Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. It helps you craft a deliberate content strategy for your blog or website.
Do your keyword research first. Think about other SEO tasks later.
Be thorough when you do keyword research. Understand your niche (market), products and services, and your audience inside out.
If you want to get organic search traffic you must do your keyword research.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is modern day market research.
It is the process of using a keyword research tool to discover what your audience (really) wants.
Keyword research tells you exactly how many times any keyword that you can imagine is being searched for in Google Search.
Thus, you can determine exactly what content to create for your website.
Why Keyword Research Is So Important?
- Keywords drive your organic search traffic
- Helps you craft a deliberate content strategy
- Verify interest level in your content ideas
- Directs on-page SEO implementation tasks
- The best way to improve your SEO efforts
- Identify where your competitors are getting traffic
What Is The Best Keyword Research Tool?
Invest in a premium paid for keyword research tool.
No free keyword research tool provides the value that paid tools offer. The Google Keyword Planner was really designed for picking keywords for Google AdWords campaigns. Other free tools I have tried seem to have questionable data accuracy.
In my opinion the best keyword research tool available right now is SEMrush. The data, insights and time saved that you get using SEMrush all contribute to the bottom line. I do think the tool pays for itself. For example, I doubled my organic search traffic in a few months twice in the last two years from doing massive keyword research projects.
This increase in organic search doubled my revenue. If you put the time into using the tool and execute a great SEO content campaign it will pay you back guaranteed.
Most importantly, I am a big fan of the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool. This tool makes the keyword research process incredibly efficient. You can build and organize your entire SEO content strategy into spreadsheets with the click of a button.
First Identify Industry Specific (Main/Niche) Topics
Before you use a keyword tool, spend time identifying all the main topics for your industry that are relevant to your audience.
Make a list of as many big topics (and possibly sub-topics) that you can.
These topics are known as your seed keywords.
You will use seed keywords to discover all the other keywords for your complete SEO content strategy.
For my blog some of the main topics of my industry that I am targeting include: Digital Marketing, SEO, Web Analytics, Facebook Advertising, Google AdWords or SEM, WordPress, and Content Promotion.
How To Find Niche Topics?
- Magazines (and their websites)
- Reddit (look at subreddit topics)
- Wikipedia (masters of organizing content by topic)
- Your competitors
- Instagram tags (look at post counts)
- Book stores and libraries (look at how they organize books in sections)
Types Of Keywords To Explore
After you have made your list of topics the next step is to understand the types of keywords that you can explore under each topic. Keywords are categorized as head keywords, body keywords and long tail keywords. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Head Keywords (Single Word Phrases)
Head keywords are single word phrases. SEO is an example of a head keyword.
They have massive search volumes and high keyword difficulty scores.
It is hard to get ranked well for these keywords. The competition is high.
Head keywords are general or broad topics. Search intent is not clear. These keywords do not convert very well since the searcher does not yet understand clearly what they want. Searchers are in an exploratory mode.
Body Keywords (2-3 Word Phrases)
Body keywords are more specific than head keywords. There is a more obvious search intent.
They get a decent search volume of 2000+ searches/month.
Body keywords are competitive. But keyword difficulty scores are generally not as high as they are for head keywords.
Examples of body keywords: keyword research, keyword research tool, keyword research techniques.
Long Tail Keywords (4+ Word Phrases)
Long tail keywords are very specific and more descriptive. They are phrases that are 4+ words.
In general, they are less competitive and have lower keyword difficulty scores.
Long tail keywords have higher conversion rates.
They get less search volume (under 1000 searches/month) individually. But collectively long tail keywords make up the majority of online searches.
Examples of long tail keywords: keyword research competitor analysis, best keyword research tool, how to do keyword research for niche sites.
Focus your effort on targeting body and long tail keywords.
Why? They are less competitive and convert more often than head keywords.
Optimize your articles for body keywords and use long tail keywords in the content.
If you rank for the body keyword you will also rank for the long tail keywords that you use.
It is better to write fewer, longer articles that contain many keywords. Target your main topics or niche topics with body keywords. Target relevant sub-topics with long tail keywords.
Avoid writing short articles that target long tail keywords. You will run out of things to talk about. Content may be considered “thin” by Google. And you will run the risk of a Panda penalty.
Other Types Of Keywords
Question keywords are questions and are typically long tail keywords.
Include question keywords in your content to increase your chances of securing featured snippet rankings. These are known as “position zero” and are found just above the number 1 position of traditional organic search results.
Check out Answer The Public. It is a great place to find question keywords.
LSI keywords are either synonyms or keywords commonly found together. Include these as a complement to your primary keywords.
So, now you know the types of keywords you can pursue.
Next, let’s review the steps to doing thorough keyword research.
The Ideal Keywords To Target
- 1000+ monthly searches
- Lower keyword difficulty
- Triggers featured snippets or other SERP features
- Has commercial intent
- Gives your articles structure (sub-topics to a main topic)
- Your competitors (steal their traffic)
How To Do SEO Keyword Research (5 Steps)
- List and explore the main topics (seed keywords) that are relevant to your industry
- Find head and body keywords to organize your site structure and your content
- Do long tail keyword research for your articles
- How to choose the right keywords using a keyword research tool
- Search volume
- Commercial intent
- Keyword difficulty
- SERP features
- Competitor keyword research and analysis
Now, let’s put this list into action and do practical step-by-step keyword research tutorial using SEMrush.