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How Do I Get Started With Keyword Research?
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In a recent post about keywords we learned that when a website owner is determining his keywords for his website that he needs to think backwards–he needs to put himself in the place of the person who is searching for information on the topic of his website.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I am not good at figuring out what someone would type into Google to reach one of my sites. I always think I know the obvious search terms that someone would use, and then I’m shocked at the simplicity of what folks actually do type in.

The lesson of the story is–it’s worth it to do keyword research. You’ll be creating your website keeping your keywords in mind, and also writing your articles on the topics of your keywords (and entering your keywords into the “Enter Your Article Form” on to be used in your article submissions).

So, it might be a good idea to take some time on the front end and figure out what your keywords are. But how?

Luckily there are tools created just for this purpose. On the web there are many free keyword research resources and some that cost money. Let’s look at a few:

Google Keywords Tool (free). This tool is actually intended to help folks who are interested in signing up for Adwords (Google’s advertising program), but it’s free for all to use and it can be very helpful for giving you an idea about what keywords to use for your website.

Just type in the keyword phrase you’re researching and follow the steps for doing the search. The results list you’ll get will show Advertiser Competition (I ignore that), Search Volume for the present month, and Average Monthly Search Volume over a recent 12 month period.

All of this info is really helpful (and it’s free!). It tells you the demand for a keyword, but one thing that this tool lacks is that it does not tell you the supply for a keyword.

For example, it tells you how high a search volume your keywords have, but it does not show how many other websites are already satisfying that search. It is possible that a keyword has a high search volume, but might also be a saturated market–meaning that there are already lots of other websites out there who are satisfying these searches.

Oh well, it’s still very insightful information, even if it doesn’t tell you the supply.

WordTracker ($59/month at the time this post was written). WordTracker is my favorite keyword research tool because of the plethora of info it gives.

Here are the basics:

  1. Wordtracker takes the word you typed in, and it spits out a long list of related words that you probably wouldn’t have thought of that people are typing into search engines.
  2. You click on the words or phrases that interest you, and that deposits those words into a shopping cart like thing.
  3. Then, you get a report on how frequently the words in your cart are being searched and how many websites are competing for those searches.

The real goldmine is the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) number.

The higher the KEI, the more popular the keyword is, and the less competition you have.

As we said earlier, it is possible that a keyword has a high search volume but that there are already bunches of websites supplying that demand. What you’re looking for are keywords (or keyword phrases) that is being searched frequently, but that don’t have many websites addressing them.

WordTracker is a super-duper keyword information machine, so it does cost money.

It used to be that there was a weekly rate you could get, but it looks like they now only have a monthly and an annual rate. At this time, their monthly rate is $59, but…..there is a 7 day free trial that you can do too. I think that the free trial does not include Google search results, so it’s not the whole shebang, but it is still pretty useful even in the free version.

WordTracker also offers a Free Keyword Suggestion Tool in case you just want to dip your toe into the keyword waters.

Keyword Discovery ($49.95/month at the time of writing) Keyword Discovery is one of the most popular keyword research tools on the net. I have never used it before, but I’m sure it works pretty similarly to WordTracker by providing search statistics for pretty much all the search engines and letting you know the search volume and the how much competition there already is for the keywords.

SEO Book Keyword Tool (free) I love the SEO Book site as a whole, and I have used this tool a few times. This tool does not tell you the popularity of the keywords (it tells the demand, but not the supply), but it does breakdown the results so that you can see how many folks on Google are typing in the search terms -vs- how many folks on Yahoo!. So, if you’re interested in comparing search volume for your keywords on the various search engines, you might want to give SEO Book Keyword Tool a try.

There are several other good keyword research tools out there, but these are some of the most popular. I have to warn you though–all of this “keyword research” stuff may sound very boring and cut and dry, but I’m telling you it’s totally fun.

Keyword research is almost addictive if you don’t watch yourself–it is so fun to see the unexpected types of things that folks are typing into the search engines to potentially find your website. I always have to pull myself away by a sheer act of willpower.

These tools are fascinating and fun–I encourage you to just play around and explore. Use the free tools, or do the free trials of the paid services and see which one you like best.

When you’re ready to get down to business, you may want to invest in one of the paid tools. Even with the paid tools, you do not need to pay that amount on an ongoing basis–just pay to access the tool for a week or a month, get in there, and do your research.

