The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research (Updated)

If you’ve ever wondered:

“How do I find keywords my competition doesn’t know about?”

“How do I know if a keyword is too hard to rank for?”

“What’s the best keyword research tool on the market?”

“Should I still target keywords? Or look for topics instead?”

It’s a comprehensive guide that will show you EXACTLY how to find awesome keywords for your business.

Here’s what you’ll learn in each chapter of Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide:

Check out Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide now

What Did You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about my newly-updated guide.

Or maybe you have a question about something you read.

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

  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!

    1. Crazy when stuff like that happens, right? You’re not alone, Ashley: keyword research is something a lot of readers
      have asked me to write about lately. Enjoy the guide and let me know if you have any questions.

      1. I was thinking of the same thing while conducting a new keyword research and really missed something like this. Well, at least, I can double check what I’ve found and see if it corresponds with a new guide πŸ™‚

        Thanks Brian, I’m always looking forward to your giveaways!

  2. Hi Brian! I didn’t realize at first that so much content would beautifully pop-up behind the links to your chapters! I actually thought this was a landing page to pitch a book. To make sure not to lose people, Id put in parenthesis up there above the links (Each link on this list will immediately bring you to the Free Content). Or something like that! Thank you so much for your astonishing content!

  3. Brian,
    This is awesome, I’ll need some time to work through. One thing I noticed, is the link to Chapter 1 correct? it goes to your link building guide.

  4. I was thinking earlier to create a crowdsourced content about keyword research but when I saw this guide, i think I would never have a chance to outrank this resource. πŸ˜€

  5. HI Brian,
    Thanks for this great information and it is very easy to read,understand and follow.

    The page design is cool, what tool do you use to produce these pages?

    thanks for your great content

  6. Brian,
    As always, another great post and easy to follow the content. This guide is a goldmine. How long did it take for you to write this guide?

    1. Thanks Emrah! Took about 20 hours to write + 40 hours of work from my designer and web developer. This guide was no joke to create. But I’m hoping that it provides a ton of value to people so that it’s worth it πŸ™‚

  7. 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. Jake, glad to hear that you’re enjoying these guides. I actually hired a custom designer to design + code each page. Not cheap, but I was really happy with the final product.

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

    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.

  9. 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.

    1. Mike, that’s an awesome compliment. I respect my readers A LOT and bring value as much as I can to my newsletter subscribers.

  10. 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 πŸ™‚

    1. I’m happy to hear that, Daniel. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of work went into it so I’m glad to hear that you got so much value from it.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!



  13. 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 πŸ™‚

    Great Work!

  14. I thought you had “gone dark” as I wasn’t getting email or blog updates, but judging by the amount and quality of the information you have just provided I have to say, I’ll happily wait 2-3 months for the next backlinko update. This stuff is worth gold!

    1. Thanks Ivan. If I ever “go dark” for a while it means I’m cooking up something big or in the lab experimenting πŸ™‚

  15. Hey Brian,
    As we all know, digital marketing is changing everyday, I appreciate those who keep me sharp and always learning. This is a keyword guide will be one I read a few times and test/follow to improve my own keyword inventory building skills.


  16. Hey Brian.
    Lovely stuff again… Was reading your “Keyword Competition Analyses” and 2 questions popped in my mind:

    1) When you build affiliate sites (I’m sure you have done it or still doing them), what’s the amount of links that indicate: “Wow, that’s a lot of work – I’m going to pass this one”? Now obviously it’s also important to know how much $$$ can you get from it, but for overall? I’m not talking about spammy sites, but PAGES that have REAL links (resources, BLB, legit guest posts, contextual links, editorial links etc etc acquired over a longer period of time)

    Let’s say there’s a tough keyword that can bring you in $20k+ every month (when you are sitting on #1). In top 3, there are pages that have DA/PA 50+ and more than 500 legit/organic links. Would you go for it? How about 1000 links?

    2) You must have seen that some of the pages that are ranking really well for competitive keywords have only 30-60links, but are being “carried” up by the domain authority and couple of internal links (,, How do you determine the “strength” of such pages? I’ve seen pages that have 300+ legit links being outranked by such big authority sites quite often…

    1. Thanks Mikk.

      Great questions.

      1. I don’t have a set amount of links in mind (partly due to what you pointed out in your second question). But if I had to answer, I’d say a page with over 500 legit contextual links would make me wonder if they were beatable. But as you know you don’t need to rank #1 to do well. You could retire if you were able to rank #2 for “life insurance”.

      2. I’ve seen that happen more and more lately too. That’s where the Moz SERP Overlay helps so you can see DA and PA on the same screen. If I see a site with a DA of 70+, I automatically adjust their PA a bit higher to make up for it. Also sometimes it’s not DA but brand signals that help those sites rank so well.

      1. Thanks for your reply, Brian
        I think I’m going to rank for “life insurance” and retire SEO altogether once I’ve hit #2 πŸ˜€ I’ll let you know.

        But in all seriousness, I see that branded authority sites are getting stronger and stronger and can get away with only few links and receive ton of organic traffic even with semi-decent content – which is sad actually. However, as long as I can get more quality links and produce better content – I should be able to beat them πŸ™‚

  17. This is amazing content its going to take a few hours to read it all properly. What do you think of Market Samurai for keyword research? I use it quite often as well as Long Tail Pro.

    1. Craig, Let me know what you think when you get a chance to go through it. I used to use Market Samurai but stopped when they pulled in Bing data instead of info from Google. Does it still work well?

