Finding keywords can be a tricky and expensive task, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you have a brand new website, there are still many things that you can do to improve your chances of ranking.
This article will discuss keyword research hacks to help you find long-tail, low competition keywords, and particularly keywords that are likely to be searched for by users (kind of crucial!).
Of course, keywords are only part of the equation when it comes to getting traffic or ranking higher in Google, but they are our key focus today. If you get it wrong, you can be writing merrily for years and never have a chance of ranking.
If you use Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner tool, it will show you an estimate of the search volume.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to do that, but keywords for your SEO should be much more targeted.
Also, when starting with a new website, the volume isn’t nearly as important as the competition in your niche.
The problem with keyword research tools
I have found that keyword research tools often say there is no search volume for the query you want to use. However, these can often give you really good results.
But where do you find them if the most popular (and expensive) keyword research tools won’t’ help?
Also, you can be fooled by keyword research tools when you see there are, say, only 10 websites ranking for this keyword. However, if they are the biggest websites in your niche, you still have zero chance of ranking.
How to find low-competition keywords free
If you have been working on your website for a while, do not roll your eyes when I say that the answer lies in Google Autocomplete.
I appreciate you may think you’ve heard it all before, but keep reading in case you made some of the mistakes or missed some of the important details that I did.
How to use Google Autocomplete properly for keyword research
I had used this method before but didn’t quite get it right. You would think it’s so simple you can’t screw it up! But I totally did.
It was thanks to one of my buddies in the Wealthy Affiliate community sharing his process for ranking in a super-competitive niche (fitness) that enabled me to finally get it! (Thank you, Partha! Click here if you want to read it for yourself.)
The beauty of Google Autocomplete is that it reveals search terms that real people are searching for now!
Here are some things you must do:
- Make sure you are in ‘incognito’ mode. You do this by clicking on the lines a the top of your browser and selecting ‘open new private window’. If you don’t do this it will show the most popular things YOU have been searching for!
- Set your browser to search for the country you most want to target. The biggest audience is in the U.S. so switch to that in Google unless you are targeting your own country (or already live in the U.S.!). You do this by doing into setting on Google, then advanced settings, then click on Region settings, select the country you want, and click save.
- Start by entering a broad keyword into Google Autocomplete and see what comes up. You may get an idea that you can drill down into and find great topics.
- In any case, continue with the ‘alphabet soup’ method (see below) to get more ideas.
- Once you have finished this, do the same exercise with the letter in a different place (e.g. if researching keyword research, you could put ‘keyword a research’ instead of ‘keyword research a’) – you will be amazed at what appears!
- Once you have done all this, start over and put ‘Why keyword research’ followed by the alphabet soup technique again
- Check the results as you go!
The results for entering banana loaf c in the alphabet soup method
Adding ‘why’ at the start returns loads more searches. If they won’t work as your main keyword you could still rank for some of these either using them in a heading or in the body of your post.
If you are thinking this is going to be very time-consuming, you are right! But, anything worth doing is worth doing well. The alternative is getting it wrong for too long, then having to come back and start over with this method (like I did!). If you are totally strapped for time but have some cash, you could get someone to do this for you on
How do you decide what is the right keyword?
Had I checked the competition before I wrote my first 40 or so blog posts, they would never have gotten written! As it stands, I have some great content that won’t rank until I’m dead!
I trusted the keyword research tools (like most newbies) and believed when it said they were low competition.
Think twice about your choice of keyword if the results show:
- The entire first page of Google shows lots of mature, authority sites with high domain authority (DA)
- Excellent, in-depth, long-form posts that answer the query
The keyword is a winner if:
- There are some low authority sites ranking on page one. (You can check on a free DA checker.)
- If the keyword of some of those on page one isn’t exactly the same as yours (just check the URL)
- Some of the results are forums like Quora or Reddit
- If the posts are short, poorly written, or don’t cover the topic in-depth
If there are no relevant returns on your search, either there is no competition and you have struck gold or there really is no one searching for that term which wouldn’t be good.
