Free Keyword Research in Three Easy Steps

There are a slew of high-priced products that claim to make keyword research easier and faster. There’s always the old-school, free option if you don’t have thousands of dollars in your budget.

The basis of search engine optimization is keyword research. It provides an insight into the desires and requirements of searchers. It’s a free form of user data that anyone with a little patience may access.

Begin by putting together a two-column spreadsheet. In Column A, you’ll see keywords and phrases for the products your company sells. The number of monthly searches for certain words and phrases is listed in Column B, which is effectively the market demand. It’s incredible what you can do with data. It can help you plan content and even find out where your natural search performance is lacking.

In its most basic form, keyword research begins with a two-column spreadsheet. In Column A, you’ll see keywords and phrases for the products your company sells. The number of monthly searches is listed in Column B.

Keyword Seeds

The single-word stems of keywords are known as seeds. Seeds are often used to symbolise the things you sell and their features on ecommerce platforms.

For example, if you offer wall art, keywords can include terms like “metal wall art” and “canvas wall art.” The genre (abstract, botanical, landscape), hue (blue, red, green), and other features might all be seeds.

Seeds that are synonyms of your categories and attributes should be avoided. Some customers may refer to canvas wall art as a painting, for example.

Seeds can be combined in a variety of ways, including “green abstract metal wall art,” “botanical painting,” and “landscape canvas wall art.” To stitch your seeds into sentences that searchers might employ, use Merge Words or a similar tool.

This method can generate tens of thousands of keyword phrases. You may need to limit the amount of phrases to those that are most likely to deliver results, depending on your resources. Price and shipping-speed factors, for example, rarely elicit high keyword demand.

Limiting keywords, on the other hand, increases bias because you determine which data to obtain from the tool in the following stage of entering into Google Keyword Planner. Instead, combine all high-value keywords and enter them all to get the best results.

Read “SEO 101, Part 4: Keyword Research Tool Tips” for additional information on keyword seeds.

Google Keyword Planner

To get free keyword data, I utilise Google Keyword Planner. This is why: The keyword matched with a number — this keyword topic, that many searches — is the essential value of keyword research.

Yes, Keyword Planner’s statistics are rounded. Some SEOs are sceptical about Google’s ability to give accurate statistics. Yes, instead of being listed individually, the keywords are grouped into contextual themes. Finally, Google Keyword Planner is the only free tool that gives you numerical data per keyword in bulk. It comes directly from the source of 90% of organic search traffic and revenue.

You can see search volume and keywords if you have access to your company’s Google Ads account (previously AdWords). If you don’t have an account, the tool is still free; you’ll merely see volume ranges rather than individual numbers.

Click “Find new keywords” and enter up to 10 keyword phrases at a time to utilise Google Keyword Planner. You can also input a URL, which is useful for gathering keyword data from competitors’ websites. When you click “Get Started,” you’ll be given keyword data.

Change the filter in blue that says “Show broadly related thoughts” to “closely linked” on the data results screen. For our example of wall art, you’ll get effects like wallpaper and paint. By selecting “closely related,” you can eliminate less-relevant keywords from your data set.

Now, next to the date period, click on “Download Keyword Ideas” in blue to get a CSV file with all of the data for the first 10 keyword phrases.

Continue passing phrases through the tool until your merged seed list is depleted. It will take time, most likely a long period. It’s worth it, though, because you’ll have data to build your SEO and content strategy on.

Cleaning Keyword Data

You now have a large number of CSV files with keywords. You could combine them by copying and pasting, but it would take almost as long as gathering the data. Instead, use the PC CMD command or the Mac terminal prompt to merge your files.

The CSV files will have a lot of duplicate terms. Even if you chose “closely related,” some of the information will be irrelevant to your business.

Then, into an Excel spreadsheet, import the merged CSV file. Use Excel’s “Remove Duplicates” tool to ensure that each keyword phrase appears only once in your spreadsheet.

Sort your keywords from greatest to smallest in the “Avg. monthly searches” column. There will almost certainly be irrelevant high-volume keywords near the top of your list. It’s crucial to get rid of those huge sentences because they’ll bias your analysis. Scan the list until you find a decent number of terms — perhaps the top 1,000 or those that generate more than 1,000 visits each. It moves far rapidly than you may expect.

When you identify an irrelevant term, use it to filter the entire list — maybe it’s “wallpaper” — so you can delete all other phrases that contain it at once.

After that, arrange your keywords in alphabetical order. Similar terms are grouped together, making it simple to delete clumps of useless keywords. At this point, scan swiftly. Many of the most irrelevant phrases should have been found by your previous sort by keyword volume. Sorting alphabetically is more of a precautionary measure.

You now have keyword data that is free of errors. Do not bury it in a drawer. Use it as a quick reference for numerous decisions on a daily basis.

Share your keyword research with your staff, particularly those who enjoy data or are looking for content ideas. Most of your staff, in my experience, will prefer your final analysis and recommendations above sending them a slew of facts.

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