How To Do Keyword Research
To Get More Website Traffic

Keyword research is one of the most important things you need to do to make sure you build a successful website that gets plenty of targeted visitors.

It tells you what words or phrases your ideal visitor is using at the search engines to find web pages just like yours. It also tells you how much competition there is for different keywords, i.e. how many other web pages use that keyword. You need it to help decide on your site concept, and to get high rankings for individual pages at the search engines.

You're unlikely to build a successful website without doing keyword research.

Why Keyword Research Is Important

Imagine having a yellow pages ad for your business, but it's accidentally  been put under the wrong heading. How many customers are you gong to get? Say your house painting business has been listed under “Interior Design”. You may fluke one or two customers from the ad, but that's it.

Using the wrong keyword on your web pages is similar, but it's much more subtle than the difference between house painting and interior design. Look at the following fitness related keywords.

Keyword Searches
per Month
fitness training programs    420  180,000
weight loss fitness program    742  10,200
weight loss exercise programs    7,650   14,300
weight loss exercise program    1890  26,700
strength program    117  73,700

These are actual counts using Nichebot. I've converted Nichebot's daily searches to monthly.

Without research you couldn't possibly know there is such a difference in searches and competition for similar keywords. Not using keyword research is one reason why most websites fail.

When To Use Keyword Research

If you want to build a successful web site with loads of targeted traffic, you'll need to use keyword research all along the way.

Use it to check your site concept. Are you likely to get enough vistors to make it viable?

In fact you can check several site concepts to see how they compare for searches and competition.  Remember though, traffic is only one indicator you look at to see how viable a site concept is.

Use keyword research to optimize the domain name of your site for the search engines and for visitors.

Use it to help select level 2 hub pages for your site.

Use it to develop ideas for your site, and to get topics for your content pages.

Use it to get the best keywords on every page of your site for body text, page titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords, headings, etc. so that you get more targeted traffic.

Things To Watch Out For

Keyword research is not an exact science. The numbers are far from exact. In fact different keyword tools will give different numbers of searches for the same keyword, and sometimes they are wildly different.

Then there are other problems.

The free and highly popular Yahoo/Overture keyword tool would lump plural and singular together. It would often mix up a phrase, putting the words in alphabetical order such as “free lifting program weight” instead of “free weight lifting program”.  Other keyword tools seem to do the same at times, unless there really are people that type in  “free lifting program weight”.

Sometimes you'll come across a search term that makes no sense, or that you're positive must be wrong. You're probably right. The search engines can get the odd word badly wrong.

Something else to watch out for is search terms that can refer to two different things.  Are those people searching for “Sopwith Camel” actually looking for the World War One fighter plane, or the rock band?

Keyword research isn't perfect, but it's much better than no keyword research.

Be aware of the limitations of the particular keyword tool you're using, treat the numbers as a comparison and use common sense, and you shouldn't go too far wrong.

Remember no keyword research means no traffic (unless you're very lucky).

How To Do Keyword Research

When you're researching keywords, you're looking for two main statistics – how many people are looking for a keyword (demand), and how much competition you have (supply) i.e. how many other web pages are there about that particular keyword?

Ideally you want keywords with high supply and low competition.

Most paid research tools give a third value, and that is the ratio of supply to demand.  That way you can sort your list easily to find keywords with the highest demand and lowest supply. 

To get the supply you need to use a keyword tool. There are lots of them around, and some are free, but they free ones aren't as good or as useful as the paid services. If you're creating a website to make money or to build your off-line business, you need to use a paid tool.

With Site Build you don't need a separate keyword research tool because it has one built in, along with all the other tools you'll need for your website.

Open up your keyword tool and type in the word or phrase you want to search on (the seed word). After a minute or so you'll have a list of phrases that contain your seed word along with the number of searches done in a particular length of time, usually a month.

If you use a free service that's probably all you get, and you'll have a limit on the number of search terms returned such as 50 or 100. You can always use some of those search terms you got as a seed word to dig down further in another search.

If you use a paid service you'll get competition data, and a ratio of supply/demand. You should be able to sort on demand, supply, or the ratio.

