Being able to do effective keyword research is a must for ecommerce websites, especially if SEO is an important part of your store’s marketing strategy because if you get this part wrong your pages won’t be appearing in the right search results, which means:
- Little to no traffic
- The traffic you get doesn’t convert very well
- You don’t get any sales
So it is safe to say that keyword research is important, it can also help with running ad campaigns as well but how do you actually do keyword research?
Well, that is what we are going to show you in this guide and what will be appealing to many people is that we are going to be using free tools, so let’s get started…
1. Understanding Search Intent
Before we get into the process of finding keywords, you need to understand that there are different types of keywords out there that all have a different search intent and this is arguably the most important aspect of keyword research!
Because knowing what people are searching for will only get you so far, understanding the intent behind the search term then makes it actionable as you can then start optimizing your content for these terms.
When it comes to search intent, the majority fall under 4 main categories:
- Navigational – this is where they are looking for a specific page such as ‘Reddit’, ‘Twitter Login’ etc
- Informational – this is where they are looking to learn about something such as ‘How to build a bench’ or ‘impact driver vs drill’
- Commercial – this is where they are trying to find the best product, such as ‘Best gaming laptop’
- Transactional – this is where they are looking for a specific product page such as ‘Logitech MX vertical mouse’ to buy the product they want
When you understand the intent behind the search, you will then know which type of pages on your site you can optimize for the keywords, with the three main page types being:
- Product Pages – keywords for these pages are going to be very product focused and have high transactional intent
- Category Pages – keywords for these pages are going to have a broader product focus, such as ‘Men’s dress watches’ or ‘waterproof hiking boots’ but still has transactional intent
- Blog Posts – keywords for blog posts are going to be informational or commercial as people are in the information-gathering stage of the buying process
By understanding search intent and the types of pages that these apply to, it can make the keyword research process much easier.
2. Finding Keywords
So how do you actually find keywords? This is the part that most people find difficult (and probably why you are reading this post) but as an online store you already have three things you can start working from and we are going to use an example for this post:
You have a store selling watches and you want to find keywords for the Seiko watches that you have just started stocking, you will already have some seed keywords to start doing research from:
- The product you are selling – the make and models of the watches
- The product type – sports watches, dress watches, divers watches etc
- The niche the product is in – watches
When it comes to doing keyword research, there are a couple of different tools that you can use but some are more geared towards finding informational or commercial keywords than product-focused ones but we are going to cover all of these.
Arguably the best free keyword research tool out there is Google Autosuggest and this isn’t some fancy Google tool, it is just Google.
So go to google.com or your country-specific Google and simply start typing a word into the Google search bar and it will Autosuggest some search terms and the autosuggestions are very useful because:
- All the auto-suggested terms are what people have searched for recently
- You can see the exact terms people have been searching for
And the image below is what Google suggested just using Seiko as a search term:
Even a very broad search term like Seiko has already started to produce a list of potential keywords, with many of the being product-focused, that can be used for Product or Category pages.
And you can begin to expand on this by entering longer tail search terms, the images below show the autosuggestions for ‘Seiko 5’ and ‘Seiko Presage’, which are producing keyword ideas that are more focused on a particular product range.
If you want to start finding more informative or commercial keywords, then you want to start adding query-based words such as:
And below are two examples of the types of autosuggestions that appear when ‘do’ and ‘best’ are added in front of the Seiko search term.
An interesting thing with Google Autosuggest is that you can different suggestions based on where the text cursor is in the search bar, this is demonstrated in the two images below.
The first image has the text cursor at the end of ‘best seiko’ and the second image has the text cursor at the start of seiko and as you can see, they are different search results.
Hopefully, you are beginning to see how useful of a tool Google Autosuggest is and that simple changes to your search term can begin to produce many different keywords that you can potentially use on your site.
But there are also a couple of other sections within the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) that can provide you with more keywords.
Google Related Searches
At the bottom of every Google search page are a selection of related searches and just like with Autosuggest, these are all searches that people have recently made.
This is a great source of potential keyword ideas as you can see in the image below, which was taken from the ‘seiko’ search term.
But there is one more section on the Google SERPs that you want to pay attention to, which is:
People Also Ask
The People Also Ask section is another goldmine for keywords but what is different about these are they are questions that people have asked and these can make for potential sub-headings in blog posts or to put in the FAQ section of a product page (if they are product related).
And another bonus of this section is that when you click to expand on this question, it will show you what Google thinks is the best answer and the site it came from.
This can help you begin to gauge the quality of the content from your competition and if the answer isn’t great, there may be an opportunity for your post to take its place.
You can download all of these questions into a spreadsheet using the free Chrome extension SEO Minion.
