One of the fundamentals of SEO is keyword research. Keyword tools are used by search experts to find keywords to target. Two of the more popular tools are Google AdWords: Keyword Tool and SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool. These type of tools are useful because they tell webmasters how often a keyword is searched. However, they don’t tell you which keywords are sending traffic to a given site.
If you could figure out the traffic-generating keywords of the sites in your niche, wouldn’t that be helpful?
Fortunately, there is a new keyword tool called SEMRush. SEMRush allows you to find the top keywords that are sending traffic to any domain and even specific URLs. More specifically, it searches through a large database of popular keywords and keeps track of the sites that rank in the top 20 results of Google for those keywords. So, whenever you search for a site on SEMRush, it shows you the popular keywords that site ranks for in the top 20 Google results.
The tool costs $25/month but you can export the keyword lists to xls (Excel) and csv. So, you can use it for one month and just export the keyword lists of many sites. All this data should give you enough keywords to target for the next couple of months.
There is a free account but it only shows you 10 keywords and you can only used the tool 10 times an hour.
If you have a newer site or your site doesn’t have a lot of links, I would go after long-tail keyword phrases. These phrases have 3 or more words. These search terms have less competition since less sites are optimizing for them as opposed to shorter phrases.
One tactic is to find sites with similar stats as your site. For example, you could find sites with similar PageRank, Alexa, Compete, or Quantcast scores. Then, research those sites on SEMRush and you’ll have yourself a great keyword list.