So you don’t know how to do keyword research for SEO
Is your site struggling to be found? Are you trying to get your blog write-ups to show up in the top rankings during a Google search? “Are you struggling to make your online eCommerce store get a foothold? Sure, we all understand the struggle.
The competition on Google and other search engines is very intense. It is easy to lose courage and quit. Fret not. This is the reason why you need this beginner’s guide on proper keyword research and SEO practices. We have applied the principles written in this guide on our blog.
Guess what? We have seen immense traffic growth in our average monthly visits over the past few years. If you are seeking help, you have come to the right spot. Keyword research is not as difficult as you think.
The core concept is to fill your content with the words and phrases that people can search for daily. We will break the concepts down into five significant steps. Are you ready? Read slowly, pay rapt attention, and have fun while you read through this guide.
What is a keyword?
A keyword or focus keyword is the best word that defines your content. This keyword can be a single word, phrase, or clause. When people type that word or phrase in a Google search bar, they will locate the content on your page.
Let us use an example that we can all relate to. Imagine that you have a battery eCommerce blog. You sell all sorts of sizes, capacities, and brands of batteries. On your site, you may have a segment for providing reviews on these batteries.
If you don’t put the right focus keywords, don’t expect your site to rank in a quick Google search. To beat this barrier, you need to ask yourself some questions. What will the search query appear like? What kind of words relating to batteries will people type in a search engine?
If you can find an answer to these kinds of questions, you are on the right track. People are likely to pull up search terms like “lead-acid accumulator,” “best batteries for trucks,” “best premium vehicle batteries,” and so on.
This is a basic overview of how keyword research works. The basic strategy is to for the keywords to reflect the content on your page. But wait. That’s not all you need to know. There are two main types of keywords. They include head keywords and long-tail keywords.
A head keyword (also known as head term) is a popular search term. Head keywords usually have a large volume of monthly searches. These are standard terms that people quickly think of.
Keywords like “men’s clothing,” “women’s clothing,” “bikini,” and “three-piece suits” are popular head terms in this clothing domain. These kinds of words will have a considerable volume of searches monthly.
If you use head keywords alone in your content, it will be hard to get your site to rank. You have a lot of competition to deal with.
A long-tail keyword is more SEO-specific and tactical than a head keyword. Generally, long-tail keywords contain more words. You can think of a long-tail keyword as a subtopic under the main subject. Long-tail keywords will help you rank better. I know that you will be trying to imagine the intuition behind this.
There isn’t an incredibly intense competition to face if you use long-tail key phrases. Think of this example. Suppose you sell hair care products on your blog. An example of a head password for your website is “hair care cream.”
With only this term in your write-ups, you cannot expect your blog to rank in Google searches. There are millions of salon artists, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders offering hair care products. They will all use the term “hair care cream” in their blogs.
You are in line for stiff competition. You can beat this barrier by creating content for a specific niche within your business enterprise.
Examples of long-tail keywords in the hair care domain include:
- “best creams for dry and breaking hair,”
- “best hair care products for coarse hair textures,”
- “best hair lotions under $100”.
If you center your content on these long-tail keywords, you will overcome a lot of competition.
Why Keyword research is important
Keyword research is part of obeying good SEO practices. Here are the reasons why you should think about your search terms carefully.
Bad keywords mean poorly optimized content and no results
It is as simple as it sounds. If you do a horrible job in selecting your target keywords, all your efforts are in vain. Poor SEO practices mean that your website will not show up in Google searches.
That is bad for business. Counterintuitive as it may sound, stuffing your blog content with too many keywords is a bad idea. Don’t be found on either extreme of the road. Do you want to find out why? Keep reading.
Obvious keywords mean higher competition
If you produce content based on popular keywords, you are in for an intense competition. Keyword research will help you to know the head terms to avoid. Also, keyword optimization is not a once and for all thing. It is not something you do at the beginning of your business campaign and stop. You need to keep yourself updated as the eCommerce world advances. Doing this will help you to stay above the competition.
Keyword research answers specific questions
There are some questions that you will need to ask yourself at the onset of keyword optimization. Some of these questions include:
- Is there any individual searching for this keyword? If yes, how many are they?
- What type of content can I create to rank for a particular keyword?
- How difficult will it be to rank for a specified keyword?
- What level of traffic should I expect if I can rank my content?
Ask yourself these questions at the preliminary level of your keyword research. Don’t dive into implementing business ideas and SEO-related stuff without thinking it through first. Remember the slogan that says Failure to plan is planning to fail.
