How to Do Keyword Research. Step-by-Step Tutorial with Screenshots.

How to Do Keyword Research: A Real-Life Step-by-Step Example with Screenshots


The Beginner’s Guide to the Beginner’s Guide

In this article, you’ll learn:

Ah, the good old keyword research! Everybody and their grandma seems to be writing about it these days. Everybody seems to be an expert.

Except of you.

You know it’s important, no, vital for your content to be optimized for search to get more people over to your website. You might even understand the main principle.

Yet, you still have no clue how to do it. I mean, sit down with an idea for your next article in mind, open your browser and really do it.

Do you need a paid tool? Do you need to watch a webinar or buy a course to learn it? Do you need to hire an expert to do it for you?

No, no and… no.

If you have 15 minutes to spare, this post will teach you how to do a keyword research using a real life example, screenshots and nothing but good old MS Excel.

So, if you’d like to learn and apply keyword research in your practice, BUT…

… the phrase “keyword research” alone gives you a nervous twitch,

… you are terrified of (or fed up with) all the sales, marketing and SEO buzz words,

… you don’t really get any of the articles you’ve read before or are struggling to implement their advice in practice,

this post is for you.

You may consider it The Beginner’s Guide to The Beginner’s Guide.

When You Are Done Reading This Article…

…you will have a step-by-step tutorial to find dozens of keywords for your niche or product that, if you create high quality content around them, will get you on the first page of Google search results in weeks.

But first, let’s get you finally comfortable with some keyword research basics.

Unless you think you are ready to see the real-life example of the keyword research straight away. Then feel free to jump directly to it.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a practice to determine what words and phrases people are using the most in search engines.

Why Should You Spent Time on Keyword Research?

The most brilliant content or product is worth nothing if nobody knows about it. By doing keyword research you will find out:

  • whether (and how many) people are looking for your niche or your product
  • which keywords to use in your articles to make sure you rank high enough in the search results for people to notice your web site
  • which keywords to use for your next product.

What is the Basic Idea of Keyword Research?

Wouldn’t it be great to find a phrase many people are typing into their search bars, but for which they are not getting any satisfying results?

Then you could write about this topic or even create a product around it and be the king of the search result list getting tons of traffic and making tons of money!

Well, this is what keyword research is about: Finding a phrase many people are searching for (i.e. which has high search volume) but for which there are not many relevant results to be found (i.e. for which the competition is low; more on this in a minute).

Does “Keyword” Mean One Word?

One, two, three – in fact, any number of words that make out a phrase someone inputs in their search bar is still referred to as a keyword, not keywords.

For example, training is a keyword, but so is dog training or how to train your dog to make pancakes.

If a keyword consists of more than one word it is often referred to as a long-tail keyword (even if it’s not related to dogs or other animals with a tail for that matter).

If someone says keywords they mean different words or phrases that were used in a search on separate occasions.

For example, training and dog training are two different keywords.

How Can You Decide Which Keyword is “Better”?

When selecting the keywords to focus on, you want to take into consideration two important things that are associated with each keyword: Search volume per month and competition level.

In simple terms, the number of search volume per month for a particular keyword means how often people searched for exactly this word or phrase in a particular month.

In turn, competition level – as the term itself suggests – shows whether there are (many) other people or businesses who are trying to rank for the same keyword and, thus, will be your competition when it comes to this keyword.

You’ll find both of these terms explained in detail by Google in this article.

Why Isn’t Finding One Keyword Enough?

In addition to having a primary keyword in mind that you’d like to rank for, you also need to have additional search terms that you target. Ranking for a primary keyword takes time, as there is high competition there, but you need people finding your website through the search result as soon as possible.

For example, if your niche (and a primary keyword) is dog training, you might use dog training tips, dog training methods, dog training courses, etc. as the keywords to write your posts around.

What Skills Do You Need to Do Keyword Research?

Do you know how to sort a table in MS Excel? Awesome! You are good to go.

If by any chance you don’t know how to do it, this article will teach you this indispensable skill in 2 minutes. If you don’t have MS Excel, any software that lets you open a .csv file and sort a table will do.

Which Tool to Use?

There are many different online tools, free and paid, that let you do keyword research.

In this article, you will learn a strategy of doing keyword research in Google Adwords Keyword Planer – a free and easy-to-use tool you can access right now if you have a Gmail account (otherwise you’ll have to sign up first).

This tool is useful for providing you basic information about search volume, competition, and variations (aka ideas) of a keyword you are interested in ranking for.

Keyword Research Tutorial: Real-Life Example

Below you’ll find a step-by-step tutorial on how to find keywords that, if you base your website, your product or your copy around them, will get you on the first page of the search results within weeks. It uses Google Adwords Keyword Planer – a free tool you can access through Google Adwords. But you can use this strategy with any other tool (for example, SemRush).


Update: Google stopped showing exact numbers for amount of monthly searches in its Keyword Planer and now shows only ranges: 10-100, 100-1K, etc. However, you can still access the exact numbers for $1.

The new Google policy is that only those who spend more than $1 on an Adwords campaign a month will be able to see the exact amount of monthly searches for that particular month.

To make Keyword Planer display exact amount of monthly searches as before:

  1. Create a Google Adwords account
  2. Create and activate a campaign setting your budget $1.5 a day.
  3. Stop the campaign as soon as you’ve spent more than $1. If you set your daily budget to be $1.5 simply check on it at the end of the day and see if $1 was spent.

You’ll be able to see the exact amount of monthly searches for keywords shortly.


This strategy was kindly shared with me by Chad Thompson, an online entrepreneur who owns multiple niche online businesses and who has been doing keyword research on a daily basis for years.

