How to Do Keyword Research
Having read our glossary, you probably realized one thing: There are a lot of things to take into account.
We now show you when and where to do so. Follow these steps and start digging for keyword gold:
- Get ready with a Google Sheets template!
- Get suggestions from your seed keyword!
- Get suggestions from your competitors!
- Clean the keyword data!
- Standardize the keyword data!
Template – Seed Keyword – Competitors – Cleaning Data – Standardizing Data
Step 1: How to get an SEO keyword research template ready?
First things first. There’s nothing like a thorough preparation to ensure an efficient workflow. Wouldn’t you agree?
For our service, this means getting our template in Google Sheets ready. And to install an add-on that allows you to remove duplicates. This way, we can get rid of overlaps between the outputs of our different keyword research tools.
- Create a separate folder on Google Drive for your keyword research.
- There, create a Google Sheets list to paste the exported data from the different keyword tools.
- At least include the blue section for the metrics of KWFinder.
- The metrics will be exported in this order, so keep it.
As an alternative we use SEMrush. It’s a great way for us to fetch the keyword rankings of clients who don’t want to share their Search Console login credentials.
That’s not the ideal way to analyze your own domain but a feasible alternative to circumvent Google Search Console. Here is how you get your domain’s keyword rankings in there:
- Go to Domain Analytics > Organic Research > Positions.
- Type in your domain and select your preferred country.
- Export the data, for example to Google Sheets.
Now, to clean all the output later on this add-on is pure gold. It allows us to combine keyword suggestions from different tools and get rid of the overlaps. This way, we summarize the best output of them all.
- Install the Google add-on to remove duplicates: Google Tutorial
- Familiarize yourself with the add-on.
- In the screenshots, we show you how to remove duplicate keywords.
Done? Perfect. You’re all set to get your hands dirty and dive into the keyword data.
Step 2: How to get suggestions from seed keywords?
This is the traditional way of how to do keyword research.
You have a seed keyword, put it into a tool and get the suggestions from different reports. That works perfectly fine if you have a low budget for your business. Or if you’re a market pioneer, no matter if big or small.
Where’s the catch?
With this way of researching keywords, you might stumble upon ideas that your competitors have no clue about. Yet. Of course, it’s easier to simply use the keywords that already work for your competitors (see next step).
But this way, you’ll never be one step ahead. That’s why it’s ideal to combine both approaches:
Try to uncover as many keyword ideas as possible and match them with your competitors’ SERP top 10 rankings. That leaves you with those keyword pearls that have a yet untapped traffic potential.
More on this later. First, we show you how to do keyword research based on a seed keyword.
Having compared the best tools on the market, we decided to use KWFinder and SEMrush.
Each tool has its particular strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we decided that the safest bet is to combine all their results into one consolidated list and standardized their metrics in KWFinder.
Here’s how you get your keyword suggestions from each.
First up: KWFinder.
You get three types of keyword reports from KWFinder’s Google AdWords API: a general (1) “Suggestions” report, (2) an “Autocomplete” report and a (3) “Questions” report.
Go get them like this:
- Access KWFinder, select the right country/language and insert your seed keyword.
- Filter your results with a minimum search volume of 1.
- Select all suggestions and export them with their metrics.
- Upload the export file to your Google Drive folder and open it with Google Sheets.
- In Google Sheets: Copy all KWFinder metrics and paste them into your ready-made template.
- Repeat this step for report 2 (Autocomplete) and 3 (Questions).
In SEMrush you can also get three different reports based on one seed keyword. The standard ones are the (1) Phrase Match Report and the (2) Related Keywords Report. On top, there is the beta version of the so-called (3) Keyword Magic Tool. We gave it a try and it actually suggests different keyword compared to the other reports.
Looks like SEMrush is currently transitioning to only offer the Keyword Magic Tool soon. Until that happens, we just use all available reports to make sure that we don’t miss out on any data.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Login to SEMrush and go to Keyword Analytics > Overview.
- Type in your seed keyword.
- If necessary (i.e. not USA): Select your target country.
- Export “Phrase Match” report and “Related Match” report directly from the overview.
