Complete Keyword Research Tutorial using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer Tool

By | August 12, 2019


Hi, there. It’s Tim, head of marketing at Ahrefs. Give me just 10 minutes, and I will show you a ton of awesome things that you can do with Keywords Explorer tool So let’s go There are three scenarios of how you might use Keywords Explorer in your keyword research: 1. Generate thousands of keyword ideas. 2. Do an in-depth analysis of a specific keyword. 3. Pull metrics for your custom list of keywords. Let me cover all of them real quick. Number one: generating keyword ideas. Let’s use the Keyword “content marketing strategy” as an example. Once I put it into Keywords Explorer, I see a section called “Keyword Ideas”, both on the Overview page and in the left menu. The names of these reports are pretty self-explanatory. Phrase match – shows all keywords that have your exact match seed keyword as part of them. Having same terms – shows all keywords that contain the words of your seed keyword in any order. Also rank for – to generate this report, we take the top 10 ranking pages for your seed keyword and pull all other keywords that these pages also rank for; hence the name. This is one of my favorite reports, actually. Search suggestions – this last report basically contains the suggested keywords that appear as you enter your seed keyword into Google. And finally, the report with the name “All”, shows keywords from all of these reports. These are the reports that we have at this very moment, but will soon add more. And here’s the best part. You can use up to 10 seed keywords to generate these lists of keyword ideas. So as you can see, I have well over 100 phrase match keyword ideas for my single seed keyword, “content marketing strategy”. Let’s also add “blogging strategy” and “SEO strategy” to my seed keywords. And bam! Now I have almost 400 keyword ideas based on the 3 seed keywords that I’ve entered. And I can add up to 10 of them. But even that isn’t the best part. Let me try a very broad seed Keyword and see how many keyword ideas I will get for it. So my seed keyword is, “content”, and I get over 400,000 Keyword ideas! I am well familiar with the landscape of keyword research tools. and I’ve never seen a tool that will give you a similar amount of keyword ideas. That’s because Keywords Explorer runs on a monstrous database of over four billion keywords, which is updated with new data every month. And you instantly get two metrics for each keyword: search volume, that shows how many times people search for this keyword per month in the country that you have selected. Keyword difficulty, which indicates how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 search results for this keyword. Just with these two metrics alone, you can drill down your huge list of keyword ideas to just a few of the best ones. So if I filter by keyword difficulty from one to five and then by search volume from 500 to a thousand, I immediately see a pretty cool keyword to rank for: “content writing jobs”. It has a decent search volume of a thousand searches per month, and KD is only three. So it should be super easy to rank for. But you’re probably wondering, what does the “get metrics” button do? This brings us to the second use case of Keywords Explorer. Number two: In-depth analysis of a keyword. Once I click the “get metrics” button, the tool will calculate a bunch of advanced metrics for that keyword. So let me explain what each of these metrics mean, and how it helps you make better marketing decisions. Let’s take the keyword, “wireless earphones” for an in-depth analysis. The first metric that you see on the overview page is keyword difficulty. It shows how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 search results for this keyword. And there’s also a little hint that says that I will need backlinks from approximately 6 to 8 websites, in order to rank in the top 10 for this keyword. Notice how it says, “to rank in the top 10”, and not rank number one for this keyword? The number one spot in Google is super hard to achieve and there are a lot of different factors in place other than just backlinks. Google has a very sophisticated ranking algorithm and no tool in the world can accurately predict your chances of ranking number one for a certain keyword. That is why Ahrefs keyword difficulty estimates your chances of ranking in the top 10. Actually, there’s a lot more to say about Ahrefs’ Keyword difficulty score as well as the concept of Keyword difficulty in general. And we have an awesome post about it on the Ahrefs blog, which I advise you to read. Just click the link that you see on your screen, and it will take you there The next metric is search volume. This number shows how many times people search for your keyword per month. And we give you the annual average. I’m sure you’ve heard already, that search volumes from Google Keyword Planner can’t really be trusted. Well, pairing it with Clickstream data allows us to give you much more accurate search volume numbers. If you want to learn more about our search volume metric and why it is more reliable than what Google shows, check out my article about Keywords Explorer at the Ahrefs blog. The link is on your screen. In that article, I explain all of our keyword metrics in detail and show some great examples and use cases. I highly recommend you check it out. And now, let’s move on to the next metric. The fact that people search for some keywords, doesn’t mean that they click on any of the search results. A good example is the Keyword, “Donald Trump age”, that has a huge search volume with only about 14% of clicks. That is because Google gives you an instant answer to this question. So it doesn’t really make sense to click anything. In Keywords Explorer, you can see both total search volume and percentage of clicks plotted on a nice annual graph. And it seems that the search volume of this keyword has reached its peak in November, right before the US elections, which is of course expected. Next metric. The next metric is called “return rate”. It shows you how often people search for that keyword again. For “Donald Trump age”, the return rate is 1.1. So people almost never search for it again, probably because his age is easy to memorize. But if we check the return rate for the Keyword “Donald Trump”, it is 1.83. The reason for this high return rate is probably the news block at the top of the search results. It always has something fresh, so it makes sense to search for this keyword again and again. But please note that return rate is a relative metric. So this number doesn’t mean that people search for Donald Trump about two times a month on average. It just means that they search again for “Donald Trump” way more often than for “Donald Trump age”. This is very useful when comparing keywords with each other and figuring out what people seem to be continuously interested in. For example, the keyword “Facebook” has one of the highest return rates (3.63). But let’s move on. Clicks. To present you this metric in all its glory, I