Not Your Dad’s Keyword Tool: Advanced Keyword Research Use Cases

Posted by rjonesx.

Historically, keyword research has often been limited to to keyword selection. This is not to say that keyword selection isn’t important; in fact, identifying a small set of keywords to write a piece of content on, or target for a particular page, is still one of the most important skills an SEO should master. However, the maturation of keyword tools has given us far more uses than this singular skill. Unlike tools of the past, we aren’t limited to the standard process of “keyword in, keywords out.” In this post, I hope to show how a keyword tool like Keyword Explorer can be used to accomplish far more than page-level keyword targeting, bringing keyword research out of the realm of mere keyword selection.

Know thyself: What can my site rank for?

The Greek philosopher Plato explained in Phaedrus that it would be silly to investigate things external to him without first knowing the truth about himself. This aphorism is especially true when we consider problems in keyword research where the results returned are only meaningful in the context of our own site. A keyword difficulty score of 60 is meaningless without knowing your current state (perhaps I own Amazon.com and will have no problem ranking for such a term, or perhaps I’m a new site and have no chance). Thus, I believe all keyword research should begin with this simple process of determining your website’s current limits. We’re going to use Keyword Explorer to identify the average keyword difficulty of keywords for which you already rank so you have a benchmark with which to test all future keywords.

Step 1: Exporting data from Google Search Console

I know some of you are already thinking — hey, Russ, didn’t you just write an exposé on how this data in Google Search Console is unreliable? Well, yes, I did. So what? Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. In this case, Google Search Console actually happens to provide more than sufficient information for us to accomplish our goal. The first step is to order your Queries in Search Console by Clicks and choose to show Position as well.

Why GSC? Perhaps you want to use a SERP corpus like SEMRush, SpyFu, or AHrefs for this purpose. I would recommend against it in this case. Using actual clicks
rather than estimated clicks can prevent keywords from showing up in your list for which you have a national presence but are actually rarely seen by users because the term generates a geographically influenced SERP.

Step 2: Export the data and filter for position 4 or better

The goal here is to limit ourselves only to keywords that are in a position to drive traffic. Since our data is already sorted by clicks, our most powerful and valuable keywords are at the top.

Pro tip: You might also choose to exclude branded keywords by filtering out your brand in the keyword column.