      1. Works well for me but it can be a little slow at times. I usually drop my keywords into the Google Keyword Planner tool to check traffic after I have used Market Samurai.

  18. 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!

    1. Daniel, I’ll definitely look into offering it as a PDF so that it’s easier for you to read when you’re on the road.

  19. Hello Brian!
    I have been using your guides and techniques for so long and i can’t stress enough how effective they are. Your keyword research guide is perfect for beginners and quite inspiring for professionals. I highly recommended it for everyone.
    Thanks a lot for sharing all that!

    1. Hey Roland! That’s the best compliment I could ever get: that my techniques and strategies are helping you grow your business. Let me know if you have any case studies to share with me πŸ™‚

  20. Excellent Guide Brian. The way we look at keyword research changes every year and this one compliments it. Nice Resource πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Sharath. That’s 110% right: keyword research is also in a state of flux right now. That’s why I thought it was time to revisit the topic with an up-to-date guide.

  21. Hello Brian

    I respect great content and in recent past, this is the best i have seen. I read this for 15 minutes and preferred saving the llink for reading in the best time, to gain max out of it. Tweet i am doing right away and again appreciate the effort and words of praise for this content are no different from what others have mentioned. Keep the good work so that starters like me get lot of inspiration and someone to lookup.

    Harish Bali

  22. Hi Brian!

    I got your email a bit late in the day and just sat down to read this. Incredible guide! Honestly, does your graphics guy work for you or is he freelance? If freelance, his contact would be appreciated =).

    Anyway, there are some real gems in here that I was unaware of such as

    Probably the very best section in the entire guide is about commercial intent. This really needs to hit home with people. I was personally able to squeeze almost $8 a visitor on one of my sites. Which makes me wonder, how were you monetizing the site you were getting 60k visitors a month on?

    I guess one of the only points I would have to disagree on is that when you see Ebay it is an easy search term. I have been in a cat and mouse game with an Ebay URL for months now -.-.

    I will definitely be linking back to this in my next post! Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Neil!

      I actually had a freelancer make the guide for me.

      $8 a visitor is insane. Unfortunately, the niche the 60k/month site was in wasn’t targeted or in buyer mode (think video games). I tried a bunch of different strategies, like Adsense, CPA, affiliate offers. Just couldn’t get it to work.

      Interesting. I haven’t gone toe to toe with Ebay that often so I appreciate your insights there. I just heard from my ecommerce buddies that they were easy to beat considering their insane DA.

  23. Great content. I have just skimmed the chapters and will certainly be back to spend more time to read in detail and learn more about the ever changing world of search engines. Really appreciate your work and insights.

      1. Hi Brian,
        Just finished going through your guide in detail. It is very thorough and complete. I have picked up some new things that I believe will help me in my affiliate efforts. One thing is for sure is that SEO and everything associated with online marketing is a moving target but your guide allows us to focus in on the important components and if we do them well we are in effect giving ourselves the best chance of surviving any future changes the search engine might throw at us.. Keep up the great work, I really appreciate your efforts.

        1. Thanks for your feedback, Dave. You’re right on the money: SEO moves fast. But if you focus on the most important things (like keywords, link building and on-page SEO), you’ll do well despite all the changes Google throws at us.

  24. Looking forward to getting stuck into this. I’ve been sharpening up my keyword research skills lately, looking beyond the typical keyword planner. I love how you start this blog post with some common questions that people are actually asking. Clever tactic for capturing plenty of long tail search traffic! I salute you Brian Dean πŸ™‚

    1. Good call on that, Anthony. I used to rush through keyword research so I could get to the fun stuff: content and link building. But I learned from a few mistakes that keyword research is well worth the time and energy πŸ™‚

  25. Brian i could only say that this is a Bible of keyword Research, Just want to add one thing for Keywords Competition we can also eye ball Google serp like writing keywords in quotes(“Keyword”) or allintitle:Keyword
    Thanks its a Rocking stuff.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the guide, Sachin. Good tip. I personally prefer to focus on the top 10 vs. total number of competing pages. But I know a lot of people that use your approach and do well with it

        1. Good call, Sachin. I didn’t realize that. Now I’d recommend using search strings like:
          “keyword” + “forum”
          “keyword” + “powered by vbulletin”

  26. Hello Brian Sir,
    You shared outstanding post relate to keyword research including possible techniques. Thanks for sharing awesome post.
    Please keep touch with us with your awesome blogs & tips.


  27. Hi Brian,
    I am using the Webmaster Tools method. I found a keyword which is on 11th position AND having good search volume. I also got the post to add the keyword on. However, WHERE should I add this keyword? I’ve read your on-page SEO guide. The post is already optimized for a keyword, now how do I optimize the post for this keyword too?


  28. A little inspiration in finding keywords for commercial intent is all I needed. I was looking after search volume and ignoring suggested bid and competition. Thank you Brian

    1. Happy to help you out with that, Andrei. As I said in that chapter, commercial intent was something I used to gloss over. Then I learned that in many ways it’s more important than search volume.

  29. Brian:

    Thank you so much. The guide is superb. I went through it for the first time last night and I will re read it over the weekend. It is easy to follow and easy to read. It blows my mind that people like you spend produce content of this blinding quality, for free.

  30. Great research… And the way you have putted all things in proper manner is what makings it’s fully interactive and damn easy to consume.

