Keyword Research: A Proven System

by Garrett Pierson November 18th, 2009 

This process on Keyword Research I am about to teach is one of many that I will be sharing with you on systems that I use in my daily business for myself, clients, and students. It is a proven system that I use that is simple, free, and powerful. Oh, did I mention it is Free?

Keyword research is by far the most misunderstood, misused, and unappreciated process in Search Engine Optimization and marketing in general.


So why do we miss the boat on keyword research? It is because we do not understand why we are doing it, or how it should be done. When I say misunderstood, I am totally serious. There are so many people teaching incorrectly, generalizing, or even over-complicating the subject of keyword research.

misused Misused

If we do not understand Keyword Research then it is more than likely that we will misuse it. I see so many students and clients that believe that they know the keywords and phrases that their target market is searching for. This is one of the biggest mistakes and misuses of keyword research. Let the search engines tell you what your target market is searching for.

unappriciated Unappreciated

If you ask me, I believe that Keyword Research is one of the most unappreciated steps to online success. Businesses and individuals don't spend enough time researching their market and finding those "Gold Nuggets" as I like to call the keywords that bring in targeted traffic.

So you are probably asking yourself, "Ok Garrett, so how do we understand, use, and appreciate keyword research better?" Great question!

I believe you must spend at least 2-3 days and at least 1 hour a day, just doing research. Spending the correct amount of time will help you find the Gold Nuggets. Here are five (5) simple steps that you can use to help in your keyword research efforts:

Step 1 - Use FREE tools to help you do your research. Tools such as:

Start off by using free social media tools like the Twitter Search and Facebook Lexicon to research exactly what your target market is talking about socially. Another great tip would be to research in niche related forums. Simply search "{your niche} + forum" in any search engine and that should give you a great starting point.

So for a quick example of where to start.

If you are in the real estate market in Denver Colorado, then start searching that very keyword "Denver Colorado Real Estate" and see what people are conversing about online. This should give you a good amount of keywords/phrases that you can then take to the Google Keyword Tool to see the search volume and get more keyword suggestions.

Using powerful free tools like the ones mentioned above will guide you by going directly to the source where people/consumers spends their time.

Step 2 - By using the Google Keyword Tool (which I believe is one of the most powerful keyword research tools), you will be able to find those keywords/phrases that people are actually searching for. This is key!

Take the list you gather from Step 1 and plug them into the powerful Google Keyword Tool and let it do the rest. Google will then spit out a good amount of keywords/phrases that you can now start researching.

Step 3 - As you are researching, do not go after keywords/phrases that are too broad and too competitive. An obvious example of too broad and even too competitive would be the keyphrase "Real Estate" or "Realtor". Try and find keywords that are focused around your market, example "Denver Colorado Real Estate" or "Denver CO Realtor", these keywords still get tons of traffic and they are not as competitive.

Step 4 - As you do your research, focus on your top 10 keywords/phrases. Once you have your top 10, spend some time narrowing it down to your top 3 (but make sure you keep your top 10).

So many people think they need tons of keywords, but when is the last time you actually focused on more than 3-10 at a time?

Step 5 - Now that you have your top 3 keywords/phrase start over with "Step 1" and spend the time again making sure those are the best 3 to focus on for your target market. Once you have dominated those keywords then pick another top 3 to focus on. If you try and rank for too many keywords/phrases at once I can guarantee you will fail.

To some of you these steps may sound too simple. Well, it is because they are! Don't misunderstand, misuse, and be unappreciative of the power of simple and effective Keyword Research.


Online Marketing consultant, Garrett Pierson, is the creator of Building Social Equity, also the Operations Manager at Trust Guard. His knowledge of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing background has helped online businesses around the world for years.

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10 Responses to “Keyword Research: A Proven System”

  1. Zack says:

    Great information. It is always interesting to see how others do various things like keyword research. I think most of us do it a little differently and have our own way, but surely have similar approaches.

    I also like to check to see how competitive phrases/keywords are by doing the allintitle:keyword in Google.

  2. While i was new to IM i create a single blog dreaming that i will get a huge affiliate sales, but guess what, my 3 months works on link building totally wasted.
    Its all due to wrong keyword selection and optimizing for it. I didnt noticed there is a synonym for my keyword which tends to be the most searched keyword. I was such a noob.

    But now i insist every newbie to learn about keyword research before starting link building, once you choose it right your efforts will get paid.
    Excellent post mate, thanks for sharing.

  3. This is exactly what I was looking for. I've read so many articles on keywords and keyword research. All I got was confused. I'm going to try this, it's simple, straight-forward and logical. Thank you for a formula that might just work for me.
    .-= Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella recently posted: Making Old Posts New Again – Get Your Readers To Go Deeper =-.

  4. Great article, Garrett. It was concise, yet easy for even the very beginner to understand. You have a knack for breaking things down into easy to digest chunks. :)

  5. Yongwen says:

    hmm… nice article. i would like to mention that another very important factor when doing keywords research is "Conversion Rate" of keywords.

    No matter how high your site is ranking for the keywords and how much traffic the keywords is driving to your site, the keywords are rather worthless if they aren't getting any conversions..

    • Max-e-Biz says:

      Great posts. It's all very logical isn't it but how many of us do this?

      Personally I am a great fan of using PPC & Analytics to find out what search terms people actually use. Quite often they are not what you would expect. e.g. You may be a "Budget Airline" but your customers won't be looking for that, but they will be looking for "Cheap Airfares from X to Y".

      I am also a great fan of using Analytics to find out which search terms convert into an action and which don't. How important is that????

      I also recommend using the various different match types Broad, Phrase & Exact in PPC to pinpoint exactly which keywords work. In fact there is a great $5 tool that can help you with this called the Text Ad Converter. It easily converts keyword match types in MS Excel & can add US States & Cities for Geo-Targeting. You can preview it at our website if you wish. It certain saves you time and helps your targeting.

      If you use the various PPC Match types carefully you can scientifically determine exactly the right converting keywords but it takes time & money!

  6. iquestion says:

    I guess I don't understand why one needs to use google keyword tool in step one and then again in step2.
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  7. It amazes me how many people optimize for words that are not searched on! Ranking well only matters if people are searching on that and it is relevant to your site!
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  8. Great article, Garrett. It was concise, yet easy for even the very beginner to understand. You have a knack for breaking things down into easy to digest chunks
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  9. […] Keyword Research: A Proven System – friend of the FireHorse, Garrett Pierson dropped a post over at Search Engine People. While it’s not the most in-depth piece ever written, it contains the concept that KW research is one of THE most important aspects of SEO; something I believe in and not enough peeps state it as such… so it’s worth noting. […]