How to use Google Search Results for keyword research
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Most bloggers are missing a trick when it comes to keyword research. Google’s own search results can provide you with a wealth of high volume, low competition keywords your competitors are missing! Here’s how to use Google Search Results for keyword research.
The problem with keyword research tools…
Many bloggers shell out large sums of money for keyword research tools. But here’s the rub: keyword research tools are not that good. Even the really expensive ones!
Two big reasons…
1. Their datasets are much smaller than Google
Keyword research tools have access to much smaller datasets than Google. This means that, when they extrapolate from those datasets, the results are often wildly inaccurate.
For example, I have many, many posts on my website that keyword research tools say should get little or no traffic per month, but those blog posts actually get 100s or even 1000s of pageviews EVERY DAY.
The competition scores are usually laughably inaccurate too. For example, when I search ‘Roast Turkey Recipe’ in UberSuggest, it gives it a score for competitiveness of 19/100 and colours it green for ‘easy’. But it does not take a genius to work out that ‘Roast Turkey Recipe’ is a highly competitive keyword!
2. They only look at the exact keyword phrase
Another explanation for the wild inaccuracies of keyword research tools, is the fact that they only look at the exact keyword phrase when they assess the search volume. But, in reality, a blog post does not rank for only one exact keyword phrase.
For example, my Easy Chicken Korma does not just appear in search results when someone searches for ‘Easy Chicken Korma’, but also when they search ‘korma sauce recipe’, ‘simple chicken korma recipe’, ‘chicken korma recipe coconut milk’, ‘easy korma’, ‘how to make chicken korma’ and (according to Google Search Console) 994 other related keywords!
So, what’s the solution?
Given that keyword research tools are so inaccurate, what’s the solution?
One solution is to use Google Trends. Google Trends allows you to compare your keyword ideas with a benchmark keyword (a keyword you already rank for), to get a sense of whether the keyword you are considering is likely to have good search volume or not. It’s not a perfect system, but it works very well (and one of the main reasons why I was able to grow my food blog to over 1,000,000 monthly pageviews!)
To learn how to use Google Trends to do keyword research, head over to my Keyword Research Video Training, which walks you through the process step-by-step.
But there’s another way – using Google’s own search results! Google’s own search results will help you discover a wealth of high volume, low competition keywords ripe for the taking. Google’s search results will also help you discover secondary keywords to add to your post, and give you plenty of ideas for blog posts you would never have even thought of on your own.
Using Google’s search results is also a really great way for new bloggers to find keywords to rank for, since you don’t need a to have benchmark keyword.
And, since other bloggers are still wasting their time and money on expensive keyword research tools that don’t work, using Google Search Results for keyword research can help you leapfrog your competition too, by helping you find awesome high volume/low competition keywords your competitors aren’t finding.
Ready to get started? Time to get excited, because this technique could be about to make a very big difference to your blog traffic in the not-to-distant future!
How to find high volume keywords using Google Search Results
The first step is to find high volume keywords. One of the mistakes many bloggers make when writing blog posts, is writing them on topics no-one is actually searching for. No matter how good your blog post is, if no one is searching for that search term, you won’t get any Google traffic to it.
Luckily Google actually gives us access to a whole bunch of really good, high-volume, keywords right in the search results. Google does this via 3 features:
- People also ask
- Related searches
When you start to type a keyword into the search box on Google, Google tries to guess what you are going to type using its autocomplete function. And obviously Google is going to suggest the most likely possibilities. In other words, Google will suggest the highest volume searches to you.
You can have a lot of fun with this!
To start with, you could just type a keyword into Google and see what pops up.
But the real magic happens when you give Google a helping hand. For example, type ‘soup’ and you get this:
But type a soup, b soup, c soup and so on and you get results like these:
And you can take it a step further with question words, like ‘how soup’, ‘what soup’, ‘which soup’…
You will also notice you get different results, depending on whether you rest the cursor after ‘how’ or ‘soup’.
