How To Conduct A Keyword Test: Is Your Chosen Keyword Even Worth Using?
You have a keyword that you’d like to use in your content writing, but you’re not sure if it has ranking potential.
And you don’t want to waste your time writing if the keyword is a dud.
Don’t worry. We can help with that.
This guide shares what a keyword test is, why it’s important, and how to conduct the test using various keyword research platforms.
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What Is A Keyword Test?
A keyword test is a checklist of things to look at for one specific keyword.
Basically, you’re testing to see if the keyword is good or not and worth creating content around.
A test can tell you:
- Keyword volume. How many people search for that keyword per month? You want this number to be high if possible.
- Keyword difficulty. How difficult is it to rank for that keyword? 75% or lower is a relatively good percentage if you want a chance to rank high on Google.
- Top-ranked sites for that keyword. How much traffic is the competition getting? How many backlinks do they have for that page on their site?
Why Is A Keyword Test Important?
A keyword test sets you up for success. It can help you stay focused on keywords that can actually help drive more traffic to your site.
Think about it…
If the keyword is going to be way too difficult to rank for, then creating content around it will be a waste of time and resources.
Testing the keyword “gardening” yields the following results:
- 110,000 searches per month for volume
- 90% difficulty
- The top-ranked site has:
- 56,000 for traffic per month
- 124 backlinks —meaning other domains are linking back to their site, showing Google they have authority
“Gardening” is too vague of a keyword with too much competition, so it’s not the best option to create content around.
However, say the keyword is “best gardening websites.” A keyword test has these results:
- 140 for volume (lower than the volume for “gardening,” but still good)
- 77% for difficulty (much more doable than 90%)
- The Top-ranked site has:
- 419 for traffic per month
- 135 backlinks
This keyword is more specific, has less competition, and would have much more potential when creating content around it.
How To Conduct A Keyword Test
There are multiple online platforms you can use to conduct a keyword test.
But keep in mind…
One might have more features than another. Be sure to review the following programs carefully to determine which one will work for your keyword research needs.
Test Keyword Using SEMrush
SEMrush offers an internet-based software service for online visibility and marketing analytics.
One thing to consider is that you need a paid account with SEMrush in order to use it.
Step 1: Log Into Dashboard
To learn how to check how many searches a keyword gets, you first must log in to SEMrush.
You’ll be directed to the Dashboard page upon login, and the search bar toward the top of the page is where you’ll get started:
Step 2: Input Keyword Into The Search Box
Let’s pretend your keyword is “cosmetic dentistry.”
Simply enter that into the search box to allow the results to appear.
As you can see, “cosmetic dentistry” has a volume of 49,500 searches per month with a difficulty rating of 68%.
Is that worth creating content around based on the information so far? Absolutely.
Below the initial results, you can scroll down to find related keywords that are similar to your main keyword (cosmetic dentistry).
This is a great feature because there might be a similar keyword that would potentially help you rank better than the initial keyword you searched for.
Step 3: Review Statistics For #1 Ranked Site
If you continue to scroll yet a little further, you can see a SERP (search engine results page) analysis.
This is essentially a list of the top-ranked sites for that keyword.
Click on the first one, and you’ll then be able to see the amount of traffic that the website is getting for that keyword and more.
Does that sound like too much work for you?
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SEO Keyword Test Using Ubersuggest
Ubersuggest is another great online tool to conduct a keyword test. There’s a free version as well as paid plans with more features.
Step 1: Input Keyword Into The Search Bar
Just like SEMrush, you’ll need to enter the keyword into the main search box on the Ubersuggest site.
For example, John sells fishing and camping gear. He wants to test the keyword “bass fishing poles.”
His initial step would look like this:
John clicks Search, which takes him to a limited Keyword Overview page.
Step 2: Check Keyword Test Results
The first stats you can see on the Keyword Overview page are:
- Search volume of 1,300
- Difficulty of 44%
- Paid difficulty
- And the cost per click (CPC)
Other useful numbers on this page are the number of backlinks and the domain score for the average web page that ranks in the top 10 of a SERP.
As mentioned before, if a site is already ranking high for a keyword and also has tons of backlinks, it can be harder to outrank them.
