In order to know which keywords to target, it's essential to not only understand the demand for a given term or phrase, but also the work required to achieve high rankings. If big brands take the top 10 results and you're just starting out on the web, the uphill battle for rankings can take years of effort. This is why it's essential to understand keyword difficulty.


How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for "brown shoes" or "black boots"? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.

It's not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated; with keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually any niche.
SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
Hey Alex – this is a good question. No tool is going to be spot on. My advice is to not look too much into the accuracy of the metrics, but look at it more as a relative measure. I’m finding Ahrefs to be a good barometer for keyword competitiveness, but I’ve also heard great things about KW Finder lately. I think it’ll more come to personal preference. Both are solid options.
I think people's aresenal of keyword research tools are mostly the same: 1) You need a tool to examine search volume, most likely Google Keyword Planner 2) A tool to help you generate more keyword ideas. Tools that work with the search engines' autosuggestions are very popular such as KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest 3) Then people might add a tool broaden the depth of their data, maybe including something like Google Trends or Moz's Keyword Difficulty tool.
3. Finally, there's just good old research through trends and news. Google Trends, keeping up on industry news of the business, and even newsjacking (if there are relevant topics). These all require different resources depending on the business, but once you find the leaders in their news you can not only leverage them for keyword research but also glean insights into how you can become an industry leader yourself (and dominate SEO).

And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases -- you just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
2. The second category are keyword tools based on the competition. One of the first things to determine is not only who the business competitors are, but who the SEO competitors are. Keyword research can be done by simply doing research on high-performing competitors. Some of my favorite domain-based keyword tools are SEMrush, SpyFu, and BrightEdge's Data Cube.
Given you have a good idea of where to start and are fairly confident you are speaking the same language as your client, jump start research by generating related keyphrases and long tail variants with the ever so easy to use Google Autocomplete. This tool makes predictions based on what you are typing that are a reflection of Google search activity.

Hi – I’ve read your post with great interest. Not only am I happy for you and your success, it does provide a glimmer of hope to those of us who do have “other” ideas. I, too, have had an idea for a very long time now, but I have no idea how to go about “making it a reality.” I am not a programmer either… though I do know some html… I also remember the old days of having even a web developer holding domains hostage, never mind the site’s entire code. And, yes, that is one of the major things that stops me from even discussing things with a developer. I simply don’t trust them…
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