    Thanks a lot…and keep rocking. πŸ™‚

  31. Hello Brain,
    I read the complete guide, and the best thing about your guide is that, it is really informative and simple.
    Bookmarked πŸ˜€

  32. Great tips man! Worth reading. To be honest at first sight I thought you’ll use the same old tips people used to write on their blogs, but here I learnt some new things in keyword research, Something out of the box! Thankyou Brian

    1. You never have to worry about me publishing the same old stuff, Salman. I built Backlinko from zero to 50k visitors/month by publishing unique stuff πŸ™‚

    1. Geoff, that’s awesome to hear. I always try to make everything I publish super-actionable. I think you’ll agree that there’s already more than enough SEO theory stuff out there πŸ™‚

  33. Hi Brian,

    This is definitely an awesome piece of content for someone who needs thorough keyword research. However You know that it is the best reading on the subject, don’t you?

    But I just wanted to say, you are not only a genie for link building but also sharing the knowledge and information in organized manner which is very easy to read and follow.

    1. Hey Akila, I did actually set out to make this the best, most thorough resource for keyword research online. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

  34. Hi Brian,
    This is the best guide on the topic of keyword research written by a geniune expert. Most of the keyword research contents out there are fluff or even not complete. People often misunderstood or confuse by it.

    You didn’t leave anything out for us. I have some understanding on keyword research and agree with your validations in the guide.

    I have a question here about the searches coming to my website but google analytics not sharing what type of keywords people typing. Usually is the most search keywords? Do you experience that? What’s your take on it?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey. A lot of work went into this guide so it’s nice to hear that you’re getting value from it.

      Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to get the exact keywords people use. But you can use a tool like SEMRush to find the keywords that you’re ranking for and use that to figure things out.

  35. Hey Brian – had a good look.
    Great resource I must say. In general easy to read, easy to understand, easy to implement. What else can you ask for, really? But what I liked the most is that it ‘s very current, with current features and topics like the idea of personas.

    Thanks for this. A master-resource.


    1. Hey Patri, thanks for your feedback. A lot of work went into streamlining everything so that it’s easy to follow (and most importantly) use. Glad to hear that it worked out πŸ™‚

    1. No problem, Morten. That’s actually one of the reasons I put this together: the Google Keyword Planner just wasn’t working for people anymore.

  36. Wow, what a guide. Easily the most comprehensive one I have found to date. My favorite part was the competition section as I normally get tripped up on that. I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for some of those weaker sites.

    I have for the most part been ignoring PR lately but am thinking after reading your guide that I should be still using it in my analysis. Obviously it’s not a be all end all, but does give some indication especially if all PR0’s are found.

    Thanks again,

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Adam. Let me know how the Easy Target hunting works out for you. I honestly have mixed feelings about PR. I like that it’s straight from Google. But the issue is that it’s not updated regularly. That being said, it’s definitely worth checking out as you size up the competition.

  37. Awesome book on Keyword Research Brian – definitely the best and most helpful that I’ve read! I have a question regarding in-depth content. Would you recommend applying the same strategy to static webpages that you wanted to rank with – longer more in-depth content for search engines (while still keeping it user friendly)?

    1. I appreciate that, Brent πŸ™‚

      Yes, I’d apply the in-depth content approach to static pages as well (even homepages). If you look at it from Google’s point of view, they want to
      send people to content that answers the searcher’s question. When in doubt, they’ll send someone to a longer article every single time.

    1. I appreciate that, Fernando. I tried to make this the best keyword research resource online so it’s great to hear that it worked out πŸ™‚

  38. Hi Brian, just wanted to say “thank you” for all the time and effort that went in to pulling together this incredible report. You are clearly building hordes of true fans (like me!) because you deliver exceptional content in a helpful, easy-to-read/use way. A sincere thank you for clearing up a lot of my “great, now what do I do?” questions after Google did Panda, Penguin & Hummingbird…

    1. You’re welcome, Marie. That’s ultimately my goal: to make the often confusing world of SEO simpler and easier to follow. Glad to hear that I’m on the right track πŸ™‚

  39. “So instead of creating one article optimized around β€œdisplay resolution”, another around β€œbrowser displays” etc., create ONE awesome article optimized around the keyword in that group. That way you’ll rank for that keyword and for all of the synonyms that Google connects to it.”

    Brian, do you mean keyword group in keyword planner here?

    1. Yes and no, Avadhut. Sometimes Google will show very closely related keywords in their Ad Group suggestions. Other times, not so much. In other words, Ad Groups in the GKP can help, but you also have to look at the keywords to see how closely related they are.

  40. First off, THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to create this. It is an in-depth, all-in-one resource of what I have learned the hard way, all through Googles’ knocks and bumps.
    Keep up the EPIC work, Mr Dean.

    1. You’re quite welcome, Ollie. Hopefully people will learn from this guide so they don’t make the same mistakes we did πŸ™‚

  41. Thank you Brian for such a detailed guide. Did learnt a lot on keyword research. I was just experimenting with a keyword “Holidays” which has Avg. Monthly Searches of 49,500 (Competition: Low). Then I tried “Happy Holidays” which resulted in AMS of 2,740,000 (Competition:Low). What a huge difference in monthly searches for Happy Holidays. While trying Google Keyword Tool, Ubbersuggest and Scrapebox, I searched for the term “Holidays”. All 3 resulted in many phrases containing holidays but none of them showed “Happy Holidays” in result. If I were to use keyword “Holidays”, I would have missed “Happy Holidays” even if I would have searched in the above three. So could you suggest me any tip on how may I get the result “Happy Holidays” while searching for the keyword “Holidays”. Hope you got my point.

