Keyword research is the most crucial task for every affiliate marketing campaign you might conduct. No matter if you’re after the natural search rankings or the paid listings (like Google AdWords), your road always starts at keyword research.

There’s only one main rule to keywords research, actually – you simply need to find some keywords that are both popular and low on competition.

Popular means that many people are searching for the keyword on a daily basis. Low on competition means that there aren’t many competing sites for the keyword.

There are different opinions circling around, but generally a popular keyword is one that gets more than 400 searches a day, and low on competition means that there are 30,000 competing sites or less. However, your experience may vary.

When you do keyword research we advise you to focus on these five main tools:

Google Trends and Google Insights for Search

Both of these tools give you a broad look into a given market, so you can see what the major trends are, and what you can expect in the near future.

(Let’s use “lose weight” as an example.)

Google Trends will let you know what the overall trend for this niche is, and point out some of the important events on a timeline.

Google Insights for Search will show you some more info about the geographical distribution of a given niche’s popularity and the top related searches for your keyword phrase.

You can filter the results by region, country, date, and category. On top of that, you can compare two or more searches.

Google Keyword Tool (GKT)

This is the most popular keyword tool online. Once you have your seed keyword ready – a keyword from which you want to start your main keyword research – you can go to this tool to do the main part of the work.

GKT lets you filter the results by location and language. Plus, there are also some advanced customization features. When you search for a phrase you’ll get a table containing various pieces of information about your keyword and others related.

The features GKT provides make it the place where you can do your research from start to finish – to the point where you have a number of popular and low on competition keywords.

Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Tool and Microsoft Advertising Intelligence

You can use this last pair of tools to make sure that what you’ve found in GKT is indeed valuable.

How To Build a Keyword Universe

Wordtracker’s tool is a web based app – like you’d expect. Microsoft’s, however, is an Excel 2007/2010 add-in. You can download it for free, but you need to sign up for an adCenter account in order to use it.

Once you have your keywords ready you can finally launch a search engine campaign or an advertising campaign, whichever you have in plan.

What’s your favorite way of doing keyword research? Feel free to share.