Keyword Research Tips for SEO
[Video Tutorial + Template] (Updated 2021)

Have you ever struggled with keyword research 😣? If yes, then watch me over-the-shoulder as I perform keyword research step-by-step for blogs, affiliate marketing and ecommerce sites. Then, download our FREE template so you can get started today 🤠.

This blogpost is the most hands-on guide to keyword research on the internet. No abstract theories, but real life examples to get results like this:

This is a screenshot from my biggest affiliate website where I applied the same techniques you are about to learn.

Here’s everything you will learn in this guide:

Watch the full walkthrough in the video below!

This blogpost is also fully covered in the video below for your ease 😄.

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Keyword research basics

What is Keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of discovering, understanding and selecting the right keyword opportunities for your website. It is the foundation of SEO and should be the very first thing you do. All other SEO activities build upon this foundation.

Why is Keyword Research important for your side hustle?

Keyword research is important because it helps you to understand what your ideal customers are searching for so you can give it to them. It is the essence of marketing:

  1. Find a hot niche market
  2. Discover what they want
  3. Give it to them

If you peform your keyword research properly, you can do exactly that.

Find a hot topic people are crazily passionate about. Get inside of the minds of people in this community. Discover what questions they have and how they search for answers. Ultimately, give them the answers, products and solutions through properly formatted content.

Can keyword research make you money?

Keyword research sets the foundation of your business. It can even determine what you should sell, because you will discover the exact monthly demand for products, services and information. It allows you to grow side hustles and turn them into main ventures 🚀.

This is exactly how Coolblue did this in the Netherlands. Starting from one, two and ultimately a network hundreds of SEO driven webshops, evolving into one massive successful brand. It is currently the #2 webshop in the Netherlands, with an annual revenue of 1.11 billion euro’s. According to Ahrefs, they receive 5.8M monthly organic visitors through SEO.

Got excited? Read on 🤠.

Free Keyword research template: Excel & Google Sheets

Now you have seen the importance of keyword research and SEO, now it is your turn 😎!

Follow along with this blogpost and download our free keyword research template below:

Download it here and create a copy:

Open the template and follow the steps below.

How to do keyword research?

You can do keyword research in four simple steps:

  1. Find keyword ideas & themes
    This step is about diving into your niche and discovering relevant ideas and themes. Here you will already identify certain categories and topics within topics. Your ideas will be the starting point for the next step.
  2. Create and collect keywords
    Here you will start compiling a huge list of keywords. Without any additional information. The goal of this step is to find as many keywords as you can by putting the keyword ideas and themes into tools. This step is also about creating keyword combinations yourself, to quickly create a big list of common terms that will help you to identify hidden gems.
  3. Enrich your keyword list
    Once you have compiled your keyword list, it is time to enrich the keywords with additional information like its search volume, competitiveness and category. The template will automatically identify which keywords you should focus on. You can play around and adjust your settings to find the perfect output.
  4. Map keywords to your pages
    The final step is to copy your focus keywords into a new tab, where you map them to the pages of your website. This will help you to structure your website and create or optimize your content accordingly.

Each step will now be explained.

1. Find keyword ideas & themes

In this tutorial, we will focus on the following topic: Playstation 5 🎮.

The first thing we need to do is to find keyword ideas.

Brainstorm with Google

To find keyword ideas, start simple. Work in our template or open up one of twese two:

  1. Google.com
  2. Excel Spreadsheet or Google Sheet

Search for your topic. Note down any keywords you see from the search results. Titles, meta descriptions, but also any related searches at the bottom.

While you jot your keywords down, try to categorize them already. This is useful for multiple reasons:

  1. Allows you to merge words quickly
  2. Allows you to identify ‘seed keywords’
  3. Allows you to understand what pages you need to create

A ‘seed keyword’ is a keyword that we use to find more longtail keywords. While you may think most topics are already over saturated, think again. There are so many long tail searches that could drive traffic to your website.

Let’s look at an example from playstation 5 research, some of the topics we found are:

  • Release date
  • Editions
  • Specs

Now, search for these topics in Google again. See if you can find additional keywords and topics:

Yep! Now let’s add those keywords to our brainstorm sheet:

We are going to use these ‘seed keywords’ as a new starting point for our research. Rinse and repeat the same process. Jot down all new ideas and topics you come accross. Once you have 50-100 keywords, move on to the next step.