  42. Hi Brian,
    I have to admit that this guide is AMAZING. I was a bit perplexe at the beginning with all the links, I was like: “He’s going to send me to an other website”. And oh yeah, I found a real guide, very clear, very easy to understand and Im very happy I found you.
    Keep going like this

  43. Very hard to wait . I will follow you. See when you start . I am already using long tail platinum for keyword research and following Spencer Hews. Lets see what you recommended to me.

  44. Hi Brian,
    I am a little angry that you took my 5 hours for this guide πŸ™‚ (Joke Apart)

    As always, you’re rockstar of link building and now you have proved the tag for keyword research and optimization. I don’t need to repeat that I am a big fan of your writing.

    Your guide always encourage me to implement your strategies on my daily seo routine. I am going to use these tricks for my new fresh website and I’ll share my result with you.

    Earlier, I got a small success with a few fresh seo techniques given on your blog post – I want to say thank you for your precious guide.

    Come back to this guide. I loved it will implement them in my strategy. The one think I didn’t feel user friendly that your links in the content are not highlighted well. I got tangled sometime and the last thing you must leave a link back to this page from the last chapter. So a user easily come back here again to leave his feedback πŸ™‚

    A small mouth advice πŸ˜‰

    1. Glad you enjoyed the guide (and have already seen some results) Kaldeep. Let me know if you have any more feedback πŸ™‚

  45. I must admit that I have often over-looked the obvious re. keyword research, namely the β€œSearches related to…”. I also agree with idea that the ‘keyword plus another letter’ is a very useful area to mine and I enjoyed the ‘rinse and repeat’ comment!
    Personally I’ve never found the Ubersuggest website of much use except on a very basic level. Many thanks for some great ideas on keyword research…

    1. Thanks for your insights, Richard. In my experience, Ubersuggest is more for brainstorming than straight keyword generation. Although in some niches it can uncover some real gems πŸ™‚

  46. OMG this page only is gold! I need more time to finish everything. I’ve been following you, keep coming back here to read more. Thank you for sharing and keep sharing gems! πŸ™‚

    1. Sounds like a plan, Elena. Let me know what you think of the guide after you get a chance to go through it πŸ™‚

  47. Wow Brian

    Your guide is really the most comprehensive one on the topic, and I’ve read quite a few lately since I’m a big fan of SEO and niche blogging.

    How many hours did you spend creating it and what graphic design tools did you use?

    Maybe next definitive guide would be on “how to create the best definitive guides” (just an idea) — what do you think? πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you Cordut! The guide took over 50-hours of work from me, the designer and my developer. It was no joke!

      A definitive guide to definitive guides? I really like that idea πŸ™‚

  48. Hey Brian, I just want to thank you for doing an awesome job on this blog. I’m not very good at SEO, but I’ve already picked up tons of tips that are paying off. I’ve been using your “PR funnel / profile link” method with great success; pity it’s hard to find sites that allow do follow links though!

  49. I like your way of explanation on each topic very much. This will help me to boost my own knowledge on keyword research in different and simple way. Thanks for Brian the indeapth knowledge sharing.

    1. I wouldn’t use any keywords that don’t make sense, Henk. I’d just use a close variation that sounds good to readers.

  50. Hey Brian Dean, I fount your site very awesome and i have gone threw 2-3 article on your site. I loved the way you explain the things specially “keyword research”. This time I am in hurry and i have read only 2-3 article but in the mean time I will definitely read you site.

  51. Whoa Brian! This is a wonderful post, so informative and detailed. This is the first time I’m visiting your blog and I am totally bowled out the first time itself. The way you explained keyword research is so good that even a beginner can understand easily. I’m going to tweet this right now so that my readers can benefit from this article.

    I’ll come back again to read your next articles and your previous posts too! πŸ™‚

  52. Hey Brian,
    Great job “quenching my thirst” again, the keyword guide is truly epic! I was surprised to see 0 affiliate links in there. Fair play to that. Would have probably made some nice cheddar though. Great resource.


    1. Happy to do that, Yannis πŸ™‚

      You’re right: I could have made some bank with affiliate links (I might add them later on). But I wanted to show
      people that I’m including tools that I recommend…not just those that have fat affiliate commissions.

  53. Hi Brian, It was very helpful article. I am still struggling to find good keywords for my blog. But will work now as per your suggestions. Thanks

  54. Good timing for me, too, Brian! Thanks very much for this resource, which I really need right now for my new website, and thanks to Joel Friedlander for pointing me in your direction.

  55. Hey Brian,
    Awesome guide on keyword research. It includes A to Z all things in this guide. It’s great do you have any PDF for this, can you share.

  56. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for posting these great tips on Keyword Research. While reading tip 7 you have mentioned that articles with long content are suggested, but doesn’t it tick off users and create a higher bounce rate? Shouldn’t such a article be divided into parts, let’s say 3 parts for a 2000 words article?

    1. Good question, Rohit. I find that people AND search engines prefer to read longer content. That way they get the answer to their question
      in one place vs. spread out in three different articles.

  57. Amazing article with the best tips which are very detailed and well explained. This is something any SEO and niche website builder should be be read well before jumping in to search engine optimization.

  58. This is one of the most complete articles (literally articles in this case) of link building ive seen for ages. Nice content, looks so much nicer when some effort is made to present it well.

