Keyword Research Tutorial: From Start to Finish (2019)

By | August 12, 2019

Keyword research isn’t about search volume. I’ll even argue that it’s not entirely about
traffic either. It’s about choosing topics that potential
customers are searching for, serving their needs, and eventually converting them into
customers. So in this keyword research tutorial, I’m
going to show you how to do keyword research that will help you increase traffic and revenue. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Now, this keyword research tutorial is going
to be a bit different than what you might be used to seeing. Rather than focusing on things like low competition
topics, I want to show you how to find and map keywords that will actually drive revenue
for your business. So whether you’re creating a new website or you
want to revamp your current keyword targeting, the processes I’ll outline today will help. Alright, so let’s say that I’m starting a
new e-commerce store selling computers, parts, software, and accessories. I’ll obviously need product and category pages. But I’ll also want to use a blog to fuel my
traffic. The first step is to generate keyword ideas. And I’ll be using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
for this. So I’ll start by typing in a few broad keywords
related to my online store like computer, computers, laptop, laptops, and pc. Next, I’ll go to the Having same terms report
which shows us all keyword ideas that contain the target keywords as a broad match. And there are well over 17 million keyword
ideas. Now, the point of this exercise isn’t to find
as many random keywords as possible. It’s to filter them down and group them by
search intent. Search intent just means “the reason behind
a searcher’s query.” Now, these can generally be categorized into
four groups. First, are informational keywords. And these are queries where a searcher is looking
to gain general knowledge on a topic. For example, “what is DDR4 ram?” Next, are navigational keywords. For these, the searcher usually knows the
destination they want to reach. For example, something like “newegg DDR4 ram.” Third, are commercial investigation queries. These generally show that someone is looking
to get information on something that they want to eventually buy. So these will often be comparisons and include
keyword modifiers like “best DDR4 ram.” Finally, are transactional keywords, which
show that someone is ready to make a purchase like “buy DDR4 ram.” And if you’re familiar with the sales conversion
cycle, you’ll see that each of these groups fit into one of the four stages. Now, you might be wondering, why not just
go after transactional keywords since these are the ones that are going to drive direct
revenue? Two things. First, you’ll limit your reach. Generally speaking, search demand will be
the lowest for transactional keywords. So if you’re ignoring things like informational
queries, you’ll be missing out on opportunities to squeeze yourself into your target audience’s
conversion journey. Informational content can also help you build
trust and authority, so that when someone actually comes to a point of commercial investigation,
they may recognize your name. Or when they get to the transactional stage,
having previous exposure can be the difference between choosing you over a competitor. The second distinct advantage you have is
that you can accelerate people’s buying journey through internal linking, retargeting, or
whatever method to get your content in front of them. For example, if my store had a blog post on
“what to do with an old laptop,” and the post mentioned a buy-back program we do, it could
lead to a conversion quickly. Now, how can you determine search intent for
a keyword phrase? With some of them, you can’t from the keyword
alone. But a good chunk of them can be found using
keyword modifiers. A modifier is an add-on to a base keyword. For example, that could be best, top, or the
current year. Here’s a short list to get you started. Take a screenshot and let’s keep going. Now I’m back in our Keyword ideas report and
I want to filter for keywords by search intent category. So I’ll grab our list of informational keywords,
and paste them into the Include box here. Make sure to set the tab to “Any,” which will
show us all keyword ideas that contain any of these keywords. Alright. So the filtered results still show over three
million keywords. So let’s set another filter. If you’re looking for low competition keyword
targets, then you can set a maximum keyword difficulty score of something low like 10. Personally, I prefer to focus on search demand
by setting the volume in tiers. So we’ll set a filter to show only keywords
that have a minimum search volume of 1,000 monthly searches. And we’ve narrowed our 17 million results
down to around a thousand. Now you’ll need to manually filter through
these. Since we’re focusing on keyword research that
drives revenue, you’ll have to focus on the business potential of a keyword. At Ahrefs, we assign a score between 1-3. The larger the number, the greater value the
keyword has to our business. An easy way to determine the business value
is to ask yourself this question: Can I plug my products or services into these
posts naturally? Or ask yourself, would someone searching for
this query be interested in purchasing my products or services? If the answer is no, then you should probably
move on. A quick way to sort through this list is to
sort the table by parent topic. Since a single page can rank for hundreds or thousands
of keywords, you can use the parent topic to see if you can rank for your target keyword
while targeting a more general topic on your page instead. For example, you’ll see high volume keywords
that all have the same parent topic of “xbox one controller driver.” Rather than creating numerous dedicated articles
on these queries about connecting an xbox controller to a PC, just choose the one with
the most search volume as long as it provides value to your business. For example, this keyword on “what is a computer
worm,” could be a good one for our computer shop since we provide anti-virus software. So while it is an informational topic, we
could easily link to the different software products in our store. So I’ll add a checkmark to it. Then select the rest of the keywords in your
filtered list by scanning the parent topic groups. Now, before we switch to the next page, scroll
to the top and click on “Add to” and create a list with the keyword category as the name. So these would be informational keywords. If you find that your keyword list is too
short, then just change the volume filter. Since we’ve already gone through searches
with greater than 1,000 monthly searches, I’ll set the next one to searches that have
500-999 monthly searches and do the exact same thing until I have a large enough pool. Now, do the same thing for your other keyword
categories, and you should have a nice list of topics to target in every stage of their
buying journey. But there’s still some work to do. The next step is to analyze Google’s top 10
search results. Now, this is a super important step to keyword
research. The top 10 ranking pages are going to give
you information on things like content format and it’ll help you understand how hard it’s going to be to rank on Google for your target keyword. For example, if we click on the SERP dropdown
beside this keyword, you’ll see the top 10 ranking pages. Now, the first thing you want to analyze are
the titles of the ranking pages. You can immediately tell that all of the pages
are blog posts. You’ll also see that the titles talk about
what computer worms are and how they work. Rather than completely reinventing the wheel
and trying to rank this with a product page, you’ll want to stick with the content format. So for my site, I might create a post called,
“What is a Computer Worm? How to Fix it When You’ve Been Infected.” Now, just to show you how SERPs can differ,
if we look at the top 10 rankings for “4k monitors,” you’ll see that the SERP is dominated
by product and category pages, which to me shows more transactional intent. You can also do this step by running
a search in Google for a keyword you want to rank for. The next part is to assess how hard it will
be to rank on Google for this keyword. Now, there are a few things that I’ll look
at here. First, will be the number of unique websites
linking to these pages. We call that referring domains. In this example, it doesn’t look like the
top ranking pages have that many unique links outside of Wikipedia. In fact, some of the pages in the bottom half
of the SERP have 0 unique links pointing at them. Now as I’m looking through the referring domains,
I’ll also look at the Domain Rating, which represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink
profile. In this case, you can see that the ranking
pages all come from pretty powerful domains. So if your website has a DR of, let’s say
15, you have to account for the fact that you’ll be competing against pretty powerful
sites. In general, you want to play in the same Domain
Rating ballpark region, or be prepared to build more links than the top ranking pages. The final step that I’ll look at is topical
relevance. Since a computer worm is in the “antivirus”
category, you’ll see that a lot of the top pages are antivirus companies. So this may also tell us that it’ll be a bit
harder to penetrate, but not impossible. So with all of these things considered, I
would put an estimated number of unique links I think we’ll need to rank for this topic. From there, I’ll decide whether it’s worth
putting my time and resources into ranking. Now, it’s just a matter of doing this for
all keywords that you’re interested in targeting. And I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet
of some sort so that you can track of your keyword targeting plan. Alright, so by this point, we’ve gone through
most of the cookie-cutter keywords where search intent is easy to identify using keyword modifiers. But not all of the keywords are going to include
our seed keywords like “computer,” “laptop,” or “pc.” A great way you can get more keyword ideas
is to reverse engineer the topics that are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites. You can do this by going to Ahrefs Site Explorer. Just enter a competitor’s domain and then
go to the Top pages report. Now, if I were looking for product pages that
I want to rank, I would search for a site like that has a lot of product
page rankings. Or if I were looking for blog posts, I could
look at the Top pages report for a site like Tom’s hardware. Now, it’s just a matter of skimming the Traffic and Top keyword columns. And if you want to find lower competition
topics, then just look at the Referring Domains column to get a basic understanding of ranking
difficulty. Once you find a topic that you want to target,
then go through the same process of categorizing by search intent, assigning a business value,
and analyzing ranking difficulty. Getting traffic from keyword research is great
and all, but as you go through this process, you want to make sure that the keywords you’re
targeting are serving your potential customers. And that’s why it’s so important to map keywords
to problems they face. You have the opportunity to showcase how your
products and services will make their life easier, and guide them towards your end goal. A conversion. Now, if you enjoyed this video, then make
sure to like, share, and subscribe, and if you have any questions on keyword research,
leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help. So keep grinding away, and I’ll see you in
the next tutorial.

42 thoughts on “Keyword Research Tutorial: From Start to Finish (2019)

  1. SEOquick Post author

    Thanks, Sam. It's always useful. KD is the most important metric more than even volume. This metric helps a lot to promote simple keywords.

  2. Alhaj Talukdar Post author

    Sir , I am totally confused to how to write my article title?if you give me some idea than I will be very thankful…..

  3. Ariful Islam Post author

    Wow, what a great idea!! Thank you for your valuable content.. Thank You Very much! I'll try soon

  4. rony sisodia Post author

    Love your content Sam & the way you explain.
    Is there any chance you might do a video on SEO for News website or related topic. As it is little different. Would highly appreciate it.


  5. Srihari Malliala Post author

    Hi bro how are you
    plz tell me the best key word websits & Tag sites.

  6. ARCHIT SINGH Post author

    Hi Sam, thanks for all the videos you upload every week. I really love watching your videos. You really give some cool tips. Thanks 🙂

  7. Suhag Patel Post author

    I am Ahref subscriber. You should make one tutorial covering all the topics. So we can utilize the full potential of the Ahref

  8. Android Mobile Games Post author

    Hi Sam.
    My thumb up to this wonderful video.
    Please let me know how many time you spend to creating a thumbnail of this video.
    Your all thumbnail are unique and engaging.
    Is this your single effort to make the thumbnail or you take advice from experts.

  9. ThizChico BeaTz Post author

    Thanks for the tips , I had a question that's been bugging me. If you take a break from YouTube, and decide to come back, is it true that YouTube buries your channel for having breaks? I don't want to start over but I feel I might have to. Any response will help.

  10. Kandaman Post author

    SAM OH..This is one of THE best if not THE best videos on KW Research I've ever watched. It take just a few mins to layout the concepts in SIMPLE terms for anyone to grasp. As always keep on CRUSHING IT!!!

  11. Marketing Predictor Post author

    You always explain things for websites that have traffic and never for websites that have a few visitors. For those kinds of websites, each aHrefs feature gives back no data. It would be great to consider keyword research and all of your tips for a different target.

  12. Marc Owen Banks Post author

    Amazing and insightful as always Sam, but OH! 100mph – and cheat sheet link would be awesome, and my note-taking just doesn't keep up!

  13. Kamal Bhatt Post author

    Hey Sam, Can you make a video on How to rank on Google's first page without backlinks???

  14. Eric Worral Post author

    Awesome as usual Sam! If you guys really wanted to ratchet it up to the next level I'd love to see Google sheets that we could copy to go along with your video tutorials.

