Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to do SEO keyword research.

In this comprehensive guide I’ll cover:

  • How to find keywords
  • How to choose the right keywords
  • How to use popular keyword research tools
  • Advanced keyword research tips
  • Lots more

So if you want higher Google rankings and more traffic, you’ll love this updated guide.

Let’s get started.


Chapter 1:Keyword Research Basics

Keyword Research Basics

In this chapter I’ll cover the fundamentals of keyword research.

First, you’ll learn exactly what keyword research is (and why it’s important for SEO).

I’ll also show you how keyword research helped grow my site’s search engine traffic to 170k+ unique visitors per month.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding words and phrases (aka “keywords”) that people use in search engines in order to optimize content around and rank for those terms in search engines.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Keyword research impacts every other SEO task that you perform, including finding content topics, on-page SEO, email outreach, and content promotion.

Keyword research process

That’s why keyword research is usually the first step of any SEO campaign.

Put another way:

Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns: they tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.

As a bonus, researching keywords help you better understand your target audience. That’s because keyword research gives you insight into what customers are searching for… and the exact words and phrases that they use.

In other words: keyword research is market research for the 21st century.

How Keyword Research Helped My Site’s Traffic Grow

Today, my site generates 302,749 visitors every month:

Backlinko – Current Monthly Traffic

And 200,706 of those visitors (66.29%) come from Google:

Backlinko – Current Organic Traffic

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that went into my site’s success with SEO, including content, on-site optimization, link building and technical SEO.

But the #1 factor that contributed to my site’s traffic growth was keyword research.

For example:

A while back I used the process in this guide to uncover a low-competition keyword: mobile SEO.

And I created a piece of SEO-optimized content around that term: The Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO.

Backlinko – Mobile SEO Guide

Because that keyword wasn’t super competitive, my site quickly hit the #1 spot in Google:

Mobile SEO Guide – Rank in SERP

And thanks to that #1 ranking, that single page brings in hundreds of visitors from Google every month:

Mobile SEO Guide – Organic Traffic

With that, it’s time for chapter 2.

Chapter 2:How to Find Keyword Ideas

How to Find Keyword Ideas

Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of keyword research.

Specifically, it’s time to generate a list of keywords.

In this chapter I’m going to show you proven strategies that you can use to come up with LOTS of keyword ideas.

Let’s dive right in.

Brainstorm a List of Topics

Here’s where you come up with topics that your target customer is interested in.

For example, let’s say that you run a digital marketing agency.

Well, you’d want to ask yourself: ”What topics do people search for that are related to my business?”

Some topics that come to mind would be things like:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Website traffic
  • Content marketing
  • Blogging
  • PPC

Note: These topics aren’t keywords. They’re broad topics that you’ll later use to drill down to specific keywords.

Which is exactly what you’re going to learn how to do right now…

Wikipedia Table of Contents

Wikipedia is an overlooked keyword research goldmine.

Where else can you find articles curated by thousands of industry experts… all organized into neat little categories?

Here’s how to use Wikipedia to find keyword ideas.

First, head over to Wikipedia and type in a broad keyword:

Wikipedia – "Coffee" search

That will take you to the Wikipedia entry for that broad topic.

Wikipedia – "Coffee" page

Then, look for the “contents” section of the page. This section lists out the subtopics covered on that page.

Wikipedia – Contents

And some of the subtopics listed here are awesome keywords that would be tough to find any other way:

Wikipedia – Contents keywords

You can also click on some of the internal links on the page to check out the Table of Contents of other, closely related entries.

For example, on the coffee entry we have a link to “Coffee Preparation”:

Wikipedia – Cross link

When you click on that link, you’ll notice that the table of contents for the Coffee Preparation page has even more keywords that you can add to your list:

Wikipedia – "Coffee preparation"

Pretty cool.

Searches Related To

Another cool way to find keywords is to check out the “Searches Related to” section at the bottom of Google’s search results.

For example, let’s say one of your topics was “content marketing”.

Well, you’d want to search for that keyword in Google.

Google SERP – "content marketing"

And scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll find a list of 8 keywords that are closely related to your search term.

Searches related to "content marketing"

Just like with Google Suggest, these are keyword ideas that come straight from Google. So you don’t need to guess whether or not they’re popular. Google is literally telling you: “Tons of people search for these keywords.”

Pro Tip: Click on one of the “Searches Related To” keywords.

Searches related to – Highlighted result

Then, scroll to the bottom of THOSE results. This will give you a new list of related keywords. Rinse and repeat.


Find Keywords on Reddit

Chances are your target audience hangs out on Reddit.

Which means you can usually find lots of keyword ideas on this platform.

Here’s how:

Let’s say that you run a site that sells organic dog food.

You’d head over to Reddit. Then search for a broad topic that your target audience is interested in… and something that’s related to what you sell.

Reddit search – "dogs"

Then, choose a subreddit where your audience probably hangs out:

Reddit – Community – Dogs

Finally, keep an eye out for threads that have lots of comments, like this:

Reddit – "dog food allergies"

In this case you’d add “dog food allergies” to your keyword ideas list.

Pro Tip:Keyworddit” is a free SEO tool that scans Reddit for words and phrases that people use… and sorts those phrases by monthly search volume.

Keyworddit – Results

Very cool.

Use Google and YouTube Suggest

Now that you have a list of topics, type each one of them into Google.

Google search – "content marketing"

And see what terms that Google Suggests to you.

Google search – "content marketing" – Suggestions

These are great keywords to add to your list.


Because if Google suggests a keyword, you KNOW that lots of people are searching for it.

But you don’t need to stop with Google Suggest.

You can also find keyword suggestions with YouTube Suggest:

YouTube search – "content marketing" suggestions

And Bing:

Bing search – "content marketing" – Suggestions

Find Popular Topics Using Forums

Forums are like having live focus groups at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The easiest way to find forums where your target audience hangs out is to use these search strings in Google:

“keyword forum”
“keyword” + “forum”
“keyword” + “forums”
“keyword” + “board”

Once you find a forum, note how the forum is divided up into sections: Each of these sections are potential keywords that you can add to your list.

Home Barista Forums

To dig deeper, check out some of the threads on the forum to find other specific topics that your target audience struggles with:

Home Barista – Brewing

Pretty cool, right?

Chapter 3:Keyword Research Tools

Keyword Research Tools

This chapter is all about tools.

Can you find keywords without a tool?


But a tool makes the entire process A LOT easier.

With that, here are the keyword research tools that I personally use and recommend.

The Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is THE most reliable source of keyword information online.

Google Keyword Planner

That’s because, unlike most other tools, the data you get from the Keyword Planner come straight from Google.

(So you know they’re accurate)

The big downside of the GKP is that it’s designed to help people with their Google ad campaigns… not with SEO.

That said, you can still use the GKP to get lists of keyword ideas…

Google Keyword Results

…and find search queries that get lots of searches.

Google Keyword Volume

This new tool is like Google Trends… but better.

Exploding Topics – Homepage

Exploding Topics scrapes the web for terms that are surging in popularity. And it bubbles those terms up for you.

Exploding Topics – Keyword overview

You can even sort the list of topics by category.

Exploding Topics – Categories


Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere might be my favorite keyword research tool.


Because it shows you keyword ideas from different places around the web (including YouTube, Bing and Google Analytics).