will use the keyword “best backpack”. Something clearly counterintuitive happens here, right? Search volume is 5,600, but there are 6,900 clicks on the search results. How come there are more clicks than searches? The answer is this cool, “clicks per search” metric, which shows that on average, people click on more than one search result. It looks like when they search for “best backpack”, there is no clear winner among the search results that they would click and settle. And so they click a few of them. This is an amazing metric! It gives you absolutely unique insight into how your target audience behaves on Google. If you see that people tend to click on more than a single search result, this is a clear indication that you can get some nice traffic even if you rank number three or number four or below. Just make an eye-catchy search snippet that would attract these clicks. And we have the last metric to discuss. Parent topic. Let me try a keyword, “wireless headphones for workout.” this is clearly a longtail keyword because it has a low search volume. And what Keywords Explorer shows is that this keyword is actually a part of a bigger topic: “Best workout headphones”, which has 7,000 search per month. What does this mean? Scroll down to the serp of review report. We have identified that the top ranking page for the keyword “wireless headphones for workout”, also ranks for a much more popular keyword, “best workout headphones.” So we assume that “best workout headphones” is kind of a parent topic, which contains a lot of longer tail keywords in it. And if you rank for “best workout headphones”, you will automatically rank for “wireless headphones for workout”, along with many, many more similar Keywords. I can actually click on this number of over 700 Keywords that this number one page rank for and see all of them. And by looking at the total search traffic of the number one ranking page, I can see the total traffic potential of this topic, which we also show here in the top. Pretty cool, right? This wraps up the list of keyword metrics that we have in Keywords Explorer, but let me also show you a few great reports that will give you some additional insights about your Target Keyword. SERP position history: This report shows you how the pages that currently rank in the top 5 got there. Here’s the position history for the keyword, “Walt Disney.” The same 5 pages are ranking at the top for quite a while, only interchanging positions between each other. This kind of SERP would be really hard to penetrate. And here’s the ranking history for the keyword, “Twitter marketing.” The pages were jumping on and off the top 5 for almost a year. And only one of these five pages stayed at the top consistently. In other words, SERP position history can be somewhat indicative of Google’s own level of satisfaction with their search results and does reflect your chances of squeezing your own page there. And the second report that I wanted to show you is: SERP overview. This report shows you the pages that rank on the front page of Google for your target keyword and their SEO metrics. So by looking at the SERP overview for the Keyword, “Twitter marketing”, I can see the following things: How many backlinks are pointing to each ranking page? What is the domain rating of the parent website? How much traffic is coming to each page? And how many other keywords does that page rank for? this gives me a lot of information to decide, what it would take to rank for this keyword and if the resulting traffic is even worth it. And that wraps up our detailed analysis of a single keyword. So let’s move to the third and last use case of Keywords Explorer tool. #3. Get metrics for your list of keywords. So let’s say you have a custom list of keywords and you want to pull all this awesome metrics that I just showed you. No problem! You can copy/paste your list or upload it as a file in txt or CSV format. The limit of keywords that you can upload in one go, depends on your account and is shown right next to the upload button. Here, I have a list of 53 keywords related to our industry, so let’s bulk analyze them. Immediately, I’ll end on the overview page with some cool aggregated statistics for my list of keywords. It may take a bit of time to process all metrics if your list is very large. Here on the overview page, I see the total search volume and the total amount of clicks for my list of keywords. I see that there are almost no paid ads in the search results for these keywords. I see the distribution of my keywords by search volume and keyword difficulty. I see how many SERP features are present in the search results for my list of keywords. And finally, I see which countries searched for these keywords the most and which websites get the majority of search traffic. That is how an overview report from a list of keywords looks like. I can now switch to the ‘metrics’ tab and see all my keywords along with their advanced metrics. For some of these metrics, I have to hover our mouse cursor to see the details. Like if I want to see SERP features for a specific keyword or the proportion of search volume to clicks. From here I can play with the filters and cherry-pick the best keyword ideas in my list. One last feature that deserves a mention is that you can select the keywords that seem promising add them to a list within Keywords Explorer, which means you no longer need to store your keywords in Excel or Google Sheets. And that was a quick tour around Keywords Explorer. If you still have any questions about this tool feel, free to tweet me @timsoulo, Or email me at Tim Soulo at Ahrefs dot com. See ya!

6 thoughts on “Complete Keyword Research Tutorial using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer Tool

  1. Jorge Luis Post author

    I think a perfect word to describe the power of the Keyword Explorer tool would be… "SEXY"
    Because nothing more attractive to me than having the best Keyword Research tool in the planet at my disposal 😉

    Reply
  2. bENTLEY CAR Post author

    English too poor, Russian team, can't even translate the website into Russian, all with mistakes. I hope my comment is contractive.

    Reply
  3. Vinayak SP Post author

    Can anyone tell me; what is the difference between Volume of a particular keyword and its average monthly searches???

    Reply
  4. Rex Phillips-Imale Post author

    Jorge Luis, I was thinking of that a third of the way through the video. Ashref tool is sexy as fck. I know I sound like a complete geek but I don't care.

    Reply
  5. From Clapham Junction Post author

    Great video, I have a number of videos that I put up on YT some time back that have good content but have not performed. Is there any way that I can kickstart viewing by changing the video titles, descriptions and keywords to make them more search friendly? For example would it be possible to get loads of views on a video that has been on YT for 5 years, by changing the title, description and tags to include super powerful key words?

    Reply

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