The better paid services will give you other data as well.

Finding The Competition Numbers With A Free Keyword Tool

If you use a paid keyword tool, you'll get competition (supply) data when you do a search. If you use a free service that doesn't give supply data, you'll have to find it yourself.

This is how.

Go to Google and type in one of the search phrases in quote marks e.g. “bread recipe”. Google will come up with its results page and towards the top it will say Results 1-10 of about 1,060,000 for “bread recipe”.  That means Google found  1,060,000 other pages with the phrase “bread recipe” (without the quotes) on it, but that doesn't really mean that's your competition.

Many of the supply pages will only have the briefest mention of bread recipe. Some will probably be auto-generated spam pages out to make money from Google Adsense or a similar program. The real competition are the pages that are seriously about the keyword, with the title, meta description and body text all optimized for the phrase, and with good solid information.

To get supply for all your list of phrases you'll have to go to Google for every phrase, one by one. Enter your keywords, and the demand and supply data into a spread sheet so you can compare them and find the best words to target for your web pages. It does get tedious, so money spent on a paid tool really is money well spent.

Most paid keyword tools will give you raw data just like Google does. That is, they'll count every page that mentions your key phrase no matter how briefly. Site Build It's keyword tool discards the junk to give what they call “real supply” which is much closer to your real competition. For “bread recipe” Site Build It Real Supply is 14,241 which is a lot different to 1,060,000  that Google gives.

You need to use the supply data as a comparison. For example, compare these results from Nichebot.  (I've changed searches to monthly. The ratio was calculated using Nichebot's original figures.)

Keyword Monthly
Competition Ratio
bread recipe 6,450   1,110,000 9,098
bread recipes 17,970 915,000 2,691
pumpkin bread recipe 16,440 5,600 18
pumpkin bread best recipe 2,310 61 1
whole wheat bread recipe 4,950 3,830 41
recipe for whole wheat bread 3,360 3,820 59

The results pretty well speak for themselves. A top ten ranking for “bread recipes” would be next to impossible. Once you start using more specific search terms a top 10 ranking suddenly becomes a lot more achievable.  Making small changes to a keyword can make big differences to the numbers.

It doesn't matter that the numbers aren't exact, you can see the trend and where to target your efforts.

Competition of 5,600 may seem frightening, but it's really not that bad. Remember that most pages aren't serious competition.

Vertical and Lateral Searches

Good paid keyword tools will let you do two types of searches – vertical and lateral.

Vertical searches give results containing your seed word. The bread recipe search above is a vertical search.

Lateral search results don't contain the seed word; they give related terms. Some related terms for bread recipe are king arthur flour, bread baking, bread makers, yeast bread, yeast, etc. You should find some useful phrases that you can do another vertical search on to get more topics and keywords for your website.


Before you fire up your keyword tool, you should fire up your neurons and do some brainstorming, either by yourself or with a friend. Try to come up with variations on the word for your site concept.

For example, if your site concept was “car hire” you might come up with car rental, sports car hire, limousine hire, automobile hire, truck rental, four wheel drive hire, etc. You can come up with useful ideas that a lateral search doesn't uncover.

Keyword Research Tools

Solo Build It, is an all in one website/web business building system with a powerful keyword tool built in. Some people say SBI is a scam though, while others say it is the best thing since sliced bread. Check out the Solo Build It scam to get my opinion.

The best free tool I've come across is Nichebot Classic. You can get the top 50 keywords from Wordtracker and the top ten from Keyword Discovery, plus find synonyms, the top ten sites for a keyword, and find the search engine ranking for your site for a particular keyword. You can even put your keywords into a "keyword basket" that you can recall when you want.

My favorite keyword tool (apart from Site Build Its tool) is Nichebot X. This lets you do extensive keyword research using Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, two of the big players.

It's an excellent tool, and you can get a 14 day trial for $1. After that the  "Lite" option (which I use) is 13.97/month at the time of writing. Prices can change, so check the site. Check it out at

There are dozens of other tools out there, so do a search if you're looking for more options.

And for a lot more info on keywords get the free Keyword Masters Course from Nichebot.

Return from Keyword Research to Building A Web Site home