read this again but what I picked up after one read appears to be very useful. I will definitely try the Google Keyword Tool and put the results into a spreadsheet. I have been pretty much winging it so far and I think this will really help me with keywords and Hub Titles. Thank you for sharing this. Voting up.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

What great information... I stink at SEO... ok...maybe it is more that I just don't like to spend the time doing keyword research. I find it dull. But, since I am having a bit of a stall on writing... maybe I should be doing some keyword stuff on my older articles to get them higher on google ranks! Nice hub! Thanks for sharing all the tips!


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a great, useful article! Thank-you so much I vote up and will share on my social media circles as well to help other writers.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Great, very helpful hub! I do not always do keyword research for my hubs, but I have definitely found that when I take a little extra time, it really pays off. Rated up! Best, Steph


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Melbel, this is fantastic! I do a fair bit of keyword research but I always just "fool around" with the numbers, jotting stuff down. You have a chart! That is so amazing and I love it. I am definitely bookmarking and sharing this one because it is extremely useful. Thanks so much for taking the time to make up the formulas like this.

I had not heard that 56% figure but that helps. I wonder if the same study gave any stats for being in the 19 spots on Google. I have read that the first two pages are still pretty good but I don't know the actual numbers.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Oh Wow Melbel this is a great resource. I'm re-reading it later today and bookmarking for future use. Voted up and across and Shared! Kelley


ThunderKeys profile image

ThunderKeys 4 years ago

Thank you very much for this. SEO for firefox is great for me, as are your related suggestions! voted up and useful.


Gnaneeswaran profile image

Gnaneeswaran 4 years ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

For pay per click program like adsense should the competition for a keyword must be high?


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I like what Sinea Pies said: keyword college. My head is spinning with this valuable info. So, would you recommend Market Samurai for keyword stuff? Also, realistically speaking, do you think you can ever make a living doing this? I *really* want to. :)


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 4 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

I normally don't do keyword research at all though I have tons of popular hubs. I normally prefer to write on evergreen topics or 'how to hubs'. I only write on topics I know a lot about and keep away from trying my luck with high paying keywords. But I guess learning to do some effective keyword research on the niche I write can help me get some extra income for sure. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial.


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

Melbel, this hub is like going to "keyword college". So much rich material here...I'm going to have to work my way through it. Voted up, useful, stumbled, shared and BOOKMARKED for me to do my "college homework"


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Melbel, you are a hubbers best friend. You write the most wonderful, helpful hubs. Thanks for sharing this. I have learned so much from you.


ayliss08 profile image

ayliss08 4 years ago from Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

hey, you really share something useful and helpful! Thanks!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden

This is so useful and you have also manage to make something difficult to be understandable! You are a genius! Thanks Melbel, it will save so much time for me! Voted up, useful and shared!

Tina


SilkThimble profile image

SilkThimble 4 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thanks for all the incredibly practical information. I particularly like the tips for estimating potential revenue - excellent for prioritizing development effort.


crockpotcooking profile image

crockpotcooking 4 years ago

"If you're new to SEO try something more realistic like ranking against sites with a PR of 0, 1, or 2. Even a PageRank of 3 can be difficult to rank against,"

I am new to internet marketing and keyword research. Nevertheless, I have seen many video clips, webinar replays and tutorials about this.

But that sentence above, IMHO, is one of the most important things to know. I have not seen this practical advice anywhere else.

And this spreadsheet tip, awesome.

I use MNF commercial software for that job, but was also looking for a way to record and analyze my quick visits to adwords keyword.

Thank you.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 5 years ago from upstate, NY

melbel-

Terrific Commentary and tutorial! I see I have a lot of work ahead of me and will have to reread this and other article's over many times. Thank a lot for the great info!-WBA


Joe Giovinco profile image

Joe Giovinco 5 years ago

Thanks for the enlightenment! Keyword research should be the backbone of every site BEFORE it's even built. By making a blueprint of your strategy in advance, will save you huge sums of time in the future. Great Hub!


phanisoft18 profile image

phanisoft18 5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

Extremely useful article melbel :)


Rich Cederberg profile image

Rich Cederberg 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

I voted up and useful. What a beautifully detailed post! Great ideas to expand keyword research.


theseattlegirl profile image

theseattlegirl 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

This is such a useful hub! I've bookmarked it for a handy-dandy reminder when my SEO sense starts to fly out the window. Despite being a half-intelligent human being, it never occurred to me to hasten my keyword research with an Excel spreadsheet. But you've inspired me to start!


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Great hub, I love the page rank links.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

This is one of the best and most thorough seo articles I've read. I'm bookmarking it and printing it and can't wait to get even more focused with seo tools. This hub certainly gets my vote up.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thankyou for your very informative hub.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay

Very helpful. Your marketing skills are apparent in your writing. Very well done. Bookmarked!


Liudmila 5 years ago

A very helpful hub.Thanks!


Recipe Gal profile image

Recipe Gal 5 years ago

I am brand new to all this, so this is great information. I'll have to go get signed up for adwords and start figuring it out!


thehemu profile image

thehemu 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very useful info, i was really struggling for finding a niche category but might get this time lucky. thanks for sharing great hub.


alainamaybin profile image

alainamaybin 5 years ago

Very useful info! Thanks for sharing.


BrianS profile image

BrianS 5 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

It was much easier when Google gave you CPC as an add on column. Wonder why they stopped doing that. handy hub though.

Actually if you sign up to Adwords and login, it is available, just found out.


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago

Great article, melbel, but it needs studying, not just reading :) I'll make it my new bookmark and return many times to use every information effectively. This one deserves a share...


shannon 5 years ago

very helpful information. thank you for sharing.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Thanks so much! So appreciate your work to put this together.

Voted up and book marked.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Voted up and useful. It takes time, but it is so worth doing the preparation and using long-tail keywords!

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