  59. Hey Brian Re-Read Your KW Research Guide, Very Thorough.

    2 Questions I wanted to ask an expert because what’s technically “right” and what I observe seem to be different things.

    1) I know the answer to this question, but what’s your opinion on EMD sites? The apparent common knowledge is google prefers brands, and EMD’s may only get a slight relevance boost. However, I cannot ignore the fact that EVERY time I encounter a site ranking for a super competitive term; when upon inspecting its link profile, I cannot determine why, its and EMD. Im talking about freak cases where I see PA 18 DA 11 (always EMD) outranking authority sites for terms like “cure back pain”, “best hotels in florida” (outranking tripadvisor or expedia). While sometimes the authority sites aren’t as optimized, if I go to SERP page 2 I will find tons of optimized powerhouse niches with PA 40, DA 40, so I really don’t get it.

    2) Will googles increasing algorithm synonym detection intelligence start to kill long tail untapped seo similar searches? ie: “cure back pain” vs “best way to cure back pain”. Where “cure back pain” sites will dominate both search queries results.

    Thanks, sorry for destroying the comment box

    1. Glad you liked it Jack.

      1. I honestly think the net effect of an EMD is less than 1%. Sometimes EMDs rank well because they’re older sites that have
      had time to acquire links.

      2. Yes…depending on how similar the searches for. In your back pain example they’ll show similar results (if they don’t already). But keep in mind that there actually IS a difference between β€œcure back pain” and β€œbest way to cure back pain”. And the SERPs will reflect that with different results.

  60. hi, thanks for your β€œkeyword research guide”
    i have a question
    if one keyword that i want to rank in page one,
    i search it in google, top 10 have small PA, but big DA
    like, (PA=1, DA=94)
    is it easy to rank in page one??

  61. Your content is just plain awesome.

    However, there is one thing that I can’t get to add up. I read your pdf guide on blogging and some of the keywords you picked out have search volumes of less than 100.

    Your thoughts seem to be generally to create less content (but high quality) and promote it a lot and you’ve been able to get 40k visitors a month within 4 months.

    So how is that possible when going after low search volume keywords? Do you pick out a lot of them and optimize your body copy according to those keywords to increase search volume?

    I can’t get this to add up. Please explain.

    1. Thanks Peter. I appreciate that. GREAT question. Well, search volume numbers are HIGHLY niche dependent. In that PDF guide
      I was using an example of extreme buyer keywords. For keywords like that you could literally build a business around a 3k monthly visitors.
      In my case, I go after informational keywords that are slightly less competitive and but get more search volume. It just depends
      on the business.

  62. Hello Brian,
    Your blog is helping me a lot to get traffic for my blog. After my breakfast I daily read articles on your website for 20-30 min. By doing this I am learning premium tips to drive more traffic.


  63. Hey Brian, Thanks for your guide. There’s a few gems in there which I hadn’t thought of. About keyword research tools, what’s your take on Market Samurai? Is it worth the investment?

    1. Hey Mabz. I’m not a big fan of Market Samurai to be honest. It’s a bit clunky and slow for a simple tool. I prefer SECockpit or Long Tail Pro.

  64. I have a tech news blog and I’m sure that this guide will be the best to find the ideal keywords to rank in the first page in the latest tech news.
    Thnks πŸ˜€

  65. Drea Brain,

    From where you are getting such a wonderful and very effective ideas? Really your every post is ultimate and offers great knowledge to me.
    Keep it up. All the best.

  66. Brian, I got trapped on an AdWords buy page and couldn’t for the life of me find the Keyword tools. You saved my butt. Boning up on keywords in order to help students through the process, which wouldn’t work if I couldn’t find the tool! Thanks, guy.

  67. I had never heard of Soovle before reading your guide here. It’s a quick and fun tool to use and I instantly found some keyword ideas to lookinto further.
    Love all of the info you provided here, thanks Brian.

  68. Hi, Brian
    I just read your keyword research PDF guide. I just got some new ideas for you after reading the guide. You added a step about and my query is if I go into ezinearticlesDotCom and try to find my keywords then it will be good? what you think about ezinearticles?

  69. Hi Brian, just want to say that this is a fantastic guide to Keyword research and has come just in time, thanks.
    A question no one else has asked, but if you had to choose one Keyword tool which one would it be? Also in which priority would you put them in, 1 been the best?

  70. Brian,
    I am just beginning my journey into the world of online business and would like to say thank you for the amazing content, not only in this guide but throughout your website. Unlike so much of the keyword research advice online, this guide is comprehensive, but also easy to follow.
    One question – with an authority site, how many keywords do you initially intend to target? Also, do you have a certain allocation between buy now, product & informational keywords?

  71. Brian, I just finished reading your guide and I have to say that it is a great piece of content.

    We can see that you used the Skyscraper Technique as it is way better than anything out there. It is really complete. Someone could only read this article about keyword research and he would be completely fine.

    Thanks for the great stuff again,
    Keep posting awesome articles!

    1. Thanks Julien. It wasn’t easy using The Skyscraper Technique for keyword research because there was already A LOT of great stuff already out there.

  72. Hi Brian! Thank you for this great guide. I have read it several times already just to make sure I don’t miss something important πŸ™‚

    Has it ever happened to you that Google Keyword Planner wouldn’t let you search for keywords unless you have an active ad campaign going? It’s been giving me such error message every time I try to use it lately. Thanks!

  73. Common sense is more important when it comes to Keyword Research. When we are performing research, we have to think like the user who performs the google search. We can get a few ideas from Google Auto suggestions. One of my niche sites have only a few links from low DA sites only, but the site ranks on the top.

