It’s no secret that keyword research is one of the most confusing parts of creating a presence online. It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating an Amazon affiliate site or you’re trying to rank for relevant keywords for your offline business, it can seem more than a bit overwhelming.

One of the most frustrating things is that there are so many different methods. One person tells you to do one thing, while another person tells you to do another thing.

In one of my courses, Amazing Niche Marketing, I even suggest doing away with keyword research altogether (JUST for that method). The fact of the matter is that the results many keyword tools deliver is out of date and can only be counted on to be a very, very rough estimate of the actual search counts.

That doesn’t mean I totally ditch keyword research! It just means that in some instances (a new product release, for example) it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to rely on tools that aren’t going to give you an accurate count.

With that said, keyword research definitely has its place when you’re trying to decide on a niche, choose a profitable keyword, etc.

So, what’s my method?

For the longest time, I used Market Samurai. These days, I often turn straight to the source itself — the Google Adwords Keyword tool. That’s the method I’m going to discuss today, because it’s freely accessible.

To access the tool, go here: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

I’m going to assume you already have a general niche narrowed down. One of the first steps might be to examine the keywords Google sees as being MOST relevant, according to a top site in your niche.

This might make the most sense if I show you an example:

Let’s say that I wanted to do a site based around organic tomato gardening.

First, I would do a search in Google for Organic Tomato Gardening.

The site that comes up first for me is: http://www.tomatogardeningguru.com

I’m going to go ahead and plug that into the Google Keyword Tool, to see which keywords it deems as being most relevant.

Next, I set the keyword counts to exact match. This gives estimates for how often people search for that exact phrase.

Then, I examine the search counts and determine if anything “looks good.”

Many ask me what my exact figures are for what I consider to be a decent keyword — I don’t have an exact cut-off number. It depends on a variety of things. For instance, if I’m creating an Amazon affiliate site and I come across a product there that is selling like gangbusters and yet it doesn’t have a high exact match search count in Google, I am NOT going to stop pursuing that keyword. You have to use all evidence available to you when it comes to things like this.

However, for those who demand a solid number they can hold on to, let’s say a good search count is at least 1,000 search per month on exact match.

Let’s examine the search counts for the keywords Google found me from the popular organic tomato growing site.

(remember to sort by Global Monthly Searches)

Now, I’m in marketing to make money. Therefore, I’m interested in choosing keywords that are not only getting searches, but are also leading to purchases.

A great indicator of commercial intent of a keyword is the “advertising competition”, which are those green bars you see above. That gives me an idea of how many people are PAYING to show up for those keywords, with their Adwords ads.

At first glance, I am most interested in “heirloom tomato seeds” because I see a lot of great commercial intent. If people are paying for a spot, imagine how much I could earn with a free, top listing in the natural search results!

There are also 1900 exact match searches, which isn’t shabby. When you add in all the broad and phrase match searches that are bound to come your way, it’s an even better bet.

Of course, you can’t try to rank for a keyword without also examining the competing pages. One of the most popular methods is putting the keyword into quotes and seeing what pops up, featuring that exact phrase. This is an unreliable method, however. It’s not always a good measure of what your true competition is.

Examining competition also comes down to just LOOKING at the results that are in the top 10. Are they authority sites? They will likely be hard to beat. Are they dinky little affiliate sites? Those are pretty easy to beat. Are they from sites like Squidoo, Hugpages or EzineArticles? Those are usually easy to beat as well.

This should give you a solid foundation for sure! Get started with your keyword research — just don’t get too wrapped up in the details. The most important thing is that you take action!