Google & YouTube auto suggest

When you start typing into Google, you get all kinds of suggestions. These suggestions are based on data Google has collected over the years. They exactly know what keywords belong to a certain topic, or which searches people also did when searching for this topic. This means these keyword suggestions are closely related to our topic and therefore highly relevant. Note down all the keywords from Google suggest.

Build upon any auto suggestions you see:

The same method applies for YouTube. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. As the platform is mainly about videos, you will get additional keywords and insight into a certain topic. Things like ‘how-to’, ‘unboxing’ and ‘reviews’ are extremely popular on YouTube. You can embed these videos in on your pages for a richer user experience. Ultimately, using these keywords to drive even more traffic.

Note them down in your brainstorm sheet:

Get more keyword ideas with Wikipedia, Reddit and Quora

Once you have a proper overview of your topic and subtopics, let’s use a few other platforms to study our topic. Places to look for inspiration are Wikipedia, Quora and Reddit. Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia of the world and probably has a lot of information about your topic. Wikipedia is also know for their properly structured content and could give you insight into all topics, subtopics and sub sub topics.

Here is an example of their playstation 5 page:

A few new keyword ideas pop up:

  • PS5 VR Games
  • PS5 4K Gameplay
  • PS5 Accessoires

Next, go to Quora.com. Quora is a platform where knowledge is being shared through questions and answers. Search for your topic. What questions does your audience has about your topic? What are the most popular questions? Answers? Write these down.

A few new keyword ideas pop up:

  • 8k games
  • Backwards compatibility
  • Sony console releases
  • Where to pre order

By now you should have regular searches through Google, questions through Quora. Finally, we are going to checkout Reddit. Reddit is a network of communities based on people’s interests and what other place to check but Reddit? Reddit provides insight into the most trending discussions about your topic. Search for your topic and see what comes up. What are the most popular contributions and discussions? Write them down.

reddit hot topics

A few new keyword ideas pop up:

  • Stock and availability
  • PS1 to PS5 comparison
  • Gameplay experience

Apparently, it is hard to get a PS5. Meaning there are all kind of searches around the stock inventory, you can use to your advange. Also the image comparison between the PS1 to Ps5 is awesome to reuse on your comparison page. Finally, a first look into the gameplay is definitely a topic you want to write about. As we saw earlier in our research, there were all kinds of searches around the compatibility, 4k, 8k and specific games.

If you did your homework, you should have a quite extensive keyword ideas list by now:

Niches within niches

In this phase, it is important you really dig into your topic. Try to find keywords ideas that are a niche on itself. Or a niche within a niche. Let’s go through a few examples so you know what I mean. Let’s say you are creating an affiliate website about the playstation 5. Look at these keywords:

  • Playstation 5
  • Playstation 5 controller
  • Playstation 5 controller pc
  • Playstation 5 controller pc driver

Here, [playstation 5] is your first layer. [Playstion 5 controller] is your second. [playstation 5 controller pc] is your third and [playstation controller 5 pc driver] your fourth. You see how these new topic playstation drivers is found?

A quick lookup shows me that the search volume for [ps4 controller on pc] has 75.000 searches a month!

While these are obvious, if you continue digging you will also find some less obvious ones. Through Reddit, we stumbled upon [playstation 5 doritos]. Doritos was organizing a huge give-away but didn’t optimize their own website for SEO (this often happens with big brands).

Two friends of ours run a Playstation 5 affiliate website. When they came accross this idea on Reddit, they decided to write a blogpost about it and here are the results …

31.901 clicks 🤯!

Even ranking for branded search terms of Doritos 😅!

And 1.800 e-mail sign ups for their own give-away! Now that’s what I call true hustling. This is just one example, there are many many more hidden gems to find.

Excited? Read on.

2. Create and collect keywords

Can you do keyword research without a tool? Sure. But tools make it 100x times faster, more effective and way more fun. With so many free and paid tools available, I will show you the only 7 tools you need for keyword research. Some of them are paid but, 100% worth it.