Keywords Everywhere – Google

All you need to do is install the Chrome extension. And the next time you visit one of the sites that Keywords Everywhere integrates with, you’ll see a list of keyword ideas… and data on each keyword.

Keywords Everywhere – Results


Ubersuggest was the first Google suggest scraper that I used. And last year the tool got a massive upgrade and overhaul.


Ubersuggest still generates keyword ideas from Google’s search suggestions. But it also gives you data on each keyword (like search volume, CPC, keyword difficulty and more).

Ubersuggest – Results


If you want to invest in a paid keyword tool, I HIGHLY recommend SEMrush.

That’s because SEMrush is a HUGE time saver.

Here’s why…

Instead of popping random keywords into a tool, SEMrush shows you the exact keywords that a site already ranks for.

So if you have a site that you’re competing against in Google, just pop it into SEMrush.

SEMrush – Search

And steal all of their keywords.

SEMrush – Keywords "backlinko"



Most people consider Ahrefs a link building tool.

But not as many people know that Ahrefs also has a REALLY good keyword tool.

What’s nice about Ahrefs “Keyword Explorer” is that you get a ton of helpful data on each keyword.

Ahrefs – "Keyword Research" – Overview

Which can help you decide whether or not it’s a keyword that’s worth going after.

My one gripe with Keyword Explorer is that it’s not great at coming up with new keyword ideas. It usually generates keywords that are just simple variations of the keyword I typed in.

Ahrefs – Search suggestions

That said:

When it comes to drilling down to a single term, you can’t do much better than the features found in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Chapter 4:Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty

How do you know if a keyword is too competitive to rank for?

It’s a good question to ask.

Because if you choose a keyword that’s super competitive, you might have trouble getting past Google’s third page.

But if you can find a keyword without a ton of competition, you have a good chance of cracking the top 3.

With that, here’s how to figure out a keyword’s SEO difficulty.

Long Tails Are (Usually) Less Competitive

If your site is brand new.

Or if you want to focus 100% on keywords that aren’t competitive.

Then you DEFINITELY want to target long tail keywords.

I’ll explain…

Most people in SEO (myself included) divide keywords into three main categories: head, body and the long tail.

Keyword category division

Here’s a breakdown of each keyword type:

Head Terms

These are usually single-word keywords with lots of search volume…and competition. Examples of head terms are keywords like “insurance” or “vitamins”. Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.

Body Keywords

Body keywords are 2-3 word phrases that get decent search volume (at least 2,000 searches per month), but are more specific than Head Keywords. Keywords like “life insurance” or “order vitamins online” are examples of Body Keywords. These almost always have less competition than Head Terms.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are long, 4+ word phrases that are usually very specific. Phrases like “affordable life insurance for senior citizens” and “order vitamin D capsules online” are examples of long tail keywords. These terms don’t get a lot of search volume individually (usually around 10-200 searches per month). But when you add them together, long tails make up the majority of searches online. And because they don’t get searches for that much, long tail terms usually aren’t very competitive.

There’s no “best” keyword category to focus on. All 3 have their pros and cons.

But when it comes to competition, long tails are usually the least competitive of the bunch.

Authority of Sites on Google’s First Page

Here’s a quick way to evaluate a keyword’s competition level.

First, search for your keyword in Google.

Google search – "CRM"

Then, look at the sites ranking on the first page.

Google SERP – "CRM"

(Not individual pages)

If the first page is made up of uber authority sites (like Wikipedia), then you might want to cross that keyword off from your list:

Uber authority sites in SERP

But if you see a handful of smaller blogs on page 1, that’s a sign that you have a shot to hit the first page too.

Keyword Difficulty Inside of Keyword Tools

The vast majority of keyword research tools have some sort of keyword competition feature, including SEMrush:

SEMrush – Keyword Difficulty


Ahrefs – Keyword Difficulty


KWFinder – Competition

And Moz Pro:

Moz competition

We recently tested a bunch of them. And we found that they all size up keyword difficulty based on a combination of page authority and domain authority. YET they all tend to come up with completely different keyword difficulty scores.

Bottom Line? If your favorite keyword tool includes a keyword difficulty feature, go with that. It may not be perfect. But they do tend to give you a general idea of how competitive a keyword is to rank for.


Believe it or not, but there’s an entire tool dedicated to keyword difficulty: CanIRank.

"Can I Rank?"

What I like about this tool is that it doesn’t just spit out a keyword difficulty number. Instead, it evaluates a keyword’s competition level relative to your website.

For example, I recently popped the keyword “SEO” into CanIRank.

And the tool looked at Google’s first page competition compared to my site’s authority. And it gave me a “Ranking Probability” of 90%:

"Cank I Rank? – 90%"

Super helpful.

Chapter 5:How to Choose a Keyword

How to Choose a Keyword

Now that you have a list of keywords, how do you know which one to pick?

Unfortunately, there’s no tool out there that will tell you: “This is the best keyword on your list”.

Instead, you need to size up each keyword based on a handful of different factors. Then, pick the keyword that’s the best fit for your business.

As you might expect, that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do in this chapter.

Search Volume

This is pretty straightforward.

The more people search for a keyword, the more traffic you can get from it.

The question is:

What’s a “good” search volume?

Short answer: it depends.

The long answer:

Search volumes vary A LOT between different industries.

For example, a long tail keyword in the fitness niche (like: “best ab exercises”) gets 10K-100K searches per month:

"best ab exercises"

But a long tail keyword in a B2B space like digital marketing (like: “best seo software”) only gets 100-1K monthly searches.

"best seo software"

That’s why you want to figure out what a “high” and “low” search volume number is in your niche.

Then, choose keywords based on what’s “normal” for your industry.

Organic Click-Through-Rate

It’s no secret that the number of Google searchers that click on an organic search result is way down.

Google Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR) Desktop vs. Mobile

And it’s no wonder why.

Featured Snippets make it so you don’t need to click on anything to get an answer:

Google Featured Snippet

Plus, Google now packs the search results with more ads than ever before:

"SEO tools" – Google Ads

The bottom line?

Search volume only gives you part of the story. To get a full estimate of how many clicks you’ll get from a first page Google ranking, you also need to estimate organic CTR.

Here are two simple ways to do it…

First, you can look at the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for your keyword.

If you see a lot of stuff on the first page (like a Featured Snippet and multiple Google Ads), then you know that you’re not going to get a ton of clicks… even if you rank #1.

"best chatbot software" SERP

Second, you can use a tool.

Ahrefs and Moz pro both estimate organic CTR.

Organic CTR – Compare

With all that said:

I wouldn’t avoid a keyword just because it has a low CTR. If lots of people search for that term, it might still be worth going after.


If your site is new (or doesn’t have a ton of links yet), target low-competition terms at first.

Then, as your site grows in authority, you can start to target more competitive stuff.

For example:

When I first launched Backlinko, I targeted almost 100% long tail keywords (like: “how to get backlinks”).

And because I didn’t have a ton of sites to compete with, I was able to get some organic traffic rolling in within a few weeks. Which helped me achieve some early SEO success.

Early SEO success

Today, my site has backlinks from over 20k different domains:

Backlinko – Referring domains

So I can target more competitive keywords (like: “YouTube SEO”).

Google SERP – "YouTube SEO"


CPC (cost per click) is a single metric that answers one important question:

Do people searching for this keyword actually spend money?