Common sense will play a part in this. If you have an interest in your niche (which hopefully you do!), and you know that someone will be searching for this, go for it!
If I get the right keywords will I have to build backlinks?
When your website is in its first few months of existence, it is imperative that your time is spent on getting as much content out as you can as quickly as possible.
If you have a budget to hire a writer that’s great! But if (like most people starting out) you are doing it on a shoestring, your focus must be on content creation. This is what will move the needle.
Linkbuilding is very time-consuming so my recommendation is that you park that until you have a few posts ranking.
Essentially, you get 2 benefits of this type of keyword research.
1. It lets you rank a new website much more quickly than the traditional way of finding keywords
2. It is not dependent on you having any links to your website
For me, the Google Autosuggest tool is hands down the best method for new websites.
Might you want to move on to a paid tool once you are ranking? You might – most bloggers and SEO specialists at the top of their game do.
However, the guys from Income School don’t and both they and their students seem to drive more traffic than most to their sites using this method.
Finally, bear in mind that new websites typically don’t see any traffic for the first 6 months. However, by adopting this strategy, you give yourself the very best chance of getting ranked soon after and earning traffic that will compound over time.
Are there any methods that have worked well for you when you first started out? If so, please share them in the comments below.
10 thoughts on “Keyword Research Hacks For New Websites”
You do have good tips and tricks that we can use for keyword research and how to look for long-tail, words. We are glad to see that this helps others looking for more topics and keywords to target. Getting traffic is a plus if you rank for longtail keywords and on the first page.
Thank you MnD!
Great post JEAN! I did the same mistake at the beginning of my blogging venture. I didn’t care about the competition. How wrong was I. Even though there are some guys with young websites (1-3 years old) outranking some of the giants, it is very rare. I agree, that one should ALWAYS!! double check the real Google first page with the term and then decide if the keyword is worth of writing or not. Also, you mentioned DA as indicator, I heard that this might be replaced by DR (Ahref)Do you have experience with that?
Thanks for the great feedback! As I understand it, DA is calculated by MOZ and includes lots of factors including backlinks, and gives an indication of the potential of a website ranking on page one of Google. DR is calculated by Ahrefs and focuses on the quality of your backlinks Vs the number of backlinks (I think!). DR also helps to quantify how a domain will rank.
Personally, I prefer DA but only because my own site ranks much higher for DA than DR!
O my gosh! This article makes total sense. It appears that I too have also gotten it wrong with my blogging website in terms of my keywords and ranking. Thanks for the step-by-step explanation. My only question is about what if anything one can do to salvage previous posts? My guess is …..possibly nothing!! (:-) The only consolation is that a lot of “content” has already been created.
Need to move ahead with this strategy.
That was exactly my reaction when I somewhat belatedly discovered my error!
As far as changing existing content, you definitely wouldn’t want to mess with existing URLs but you could always add in a few of the ‘tiny’ keywords you find going forward if they would be a good fit.
Hi Jean, thank you for sharing these really useful tips on keyword research. I must admit I’ve been using Google Autocomplete, but not in incognito mode! Now I realise why all my previous searches are showing! Also, I didn’t realise you could specify a country in your searches. Low competition keywords using the DA indicator is a great idea, and I’ve saved this free tool for future use.
Yes, I did that too (no going incognito – I thought everyone was searching for the same things lol). I love that DA indicator tool (I just need to stop checking my own every other day as it doesn’t change that often.)
I quote from your article: “Set your browser to search for the country you most want to target”. Can you please expand on how to do this? I usually just make use of a VPN, so if I for example want to target the USA I will just switch on USA VPN.
Your response in this regard will be very helpful and much appreciated! Many thanks!
So, in a Google search page, click on the little cog on the top right-hand side (which takes you to settings). Then click on ‘see all settings’ and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will see a list of all countries so you just tick the box of the country you want to see results for.
I think a VPN might do the same job for you though. It would be interesting to compare in case it doesn’t.