Online Tutoring SEO – Keyword Research

We've recently done a market research on the topic of online tutoring. The challenge was to analyze the online interest in the subject, conduct keyword research as well as estimate the search traffic and competition on Google. Based on the research, we have put together a brief SEO strategy for a brand new site that plans to enter the online tutoring niche. This blog post will cover the keyword research phase of the project.

We will use the following tools to perform our keyword research:

Google Instant

By using Google Instant, we can get a general idea of the most popular search keywords related to online tutoring:

Google Instant for online tutoring

Google Instant for free online tutoring

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Using Google AdWords Keyword Tool, we can generate keyword ideas based on the term “online tutoring programs.” Below is the list of keywords that result in over a million global monthly searches:

Keyword ideas based on the term “online tutoring programs"

The full keyword ideas spreadsheet can be downloaded from here.

When we produced a report for the “online tutoring” broad match, we got a bit different keyword ideas report. Below is a snapshot of the keywords that get 165,000+ global monthly searches:

Report for the “online tutoring” broad match

Google Insights

Google Insights shows that the “online tutoring” term is pretty popular and results in over 60% interest relative to the other Google searches for the last 12 months. We can get the data on the top searches as well as rising searches:

Google Insights shows that the “online tutoring” term is pretty popular

Google Trends

I’ve also looked at Google Trends to discover the interest in the online tutoring over the last 8 years or so. The chart below illustrates that there was an interest spike in mid 2009 and then the popularity of the subject varied but remained pretty much at the same level. It’s worth mentioning that the summer time is the season when there is the lowest interest in the online tutoring searches:

Google Trends for online tutoring

SEOMoz Pro Keyword Difficulty Tool

Using SEOMoz Pro Keyword Difficulty Tool, we can get Google AdWords broad match and exact match search volumes as well as get some metrics on the top 10 organic ranking pages on Google:

SEOMoz Pro Keyword Difficulty Tool for online tutoring

SEOMoz Pro Keyword Difficulty Tool for online tutoring rankings

Based on this data, we can see that #1 and #2 positions are dominated by very high domain authority sites (DA=80). If we are starting a brand new online business in online tutoring, we should keep in mind that it will take some time to get a DA=80. The lowest domain authority in top 10 results is 40 which is pretty decent and tells us that the site is established and has been around for quite some time.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

Search engine market share in 2012

Even though Bing’s search market share is only about 15%, the newly launched Bing Keyword Research tool can give us some good insights on the keyword ideas and search volumes. I ran a query for “online tutoring” (not a strict match) and received the report showing the search volume for the last 6 months:

Bing Keyword Research Tool

Social Mention

I also wanted to get an idea of what is going on in the social media realm on the topic of online tutoring. Using SocialMention, I generated the keyword report that lists the phrases with the highest number of social mentions. Below is a list of top 20 keywords that can help us find out which online courses/subjects are the most popular:

Social Listening for online tutoring

You can download the full social mention keyword report here.

Traffic Estimates

Google Traffic Estimator allows us to see how many impressions and clicks we can get for the “online tutoring” keyword given our Adwords budget. Based on the chart below, if we bid $1.50 per click, we will get about 1,600 impressions and roughly 92 clicks per day:

Google Traffic Estimator

If we select top 20 keywords from our “online tutoring” keyword ideas report generated by Google AdWords Keyword tool, we can increase the number of impressions and clicks significantly providing we have the budget to back our PPC campaign:

“online tutoring” keyword ideas report generated by Google AdWords Keyword tool

Finally, to get some estimates on the real traffic data for a couple of the top competitors on Google, I ran a couple of reports on (even though their data may not be very accurate, we can get an understanding of the physical traffic volume for each site):

1. (they rank #1 on Google for “online tutoring”): report for site

2. (they rank #2 on Google for “online tutoring”): report for site

Let’s presume that we have build a website focused around the online tutoring topic. How much traffic can we realistically get?

Slingshot SEO has done a Google CTR study in December 2011 to show the clickthrough rates for Google and Bing top 10 results. The results of the study can be seen in the CTR curve below:

Bing v Google CTR Curve

Based on the findings of this study, we can come up with some estimates for our website’s monthly traffic:

If we rank #1 on Google for the term: “online courses,” we should expect to get

2,240,000 x 0.1820 = 407,680 visits per month (from search)

If we rank #1 on Google for the term: “online tutoring,” we should expect to get

165,000 x 0.1820 = 30,030 visits per month (from search)

Conclusion: Our keyword research reports show that there is quite a lot of customer interest in the online tutoring area as well as high competition that results in a very high entry barrier for a new business. Our users are divided into those who are looking for online tutoring services (math tutoring seems to dominate the niche) as well as those who would like to become online tutors (we should definitely consider this target audience for marketing and product architecture purposes). To succeed in the short-term, our product has to offer some innovative functionality that can give us a competitive advantage over the established players in this niche. In the long-term, we have to execute an aggressive online marketing campaign in addition to offering a stellar service and customer support.

John oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends.