Search traffic has a certain allure that is difficult to describe. Getting links from influential bloggers and websites that can send direct traffic is awesome, but there is something about ranking well for keywords that captivates site owners in a way other traffic sources typically cannot.
The problem is finding keywords that can be ranked for with relative ease and can also bring in a profit. Ranking well is great, but if the traffic generated from those keywords doesn’t generate sales, email opt-ins or clicks on ad units, it is essentially worthless.
Here is how to find keywords for SEO that can boost your brand and your financial bottom line.
Use Google’s Keyword Tool
The Google Keyword Tool is a solid first step in finding relevant keywords with SEO value. Even with the soon to be released Keyword Planner, this still works.
Go to the Keyword Tool and sign in with your AdWords account. If you don’t have one, it is free to sign up and just takes a couple of minutes.
Open the keyword tool and paste your site’s URL. This should return a list of keywords that Google believes are relevant to your site. Look for the terms that have sufficient search volume, usually over 1,000 per month at a minimum, and that you have not yet created content for.
Using a service like Market Samurai, Open Site Explorer or SERP IQ can show the competition on the first page of Google’s results. Save the keywords that meet your criteria for search volume and competition, and discard those that do not.
The benefit here is that since Google has signaled that they believe these keywords are relevant, they may be easier to rank for than you would expect. It is not always the case, but it may be worth loosening your competition requirements a bit to pursue the most profitable keywords on this list.
Using Alexa For Keyword Opportunities
This is where spying on your competitors comes in handy. Look at the competing sites in your niche that seem to show up for many of the keywords you wish to rank for.
Go to Alexa and paste their homepage URL into the search box, then click “Get Details” on the next screen. The free version will show five keywords that Alexa sees as significant drivers of traffic.
Take these five keywords, and paste them into the Google Keyword Tool for an additional list of Keywords you may not have seen in your previous research efforts. Repeat the steps for search volume and competition as noted above.
Don’t Forget About Google Trends
Google Trends is a great way to scope out keywords that may not have high search volumes listed in various keyword tools, but are rising in popularity. Paste your chosen keyword into the search box, then look to see whether it is growing in popularity, dropping or holding steady.
For keywords that are growing in popularity, you will need to use your judgment to determine if they are worth pursuing. If nobody else is optimizing for a keyword with growing popularity, it may be worth it to go after it. You may be the first, or at least one of the first, to go after that keyword.
There is a saying in SEO that “He who is first is filthy linking rich”. You may be able to rank with little to no off-site SEO, and because you are ranking well, you may get more links, helping to bolster and maintain your rankings once everyone else catches up.
This method is more hit and miss. Go to Google.com/trends/correlate/draw. Draw a line and hit “correlate”. Google will return a set of keywords that match the line you drew. The line you draw corresponds to popularity, and will show keywords you didn’t know existed.
There may be keywords matching your niche, or there may be keywords completely unrelated. It is worth it to load a series of keywords and draw several lines to see what comes up.