Keywords are the bedrock of SEO. No matter how hard you try, if no one is searching for what you’re writing about, you won’t get traffic from Google. From eCommerce Experts with over 2 decades of SEO experience, the eCommerce Institute Team has created this business guide to get you started on your own SEO Keyword Research! It teaches you how to use our tried-and-true keyword research framework that you can easily adapt to your website and goals. Continue reading to find out more!
What exactly is keyword research?
The process of understanding the language your target customers use when searching for your products, services, and content is known as keyword research. The next step is to analyze, compare, and prioritize the best keyword opportunities for your website.
What is the significance of keyword research?
The only way to find out what people are typing into search engines is to conduct keyword research. You should be aware of this to avoid creating content about topics that no one is looking for. Many website owners make this mistake, and it’s likely a big reason why, according to a study, 90.63 percent of pages receive no traffic from Google.
How can you do keyword research?
Consider how potential customers might search for your company or website when conducting keyword research. Then, using keyword research tools, you can expand on those ideas and find even more keywords.
It’s a simple process, but two things must be true for it to work properly:
- You must be well-versed in your industry.
- You must understand how keyword research tools operate and how to make the most of them.
1: Brainstorm your ‘foundation’ or ‘seed’ keywords.
The seed keywords form the basis of the keyword research process. They help you define your niche and identify your competitors. Every keyword research tool requests a seed keyword, which is then used to generate a massive list of keyword ideas. Coming up with seed keywords is simple if you already have a product or business that you want to promote online. Consider what people will type into Google to find what you have to offer.
It’s important to note that seed keywords aren’t always worth targeting with pages on your website. As the name implies, you’ll use them as “seeds” for the following steps in this process. So don’t get too hung up on your seed keywords. Finding them should only take a few minutes.
2: Determine which keywords your competitors rank for.
The best way to begin keyword research is to look at which keywords are already sending traffic to your competitors. However, you must first identify those competitors. That’s where your keyword list from brainstorming comes in handy. Simply enter one of your seed keywords into Google and see who comes up on the first page.
3: Employ keyword research tools.
Competitors can be an excellent source of keyword suggestions. However, there are a plethora of keywords that your competitors aren’t targeting, which you can discover using keyword research tools.
All keyword research tools operate in the same manner. You enter a seed keyword, and they generate keyword suggestions from their database based on that keyword.
The most well-known keyword tool is Google Keyword Planner. It’s free to use, and while it’s primarily for advertisers, you can use it to find SEO keywords as well. Google Keyword Planner is intelligent enough to show you relevant keyword ideas even if they don’t contain your seed keywords.
- Research your niche
Everything we’ve discussed thus far is sufficient to generate an almost infinite number of keyword ideas. At the same time, the process keeps you “in the box.” It is constrained by your seed keywords as well as the size and freshness of the database of your chosen keyword tool. As a result, you will almost certainly miss some good ideas.
You can solve this by researching your niche in greater depth. A good place to start is to look through industry forums, groups, and Q&A sites. This will assist you in identifying additional issues that your prospective customers are experiencing that did not appear in keyword tools and that none of your competitors bothered to address.
How to analyze your keywords?
It’s great to have a plethora of keyword ideas. However, how do you know which ones are the best? After all, it would be nearly impossible to go through them all by hand.
The solution is straightforward: use SEO metrics to narrow down your options and separate the wheat from the chaff before adding them to your content calendar.
Let’s look at five keyword metrics that can help you with this:
- Search volume: The average number of times a keyword is searched per month is indicated by the search volume. The number of searches, not the number of people who searched, is important. It does not, however, tell you how much traffic you will receive by ranking and is based on an annual average.
- Clicks: Many people may search Google for something, but that does not mean that all of them will click on the top-ranking results and visit the top-ranking pages. This is where Keywords Explorer’s Clicks metric comes in handy. It displays the average number of monthly clicks on a keyword’s search results.
- Traffic potential: Assume you’re thinking about a keyword like “side effects of coffee.” This receives an estimated 1,000 searches and 800 clicks per month, according to Keywords Explorer. Because all of these search queries roughly mean the same thing, estimating your potential search traffic based on a single search query is a mistake. It is preferable to consider how much traffic the current top-ranking pages currently receive.
