There are many expensive tools that claim to simplify and speed up the keyword research process. If you don’t have thousands of dollars in your budget, however, there’s always the old-school, free method.

Keyword research is the foundation of search engine optimization. It provides a window into searchers’ desires and needs. It’s a free form of user data that’s available to anyone with a little patience.

Start by assembling a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches for those words and phrases — the market demand, essentially. What you can do with the data is extraordinary. It can inform content strategies and even uncover the gaps in your natural search performance.

Keyword research in its simplest form starts with a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches for those words and phrases.
Keyword research in its simplest form starts with a two-column spreadsheet. Column A lists keywords and phrases for the items your business sells. Column B lists the number of monthly searches.

Keyword Seeds

Seeds are the single-word stems of keywords. For ecommerce sites, seeds typically represent the products you sell and their attributes.

For instance, if you sell wall art, keywords could be major categories such as “metal wall art” and “canvas wall art.” Seeds could include the genre (abstract, botanical, landscape), color (blue, red, green), and other attributes.

Be careful to consider seeds that are synonyms of your categories and attributes. For example, some consumers may refer to canvas wall art as a painting.

Seeds can be mixed in different ways — “green abstract metal wall art,” “botanical painting,” or “landscape canvas wall art.” Use Mergewords or a similar tool to stitch your seeds into phrases that searchers may use.

This process can generate many thousands of potential keyword phrases. Depending on your resources, you may need to limit the number of phrases to those that are most likely to produce results. For instance, price and shipping-speed attributes rarely produce strong keyword demand.

However, limiting keywords introduces your own biases because you decide which data to collect from the tool in the next step of inputting into Google Keyword Planner. Instead, merge all high-value keywords and input all of them for the strongest results.

For more on keyword seeds, read “SEO 101, Part 4: Keyword Research Tool Tips.”

Google Keyword Planner

I use Google Keyword Planner to extract free keyword data. Here’s why: The core…