So yeah, search volume is nice and all.

But if that keyword has zero commercial intent, then there’s no point in targeting that term.

Plus, you can sometimes get a great ROI from a keyword that doesn’t get that many searches… if the CPC is high enough.

For example, one of my target keywords is “link building services”.

Backlinko – Link Building Services post

According to Ahrefs, this keyword gets 400 searches per month.

"link building services" – Search Volume

So if I ONLY looked at search volume, I’d say: “This is a horrible keyword”.

That’s why it’s super important to ALSO look at CPC.

The CPC on that keyword is $25.00.

"link building services" – CPC

Which means that people are spending $25 every time someone searching for that keyword clicks on an ad.

So even though the search volume for that term isn’t that high, the CPC more than makes up for it.

Based on CPC (and the fact that the keyword wasn’t super competitive) I decided to create content optimized around that term.

And that blog post now ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword.

"link building services" – Rank in SERP

Business Fit

Here’s where you look at how likely it is that someone searching for a keyword will become a customer.

Yup, CPC helps you figure this out. But it doesn’t tell the entire story.

For example, a few weeks ago I came across the keyword: “backlink checker”.

On the surface, this is a great keyword.

It gets a decent amount of searches:

"backlink checker"

And has a $4.01 CPC:

"backlink checker" price

It’s also not that competitive.

So this keyword is a winner, right?

Well… not really.

You see, Backlinko is an SEO training company. Which means I don’t sell a backlink analysis tool. So even if I DID rank #1 for “backlink checker”, it wouldn’t do me much good.

Contrast that with a keyword like “YouTube SEO”.

This keyword’s CPC is only $2.22.

"youtube seo" – Price

But considering that I sell a YouTube training course, this term is a 10/10 in terms of business fit.

Which is why I wrote a piece of content around that keyword:

How to Rank on YouTube

Keyword Trends

Finally, you want to see if your keyword is growing fast… or dying slow.

And the best way to do that? Google Trends.

For example, last year I was considering the keyword: “voice search SEO”.

But I decided to pop that keyword into Google Trends before pulling the trigger.

As you can see, interest in that keyword is growing fast.

Google Trends – Voice Search

Which is why I optimized this page around that term.

Voice Search SEO study

Even though that piece of content only brings in about 1k monthly search engine visitors per month today…

Voice Search traffic

…the trend tells me that traffic to this post should increase over time.

Chapter 6:Advanced Tips and Strategies

Advanced Tips & Strategies

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of keyword research, it’s time to cover some cool advanced stuff.

Specifically, I’m going to reveal a bunch of tactical keyword research tips that you can implement right away.

So without further ado, let’s dive right into the tips.

Barnacle SEO

Let’s say that you found the PERFECT keyword.

And you rank in the top 3 for that term.

You’re pretty much done, right?

Actually… not really.

As it turns out, you can get even MORE traction from that keyword with Barnacle SEO.

Barnacle SEO is the practice of using other sites’ authority to rank on the first page.

For example, one of my best keywords (in terms of conversions) is: YouTube SEO.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wrote a post about YouTube SEO. And that post ranks #1 in Google for that keyword.

How to Rank YouTube Videos – Rank in SERP

Sure, a #1 ranking is great. But it’s still only one spot in the SERPs.

That’s why I created a YouTube video optimized for that keyword…

YouTube video

…a video that also ranks on Google’s first page.

"youtube seo" – Video ranking in SERP

Bottom line? If you find an amazing keyword, you want to take up as much first page real estate as you can. First, create content on that topic on your own site. Then, publish keyword-optimized content on authority sites, like YouTube, LinkedIn, Medium and more.

GSC Keyword Research

The Google Search Console is a goldmine of keyword ideas.

Here’s how it works:

First, login to your GSC account and head over to the “Performance Report”.

Google Search Console – Performance Report

This report shows you the terms that bring in the most clicks from Google search.

GSC – Performance Report

Then, sort the list by “Impressions”.

GSC – Performance Report – Impressions

This shows you keywords that get lots of impressions… but not necessarily clicks.

GSC – Clicks .vs. Impressions

Finally, create a piece of content optimized around that same keyword.

Why is this a powerful strategy?

These are keywords that you KNOW people are searching for. You also know that Google sees your site as a good fit in the search results.

You just need to publish content that’s super focused on that specific keyword (or optimize a piece of existing content around that keyword) and you’re set.

Optimize Content around Synonyms and Related Keywords

Yes, you want to optimize your page around your main keyword.

But don’t stop there.

You can get even more search engine traffic to your page by optimizing it around synonyms and closely related terms.

I’ll show you how this works with a real life example.

Earlier this year I published this post on my blog.

Backlinko – Increase Website Traffic post

As you can probably guess, my target keyword for that page is: “increase website traffic”.

But I also made sure to sprinkle in variations of that keyword, like: “get more traffic”.

"get more traffic" – Keyword in post

In the end, I was able to rank in the top 3 for my main keyword…

"increase website traffic" – Ranking in SERP

…and lots of keyword variations.

"get more traffic" – Ranking in SERP

Ahrefs Content Gap

Content Gap has quickly become one of my favorite features in Ahrefs.

Here’s how it works:

Just like with SEMRush, you can use Ahrefs to see the exact keywords another site ranks for.

And with Ahrefs Content Gap, you can take this type of competitor analysis to the next level.

Here’s how:

Head over to Ahrefs content gap. And put in 2-3 competing sites.

Ahrefs – Content gap

This will show you keywords that at least 2 of your competitors rank for… but you don’t.

Competitors keywords

And because multiple competitors rank for these terms, you know that you also have a good chance of cracking the top 10.

Analyze Keywords Based on Searcher Intent

In other words, ask yourself:

What does someone searching for this keyword want to see?

Are they looking to buy? For information? Or are they looking for a specific page (like a login page)?

For example:

I recently created a post that ranks #2 for the keyword “BuzzStream”.

Google SERP – "buzzstream"

Even though that keyword gets around 2k searches/month, that post only brings in 194 monthly visitors.

BuzzStream – Visitors

What gives?

Well, as it turns out, “BuzzStream” is a navigational keyword.

Which means that most people that search for that keyword are looking for the website… not information about BuzzStream.

So yeah, that keyword looked great at first glance. But because it’s a navigational keyword, VERY few people click on anything but the first result. Which is why that post gets so little traffic.

That’s why I recommend looking at the Search Intent of a keyword.

Types of user intent

If Search Intent is “Navigational”, then you may want to avoid that term… even if it has great CPC and monthly search volume numbers.

(As you just saw, this is a lesson I had to learn the hard way)

But if Searcher Intent is “Informational”, then a piece of content optimized around that term could do GREAT.

Find “Shoulder Keywords”

Most people ONLY optimize their site around keywords that are very closely related to what they sell.

And it’s a BIG mistake for two main reasons:

1. Product keywords are usually super competitive.
2. There are thousands of keywords that your potential customer searches for when they’re not searching for that you sell.

And if you can get in front of your customer with an awesome piece of content, they’re SUPER likely to buy from you down the road.

For example, like I mentioned earlier, I run an SEO training company.

But I don’t optimize every page on my site around commercial terms.

(Like “SEO training” and “SEO courses”).

Instead, I rank for keywords that my customers search for when they’re not looking for SEO training.