- Keyword difficulty: KD is there to help you understand what it’ll take to rank for a specific query and the topic’s ‘link-worthiness.’ Just keep in mind that you should always manually evaluate keywords before going after them and not rely solely on the keyword difficulty score of any tool to make your final decision.
- Cost per click: The cost per click (CPC) metric indicates how much advertisers are willing to pay for each ad click generated by a keyword. It’s a metric for advertisers rather than SEOs, but it can be a good proxy for a keyword’s value.
How to prioritize keywords?
Prioritization of keywords isn’t the final step in the keyword research process. It’s more something you should do as you go through the preceding steps. While you’re looking for keywords, analyzing their metrics, and grouping them, consider the following:
- What is the keyword’s estimated traffic potential?
- How difficult is the competition? What would it take to get it ranked?
- Do you already have a ranking for this keyword? Could you increase traffic by moving up a few positions in the rankings?
- Do you already have content on this subject? If not, how much effort will it take to create and promote a competitive page?
- Is the traffic likely to result in leads and sales, or will it merely raise brand awareness?
That last point is particularly crucial. While search volume, traffic potential, difficulty, and search intent are all important factors to consider, you should also consider how much traffic from that keyword will be worth to your company.
How to use Google Trends for keyword research?
Trends remove repeated searches from the same person over a short period to provide a more accurate picture. It is also worth noting that Trends only displays data for popular terms (low volume appears as 0).
When the query’s search volume changes, so does the popularity of the search term. Moreover, even if the query’s search volume remains constant, search term popularity will change if the total number of searches changes.
As you can see, the popularity of a query in Google Trends does not always correlate with its search volume. However, in most cases, it does.
1-Determine seasonal trends and then create (and promote) content at the ideal time!
You’re probably aware that seasonality has an impact on search volumes for certain keywords. If your business is seasonal, you can quickly estimate its peaks and valleys by analyzing relevant search queries in Google Trends. Create relevant content to coincide with the peak, and begin optimizing existing relevant pages before the peak(s).
2-Check for data-skewing popularity spikes to avoid “keyword unicorns.”
If you’re looking for a good topic for your next content piece, don’t write a single word until you’ve checked Google Trends. You don’t want to waste time creating content for topics that are no longer relevant.
According to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, for example, the term “fidget spinner” has a monthly search volume of 900K+. However, the term “yoyo” receives only 47K searches per month on average.
Given the similarity in Keyword Difficulty (KD) for both of these keywords, wouldn’t it make more sense to create content around the term “fidget spinner”? The most definitive answer is a resounding ‘NO.’
3-Find relevant topics that are currently trending. Then take advantage of them.
You can find search queries that have seen significant increases in popularity over the last 24 hours by using Trending Searches (in any given location). You can predict whether interest in a trending topic will rise or fall by looking at historical data.
4-To find new keyword ideas, use “related queries” (and even STEAL business from your competitors)
Google Trends can reveal the queries that people use when searching for your term. People who search for “sneakers” are also likely to search for “Nike” and “Adidas.” Not only does this provide an excellent opportunity to discover new keywords (i.e., those you may not have previously considered), but it also allows you to better understand the needs of your potential customer and their “search journey.”
However, you can take it a step further by locating the related searches for the related searches.
5-Determine which cities and sub-regions require your products or services (then get laser-targeted with your SEO strategy)
Google Trends allows you to see where a search query is most popular (country, city, sub-region, or metro). This information can be used in a variety of ways. To begin, use PPC (i.e., AdWords) to target these regions — don’t waste money targeting the entire US with Google AdWords. Simply place ads in the cities or sub-regions where your potential customers live.
Second, create useful content aimed specifically at people in these areas — for example, “Living in Seattle? Here’s how to save money on your winter heating bill.”
Google Trends was not exactly designed with content marketers and SEOs in mind. However, as you can see, it can be extremely useful for keyword research. (As well as other marketing-related tasks.) There is no other tool that will provide you with the most up-to-date information on what’s trending in search right now.
