Keyword Research: Demand vs. Competition

If you haven’t taken the big plunge and adapted effective keyword research strategies to your online marketing plan, you’re probably a day late and a dollar short!

There’s no getting around it. Keyword research is a vitally important aspect of your search engine optimization campaign. If your site is targeting the wrong keywords, the search engines and your customers may never find you, resulting in lost dollars and meaningless rankings. By targeting the wrong keywords, you not only put valuable advertising dollars at risk, you are also throwing away all the time and energy you put into getting your site to rank for those terms to begin with. If you want to stay competitive, you can’t afford to do that. (bold added for emphasis) – Lisa Barone

To help you understand how I do keyword research, here’s a picture of a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of numbers.

Keyword Research Spreadsheet

how to do keyword research

There are three factors I look for:

  1. Demand: if there isn’t any demand for a keyword phrase you think would be AWESOME, re-think your thinking!  Although you may refer to the product or service as “whatever”, others may never use that phrase at all.  Remember, the main objective behind effective keyword research is to find phrases that, if focused on, will get you quality search engine traffic.  I use the Google Adwords Tool for this research.
    No Demand = No Traffic
    No Traffic = No Sales
    No Sales = Get a JOB!
  2. “Real” Competition: if you want more information on this, contact me!
  3. Demand/Competition Ratio: this ratio is demand divided by competition times 100.  This gives each keyword phrase a “number”.  Many clients have asked what the target number should be for this ratio.  I haven’t really come up with one – my recommendation is to sort all the phrases by the ratio to see which ones have the best chance for success.

The final thing to take note of is that not all phrases, even if they have great demand and low “real” competition, are worth focusing on.  There are buyer phrases and there are browser phrases.  Generally, if people are looking for “Free _______” or “information on ________” they probably don’t have their credit card out ready to purchase.  If they are looking for a specific make and model of a product, this is a good indicator that they know what they want, and they’re ready to add money to my merchant account 😉

What experience have you had with keyword research?

UPDATE: the spreadsheet image is now a downloadable file! Check it out and start using it!

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56 Replies to “Keyword Research: Demand vs. Competition”

  1. Pingback: How to Get to Top of Google | Page One in 24 Hours
  2. Great information. If i found this early i will not start my first blog about free software. There are alot of giant website using this keyword. maybe i should make a new blog indeed. But thank you

    i should learn from my mistake.

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  5. The spreadsheet is easy to prepare and analyze.
    I’m looking for resources, where I can research
    and then, be able to figure out, what niche I can tap into.
    Once the niche is preliminarily identified, then the
    Research for Keywords follows for Demand & Competition.

    1. Great info…this stuff has really helped me to understand what it takes to do SEO. Thanks to everyone for the valuable input.
      SEO is clearly the best way to market your online business.

  6. Good article, although I don’t know how reliable the Allintitle research is. Think about trying to knock out 10 top ranking sites with PRs of 5 even though the all in title is 1000.

  7. Great info! We noticed on our keywords how different the demand and real competition can be. There are unexpected combinations.

  8. Just scratching the surface of a whole new world. I have been in business for over 30 years and have never looked into marketing my website. I am so excited to move forward in this area. My goal is to make up the possible loss of one of my clients that spends 40-50K+ with my business every year. I will let you know how that goes!

  9. Hi Nate! Great article – thanks for the link to this… And thanks for making the spreadsheet. We all should be thanking google too for this wonderful little keyword research tool! This is is a sure-fire way to target a niche.

    Question for you: Is there an easy way to see your ranking on google without having to scroll through all the websites? The first time I did this, I was no where near the top ten, and I couldn’t even find my website.

    Also, do you know when Google ranks, and how often? Is it every day, every week? Thanks again…

  10. I have researched many Keywords,and understand which ones could possibly work for my business.
    I also found that even the sites that have any of the keywords in the phrase in any order get listed in the first few pages. That is why I list the exact keywords, and words that are in the keyword phrase in different order as well.
    This pulls up all words that are in the keyword phrase on the page.

