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Advanced Keyword Research Guide Including SECockpit SEMRush and MarketMuse Reviews

Keyword Research is incredibly important for the creation of a profitable website. It is a fundamental skill that the better you are at it the more success you will have. 

To that end I have pulled on every resource/connection I have to create the best guide on Advanced Keyword Research.​

What You Will Learn in This Post:

  1. ​The exact 13 step procedure used by the content marketing service ContentRefined for KW research
  2. The 3 tools that are critical for advanced keyword research
  3. A free KW research option
  4. See how a DEEP expert Ewen does it in a over the shoulder video

​Learn more from Ewen by signing up for his list here!

One Big Takeaway Not Talked About Before - Keyword Competition / Keyword Difficulty is still measured by metrics such as Keyword in Title/URL and Backlink Metrics but now with tools such as MarketMuse you can analytically measure competition by the competitions content score! (I will review this in more detail below)

Ewen is the source of a LOT of the information in this post and is an absolute expert when it comes to keyword research for content sites and his Q4 earnings reflect that!

This post allows you to go beyond the Google keyword planner and dig deep to find the long-tail keyword that will help you find your target audience and win in the search engines

The SEO chat with Ewen also helps reveal how to use the best keyword research tool to develop your SEO strategy.​

Mortgage Crushing Module Learning Outcome

If you are following along on the Mortgage Crushing Competition to learn How to Make a  Website that makes money in 2017 then by the end of this module you should...

Take the top 1-3 ideas you identified using the Blue Ocean strategy in Module 1 and complete keyword research on them to validate if there are keywords that meet the metrics listed in this section​

Keyword Research Procedure:

Save Time & Money Using ContentRefined for KW Research and Content Creation

Below is the keyword process and procedure used for the content marketing service ContentRefined.com. As always you can do the exact same process yourself and I share EVERYTHING but if you want to save time/money and not buy the expensive tools you can have Content Refined create content for your site following these keyword research guidelines. 

Solid and concise Keyword research is likely the most important and crucial process for Content Refined. It’s the second point of contact that we have with our clients, and if we don’t nail it, the whole Content Refined order can feel like an uphill battle.

This is why we’ve spent a lot of time and resources trying to execute the best procedure possible to ensure that we equip our client’s with the best keywords out there for the content they’ve hired us to write for their sites. Although we are always seeking to improve this keyword research process is delivering a lot of high ranking content. Keep reading for details on how to do this yourself using our Content Refined Process!

SEcockpit

Thanks to Ewan, we started using a great tool called SECockpit.

There are quite few things that make SEcockpit different (and in my opinion better) than competing tools.

The core of what I like is that because of the ability to slice into one keyword theme deeper it provides the ability to complete deeper market research and doesn't simply focus on finding 1 great keyword. ​

  • It moves away from the “Seed Keyword” model as you can select appending and prepending words in your search criteria
  • It give you the opportunity to go after Keywords in different search engines such as Amazon and Youtube, which can be super advantageous depending on your niche
  • It provides a comprehensive keyword analysis for every keyword which will give you insight on a ton of different metrics such as
    • Top 10 URLs ranking for that keyword
    • Competition based on page-level metrics like Title/URL
    • Competition based on backlink metrics such as PA/DA/# of links etc

How SEcockpit fits into our Content Refined Procedure

To get into the nitty gritty of how Secockpit works, and how we’ve used it to systematize our keyword research, check out step by step procedure how SEcockpit works

Step 1:

Login to SEcockpit and go to the dashboard and click on the Key symbol to search for your first keyword.

Step 2:

This is where it gets interesting. Type in a Keyword of your choice and look at your options.

I instruct my team to select the Google Adwords ideas that are closely related and to select Append Prepend, and Add Words in Between. This increases our chances of coming across a great related keyword

Step 3:

Then, you’ll want to figure out who your audience is. Is your client or audience based in North America? We have quite a few clients in the UK and in Europe who aren’t looking for North American Keywords because they aren’t relevant the their market. It’s really important to select the right location that will be relevant for their rankings.

Step 4:

Then we have a couple of more search options that we generally don’t use too much unless we’re looking for a keyword to rank in Youtube which hasn’t happened yet for Content Refined

Step 5:

Make sure you’ve inputted your keyword and that you’ve selected your search criteria and then click on Save and Close for the search to begin!

Step 6:

This is where my team sort of customizes things. Our metrics are pretty specific and they are based off of experience. We go after keywords that have 1000+ Monthly Searches and that are under 30% competition. SEcockpit is great for this because they have a filtering tool that will eliminate anything that doesn’t meet our metric.

This metric is simply used because we’ve seen the most success with keywords that fit within these parameters. If client’s prefer to use their own metrics, we will of course abide by that.