(Keywords like: “link building”, “on-page SEO” and “SEO Tools”).

Shoulder keywords on Backlinko

I call these keywords “Shoulder Keywords”.

These keywords aren’t directly related to what you sell. But they’re keywords that your customers search for. Which makes them worth going after.

How about another example?

Let’s say you run an Ecommerce site that sells basketball hoops.

Obviously, you’d want to optimize some of your pages around terms like “buy basketball hoops online”.

But don’t stop there.

After all, someone interested in buying a basketball hoop may also search for:

  • How to shoot a better free throw
  • Slam dunk highlights
  • How to get recruited by college scouts
  • Nutrition for basketball players
  • How to improve a vertical jump

So you’d want to create content around these “Shoulder Keywords” too.

Now It's Your Turn


I really hope you enjoyed my new keyword research guide.

And now I’d like to hear from you.

Which tip from today’s guide are you going to try first?

Are you going to try Shoulder Keywords?

Or maybe you want to optimize around trending keywords.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

  1. WOWZA! Someone was reading my mind. I was just trying to search your site for keyword research and all of a sudden get an email with exactly what I needed.

    As usual, thanks Brian!

  2. Hi Brian,
    I love these guides. Besides the graphics which I assume are custom built, is there something special you use to create the general layout of these? The change in colors, etc. just make these really clear to read – would love to replicate that kind of flow.

    Thanks as always!

    1. Thanks Jake. That’s right: this guide is custom designed and coded. So we built the layout from scratch so that our guides would be super easy to read and skim through.

  3. This is really a fantastic resource. Where did you get the idea of the layout, I’m sure I’ve seen something similar somewhere? 😛

    But really, there is a lot of great information the noobs and veterans would like here. Awesome post!

    1. Thanks Nick! The idea came from a lot of different sources, like QuickSprout’s Advanced Guides and the great content that Greg Ciotti at Help Scout publishes.

  4. Brian this is great advice and content. Usually I un-subscribe from some of those ‘other’ email lists – but after visiting your site I can’t wait for the next update! Thanks for your help and advice.

  5. Absolutely love this guide, it will be something that I can use as a constant reference in the future if I ever need to double check on something, and that convenience is much appreciated 🙂

  6. And the reason you gave this away for free is…jk. Kick ass guide Brian. Much more valuable than some of the paid guides. Would be sweet if you could package this up into a printable PDF.

  7. The word is often overused – but not in this case – this is ‘awesome’ Brian!

    Ha! I’m actually laughing out loud right now at just how good this content is.

    Folks – this is why Brian is the best in the business when it comes to SEO.

    Great stuff man!



  8. Brian, I say this without any bias – every bit of content you provide is Gold. Have been hooked on Backlinko ever since I stumbled here not so long ago 🙂

    Great Work!

  9. Would you consider offering your guides as single pages or pdfs? I prefer reading longer form content like this when offline/on the road. If on a single page, I can easily Pocket them to read offline. Thanks for considering!

  10. Brian, you killed it (again) with this article.
    I have to admit, I opt out of almost all newsletters but from the ones I keep, yours is the only one with a CTR of 100% for me.
    Keep up the awesome work and thank you so much!

  11. This is the best email in my inbox this morning! Great surprise. Wow you’ve been busy crafting another SEO goodie. Shoulder keywords make for easy blog post ideas. I like this guide. Great job Brian.

    1. Hi Jennifer, happy to hear that. For sure: Shoulder keywords are kind of an underrated approach. Of course we all want to rank for keywords that are about our products (“Buy X”). But the fact is, most of the traffic out there is for informational keywords (like “how to X”). And if your content impresses the pants off of people, you can turn that traffic into leads and sales.

  12. I am pretty certain I will be feasting on this article for days if not weeks to come! I can’t thank you and your team enough for the incredible knowledge and insight.

    1. Hey Eric, you’re welcome. This is basically everything I’ve learned about keyword research over the last few years.

  13. Expanding on your keywords using Google Search Console has led us to driving double the amount of clicks so great info there.

    Plus effective frequency in ranking in youtube, linkedin articles and other platforms is key because they drive referral traffic back to your page also and this massively helps ranking.

    Great guide Brian!!

    1. Thanks James. Nice. Yeah, that Google Search Console strategy is awesome because it’s Google telling you: “we think your site would be a good fit for that keyword”. No 3rd party tool can do that.

  14. Hi Brian,

    I would like to add a tool for finding keyword difficulty – Kwfinder.
    I have been using this tool since the start of my career and I can say that it provides the most trustable data.

    Best Regards,
    Himanshu Tyagi
    Founder, CodeItBro

    1. Thanks Himanshu. I actually have the Mangools suite on my tools that I need to check out. I used KWFinder back in the day but haven’t used it in a year or so.

  15. Get your email in the middle of night on GMT+7

    Thanks for your sharing
    Its helpfull

    And my i ask
    I get nothing in email while im trying to join waiting list SEO Course via

    Im also already cek spam/junk
    And still get nothing

    Thanks again for your sharing.

    Sorry for bad english and grammar
    Im indonesian

    1. You’re welcome, Helmi. Re: the waiting list email. If you email support@backlinko someone will look into that for you.

  16. Your email just hit my inbox Brian, I took a look at the size of your post and thought “how do you do it?” haha. I’ve just skim read it because a full read will mean settling in later this evening when there’s more time. One thing that stood out though was how well you have laid this all out, I’m not a huge fan of ultimate guides because they’re bulky but I can already tell that the way you have broken this down into easy to read chunks coupled with nice graphics and illustrated examples means so much (and I’ve not even got to how well you do your research yet LOL).

    1. Hey Grahman, thanks man! That’s actually how I write these guides. I don’t set out to make them this long post full of random information. I outline each one into discrete chunks. That way, everything it easy to read and skim. Plus, I don’t go off into tangents about this and that. The outline means that I have to stick to the script 🙂

  17. Amazing, have you actually ever published something that did not look so wonderful. Really you always make all my stuff look drab and boring. Although I have to do it myself, being small but hope to have good looking content like some day, when I am rich and famous like you. Thanks for all the help you give us

    1. Hey Timothy, Thank you. If I had to do this myself I can’t imagine how bad this would look! Guides like this are a true team effort. Thankfully I’m not in charge of the design, LOL. But seriously, it takes a designer and talented developer to make our guides look as great as they do. I just write up a Google Doc and the team takes care of the rest.

  18. Hi Brian,

    Great content as always 😉 Content gap tool in Ahrefs is lately one of my favourite place to find new keywords. I usually find there keyword that I would never think of.

    Looking forward to your next guide.

    1. Hey Karol, you’re welcome. Have you tried their “link intersect” feature. It’s similar to that but for backlinks.

  19. if you write like this articles one day Google will kidnap you.

    Amazing article Brian thanks for taking keyword research to the next level.

    you will be #1 for “keyword research” in Google

    1. Hi Melissa, thank you! I tried to make this guide super actionable (outside of some of the background info in Chapter 1). Glad to hear that I hit the mark.

  20. I start to read your guide and keep reading word by words, this is an awesome piece of content and very helpful for me. Thank You- “Brain”

  21. Thanks, Brian for such a brief but clear keyword research guide. I have a question regarding keyword research. For some keywords, I find a lot of business directories, review sites ranking, but the intent is clear commercial. Can I rank using those keywords?

