How to do a Proper Keyword Research?
It has been said: keyword research is the market research for the 21st century. It’s not as easy to do as you would like, but much easier than you think. It is in the range of “we are going to show you exactly how to do it in this article”. Let’s get through the entire process and find your business the right keywords and learn what are the metrics you should be looking at during research.
You can categorize keywords in many ways. But when you are doing keyword research in order to create high-ranking content, the first thing you should look at is intent. Based on the intent a user has when running a search query in Google they could be looking for different things. This means there are…
- Informational keywords.
- Transactional keywords.
- Navigational keywords.
Informational keywords: the user is seeking information. They want to know when the Battle of Waterloo took place or how much horsepower a certain car has. Users running these queries are usually ones with none or weak purchase intent, at the most they are comparing different products – so they are the ideal audience of useful content.
Transactional keywords: phrases that communicate a strong purchase intent, many times including the word “price” for example. They can be targeted with landing pages, product or category pages.
Navigational keywords: not really your ideal target audience, they are usually just trying to find sites or sections that they don’t remember the URLs for. Just make sure you rank at #1 for your own brand.
How to find keywords?
There are many, many ways to create you first lists, and they don’t even have to be precisely right, as later on you are going to validate these. First, try to come up with topics, phrases, questions that you ideal customers might type into Google and are relevant to your business. You can do this in various ways:
- Sit down and brainstorm a list with your colleagues.
- Collect ideas from niche social groups, message boards.
- Analyze messages that come through your customer support channels.
- Look at the ideas Google offers (e.g. autocomplete suggestions, related searches, related topics in infoboxes, etc.)
- Search for relevant content on YouTube.
- Look at trending news and topics on niche sites.
- Look at relevant trending topics on Twitter.
- Have a go at Wikipedia.
- Analyze the sites of your best competitors.
The next step is validating your keywords. You can do this with many online tools like Ahrefs, KWFinder, SemRush, Moz, Ubersuggest and so on. This is the hardest part, as you have to get used to the interface, but most of these tools are quite user-friendly and will guide you through the process.
What we will do is tell you what to look for when trying to find out if targeting a specific keyword is a good idea or not:
- Search volume: Make sure that your investment is worth it. There is no “right” volume, but the number of searches per month paired with the probability that users will actually click on results must yield a number of visitors that you can convert in high enough numbers that you have a return on your investment. (E.g. it might be perfectly enough to get 1 visitor with a very strong purchase intent on the site if you are selling sports cars, but you need thousands if you are selling mugs.)
- Keyword difficulty (KD): it would make little sense to target a keyword if all your competitors are burning their budget on it too. Instead, try to find keywords with low difficulty, relevant phrases that your competitors didn’t think about creating content or running ad campaigns for.
- Search trends: google trends: even you have found a keyword that seems perfect, first check it’s popularity in Google Trends. It may seem like a good fit now, but if it’s been on a downward spiral for a year, the investment may not be worth it even mid-term.
- Relevancy: make sure that the keywords are really relevant to your brand and products. Phrases that are too general (e.g. “cheap books”) will be searched by a lot of people – but most of them will not be a part of your target audience. Also, they will most likely be too difficult to rank for.
We also have to talk about long-tail keywords.
Based on length, we have three keyword categories:
- Head: these are the keywords that contain only one word. They are usually too general to be useful.
- Body: search terms containing a few words, indicating a more focused intent, like «cheap books» or «gluten free bagel».
- Long-tail: queries containing three or more words.
Long-tail keywords are the most useful for us, because many times we can clearly identify the search intent and they also give us information about the user. E.g. if someone searches for «used parts ford focus long island”, we know that they are living in Long Island, they own a Ford Focus that is most likely an older car, and they are in need of parts for it. This makes it easy to target them on a landing page.
So, if you have your keywords, how should you target?
How to use your keywords
If you want to create well-targeted content, the first thing you should do is choose a topic. Pick a long-tail keyword that can fit into a coherent sentence that may serve as a title, preferably a question that is relevant. Create a working title using this – this will be our main keyword.
Next, try to find relevant keywords – online tools will have a lot of suggestions for you. These can serve as subheadlines.
Your task is basically to answer the questions asked in their keywords as well as you can.
In the body, you shouldn’t focus on using keywords – just write naturally, and relevant words and phrases will pop up in the text naturally. This way your article will be much more understandable to readers, and keyword density is not a ranking factor anyway for a long time now.
We also recommend creating long-form content, like skyscraper articles that can answer not only one, but many realted questions at once, this way your content can rank for more keywords and bring you more organic traffic.
After publishing the content, pay attention to promoting it on your channels and also linkbuilding: try to get valuable links targeted at the page from high-value, relevant sites.
In essence, this is it: if you check regularly what keywords you rank for and what results your content brings, you can start building up a strong authority for your site – which means your content and pages will rank even better, bringing you more organic traffic, leads and consequently, if you are good at converting them, customers and revenue.
So only one question remains: do you know yet what are your strongest keywords?