Another option is to include important keywords for your blog in the search. For example, a vegan blogger might search ‘vegan soup’, ‘vegan a soup’, ‘how vegan soup’ etc.
You get can get literally hundreds of good volume keywords just from this one technique. But there’s more…
2. People also ask
When you type a query into Google, Google shows a ‘People Also Ask’ box in the search results. If you start clicking on the results here, Google will show you more questions. These are the most common questions people ask about this topic… in other words, they are all searches with good search volumes!
For example, if I type ‘How to run a marathon’ into Google, Google gives me the following ‘People Also Ask’ section:
These would all make great blog posts on a running blog!
Depending on the results, you might want to write a whole new blog post on each of the questions in the ‘People Also Ask’ section OR you might want to include these questions as subheadings in a longer more comprehensive blog post about the topic. (See my post on How to write longer blog posts for more on how to do this).
To get even more keyword ideas, click where it says ‘search for’ under each question and you will get a fresh batch of related questions.
3. Related searches
Finally, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the search results, you will find the ‘Related Searches’ section. This is a list of common related searches. Again – since these are the most common related searches… they are therefore the ones with the highest search volumes.
For example, if I search ‘How to get my toddler to nap’, these are the related search terms…
Again, you can keep clicking on these related searches and scrolling to the bottom of the new search to see what other related search terms you can find.
For example, I clicked on ‘Toddler Nap Schedule’ and then scrolled down to the bottom and got this new batch of related searches…
You can keep on doing this over and over again… pretty much forever, if you want!
How to find low competition keywords using Google Search Results
From the tips in the section above, you can quickly create a massive list of really good high-volume keywords… but search volume is only half of the equation. A keyword might have loads of searches, but that’s no good to you if the competition is so fierce that you don’t stand a chance of ranking!
But I have good news for you… You can also use Google’s search results to assess a keyword’s competitiveness. Simply type the keyword phrase you want to rank for into Google and see what comes up.
It’s important to understand here that, when Google picks which results to show, it looks at a whole range of SEO factors, but the 3 most important to us here are relevance, quality and authority. This is how we can assess how competitive a search term is.
Google wants to show search results that are highly relevant to the search query. If I Google ‘packing tips for beach holiday’ I do not want to see packing tips for a ski trip or a city break.
So, the first way you can assess how competitive a search term is, is by looking to see how relevant the search results are. If you see that some (or all!) of the search results do not match the search term well, this is a great indication that this is a low competition keyword!
We also know that Google wants to send its users to high quality, well written, well structured blog posts which fully answer the searcher’s query.
When you are assessing a keyword/search term for competitiveness, actually click into the search results on the first page of Google and quickly eyeball them for quality. If you see low quality blog posts and/or blog posts which don’t really answer the query properly, this is another indicator that keyword competition is low, and you stand a good chance of ranking for the that keyword.
We also know that Google wants to send its users to high quality, authoritative websites which have good E-A-T.
So, this is the final check. Take a look at the websites in the search results for your target term. Are they highly authoritative websites from bigger bloggers / celebrities / media outlets? In which case, this is likely to be a highly competitive search term and you don’t stand much of a chance of ranking.
However, if you see a list of smaller bloggers / sites you’ve never heard of / spammy websites. This is a good indication that the competition is low.
If you are finding this hard, I have an extra bonus tip. Get the MozBar and turn it on when you are in Google search results and it will show you the Domain Authority for each website. This is by no means a perfect measure. But it will give you a steer. If you see sites with a lower DA ranking for this search term, it’s a good indication that you stand a chance of ranking… so long as you also write a really good quality, highly relevant blog post, that is!
What to do with your high volume/low competition keywords?
If you’ve followed the steps above, you should now have a list of high volume keywords, with low competition. The next step is to rank them, put them in your content calendar… then write that content!
