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Keyword Research For SEO – A Complete Guide

Keyword research is the most important aspect of search engine optimization or SEO but many SEO people have a misconception that keyword research is a one time process for a website. The process they follow is do keyword research for your website to get good keywords for your site’s home page and you are done with it but that is absolutely not true. I decided to do keyword research for 100 odd articles for go4expert and this is what I see when implemented.

You may argue that Go4Expert is a well established website with thousands of links pointing to the domain home page as well as internal pages and so it can get lot of boost with minor changes with keyword research and if you have such doubts about keyword research see below.

It is a brand new website but I cannot share the website details here because I am not complete owner of this website. This domain is registered in November 2011 and all we have done is added 200+ keyword researched articles to it. You can see how 3 month old website created in WordPress is growing in traffic.

1. Getting started With Keyword Research

All my blogs and forums combined have thousands of articles and so I need to have a strategy in selecting the right articles for keyword research and SEO. The way I do it is visit my Google Analytics Account to see what all queries drive traffic to my websites and what is the average position for those keywords.

From that report I select keywords where I am anywhere between number 4 position to number 10 position (or even 20 for less traffic sites) and come up with list of keywords that I can work upon and better my Google Ranking to drive more traffic to my site.

See also:

2. Analyze Keyword Competitions

Once you have a keyword that is driving traffic to your site the next thing to look into it is if you can outrank some of those sites that rank above you. I use Market Samurai’s (Aff Link) SEO Competition Tool to see what all sites are above my site and see if I can out rank them. Market Samurai is a paid tool but it does give you a free trial for few days as well. As you can see in the screenshot below I’ve the full version of Market Samurai because it is very handy SEO tool for analysis.

Let me first explain the short codes you see in the image above. Some are pretty self explanatory.

  • DA – Domain Age
  • PR – PageRank
  • IC – Index Count
  • RDD – Referring Domains – Domains i.e. number of unique domains linking to the ranked domain.
  • RDP – Referring Domains – Page i.e. number of unique domains linking to the ranked page
  • BLP – Page Backlinks
  • BLD – Domain Backlinks
  • BLEG – Backlinks from .edu/.gov domains
  • DMZ – Listed in DMOZ Directory
  • YAH – Listed in Yahoo Directory
  • Title – Keyword Used in the Title tag?
  • URL – Keyword is present in the URL?
  • Desc – Keyword is present in Meta Description or not?
  • Head – Keyword is present in Hx Header Tag?
  • CA – Bing Cache Age

Red color means high competition, yellow means moderate competition and green means low competition. You should focus on keywords where you see lot more green in the SEO competition matrix.

Coming back to Go4Expert analysis – We see that Go4Expert is ranking in 5th position for the keyword “Ethical Hacking” but then the sites that rank better than Go4Expert are very established sites like Wikipedia and techtarget. So it does not make much sense trying to outrank them, instead I will go and work on another keyword from the list of keywords we have generated from Google Analytics.

The process continues for phrases and list those keywords where I see opportunity to rank higher fairly easily.

This article is about Keyword research but I would like to add a line about one of my favorite feature of Market Samurai’s SEO Competition Analysis that is Anchor Text Analysis. It analyzes any website or page and shows what all sites link to that web page or web site and what is Anchor text for each of them.

3. The Keyword Research

Till now we have been talking about having some keywords and build on that list to make your site more popular but for new website there is no point in starting with a keyword and then improving the ranking because normally if you are new to the site you don’t always end up with the keywords first and so the process should start with finding the keywords first and then building on that keywords to have something that is more easy to rank and drive traffic yet has very low competition.

Let us say you are a movie fan and plan to have a movie reviews site. Movie review is very competitive and so let us come to a micro niche site in the movie review category.

  1. We use Movie Review as the keyword to start with and then we generate keywords.
  2. Once we have the list of keywords for the Movie review we select phrase length to be minimum of 3 keywords.
  3. We choose only keywords that has movie and review in the keyword because it eliminates keywords like watch movie online etc. which are not related to what we are looking for.

Now we do the keyword analysis of the generated keywords.

There are lots of parameters in Market Samurai but as this is more about keyword research we will focus on four important aspect of the above report that is

  1. SEOT – SEO Traffic which is the traffic the first ranked website can get daily.
  2. PBR – Phrase to broad ratio, which means percentage of people searching for that exact keyword to the broadly matched search for that keyword.
  3. SEOC – SEO competition i.e. competition for the phrase.
  4. Trends – Monthly traffic trend.

Looking at the above matrix we can see that terms like inception movie review, black swan movie review and other named movie review terms have trend going down and this is because those keywords were having good trends when the movie was released. Getting those terms out we come to the conclusion that Hindi Movie review or Tamil or Telugu movie reviews is very less competitive and yet has better traffic levels and so we can target those terms in our site or even make those as categories for review and review some movies into those categories to generate instant traffic to your site without much of an off page SEO efforts and still start generating traffic to your site in a niche which is very competitive.

