I see questions about keyword research sometimes so I thought I would share some methods that I use from time to time. First off, you can use a free tool like Google?s to get some ideas started. WebCEO is also a good one. Note that just coming up with keyword ideas does not constitute ?research?. I see places all over the internet where people ask how keyword research should be performed and others give a simple answer of ?use the Google Keyword tool?. If you are just downloading words from this tool, you aren't doing any research. There are a couple of methods that I like to use that draw out the true competitiveness of a phrase based on information from other sources. I have used some of these in contract work that has proved successful. Some formulations give you just the right keywords that still have a moderate amount of volume however they aren't the most competitive ones in the niche. One that is particularly easy to use is the KEI method. The Keyword Effectiveness Index measures the demand of a particular keyword phrase against the number of web pages that use it in their copy. Demand for any given keyword is further broken down into a daily amount or in other words, the daily global searches for the keyword. The formula is expressed as ((MS/30)) ^ 2/C where MS represents monthly searches and C represents competition. Monthly searches are first divided by 30 or MS/30. That number is then squared or multiplied by itself and then divided by whatever the competition is. For example if the monthly global searches for ?cell phones? were 30,000 we would divide this number by 30 which would give us 1,000 daily searches. Squaring this number gives us 1,000,000. Say our competition for this phrase is 2 million web pages. 1,000,000/2,000,000 = 0.5 or the KEI ratio for this keyword phrase. KEI Ratios can be interpreted as such: < 0.001 = ineffective keyword 0.001-0.010 = A Good Keyword 0.010-0.100+ = A Fantastic Keyword This link explains the KEI method, Results to searches is tedious but it can offer some insights into your chosen list of keywords. It will show you words that are moderately competitive with high search volume. WebCEO software can do this for you but it?s a paid subscription. If you don?t want to buy that, you can do it by hand. It isn?t so bad as long as you aren?t doing dozens and dozens of keywords at once. First enter or select suggested search terms from the Google keyword tool. Then download your CSV file. Phase 2 ? Finding best keyword opportunities You will have to look up competition for the keywords by typing them into Google and copying the number found at the top of SERP?s next to the amount of time it took to generate the results. Paste that number into the next available column of your spread sheet. Note: Search the keyword in Google without quotes (its debatable as to whether or not you should use quotes however I believe you end up with a more comprehensive result when using broad match). The number of results = the Competition. Create another tab or sheet in your excel file. Copy and paste all keywords from the orginal sheet into the first column. Label the next two columns ?results? and ?R/S Ratio?. Place cursor in top cell in Results Column of keyword spreadsheet Use VLOOKUP function to transfer Competition data to Results column (this is data you enter into excel when prompted) Lookup_Value = entire keyword column of keyword spreadsheet (A) 3 Table_Array = both columns of DATA spreadsheet (A&B) Col_Index_Num = 2 [Range_Lookup] = false Copy VLOOKUP formula to every 1 and 2 ranked keyword in the spreadsheet (drag the top cell down column to repeat function automatically) Place cursor in Results/Searches column to calculate this number Perform simple excel formula to divide the Results by Local Search Volume for the keyword. Copy this formula to every 1 and 2 ranked keyword in the spreadsheet (drag the top cell down column to repeat function automatically). Custom Sort all data by Results, smallest to largest. Highlight Results â‰¤ 1,000,000. Custom Sort all data by R/S, smallest to largest. Highlight R/S numbers â‰¤ 500. Highlight any keywords that meet both Results and R/S criteria. They are best opportunities. Custom sort all data by Local searches, largest to smallest ? A higher search volume=best Other Methods Keyword research doesn't always have to be technical with the use of mathematics and fancy online tools. Sometimes you can get valuable information from the people that are actually searching for what you are selling. Try surveys or actually talking to a subset of customers to learn what words they typically use to search for products/services that you may offer. Use your Google Analytics, Web Master Tools or other analytics platform installed on your website to find keywords that people have been using to find your site. These are perhaps the most powerful phrases because it shows that people used them and actually clicked through to look at your site after searching. Look at what your competitors are doing. Many web masters still use the meta keywords tag on their site. Take a look at your closest competitors and see what they are using for keywords on their site. You just might discover that they are targeting terms you hadn't thought were valuable or even thought about at all. Are there any methods that you have used in your SEO work aside from these? Have you found one method to be the best out of many others?