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A Step-by-Step Guide to Keyword Research

You just bought a domain name. Congratulations. The journey to creating a highly targeted, content-rich website has just begun.

So what next?

In this day and age it has become nearly impossible to drive traffic to a website strictly through good content and a little bit of luck. Nearly every successful website you have heard about probably had or still has an SEO campaign. Which is where keyword research comes into play. Becoming the number one rank for a keyword phrase no one is searching for means no one will click-through. Every single good SEO campaign builds its foundation from keyword research. If that foundation has holes in it, or even worse, points in the wrong direction, your campaign is bound to fail.

With that said, here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to build good keyword research.

Google Keyword Tool

If you don’t have a Google Ads account, now is the time to get one. It’s free of charge, yet provides the prospective SEO specialist with the beginnings of any keyword research. Think of 10 keywords that you believe best pertain to your subject matter and plug those 10 phrases into Google Ads. A list of roughly 50-800 keywords will show up, depending on the subject.


The list you have should be fairly overwhelming. It’s supposed to be. Once you have that list, it’s time to condense it into just the keywords that really matter. In order to do this, first remove any keywords that receive zero traffic. With Google Ads, there are two types of searches you typically do: Exact and broad match. Exact gives you the number of times each exact keyword / keyphrase is searched per month with absolutely no variation. Broad match includes searches where synonyms may have taken the place of one of the words. While exact gives you a better idea for each individual keyword, broad will tell you if that phrase is scalable or not. Phrase match shows you the number of times a keyword searches within a phrase. For example, “cell phone” will include “cell phone accessories” in the phrase match.

At first, select the “Exact” button. Toggle your country selection depending on your target audience. USA is obviously the right starting point for American companies, but if you’re looking to expand your market, it’s worth spending a couple minutes repeating these steps for various countries and languages. Once Google does it’s magic and spits out their list, go through and choose the 50 that you feel are the most appropriate to your brand.

Feed Through MOZ

Though MOZ isn’t free, at $99 a month it is well worth the investment for anyone looking to do significant SEO work for either their website or clients. Alternatives include Raven Tools or Majestic SEO. These tool packages will provide you with a keyword research tool, which is absolutely essential in looking into how competitive a key phrase is. Google Ads only shows you who is paying for PPC ads, but if a competitor has been running a three year content-marketing + organic SEO campaign, you’re going to be wasting a lot of time fighting against that.

Moz's Keyword Analysis Tool

Time For Your Own Secret Sauce

Finally, you’ll have to come up with a formula which you believe approximates all of the above collected information. It should take into account search volume (local or global depends on your market,) as well as PPC competition and the organic competition level. We’d tell you ours, but then we’d have to kill you…in the search engine rankings.

So there you go! Keyword ranking in an easy, step by step process. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments and we’d be happy to answer them for you!

Patrick RaffertyAbout the Author

Written by Patrick Rafferty, Digital Marketing Specialist for Online Optimism, an internet marketing firm located in New Orleans, Louisiana. They handle a variety of different services for their clients as a New Orleans SEO Company.