Monthly Search Volume Filter: > 1000

Competition Score: < 30%

Then, as you can see here below, we have our comprehensive list of keywords that meet our metrics:

Step 7:

So this is where you need to do some more digging. With this view, it looks like all of these keywords are great, but you need to click on the keyword to view a full keyword analysis which will give you more information to help you determine if it’s a viable keyword for your article.

Let’s look at the Keyword “Charcoal Pills” which has 40,500 monthly searches and only 17.25% competition score. This generally looks like a pretty golden keyword and at first glance it looks like a no-brainer to go after it.

With this comprehensive Keyword Analysis, the top 2 things that we look at is the DA ( Domain Authority and the Top 10 websites. As you can see below, the DA is really high, which means that the competing websites are ranking very well and getting a ton of traffic according to google.

If our client’s site or your site you are building is not already an authority site in it’s space (which in general, most are not ), then it would be a bad idea to go after this keyword for them because their domain will not be able to compete with the authority domain in that space. For example in this case WebMD and other very well known sites in the space

We don't know the secret sauce in the Algorithm that SECockpit uses but I believe they under-value DA and you need to do a manual check on the competition to see that a site like yours can compete in the top 10 (more on that in the next step). 

Step 8:

What we do is take a look at the two lower DA’s and have a look at their site to see if we can outrank them for this keyword.

To do this we generally use the tool MarketMuse to analyze the content score of the URL and top 10 pages we want to beat to see if its a soft market. 

In general we would like to see a keyword with...

  • SECockpit score of under 30
  • Identify several similar sites in the top 10 (usually most easily identified with low DA)
  • Market Muse score under 20​ for sites we think we can beat (in this example there are many low content scores but for sites Google is not going to rank us in front of for this type of search term). 

Based on this analysis there are only 2 URLs in the top 10 with DA scores below 70 and they are both reasonably high at approximately 50. In addition the Market Muse content quality score is definitely beatable but isn't wide open. 

Step 9:

Let’s try another keyword on the list, here I’ve chosen a Keyword that was provided to us by the tool based off of the “closely related words” function of the search criteria.

Keyword: Activated Carbon Filter- which has 5400 Monthly Searches and has a competition score of 27.39

When we click on it for the Analysis, we can see right away that this will be a more viable option to go after than the last keyword as the DA for the competing sites are lower in general.

Here, I have checked a couple of the Domains and I have determined that I can definitely compete with a few of these sites as their DA is low and ContentScore according to MarketMuse is below 20. This isn’t to say that they won’t be hard to beat, but they are not out of our reach and they are a similar site as the one we have. I’m confident that with the use of SEcockpit, I’m able to find the best keyword using its rankings, but also it’s analysis on who/how other’s are using this keyword in their niche.

Step 10:

Now that we have our Keyword (Activated Carbon Filter), we want to make sure that we create great content that is rich with other related keywords and Content Depth. The higher we can rank for related keywords and the more relevant topics we cover, the better our article is going to rank on google.

For this, we’ve invested in a tool called Marketmuse. What I like to do before I assign my content to my writers is do a Marketmuse Analysis on the Keyword and Topic.

Here, I’ve created an Article title using my Keyword - How an Activated Carbon Filter Works

Step 11:

Next, I’m going to take my Post Title and I’m going to plug it into Marketmuse like this

  1. I’m going to plug in Post Title 
  2. I’m going to Plug in my Keyword at the Top as the Focus Topic 
  3. And then I’m going to click the button beside the focus topic box ( It will be an Analyze button before you click it- don’t click stop unless you’ve noticed that you’ve inputted an error)

Step 12:

Now we have our full analysis which will give us a good indication of what the “Market Value” of this keyword is in terms of online content. See below for the breakdown

In the screenshot:

Step 1: If you look at the circled section, these are some key indicators of what your content should be scoring. Personally, I find the “Best Content Score Target” Is pretty inaccurate because I feel as though the “Best Content” is often manipulated. This is why we try and aim above average. In this case, we want to be above 18 ( so generally between 20-25) for our content score with this article.

Step 2: Average word count target is a good indication of how long an article should be.

There are times that I will get back to a Content Refined client who has ordered 8 articles ( who by rule of thumb are 1000 words each article) and I’ve asked if they would rather make their articles longer and fewer ( for example 2 articles at 2000 words and then 4 articles at 1000 words). This is for this exact purpose - to optimize their marketmuse score so that their articles are more valuable in the eyes of google. The longer the article is, the better your article’s market value is going to be on the internet.

Step 3: Marketmuse give us a list of related topics and Keywords which will really help when it comes to assigning articles to a writer. What I do, is just click on the copy button and you can paste the related keywords into the article brief you send to your writer. I generally like to instruct my writers to use as many of the related keywords and topics as possible.

