The Wordtracker Academy

Keyword Basics Part 2: Finding keywords

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Key Points

  • Start with a common word or phrase
  • Organize your work
  • Find related keywords
  • Keyword research doesn't stop  

In the second of our Keyword Basics series, Mal Darwen gives a simple method for finding thousands of the keywords that your customers use when they search. He then shows how easy it is to use the Wordtracker Keywords tool to organize and save those keywords so you can easily manage your site's search engine optimization and pay per click advertising.

Step 1. Start with a common word or phrase that is appropriate to your business

Start simple. Your starting point does not need to be clever or creative. All you need is a common word or short phrase relevant to your business - Wordtracker will help you find cleverer keywords later.

Suppose you sell chocolate online. A good starting point for your business would be the word chocolate

Using Wordtracker's Keywords tool, you can find thousands of keywords that all contain the word chocolate.

It couldn’t be easier to start your keyword research - just click the ‘Quick research’ tab and get going!

You can just enter a single seed keyword (as we said, if you’re researching chocolate, use chocolate).

In a few seconds you’ll see up to 2,000 keywords containing the word ‘chocolate’ appear in your list, sorted in order of popularity, or Search Volume. There are several things you can do with this list, but let’s start by talking about the numbers you’ll see.

Search Volume

Chocolate search volume

This is the number of times each keyword has been searched in the Wordtracker database (Wordtracker’s data comes from two smaller search engines, and, so these are real searches made by real people).

If you’re new to keyword research, look for high volumes. A high number means that lots of people are searching using that keyword.

These figures are not meant to be used as an exact number of searches, or a prediction. It’s best to think of this figure (and all the other numbers you see in the tools) as a relative value. Don't worry too much about the numbers themselves. Instead, consider the relationship between the keywords: it’s easier and more helpful to see that chocolate is searched more times than chocolate models than it is to try to work out exactly how many people will search for each term in the next day or week.


Chocolate competition

The competition number gives us an idea of how many web pages already exist that have been optimized for each keyword. A high number is bad, as it means lots of websites will be competing with you.

The competition figures are on a scale from 0-100. A figure of 100 means lots of competition, so it will be difficult to rank on the first page of Google’s results for that keyword.

If you’re new to keyword research, just remember: high competition figures are bad.

Live Competition

It’s also possible to collect ‘Live Competition’ data for up to 30 keywords at a time. This gives you a second opinion, using a lot more data, on the competition you’ll face.

While the figures may look simpler, the aim of the changes isn't to ‘dumb down’. In fact, the results are now ‘cleverer’ than before as they're compiled live from a number of numerical data points from sources including Alexa, MajesticSEO and the pages that already rank for the keywords you're examining.

We wanted to create a competition metric that would be able to assess the results from a given query and get quantitative data about them. Using this we would be able to understand how strong these sites were and therefore how difficult it would be to beat them.

Relevancy Ranking position of the site Exact Match Domain to the keyword

Strength How Many Linking Domains to URL How Many Linking Domains to Domain Google Exact Match Search Count Google All in title Search Count Page depth of Ranking page

Trust Alexa Rank of Domain

Once we have figured out which sites rank where for a keyword and then looked at all of the above factors we apply our own algorithm to the data to create the ‘Live Competition’ figure. This is a system of weightings, where some elements are given greater value than others. For instance if the best ranking results have very few links to the page then they may be low competition, however they might be on very powerful domains so we would rely on the number of links to the domain and the Alexa Rank to bring the competition score back up.

As a live metric, the numbers you see will change over time, which will reflect changes in Google’s search results. The figures are unlikely to change dramatically and should do so gradually over time.

We are also committed to keeping the algorithm updated as different elements become more and less important. This doesn’t mean that you need to go back and redo all your keyword research every week, though it does mean that when you do, you’ll be using the most accurate and up to date metric possible.

We worked towards at time of 30 seconds to fetch all the metrics, do all the number crunching and update the ‘Live Competition’ results, but we've actually achieved under 10 seconds for many queries which we are really pleased with.