When you are doing your keyword research, you want to try and create a really good list of keywords for the topic and to do this, you need to go down the rabbit hole that is Google and you want to:
- Do a broad search such as ‘Seiko 5’ and record all of the autosuggestions for this term
- Click on a related search term and see what People also asked questions appear and what the related searches are
- Then go back and type another search term and rinse and repeat
This can be a time-consuming and sometimes boring task when just using Google but it is one of the rich sources of keywords, if you want to save yourself time, then you will need to use a paid SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush.
Keyword Idea Tools
There are a few keyword ideas tools out there but from our experience, these are better for finding informational or commercial keywords than they are for product-related ones but if you are going to be adding a blog to your store, then they could be a good source of information.
We have tried a few and our three favorites are:
- Answer the Public – 3 free searches a day with free plan
- AlsoAsked – 3 free searches a day
- ClusterKeywords – free for up to 3,000 results
These tools are very easy to use, simply enter your chosen keyword (1-2 words work best) and the country you wish to search for and click search and it will produce a list of results based on different prefixes such as can, are, how etc.
The image below shows an example of using Seiko as the keyword and you can see it has produced a list of potential keyword ideas that could be used.
These tools also let you download the results in CSV format, which means you can go through and sort these out for yourself.
3. How Many People Are Searching For It?
By this point, you should have a list of keywords that you can potentially use for your store but before you go and start optimizing your product pages or writing blog posts, you want to get an idea as to how many people are actually searching for it on a monthly basis.
And for this, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner, now you will need a Google Ads account for this but don’t worry, you won’t have to buy any ads!
You just want to use their keyword planner as it gives you the average number of searches per month for your chosen keyword.
When you first go into the keyword planner, you will be asked to choose between the two options in the image below and you want to choose the Discover new keywords option as this not only gives you search volume but also potential keyword ideas.
On the next screen, you will be asked to enter the keywords that you want to search for and select the country/countries that you want the information for.
Once you have entered all of this information, click on the Get results button and you will taken through to the results page, which shows you some really useful data, including:
- Ideas to broaden your search
- The number of keyword ideas Google has found
- The average number of monthly searches over the past 12 months (this can be changed to your chosen time period)
- The three month change
- The Year over Year change
- The competition (just be aware that the competition is for ads not organic search results)
The numbers on the average monthly searches are quite broad, for example, it can be 1k – 10k and 10k – 100k but it is still better than nothing and gives you an idea as to how much traffic you might get if you can rank high enough.
Another bonus of using the Keyword Planner is that is will provide you with some keyword ideas and the monthly searches for these, which can provide you with another list of potential keywords and to help you organize/process this data, it can be downloaded in a CSV file or exported to a Google Sheet.
4. Competition Analysis
We have put this as a separate section so that we can explain what to do but competition analysis is something you want to be doing as part of the keyword research process.
And competitor analysis is a very important component of keyword research because you want to find opportunities to rank your content and as a small online store, you want to be looking for low-hanging fruit, which are search terms with decent volume but lower competition.
When it comes to doing competitor analysis, there are a couple of tools you can use but we think the free Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere is one of the best as it can provide you with a lot of information directly from the Google SERPs.
As you can see in the image above, below the search listing is a quick website breakdown, that includes:
- MOZ Domain Authority rating
- Number of referring domains
- Number of referring links
- A link to see the backlinks for the site
- Spam score
- Page and website monthly search traffic
- Number of keywords the page and website rank for
This is a huge amount of information that you can get for free and when you are using Google to do your keyword research, seeing this information can help you identify whether that keyword is worth pursuing or not.
When you are looking for low-hanging fruit keywords, seeing the following in the search results can be a good indication that this is a good keyword:
- Sites at the top of search have a low Domain Authority, less than 10/15
- Forums such as Reddit or Quora appear high in search results
- For potential blog posts, the question hasn’t been answered properly by any of the top-ranking posts
If you are seeing this and then see that there is search volume for this term, then you have found yourself a nice piece of low-hanging fruit and this should definitely be a keyword that you should be on your list to try and rank for.
Keywords Anywhere also have some other useful tools including a summary of the competitiveness and the historical trend of that keyword, which when used in conjunction with the other information it offers, can be very helpful.
For product pages and some transactional blog posts, the competition section within Google’s keyword planner can be an indicator of how competitive that search term is.
Now, this isn’t a definitive rule but if a product-focused search term has high competition for ad placement, then ranking for that organically is probably going to be difficult as companies are willing to pay a lot of money to get their ads at the top of Google because they can’t get their pages up there organically.
Doing keyword research is one of the less glamorous aspects of SEO and when using free tools can be quite time-consuming, which is the trade-off you make for doing it for free but at the end of the process, you should have:
- A list of keywords you can use on your site
- An idea of the number of searches each one gets a month
- How likely you are to rank for that search based on the competition
This is more than what you started with and a lot better than guessing what people are searching for and you can then start optimizing your product and category pages for the product-focused keywords and start creating blog posts for your informational and commercial keywords.