This not only increases it’s chances of getting high scores, but it also makes the article more interesting and broad. With this keyword topic for example, the writer might choose to talk about adsorption capacity as a topic in their article, which they might not have thought of by themselves. It’s just a really good way to make sure the topic is being fully covered in the article to make it a useful article.

Step 13:

That’s pretty much it! You’re done!

Now this wouldn’t be a good blog post without mentioning some of the downsides to our tools:

SEcockpit:

PROSCONS
Provides niche validationI can't copy/paste from the interface... very minor but drives me nuts! 
Appending, prepending and in between words SearchIt seems to be down for maintenance quite a bit
Amazon and Youtube searchIt’s relatively expensive ( This tool costs us about 80 dollars a month to use)
Comprehensive keyword analysis
Insight on competition factors

Marketmuse:

PROSCONS
Identifies low quality content opportunitiesIt’s REALLY expensive ( costs up to $495/MONTH and you have to sign up for 6 months)
Identifies High Quality content in a quantifiable way
Provides relevant keywords and topics to help guide your writers
Provides insight on how to improve existing content
Helps standardize quality
Helps you rank based on relevancy which is compatible with google’s Hummingbird algorithms

In conclusion, with the help of these tools, we’ve essentially been able to create a process that allows us to find the Best Keywords to go after, understand who our competition is, and equip our writers with an analysis of their topic that will allow them to create and submit useful, top quality content better then the page 1 competition.

Hopefully you feel like you understand the process and have access to the same tools that we have to crush out amazing content for your site. If the price tag of these tools looks a little scary to you, you can always save money/time with testing out our Content Refined Service!

For a very reasonable cost/article ratio while reaping the benefits of the tools we use, you won’t be losing! Check out our page here for more details or reach out to maddie@contentrefined for additional information.

Free Keyword Research Tool

If the price point of the previously mentioned tools or ContentRefined makes this process a little out of reach there is an alternative that is free! 

SEMRush's "SEO Keyword Magic" tool can be used with a free account and produces some solid results!

The challenge is SEMRush will only generate closely related keywords with the main keyword in it. However, with the filtering options available for Search Volume and KD (keyword difficulty) it can produce some great results.

Other quality tools include Long Tail Pro, Market Samurai (not recommended) and Keyword Snatcher, both can be great but I find SECockpit is the best advanced tool. 

See the 2 step process below to get some solid keywords. ​

Summary

Here are the key takeaways from this training...

  • KW research should go beyond just identifying a single keyword but validate their is a demand for your idea
  • Checking the top 10 manually to see that competitors similar to you are already ranking is still critical
  • SECockpit underestimates DA in its competition analysis
  • Looking at both content and backlink competitiveness is important (MarketMuse helps with this)
  • Advanced tools are expensive but decent free alternatives are also available

Tools mentioned (not all are affiliate links)...

  1. Keyword Research = SECockpit
  2. Keyword Research = SEMRush (decent free option as an alternative)
  3. Content Analysis = MarketMuse
  4. Done for you content marketing service with included keyword research service ContentRefined.com

Special thanks to Ewen for both his help and taking the time to share his expertise in the video above. You can learn more from him by signing up to his list here.

If we have a TON of interest and questions asked in the comments below we will setup a free webinar to answer the questions live. ​

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

7 comments
Kwame Owusu says January 18, 2017

Hi, Jon,

Great article. Is there a good, more affordable alternative for those who can’t afford Marketed use?

Reply
Roman says January 20, 2017

Hi Jon,

I think these tools are too expensive, you can do the same with keysearch and keyword finder. Especially when the method is the same when you are looking for keywords with a score of under 30. What do you think, have you been testing other tools?

Thanks,
Roman

Reply
Jason says January 23, 2017

Great article Jon and Ewin! I would love to hear more about his content layout and how that produces results without any backlinking. Honestly I suck at outreach. 🙂

Reply
Andrew says January 24, 2017

Very comprehensive, great overview! But what if I like to target other languages than English, e.g. French. I see that SEcockpit is multilingual but MarketMuse pretends to only support English. Any ideas/alternatives for analyzing the content value?

Reply
Barbara DiLucchio says February 3, 2017

I am really interested in learning about this method of key research. It really sounds thorough.

Reply
Christian says April 25, 2017

Had a demo with Market Muse after reading this post and I’m on the fence about getting it. $500/mo is steep but the software is awesome..

Your process is sweet! Trying to find a way to scale this a little bit more too.

Reply
Viktor Holas says August 7, 2017

Hi,

Great post! Just one question. How to proceed with keyword research when you launch the product which is a new on the market and there is no keywords to start with research. This is a very specific product. I had in my mind one idea (using another marketing channels like facebook to get awareness about product) but this is very expensive. So I dont know how to start with low cost strategy. Any idea?

Cheers,
Viktor

Reply
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