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Are your page views stagnant, erratic or non-existent? Mines were too and I could not work out why. I was publishing 2-3 times per week, making at least one Pinterest image for each post then shouting from the rooftops about the articles on social media.
The problem? It’s your keyword search game.
The Solution? A solid strategy for searching for keywords which will help you rank on search engines (SERPs) like Google.
It’s not magic, it’s strategy, procedure, and technique and I’m going to show you how to do it with two free tools and Keysearch, the affordable keyword competition tool.
This guide has been updated to include Keysearch’s new features which include how to find competitor keywords, content assistance and easy find bulk keywords.
In this post you will learn:
- How to plan keyword research
- How to find long tail keywords for free
- Pro and cons of free keyword planner tools
- How to use Keysearch paid keyword analysis tool
I honestly used to get excited and assume some kind of Harry Potter shizzle had gone down when I noticed one of my articles made it onto Google.
I never really understood what being on Google meant, though. I was ignorant to the fact that ranking on Google increased the number of people reading my posts, which then made my brand more attractive to businesses who would want to pay me to promote their products. Ranking on Google is like a golden ticket.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are the search terms and phrases people use to find your content on Google. They should match the main points/topics/themes that you are discussing in your article. It’s the title, story, the message, and the reason you are writing the article.
The Problem with Finding Keywords
Many of us are using keywords we cannot compete for.
For example, regardless of how well-written, humorous, or useful your article on ‘Moscow’ or ‘seafood chowder’ is, it’s likely not going to rank page one of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) because there is too much competition for such a broad keyword.
Plus, we don’t actually know what the user intent is of broad keywords like Moscow. Does the searcher want a travel guide to Moscow or a historical description? What you write might not correct target that intent, making it even harder to get on Google’s list.
Solution: You have to narrow the topic down.
Keywords like ‘what to see in Moscow’ or ‘easy seafood chowder’ are better because they are narrower topics, but they are still difficult to compete for, because lots of content creators before you are already ranking for those terms. You’ll need to drill down to an even more specific topic, or find topics that not a lot of other people have already written about.
For example, ‘moscow landmarks’ and ‘dairy-free seafood chowder’ are narrowly defined keyword that likely don’t have a lot of competition because they are not broad. We know exactly what the user wants when they type these keywords into Google, so the user intent is clear and you can write your article to answer those specific questions.
But how do we know for sure if those keywords do or don’t have a lot of competition? And how do we know if anyone is even using those specific keywords to find content?
The good news is, you don’t have to play a guessing game when choose keywords as there are keyword research tools to help you find more detailed information about keywords, so you can make a more informed decision.
PRO TIP: Before you start researching keywords you should brainstorm all the possible angles of your topic. This will give you the best chances of hitting the sweet spot during keyword research. We’ll look into this in more detail below.
Free Keyword Research Tools
Google recommends is a great starting point for planning your articles. You may want to begin formulating your ideas around some of these suggestions.
In the past, we would suggest installing the Chome addon, “Keywords Everywhere” which pulls up more data for the keywords than Google gives, but this tool is no longer free.
- Good starting point
- No volume so no idea how many people are searching for it
- Competitiveness not identified
Domain Authority and Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz is the team who measure our DAs (domain authority). DA is formulated by investigating around 40 different criteria including the quality of the links you have linking back to your posts.
If your site is new or your DA is low you may find it harder to rank on Google, it’s not impossible, just more of a challenge. You can check out your domain authority here.
Health warning: I did not start tracking my DA until it was in its 20s as I had no idea what it was! Concentrate on building your brand, enjoy writing and follow this guide to help improve your authority.
Your DA is often what SEO companies ask for via email when they building links to client’s sites. Be sure you understand what this means by reading our guide on link building.
Moz has also created a free keyword research tool called Moz Keyword Explorer.
It is a step up from Google Recommends as it details keyword volume and also how competitive those keywords are.
However, it is free and as the saying goes – the devil is in the detail. Moz’s free level does not tell you much about your competitors, like other paid software, like Keysearch, and the monthly search volume is not exact. It also restricts your use to ten searches per month.
Believe me, you are going to want to do more keyword research than that once you see how easy it is to do and how quickly it can increase traffic to your website.