    The reason is that the users spend more time on my site and there is good engagement. All we have to do is write excellent content and rank our site in 3 or 4 pages. We have to include a lot of LSI keywords that have low competition. As the time spent on our site increase, the rank will also increase.

  74. Hey, Brian,
    I just wanted to thank you for this amazing guide!
    I’m honestly stunned at the thoroughness and the amount of time you’ve put into this. It’s very generous of you – a great holiday present!
    Thank you and happy holidays!

  75. Wow, Really Actionable Advice As Always. I’ve been out of the SEO field for a while and recently got back into optimization. I use your advice and blogs as key tool to get me to understand what must be done to rank in 2016 + (it’s amazing how much seo has changed). Keep up the good work. You never use regurgitated info, everything is always fresh and highly effective. I always look forward to your new content. When I implement what you teach I see noticeable results.

  76. Brian, is the Keyword_Research_Guide_Backlinko.pdf download update as well, or will the different webpages be at a later date? Just like to print off content to scribble notes on, loving the content!

    1. Hey Chris, good question. I’m getting an update to the PDF version done right now. So I’d hold off on grabbing the PDF until Friday.

  77. This is one of the best keyword resources I have got access to. I was just wondering how to I would rank my site for different keywords but this guide is an eye opener.

  78. I get it, time on page is a ranking factor for SEO. I really needed this “keyword guide” and can’t wait to dive in. The only issue I have is, how can I download it? Is that an option? The first sentence was an attempt to be funny.

  79. Your email said we could download your guide, but I can’t download it.
    Perhaps people with greater computer skills than I can do it, but I am sure that I’m not the only one frustrated by your ambiguous email.

    When I clicked on the link, it did not indicate any way to download what you offered.

    That’s just silly.

  80. Thanks Brian for this awesome guide, whatever you write, you cover all the ends of it. That’s why I like about you. A complete guide for keyword research, I have ever seen.

  81. Wow, I’m speechless Brian, you are the only publisher I look forward to his contents, thank you mate, great guide made by great marketer.

  82. The supercalafragalisticexpialidocious thing about you, Brian, is that you always combine creativity + flexibility + constant experimentation in all you do. Thank you — this is exactly what I was looking for when I tweeted you recently asking if your thoughts on keyword research had changed in the past couple of years!

  83. Great guide as always, Brian! Your blog has always been my go to place for comprehensive SEO guide.

    Do you have plan to come out with a physical SEO book? I will definitely buy one if there is!


  84. Great post as usual, I particularly liked the fact that in a post about keyword research, you use 4 excellent long tail questions in your intro πŸ™‚ A master work!!!

  85. Great content as always!

    I understand the importance of having LSI keywords sprinkled in the content to make it more comprehensive and in-depth.

    I like the idea of using “searches related to” when searching for a keyword and including them when creating content. In the article, there are some tools that touch on this but not on a complete level.

    Is there a way where we get a more complete list that ‘Google’ deemed relevant? Like an extended “searches related to”?

    1. Thanks Tom. Unfortunately, not. Google is (understandably) tight-lipped about what terms they consider relevant and should be used as LSI keywords.

  86. Wow, finally a guide that actually walks us through keyword research thoroughly (and I am more than sure which is going to give me interesting whole new keywords list to work on) instead of same rinse and repeat old fashioned steps with bullet points guides I stumbled on before.

  87. This is a real guide. Chapter 4: How to Determine a Keyword’s Commercial Intent? was eye catching for me. Working for eCommerce sites sometimes become real challenging because it’s not always about traffic, it’s $$$ that matters. I loved going through all chapters but chapter 4 is definitely something i will be trying. Thanks Brian!

  88. Hey Brian!

    Again, a brilliant work from you! I love to visit Backlinko because you always surprise us with fresh and awesome content.

    I’m learning a lot with you and I recently tested Guestographic strategy and it is working very well.

    I made a Power Page and I get at least 10-12 backlinks to my site! This is incredible and will help me in my jorney to 1kk visitors/month leaving from completely 0.

    Thank you very much! I’m your fan! πŸ™‚
    Rafael Querido, from Brazil.

  89. Have struggled with a keyword research for a new customer for days now. Using all knowhow, still struggling.. Then came Brian Dean to my -almost- rescue. Thanks Brian – could we get a clone of you in Denmark? πŸ™‚
    All the best,

  90. No matter how many sites have written on that topic, no matter who has written the content, no matter on which domain the content is written, when you write content on any topic it will beat all the other copies present on the internet. Thanks for writing such an awesome piece of content on Keyword Research. It is a backbone of any marketing campaign.

  91. Hey Brian,

    I’ve been focusing more on ‘commercial intent’ when carrying out keyword research of late, including many other suggestions you make to improve CTR’s & on page SEO; leading to some awesome improvements in rankings for a client of ours!

    I also noticed that you’ve altered the column within this guide. Any reason behind this? πŸ™‚

  92. Just read through chapter 1, i find it useful and have a better understanding on how to choose good keywords to optimise a website.

    As you’ve mentioned that Google Panda could penalise you for publishing dozen of articles relating to long tail keywords, then how can you still target long tail keywords effectively if you don’t publish articles often?

  93. Brian. This has been a great resource over the years. I’m involved with helping businesses in the UK understand SEO and Content and have been referring everyone to this awesome info. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. In my view, the best resource out there.

