SEO Keyword Research

A strong SEO campaign starts with proper keyword research. You want to ensure that you are going after the right keywords for your business to drive a high volume of relevant traffic. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a free, simple way to get started to build out your list of keywords to create a new Website or to validate the keywords that you are going after for an existing site.

As a company that provides SEO services, we always recommending getting started by brainstorming a list of keywords that you want to rank for. Take the time to write down your keywords. Then, check each keyword in Google to determine the search volume and cost per click (CPC) for each keyword. Below you will find examples of keywords related to the keyword “tummy tuck.”


To find the most searched terms, click on the Avg. monthly searches column. This will show you the keywords that are searched the most from highest to lowest. It will, however, also show you keywords that are not necessarily relevant to your main search term. To tighten your list of keywords, click on Keywords to include and type in the keyword “tummy.” This will ensure that all of the keywords in your list include the keyword “tummy” to maximize the relevance of the related search terms.


You can add one or two of your main keywords to remove all of the non-relevant keywords. You will now notice below that all of the keywords that appear include the keyword “tummy,” since we added it in Keywords to include.


It’s important to keep in mind that Google’s Keyword Planner tool does not show completely accurate data. The key with using the tool is to get some perspective and approximates of what you can expect.

A second way to find search terms is to use Google’s browser by typing in the keywords that you want to go after. For example, if we type in the keyword “tummy tuck,” you will see a drop down of the related keywords below that will be slightly different than the keywords that you see in Google’s Keyword Planner tool.


To take it a step further, if you add a space before, in the middle, or at the end of the phrase, you will see how the suggested terms change as you can see below.


Add an asterisk before the keyword and you will get more variations as you can see below.


Add an “a” before, in the middle, or at the end of a phrase and you will see additional keywords.


Add an ‘a’ before, in the middle and at the end of the phrase with a space and you will see more keywords.


You also want to note the related search terms at the bottom of a search query. Here, you will find a great list of relevant keywords.


Other places to find keywords are in forums, questions in Amazon products, as well as Yahoo answers. Make note of all the possible phrases used. Below you will find an example of some of the questions people are asking in Yahoo Answers.


At this point, you should have a sizeable list of keywords that you can check in Google’s Keyword Planner tool to review approximate search volumes and how competitive the keywords are based on the cost per click.

Often the intent behind a phrase used is relevant to where the person is in the buying cycle and this is reflected in both the Competition column, as well as the Suggested bid column in Google Adwords. The bottom line here is the more intent there is, the higher the cost per click because these keywords typically convert to sale at a higher rate.

While the cost per click is higher, it’s considered a positive indication. These keywords are worth testing as part of a pay per click campaign to determine what your cost per sale will be. If you have a great enough margin between what you pay per sale compared to what you sell your product or service for, it may be a viable lead channel for you.

Below you will find the search results for the general keyword “tummy tuck.” You will notice that there are no ads on the right hand side of the search results. Typically, a keyword with buyer intent will have a lot of advertising because the keyword has a higher probability of converting into a sale. This is a simple way of verifying if a keyword is worth going after for both SEO and PPC.


If the city, service, place, or specialty is added to the keyword, there is more buyer intent. You will notice that this keyword has more ads, which shows that the competition understands that this keyword is more valuable to their business in driving sales.


Not only do you want to consider the buyer intent, but you also want to look at what the phrase is asking before you decide where to use it on your site. Some keyword phrases are a question while some are more suited as a subsection of a main page. We typically recommend developing questions as blog posts that are linked to the main page.

Now that you have a good understanding of the keywords that you want to go after on you’re your site and blog, look at the results of the search terms to determine if you can actually rank for your keywords. At times, you will notice that it may be too difficult to rank well for your keywords. Using the MOZ Chrome toolbar, you can get an idea of the strength of the competition. As you can see below, the page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) of the top three competitors for the keyword “tummy tuck” is low, which means there is a good chance of competing for this keyword.


One last place to look if you are not sure about a phrase is in Google Trends to double check how your search term is trending over time. While it looks like the search term is dropping below, you have to consider that people want to look their best during the summer months and factor in seasonality.


Take the time to go through the list of phrases that have good search volume, the right intent and high competition in PPC. Then, check the search volume and cost per click on Google’s Keyword Planner tool. For a better understanding of the real search volume and the cost per click, run a short PPC campaign in Google Adwords. You’ll quickly see which keywords are performing best, which ones are converting into leads and sales, as well as additional keywords you should go after.

Once you have an idea of the keywords you want to go after, outline the architecture of your Website from the most important keywords to the least important. You want to outline a short-term and a long-term structure for your Website and blog.