    1. You’re welcome, Manoj. If there are some results that aren’t directories and review sites, you might. But if it’s literally 9/10 or 10/10, then I’d go with the flow and try to create a page that’s aligned with what’s already ranking.

  22. Ever since I stumbled on your site while searching for “On-site SEO” I’m glued at the level of content you share for free.

    Maybe I should ask, what’s your research strategy? Because I do wonder how on earth you dig up these valuable details.

    Great one Brian!

    1. You’re welcome, Henry. With guides like these, chunking is super important. So I try to make it so it’s not a giant wall of info. But more like an SNES strategy guide.

  23. This is a really solid guide. I already knew a few of these tricks… but sometimes you forget about all the SEO tricks you’ve previously learned, and it’s great to get a refresher or reminder 🙂 For example, the GSC opportunities tactic of looking at impressions and then finding opportunities. I think I’ll use that one shortly! Thanks for the reminder on this one!

  24. Great content as usual. While reading this post I came across some new tool like Canirank that I will surely start to use for my next keyword research. Really love this guide Mr. Brian.

    Thanks for this article.

  25. Hi Brian,
    Thanks again. I’m going to visit Wikipedia right now 😉
    I personally find it hard to start with the lower keywords competition. But in the longterm it is the way to go for a new website. (Mental note to myself)

    1. Hi Guido, you’re welcome. For sure. I even think there’s a place for low-competition keywords for older + established websites. I’m finding with Backlinko that it still takes a while to rank for anything competitive (although I do usually rank eventually!). But low competition terms can rank within weeks.

    1. You’re welcome, Arnold. I tried to tackle some of the beginner-level stuff in Chapter 1. That way, I could focus on more advanced strategies later on in the guide.

  26. Hi Brian. Great content always.

    Brian could you please help me on one issue.

    What is the reason of website down in google search now a days?

    I mean my website was on 1st page in 6-7 months before, but today it is going back and appears on around page 8-9. I am making quality backlinks and doing proper one-page seo. But still nothing happened.

    Could you please tell me what should I do ?

    1. Thanks Hermant. That’s a tough thing to diagnose. It could be an update, penalty, a technical SEO issue. It’s hard to say without really digging into your Google Analytics and GSC. That said, one thing I’d look at is if your entire site dropped or just a few pages. Sometimes focusing on pages that did and didn’t get hit can help you figure things out.

      1. Hi Brian,

        My First main competitive keyword was on first page 6-7 months before. which was related to my website home page.

        My second Low competitive keyword is coming on 1st rank on first page, which is also related to my Home page.

        But I am surprise that my second keyword is on 1st rank but still my website didn’t get even a single click in one month. I checked impression in GSC of that keyword, which is more than 200. And my website not get even single click.

        This is horrible thing is happened with me. My all other competitor websites title and description is 90% same.

        I am really worried about this type of critical issue in my website ranking. I am sharing my website on social site, building quality backlink, proper on-page SEO, writing content on website, etc. But still not getting any good response.

        I also checked Manual Action or penalty by google in GSC. Fortunately my website not penalize.

        Could you please give me some steps which I should check according to your experience ?

        And could you please make any blog or video related to Google Analytics – Complete Guide 🙂

    1. Nice! Yeah, it’s a cool little tool. I like that it has a standard keyword difficulty score. But also takes your own site’s authority into account.

  27. Thanks so much for this!

    Search results question:

    If I see a competitive search term that does NOT have any videos ranking on the first page…is that an opportunity to make a video and get it to rank there? As in, there just AREN’T any videos for the term to rank


    Seeing no video results means that Google is just not going to show videos for that particular search term?

    1. You’re welcome, Amanda. It’s definitely “Seeing no video results means that Google is just not going to show videos for that particular search term?”. In my experience, if there’s no video, Google doesn’t see video as a good fit for that keyword. Of course, that can change over time. But I try to focus on keywords that already have videos in the search results.

  28. Brain, I am blown away with the expert detail you put into your articles and the amount of quality content you give away for free. I have learned so much from your work, please keep it up!

    1. Hey Rick, thanks man! I appreciate that. I’ll definitely keep it up. We have some cool stuff on the way.

  29. Great read Brian, surely helps when you’re working for an SEO agency doing keyword research for pitches day in and day out.

  30. Hey Brian,

    I am almost following you since you were explained a Skyscraper Technique & learned from you that no one is perfect to initiate, experience makes us perfect.

    I keep my close view on your strategy from video, text content to graphics & keep on following them for my clients as & when needed.

    Thank you for supporting & sharing your experiences to improve my experience. Just by following you I am motivated & left the JOB to started my own business & initiated everything last month.

    Although, this is just a beginning a day will come with the help of mentors like you & Neil.

    Keep it up & help us to share your knowledge

  31. First of all I thanks to you, Really help me out to research new keywords.
    I was not focusing on Shoulder Keywords for my clients. But now I will make sure that these keywords indirectly help you increasing Sales and Branding.

    Thanks again Brian 🙂

  32. Hey Brian,
    As per as I know keyword research is one of most important SEO factors along with link building, and content marketing. This great post has been too much helpful in my new venture of keyword research. Thank you

  33. Epic content Brian! I love long tail keywords and always easy to rank in most competitive niche.
    My question is can we target low competition keyword like 50 volume?
    For affiliate site 3K words enough to rank an article on Google?


    1. Hi Bilal, you can. I sometimes target keywords with low search volume if there’s very little competition.

  34. I also wanted to add that I think Ahref’s metric of “clicked vs not-clicked” for Keywords is incredibly helpful in identifying whether it makes sense to go for a keyword. Nice tool to show which keywords generate more rich results and keep people on Google instead of going to a website.

    1. Hey Robert, definitely. Some keywords are literally 90% “no clicks”. So it’s important to take a look at.

  35. Great post, Brian. One random question, what do you think is the search intent for the keyword “Our Clients”?

    I have a client who ranks #1 for this keyword and it seems very random but has good search volume. Any advice?

    1. Hi John, I’d say that’s a “mixed bag” keyword. In other words: there are lots of competing search intents. And Google does their best to match those search intents with a mix of different types of pages.

  36. As always, you’ve outdone yourself Brian! I didn’t even know canIrank existed, I just signed up for a trial and it’s so helpful!!! Thanks so much!

  37. Hi Brian, thanks for the great content!

    A couple of things:

    1) since I discovered the Broad Search definition I got lost in keyword research for SEO. Because so many times in GKP one keyword such as “best seo software” has high volume and competition and a really similar one such as “best search optimisation software” has low volume and competition, so initially I would chose to go with the low competition one. However, according to broad search definition, “SEO” and “search optimisation” are actually synonyms, so I don’t see how “best search optimisation software” would have low competition since the big players who are already ranking for “best seo software” would definitely rank for ”best search optimisation software” too, since Google sees those as the same keyphrase. So I don’t know anymore how to chose keywords and if I should trust or not the Competition indicator. Does that make sense? And what is your point of view on that?

    2) I found the CPC chapter rather confusing, firstly because it took me a while to realize that in “Do people searching for this keyword actually spend money?“, by people you mean advertisers rather than regular users and by searching you mean “thinking of optimising for”. Secondly, the high CPC could also just mean that the advertisers have a bad ROI over that keyword and are not getting enough conversions for what they’re paying, right? It doesn’t necessarily mean that a high CPC is a “good” keyword to optimise for, does it?

