Master keyword research in 3 simple steps
If you're just starting to dip your toes into the world of SEO, one of the most crucial aspects to understand is keyword research. This process helps you identify the search terms your target audience is using and enables you to create content that addresses their needs and interests. By mastering keyword research, you'll be well on your way to driving more organic traffic to your website and growing your business.
Step 1: Discovering keyword opportunities
One of the most crucial steps in the keyword research process is discovering the right keywords to target. This chapter will provide you with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to find valuable keyword opportunities for your business, as well as links to useful resources that will make the process more manageable.
1.1 Choose the right tools
To kick-start your keyword research journey, you'll need access to a keyword research tool. While there are numerous tools available, some of the most popular and reliable ones include:
- Google Keyword Planner: A free tool provided by Google, which offers insights into keyword search volumes and competition. Access it here: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/
- Semrush: A comprehensive SEO tool suite that offers a range of keyword research features. Access it here: https://www.semrush.com/
- Ahrefs: Another popular SEO tool with an extensive database of keywords and in-depth analysis capabilities. Access it here: https://ahrefs.com/
Choose a tool that fits your needs and budget, and familiarize yourself with its features and functionalities.
1.2 Start with seed keywords
Seed keywords are the foundation of your keyword research. These are the primary terms that are directly related to your business, products, or services. To generate seed keywords, think about what your customers might type into a search engine when looking for a product or service like yours.
For example, if you sell organic dog food, your seed keywords might include "organic dog food," "natural dog food," or "healthy dog food."
1.3 Use your chosen tool to find related keywords
Once you have a list of seed keywords, input them into your chosen keyword research tool. The tool will generate a list of related keywords, which will give you a broader perspective on the search terms your target audience uses.
For example, using the seed keyword "organic dog food" in Semrush's Keyword Magic Tool might reveal related keywords such as "grain-free organic dog food," "best organic dog food brands," or "organic dog food for puppies."
1.4 Analyze your competitors' keywords
Understanding which keywords your competitors are targeting can help you discover opportunities you may have overlooked. To do this, you can use tools like Semrush's Organic Research or Ahrefs' Site Explorer. Enter your competitor's domain, and the tool will provide you with a list of keywords they are ranking for. Look for relevant keywords that could be valuable for your business, and add them to your list.
1.5 Utilize long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that tend to have lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. These keywords are valuable because they usually have less competition and target users with a more specific intent.
To find long-tail keywords, expand on your seed keywords or related keywords by adding qualifiers or more specific terms. For example, "organic dog food for small breeds" or "organic dog food for sensitive stomachs."
1.6 Take advantage of question-based keywords
Question-based keywords are search queries framed as questions. These can be valuable opportunities to create informative content that answers users' queries directly. Use tools like AnswerThePublic (https://answerthepublic.com/) or Semrush's Keyword Magic Tool to find question-based keywords related to your seed keywords.
1.7 Organize your keyword list
As you find potential keywords to target, it's important to keep your list organized. You can use a spreadsheet or a dedicated keyword management tool like Semrush's Keyword Manager to store and categorize your keywords. This will make it easier to analyze and prioritize them in the next
Step 2: Evaluating and selecting the best keywords
2.1 Understand the metrics
After generating a list of potential keywords, you need to understand the different keyword metrics to evaluate their potential value. These include:
- Search Volume: This represents the number of searches a particular keyword receives within a specific timeframe. Higher search volume indicates higher popularity, but it may also come with more competition.
- Keyword Difficulty: This is an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank on the first page of search engine results for a particular keyword. The higher the score, the more competition there is.
- Cost Per Click (CPC): This is the average cost per click if you were to use the keyword for a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising campaign. A higher CPC generally indicates a higher commercial intent.
Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs provide these metrics for each keyword in your list.
2.2 Prioritize your keywords
Based on the metrics, prioritize your keywords. Look for keywords with a reasonable search volume, lower keyword difficulty (especially if your website is new or has low authority), and higher CPC (if your goal includes conversions or sales).
2.3 Save keywords to a keyword list
After prioritizing, save all the relevant keyword ideas to a keyword list. This will keep your keyword ideas in one place for further analysis or for future reference. You can create this list using a spreadsheet or a tool like Semrush's Keyword Manager.
2.4 Re-evaluate periodically
Keyword trends can change over time, so make sure to re-evaluate your keywords every few months. This will help you stay updated and keep finding new keyword opportunities.
Step 3: Targeting your keywords effectively
3.1 Identify the primary keyword
Each topic usually contains multiple keywords. However, you still need a single primary keyword for each page or piece of content. A primary keyword should ideally have the highest search volume, and it should be used in key elements of the page such as the URL, title tag, and headings.
For example, if your topic is about "organic dog food," your primary keyword could be "best organic dog food," while secondary keywords could include "benefits of organic dog food," "organic dog food brands," etc.
3.2 Understand and nail the search intent
To rank for any keyword, you need to understand the search intent behind it. In other words, you need to know what users expect to see when they search for that keyword.
The four types of search intent include:
- Navigational: The user is searching for a specific website or page.
- Informational: The user is looking for information on a particular topic.
- Commercial: The user is researching options before making a purchase.
- Transactional: The user is ready to buy.
Use your keyword tool to filter your keywords based on these categories of search intent. For example, if you're creating content for a blog, you'll want to focus on keywords with informational intent.
3.3 Analyze the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
Before you decide to target a specific keyword, look at the SERP to see what kind of content is currently ranking for that keyword. This can give you insights into the type of content you should create to rank for that keyword.
3.4 Create corresponding content
Once you've identified your keywords and understood the search intent, it's time to create content that aligns with this. If the top-ranking pages for your keyword are detailed guides, consider creating a comprehensive guide. If they're product pages, you might want to create a product page or a comparison post.
Remember, the goal is to provide value to your audience, so think about how you can differentiate your content and provide something unique or more valuable than what's already out there. This could be by:
- Covering the topic more thoroughly or from a unique angle.
- Providing more helpful examples or original data.
- Offering a better user experience, such as an interactive tool or a well-designed infographic.
- Creating high-quality, original media like videos or custom graphics.
3.5 Useful Keyword Tools
Lastly, here are some tools that can assist you in your keyword research journey:
- Semrush: A comprehensive SEO tool that provides keyword research functionalities, including finding keyword ideas, analyzing keyword metrics, and tracking keyword rankings.
- Google Search Console: It helps you understand how Google sees your site, what queries users are using to find your site, and gives insights into improving your site's Google ranking.
- Google Keyword Planner: Although it's primarily for PPC advertising, it's a handy free tool for finding new keyword ideas.
- Google Trends: It's not specifically a keyword tool, but it's useful for understanding keyword popularity over time and finding trending topics.
Remember, keyword research isn't a one-time task – it's an ongoing process that should be a core part of your SEO strategy. As your business evolves and as search trends change, you'll need to revisit your keywords, measure your progress, and adjust your strategy accordingly.