Moz Free Keyword Research Tool
- It’s free
- Highlights competitiveness
- Identifies competitors
- Additional keywords
- Volume is vague and sometimes inaccurate
- Monthly limit of ten searches
Keysearch: Affordable Keyword Search Competition Tool
Keysearch is the most popular paid keyword research tool amongst the content creators we network with. It is relatively cheap at $17 per month or $169 for the year.
Keysearch not only fills in flaws that the two free tools above fail on but also offers:
- Keyword tracking
- Backlink check
- Google Trends
- Competition comparison
- Saved lists
Keysearch is a website I use every day. Not only for new content but also for old posts. In the graph below, you can clearly see from my Google Analytics where I started implementing SEO on my travel site.
How to Use Keysearch for Keyword Analysis
1. Type your keywords into the keyword analysis search bar
2. Choose your location or leave ‘all locations’.
3. Hit return. You can also filter for a certain keyword.
4. Sort by volume with largest at the top.
- The volume of our defined keyword ‘Moscow landmarks’ is 1000.
- I am happy with a volume above 100. Naturally the larger, the better.
- It also states how difficult the keywords would be for us in terms of competitiveness.
- Red is difficult, amber would be tough and green is possible. Moscow landmarks is a go-gettum green. Light blue is a unicorn!
- The goal is to find a keyword that is high in volume but low in difficulty.
- New website or new to SEO? You may have a hard time finding keywords you can rank for, but you have to start somewhere.
- To the left-hand side, variations of the keywords are displayed as well as other keywords we might want to consider such as Moscow parks. You are getting two services for the price of one! BOGOF.
- You can use the ‘filter’ option to refine your search and also the categories at the top such as volume to organise the results better.
Bingo, you have your targeted defined keyword, variations and also other keywords you can potentially rank for. If you think you can nudge out around two of the competitors on page one at present (see below) you can hit the export button on the top right-hand corner to download this list of keywords and start writing your great content, answering the questions that potential readers are asking Google.
Checking Out the Competition
Cast your eyes to the right-hand side table on Keysearch. This is who is currently ranking for the selected keywords. This is where we assess how likely we can elbow into the top slots. Are there sites on the list that have a lower DA than your site?
If these sites do not have the keywords in the URL, (meta) description, title and/or they lack links (backlinks from other respectable sites/internal links) then we may be in for a chance of competing to rank on page one of Google.
The ‘Auth’ column tells us the do follow external links to the post. Moz.com – where this information is pulled from – has now updated their Auth calculations to this alone, according to Keysearch. Higher the backlinks, harder it might be to beat.
‘Links’ calculates do/nofollow links, internal and external but not outbound links.
Note: If the competitor’s domain name contains the keyword, there is a good chance that Google will see them as more authoritative, if they have solid content on their site to prove it. That makes an exact match domain site harder to outrank.
This is also true for the amount of content the competition has about a topic on their site. If the competitor has a lot of Russia content – more than your own site – it might also be difficult to outrank them. It’s generally better to write in-depth and go wide than write thinly about lots of different topics.
Keysearch’s New Features
The team at Keysearch are very excited that they have developed more than just a keyword checker.
Next to the SERP Analysis (image above), you can select ‘rankings/traffic’ and this will give you some insight into the keywords that the post is ranking for (click ‘URL keywords’ for the pop-up) and the estimated URL traffic that the specific post/page actually gets. You can then assess the additional keywords that you could potentially rank for too. This function acts as a bulk keyword difficulty checker.
You can also use Keysearch to investigate Youtube keywords.
Competitor Keyword Analysis [New]
The biggest change for Keysearch is the function to compare URLs against each other to check out what keywords the competition is ranking for that you are not using.
If you select ‘Competitive Analysis’ at the very top of the page and then ‘Competitor Gap’ you will then be faced with two search bars.
Put the URL you want to check in the first (I would guess you just want to know the keywords of one post so choose the ‘specific page’ on the drop-down).
Next, add your URL on a similar topic in the second search bar and choose specific page again. Keysearch will then return any keywords that you are not targeting but the competition is.
Keysearch Content Assist [New]
Keysearch has a new beta feature available to help assist you while you are either optimising old posts or writing new content.