How to do Keyword research for a blog in five easy steps
If you have been following this write-up, you are now in the action phase. There are five golden rules to know while digging up keywords for your blog. They include:
- Understand your audience and the overall market structure
- Find keyword ideas by studying customer behavior and other valuable leads.
- Research on the search volume and trends associated with your keywords.
- Filter high-volume keywords.
- Identify people’s intent behind searches.
1. Understand your customer
Who are your customers?
Your customers are people who search for your service and drive traffic to your website. Let us get one fact straight. Your keywords and overall content determine not only the amount of traffic on your site. They also determine the quality of that traffic.
Low-quality traffic refers to people who visit your site and aren’t among your target audience. There is a low probability that these visitors will contribute anything to you.
High-quality traffic consists of individuals who visit your blog and are a part of your target audience. This group of people will likely buy your products and click on ads on your site.
What help do they need?
If you have identified your target audience, you need to know what they need. Place yourself in the shoes of a prospective client. Structure your thought pattern to fit that of a potential customer. Tailor your solutions to satisfy your clients.
Conduct sufficient research on their spending habits. Also, take note of the fact that the demand for some products depends on seasonal variations.
If you own an online clothing store, people will more likely prefer to purchase a raincoat than a bikini during winter. It would be best to satisfy that kind of demand.
How are they going to find you?
This is another all-important question. How will your customers locate you? Customers go through the three stages in the transactional business timeline. These stages are the awareness stage, evaluation stage, and purchase stage.
The awareness stage specifies how customers will locate your blog or product. In this stage, they know that they have a need. However, they don’t know anything about how to go about it. It could be through an introductory eBook, email newsletter, glossary, introductory white paper, and blog posts.
In the evaluation stage, clients will rely on price comparison and analytical thinking before purchasing a product. The purchase stage is the moment that they buy your product. This is the way that many customers think.
Suppose your company or enterprise does not fall in line with this research pipeline. In that case, you are already losing ground to potential competitors. Keyword research can help you through these three stages. If you want people to search for your products, you need to include everyday words like “purchase,” “sign up,” and “buy.”
In summary, you have to understand the identity of your target audience. Do your best to strategize and carry them along. Direct your solution towards their needs. In this way, you will get more average visits per month on your blog.
2. Find keyword ideas
Have a goal in mind
Convert everything that you have learned about your target audience into keyword ideas. There are several ways to do this. Ask yourself the potential phrases that people can search.
If you run out of possible ideas, ask friends, family members, and coworkers. You can even ask your current customers for the kind of phrases they search for.
Brainstorm for ideas
Identify 5 to 10 content buckets. A content bucket refers to topics or subjects that define different domains of your business. For an illustration, suppose you have a medical blog that provides helpful resources based on proper research.
You can decide to create a content bucket for food and exercise-related topics. Another content bucket will be for review of diseases, their causes, and possible solutions.
Another one will be for news, events, and products. Have you noticed a trend with the scope of these content buckets? They reflect the different aspects of your brand and combine well to paint a complete picture.
Fill in topics with base/seed keywords
A seed/base keyword is a short and primary keyword. Typically, they contain a maximum of two words, with no modifiers. It is a starting point to help content marketers build early insights. A base term can be as short as the word “bag.”
Seed keywords can form the structure of long-tail keywords. They can even help you to create infographics and videos. One powerful tool that you can use to generate seed keywords is a keyword explorer.
Make a list of the keywords that can rank for SERPs. Everyone wants to rank on top of Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Oh well! A high-ranking position on any search engine will mean a lot of clicks. You can create a mental or physical list of the potential high-ranking keywords.
Begin to fill the keywords with activators and different types of phrases
Activators refer to words or phrases that stimulate action. A lot of people, and even we, use activators while making a web search.
Common examples of using activators include:
- “Best ways to care for my car during winter”
- “The easiest way to use a car wrench”
- “How to increase my earnings from freelancing”
- “I need the top 10 best dog foods”
and so on. You are probably thinking of more examples in your head right now.
There are other expanding phrases that we use. More examples include “android smartphones vs. iPhones,” “review of the top 10 high-performing car batteries.”
Check out the content of your competitors
You need to know what your competitors are doing that you are failing to do. Of course, there are several factors that Google algorithms consider before ranking a website on top of search results. The overall useability of your blog is vital. Common examples include:
- Call to action words and phrases
- Broken links and custom 404 pages
- Ease of navigation on your site
- Latency for web pages to load
Before exploring any other thing, use these yardsticks to evaluate your site. Now, you need to know the people you are up against. A decent way to know this is to ask your client or coworkers. In the real world, you probably know potential competitors already.