KEI - Keyword Effectiveness Index

KEI is one of the quickest ways to find keywords with good potential - that is, those keywords which are likely to help your site attract more traffic. It looks a bit like this:

It's a scaled metric, so you'll never see a KEI of more than 100. That doesn't mean that we can go back to the old method of thinking that a KEI of X or Y is good, or that a KEI of Z is bad - it's still important to look at the numbers as relative values inside a niche - what might be a good KEI for one niche may prove not to be so useful inside another niche - so do look at the relationships between the figures in this column rather than just relying on pure numbers.

So how do we use KEI? Simple! There are two ways that we can find helpful figures - we're looking for a high KEI as these are the keywords that show potential. The first thing to do is to sort the column by KEI just by clicking the column header. We can see the highest ones at the top of the list instantly, so look for the keywords that are relevant to your business.

The second way you can narrow down your list according to KEI (if you're familiar with the market you're targeting and have a rough idea around search behaviour in that niche) is to use the filters on the right to exclude keywords with a KEI below a certain figure - you'll probably get more of a feel of what to exclude the more you work with a niche.

How do we find keywords with potential?

Often, you'll find thousands of relevant keywords. You can't target all of them, but you can use the filters (on the right hand side of the page) to narrow down your keyword list:

New Keyword tool filter

You can include or exclude keywords that contain certain words (so if you’re looking at a list for chocolate, you can show (or hide) all the keywords that also contain truffles.

It’s easy to filter out keywords with high competition (high competition is bad) or low search volume (bad again, a low search volume means the keyword gets little search traffic).

If you’re new to keyword research, use the filters to look for keywords that are popular (high search volume) and have little competition (low competition figure). You can filter by KEI as well, and if you've set Targets in your list, you can filter just to see those keywords.

Content ideas

Struggling for content ideas? Then you’re not alone. Lots of people find it difficult to know what to write about.

The Wordtracker Keywords tool can give you great ideas for creating content. Your site visitors are likely to have a ton of questions about all sorts of things. They want answers and many of them will go to a search engine to find them. When they do so, they often enter their entire question in the search box and hope to find a quick answer. By providing the answers to their questions, you’ll create interesting copy and pick up a lot of relevant traffic for your website.

You can tap into these questions in your market - just choose the the Keyword Questions filter...

Keyword questions filter

...and the Keywords tool will generate content ideas by showing you the questions people are asking in your industry.

Keyword questions

Now go through the results and pick out the questions that are important to your business and use them to create content. Once you’ve got your list of relevant questions, you can either create a blog post for each question or group the questions and answer several in one blog post.

In doing so, use the question as the main title in your content and decide on a secondary keyword that you might also use.

So if, I decide to write an article on ‘how to make chocolate’, I might decide that my secondary keyword is ‘chocolate recipes’ - so I would make sure that my article also mentioned ‘chocolate recipes’.

With the keyword questions tool, you don’t have to worry too much about what the numbers mean. All you really need to know is that people are asking those questions online – and then provide the answer for them, but don’t just stop at ‘chocolate’ - try using the Keyword Questions filter on your other lists, and you’ll soon have a host of great content ideas.

Multiple filters

It’s not easy to identify the best keywords for your site when you’re choosing from lists of thousands.

You can use multiple filters to refine your lists, like this:

New Keyword tool filters

Once your filters are set up and refined, use the Targets column to flag keywords you’re interested in using. Just click the icon by a keyword you want to use. It’ll turn red, and the keyword will appear in the Targets box under the filters:

Refined keywords

Targeted keywords

When you export your list, we’ll remember your Targets for you so they’re easy to find in the .csv file you download.

Of course, you might want to get a second opinion on your niche. We’ve made this easy for you to do. Just choose the Google option at the very top of the list:


You’ll see your original seed keyword in the box on the left. Just click ‘Search’ and you can see all of Google’s suggestions and Search Volume estimates. Don't expect to see the same results as you saw in the Wordtracker numbers. Each list is likely to report its own distinct keywords, and there are likely to be great suggestions in each.

You’ll notice that your Targeted Keywords are common to both lists. You can add Targets whether you’re looking at Wordtracker or Google data.

Any filters you set up are also remembered.

So to recap quickly ...

We’ve shown how you can:

  • Build a keyword niche on the ‘Quick research’ page using either Wordtracker or Google data.
  • Filter each list to find terms with high volume and low competition
  • Set up keyword targets
  • Export your data so you can share it with colleagues or clients.