On the top navigation bar, look for the ‘Content Assist’ button.
Add the desired keywords and read the information to the right. In the first column, it identifies the ‘must words’ – these are words you might consider using.
Some of them are very generic, others are targeted. ‘Keywords’ pulls these from Google’s suggestions, so be sure to check the volume on these keywords before using them.
‘Relevant information’ pulls up relevant snippets. I’ve actually found that the top 10 it pulls up here differs from the top 10 in the SERPs section for a few I tested.
The ‘questions’ section identifies the questions that people ask about the keywords. Finally, SERPs outlines the word count of the top 10 on page one of Google.
Overall, another handy feature by the Keysearch team, do you agree? Pssst 20% off use the code MTH20 – click here to try it for yourself.
Not a new feature but still useful, you will find the ‘Backlink Checker’ in the ‘Competitive Analysis’ drop-down.
Here you can see who is linking back to your specific post or full website. It also indicates if the link is ‘do or no follow’. Do follow links are ones that pass link juice on to your site, while no follow links do not.
If you left a comment on a post or paid for the ad space then it is likely that it will be no follow. Naturally, you can use the tool to look at your competition’s backlinks, as well.
Once you start optimising your posts you need to asses if the strategy is working.
You can do this by tracking your keyword’s ranking position. Head to the top of the dashboard, choose ‘Rank Tracking’, type in your website URL and add keywords. You need to refresh them using the arrow every time you want to track them.
I would advise doing this along with the keywords in Google Search Console and checking your placement on Google using the incognito mode too.
Not one method is whole accurate from our experience.
Go on, Make Traffic Happen!
Let us show you how to find keywords, where to put them, how to tell Google they are there and make your old posts bring more traffic. It’s all covered here in our SEO the Easy Way guidebook. For $75 (+VAT)
Now that you know how to find keywords using the paid tool Keysearch. It is not often I need to recommend paid tools but in all honesty, Keysearch is worth every penny. It is super user-friendly (even for a tech-no like me) and I’ve only touched upon its capacity in this guide. Want more?
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I see monthly Google’s searches for certain words for free?
Detailed above you will see a review of Moz’s keyword planner and Keysearch. Keysearch keyword competition checker also offers one free month trial.
2. What is the smartest way to keyword research?
The most effective way to do keyword research is to brainstorm as part of your planning stage, use the Keysearch brainstorming tool and Google suggests, then assess the keyword difficulty in a premium tool of your choice.
3. Keysearch is bringing up a ‘zero’ response for volume. What does this mean?
Keysearch’s official response on this is that they collect information from Google and this is the return.
4. Can I rank for keywords that are 0 in volume?
This a tricky one because members of our Make Traffic Happen Facebook group definitely report ranking for 0 volume keywords. Our advice would always be to aim for the highest volume and lowest competition. You can always assess the progress using Search Console once the post is ranking and tweak again. You can find out what this means in this guide.
5. What about grammar?
This question comes up often in the Facebook group. Does Google care about grammar when it comes to potential keywords?
If you put the keyword idea into Google, it is likely that the SERPs return pulls up sites which use correct grammar regardless of the keyword ignoring it.
6. Which is the most affordable and cheapest keyword research tool for bloggers?
If you want to move from hobbyist to professional you definitely need to invest in a keyword research tool.
There are more advanced programmes on the market like Ahrefs and SEMrush which both come in at around $99 per month.
Keysearch offers keyword research, tracking, analysis and now competitor information making it a sound investment at $17 per month.
I’ve been using it since 2017 as has Laura and most of our blogging friends.
A keyword difficulty checker is definitely a tool that every blogger should have in their toolkit if they are looking to increase their traffic, monetise and/or show that partners that they can genuinely meet deliverables. Although there are free keyword difficulty tools they can only take you so far and eventually a premium program will be required if moving your blog from hobby to business.
This is an investment, you have to speculate to accumulate in business. For us, Keysearch is the best keyword difficulty tool because it is affordable, assessing keyword difficulty, tracks ranking, offers backlink checks and now compares your keywords to the competition. All that for $17 per month or $169 for the year (plus 20% off with our coupon code MTH20).