After 3 1/2 years of struggling with finding the best way to find keywords to target for your site, I think I’ve found the best way to do it. And it’s pretty bulletproof. This method is the result of a constant evolution of trying new methods.

First of all – the Google Keyword Planner is a powerful tool – but sometimes it just has way too much info and it’s built for AdWords advertisers first, organic marketers second. They suggest anything even remotely related to your keyword search, and you’ll have to put in a good amount of “included” keywords to isolate down to just your set. The following method makes use of SEMrush – a powerful tools

Step 1) Isolate two competitors that rank better than you and have a higher volume of keywords.

If you don’t know who your top two competitors are in your industry – start searching Google for about 10 keyword phrases that you think people will find you through. This is a fairly manual tactic, but it’s essential to get familiar with the search results on your own without only looking at it from a top level perspective.

Step 2) Download all keywords of competitors via SEMrush

Next you’ll want to pop open the fabulous SEMrush tool (paid but free trial available). Enter in your website and download all the organic keywords. Do the same for your two top competitors. Export all of these to an Excel doc and combine the files.

SEMrush competitive data

Step 3) Filter competitor keywords by keyword phrase

Now lets say you’re optimizing a page for SiteGround hosting reviews. Go to each of your competitors and in the keyword column type in “siteground”. Whichever competitor has more keywords for that filter, go with that one. Copy that filtered keyword list to a new tab in Excel and paste so you can work with this filtered keyword set.

Step 4) Keyword Value Score and Keyword Difficulty

The Keyword Value Score (TM?) is a simple but effective way to isolate high value keywords. Multiply the search volume column by the CPC column to get a Keyword Value Score. Now sort your table by the Keyword Value Score and delete any keywords that look funky. Take the top 20 and input them into the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool (paid but free trial). You can do up to 20 at a time so when it’s finished export those 20 keywords and match them up with your keywords in your Excel doc. Repeat this process with as many keywords as you want, but these top 20 are the most valuable.

Step 5) Find your favorites and then do the real work

Go through this list of targeted keywords now with the keyword difficulty score and look for a good blend of high Keyword Value Sore and low Keyword Difficulty. To take it a step further you can create a new column titled “Target These”. Multiply the Keyword Value Score column by 1 minus the keyword difficulty number. So it would be Keyword Value Score*(1-Keyword Difficulty Number) or =4567*(1-.52) for example if the Keyword Value was $4,567 and the Keyword Difficulty was 52%.

Choose 5-10 of the keywords you like the best, highlight these in green and then filter down to put these green keywords on top. Pop open a new Word doc, paste these keywords and start doing the real work of writing the content for your page.



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