It will pay off a million fold over the long run.

Related resources you may find helpful:

How To Appropriately Use Keywords In Your Titles

What Are Keywords?

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

25 Responses to “How Do I Get Started With Keyword Research?”

  1. Tidders says:

    Interesting article. I normally use google because it’s free but wordtracker will give a free trial. Google have recently started giving figures for searches now, which is good and better than the green bar thing which left you guessing.

  2. Jason Lamure says:

    Thanks for the article and info on keyword research.
    This aspect of site setup is overlooked by many new webmasters. I was surprised to see wordtracker and keyword discovery charge $50 or over a month to use their keyword tools. At my site we provide a Keyword Generator tool with “KEI” on each keyword, along with our other Traffic Services and SEO tools. Seems like we offer pretty good value compared to the sites just doing keywords since memberships start at only $14.99 / month

  3. Jan Helft says:


    Great article. I use webceo which has all these facilities and more, inclusing search engine submission and link building support. You can download it free from & you only have to pay if you upgrade to the professional edition which lets you set up multiple projects.

  4. I’ve used various keyword tools in the past in an attempt to find out what my potential customers are typing into the search engines. Even though I now this information, I still find it very difficult to create articles around the things they’re searching for, consequently I have only ever created one article for my site which is outrageous, I’m ashamed to even admit it but it’s the truth. Any help in this regard would be most appreciated.

    John O’Hara
    United Kingdom

  5. solor power says:

    Good keyword article, but what many people still fail to realize is that keyword research is nothing more then a well educated guess. Although better then doing nothing at all even the most detailed keyword research can be wrong. This is why most people get so upset with it.

  6. Michelle says:

    Isn’t there a tool that shows the keywords being used in a site?

  7. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Tidders,

    Thanks for chiming in–yes, WordTracker does have a free trial, and that’s a great way to explore that tool.

  8. Steve Shaw says:

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks so much for sharing that resource. Sounds intriguing, and I’ll check it out the next time I’m doing KW research.

  9. Steve Shaw says:

    Hey Jan,

    Thanks for sharing that free tool! :-)

  10. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi John,

    That’s a good question–your articles would be on the topic of your website, but what your keywords do is give you insight into what phrases your target readers type into the search box.

    What I always tell folks is that instead of trying to figure out how to do everything around your keywords, just write on the topic of your website, and your keywords should naturally pop up in the body of the article.

    Then, in your HTML resource box, try hyperlinking your keyword phrases there. Also, if you are able to work your keywords into your title in a natural way that still allows you to have a compelling title, then do that to (don’t have to do that all the time, just when you can).

    I know what my keywords are, but I don’t really write articles trying to get the keywords in there–I write articles that I think would be interesting to my target market, and variations of my keywords naturally pop up in my article. I also use my keywords in my HTML resource box.

    John, for some tips on what to write about to drive traffic back to your website, check out this article.

  11. Steve Shaw says:

    Hey Michelle,

    Hmmm, I don’t know of a tool that does that, and most site owners are pretty protective of what keywords they’re using. :-) Good question though!

  12. Hi
    Very helpful advice for anyone like me who is just starting to promote their first eBook.
    I’ve achieved multiple sales from blog comments and forum posts and am now ready to step up to article writing.
    Keep up the good work!

  13. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Stuart,

    Glad this helped! :-)

  14. John Bonzo says:


    This is an excellent article. Key words have always been one of my down falls. You have really given me some help in this area. I’m going to start using your help tomorrow as I write my next article.

    All I can say is, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”


  15. John Bonzo says:


    This is an excellent article. Key words have always been a sore spot for me. L feel you may have opened my eyes to some new possibilities. As I write my next article tomorrow, I’ll keep your article in mind.

    Thanks for your help,

  16. Tom McCarthy says:

    There is a product adword accelerator. It it used mainly for adwords but also can be used for keywords as well as domain name checking.

    The owner is Steve Juth and is a great guy and there support is top notch!

  17. Tony says:

    As far as a tool to see what keywords a site uses: I usually just right click on the page I’m curious about, click on view source and then go up to the top and all the keywords are listed.

    For example, this page shows this:

    Best of all it’s free!

    Good luck,


  18. [...] Today I came across a blog post that offers some great resources to get this job done. [...]

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