  94. Dear Brian,
    thank you for your amazing guide. You are really the wikipedia for modern and creative SEO for me!!! I learned so much and I am impressed where you take the ideas for every new article.

  95. Hey Brian – Thanks for putting this up.

    It looks like the chapter on Google keyword planner isn’t updated as it still reflects the old GKP display. You might want to look into it.

    1. You’re welcome, Jason. You may need to clear your cache. The images there match what mine looks like (just updated the screenshots 2 weeks ago).

  96. Brian,

    Really great stuff! I know I said this before, but keep it coming! I especially enjoyed the section on long tail keywords. What’s the best method to go after many low search and low comp keywords without jamming the page with the keywords?

    1. Hi John, I wouldn’t focus 100% on low search/low comp keywords. Otherwise you have to keyword stuff or create lots of pages optimized around different long tails.

  97. Hi Brian,

    that was a really comprehensive and easy to digest guide, especially that I am only just beginning my seo journey. Thanks a lot for your effort!

    I am running an ecommerce shop and I have a question – I can see many uses of keyword research when you want to create new content (e.g. for blog) but I am not sure just yet of how to use the keyword research when I create descriptions for an ecommerce store (i.e. main page, category page, product page)?

    In case of an ecommerce store I guess the reasearch is rather limited to what you have on offer – e.g. if I run a shoe shop, then for example:
    – main page keyword: best sport shoes
    – category page keyword: running shoes
    – product page keyword: nike air max 2017 men blue

    I would be very happy to know how do you think keyword reasearch could be used for ecommerce purpose?

    1. Tommy, you’re welcome. These same techniques apply to ecommerce. But the examples you listed there are spot on. So it looks like you’re already on the right track.

  98. Just finished chapter 3 on longtail keywords. Very detailed and useful the way you instructed each step on different keyword tools! Some i’ve not even heard of as well which is also great to learn!


  99. Thanks, Brian! You make this seem so easy. Every time I start it seems like I’m doing all this research wrong it takes forever. Do you have any tips on efficiency and how to speed things up?

  100. Quick question. Are there any good alternative to Google’s Keyword Planner tool, now that Google has started restricted users from obtaining full search volume data?

  101. I like the way you have structured this guide with a parent page that links to each chapter I would never have though to do this I would of lumped it all on one page i have learnt something new today πŸ™‚

    I have never heard of SEO cockpit i am definitely going to give it a try!

  102. Very interesting read on chapter 4. Thank you for highlighting the types of keywords as I’m currently learning how to select good keywords to target. Does this also mean the longer the keywords the easier it is to rank still?


  103. Read the guide for the third time. Every time there are some “Aha” moments. It really help me to think hard on certain aspects of keyword research.

    I do have a question, for keyword competition, which tool give a better representation, Ahrefs or Moz?

  104. 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.

  105. Another interesting read on chapter 5. I now have a better understanding on how to target ‘easy’ keywords and create better quality contents to beat other competitors!

  106. Wow thank you so much, I’m surprised you’re just offering all this info for free. I appreciate it! Read up people! Keyword research is easier than it seems!

  107. First thank you for your Keyword Research guide. I find it clear and complete.
    Now I understand the basics I would like to know if I can trust the “Impressions” and “Average position” figures and distrust the “Clics” figures when I “Examine plan” on GKP?
    That would be great to get an expert answer from you.

    Basically my strategy is: pay the less possible to appear the maximum on the 1st Google page for a given keyword.
    So I want to maximize “Impressions” and minimize “Cost”.

    For example I have chosen a keyword that give the same “Impressions” (2.7 – 3.3 a day) for 3 different values of “Bid”: €1.00, €0.50 and €0.07 (Note: the Suggested bet in GKP is €0.27)
    The only difference I notice is that higher “Bid” results in better “Average position” (1.08 – 1.32 for €1.00) and more “Clicks”
    While a “Bid” of €0.07 gives an “Average position” of 2.24 – 2.74 and 0 “Clicks”

    My assumption is that Google computes “Clicks” according to “Impressions” and “Average position” but that computation is very pessimistic.
    I believe that appearing between 2nd and 3rd on Google 1st page give more clicks than what they say (at least because I have chosen a precise keyword).
    If that assumption is true, then I would pay for the €0.07 in order to pay the less and appear the more!
    How much do you agree with my assumption?

  108. Haven’t seen a email in my inbox for a while. I thought you stop making blogs. But after reading this information, I realized you were just trying to provide some good value with a lot of information. So thank you I learned a lot. I was using Google Keyword Planner so heavily, and now I’m going to look at Reddit and Wiki for more keywords. You have definitely changed my approach when thinking about this sort of thing. So thank you again!

  109. Just finished chapter 6, very detailed chapter on various keyword search tools!

    Just wondering, which tool do you think is the best to use for keyword research?

  110. Hi Brian
    All your content that hits my inbox is great! I’m wondering if you wrote an article on best practises for a person using a drop shipper to use when setting up their website …like how to download the pictures so that they don’t look identical on Google and how to work against having duplicate content so that your ignored by google. Also a lot of my titles are the same as the dropshippers titles. when I did my website nobody told me that I should change the names so now the links are all attached to the original title should I be just deleting the whole product and re-downloading the whole thing to change the title is that the easiest way for changing the link or does it matter that the titles are the same.

  111. What a great read of chapter 7! Highly agree that the contents on a website needs to be more modern than before.

    One question, what’s the average length should an article be? As you’ve mentioned publishing long contents gives you an advantage to rank higher on Google because, you’ll be able to add more long/short tail keywords throughout. But wouldn’t this make users less likely to read your content when it’s too long?



  112. Hey Brian,

    Fantastic content as always. Your guide and the rest of your content has shifted the way I think about keyword research. It’s about the people, not about the machines. Thank you for being foundational to my SEO education.

    One thing I noticed on your keyword guide is you say you don’t need an active AdWords account to use Google Keyword Planner. While no, you don’t need an active account to see the tool, using the tool on an active campaign gives you entirely different search volumes.

    On an inactive account, it shows you ranges and groups keywords semantically. On an active campaign, you get specific search volumes for each keyword. Especially in the sub 1,000 range, this is very important.

    It lets you skip the clean up phase when reviewing your plan. Though I still review my plan to get super accurate results on my curated keyword list. Just thought I’d point it out.

    Now a few questions for you:

    1. Why do you recommend SECockpit so highly when other SEOs don’t? It is not a common tool I see people using, but it is apparently your favorite. Is it an industry secret or what’s going on here?

    2. What about Majestic SEO? Most SEOs are constantly recommending Majestic and I simply haven’t gotten a chance to play with it. Is there a reason you leave it out of your regularly cited tools? (Note, from my point of view, your favorite tools are AHREFs, SEMRush, Moz, SECockpit, and a few of the good free keyword explorers like, AnswerThePublic, Ubersuggest, and Soovle.)

  113. Hi Brain,

    I was reading your guide on exploring commercial intent where you wrote:

    “Here are words that tend to be part of Buy Now Keywords:


    What will be some of the commercial intent keywords for services such as plumbing or lawn caring?

    I can certainly add:
    “services” +”keyword”,
    “certified” + “keyword”
    “Professional” + “keyword”
    “experinced” + “keyword”

    Do they look sensible?

  114. Awesome resource!

    The Keyword Planner is an excellent tool for starting off generating ideas for search terms people are using for your business. The problem I’ve had in the past is that often the planner produces a list than includes a number of irrelevant/low search volume terms. The filtering options definitely help with this!

  115. Hi Brian
    I’m constantly surprised by how much bad seo and content that are out there considering the quality of your guides. A couple of hours of reading would help a lot of people!
    And thanks for yet a great resource

  116. Hi Brian,
    Awesome post. Thank You

    I use to research keyword with Google Keyword Planner and I get related keyword ideas from Google Search, not using other keyword research tool.

    I have heard lots of about SEMrush but it’s premium. Do you recommend any keyword research tool that is similar to SEMrush.
    Thank You again!

  117. Brian, thats an exhaustive list, i haven’t read all the posts yet, so apologies if i have missed this part. But do you recommend ahrefs tool?

    It seems pretty expensive but i have seen so many swear by it.

  118. Just wanted to say thanks heaps, Brian. I’ve been following your blog and implementing everything that I can and it has made a huge difference to my business competing against some of the big boys with way more money to throw around than me. Love your work!

  119. Brian, just a quick note to say “thanks so much” for putting such detailed information out there on the web. I’m just starting to dip my toes into the murky waters of SEO, and am furiously doing a whole lot of self-learning, where I make use of YouTube tutorials, blog posts, podcasts, etc, to bring myself up to speed. By far, your material is the best out there, with some pretty cool tricks included to eke out hidden info from Google. I’m especially wowed by your tip of bidding ridiculously high on Adwords in order to get more precise traffic numbers.

    You’ve got a new fan. Keep on doing what your doing.

  120. Brian, your article has certainly changed the way I approach keyword research after dabbling with keyword elite,market samurai and the google keyword tool over the years.
    Thank you for this keyword research guide as it clearly maps out what I need to do and how.I am seriously considering offering the process as a service.
    Do you think it will work on its own as a service or does it have to be part of a complete seo package i.e. (onpage and offpage)?


    Wales,United Kingdom.

  121. I said I would be back to comment after reading and implementing this guide. I am a fast learner, but I decided to take this slow. So, I read this thing for a couple of days.

    Not only was I able to find great keywords using the recommended tools, I also wrote a couple of articles in the last few weeks. Hoping to start link building soon.

    Finally, this is just going to be my go to website for SEO reference.

    Thank you Brian

  122. Wow! What a great guide.

    This is definitively what i was looking for. I really digged the Long tail keywords chapter and all the options it had. I didn’t knew about a few of those options you mentioned.

    I will make sure to apply what i’ve learned here and not just learn and forget.

    One question that pops into my mind is this:
    How do you think we should start adapting for the growing trend of voice search for our keywords? Im guessing spoken KW are not gonna be the same that written ones.

    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this Brian.

  123. Awesome guide, thanks so much for sharing it free there’s obviously been tons of work go in to it.

    Also good to see Scrapebox mentioned, there’s tons of things it can do regarding keywords like scraping keywords from competitions sites, getting the number of search results for keywords, getting the meta data from Google results, getting the anchors from links and so on.

    Scrapebox is a bargain for the one time fee.

    Secockpit looks the goods too, although it’s a little pricey but i might give it a test run.

    You know you could of sold this guide right? πŸ™‚

  124. Hey Brian!

    Another great article! Im focusing on ranking Long tail terms, this guide definitely will help me a lot!

    Thanks for sharing!

  125. Thanks Brian. I had been using few of the ways you mentioned for keyword research. But, for me big take away was finding keywords using Wikipedia. Thank you for sharing all of them together under one umbrella. Makes it so easy!

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