What’s the Best Keyword Research Strategy for Free?

Researching the best keywords for your niche is more of a black art than a science.

There are tools available to help you but most of them are either chargeable or come with a “catch” (Google’s keyword tool is a case in point – it changes over time but you need to be logged in to your account and spending money).

And there are several bigger problems:

  • The figures are the computer equivalent to a computer putting it’s finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing
  • The phrases almost certainly don’t include current keyword phrases (using the technique I’ll talk about, I got a two year head start on a meditation phrase before it arrived in the keyword tools)
  • Most of your competition are using the same tools, so there’s high competition for the phrases you find
  • They don’t go “long tail” enough – you’ll pick up 3, 4 or 5 word phrases, which is good except there’s a ton of competitors going for the same phrases

keyword researchRemember that the Google tool is aimed at advertisers – they want their advertisers to get clicks (because that earns Google money) so they don’t include the longer tail phrases that get traffic but not lots of it.

The same goes for other tools – different reasons but the same effect.

Why shouldn’t you go for high-ish competition keyword phrases?

The quick answer to this is because it will take forever and a day to rank for these phrases, Always assuming your site has enough authority to ever stand a chance of appearing.

The longer answer is simply that it’s not a good trade-off for your time and effort.

Sure, at first glance, it seems a good idea to target a phrase that gets hundreds or thousands of searches per month.

But almost no-one (apart from SEO geeks) goes past page one of the results and, of those, most people don’t scroll past the first handful of results. They either get the answer they were looking for or they re-phrase their search to drill down.

So unless you can get in the top handful of results, your share of those searches will be low.

Instead, you’re looking for keyword phrases that are searched for but aren’t jammed full of high authority sites.

For example, if I see an EzineArticles article in the top few results, I’m over the moon.

Years ago, EzineArticles used to crop up everywhere but the quality control was non-existent beyond checking it wasn’t a duplicate and that it had enough words.

Nowadays, it’s a rare event for them to feature.

You’ll spot them and other sites as you start to research further.

Wikihow appears quite a lot – their articles are better written than most and their keyword research is good, so you’re unlikely to nudge them further down the results but you can show up close to them.

The same logic goes for Quora and a few other sites.

Because if that kind of site is showing in the top results, that’s a good sign.

Google’s suggestions are gold dust

The suggestions that come up as you type in Google, YouTube, Amazon, eBay, etc. aren’t random.

They’re based on real searches and – even more importantly – recent real searches.

They’re as close to “instant” as you’re likely to get.

Which means you can use them and be confident that real people are carrying out real searches using the phrases you see.

Play around with searches – I like to put a space before or after the phrase to see other phrases normally magically appear.

Or – if you want lots more phrases with next to no effort – use this free keyword tool. It returns more automatically suggested results than you’re ever likely to need.

It still returns phrases that are shorter than the ones I go for nowadays so personally I’ll use it to start a search and play around with the suggestions from Google until I find a phrase that’s to my liking.

Once I find a phrase, I’ll use the allintitle modifier:

Do your search as normal, but put allintitle: (including the : but making sure there’s no space after it before your phrase) and do the search again.

You’ll hopefully get a small-ish number of results.

If you don’t, it’s time to search again.

How small is small-ish?

That partly depends on how many words you want to write.

Single digits mean you’ll likely get away with 500 – 700 words.

Early double digits means you’ll likely need upwards of 1,000 words.

Above that, more words.

So this is all about getting the low hanging fruit.

Play around with this, wait anything from a few weeks to a few months for Google to react (hint: the lower the number of allintitle results, the faster you’re likely to show up because Google is clutching at straws for anything to show people). Rinse and repeat.

And if you’d like more help with this and your affiliate marketing, check out my course here.