What is keyword search volume?
Keyword search volume is an SEO metric that indicates how frequently a specific keyword is searched for in a given location every month. Search volume is frequently used to refer to the number of Google searches, but this metric can also refer to other search engines.
It is most likely the most commonly used metric in SEO. It assists us in determining the popularity of various keywords and predicting the search traffic we may receive as a result of ranking for them. However, inexperienced SEOs frequently take the keyword search volume metric at face value, resulting in poor marketing decisions and the waste of valuable business resources.
One key distinction is that search volume reflects the number of actual searches for a keyword rather than the number of unique people searching for it. Thus, if a keyword has a monthly search volume of 100, those searches could have been performed by 100 different people, or by just ten people performing ten searches each.
That small clarification is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the things that people frequently get wrong when analyzing a keyword’s search volume. So, let’s go over five more things you should be aware of to make better use of this metric.
- The search volume figures are annual averages. The majority of SEO tools present search volume as an annual average. It isn’t really a big deal for search queries with relatively consistent search-demand throughout the year. However, it can be quite deceptive for seasonal search queries or hot trends.
- Not every search results in a click. The fact that people search for something does not guarantee that they will click on any of the search results. Google’s goal is to satisfy its users right away, without requiring them to “waste time” clicking on any of the search results.
- Advertisers may attempt to steal your clicks. Another thing that could significantly steal your valuable clicks is Google Ads. Google currently displays up to four paid search listings above organic search results. And tracing the visual history of these paid placements reveals that Google is attempting to make those ads nearly indistinguishable from organic search results. It also tends to adorn those ads with images and site links to maximize the real estate they occupy and push organic search results further down.
- Search volume isn’t always accurate. Because it comes directly from Google, Google Keyword Planner is widely regarded as the best source of keyword search volume data. It is also no secret that the vast majority of SEO tools derive their keyword search volumes from GKP. If your website consistently ranks at the top of Google for a specific keyword, the number of “impressions” your page receives for that keyword represents the actual search volume.
- Increased keyword search volume DOES NOT equate to increased traffic. Whatever search query you have in mind, will be phrased differently by different people. However, Google is wise enough to recognize that all of these people are essentially looking for the same thing. As a result, it ranks on the same page for all of these search query variations.
What are long-tailed keywords?
Long-tail keywords are search queries that receive a small number of monthly searches. They are typically longer and more specific than their “head” counterparts and, as a result, have a higher conversion rate.
For example, the keyword “meditation” is a “head” keyword because it receives 211k monthly searches. Because it receives only 50 searches per month, the keyword “can meditation make you smarter” is a long-tail keyword.
What is it about long-tail keywords that makes them so appealing?
Reason 1. Long-tail keywords are (in general) much less competitive.
Assume you’ve recently launched a cryptocurrency blog. There are numerous popular keywords with high search volumes that could potentially drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog. However, they will make it more difficult for you to rank your article. Keyword Difficulty is lower for long-tail keywords. This means that even a brand-new website has a chance to rank in the top ten search results and receive a few visitors from those keywords.
Reason 2. Long-tail keywords are (generally) easier to address.
“How to Buy Bitcoin” appears to be a simple question to answer. However, the top-ranking page for that search query is 3,400 words long. The top-ranking page for “how to cash out large amounts of bitcoin,” on the other hand, is only 1,000 words long.
The thing is, the more general the search query, the more information you’ll need to include when responding to it. However, if the search query is specific, you can often answer it quickly while still satisfying the searchers. In other words, creating content for long-tail keywords requires less effort.
Aside from that, you can look for groups of similar long-tail search queries and address them with pages that differ only slightly.
Reason 3. There are a LOT of them.
Yes, a single long-tail keyword will not bring floods of traffic to your website. However, as you address more and more of them, the search traffic will eventually add up to something significant. And, because there are so many long-tail keywords in almost every industry, you’re unlikely to run out of them.
What are the two types of long-tailed keywords?
Long-tail keywords are not all the same. Some are unique search queries, while others are simply a less popular variation of a more popular search query.