If you're new to keyword research, it's worth taking some time to familiarize yourself with the 'Quick research' tool before moving on. If you've questions, please let us know at the bottom of this page.

If you’ve got to grips with the 'Quick research' tool, we'll move on to the next stage of working with keywords. We’re going to look at how to use the Keywords tool to create a clear site structure (that Google will love).

Wordtracker’s main Keyword research tool works in Campaigns, Projects and Niches, like this:


Step 2. Setting up a Campaign - organize your work

Google loves clear, logical site structure and the Keywords tool can help you create one. You should start by setting up a campaign for the website you're working on.

This couldn’t be easier - just head to the ‘Keyword research’ tab and click on ‘Create Campaign’.

  • Give your campaign a name
  • Include the web address you’re working with ( and
  • Add a short description (the web address and description are optional but can be helpful later)

Next, you’ll be taken to your Dashboard.


Your Campaign can hold all the work you do for a single website. The work is broken down into Projects. Starting a Project is really straightforward - you can do it with a single keyword (you’ll be amazed how quickly this can grow).

Just click ‘Add new Project’, and give your Project a meaningful name. Remember the chocolate? Start with that word (and an optional description), and you’ll be quickly taken to the Keyword Mapping page. We’ll come to that in more detail later, but let’s focus on the Keyword Niches you can see.

Keyword Niche

On the Keyword Map, you’ll see a Niche that contains your original seed term. On the left of the screen, in the unassigned column, you can see some more suggestions. We’ve added these to get you thinking, but you can easily delete them if they're not relevant.

Open a Niche and you’ll see thousands more keywords. The page is similar to the ‘Quick research’ page we’ve already discussed. You can work with it in the way we’ve described. And there are a couple of extra features worth mentioning.

Adding Keywords

You know more about your business than anyone else, so it’s likely you can think of relevant keywords that you’d like to investigate. You can easily add your own keywords (up to 500) to the tool.

Just click the ‘Add Keywords’ button, and type or paste in the keywords you’d like to add, one on each line.

A fresh search will take place, and we’ll add any keywords that aren’t already in your list (duplicates are annoying) and update it for you.

Wordtracker Keywords Tool free trial

Creating Sub-Niches - drilling down into keywords

Google loves well organized websites, and so will your users. If your site architecture and internal linking make sense, it will be easier for search engines to find and index your pages and, more importantly, for your visitors to navigate through your site.

As we mentioned, the Keyword research tool helps you create a clear site structure with the minimum of effort. Let's say you've a category page on your site that's dedicated to selling guitar strings. You'd like to add more pages and are looking for relevant long tail keywords you can target.

When you find a keyword you want to target (classical guitar strings), you can create sub-niches really easily. The screenshot below is from a list based on guitar strings.

Click_Add niche


Let’s say you wanted to investigate the classical guitar strings niche.

Click the 'Add Niche' icon. You’ll see the ‘Sub-Niches’ box populate (it goes green). In a single click, you’ve created a new niche. Close the window and you'll return to the Keyword Map. You can see that the Niche has been created in a sensible position in your architecture:

Guitar strings

See how easy it can be to set up the architecture for a whole site, or a category of a site? And it’s quick and simple to grow this Keyword Map with Wordtracker using that handy ‘Add Niche’ button:

Guitar strings architecture

We’ll go into Keyword Mapping in more detail in a separate article, but that’s a basic outline which should help you get started. If you’ve any questions, please let us know at the bottom of this article.

Now all you have to do is rush off and optimize your web pages for those phrases, right? Wrong! That is what most people will do and as a result, they will miss out on some very powerful keywords that are not immediately obvious. There’s more work to do - let’s take a look ...

Step 3. Find words that are related to your original keyword

Successful sites will attract traffic from many thousands - often millions - of keywords. So, it's a good idea to broaden your research and look for keywords you might not immediately think of.

Let's take our chocolate example. Our task is not to find keywords that contain the word chocolate. In fact, it's just the opposite - we want to find relevant keywords that don’t contain the word chocolate.

