Selling products or services online has become a much more difficult task during the last few years. More and more business owners are unhappy because they either spend too much money on SEO without seeing great results, or they waste lots of money doing AdWords campaigns with profits that barely cover their investments.

Not only that, but the recent Google algorithm updates have made lots of sites lose their good SEO rankings overnight, so the AdWords competition has increased a lot during the last year. This pushes the AdWords pay per click costs to higher and higher levels, and the PPC costs will only continue to grow in the future, keeping Google’s stock owners very happy.

I am pretty sure that you knew about this problem already, so what is the solution? Proper keyword research and analysis, of course! Way too many entrepreneurs fail to make a decent living by selling their products online because they are targeting the wrong keywords.

Read on to discover several keyword research methods that are guaranteed to produce great results, no matter if you are interested in doing PPC keyword research or you want to uncover the best keywords for a successful SEO campaign.

Think about it for a second: everyone is using Google’s Keyword Planner to discover the best keywords. This is the common sense approach, considering the fact that Google is the only source of authorized information when it comes to Google search, right? In fact, there are several other tools that can do keyword research, but most of them are simply reading Google’s data; there isn’t any other data source that can return the queries for this search engine.


Here are the typical steps of the process:

1. Head over to Google’s Keyword Planner.

2. Log into your Google account (any Gmail user / pass will do); this way you will get access to 800 keyword ideas, instead of getting 100 results.

3. Type in a few seed keywords; as an example, if you are working in the travel industry, you could choose “vacation”, “holiday”, and so on.

3. Click the “Keyword Ideas” tab, and then pick the keywords that are relevant for what you are selling and have a big search volume.

4. Start your PPC or your SEO campaign using those keywords.

google keyword plannerThese are the steps followed religiously by most people, and frankly, there aren’t any major flaws in this system. The only problem I’m seeing with this approach is the fact that everybody is doing it just like that! And how on earth will 800 keywords be enough to keep happy the millions of companies fighting to get a slice of the pie in the same niche?

At this point you might say to yourself using a lower voice: “Well, Stevie (use your own name here), you should thank God you aren’t working in a competitive industry! Those 800 keywords are all yours to keep for sure!” Sadly, no matter the industry you’re working in, only a few dozens of keywords out of those 800 will be useful for you, and I’m pretty sure that you’ve got at least a few tens of thousands of people competing for them.


So this is our dilemma: we’ve got a single data source for our keywords (Google’s tool), we’ve got about 800 keyword ideas to work with, and we’ve got millions of competitors for each and every one of our good keywords – what should we do? Some people have started to make use of long tail keyword research; they plug one of the initial 800 keywords returned by Google into its tool again, getting a new set of 800 long tail keywords.

Can you imagine how much time you would need in order to go through 800 x 800 = 640,000 keywords and study them all properly? Not to mention that most of them will be useless because they aren’t relevant, or simply because they have a tiny monthly search volume or a huge competition level. It’s not a surprise that many SEO companies offer keyword research services, finding packs of keywords that have a good search volume and low competition levels, and then selling them to people that are interested in running profitable AdWords campaigns, or want to use great keywords for effective SEO results.


Doing Proper Keyword Research and Analysis

So how do we find the proper keywords for an effective search engine optimization campaign or for a profitable AdWords campaign? The answer is disappointingly simple: we need to find untapped niches. Our main goal is to discover keywords that very few people are using. This way, we will be able to rank our keywords fast and / or we will spend much less money on AdWords, keeping a much larger share of the profit for ourselves.

Finding high volume, low competition keywords guarantees the success of your campaigns. Let the other business owners fight for highly competitive keywords; they will spend a lot of money trying to rank those keywords, and nobody can guarantee that this will actually happen.

how to do keyword researchBelieve it or not, we are going to use Google’s Keyword Planner to discover those untapped niches; it’s the only authorized source of information that we have gotten at our disposal, after all. Let us assume that John’s travel agency is targeting the “new york travel” keyword; according to Google, this keyword has a global search volume of 1,600 and a $1.90 AdWords PPC cost.

But how many direct competitors will John have to fight with for this keyword? The 101 White Hat SEO Tips article describes the competition assessment process in greater detail (check out the 4th and 5th tips) but here’s the nitty-gritty: the allintitle Google operator helps you see how many indexed website pages include the targeted keyword in their title.

In our example, the “allintitle:new york travel” Google search returns over 900,000 direct competitors, pages that include the words “new”, “york” and “travel” in their titles, being optimized for this particular keyword.


How to Find Related Keywords

With so many competitors, it is quite clear that the SEO and AdWords competition will be fierce. This means that we need to come up with related, and yet not very similar search terms; keywords like “new york vacation” aren’t groundbreaking, so they will have similar (if not bigger) competition levels and AdWords costs. If you know your industry well, now it’s the time to bring on and use all the tech jargon you are aware of, along with the less known, and yet searched for words that your potential clients are typing into Google.

Let’s take the word “trip” as an example; valid synonyms for it would be adventure, campaign, circuit, cruise, drive, excursion, expedition, flight, grand tour, hike, jaunt, journey, pleasure trip, quest, ride, round trip, safari, voyage, and the list could go on and on. I guarantee that at least some of these words will be ignored by Google’s Keyword Tool anytime a person types “trip” into its search box; this means that you’ve got lots of untapped niches to explore and profit from.

But what should you do if you don’t know any industry-related terms? First of all, buy some books and learn the slang – it’s your business, so you should know all there is to know about it, right? Fortunately, there is a shortcut that can provide decent results. My strong recommendation is to come up with your own set of words; still, if you lack creativity and you don’t want to discover the best keywords possible, here’s the less creative version of the process.

We can use Google’s synonym (~) operator to discover related searches. As an example, the ”~travel” search (without using the quotes) will return website pages that contain words like tours, tourism, holiday, hotels, flights, and so on. Let’s add the “new york tourism” keyword to Google’s Keyword Tool as well:

google keyword researchTake a good look at the results; we have discovered a new keyword that has a bigger (81% bigger) monthly search volume and a lower cost per click value. In addition to this, the “allintitle:new york tourism” search returns less than 60,000 direct competitors, making this a good keyword for SEO purposes as well.

Once again, if you know your industry, you shouldn’t rely on Google’s synonym operator, but rather come up with your own unique ideas; this will allow you to discover highly profitable keywords that nobody else is using.

What about using popular product / service names for our keywords? Many travel agents compete for “caribbean cruise”, for example; it’s a good keyword that has 40,500 global monthly searches and a CPC value of $2.53. Still, many agents ignore the highly targeted, much more profitable “royal caribbean cruises” keyword, which has close to 20,000 monthly searches and a much lower CPC cost of $0.65 (just 26% from the “carribbean cruise” CPC cost). Make sure to target specific product / service names in your industry as well; this will allow you to discover lots of great keywords.

Using searches that include foreign words, abbreviations, tech jargon, slang, names of famous people in your industry, word synonyms taken from dictionaries, neologisms, and so on, will always open the gates that lead to high volume, low competition keywords.

Another powerful tip is to search google for “your industry slang” and “your industry magazine”; this will reveal lots of fresh industry-related words that you can then use for your own keyword research.

Read the next page to discover several pro-level keyword research tips.