RTO Keyword Research; How to Get in Front of the Searching Masses

keyboard-computer-keys-white.jpgKeyword research is one of the first and most important digital marketing or SEO tasks that you should do if you want your RTO to be competitive in the future.

The importance of getting this right cannot be over stressed.

Getting it wrong can mean you are optimising and working towards keywords that cannot build a good return on investment, while getting it right means more leads, enrolments and revenue.

Keyword research for RTOs 

Benefits of keyword research;

  • You will get in front of more people searching for your courses.
  • The people seeing your marketing will be better qualified to buy.
  • You will be able to continually increase the number of keywords you target leading to more vistors.
  • You can get some great business intelligence.
  • It’s very useful to do before taking on a new course or service as you can gauge the market readiness and competition levels prior to committing.

Those benefits should show you the power of keyword research, and if any of those items are of interest read on, as we dive in to…  


Peak performance keyword research for RTOs.

Luckily for us keyword research is really quite simple, even if it doesn’t appear so at first.

What we need is to find the best keywords and for that we need to find the search volume (the number of searches per keyword per month in Google, and the level of competition so that we know whether we have a chance of showing up in Google for this term.

I’ll start out with a disclaimer though; there are many ways to do this, and every digital marketer likely has their own process and favourite tools, so feel free to experiment and find out what works well for you.

Keyword research tools 

There are all in one tools for this, but I like to use three separate tools.

The first is keywordtool.io.io (freemium), and I use this to generate a whole mass of keywords around a topic.

The second is Google Adwords, Keyword planner (free to use, but you may need a live Adwords advert). I use this to get search volume of the keywords.

The third is Hubspot keyword tool (not free, but it comes with a huge amount of other tools) and I use this to check difficulty and to organise my keywords so i can easily find the right keyword to write a blog post around.

The right tools for you may be slightly different, or you can use an all in one, but I find I get more keywords when I use this process than if I used, say just Hubspot or WebCEO.


My keyword research process for RTO keywords


It’s easiest to see how this work with an actual project so lets use an example;

Fictitious Training is and RTO in Brisbane specialising in business training and qualifications.

They want to do keyword research for their website so that they can write keyword rich blogs, pages and content offers.

First they have an educated guess at the highest quality keyword, “business course”. At this point we want a “seed” keyword that we expect plenty of people to search for, but that is also relevant to our market. If we searched for just “business” or “course” we would be swamped by irrelevant results.

As you can see, keywordtool.io gives us 345 unique keywords. The free version doesn’t give you the keyword volume (it’s worth buying if you do loads of research), so we are going to hop over to Adwords to get the volume data, so click “Copy All”



Now, for this stage you will need an Adwords account, and you may find you need to have a running advert as well. Google have been restricting the use of the Keyword Planner tool as too many SEOs were using it and never paying for adverts.

Once you have Adwords open go to Tools > Keyword Planner.

You will see a screen like this;



Click “Get search volume data and trends”, and then paste the keywords you copied in the box by pressing CTRL + V. Make sure that you are targeting “Australia”, and you can also fill in other targeting criteria if you like (I don’t usually as I want whole of Australia, raw data). Click Get search volume.

I’ve dumped all our keywords for our business course in there and Adwords has returned the search volume. Click on the column “Avg. monthly searches” to sort into highest search volume order.

Now we are going to go through the whole list of any keyword that shows any amount of traffic, and if they look good and relevant to us we are going to add them to a list by clicking the “Add to plan” button on the corresponding row. This creates a list on the far right which you can then export.

Go through looking for keywords that are relevant to your customers.

For the business course we want “business course”, “business courses online” but we don’t want “business courses tafe” or “business courses perth” as people searching are not likely to become our customers, and “tafe” keywords will be very hard to rank for.

Once I’ve finished I click in the right hand column (far right) and click to export my list, copying them to my clipboard as I go.

Assessing the competition

Now we have some great suspects there (I copied 28, but I could have taken many more), now we need to assess competition and put them somewhere for reference.

There are free versions of tools out there that can do the next step, and there are many different calculations and algorothms that run them, but only Google really has the correct data and that is one of the closest guarded secrets in business.

I use Hubspot keyword tool because I have access to it as a Hubspot customer and partner and it’s seems fairly accurate, but you can use SEMrush, MOZ, WebCEO or any other tool. You will probably have to pay for a tool to do this part so trial a few and choose the one you like.

They all work in a similar way; dump the keyword and get the processes results. Check the resulting difficulty, and weed out any that are extremely difficult unless they are also extremely relevant.

Here you can see the results for our business course and there are some very promising keywords in there, with low or acceptable difficulty. Anything over 60 is considered difficult.

hubspot-business-ky.pngOut of the list I am going to delete these keywords because their volume/difficulty ratio is very poor so they are not worth the work;

Keyword Volume Difficulty
“business course requirements” Low 76
“business course meaning” Low 93
“business course evening”    



I am going to prioritise the following as the volume is good and difficulty acceptable. 

Keyword Volume Difficulty
“business course” 1,300 65
“business course brisbane” 90 43
“business courses online”  590 57


 Next is to start optimising blogs, pages, landing pages and content offers for your keywords. Even the low volume ones are useful as it just takes a single, well optimised blog post to rank for something, and it can keep generating traffic year after year. The trick is to target many keywords and build you traffic over time.

Normal SEO does not do that as much and SEO tends to focus on a small, set number of keywords, and blogging and content marketing are not always part of the strategy. make it part of yours and start building your content empire!








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