Google + Keywords everywhere plugin (Free & Paid options)

To make scraping related searches and auto suggest easier, there is a plugin called ‘Keywords Everywhere’ which you can download here. This Chrome plugin automatically shows you all related searches and suggestions. You can copy and paste your findings, or make an export.

Infinite Suggest (Free & Paid options)

InfiniteSuggest is another great and free tool to get all suggestions from Google and other sources. Go to infinitesuggest.com and search for your topic. Hit ‘Get this party’ started to get related searches. Notice how we are already finding a lot of long tail keyword gems.

Start with your main topic, in our case [playstation 5]:

After that, put in more of your keyword ideas in the tool. For example [playstation 5 controller]:

A few new keyword ideas pop up:

  • Playstation 5 controller grip
  • Playstation 5 controller skin
  • Playstation 5 controller charger

Definitely something we can dig into. Especially skins and chargers offer an immediate way of monetizing your website. Keep putting in more ‘seed keywords’ in infinitesuggest until you are satisfied. Copy and paste or export your findings into the Google Sheet.

KeywordShitter (Free and Paid options)

If you want InfiniteSuggest on steroids, go to this simple, yet extremely powerful tool called KeywordShitter 💩. This tool basically scrapes Google auto suggest as well based on your input. This tool is especially useful when using the alfabet and numbers. Put in phrases like:

  • Playstation 5 a
  • Playstation 5 b
  • Playstation 5 c

Click on ‘Shit keywords!’ to get the output:

You can also do this with numbers:

  • Playstation 5 1
  • Playstation 5 2
  • Playstation 5 3
  • ….

The tool will keep going untill you stop it or it runs out of suggestions. Be careful with this tool as you can literally get a lot of shit as output. Use it as a brainstorm tool for new keywords or bulk lookup their volumes.

You can see new keyword ideas popping up, again:

  • Playstation 5 1 TB
  • Playstation 5 1440p support
  • Playstation 5 120hz / 120fps

So much you can write about!

Google Trends (Free)

Another useful tool is Google Trends. While this tool is mainly aimed at finding and analyzing trends, it can also give you new keyword ideas. Let’s see if we can spot any pattersn or seasonality. Put in your topic and hit search. In our case [playstation]:

Can you spot the pattern?

Apparantly, there a peak around november-december each year. Probably due to blackfriday and holidays (christmas). During these period, the demand for a playstation goes up. You can use this to your advantage by making sure you start three months prior to the peak with your content and other optimizations. By doing this, you will be ready when the popularity spikes! Read more about what trends can mean for your side hustle in our FIFA 19 SEO & Affiliate casestudy.

You can also use the tool to find the most recent trending topics, the so called ‘breakouts’. Write about these topics in your blog or news section, to get additional traffic. In our case, we can see the following results:

AnswerThePublic (Free & Paid options)

Now we already have quite a list of keywords to work with. However, to really dive into the questions people have, we are going to use AnswerThePublic.com. ATP provides insight all questions people might have around a certain topic. Let’s do a search for [playstation 5]. As you can see, it matches your topic with all questions people have in what, why, how, when format. Export the list and add it to your keyword research.

We are going to use a combination of FAQ content and structured data on our pages later on.

A few new keyword ideas pop up:

  • What playstation 5 games are coming out?
  • Will playstation 5 play ps4 games?
  • Will playstation 5 have VR?

Word hustle (Free)

In order to get the most out of your keyword research, we are going to use Word hustle to create common keyword combinations. You will merge keywords with amplifiers such as best, top 10, reviews and more. By doing this you can find some hiddens gems are extremely valuable as you can read in our page title case study, resulting in hundreds of thousands additional visitors 📈.

Here is how it works.

  1. Take your list of keywords and copy-and-paste them in the first box.
  2. Use the amplifiers shown below to create keyword combinations

This it the output you get:

Amplifiers for Ecommerce and Dropshipping sites

Here are some amplifiers you can use. With regards to ecommerce, you want to think of sales. How do people search when they are (almost) ready to buy?