    I made an example sheet based on this video:

    Just by swapping out the last word in the url from "edit" or "share" to "copy" you should be able to make an easily copyable Google sheet (although I've said that before and been wrong).

    My sheet isn't crazy useful but I'm sure you guys have ones you use internally that pair well with the ahrefs tool.

    The nice thing is that you can make clean CTAs right in the sheet to your service along with creating another shareable asset.

  15. Kumar Gaurav Post author

    Sam, your videos are awesome. They are informative and help a lot in understanding what needs to be done. Keep up the good work man.

  16. hellocourage Post author

    This is really awesome! And thanks. : ) Two questions. If the volume is high for commercial investigation, would it be good to go for it rather than informational KWs? Side track a bit: What's the video software you use to create such nice videos?

  17. Arthur Post author

    Sam, loved this new, fresh approach to KW research. Got a template you use to keep track of these and then map to existing pages?

  18. Mubashar Ali Post author

    After watching this.. I don't need to buy expensive paid course. I know they are important too. Please provide full YouTube course

  19. Kyle K Post author

    This is a sweet video. Love it. Great work Sam “ wizard finger “ O.

  20. David Klein Post author

    Can anyone recommend a place where i can find a spreadsheet template for keyword research?

  21. Sky is limit Post author

    SAM. You reveal the secrets in your first 20 seconds

  22. Eric Van Buskirk Post author

    One of the best SEO videos I've ever seen. 1/2 of the reason is that ahrefs makes all other tools look like child's play. So I love it how you give totally actionable tips and stay always in the tool to show things that otherwise seem daunting for newb SEOs. I already started sharing this with some people I know that want to get into SEO or start their own online biz.

  23. Glow0110 Post author

    Man, thank you so much for all of the valuable content you put out. THIS is how it's done – a company who creates something highly useful AND shows people how to best use it / harness it's power.

  24. YouBackTube - Jeff Post author

    Too bad, all your tutorials have information on topics that are interesting to any marketer, but since it requires your $1,000 per month software to do any of this it's pretty much worthless information. Not too many people have that kind of cash to spend on a software application when it's more than rent for the month.

  25. geovani mejia salazar Post author

    It would be great if you can show real-world results from this strategy. Thats is, an example of how this strategy increase your ranking for one of your keywords. Thanks

  26. Luap Mahgni Post author

    Great tutorial, really getting into Ahrefs! One question re the video. May I ask what tool was used to edit? At 4:03 mins in, I like how you can blur everything other than the focus point out. Anyways, thanks Sam and team!

  27. AVX Post author

    Should I get used to accepting the fact that I need to stay away from low traffic potential topics EVEN if they're pretty popular in my niche? Because most people have the "I'm gonna write it anyway" mindset.

  28. Rabia Shahid Post author

    I have subscribe your channel and kindly i need more valuable tips related to keyword research aa im quite new in thia dynamic world of seo

  29. Mehdi Estili Post author

    Thanks for the great video as always. Just
    a question:

    If the Google first-page search for a
    keyword contains pages of giant companies like Amazon or Samsung, would it be
    possible to beat those pages by posting a longer content and optimizing the
    post for that keyword? I guess those pages of Amazon or Samsung are not well optimized
    for keyword.

    However, KWfinder shows the keyword
    difficulty of 50 for that keyword (monthly search volume only 10), only based
    on the PA of the first 10 pages in Google. Many of those pages are Amazon or
    Samsung, and obviously they have high PA and DA.

    Would you please comment on this? Can I
    trust KWfinder for the keyword difficulty or just ignore it and go for that

    Thanks in advance.

  30. Sehrish Farid Post author

    Awesome explanation! As usual helpful 🙂

  31. Sasha-Rose Hartley Post author

    Wry good but very fast. Is there a beginners video before this one :)?

  32. Sarah Jack Post author

    I spent two days on youtube searching to find a video on how to do keyword mapping, finally found a video that helped me with what I was looking for. Thank you.


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