Streamline and organize your keyword research with this free template (available in Excel and Google Sheets). Whether you’re starting a new SEO project, want to improve your site’s search traffic, or are looking for target keywords for a new piece of content, this template will help you do keyword research quickly and effectively.
Keyword Research Template
Why Use a Keyword Research Template?
Like pretty much everything in SEO, keyword research is more complicated than ever. Back in the day, everyone used the old Google Keyword Tool. Today? There are a million different tool options. Plus, you’ve more techniques for finding keywords coming out every week.
This template brings together all those different approaches into one place. So instead of bouncing around between a thousand tabs, losing track of where you are in the process…
You can just go through this template. Simple. Step-by-step.
When you’re done, you’ll have a BIG list of keywords. Plus all the metrics to help you pick which to target.
Here’s what’s included in this keyword research template:
- How to evaluate keywords: The 5 metrics to use to determine whether a keyword is worth pursuing.
- Where to find keyword ideas: Out-of-the-box sources like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Exploding Topics.
- Plus 4 other tried-and-true methods for finding keywords: Some that you’ll probably be familiar with. And others you may have never heard of.
How to use this template
- Brainstorm some “seed” ideas to get started. Specific keyword phrases (“best link building tools”) are fine. But you can also start with broader topics (“link building”. (Tip: Studies show that the late afternoon is the best time for brainstorming)
- Download the Keyword Research Template on this page, make a copy, and fill in the “seed ideas” section
- Go through each of the keyword sources on the template to expand your list of keywords. (Tip: If you aren’t sure how to use a keyword source, see our Definitive Guide to Keyword Research.) You can insert additional keywords if you need more room
- Fill in the metrics section of the template
- Choose your target keyword
- Optimize your page based on your chosen keyword
How to Choose a Target Keyword
In SEO there’s nothing more important than choosing the right keyword. This template makes it easy to create a large list of keywords to choose from. And to add the metrics you’ll need to evaluate them.
But at the end of that process, you’ll still have to pick one. Here’s how to do that:
- Use a tool like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs or SEMrush to find the metrics you’ll need. (They can also help you find additional keyword ideas.) Then, make your decision based on the following factors.
- Search volume. In general, the more searches a keyword gets each month, the better. (Because it means you can get more traffic)
- Keyword difficulty. Most SEO tools (like Ahrefs and SEMrush) include keyword difficulty scores: The lower the difficulty, the easier it is to rank for. But if you don’t have access to a paid tool, the free MozBar browser extension can help. Install the extension, then search Google for the keyword you’re interested in. Look at the PA and DA scores of the top-ranking sites. The higher their scores, the harder they’ll be to compete against.
- CPC (cost per click). This is the best way to know how much commercial intent a keyword has. Advertisers won’t pay more per click than what that traffic is worth to them. So a higher average CPC means the keyword is more valuable.
- Relevance to your business. It’s true that valuable keywords have higher CPCs. But that doesn’t always mean they’re valuable to YOU. There’s no clear number associated with this “metric”. It’s more of a gut-check: Are your potential customers likely to search for this keyword? If so, great. If not, go with a difference keyword (even if all of the other metrics check out).
- Trend in search volume. I love to target keywords that are growing fast. In fact, I’d much rather target a medium-volume keyword that’s getting more searches each month than a huge one that’s declining. Ahrefs and SEMrush will both show you this info, but you can also find it in Google Trends.
- Want more free SEO templates? See our full list here.