Buy intent amplifiers:

  • Buy
  • Get
  • Online
  • Shop
  • Store
  • Price
  • Discount
  • Cheap
  • Coupon

Consideration intent amplifiers:

  • Reviews
  • Top 10
  • Best
  • Unboxing
  • Specs

Urgency intent amplifiers:

  • Stock
  • Free shipping
  • {City} e.g. Boston
  • Pre order
  • Release date

Amplifiers for Affiliate Marketing sites

With regards to affiliate marketing, you want to think of what can I sell? Upsell, cross-sell? And where do people buy?

All of the above apply as well. Here are some additional amplifiers you can use.

Store amplifiers:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Newegg
  • Ebay
  • Aliexpress

In our case, lots of money is to be made in accessoires, bundles and skins.

Amplifiers for Local SEO and Rank-and-Rent sites

With regards to local SEO, you want to think of where do people live? What are local solutions or nearby alternatives?

Add countries, regions, cities and areas to your combinations, use a list of states or cities like this one:

  • United States, US
  • California, Pensylvenia, etc.
  • New York, Boston, Houston, etc.
  • South NY, North NY, NY City Centre
  • Nearby

Google Keyword Planner (Free and Paid options)

The Google Keyword Planner is the tool from Google Ads to find keywords. Its free to use. You can either lookup historical values for the keywords you have already found, or get new ideas based on your seed keywords.

Unfortunately, Google has been a pain in the *** for the last years and decided to only show volume ranges. While this is somewhat useful, it’s way too generic. Especially starting with longtail. Here’s what I mean:

However, there is a workaround for this. The downside? You need to invest a little. You can start a campaign as little as $10 to get access to the exact volumes. Definitely worth it in my opinion. Plus, you get to try some PPC ads 😄.

Once your Google Ads campaign is approved and running, you will see the exact volumes:

If you are on a really tight budget, best thing is to get your hands on a Google Ads voucher or start some trials with other paid tools. My suggestion? Ahrefs.

Ahrefs (Trial and Paid options)

While most of the above tools are free to use, a paid tool can speed up your keyword research process a lot. While their are many paid tools available, my absolute current favorite is Ahrefs. The speed, interface and output of the tool is extremely powerful. If you are serious about your side hustle, you need to invest. Investing in a tool like Ahrefs can make a difference between a $500/month side hustle or a $10.000/month side hustle.

Head over to Ahrefs and go to keyword explorer. Here, you can find new keyword opportunities. Whether you are looking for phrase match, exact match, questions or newly discovered keywords:

As you can see, Ahrefs already found 6,874 keywords having the same term, 639 questions and 12,356 closely related search queries! You can easily export all of them. However, once you click on the results, you will have lots of options to drill down and find hidden gems:

  1. Filter by metric
  2. Sort on topic
  3. View metrics per query

Moreover, Ahrefs is a perfect tool to reverse engineer your competitors keyword rankings. Let’s look at another example. In the Keyword Explorer, search for one of your keyword ideas. In our case: [ps5 vr]. If you scroll all the way down, you can see which websites are ranking and their stats:

Here you can see that TechRadar.com is ranking 10th, but is also pulling in a staggering 4.026 visitors a month from 624 keywords. This is only for one page. If you click on the keywords, you will see for what keyword this URL ranks:

So many new gems pop up:

  • ps vr 2
  • psvr specs
  • playstation vr update

Ok, by now you should have lots of keyword ideas and compiled a list of search queries. The next step is to select and enrich those keywords with additional information.

3. Enrich your keyword list

By now you should have compiled a huge list of potential keywords to go after. In order to choose keywords in the next step, you need to gather as much information as you can for each keyword.

Recommended metrics:

  • Search volume (Keyword Planner – Paid-ish)
  • Competition (Keyword Planner)
  • Category (Manual)
  • Sub category (Manual)
  • Keyword difficulty  (Ahrefs – paid)
  • CPS (Ahrefs – paid)
  • Longtail (Automated)
  • Focus (Automated)

Get monthly search volumes and level of competition

Start by exporting the first two metrics from Google’s Keyword Planner. You can only do this per 800 keywords at a time. Go to the Keyword Planner and click on ‘Get search volume and forecasts’. Paste your first 800 keywords. Click on ‘Get started’.

Next, click on the ‘Historical metrics’ tab.

