SEO Keyword Research “Lite”

SEO Keyword Research “Lite”

SEO Keyword Research “Lite”

July 17, 2021 Zack Barton No Comments Business SEO Web

Are you new to the world of SEO keyword research, or have you gotten tired of the time-consuming standard process required to optimize each webpage? In the traditional method, professional keyword research costs several hours or more for a single page. Recently, a client of ours reached out to us asking for a more cost-effective approach to keyword research that would produce effective results to boost website traffic. Now announcing: the SEO keyword research “lite” method.

The Method

Have you delved into the world of keyword research, working hard for several hours… only to find that you completed the process for just a single page of your website? Keyword research is a world of its own within SEO (for an overview of keyword research basics, read our recent article here). It’s not uncommon to spend more than four hours researching relevant keywords for one webpage – that is, under the traditional tool-based method for keyword research.

Most organizations’ websites require keyword research on such a broad scale that the standard process is too complicated and time-consuming. Additionally, brands attempting to rank for the “best” SEO keywords according to search tools are working against top competitors who are using the same tools.

Recently, we found ourselves looking for another solution that would provide excellent results to our clients at a much faster rate. We have now formulated a new effective strategy for keyword research that significantly trims down the initial time investment.

Whether you are new to the world of SEO or have been doing keyword research for years, implementing what we call the “lite” approach to keyword research has the potential to boost high-quality website traffic exponentially. What’s the key? Instead of relying on expensive tools that can require extensive time to learn and use, rely on… your brain.

The Basics

Anyone who has spent time conducting keyword research professionally knows that there are many tools available to help in the process. Through a variety of means, these tools predict what keywords will be relevant to your website and how reasonable it would be for your site to rank for them.

We have used these in the past and found them very effective but at the cost of significant time investment per page. Even then, until we were able to monitor the results, it was hard to determine if these tools were accurately predicting each search term’s “search volume.”

Don’t get hung up on the tools

When a client came to us asking for an accurate keyword research process that would be much faster than the traditional approach, we experimented with multiple tools and researched other methods of keyword research. Over time, we developed a new strategy for keyword research to compare with our tried and true (but time-intensive) tool-based methodology.

Breaking away from a tool-heavy approach allowed us to spend more time brainstorming a quality list of keywords whose accuracy could then be verified through one or two basic tools. We discovered that our natural inclinations and predictions of relevant search queries for a specific page were accurate, and perhaps more accurate, than those generated by keyword research tools.

In the rest of this article, we will outline this method’s process and show its effectiveness through real client studies. Let’s start by taking a look at what the process could look like for a specific webpage.

The Process

Start by brainstorming relevant search terms for your specific webpage. First, you will need to summarize a topic for your specific page or article. For this example, let’s say we are looking for keywords for an article on “Redesigning Your Office Space in 2021.” In this case, the topic would be, “office design.” Next comes brainstorming keyword search terms and phrases by putting yourself in the shoes of the customer or client you want to be viewing this particular page.

Step One: Think like a Google user

Mindset: Imagine that you are your customer or client. Ask yourself the following questions, taking notes as you go: (Answers are related to the example topic, “office design.”)

— Who needs this content? 
— Small business owners, start-up companies, nonprofit organizations, interior designers, corporations, etc.

— What is it that they would be looking for?
— Looking for a fresh office layout, keys to keeping costs down, strategies to stay current with design, etc.

— What is it that they think they need?
— More energy at work, better appearance to clients/customers, enhanced productivity from employees/coworkers, etc.

— What would they search for to find the content you are presenting on this page?
— Office redesign, office design, cheap ways to enhance work productivity, ideal office layout, etc.

Step Two: Brainstorm a Keyword List

Start by familiarizing yourself with the page’s content and taking note of key phrases and terms. Ask yourself what query a Google user would type in a search bar to find this page of your website. The goal is to formulate a list of keywords that people are likely using already, so you can be confident that your page is being optimized with popular, relevant keywords. In the next step, these keywords will be refined and tested for accuracy to find those that are most relevant for real Google users.

As you brainstorm, rely primarily on your brain to generate ideas. Keyword research tools will be there to assist if you come to a stopping point, but they should not be depended on to generate relevant terms. Here are some helpful tips to get you started as you build your own list. (Check out our article on brainstorming keyword search terms for even more tips on this phase.)

Using Related searches in Google for SEO keyword research ideas

Use suggested searches. Try searching for your page’s topic and scroll down to the end of the first SERP. There you will see “Related searches,” which will show you several more ideas of keywords and content inspiration that are being searched for by real Google users. Above is an example related to our page topic.

Viewing browser history for SEO keyword research ideas

Look at your browser history in Google. It could be that you searched for something fairly similar recently. If so, examine what terms you used when you were the user. What did you search for? How did you write it? What was it like to not know the answer to these questions? Reviewing your previous searches will be an easy way to put yourself in the place of someone searching on Google.

Using Google Autocomplete for SEO keyword research ideas

Let Google display autocomplete searches by beginning to type a keyword phrase. For example, typing in “office design” will display a dropdown of popular searches including these words. In addition, try searching for your term followed by another letter to further refine results (type “office design a” and view Google’s search suggestions, such as “office design app” or “office design and productivity”). Enter each letter of the alphabet to see up to 26 different lists of suggestions. 