    Thank you so much in advance for your advise!


    1. Hi Soraia, thank you!

      1. The difficulty metric in the GKP is advertiser competition. Not SEO.

      2. By people I actually meant “searchers”. Because in this case, it’s both! Yeah that is confusing. That’s true: it could be that advertisers are losing money on that term. But over the long-term, if a keyword has a high CPC, there’s probably an ROI there.

  38. I am a big fan of you. Your great posts help me a lot. I am applying long tail keywords to my website and very effective, although the traffic is not much but the conversion rate is quite good. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Andy, nice. In my experience, because of the sheer volume of informational keywords, Shoulder Keywords are the biggest SEO opportunity for most sites.

  39. Hello Brian,

    I like the way you well explain the small and bigger things in deeply with the screenshot, example plus pro tips.

    It looks hard to understand the thing before reading your post but one it starts reading the post so everything comes in mind clearly.

    1. Hey Peter, thank you. For sure. Keyword research is a massive topic. There are entire courses on keyword research alone. But I tried to drill down into the most important approaches and pro tips that I’ve picked up oevr the years.

  40. Hay Brian Dean, Great job you have covered everything related to Keyword Research. But, I Was expecting more about voice search & search intent.

  41. Hi Brian,
    You always write amazing articles and guides. And I try to read them all. Over the years your posts have helped me.
    Thanks for sharing this amazing guide.
    Have a good week ahead.

    1. Hey Alex, you’re welcome. Yeah, that’s a really cool little tool. Super helpful for brainstorming keyword ideas.

  42. WWWUUOOW This guide is just pure gold! I thought I understood keyword research already but this is really a whole new level, I never heard of canIrank but instantly registered! This really covers it all!

    1. Thanks Maciek. To me, keyword research is really the foundation of SEO. So it’s important to dig deep into how to do it right.

  43. Thanks Brian for sharing your knowledge. Always refreshing to learn someting new from your posts.

    Keyword research is really crucial. Without doing it first there is a danger of losing a lot of time and resources. Being fastidious is the key.

    We learnt it the hard way when we started out. We worked so hard for 6-7 months in a niche, only to realise there was hardy any search volume there.

    1. Hi Sayeed, I’ve also had to learn that lesson the hard way. In my case, the issue wasn’t a lack of search volume. It was lack of any sort of buyer intent. I was getting a ton of traffic but conversions were basically zero. It sucked.

  44. Hey Brian, this is first time I’m posting a comment like this on your blog my other comment are better than this 😊

    In your Google Web Console tip you wrote that look for keywords with high impression and less clicks then create a new page with awesome content around that keywords, but I believe if Google showing that keywords in GWB query with high impression then there must be a page already dedicated to that keyword, may be page is not properly optimized around that topic.

    I believe this will create keyword cannibalization issue, instead of this, this is my opinion we should update existing page around that keywords by utilizing others technique you mentioned like using synonyms, shoulder keywords etc.

    This is my opinion, I always follow you when it comes to SEO, and I also noticed that you have updated many old guides which are advance but now contains basic tips, reasons I read somewhere is those guide are not matching search intent.

    Hope to see those content back again some time, may be they are now part of your course which you conduct and open for enrolment once a year.

    1. Hi Sachin, that’s true: there’s definitely more than one way to approach that situation. The issue is: if you change a page to be optimized around that new keyword, it’s inherently going to be less optimized around the current one. Which can hurt your rankings for that page’s original target keyword. Which is why in most cases I recommend creating a new page around that term. Hope that makes sense.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks for replying,i agree with your suggestion, but still if that page has higher impression on particular keywords and if that keyword matches the intent then I’d update old content.

        But yes as you cleared that their is more than one way to approach given situation, so I’d rather use customize solution.


  45. @brian Great post and really helpful tools. +1 on Keywords everywhere, but I would also add how it’s now a paid extension. It’s still great for $10 per 100k keywords.

      1. Yeah, but it’s still really useful, especially when you combine it with looking for KW suggestions on Google, all the numbers are just there. Support teams that provide useful tools all the way! 🙂

  46. Such a lovely article Brian. exploding topics was another new topic research tool I came to know after reading your content. And It was very useful for me to gain information about things like barnacle SEO.

  47. Hey Brian,

    Excellent resource! I’m using a KW tool called Jaaxy. Have you heard of it and is it good according to you? So far I have good results with it but I’d like an expert opinion.

  48. Hey Brian!

    I follow up your email recent email I got keyword Research, But this Niche Research help me to rank my micro niche site.

    The main thing in this post which I liked most is Longtail words and its volume.

    Whatever explained its works for me Like Charm.

    I Will need another Guide or Case Studies on Low Competition keywords.

    It will be helpful for me.

    Thank you,

  49. Hi Brian,

    Great article!

    Quick question for you for the “Searches Related To” topic you talk about.

    Would you look at these keywords as new content topic ideas


    Maybe sprinkled into the content you are writing?


    Maybe it just depends



    1. Hey Chris, like most things in SEO, it’s definitely “it depends”. It depends of the search intent is different for the keywords that you find. If the search intent is the same, you can sprinkle those terms into your existing content. if it’s different, than I’d create a new page optimized around the new keyword.

  50. All we will ever need to research our next keyword!
    Loved the section on navigational Vs transactional keywords. Have a lot to work on to update some of my posts.
    Thanks for the share

    1. You’re welcome, Clinton. I still target some navigational keywords. But yeah, the CTR for navigational terms tend to be super low. So the search volume needs to be huge for it to make sense.

  51. Hi Brian,
    This is 4th guide I am reading here. It’s lot to read and digest. Hats off to you!
    I am curious how do you create such longgg form post and how much time it usually takes?

  52. Your website is my all-time favorite site when it comes to searching for new digital marketing trends and growth hackings and this guide of yours especially “shoulder keywords” explanation is fabulous.

    Keep up the good work!!

  53. You provided such a piece of astounding information in your keyword research post.
    In Chapter 3
    The Keyword Research Tools which you give is remarkably useable for all and especially me.

    I have just started a website and it have quality content. But some of my articles are not getting rank. So I just want to know, Is SSL certificate really affects the ranking.

  54. Hi Brian – Awesome guide as always. For the long tail keywords that are more than 4 words, how do you get around keyword density? The writing might not come as natural when we try to satisfy keyword density. Or do we still need to hit a minimum threshold every time we write a post?

  55. Thanks so much! As a newer blogger who is not making much money yet, I appreciate that many of the tools you listed are free! I’m looking forward to diving into keyword research more thoroughly from here on in.

  56. Really Brian, thank you very much for this very rich and comprehensive guide.

    I read it from start to finish and when I got to the research intention level, I wanted to stop. I asked myself before giving up reading, why did I start reading this guide? And suddenly; I had the courage to read it until the end. It certainly took me a long time to read it and take notes, but it was worth it.

    I assure you that you have talent and your writing is always motivating and always gives confidence. If you are reading this article by hovering over it, the best is at the end of this article.

    The technique on the shoulder keywords that you share. It is really crazy and I am very convinced that it will work with my computer training company, management software design, etc.

    It is simple and it allows you to find tons of keywords, ideas to better satisfy the client without, however, writing about the motivation for the payment for the training and pushing the client to touch the pocket.

