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How To Take The Headache Out Of Keyword Research

Written by Anthony Sills

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Let’s admit it:  keyword research can be difficult, and we all wonder sometimes whether it’s worth all the effort.

Can you really figure out what people are searching for and use that knowledge to drive quality traffic to your website?  Can you rank for that keyword and show up on the first page of search results?  What’s the best keyword research tool to use?


It’s enough to give anyone a migraine.

Choosing the proper keywords and using them to build a profitable business may sound like an impossible task. But it doesn’t need to be. You can do basic keyword research using a simple 4-step process.

Follow these keyword research tips and you may find yourself attracting more search traffic than you can deal with.


Smart People Do Keyword Research

OK. You might be asking why you should even bother with keyword research.

The short answer: Search engines are the largest source of web traffic.

Did you know that 92% of people on the Internet use search engines and 59% say they do so at least once a day? There are over 175 billion searches conducted each month worldwide.

The fact is when people are looking for something online they go to a search engine first.

Keyword research helps you identify the exact language the people you’re looking for use when they surf the web.


Keyword research is just discovering the most popular, and most often searched terms in your industry or niche. Customers can find your website easier when you rank highly for these keywords on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

In other words, keyword research is the first step to cutting through the noise and driving qualified leads to your website.

Keyword research is good for more than developing a good keyword list for SEO and PPC. Content marketers use keyword research to identify topics and determine what phrases to use when writing.

So hang on while I explain what to do…


When You Don’t Know Where to Start

People describe things in different ways. The words you use to talk about your business may be different from the words your customers use. That’s why it’s important to use keyword research to determine the actual language people use when they search the web.

Lots of people aren’t doing keyword research or they’re not doing it effectively.

Most people who avoid keyword research do so because they’re confused or overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.

The answer to both of these problems is to approach the problem strategically.


You Don’t Have To Be A Rocket Scientist To Do Keyword Research

Keyword research isn’t just to get more traffic or better SERP position. It’s about understanding your customer and knowing your niche. You can use your research to help you figure out:

  • A profitable niche for your business
  • Content ideas people are interested in
  • Similar markets you can tap into
  • Products and services to promote on your website
  • Keywords with the highest cost per click (CPC)

I’d like to emphasize something here. If you’re not a techie, but you need to do keyword research break your keyword research down into a manageable 4-step process.

What this all boils down to is: You’re looking for targeted keyword phrases that have a high search volume and low competition. Ideally, your keywords should accurately describe what you do. You don’t want too many competitors ranking for that exact phrase but you do want lots of people searching for the exact phrase.

Now the specifics:

  1. Brainstorm and come up with list of keyword ideas. Take your best guess how your prospects describe your content, products, and services. This is just a starting point.
  2. Expand your list using keyword research tools. You use a keyword research tool to check out the possible keywords or keyword phrases and see how they perform. You want to see how much competition you have for each of your keywords and how hard it will be to rank for them.
  3. Fine-tune your list by doing some research. Check out the search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you’re considering. This will help you determine consumer demand. You should also add some of the suggested keyword phrases from your analysis tool to your list.
  4. Don’t ignore long tail keywords. In most cases, longer-tail keywords are less-competitive. People who search using long tail keywords are more likely to buy because they know exactly what they want. They’re usually searching for a place to buy it.

Remember, don’t obsess over the details and don’t let what you don’t know stop you from getting started.

To knock one more barrier out of your way, I’ll even show you how to pick a keyword research tool.


Here’s a Quick Way to Use Keyword Research Tools

Now, you’re probably wondering, “What is a keyword research tool?” and “Which keyword research tool is the best?

A keyword research tool is just a tool for creating a keyword list and viewing the historical popularity of keywords. Keyword research tools allow you to see what people are searching for on the web, guess what else they might search for, and then optimize for those keywords.

Don’t get hung up searching for the perfect keyword research tool. That’s a waste of time since the good tools provide the same basic service with only a few minor differences.

That said, here are a few you may want to try.

  • Wordze
  • Keyword Discovery
  • Wordtracker
  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  • Bing’s keyword research tool
  • SEO Book’s Keyword Research Tool
  • Wordpot
  • YouTube Keyword Tools
  • Keyword Spy
  • Google Trends

Use these keyword tools to get keyword ideas and traffic. Remember, you’re learning how your customer thinks, not trying to outmaneuver the search engines.

If you’re serious about your website ranking and getting quality traffic, use this process to make life easier.

Leave a comment and share your best keyword research tip.


About the Author

Anthony Sills’ work can be found at American Express OPEN Forum, Copyblogger, Infusionsoft’s Big Ideas blog, Hostgator’s Gator Crossing blog, and elsewhere. He writes about HR & employment, marketing, and business.You can always reach Anthony via social media, email, or by leaving a comment below…

Perilous Pivots: When A Dream Meets Reality

Written by Cy Khormaee

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Editors Note – Cy is a friend of HostGator, currently pursuing entrepreneurial dreams in Silicon Valley. We have asked him to share his adventures.  If you missed it see Part 1 The Spark: A Startup Is Born.

