How To Do Keyword Research

First Understand the Purpose of Keyword Research

When learning how to do keyword research, you first need to understand its purpose or goal.

Keyword research is the process of identifying and analysing the keywords (also known as search terms) that people use when searching online for information, products, or services.

The goal is to find search terms that have a high search volume and are relevant to your product or service offered, which you can then use to give focus to all of your other SEO activities, and boost the right kinds of organic traffic.

Keyword research is a foundational step in any SEO campaign – without it, you don’t know what you want to rank for, and you don’t have sufficient focus to drive the rankings you need.

Brainstorm Relevant Topics

Start by brainstorming a list of topics that are relevant to your business, products, or services.  Think about the terms your potential customers might use when searching for information related to your industry.  Include both broad topics and more specific niche keywords, and jot down a list.

Use Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools can help you expand your initial keyword list, discover new keyword ideas, and provide valuable data about search volume and competition.  Some popular keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Ubersuggest.  These tools can provide insights into search volume, keyword difficulty, and related keywords.  A particularly useful tool for ad-hoc deep dives into specific keywords is Keywords Everywhere – this one works directly within your Chrome browser as you search on Google, allowing you to also look at the search results, as well as seeing a variety of keyword suggestions grouped under headings like Related Keywords and Long Tail Keywords.  Another tool that arranges things a little differently is Answer The Public, which includes some helpful charts and graphics arranging keywords into Comparisons, Questions, Propositions, etc – as shown on the screenshot below:

Keyword Research Tool Screenshot

Identify Seed Keywords

Using your initial keyword list and research tools, identify a few seed keywords that best represent your business or industry.  These seed keywords will serve as a starting point for further research and expansion.

Analyse Search Volume

Look for keywords with a significant search volume.  This indicates that people are actively searching for information related to those keywords.  However, keep in mind that high search volume often means higher competition, so if you’re only starting out you may want to include some lower volume keywords that are less competitive, to give you some early results while you spend time working on the harder high-volume keywords.

Analyse Keyword Relevance

When analysing search volumes, it is important to ensure the keywords you choose are also relevant to your business and the content you offer.

For example if you sell steel doors, you probably wouldn’t choose just ‘doors’ even if the search volume is higher than ‘steel doors’, because a majority of the people searching ‘doors’ may want some other kind of door, wooden for example, so the impressive high volume of people searching ‘doors’ doesn’t indicate that there’s that many people looking for ‘steel doors’.

If the content your website provides doesn’t align with the keywords chosen, then it will be hard to rank very high for these keywords, as the search engines are looking for relevant information.  The exception to this rule is if you plan to change your business focus or website content in the near future, then you may decide to start tracking the keywords in advance of making these changes, so that you can assess the difference in rank afterwards.

Consider User Intent

Make sure that you understand the intent behind a user’s search query.  Are they looking for information, products, services, or something else?  Tailor your keyword selection to match user intent and align your content accordingly.  This helps improve user experience and increases the likelihood of conversion.

If you are unsure about the user intent behind a keyword, try searching that keyword on Google, and seeing what types of websites Google chooses to display in the top few organic search results – Google understands the most common user intent behind popular search terms, so if the top ranking websites offer similar to your own website, then you know the keyword is a relevant one to target.

Assess Keyword Competition

Some keyword research tools give a competition score.  If you are aiming to dominate your niche, you will probably want to ignore this and target any relevant keyword with high enough search volume, regardless of how difficult the competition score is.  In our experience, the competition score on these tools is often misleading and ones marked as high competition can still prove easy targets, so don’t be too put off by this metric when making your selection.  As a general rule, the higher the search volume the higher the competition is likely to be, however, there are many other factors involved too.

You may also want to bear in mind that SEO competition levels can change over time, for example, when a brand new product or service is launched, there may only be 1 or 2 other people offering it on the internet, and even if your website is poorly optimised, you could appear right near the top of page 1 if you publish some content offering this new product or service.  However, over time as more and more people start to produce content on the same product or service, it will become harder and harder to squeeze your way onto page 1, you will have to have the best optimised page out of 100s or 1000s of alternatives once this happens.

Consider Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases.  While they may have lower search volume individually, they are often less competitive and have a higher chance of converting into sales or leads. Targeting a combination of broad and long-tail keywords can help you reach a wider audience, and long-tail keywords can provide some quick results in the early stages of an SEO campaign, while the short-tail keywords have yet to reach page 1 ranking positions.

Analyse Keyword Trends

Consider the popularity and trends associated with specific keywords.  Some keywords may have seasonal variations or fluctuating search volumes over time.  Tools like Google Trends can provide insights into keyword popularity and historical data.

Analyse Competitor Keywords

Analyse the keywords your competitors are targeting.  Identify keywords they rank for and consider whether it’s feasible to compete for those terms.  This analysis can provide valuable insights into the keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites.  Most keyword research tools have the option to simply copy and paste the URL of a competitor’s website into a search box, and then the tool will give you a list of keywords that that website ranks for.  One tool that offers this is Ubersuggest – this tool also seeks to combine search volume data with rank position to give you an indication of how much traffic that website is receiving from various keywords – just bear in mind that this data is an estimate based on the average percentage of traffic that various ranking positions typically give, and is not exact data.

This is not to be confused with competitor SEO analysis, which looks more at the competitor website content and SEO best practice.

Group and Organise Keywords

Organise your keyword list based on relevance and similarity.  Grouping keywords helps with content planning and website structure.  You can create different pages or sections on your website to target specific groups of keywords.

Monitor and Refine

Keyword research is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your keyword performance and make adjustments as needed. Keep an eye on changes in search trends, update your content with new keywords, and refine your strategy based on the data you collect.

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