Here’s a litmus test to see if you’re a novice at keyword research (don’t hate me for speaking the truth):
Do you solely use the Google Keyword Planner as your holy bible for keyword research?
So why does this make you a novice?
Problem with only using the keyword planner is that all your competitors are doing the same thing. It’s saturated as hell. Not to mention, the tool has limited it’s functionalities over the year to only support advertisers (can you blame Google for wanting to make money?) and not for SEO specialists.
What’s the alternative?
Below I’ll explain how I discovered surprisingly effective keywords for our PR blog using a tool called Ahrefs. I’ll call them ‘untapped keywords’ from now on.
Keep in mind; monthly search volumes aren’t all they seem. You can get decent organic search traffic by targeting keywords with low search volumes. You need to know the secret to finding the winning ones. However, first let me answer this critical question. Why would you want to do this? Why go through this somewhat lengthy process to discover low volume keywords that do a bit better than expected. The answer is two-fold.
It’s easier to rank in the top 10 search positions: Research suggests that the #1 result in Google gets 30% of all clicks. #2 gets 15% of clicks, while #3 gets 10% of clicks. The rest of the traffic is usually split amongst the top 10 results. After that, you’re mostly a pigeon fighting for scraps of bread.
2. Targeting ‘purchase intent’ keywords: Purchase intent keywords are the types of searches made by people who are far down the customer funnel, and are pretty much ready to buy. These are keywords with ‘cheap’ ‘buy’ ‘purchase’ ‘order’ in them. Local SEO KWs show much intent too. Sure, they may get you only 500 new readers a month, but you’ll have a much better chance of turning these readers into customers. That’s a pretty potent combination.
Let’s say you find a ‘purchase intent’ KW with 500 searches a month. ‘Rent a Ford van in New York’
If you rank #1 for that keyword, you can expect 150 people landing on your website. That’s not many, but this keyword is so targeted, that it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect perhaps one in three people to buy. How would you feel about selling an extra 50 van rentals a month?
How to find the untapped keywords?
However, as explained above, the reality is that you’ll probably get MORE than the 500 monthly visitors stated by your SEO tool. The average #1 result ranks for #1,000 other keywords. Added together that’s undoubtedly a ton of traffic. Ahrefs is an advanced SEO tool, which shows you what type of traffic the top 10 results for a particular keyword achieve. It reveals what other keywords the websites in the top 10 rank for. It has a few more functionalities, but those are two of the primary ones.
There’s a multitude of functionalities on Ahrefs but here is one example of how I use Ahrefs to find those opportune keywords:
Step 1: Put yourself in your target audiences shoes and brainstorm a keyword they might type in
Step 2: Pull up the Keyword Explorer and type in that search
Step 3: Take a look at the results/ sites with the most search volume and click on kw (keywords)
Step 4: This populates a list of keywords along with the volume that generates for that specific site
Step 5: Take that keyword and input it again into the keyword explorer tool, this time you want to take a look at the keyword difficulty
Step 6: Rinse and repeat this process until you can find a keyword with decent search volume and low keyword difficulty. You can usually find gems that are related to a site’s blog.
If you’d like to learn a few more tricks for keyword research, Ahrefs has a free blogging course on blogging for your business you can register for. I have no affiliation with Ahrefs but am a big believer in the effectiveness of this tool. If you’re a bigger fan of SEMrush then, by all means, go for it! So, our fictional van rental guy, could search for ‘rent van’ in Ahrefs, find a whole bunch of purchase intent keywords based on the results, and discover how much traffic he’ll get by ranking well for it.
It’s worked well for us. Try it for yourself!
Publishers Note: This article was originally published on Reddit. It was slightly edited and republished here with the authors permission.