- Go to Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic Tool. Type in the seed keyword and select your target country if necessary. Export the results (“All keywords”) without groups.
- Upload the 3 exported reports to your Google Drive folder and open them in Google Sheets.
- Then: Transfer ONLY the keyword suggestions to your template.
Step 3: How to find keywords on a website of a competitor?
Fair enough, but how do we get this list of competitive keywords? KWFinder doesn’t have the option to do competitive research yet, so we’ll do it with SEMrush.
The whole process takes a little longer in SEMrush. You have to analyze every single URL of your competitors, instead of getting a one-click solution. The best way to find those is by putting your seed keyword in Google and going through the top ranking results.
Check it out:
- Go to the version of Google that corresponds to your target country for SEMrush (e.g. google.com for USA and google.de for Germany).
- Search for your seed keyword in Google.
- Skip the paid ads ranking on top (snippets/maps etc.) and go to the competition ranking in the organic SEO results.
- Open the first 10 unique links in a new tab each. Different URLs from the same domain are okay. But try to only include niche pages and avoid domains like wikipedia.org or tripadvisor.org. They will rank for too many irrelevant keywords.
- List your top 10 competing URLs. Most likely you have to include the second SERP page to find up to 10 different competitor URL.
Now you know who is competing against your seed keyword. But one question remains: With which keywords are they doing so?
It’s about time to spy on your competitors’ secrets!
- Access SEMrush and go to Organic Research>URL
- Make sure that the client’s target country is selected.
- For each URL: Copy and paste it into the search bar. Wait until the corresponding keywords are loaded.
- Go to Export>Export All (CSV)
- Upload the .csv lists to your Google Drive folder and open them in Google Sheets.
- Now transfer ONLY the keyword suggestions to the KWFinder metrics area of your template.
Okay, let’s take stock of what we have so far. A list of keyword suggestions from two different tools. They are based on your seed keywords and on your competitors’ rankings.
Question: Why didn’t we export any keyword metrics from SEMrush?
To be honest: Keyword data is a mess.
We looked into the several tools and as a matter of fact, many tools source their data differently. And that means that they give you different metrics (e.g. search volume) for the same keywords.
In our services, we make the best of it by standardizing the data via KWFinder (see step 5). That’s why we get the keyword suggestions – and only those – from other tools like SEMrush. Then we import them to KWFinder and extract the corresponding metrics from this single tool only.
That means for you: One consolidated list with comparable metrics.
Step 4: How to clean your keyword data?
Good job! We know it’s a hassle to juggle all the different report files. But believe us when we say: It’s worth it in the end!
At least you have all the keyword suggestions in one and the same list now. So it’s time to tackle the next problem: Exporting the outputs from several tools inevitably leads to keyword overlaps.
Since we want one list with unique keyword suggestions, you now need to remove the duplicates. You already installed the necessary add-on in the first step.
What’s left to do is to highlight your table, launch the add-on and follow the steps in the screenshots:
- Highlight the entire table (without numbers but including headings).
- Click on “Add-ons” and go to Remove Duplicates > Find duplicates or uniques.
- Check if selected range is correct.
- Click on Duplicates.
- Select the Keyword column to identify those duplicates.
- Opt to delete all rows within the selection.
- You will see how many duplicates you successfully removed.
Step 5: How to standardize your keyword data?
Okay, you managed to get a list of unique keyword suggestions. But the ones from SEMrush are still missing standardized metrics.
We can get them via a simple import to KWFinder:
- Copy up to 700 keyword suggestions of SEMrush from the template.
- Go to the import tab of KWFinder, paste the keywords and select the country.
- Filter the results for a minimum search volume of 1.
- Export keywords with their metrics.
- Repeat the process until you have exported the data sheets for all keywords of SEMrush. Upload and open the files in Google Sheets.
- Copy and paste the keywords incl. metrics to your template.
- If possible: Delete all unnecessary rows at the bottom of the template.
That’s it! You know how to do keyword research and your list is all-ready for interpretation.
By the way: To give you all the information in one report, we can also import the info from our Keyword Ranking Report right into our keyword research template. Assuming that we did this report for you already.