However, there is a little good news. Things can be different in the digital world. Some of your real-life competitors will not have a high ranking in search engine results. Nevertheless, knowing your physical competitors is a good starting point.
Find 2 to 3 top-ranking websites that fit your seed keywords. After that vital step, make a seed list of keywords that your competitors can use. Think of keywords that portray a transactional intent.
For example, “buy the best voltage stabilizers” should take higher preference over “how long will my voltage stabilizer last?” The latter has a research-driven intent compared to the former.
3. Research your keywords
Keyword search volume matters
Keyword search volume means the frequency of searches people make for a key term with a specified period. Average annual search volume is another metric that gives an insight into the kind of keywords you should use. Aim for keywords that have substantial search volume.
However, there is a minor twist here. There is a sweet spot for fixing keywords to drive your blog. If you use only keywords with a low search volume, nobody will see your blog. The other extreme is to target high search volume keywords. You will face intense competition, and your site will not rank.
There is an easy way to get around this problem. Suppose you have a relatively popular blog with a strong reputation. In that case, you can tilt a little bit towards high-volume, high-competition keywords.
If you are still a newbie in the game, delve slightly towards low-competition search terms, at least in the beginning. Also, you need to keep up with trends on the average search volume of a keyword.
Keyword difficulty has to do with what it takes for a keyword to rank in a Google search. Factors that affect keyword difficulty include content quality, domain rating, and so on. Let’s examine some of them in full detail.
User (or search) intent
Search intent refers to the objective of an individual when they make a search on Google, Bing, or any other engine. That person has an exact answer that he wants to see.
For example, one person might search for “the origin and commercial production of refined apple juice.” Another individual could type “recipes for apple juice.”
Apple juice is the subject of both questions. However, both users have different end goals. Search intent is essential to Google and you as well. Google won’t appreciate it if a user searches for something specific and gets irrelevant feedback.
Let user intent be a driving factor in your keyword research and content marketing strategy. Suppose people can make a single Google search and locate your content immediately. In that case, there are lower chances that they will do another search.
Domain rating is also known as website authority. It is a metric that falls between 1 and 100. If you have a high domain rating, you will likely have a high SERP ranking. When you build a new site, it will have a domain rating of one.
When your site reaches a point, the domain rating score will start fluctuating from time to time. Proper keywords and high-quality content will increase your site traffic and raise your domain authority score.
Backlink quality and quantity
Backlinks are links that connect your website with other websites. Those affiliate locations could be social media, blog posts, and directories. On most occasions, those blogs have content that revolves around the same niche as your site.
People often argue over the quantity and quality of backlinks. A school of thought claims that you don’t need many backlinks. They believe that only the backlink quality is crucial.
Don’t bother yourself with such arguments. Strike a balance between the two of them. A high-quality backlink is a link on your site that comes from a high authority website. Typically, search engine users will trust this kind of site. Other factors that affect keyword difficulty include:
- Quality of content.
- Use of keywords and their synonyms
- Unique referring domains
Cost per click
Cost Per Click (CPC) is how much you pay for each click In your pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns like Bing ads or Google Adwords. Business enterprises in highly competitive domains have a high CPC.
Your CPC affects the amount of money that you can get on your advertising investment (ROI). Your advertising channels and market of operation determine your average CPC.
Your advertising investment depends on the price you pay for clicks. It also relies on the quality of site traffic you get from those clicks. You might be wondering, “Where is the place of keyword research in evaluating CPC?”
Relax. There is a metric called quality score. When your ad text contains the relevant keywords, your blog will attract a higher quality score. A higher quality score will reduce your Cost Per Click. That is a good thing.
Click-through rate (CTR) defines the fraction of people who have visited one of your web pages and clicked on a particular ad.
CTR is a metric that denotes how much attention an advertisement on your site attracts. Google uses CTR to know if your content is relevant to its users. A high CTR for your blog means that many people are searching for that specific keyword phrase.
4. Filter your keywords
When you have created a comprehensive list of keywords, knock out the ones with a high search volume and tough competition. A reasonable benchmark to denote a high-volume keyword is 100,000 searches per month. Don’t go for high search volume and difficult keywords. As we have emphasized earlier, focus on low-volume long-tail keywords, especially if you are a newbie. Maintain the easy range at the early stages.
5. Identify keyword intent
The keyword intent of your site visitors has to be satisfied. We all know that search engines can develop a different result from what you have in mind. Let’s assume that you are the owner of a blog that sells glass windows.