    You are going to correct me, if I understood the shoulder keyword technique correctly: “This technique consists in listening to the customer or the internet user and writing about the other characteristics or functionalities of the product or services or the customer’s need for meet the real needs of the client. ”

    I would even say: “Understand the client, what he is reflecting in his brain, what he wants to achieve and write that to better bring him value. It is really, a crazy technique, I tell you. the customer himself can buy or book training without, however, pushing him to do so brutally.

    Sincerely, THANK YOU.

    1. You’re welcome, Oscar. And you summed up one of the main takeaways from this guide perfectly. That the real opportunity in keyword research comes from Shoulder Keywords tha aren’t directly related to what a site sells.

  57. Hi Brian
    I think Uber Suggest is the best tool for keyword research, but earlier this tool was free, now it has been paid. So now I am looking for a tool for keywords research, but your blog has solved this problem. Thanks for doing such amazing work for us.

  58. You keep delivering amazing content & insights. Keyword research has always been on my scope, but I think with voice search becoming more common long tail keywords are increasingly important. Do you think it’ll influence keyword density in the near future? Thanks again Brian! 👍

  59. Such a thorough guide, Brian (as always). But what about when you start running out of keywords? If I’ve already created a ton of content around all my hot keywords, should I just update old content or build new content around shoulder keywords?

    1. Hi Joshua, it depends on how old your content is. If it’s old, I’d give it an update + upgrade. Otherwise, I recommend using Ahrefs or SEMRuh to find keywords that your competitors rank for. That can usually help you find keywords that you might not otherwise find.

  60. Thanks for all the effort, detail and most importantly clarity that you infuse into your posts. Very comprehensive and yet easy to digest.

    I now have a dedicated bookmark folder for Backlinko for quick and easy reference – until I get up to speed. Which shouldn’t be too long given your excellent content.

    Couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

  61. I was notified on this page I’m using an outdated browser. Yes I am and I’m also using an outdated OS, so I can’t update the browser. I find this type of notice both annoying and similar to a poor practice of 20 years ago when a site was “best viewed with…” browser.

  62. Thanks Brian. I wonder. In your Google RankBrain blog post, you say that long tail keywords are dead. My blog is new. Should I forget them or not? Thanks, in advance, for your feed-back.

    1. Hi Natacha, it depends on the search intent for the long tail keyword. If it’s unique, then I’d go for it. But if it’s just another way of phrasing another keyword, then RankBrain will figure that out.

  63. Backlinko is the mother of all rabbit holes (I mean that as a complement)! I subscribed to your newsletter…next thing I know I am going down the 2020 Keyword Research Definitive guide page, but it’s taking me forever (which is the point I guess) to get through the content because I keep linking (and reading) to other great content sprinkled throughout your site. I definitely need to hang out on your website some more!

  64. Hi Brian, excellent guide as always. I have a quick question: Can you please tell me what plugin you use for the social share widget (the sticky widget on the left)?


  65. Hello Brian,
    I think the “shoulder keywords” and “LSI Keywords” are nearly same, am I right, please?

  66. Awesome content Brian.
    I have noted down each and every suggestion in bullet points. I will definitely go through each of them before selecting the keywords for my next content.
    Once again, Thanks for this awesome content.

  67. Hello Brian, I hope you are well. Can you please help me with some ideas? I am stuck between Google keyword planner and keyword everywhere. I am not using any paid tools for some reason. Which one should I choose or are there any other free tools for research. I see in your post some of them, but I need more. I already tried them. Please help.

  68. Brilliant guide Brian.

    Great flow of content, didn’t feel boring throughout any chapter. Great and pretty cool tips about using Wikipedia and Reddit.

    What tool do you use to take these screenshots?

  69. Very detailed and Informative guide Brian. The Points I liked the most are “Use Google and YouTube Suggest”, Barnacle SEO. CanIRank is something which I found new and useful and I will check it now. I was so impressed with this post that I shared it on my Twitter too.

  70. As usual, content quality level: Brian Dean. How can anyone fail in SEO when such a great and comprehensive content is available for free? Damn, you are good. And nuts 😉
    Thank you a lot for this. I’m really greatfull.

  71. This is great info Brian. As someone who just started a business and is an absolute novice to SEO, I feel like I have a better grasp on these topics because of this guide. Thanks a million!

  72. Brilliant blog Brain, “Shoulder Keywords” concept makes total sense and I can see how important this can be as I found your website while searching for “Link building” keyword and then started reading your post about “keyword research” and now I am keen to start on “SEO training” because after reading your blog I understood gaps in my knowledge level in regard to organic search. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Hi Brian I have to say the article was very long and it took me some time to read properly but I have to say each and every paragraph contains awesome information and I think this page is one of the best keyword research resource available on the internet.

  74. Thanks Brian, for sharing yet another great and very helpful blog for us! Till now I have used google keyword planner, Google’s people also asked & google’s related searches feature for the keyword research. It seems easy but keyword research is also not an easy task.
    Neil Patel was also a good tool to find competitor’s keywords with their difficult level but now its free features are also limited. Heard about ExplodingTopics for the first time in your blog. Will definitely try it.
    Best wishes, stay in good health.

  75. This is my first time to BackLinko and I think I discovered a treasure chest of knowledge and information from you Brian. Thanks for keeping it real and for providing ACTUAL knowledge, experience, actionable tips and tricks for SEO/keyword research. I’m putting my feet in the SEO copywriting field and reading this is 10000x more effective than taking a Shaw Academy class or any other college class today. You provide real-life info and experience to back it up. You can expect me back on here again!

  76. Hi Brian,

    Really appreciate how user-friendly, actionable and valuable your content is.

    Thank you for sharing your expertise with us!

    Warm Regards,


  77. As always, I love it.
    I love the examples—the infographics.

    And mainly the fact that it’s so thorough.


  78. Wow Brian,
    This is huge. Always coming with new ideas, tools and tips.
    I’m just not agree to leave those kw made up of uber authority sites (like Wikipedia).
    In my experiencie. with niche service sites, I have beat big sites of services/products here in Santiago, Chile. Lets say home depot, yellow pages, etc. and when read about it, its because they are not “niched”, and makes sence.
    Maybe i didnt get your whole point, but I wouldn’t close the door to that situation, y fact when i see 1st page full of ubers, I go for it XD
    Thanks for this content, will apply some to my Corporate Video Company and SEO clients

  79. Hey Brian, this is a REALLY good post but I wanted to point out something you may have missed. When we try to assess Keyword Difficulty, it’s not enough to use the default KD metrics on SEO tools.

    You always need to see the SERPs to determine the Domain Authority and the number of links pointing to each page to get a good sense of how difficult it is to rank for that KW.

    I got this advice from Ahrefs, and it turns out that they’re right because the KD is misleading.

    What do you think?

  80. Hey Brian thanks for fantastic article!!.

    I have a question for you.

    Let’s say I decide to jump on a niche, but I’m not an expert at it…and I dont know how to write articles.

    (Just as an example… I like the niche I’m into..but definitely not an expert or writer )

    How would you go from there?

    What’s the step you would take?

  81. Hi Brian,

    Nice article. Thanks for the effort.

    I have a question.

    You listed one of the factors of selecting the keywords should be CPC and high CPC means that companies and brands are ready to pay for those keywords which mean those keywords must be transactional in nature (Assuming).