  11. Nate, I am reading articles, have downloaded the spreadsheet and will be working on Keyword values based upon our earlier discussion. I had absolutely no idea of the process, very informative.Thank you.

  12. The distinction between “buyer phrases and browser phrases is one I hadn’t caught on to before, obviously an important distinction to consider in choosing kevword phrases to use on one’s site. Thanks for the spreadsheet!

  13. Pingback: How to do Effective Keyword Research | Moller Marketing | Brisbane Search Engine Optimization » SEO « Training - Advice - Tools - Resources
    1. Thanks for the comment Nelson! I’m glad the spreadsheet has helped. Blogging 102 will be coming soon, probably a month or two from now unless I have a sudden break in the madness 🙂

      Keep the questions coming!

  14. Hey Nate,

    Once you are doing effective keyword research, they say to test, test, test. The way I test is to wait to be cached by Google and then see if my rankings have changed. Then I make adjustments as necessary. Is this the right way to test? Are there more effective ways of “testing” our keyword research that you would recommend or suggest? Thanks!

    Lisa 🙂

  15. Hi Nate, I used the spreadsheet today and man, what a wake-up call! It’s good to know what keywords to target after learning the real competition! Thanks for yet another great tutorial.
    Lisa 🙂

  16. I’m struggling with the part of the article regarding buyer phrases vs browser phrases. As a teacher, I can tell you we are always looking for free things, and mine isn’t a specific educational product.

    1. Time to put on your “creative writing” shoes and use words and phrases that represent “buyer phrases”. Obviously keywords with “free” aren’t “buyer” phrases. Send me your spreadsheet and I’ll be happy to help you look over the words and phrases. Thanks for the comment!

  17. Nate – Good article. I was amazed at looking at active website’s source code (in the field I’m planning to enter) that many of the websites are not using keywords at all – at least not meta keywords. I’m interested in learning more about this as we progress.

  18. Wow, great article. It makes sense to do key word research so one can keep on top of what people are looking for. This can only improve traffic to your own website if you know what others are looking for. I did print out a copy of your spreadsheet so will use it when I do my next keyword research. Thanks! The spreadsheet will be helpful.

  19. Nate, i really love the worksheet and am really excited to use it to optimize the keywords. it makes it so simple for a novice like me. 🙂 Also i can really see how this keyword search will help my site. thanks for the info.

    aaron

    1. Yes sir – this keyword research spreadsheet is the core of successful SEO strategy. This is a basic one but keeping it simple is important, especially at first.

      I’ll make sure to take Ramey’s advice and get the spreadsheet downloadable tomorrow.

  20. There is no question that keyword search is important and knowing how to ask the right question is vital. I am anxious to have my research interpreted to determine if my research has revealed anything of value.

    Doug

    1. Your research revealed that there is great demand and fairly low competition for your ideas. The big question can be, “What comes first, the keyword research or finding suppliers?” It’s a “chicken before the egg” issue.

      Some say that the order doesn’t really matter at all – if you’re passionate about doing something, you’ll find a way to make it work.

      From my experience, I lean toward finding some initial suppliers within an industry and then growing the idea from there. Remember though, the suppliers don’t necessarily have to carry THE product you’re looking to sell. They may just be within the industry, a “space filler” that will give you some credibility when you find the “golden contact” supplier.

      Keep up the great work Doug!

  21. I see that keyword research is very important. I am learning how to put it into practice on my business website. It is amazing how the spread sheet helped me understand the importance of the demand vs competition.

    1. Glad to hear that the spreadsheet helped. The more you understand keyword research and use it effectively, the more dominant you can be in niche’s within your industry. Thanks for the comments!

  22. KW research is so basic and so important. I was surprised at BlogWorld by how many people didn’t do it. It’s also interesting to hear all the different tools that are recommended for it!

    1. I know – you’d think bloggers, of all people, would be all over KW research – to me that’s one of the things blogging is all about for business. You do have the avid bloggers who blog for the love of the game, but they probably don’t last very long. Even Shoemoney, who says he HATES SEO, is aware of the effects of using keyword phrases effectively.