See also:

4. Semantic Keyword Research

We have generated keywords related to movies but then there can be more terms which are semantically related to movies but does not have movie as a keyword – terms like films, cinemas … You can use those phrases like film reviews, cinema reviews and generate more keywords for your website using the above process and generate instant traffic for your site.

FAQ’s About Keyword Research

How many keywords should I put into my

… tags?

The answer is one to two phrases per page. So if you have a page on your website, you can target one or two phrase for that page and add the same in title, Hx and in Anchor text for that page.

Using automated SEO software cause a website to be penalized?

No. It is a common myth among newbie SEO people that is floating around a lot in forums. If it were true you could get your competitor penalized or banned by using automated SEO softwares. Naturally this does not happen (nor should it).

Some webmasters will try to say that Google says in their guidelines that you shouldn’t use automated softwares. The reason Google says is because most of such automated SEO tools scrape Google’s search engine results pages to find your site’s ranking and other information. This is violation of Google’s usage terms. Google offers only certain quantum of data for querying through API and this is the only reason for Google saying to avoid such automated SEO tools.

Apart from that if you constantly use SEO software to query Google’s servers they may ban your IP address or you may need to enter Captcha to make searches in Google. However, this has no effect on your web pages’ ranking. Market Samurai does not query Google using your IP and it uses their own server’s IP to scrape Google result and so you should not have any issues on that front either.

Share your views and feedback in comments below.

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  • Carley Dahil

    Nice blog post – I loved the analysis ! Does anyone know if my assistant could possibly locate a blank CO DoR 104PN copy to use ?

  • Awesome article and very useful for Me. very easy language and effective . U cleared my doubts

    • The pleasure is all mine Lokender

  • vinodh


    thanks for this article. I have MS.
    But never used it. will use hereafter.
    I was confused by lot of terminologies in that software.
    you cleared major doubts.


    • The pleasure is all mine Vinodh.

  • nice

    very nice

  • You Da Man
    Again, Thank You.

  • My Bad, I thought maybe I had asked for guidance, Oops.
    Thank you for the route to the server.

    By the way, is that a custom side by side sign up form that you have at bottom of page. Where can I get one? Neat.

    • You told that you figured out how to get the squeeze page done and so I told that is noway related to what we are discussing nor related to this topic.

      Side by Side means? Do you mean the AWeber as well as the Feedburner one? You need a designer to grab the html from both the subscribe form and put them on your pages.

  • Shabbir, tanks any how. I’ll find another way I guess. By the way, I think I figured out how to do the squeeze page. Actually, it was simple after a friend explained the route.

    The route is usually the answer.



    • How Squeeze page is related to the plugin or even this post?

  • Shabbir,

    Thank you for that information. I did add it to the CSS file, the note pad file that poped up when I clicked on the http:// HBS CSSfile.

    I saved it with the file save drop down, also saved the changes to settings. Nothing changed. I went back to the CSS file, the instruction was missing. I repeated the operation, JIC the same thing happened over and over.

    I am obviously doing something wrong. Do you have an idea as to what?

    When You AbsolutelyPositively
    Need the Right Solution

    • Glen, I will not be able to help you on how to edit the CSS file and save them on your server.

  • Shabbir, have you ever faced this issue? MS after 0.88.68 update is not pulling the details of Adwords(AWT,AWTCTR,AWTCPC) & Commerciality section(AWV,SEOV).

    I tried researching, it seems same problem occured for SeoC sometime back. Many were affected and so the problem was fixed. But in this case, I’m unable to find any forum or report about adwords and commerciality issues.

    • I just see the new version of MS is 0.88.68 and so cannot comment on that version. Best place is to ask the support team.

      • Yep! Submitted a ticket already. Waiting for their response!

        • I find something fishy in MS. Its been almost 24hours since I’ve raised at ticket and no response from the support team yet.

          And a word about SEnuke, support team was the fastest I’ve ever seen. The guy ‘Jason’ in SEnuke is so quick in responding and fixing the issues.

          Will update here if I get any response from MS support.

          • I have also heard good things about SEnuke but MS support is normally very fast as well.

            • Yes! I’ve read a lot of good articles about MS and its support. Thats why i find it fishy when there is no response yet. There was an article on Jan 30th about MS was changing the pulling source from google to bing. There seems to be internal problem in MS since then. Let’s hope for the good.

              As coins has two sides, Although the support is quick in SEnuke X, there are a lot of issues coming up. As I’m new to these things, I’m not sure whether if I’m judging properly.

              • Yes I know the changes in MS but that is for rank tracking and other modules that is very little to do with keyword Research.

                Also I just upgraded my MS and I also see that Adwords Data is not being fetched.

                • Please let us know any update .

                  • I don’t look into Adwords data in MS.

  • Shabbir,

    I recall last year sometime someone asked how to raise the webform so it could be seen. Apparently your information did the trick.

    If possible will you repeat hhis information so I can raise my webform to be seen.

    Thanks again.


    • Add the following in your CSS file. div#footerform {height:180px;} 180px can be anything of your choice.

