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Training A SEO Analyst: The Keyword Research Article of Your Dreams

WRITTEN by: Drew Goettemoeller |
categories: SEO

Jul 2014


You could start anywhere when training an SEO Analyst. Do you start with, “In the beginning: Al Gore invented the Internet?” or do you start with Panda Update 4000.245.42? Given the chance to sway young minds, training gets me excited to recall every single thing that I know about a topic. In the process of swooning with nostalgia, I find myself having to fight back the heavy breathing. It’s just too much for someone to absorb in 30 minutes or less.

*Please Note: Al Gore did not in fact invent the Internet.

The nice thing about keyword research is that it’s no longer solely useful to the SEO industry. Realizing that SEO done properly gets results, keywords have been claimed by multiple other business departments.

Keyword research today is often one of the first steps for content marketing, social media, public relations and even sales!

Getting Started

If you are training someone who’s an SEO greenhorn, or you just need to blow off the cobwebs on your old SEO skills, I strongly recommend starting with the following resources:

MOZ – Beginner’s Guide to SEO

MOZ has had this guide for years, and it has served as a great starting point for almost anyone new to the industry. Chapter #5 is focused on keyword research.

Quick Sprout’s Advanced Guide to SEO

If you felt like the beginner’s guide was too theoretical with very little teeth, try 1 or 2 of Neil Patel’s tactics. These are much more involved, but a few may need some updating. Chapter 6 dives into keyword research and gives you multiple starting points to hit the ground running.


Keyword Research Strategy

Was that too much reading? I know guys, reading is hard. Let’s pull back a bit before we get any deeper into tactics. There should definitely be a method to this madness; otherwise you will find yourself pouring over spreadsheets of useless keywords for hours, perhaps even days if your campaign is large enough.

My recommendation on keyword strategy is to start simple. Use your brain.

1. Start with your noggin:What would you search for first if you were the customer? Second?
- What are the different things you offer customers?
- What are some synonyms?
- What buzzwords / industry terms do people use?
- What keywords are your direct competitors using?

2. What are your competitors’ search engine results?

3. What are your competitors’ search engine results doing?

4. Sometimes, you just need to go deeper. Try thinking more granularly.

- Are visitors looking for a yellow dress or a marigold polka dot “sun dress”?

5. What are some variations on all the keywords we’ve found so far?


That’s a pretty good start, but we’ve all learned keyword research tips from the SEO community. Here are my favorite write-ups on strategy that I’ve found over the years. Check out the following links:

James Agate – The Subtlety of Really Good Keyword Research
Bruce Clay – How to do Keyword Research

Okay, now that your brain is totally fried…

Time for Keyword Research Tools – My Personal Favorites

I like this tool because there isn’t any messing around. Data goes right in excel, where you want it. Some say the traffic estimates are a little unreliable. That’s ok; you’re going to check in the AdWords keyword tool before launch, correct?

  • Spyfu – “Steal from the Competition”

What’s the competition up to? See their ad copy, see their history and see what worked. Important note: It’s not quite as effective if you don’t know who the competition is or the competition isn’t as versed in the SEO space Note: This is a paid tool.

This tool works by pulling all of Google’s "suggested searches" from the bottom of your search into one spot. It's great for coming up with new ideas in one category or for content research.

This tool helps you find keywords, and crawl title tags, Meta descriptions or Meta keywords directly within the code from other websites. Overall, this helps you see what similar keywords other people are using. I love this tool, but it's super geeky. No credentials – just sign up.

  • AdWords Keyword Tool – “The Last Hurrah”

After you've built your huuuuge list of keywords, stick it in AdWords to find out which ones are worthwhile keeping. On the other hand, if you haven’t had luck with the other tools/methods, you can use this tool to find more keywords. Beware: Zero Predicted Clicks in the Keyword Planner do not necessarily mean that no one is searching for that particular keyword. It might mean that nobody has ever tried it before! (Generally though, it means zero clicks)


Now, present this to your coworker, boss or significant other and wait to be showered with their glowing love & affection! You’ve got this.

I hope these were useful and that you didn’t mind the sarcasm.

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