While doing keyword research, the digital marketer normally tries to accomplish two things: spend as little time on it as possible and cover as many potentially profitable keywords as the niche provides.
However, hitting both these targets at once is one heck of a task. Hence, it is very good to know what shortcuts one can take, without sacrificing the productivity of their campaign.
Say, you are a CPA (certified public accountant) and have a website called www.SuperDuperAccounting.com (just for the record – the site does not exist in reality as this post is being written). How can you quickly identify high-paying keywords in your niche? Let’s conduct a small case study, shall we?
Shortcut 1 – See what keywords you ALREADY rank for
If your site has been around for a while, it should be ranking in the search engines for at least some terms. So, the first shortcut to take is to see what keywords your site shows up for in the search results.
I’m going to use SEMRush to scan the search engines that the service supports.
As you can see, the site ranks second for ‘accounting services’ on Google.com (US), etc. So, what we do now is we just grab these keywords and add them to our raw keyword data base.
Shortcut 2 – Tap into some analytics
In case you’ve been using Google Analytics on your site, you can mine some keyword ideas from it. For that, go to
Traffic Sources > Overview > Keyword > view full report (in the lower right corner) and click the Export button at the top of the page.
Some folks also recommend fetching keywords from Google Webmaster Tools. However, the data there is likely to be the same, proof being that you can now verify your site in GWT by indicating your Google Analytics details.
Shortcut 3 – Dig into competitors’ search terms
Another way to get quick keyword ideas for your site is to find out what keywords your competitors hold near and dear. If you know your competitors’ website addresses, you can simply see what keywords they’re ranking for using the method described in Shortcut 1.
You can just go ahead and see what meta keywords your competition is using. And, this can be done either by hand or with the help of a tool.
To do it manually, just press CTRL + U while on the webpage and look for name=”keywords” in a meta tag.
However, as this article is about taking shortcuts, here is an even better way to do it. Rank Tracker, our in-house keyword tracking app, allows one to quickly scrape meta keywords from hundreds of sites.
Just start the app, press Suggest, then choose Competition research as your preferred keyword research method. At Step 2, simply Copy/Paste the keywords you have collected so far:
Rank Tracker will gather more keywords from your competitors’ sites and organize them in a list.
Shortcut 4 - Expand your keyword list in a hit
At this point, when you already have quite an extensive keyword list that’s based on real rankings and visits, it’s time to expand it with more thematically-related keywords.
You can get suggested keywords in many different ways, using:
Rank Tracker (20 KW suggestion mechanisms!)
As a result, you will probably get a multi-thousand list of keywords. It’s best to be adding those suggestions to a separate list, without mixing them with your original list of keywords, since, later, you will have to…
Shortcut 5 – Filter out the junk
As a rule, in a raw keyword data pool, you get quite a big number of keywords not associated with your business in any way (for example, I got ‘fire department accountability tags’, ‘blackberry internet service email accounts’, etc. on my list).
So, now, we have to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, so to say. I usually do this in 2 major ways:
- By searching for ‘negative’ keywords (the keywords that I definitely don’t need on the list)
- By bulk-selecting the keywords I know I need.
Allow me to elaborate on these two.
In order to find out what keywords I don’t want on my list (which is not as simple as it seems), I normally scroll down the big list, taking note of all the junk words that grab my attention. For example, I noticed these quite conspicuous groups of keywords:
You can do in Excel, too. However, I prefer Rank Tracker for the reason that it allows me to quickly remove the keywords I don’t need using a quick filter:
As far as the second approach is concerned, it lies in exactly the opposite – in bulk-picking your target keywords from the big pile of words. For instance, once I did a quick junk check, I then extract all the terms that contain words like ‘accounting’, ‘accounting services’, ‘tax’, ‘tax return’, ‘auditing services’, etc. and put them on a SEPARATE list, for me to easier clean up the list in the second round.
I usually then go switching between the two approaches until I’m happy with the final chart.
*At this point, one normally checks what keywords are the most profitable, that is, have the smallest competition coupled with the biggest number of monthly searches. But, as this post is on shortcuts, we’ll leave this step out, as it’s simply a matter of what SEO tool to use to calculate your keywords’ KEI (keyword efficiency index).
Voila, we’re now ready for some semi-final and final data crunching.
Shortcut 6 – Break keywords into groups
Now that all the junk is filtered out and we have only relevant keywords left, it’s time to break the keywords into strategically different groups, because, as a rule, different types of keywords are campaigned for differently. So, we just break them into branded/non-branded as well as regular/long-tail keywords:
Shortcut 7 – Align keywords with page URLs
The last step to take, which will leave us with ready-to-go keyword lists, is to break your keywords into even more groups, in order to see what exact pages of your site these keywords will be used on.
That’s it, all set. The benefit of the last 2 shortcuts is that they leave you with actionable keyword lists that will be much easier to organize campaigns for.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.
About the Author
Aleh Barysevich is Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO Software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a group of SEO professionals with almost a decade of experience in Internet marketing.
Based on their expertise, the company’s four-app SEO toolset was created, setting the industry’s benchmark for technology-powered Web promotion.