1. Rank your keywords
The first thing to do is to rank your list of keywords. To use your time most productively, you obviously want to write the blog posts with the most chance of getting traffic first… in other words, you want to write the blog posts for the keywords with the highest traffic and lowest competition first.
To rank your keywords, start by assigning each keyword a score out of 5 for volume (1 = lowest volume, 5 = highest volume) and a score out of 5 for competition (1 = toughest competition, 5 = easiest competition). This will give each keyword a score out of 10, where 2 = low volume/tough competition and 10 = high volume/easy competition.
Ranking VOLUME is a little tricky, since Google doesn’t give you any kind of indication of how high the volume is in auto complete / people also ask / related searches, just that there is good volume. You can either use your judgement and make some educated guesses here, OR you can use Google Trends to help you get a more accurate sense of relative volumes, as outlined in my post on using Google Trends for keyword research.
Ranking COMPETITION is a little easier: if a keyword yields results which are off topic / poor quality / from low authority sites, you can score those keywords 5. If, on the other hand, a keyword yields results which a bang on topic / high quality / from highly authoritative websites, you can score those keywords 1. For everything in the middle, you’ll need to make a bit of a judgement call.
Once you have scored each keyword out of 10, simply sort them in order from high to low.
You can use my keyword research calculator spreadsheet to help you do this:
2. Create a content calendar
The next step is to add your keywords to your content calendar. Ideally, to get best results, you will want to write the blog posts for the keywords which scored 10 first, then the 9s, then the 8s and so on. In reality, you might find you need to jiggle things around a bit to make everything fit logically.
For example, your best keyword might be for a Christmas blog post, which you might prefer to write nearer to Christmas.
You might also feel that some blog posts are more foundational and so need to be written first. Perhaps your best keyword is for ‘strawberry and cherry jam’, but you want to write your ‘ultimate guide to making jam’ first, so you can link back to it from your jam recipe.
For more help on creating a blog content calendar, head over to my post on How to create a content calendar for your blog.
3. Write the content
Finally, you need to start writing the content, and write it well. You may have the best keywords, but you are unlikely to rank well for them on Google if you write poor quality, badly structured blog posts!
For more on how to write a really good quality blog post that ranks, head over to my post on How to write the perfect blog post for search engines (AND your readers!)
Want more help with keyword research?
If you want more help with keyword research, check out this video where I take you step by step through my keyword research process. This is the exact keyword research process I used to take my food blog to over 1,000,000 monthly pageviews!
Over to you!
I’d love to know if you have found this post helpful. Do let me know in the comments below.
And if you have any questions, ask away! I’ll do my best to answer them.
- A beginner’s guide to keyword research for bloggers
- How to actually DO keyword research: a step by step guide (plus FREE keyword research spreadsheet!)
- What is Google’s BERT update?
- How to write longer blog posts (that your readers actually want to read!)
- 137 essential SEO terms every blogger should know! (+ free printable)
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Thanks for this valuable information. I do admit I’m guilty of writing first before taking google into account. But I’m on a journey and learning is an important part of it. I do enjoy your blog. It’s full of gems. Take care, Raymond
You are welcome! I’m glad you found this helpful. Eb 🙂
I needed to read this today! I’ve been coming up with all sorts of excuses (to myself) to not work on the blog and this has just given me the impetus to get back on track. Thank you!
Aw, that’s great to hear. So pleased my post inspired you!
I found this very helpful. I’ve been struggling with keywords, writing a post first etc. So thank you! Saving this post to come back and explore more!!
Aw, that’s great to hear – so pleased you found it helpful 😀
Thank you, Eb!
FINALLY…a blog post on keyword research that puts things simply & with clarity. You are masterful!
I am thrilled to be enrolled in your SEO Jumpstart course too!!
So thankful I found you!! 🤗
Aw, that’s great to hear! I am so happy that you found this post useful and that you are enjoying my course so much 😀