    So if we have a new client, should CPC be that factor to take care of? Because the ideal strategy for the new client should be to target long-tail keywords which are more informational rather than transactional and their CPC will be zero.

    When you started, you also targeted long-tail keywords with more informational content and maybe getting interlinking done to get users to your intended goal.

    Is this correct?

    May be informational, long tail with decent volume and low KD should be the ideal factors for any new website.

    Your thoughts?

  82. Brian,
    I just loved the “Wikipedia Table of Contents” idea for keyword research.
    It’s something really new for me. I will give it a try.

    Overall, I loved the examples and infographics. It’s like getting premium SEO training/guides for free.

    Thank you Brian!

  83. Wow Brian you’re a genius. This is so informative, even more educational than some udemy courses I have taken to learn about SEO some people will offer this amount of information as a course. Your blog is really helpful.. Today I have spent more than 4 hours reading your blog, going over topics I’ve read before and discovering new ones.. Thank you

  84. Hey Brian,

    This is great a in-depth article for the keyword research. I like the term shoulder keyword which sounds really good. Why don’t you publish a detailed article for the same?

  85. Really like the idea of Exploding Topics, do you know much about the founders 😉

    Great guid as usual 👍🔥

  86. Damn, this must be the single best piece of content i ever read on the internet.
    At the moment i get distracted by all sorts of stuff, wandering around, lots of things in my head etc. not proud but it is what it is.

    The point i´m trying to make is: I HAD TO READ IT. Also this whole line spacing and tons of pictures make it so easy to read. I´m impressed. Thank you.

  87. No one beats Brian when it comes to explaining such vast topics in depth.

    Once I started reading I couldn’t stop myself reading the whole article.

    This is probably one of the best article written on keyword research

    I also learned about some new tools like explodingtopics, CanIrank, and absolutely loved the “Wikipedia Table of Contents” idea for keyword research.

  88. Your post helped me open my mind to find keywords for my logo design business. If I can use the table of contents of a Wikipedia page to find new keywords, I can also use the index or glossary section of a design book. Thanks, Brian.

  89. Great tips and on top of that, I like how this blog post is presented as a great detailed landing page. Really like the idea. I am sure a lot of hours must have gone into producing this.

  90. Great article. I learned so much although I am pretty much an SEO pro. Just discovered about 3 weeks ago. They are pretty good for inspiration but overall I still prefer ahrefs.

  91. Hey Brian!
    Thanks for sharing this super comprehensive guide!
    I’d like to know your opinion on Jaaxy and the keyword research methodologies promoted by Wealthy Affiliate.

  92. I’m ticked that it took me so long sign up for your emails! You keep putting out practical and timely content. Consuming all I can! Great job

  93. Thanks a lot Brian. This is definitely a worth read article. You have nicely curated all the major points about Keyword Research. Really appreciate your effort on delivering insightful contents.


  94. very good article and Much more valuable than some of the paid guides. I just read and so clear my mind in the keyword search.
    thanks man

  95. You have hands down the best definitive guides on the internet. I can’t believe this is all for free.

    I’m gonna spend a lot of time re-reading this guide.

    Thank you Brian.

  96. Hi Brian,
    I just loved the content especially that “Wikipedia Table of Contents” idea

    It’s something really new for me.

    It’s like getting premium SEO training/guides for free. Thanks for this amazing stuff !!

  97. Hi Brian, I am new in SEO field and your way of teaching is exactly what I was looking for.

    I am particularly intrested in “tribes” behavoiur and languages on the internet. In this area, search intent is an important topic.

    If you have some suggestions for me, I will appreciate them a lot.
    Thank you so much!

  98. Absolutely great for beginner and expert. 👍👍

    I was struggling to find Keyword for a particular topic and especially thanks for Wikipedia strategy! 😉

    Thanks for sharing and shared it with our audience!

  99. Brian,
    Thanks for the info on Wikipedia. I never would have thought about it. I currently use Mangools software and have another 10 months on the subscription. How much different is it versus changing to SEMrush or Arefs? Is it worth the swap for now or after my subscription ends. Thanks and much respect.

  100. Wow, just want to say this guide was top notch.

    I would be curious to know the results you get from searching the same head terms in multiple tools (eg, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest) to compare how they calculate the monthly searches, difficulty and CPC value.

    Do you have data on how each tool collects their data? How do we know which is the most accurate?

  101. This is really a golden content! You’ve shared a lot of information here and I can’t wait to try them or maybe experiment for some keywords without using a tool. I didn’t know that Wikipedia could be useful for searching keywords. Thank you for sharing these awesome tips.

  102. Super helpful. I am just in the process of launching a brand new site and service, so this gives me a great roadmap for the SEO part. Thanks!

  103. Hi Brian, hope you are doing great. I searched your content but there is one topic I couldn’t find information about long tail keywords.

    Is the order of the words important in the title tag, header or in the blog post?

    Example: Lets say my chosen long tail keyword is “4 month old baby sleep training”.

    I will create a blog post about it.

    But the actual search term isn’t easy to use as it is.

    Instead is it ok to name my post something like “5 success tips to sleep train a 4 month old baby” which is more reader friendly?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Ahu, it depends on the keyword. Search for one version of the keyword. Then the other. If the results are 99% the same, then you know Google considers them basically the same.

  104. Hi Brian,
    This was a great post like all your other posts, and I’ve been a long term fan.

    Reading many SEO guides and checklists from all over the internet presents a lot of conflicting topics and also many high-effort-low-return suggestions to make in SEO for websites.

    Could you please create a checklist which could detail which are the best SEO practices and arrange them in terms of effort required vs the impact of their result?


  105. Hi Brian,

    I hope you are doing great. I’m a regular blog reader of Backlinko. I just loved your points on keyword research especially the “GSC Keyword Research” idea.

    It’s something real and interesting for me.

    It’s like getting advanced SEO tips for free. Thanks for this sharing and keep sharing amazing stuff like this more in the future!!

  106. Thanks Brian, this is a terrific guide as always. We managed to pick up a few more keywords we hadn’t previously thought of with these strategies

  107. Thanks for the great read. Gives me a good start on how to revamp my websites. Keep it coming. My wife and I run a family business in Ju-jutsu so we need all the help we can get in areas like this. Grab my wrist no problem, figure out the SEO ….S.O.S.!!!

  108. I’m thrilled by your firm grasp on matters SEO (and how you generously share all that without holding anything back. These are the kind of stuff other SEO gurus would package in a 5 figure course and make a fortune out of it.

    My key takeaways are on shoulder keywords, long-tail keywords, user intent and ahref’s/semruSH content gap

  109. Hey Brian, Big fan of your work.

    I recently watch your video on SEO checklist for 2020 and I was hooked.

    I immediately typed in to register. Also, researching keywords seems to become expensive every day with ahrefs, ubbersuggest, answer the public and others but is there a way I can compete with the big boys without buying premium keyword research tools?

  110. Thanks Brian for this amazing piece of content. Your graphics and the way you illustrate your ideas are so helpful.

  111. I came here as my customer asked me to write something on keyword research strategies… I ended up fascinating by the topic, and already made a plan to spend my weekend on my balcony reading all your blog posts. You are a natural storyteller! And I hope in the future if I ever launch a site, I can get some success with these tips!

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