On the upper right, click on the download arrow and export your data in either sheets or CSV.

Get Keyword Difficulty and Clicks Per Search Ratio

Depending on whether you have Ahrefs (or any other paid tool), you can do the same and collect additional data for your keyword list. In our case, we want to get insight into the Keyword Difficulty and Clicks Per Search Ratio (CPS) per keyword as well.

In order to get this data, go to the Keyword Explorer and paste your keywords. Select ‘Google’ and country ‘United States’ and click on the magnify glass button:

Next, click on ‘Export’ on the right hand side:

Categorize your keywords manually

While all metrics give us a lot of good insights into potential keywords, one last step is required in order to divide your keyword list into categories and subcategories. This makes mapping keywords to pages a lot easier.

In order to do so, try to identify similar topics and themes. Once you have found one, filter your results. For example, we found release date as a topic. Click on the filter icon, click on ‘Clear’ and type in your theme. Click on ‘Select all’ and on ‘Ok’.

Now categorize these keywords like you want by copy pasting it accross all cells. Do the same for the subcategory part.

Your final result should look like this:

This may take a while, but try to do this for 80% of the keywords, it should give you a general idea of topics and subtopics, its volume and potential.

4. Map keywords to your pages

Now it is time for the final and fourth step! Choosing keywords and mapping them to your pages. In order to do so, we look for keywords with the following metrics:

  • Volume: 50+
  • Long tail: 4+ words
  • Competition: < 70
  • Keyword difficulty: < 20
  • Clicks per Search ratio: 1+

Search Volume

Search volume shows the average amount of searches per month for a given search query. Its good to know that you will create your business around a niche that is in high demand. As high volume keywords are tempting to go after, it is often not the best strategy because you will probably won’t rank for them. Instead, we are going to find some hidden gems and long tail searches non of your competitors if focusing on yet.

Aim for keywords with a volume of 50 and higher. While this may not seem a lot at first, 100 of those keywords add up to 5.000 searches a month.

Competition

The competition index shows the level of competition in Google Ads for a search query from 0-100. The higher the number, the higher the level of competition is for that particular search query. While this may not apply to SEO directly, it gives you an indication. It also means that its very likely to see (a lot of) ads for highly competitive keywords.

Aim for keywords with a competition index of 70 and lower.

Long tail

Long tail shows how many words the search query consists of. Long tail keywords usually consist of four words or more.

Aim for keywords with four words or more to start with.

Keyword difficulty

Difficulty is perhaps the best metric to choose keywords from. If the difficulty is higher than 20, you will probably not rank very well for them if you don’t get any backlinks to your page. However, keywords with a keyword difficulty lower than 20 can be an excellent opportunity to give you a lot of traffic with a few backlinks. Let’s sort on KD < 20 and see what pops up. Here we can see x and y. Very interesting to go after. Also put in long tail keywords you have found during your research to find those hidden gems. Moreover, you don't want to target keywords with a lot of ads, google maps listings and so forth. Making you #11! Look at this example, probbaly resulting in 0 clicks.

CPS (Clicks per Search ratio)

Its good to know that not all searches result in a click. With Google becoming a richer SERP year after year, instantly providing answers to users. There have been lawsuits against Google for this. Anyway, this means we need to focus on searches that receive a lot of clicks. This is where the ratio or CPS comes in.

Look for keywords with a ratio of 1 or above.

Choosing keywords and mapping it to pages

When you are happy with your settings, sort your keyword research on a particular subcategory. Filter the list on ‘True’ under the Focus column. Now you should see the keywords that you can map to a page:

Copy and paste them in the next tab in the template.

Your template should look like this:

Done! Now you have a huge list of topics with keywords you can choose from. Use this list when you are creating new pages or when you optimize existing ones.

Here is how I would approach the pre order page:

See how I implemented all those little keyword combinations on this page 🧐? The availability, shops, prices, dates, questions, etc.

Use proper formatting with headings, tables, bulletpoints, images, videos and more to create a rich user experience. But more importantly, get rewarded by Google with heaps of traffic 🤑.

That’s a wrap! Please let us know if these tips where helpful to you. Or ask any questions in the comment section below!

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