The former is referred to as “topical long-tail keywords,” while the latter is referred to as “supporting long-tail keywords.”
-Supporting long-tailed keywords
Google is intelligent enough to recognize that different people phrase their searches differently even when looking for the same thing. As a result, for all of these keyword variations, it ranks the same set of pages approximately.
This means that if your page begins to rank for a popular search query, such as “healthy dog treats” (6.8k searches), it will also rank for all of the query’s long-tail variations. As a result, you don’t need to create separate pages for each long-tail variation.
-Topical long-tailed keywords
Let’s take a look at another type of long-tail keyword: “fly bites on dog’s ears.” The Parent Topic is the same as the original keyword this time. This means that your keyword is the most commonly used way to find this item. You can also use a dedicated page to target this long-tail keyword.
Once you’ve ranked for this topical long-tail keyword, you’ll automatically rank for all of the less popular “supporting” search query variations.
How to select the best keyword research tools?
The ideal keyword research tool is based on five main criteria, which are as follows:
- Keyword suggestions: It must find and recommend as many relevant keywords as possible.
- Data filtering: It must be able to easily cut down large keyword lists.
- Search volume: It must display a search volume trend for a keyword.
- Keyword difficulty: A reliable keyword difficulty score or KD is required.
- SERP analysis: It must support SERP analysis. (Search Engine Results Page)
Top picks for keyword research tools
1-Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Ahrefs retrieved the most keyword suggestions and trailed all other tools by a long shot. The Keyword Generator at Ahrefs is powered by clickstream data and updates its database with new keywords once a month. Furthermore, Ahrefs lets you filter the entire list of keyword suggestions based on search volume and keyword difficulty. These two metrics are cached and always available for the entire keyword database.
This tool not only displays the search volume trend beginning in September 2015, but it also divides it further based on whether the searches result in actual clicks. The search volume trend graphs are visualization and do not include the search volume numbers for the previous months.
Ahrefs will also display the correct number of backlinks for the search results. You can also look at the SERP features (if any). Furthermore, it is the only tool that shows how much search traffic the top-ranking pages receive (from all the keywords they rank for, not just from your target keyword).
There are three types of keyword ideas available in the tool: suggestions, autocomplete, and questions. Filtering is simple with KWFinder. There is one drawback: keyword difficulty data is not immediately available for every keyword unless previously requested by any user (unlike Keywords Explorer from Ahrefs which shows keyword difficulty for all the keyword suggestions).
The search volume trend is presented in the organic KWFinder style, with all of the data you’d expect. Furthermore, KWFinder’s SERP analysis is extremely simple and easy to understand. They are, however, relying on backlink data from MOZ, which is not a perfect source.
3-Moz Keyword Explorer
Although the filtering options in a MOZ tool appeared to be somewhat limited, they do offer exclusive semantic filters and grouping. Moz calculates keyword difficulty by using the Page authority and Domain authority metrics of the top ten-page ranking for a keyword. Their difficulty rating is excellent.
What’s more, Moz only provides minimal data for the top ten search results, such as PA, DA, and the number of referring domains. Furthermore, there is far too much scrolling down to see all positions.
4-SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
Considering that this tool (Keyword Magic) is still in beta, this tool produces an excellent result in terms of the number of suggested keywords. However, it represents only 40% of the total number of Ahrefs suggestions. Furthermore, it does not show you the search volume numbers for the previous months, but rather a decimal score, where one represents the month with the highest search volume.
To determine keyword difficulty, SEMrush considers the authority of the domains that appear on the results page, as explained in their knowledge base. Most of the time, their Keyword Difficulty score is simply incorrect. This is most likely one of SEMrush’s major flaws as a keyword research tool.
SEMrush’s SERP analysis simply displays a cached Google’s SERP for a given keyword, with no information about the ranking pages. Lowest ranking in this category out of all the above-mentioned keyword research tools.
Thorough research and utilization of keyword-generating tools can help you plan out your content strategy effectively. Keywords can determine the popularity of your article online, enabling you to reach new heights with great content. So plan wisely!