The reason for this is to extend your thinking about how you optimize your pages, and the content you create. After all, if you're only targeting chocolate you're missing the opportunities presented by truffles hot fudge and candy. The Related Keywords tool can help you find keywords that you’ve not thought about that could bring more traffic and business to your site. It will help you unearth whole niches you would otherwise miss.

Get related keywords

Go to 'Get Related Keywords' on the Keyword Mapping page, and enter the word chocolate (if you’re selling chocolate). Wordtracker searches websites that score well on search engines for the search 'chocolate' and extracts the phrases that those sites use. You'll find relevant keywords such as truffles, caramel, candy, confectionery, gifts, gourmet sweets, and so on.

related keywords chocolate

You’ll find lots of keywords that you might not have considered before - lots of terms that your potential site visitors are using in their searches.

Read through the list of related keywords and pick the ones that you feel are relevant to your business - either products or services that you provide, or relevant topics that you can produce helpful good quality content around.

Your input and insight are required: Wordtracker is not a machine that churns out a list of keywords that will automatically bring you traffic and success. If that was so, everybody would get the same results. Rather, Wordtracker is a tool that allows you to find your best keywords.

So from the list of related terms you might pick candy, caramel, cookies, gift baskets and truffles, using the ‘Add Niche’ feature that we saw earlier.

Step 4. Use the Related Keywords tool to generate many more relevant keywords

Now, for each of the words you choose from the Related Tool, you can repeat this process of searching and creating new Niches. Just enter a choice keyword into the search box, and every time you search, you can create new Niches.

By following these easy steps you can quickly generate hundreds - or thousands - of relevant keywords that reflect the different Niches and their subtleties within your marketplace.

Below you can see the chocolate project I created in just a few minutes' work. I've got 13 different Keyword Niches, each containing up to 2,000 Wordtracker keywords. And I can get up to 800 keywords from Google for each Niche as well. But I'm not done yet, this is just the start - to build a site that will attract traffic you should have at least five categories, each of which should have a few content pages linked to from them.

chocolate keyword map

Keyword research doesn't stop

The average person will do their keyword research on a single basic term and stop. And, the average person will do their keyword research once - perhaps when they are building their website - and then forget about it.

But that is the way to get average results. Effective keyword research is an ongoing process and to get outstanding results you must work at it regularly.

If you want to be a successful keyword researcher:

1. Regularly check your keyword counts using Wordtracker's Keywords tool. Counts can go up and down over time, and keywords can become more (or less) popular.

2. Continue to add keywords to your Projects. The more money-making keywords there are on your site, the more profitable your online business is likely to be.

3. Monitor how well their keywords do. Performance will always come from a mixture of the following types of keywords:

  • Keywords that bring good traffic and good conversions (these are the words people use when they are in buying mode.)
  • Keywords that bring good traffic but poor conversions (these are the words people use when they are in research mode.)
  • Keywords that bring low traffic but great conversions (these are the words that represent buying behavior in niche markets.)

Next we'll look at how you can pick the most competitive keywords from your research and how you can use those keywords in your website copy (the text that appears on your web pages).

Keyword Basics

For the rest of our Keyword Basics series:

Keyword Basics Part 1: How search engines work

Keyword Basics Part 3: Understanding a keyword's structure

Keyword Basics Part 4: Targeting your primary and secondary keywords

Keyword Basics Part 5: How to narrow down your keyword list

Keyword Basics Part 6: Keyword mapping

Keyword Basics Part 7: Using keyword modifiers

Keyword Basics Part 8: Building keyword rich inbound links

Free Trial of Wordtracker's Keywords Tool

The more relevant keywords that you rank well for, the more business you will do. You can start researching keywords today with a free 7-day trial of Wordtracker's Keywords tool

Take a trial button

Meanwhile, if you have questions or comments, please let us know below:

About Mal Darwen

Mal Darwen joined Wordtracker in 2008 as part of the Customer Service team, and now as well as running webinars in SEO and how to use the toolset is Product Manager. In the five years since starting with Wordtracker, Mal has also spoken about SEO and keywords at conferences, and has a healthy hand in Wordtracker's tweeting.

When not Wordtracking Mal plays with a band called Praying for the Rain. He also plays guitars and basses with a number of other UK and International artists. He lives in London with his family and two slightly insecure cats.