Chad once had a “regular” job, but after he spontaneously adopted an aggressive Rottweiler from a shelter and ended up creating a $100.000 online business around dog training, he now dedicates all his time to creating online businesses in yet unexplored niches.

I use this strategy to find keywords for a new niche to create a new business or to write posts around for the websites that I already own.

~ Chad

This tutorial consists of two parts. First, you’ll learn how to find all keywords related to your primary keyword. Then, you’ll learn how to find the “golden keywords” – the keywords you can rank for and get some traffic from quickly.

Let’s get started. If you are reading this from a mobile device, you might want to have your computer open and follow along.

Finding Keyword Variations Around a Primary Keyword

My recommendation is to have over 100 keywords that are either low or medium competition and 500-1000 monthly searches.

~ Chad

  1. Open Google’s Keyword Planner: Go to Google Adwords and either log in with your Gmail credentials or sign up with a non-gmail account, and select Tools -> Keyword Planer from the menu on the top.
  2. Select “Search for new keyword and Ad Group Ideas.”


  1. Think of an initial keyword that fits your niche you’d like to get more keywords around. In this example, let it be dog training.
  2. Enter your initial keyword and your website as shown in the screenshot below leaving the rest of the settings default. If you don’t have a website, just enter the URL of a site related to the search term.


  1. Click “Get Ideas”. You’ll see two tabs. The one that says Ad Groups is only for people who want to start a paid traffic ad campaign. Since you are not doing that for now, click on the second tab “Keyword Ideas”.


  1. In the tab “Keyword Ideas”, you’ll see a whole list of keywords, mostly around the primary keyword you input in the initial step. These are terms people are using to find content similar to yours or the one on the website you gave as a reference in Step 4.
  2. Go to the top right corner of the table, click “Download” and save it as an Excel file.



Finding the “Golden” Keywords

Now, let’s take a closer look at all these keyword ideas to find the best ones you could use to rank high in the search result quickly.

The Short Version

If you are an expert in handling data tables, here’s the short version of the method:

  1. Modify the table and leave only the keywords with 500-1000 monthly searches.
  2. Remove all the keywords with high competition (0.67-1).
  3. Move the keywords with the low competition (0-0.33) in a separate file titled Core Keywords. This is the first badge of your “golden” keywords. You’ll be able to rank for them in a couple of weeks.
  4. Move the keywords with 800-1000 monthly searches in the second file (they will automatically have medium competition) titled Secondary Keywords. This is the second badge of your “golden” keywords. You’ll be able to rank for them in a couple of months.

The Detailed Version

Here’s how it’s done in detail.

  1. Open the Excel file you’ve just downloaded and hide all the columns except Keyword, Avg. Monthly Searches and Competition.


As you can see the values in the column “Competition” are not high/medium/low as you’ve seen them in the Keyword Planner but are numeric values from 0 to 1. These values represent the competition levels as follows:

  • High competition: 1-0.67
  • Medium competition: 0.66-0.34
  • Low competition: 0.33-0
  1. Sort the table by monthly searches and delete all the rows where a keyword has more than 1000 or less than 500 monthly searches. Now your column “Average monthly searches” should only have values between 500 and 1000.


  1. Sort the table by competition and delete all the keywords with high competition (the ones which value in the column “Competition” is between 1 and 0.67). It will take you years or at least many months to rank for those.


  1. Sort the table by competition again, from low to high. Find the words that have low competition (the ones  for which the value in the column “Competition” is less than 0.34).

You can already spot the “golden keywords”. In this example, the keyword how to train a dog to walk on a leash has 1000 monthly searches, but very low competition (0.05).

Move these keywords in a new document with a title Core Keywords. These are words you can rank for within a couple of weeks.


  1. Return to your initial Excel file and select the keywords that have high monthly searches values (greater than 800). These will automatically have medium competition (0.33-0.66), because you removed the keywords with the high and low competitions in Step 3 and 4 .

Move these keywords in a new file titled Secondary Keywords. To rank for them will take a couple of months.


And this is how you find the search phrases you want to focus on. These keywords should be included in the copy on your site and you should start writing articles or blog posts around them.

It’s easier to get an article or blog post to rank on page one of Google if you have a single post directly related to that one keyword. For example, for the 3 main keywords I find, I write 5-10 articles of about 500 words around each. Within a month, I’ll be ranked between search results #1 and #5  for these 3 keywords.

~ Chad

Looking for more information like this?

Then this is your guy.

Chad Thompson
Chad Thompson is a copywriter and online entrepreneur who creates profitable online businesses in targeted niches. Chad shares his knowledge on online entrepreneurship at

First, you’d want to check these two articles:

Second, Chad has now decided to give this kind of advice in more structural way and created a dedicated space for it: There, Chad is sharing tips and strategies around building a profitable niche business.

Bonus for those who made it this far

You’ve read this article till the very end? Wow, you’ve got some attention span there!

passive-niche-incomeDon’t forget to pick up your present! It’s a blueprint from Chad Thomson “12 Steps to Start Earning Passive Income in 21 Days” not available to anyone else except the readers of this article for now.

Completely free. No strings attached. Get your copy here.

So, what do you think?

I hope you are not intimidated by keyword research anymore and are all set to get ranked on the first page of the search results.

If you use this tutorial, do share your experience in the comments. Was it easy to follow? Have you seen any improvement in your ranking and organic traffic?

If you have any questions, don’t be shy and leave them in the comment section.


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  1. Perfect article i have seen ever, mostly i am publishing without any research, but now i have a idea that how can i get the much benefited article for me.

    1. Thanks, Granulr! Yes, the plan was to free “the beginners of the beginners” from the fear of the SEO and the keyword research 🙂