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Killer Keyword Research Strategies and Useful Tools

When you look at online marketing as a whole, it can seem a bit overwhelming. After all, the world of online marketing involves a bunch of different pieces including search engine marketing, search engine optimization, paid search advertising, social media marketing, Maps optimization, content writing, competitor analysis, and Google analytics, to name a few.

I’m not listing all of those to confuse you, but simply to show that in order to get online marketing right, it takes research, time, and a lot of expertise. While online marketing does take a lot of know-how, the good news is there is one commonality in each of the above online marketing platforms, and it all begins with how people find you online—keywords. That’s right, nailing down a solid keyword research strategy will help you with all of your online marketing efforts. Here are a few techniques and tools that will help you on your way to becoming a keyword research expert extraordinaire in order to solidify a online marketing strategy that will work wonders for your business.

Techniques and Tools

Keyword research techniques and tools go hand-in-hand, so I’ll talk about them together. Here is a checklist that will help you select the perfect keywords along with some tools that will help you in the process.

Step 1: Brainstorm Keywords

While you will rely on a search engine to place your website in the correct keyword category, it’s important to remember that websites are made for people looking for information, and Google, Bing, and other top search engines, place a huge priority on making their search results people-friendly. As such, the first step is to simply ask “well, if I were searching for my company, what search terms would I type in the search box in order to find my company?” Brainstorm a list as big as you can and don’t leave anything out. Once you have your list complied, you can move onto step two.

Useful Tools

1. Pen and Quill – I can’t stress enough that one of the best ways to get a list of keywords that may be relevant to your website is to simply sit down, and make a list of what you think would be most useful.

2. Collaboration – Once you have listed everything you can think of, consider asking your marketing team to give it a whirl. Compile your lists, and you’re off to a great start.

Step 2: Find a Trusty Keyword Research Tool and Use the Data

Once you have a list of keywords that you might enter when searching for your business, it’s time to take it to the next level. Do this by selecting a trustworthy keyword research tool. Look for a keyword research tool that will give you solid data about your keywords including keyword suggestions, ad group ideas, search volume, traffic estimates, cost per click estimates, and more. Remember, you will be sorting through a lot of data, so make sure they keyword tool you select is intuitive, quick, and offers downloadable data.

Useful Tools

1. Google’s Keyword Planner – Since Google is the search engine industry leader, it’s best to start by taking a gander at their keyword tool. Google’s Keyword Planner offers free information about keywords that will help you learn what keywords might be most useful to your campaign.

2. iSpionage Keyword & Domain Research Tool – Did you know that right here at, we offer a keyword research tool that will provide you with a list of related keyword terms once you type in a primary keyword. That means if you’ve exhausted all your brainpower, or if you’re not in the mood to exhaust your brainpower, you can simply type in your primary keyword, and we will return a list of related keywords to help you build the perfect campaign. It’s like magic. Try it.

Step 3: Look at Search Volume of Keywords

When refining your keyword list, the next thing you will want to look for is search volume both nationally and in your geo-targeted area. You may think that everyone in the world is searching for a keyword that you would search for only to find out that that search term is actually only turning up less than 10 searches a month. Similarly, you may find that a search term is getting loads and loads of monthly searches…so many searches, in fact, that you may not have a chance in heaven of ranking in the search results for such a competitive term. Keep in mind that search volume varies nationally and from one geographical location to another, which I will talk more about that in a minute.

Useful Tools

1. Google’s Keyword Planner – Google’s Keyword Planner will tell you just how many average monthly searches a keyword is getting in a particular area. For example, if I, as a freelance writer, wanted to start a business offering blog writing services, I could enter “blog writing,” and “blog writing services” into the Google Keyword Planner. Google would return the following results that show me how many searches these keywords are getting nationally (see below).

This shows me that if I target those 2 keywords as part of my keyword theme, I can count on roughly 2,880+ nationwide searches a month on average.

Now, let’s say I don’t want clients from all across the nation, but only want clients that can drive to my office in 30 minutes or less. Since my office is located in Provo, Utah, I can actually use the Google Keyword Planner to get an estimate on how many people are searching for those keywords in Provo, Utah (and surrounding areas). I do this by either selecting a geo-targeted location when I first enter my search terms, or by adding a targeted location later by making my selections under the “Targeting” tab located to the left of the keyword data.

Once I have selected all of the locations I plan on targeting, Google will refine my results to let me know how many people are searching for those terms within my area (see below).

Step 4: Consider the Keyword’s Difficulty

Once you have refined your list of keywords based on the search volume and geographical location, you will want to determine either how difficult it might be to target that keyword for SEO and PPC.

For SEO, you will want to take a look at how competitive the keyword is and what your chances are for ranking well for that keyword are based on your budget. For PPC, you will want to take a look at how much a keyword costs, and if the bid price will return enough clicks for it to be worth it to you.

Useful Tools

1.’s Keyword Difficulty Tool – has a tool that will show you how difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword, and how competitive your particular keywords are on the search engines. Once you login to the Keyword Difficulty Tool, you can enter your list of keywords. The tool will return a percentage from 1 to 100. The higher the percentage, the more competitive the keyword is, meaning it is more difficult to rank for that keyword. If you are a small business with a small advertising budget, you may want to shoot for a keyword theme with keywords that rank on the difficulty scale between 20-40%.

2. iSpionage Keyword Difficulty Tool – Much like’s Keyword Difficulty Tool, iSpionage also offers useful information on advertiser competition. The two differences: it’s free, and it’s presented with an easy-to-read bar graph. For example, if I want to know how difficult it might be to rank for keywords related to “blog content writing,” I can enter the keyword into iSpionage’s keyword search bar, and then take a look at competiveness for related terms. See the picture below.

This tool pulls data that shows me the search volume and the advertiser competition.

3. Google’s Traffic Estimator – As far as PPC is concerned, you can use Google’s Traffic Estimator to help you get a rough estimate of how much a keyword will cost, how many clicks you can expect based on your bid price, how many impressions you can expect to receiving, your average position in the paid search results, and your daily cost. Below is a screen shot of what that data look like.

Step 5: Competitive Analysis

After you have brainstormed your keywords, selected a keyword research tool, determined search volume, and considered a keyword’s difficulty, it’s time to conduct more thorough competitive analysis of your keywords. Conducting competitive analysis will give you an idea of who is ranking where for your chosen keywords (both organically and in paid listings), the name of the competitor, what your competitors typically spend, what ad copy your competitors are using.

For more information on competitive analysis, take a minute to really delve deep into’s research tools. We offer competitive analysis on keywords that return all of the following useful information for both SEO and PPC purposes including:

    – Keyword Summaries for Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
    – Related Keywords with average search volume and competitiveness
    – Information about top PPC competitors
    – Information about top SEO competitors
    – Ad copy of top performing ads
    – Social mentions related to your keywords

We offer everything you want need to know in order to conduct killer keyword research that will help you build a successful online marketing campaign.


Guest Author Ashley R. Cummings
Guest Author Ashley R. Cummings
Ashley R. Cummings is a freelance writer, specializing in online marketing, education, and travel. Connect with Ashley on Facebook or , and learn more about her on LinkedIn.