Startups are inherently messy.  The media makes it appear as if home run successes happen on the first try.  In reality all progress is the result of founders careening for months between false fits and starts until they land on the idea that works.   Contastic’s story is no different.


The False Start

With a promising idea in hand I was accepted into the Lightspeed Venture Fellows program and provided a generous grant to build Contastic.   During the summer, I met my co-founder Kevin and together we engaged with the top investors/entrepreneur community around Silicon Valley.  This got us excited about the hot space that is mobile CRM – taking the basic processes of managing a sales team from the desktop to the phone.

CY and Kevin

Over the next two months we built our mobile CRM.  Investors loved it.  However customers weren’t adopting the beta versions as readily as we’d hoped.  We attributed the apathy to an incomplete product.  It was instead a sign of a flawed focus – most people didn’t want to write notes on their mobile phone.

So, when we finally launched, it was bittersweet.  By that time we knew that the product wouldn’t pick up.  So, we changed the name to PeopleNotes to preserve our company name and launched it.   The app never got more than a few hundred downloads – an App Store Flop:

app store flop

Rediscovering Relentless Focus on the Customer

So where did we go wrong?  We built for the people around us – technologist and investors – not our customers.   We mistakenly let the most convenient information, from those around us, take the place of the most relevant information, from those customers we would need to seek out.

Committing to focus on our customer to the exclusion of everything else was the turning point for Contastic. It’s no mistake that this is what Mark Zuckerburg keeps on his desk:

Zuckerburg desk

Credit: Masahble

The Pivot

By pouring over the usage analytics from PeopleNotes we discovered that, while people did not like taking notes, they loved our automated emails to keep them in touch.  So, we doubled down on that – pivoting from a mobile notes product to a web-based staying in touch product.  And over the next month we built what became Contastic.

contastic laptop

There was no big launch or press announcement.  Just a quick post to Facebook.  Over the next two months we iterated with a small group of users and obsessively measured our funnel. Analytics told us what was wrong.  Then we’d talk to customers to figure out WHY.


Picking Up Steam

After twelve weeks of iteration we’ve developed a clear idea – as defined by our customers – of what Contastic is and who it’s built for. Contastic is an email personalization engine for salespeople.



By combining Linkedin and Gmail data Contastic automatically generates sales emails complete with content personalized to a prospect’s interests.  By reducing the time it takes to send relevant emails from minutes to seconds Contastic enables salespeople to work more prospects, generate more leads and close more sales.

We also discovered new industries for Contastic beyond sales.  Some of our top users are generating referrals for realtors, discovering jobs for freelancers, and building client relationships as consultants. Our user base is now doubling monthly as well as picking up paid users.  It’s time for us to finally step back into the ring and raise our round.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment– Raising the Bar – Fundraising and the Future

About Cy

I’m an engineer who loves to sell.   My career started out in big data engineering for Microsoft evolved into a sales role that landed me as the founder of Contastic (  I bring the hard data-driven approach of an engineer to the softer science of sales.  It’s always a pleasure for me to meet new people and help them evolve their sales practices. I blog at and tweet @cykho.

Infographic: This Will Make You Feel Old

Written by Sean Valant

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Every now and again a gentle reminder comes along to let us know that we’re just not as young as we used to be. That game system we played so much as child, or that toy that came out that we remember so vividly… oh, that was over 20 years ago, wow! Well, this infographic is one big reminder that yesterday was likely longer ago that we’d prefer it be.



Heartbleed Bug

Written by Sean Valant

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

You may have now heard of the “Heartbleed Bug.” Before we continue, we want to reassure you that if you are hosting on a HostGator shared or reseller server, that your server has already been patched. For everyone else, HostGator customer or not, we have created the following tool to assist you with determining whether or not your site is presently vulnerable and what further action to take, if necessary:

heartbleed bug

Now, what exactly is the Heartbleed Bug? Technically speaking, it is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. In layman’s terms, it allows the ever-present nefarious individuals the ability to intercept and decode encrypted data. The following quote comes from

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.”

The bug is so-named due to a normal function between two computers across a network (such as the Internet) sharing an encrypted connection. The “heartbeat” is simply a pulse, or packet of information, sent from one machine to the other to ensure the connection still exists. This functionality is what allows the exploit to occur, in that the heartbeat is simulated by a third party in such a way as to allow them access to the memory of the receiving server.

What this translates to is virtually unlimited, and untraceable, access to a myriad of private information which potentially can include usernames, passwords, and even credit card information. The full extent of the situation is not presently known. What is known is that we should all consider all of our passwords to be compromised. As a result, you absolutely want to update any passwords for anything and everything you log into online. However, if you change your password for an account on a server that has not been patched, then you can consider the new password compromised as well.

For full information regarding this situation, we recommend reading the associated Wikipedia article.

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