Google SERP with Keywords Everywhere plugin enabled

If you’re stuck, try a keyword research tool such as Keywords Everywhere for additional ideas. First, visit the Keywords Everywhere website and enable it for your device. Then search for a specific keyword and see the tool’s suggestions listed in “People Also Search For.”

Searching Redding for SEO keyword research ideas

Search for the following in Google: “{keyword} Reddit.” Click on relevant threads to view others’ discussions and be inspired by the terms they use. It may yield more key search term ideas, also giving you insight into the specific questions people are asking regarding this topic: questions you can answer through your site’s content.

Step Three: Verify Your Keyword List

Now that you have spent quality time brainstorming ideas, it’s time to verify that these keywords could be reasonably ranked for by your webpage. What’s the use of optimizing your page for a keyword that your website could never rank for? By comparing against your competitors first, you will be able to identify which keywords will give you the best results for your pages.

To conduct a quick competitive analysis for a specific keyword, you’ll first need to download a keywords tool (MozBar is commonly used and featured in the screenshots below). Start by checking the domain authority of your own webpage so you know where you stand against your competition.

Enter one of your keywords into the search bar with the MozBar on, and scroll through the first page of results to view the domain authority of each ranking result on the first page. What do you notice for this specific keyword? Are there any results on this page with domain authority at a similar or lower level to yours?

Here are some more questions to consider in this phase as you narrow your list of brainstormed keywords to those you will attempt to rank for.

· Does this keyword seem like something people would search for?

· Do the top five search results have a lower domain authority (and page authority) than your website and page?

· Is the content that you would use these keywords for able to outperform what is currently showing in the top five search results? (Note: If they are Quora or Yahoo Answers forum type of pages, these are known to have low page authority and can be surpassed.)

· Tip: Consider the length of the articles ranking for those keywords. If, for example, top articles have 1,000 words, it may be helpful to write an article that is 2,500 words to increase your chances of outranking them.

Continue this process for each of your brainstormed keywords until you find one that your specific page could compete for in the first page of results. Once you have checked Google SERPs to ensure that your domain authority is higher than those you’re wanting to surpass in the search results, you can strategically place this keyword into your content to strengthen high-quality traffic to your site.

Using MozBar to validate keywords in Google

You will be well on your way to strengthening your keyword research strategy at a much faster rate than a standard tool-based approach. In the process, you have gotten more familiar with your audience and what they consider valuable about your brand, which can be used to strengthen your marketing efforts.

The Results

You might be wondering: how do we know this method is effective? After trying and testing this method for one of our clients, we have seen webpages reach the first SERP for their selected keyword. In one case, we gauged the effectiveness of our method by tracking the performance of two pages: one that we optimized according to this “lite” keyword research method and one that we had not yet optimized. The page we optimized received 352 organic visits, getting over twice the amount of organic traffic and over 11 times the amount of organic revenue. Here are the numbers over the same time period for each page: 

The page we optimized:
· 5247 page views, 352 of which were organic
· Roughly $35,000 in product revenue, nearly 10% of which was from organic sales

The page we did not optimize:
· 2078 page views, 164 of which were organic
· Several thousand in product revenue, almost $300 of which was from organic sales

In another study for the same client, we compared the effectiveness of this new method and the standard tool-based method for keyword research. Selecting 10 fairly similar products from this client’s website, we optimized 5 according to the “lite” SEO keyword research method and optimized 5 using the standard approach with a prominent SEO keyword research tool. The results would tell us if this faster, more cost-efficient method would bring greater reward for our clients. Here’s what we found:

All five pages we optimized according to the “lite” method are currently ranking for their selected keyword, and did so within the first two weeks. None of the Moz method products did, however.

One of these product pages ranked in the fourth position for its keyword, another ranked first for its chosen term.

Four also are now appearing in the Google Image pack.

In terms of Organic Traffic (After 14 Days)

5 “Lite Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of  +89.07% per page
· And a combined total increase of +445.36%

5 “Moz Method” Pages:
· Saw an average decrease of -35.79% per page
· And a combined total decrease of -178.97%

In terms of Organic Revenue (After 14 Days)

5 “Lite Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of +42.96% per page
· And a combined total increase of +214.81%

5 “Moz Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of 0.00% per page
· And a combined total increase of 0.00%

In terms of Organic Traffic (After 28 Days)

The “Lite Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of +11.84% per page
· And a combined total increase of +59.19%

The “Moz Method” Pages:
· Saw an average decrease of -2.78% per page
· And a combined total decrease of -5.55%

In terms of Organic Revenue (After 28 Days)

The “Lite Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of +44.11% per page
· And a combined total increase of +220.57%

The “Moz Method” Pages:
· Saw an average increase of 0.00% per page
· And a combined total increase of 0.00%

Both of these comparisons revealed that not only did the new method save time – and money – for our clients, but it increased their product revenue and site traffic significantly. Through this trial run, we discovered that not only is the “lite” method effective, but it is preferable to the traditional time-intensive methods of SEO keyword research. Perhaps the tried and true standard method for keyword research is no longer the best option.


In reality, you know your target audience, your brand’s message, and what your website’s pages better than any keyword research tool. This makes you the best tool for keyword research tailored to your website. We encourage you to try the “lite” method of keyword research and let us know if you found it effective for your website.

As you go through this process, let us know of any questions you have as well as your experiences. If you would like more advice on this keyword research process or in any SEO strategy, we would be happy to help.