  • sure 🙂

  • Shabbir, Should I go for a different tools specifically for Link Building and Title Keyword Analysis?

    • Link Building with tools can be very risky and so don’t try that for your main site. Title Keyword Analysis I use Keyword Winner as well as Market Samurai.

      • yeah! Even I personally feel that Link Building through tools is risky. But in sites like elance and freelancer, employers are repeatedly asking for Link Building services for their websites. Repeatedly! I guess they have no issues from google yet. Anyways I’m planning to use it for one of my dummy sites. Lets see!

        • Yes testing things on minor sites is better option and do share your experience.

  • Thank you for this article, I am thinking to buy MS but there are some information that MS is slow, Is there another program instead MS ? I prefer one time paid.

    • Ibraheem, any such programs queries lot of data and parses it and will be slow but MS is not very slow.

    • Since I din’t use any other tools, I’m not sure how to judge MS’s efficiency. But my personal experience in MS is awesome. Moreover they are in the league of rare companies that provides good seo tools at just one-time cost for basic uses.

    • you may try using their trial period and judge.

  • Shabbir,

    It’s only been a couple of weeks since I tried to get unconfused by you.

    Well, let us have another go at it. When last we comunicated, you confirmed that I do have the slide up footer on my site. I just finished a confirmed opt in and some emails on Aweber for http://healthybodysoltion.com. I checked the operation of the slide up, still all I get is a little bar saying “Free updates”.
    Does it take a while for the email route to register? Do I need to do something else?

    • Not sure I can say why that Free updates is coming and that is not part of my plugin.

  • I found you and your site through Linkedin.

    I found my domain Healthybodysolution.com through D. S.

    The zoom works fine on my computer also. But on my computer when I zoom for a larger picture so I can read it, it doesn’t become more legible with a larger size. Must be something wrong with my computer.


    • Hmm My bad in understanding what you found where but yes I think it has to be your computer playing the tricks when zooming.

  • I guess I am not very observant, I just noticed your slide up footer. I think that I am already signed up for your free course. The neat thing is if I sign up the 2nd time, Aweber will refuse to take a 2nd application.

    • Yes you are subscribed and if you use the same email address for 2nd application, AWeber will not accept it and redirect you to an already subscribed page.

  • No rush. However when I try to zoom in to see the information a little more clearly, zoom doesn’t help.

    What you’re doing is a great help to all of us who have been so fortunate to find your site.

    Market Samurai has emailed to me a SOJO. After looking at the 1st section, I feel that I may be able to break through my mental block and start understanding it better.

    The asprin was for the head ache that I am causing you.

    Enjoy this wonderful day.

    Later when we talk


    PS. Believe it or not I found this domain through Domain Samurai

    • Zoom for images work fine for me and not sure why it does not work on your end and glad to see that you found IMTips through Domain Samurai.

  • Shabbir,

    Not to sound like a female dog, the word rhyms with itch, but I would like to make you aware of a problem I personally have, eyesight. My eyes are not flexable enough to bring into focus the screenshots of the Market Samurai or the keyword research page.

    I am sure that when these were originally installed they were the best quality available. I am a person with the opinion that there is nothing wrong with my stuff as long as no one tells me about it. I have a feeling that we are on the same wavelength.

    Incidently, your information is great, I’m greedy, I want more.

    I hope you are having a great day. If not take 2 asprin and call me tomorrow.

    Talk later


    • Not sure I am able to understand what you are trying to say. Do you mean to say images are not clear or anything else?

  • ensure

    I still don’t understand how #3 is ranking higher than #7 then

    • Backlinks is one of the major parameter but not the only parameter and unless you show me the keywords or urls, I am not sure I can help more than this.

  • ensure

    There isn’t any for the 3rd website.

    • It means the keyword is not very competitive

  • ensure

    Thanks for the software!

    What do I have to work on to rank website #7 to #3?

    • You can analyze the the anchor text and back links of each of those page and grab more links using same anchor text on pages where those pages has links.

  • Karthic

    Nice Article, Shabbir! I use google keyword research tool to find low competition keywords. But I’m not good at implementing it yet, so no benefits yet 😀

    • Google don’t have any keyword research tool for SEO and they have low competition keywords for Adwords and not for organic search ranking. Google keyword tool should not be used for finding keywords for organic ranking because it gives you wrong data

      • Karthic

        new piece of info for me! Will try other tools

        • Sure and do let me know your results. Also compare them with Adwords and you will find the difference.

        • Karthic,

          See my article Why I don’t Recommend Google’s keyword Tool for SEO? where I explained how using Google Keyword research tool for SEO can lead you to ultimate darkness and why you should never use that tool for SEO.

          Let me know your thoughts.


          • Karthic

            sure shabbir! Thanks for the link man

            • The pleasure is all mine Karthic.

  • Nice information about keyword research and also tell some good SEO Tools for keyword researching … Thanks

    • The pleasure is all mine. 😀

  • Thanks for such a useful information on Keywords Research. As all we know that Keywords itself plays a vital role in making the best ranking of our business.

    • The pleasure is all mine Alex.

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