If a person searches for “windows” on Google, Google will most likely return results based on the Windows operating system. But, wait a minute! Your blog content information is based on windows for a home. There is no way that potential customers will visit your blog.
The intent of the user is different from the results. As we have emphasized throughout this guide, the sweet spot for keywords is the virtue of low search volume and low competition. Use only keywords that share relevance to the subject matter of your blog.
Keyword research tools
There are many other keyword research tools out there. However, you can use anyone in the list below, depending on your budget and priorities.
One fantastic tool for keyword research is KWFinder. I use this tool when I am researching keywords. It provides instant access to the appropriate long-tail keywords. KWfinder also has an intuitive user interface coupled with data segregation for keyword analysis.
Most premium SEO tool providers don’t know how to optimize their features. On their sites, you will see several performance metrics that many newbies don’t know to read.
That’s not the case with KWFinder. KWFinder focuses on simplicity and functionality. While researching, you will often discover many new keyword ideas from KWFinder.
One major drawback of KWFInder is that keyword search results depend on the plan you use. You can only get 200 to 700 related keywords for one search. Other keyword research tools display way more than that.
Ubersuggest is another good keyword research machine. It is very affordable and functional. In fact, it is almost free. The pro plan for Ubersuggest costs only about $30 monthly. Ubersuggest is perfect for small and medium websites.
If you don’t have resources for more pricey services, Ubersuggest is perfect. This SEO service can give ideas on where to get backlinks. It also tells you the lapses you need to address.
You will see the search volume and seasonal trends for any keyword. Neil Patel, the owner of Ubersuggest, has promised that the company will reinforce its SEO tool with more features.
Wordtracker is an excellent SEO software package that helps you to know your competitors’ key phrases. It provides real-time analytics on keyword searches. However, the monthly subscription is high.
It ranges from $500 to about $2000 per month, depending on your plan. The three available plans are gold, silver, and bronze. Wordtracker gives new users a seven-day trial period.
This SEO tool also provides animations and videos that help you navigate through its features. Worktracker exports keyword search results in a layout that you can easily understand.
Ahref is a professional SEO grading tool with excellent features. To use this tool, you need to know what you are doing. It is suitable for several tasks ranging from competition analysis to SEO monitoring and keyword management. AHref has a simple structure that favors quality user experience.
AHref’s cost is a little on the high side. It has different pricing plans ranging from $99 to $999 per month. The four major plans include:
- Lite plan
- Standard plan
- Advanced plan
- Agency plan
Every plan offers the same core features. The significant difference is the amount of data that you can get from each plan’s features. The lite plan costs about $82 per month. That price can increase to $99 if you pick month-to-month billing.
This basic plan will allow you to track 300 keywords per week and use the keyword explorer three times daily. The standard plan increases this to 50 keyword searches per day and 1000 tracked keywords every three days.
For example, the Agency plan is the ultimate plan. It allows you to track 50 times more keywords compared to the lite plan.
Majestic can provide real-time analysis on your site. It also keeps track of competitor’s websites to find ways to improve yours. The tool bases its operation on a link database.
The link database tracks every website that connects to your site. Majestic’s pricing plans fall between two extremes. There is a lite package that costs about $42 per month.
If you want a fully functional package, the price can go as high as $1,600 per month. Majestic does an excellent job of searching for keywords in the anchor texts of its backlinks database.
SEMRush is another solid SEO tool. Since its creation in 2008, the site has amassed millions of users. It is suitable for site auditing, link building, and keyword research.
SEMRush’s interface is similar to that of AHref. SEMRush has valuable tools for competitive research and rank tracking. It has a dashboard that offers a quick overview of the CPC and your query’s approximate average search volume.
The subscription prices for SEMRush are reasonable. The pro plan costs about $120 per month, while the business plan goes for $450.
There you have it. If you want your eCommerce website, blog, or online business to grow, you must utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The competition between online companies to stay at the top is only getting more intense.
A key SEO component to make your blog grow is the use of keywords. Keyword research might look overwhelming at the beginning. It’s not that hard.
You only have to take things step-by-step. The first focus is to know the population you are targeting. Ensure that you understand their search intent and mindset.
Think like a customer. Create a preliminary list of head keywords. From those head keywords, focus on low competition long-tail keywords. Moreover, there are even keyword research software tools to make your job easier.
Don’t forget. Keyword optimization is not precisely a once-and-for-all thing. The average monthly search volume for a keyword is subject to change. Therefore, keyword optimization is a continuous process. Keep your head up and stay in the game!
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