Fortunately for John, 14 backlinks aren’t super intimidating.
He could go ahead and create optimized content around the keyword “bass fishing poles” and have a decent chance at ranking higher on Google.
Step 3: Review Keyword Volume History
The keyword volume history allows you to see the trend of that particular keyword —from both mobile and desktop searches.
“How does this help me?” you might ask.
The average volume might be decent now. But you can see that it’s significantly lower than in previous months.
This might mean that keyword will continue to be searched for less and less.
Knowing that can help you determine whether you still want to create content for that keyword or not.
Step 4: Review Keyword Ideas
Just below the volume history on Ubersuggest, you can see a list of alternative keyword ideas that are related or similar to the main keyword you searched for.
The options here are slightly different than those of SEMrush.
With Ubersuggest, you can look at keywords that fall within these categories:
- And Comparisons
In comparison, SEMrush shows the following on a Keyword Overview page:
- Keyword Variations
- And Related Keywords
This might make it seem like SEMrush is offering you less information than Ubersuggest.
But, you can find more categories of keywords under Keyword Magic Tool within SEMrush, including:
- Broad Match
- Phrase Match
- Exact Match
- And Related
Each of these categories can be viewed as All or Questions.
You can essentially find the same amount of keywords with either online software platform…it’s just a matter of which setup you prefer for your research.
Keyword Test Using Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahrefs only has certain features available for free on their website. A useful, free tool they offer is their backlink checker.
Why is this useful?
When looking at the #1 ranked site for a specific keyword, the traffic it’s getting might not seem too intimidating.
But that’s not all Google takes into consideration.
The top site might also have hundreds, if not thousands of backlinks from other reputable sites. This increases their authority in the eyes of Google crawlers.
This can also mean it will be much harder to outrank that particular site on Google.
Let’s take a look at how to find the number of backlinks for any given webpage:
Step 1: Input URL
Enter the URL for the webpage you’re researching (probably one of the top competitors for a keyword) into the available search box.
Upon clicking “Check backlinks,” it will prompt you to ensure you’re a real person (get out of here, robots).
Step 2: Review URL Statistics
Ahrefs provides you with:
- URL Rating. This shows the strength of a page’s link profile using a 100-point scale.
- Domain Rating. This shows the strength of a target website’s backlink profile compared to other sites in Ahrefs’ database.
- Backlinks. Like mentioned before, this is the number of links from other websites pointing back to your webpage.
- Referring Domains. This refers to the total number of unique domains linking back to your site.
For example, a page might have 8,165 backlinks, but those are only coming from 1,409 websites.
How To Test Keywords Using Google Trends
Find yourself Googling “How to check Google keywords?”
Here’s your solution.
Google Trends is Google’s platform to research keywords and how they’re trending.
You won’t get as much in-depth data as you would from SEMrush or Ubersuggest, but the information is still helpful when running a simple keyword test.
And best of all —it’s free.
Step 1: Input Keyword
Enter the keyword you’d like to test.
For example, perhaps you’re researching SEO-related keywords and input “SEO best practices.”
Before hitting enter, Google Trends will suggest various things to you that could be helpful, such as related topics you can search for.
You can choose one of those topics, or hit enter and continue with your original query.
Step 2: View The Historical Trend Over Time
Want to see how the keyword’s popularity has changed over the past 12 months? What about the past 5 years? The past day?
Google Trends allows you to see how the interest has changed over various spans of time.
How does this information help you?
You have a piece of content already written for a specific keyword.
The trend has steadily gone down over the past five years, but you notice within the last 90 days there has been a sudden spike in searches for that keyword.
Now would be a great time to update that piece of content and see if there are any ways you can optimize it even more. This can:
- Help Google see your page as fresh again
- Drive more traffic to your site when readers see your content is current
Step 3: Check Keyword Interest By Subregion
Trying to rank in a local pack? Or maybe you just want to see which parts of the country are most interested in your keyword search.
Google Trends lets you see how many searches are happening per month in each state. The states are listed starting with the highest number of searches.
Step 4: Review Related Topics and Queries
Unlike the other online software platforms, Google Trends doesn’t offer a ton of extra information on other keyword searches and related topics.
But, it’s enough to get you started.