The way to Do Keyword Research designed for SEO: A Beginner’s Guidebook

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While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm improvements they keep rollin’ out, one thing has stayed quite consistent for inbound online marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword study.

Well, the need to do key phrase research has stayed the same. The way you actually do it hasn’t.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for seo (SEO) or general marketing and advertising. Keyword research can reveal queries to target, the popularity associated with theses queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.

A lot more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over only the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to the ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.

And to some extent, this is genuine; using keywords that exactly match a person’s search is no longer the most important ranking factor in the particular eyes of an SEO professional. Rather, it’s the intent at the rear of that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for your intent (we’ll talk read more about intent in just a minute).

But that doesn’t mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:

Keyword study tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, just how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching key phrases that are getting a high amount of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content straight into topics that you want to create articles on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for plus target.

By researching key phrases for their popularity, search quantity, and general intent, you are able to tackle the questions that this most people in your audience want answers to.

How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Technique

I’m going to lay out a key word research process you can adhere to to help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you can establish and execute a solid keyword strategy that helps you will get found for the search terms you actually care about.

Step 1 : Make a list of important, relevant topics depending on what you know about your business.

In order to kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for when it comes to generic buckets. You’ll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you’ll use all those topic buckets to help develop some specific keywords afterwards in the process.

If you’re a regular blogger, these are probably the topics a person blog about most frequently. Or maybe they’re the topics which come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer gentes — what types of topics would your target audience search that will you’d want your business to obtain found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example — selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools… but I digress), you might have general topic buckets like:

  • “inbound marketing” (21K)
  • “blogging” (19K)
  • “email marketing” (30K)
  • “lead generation” (17K)
  • “SEO” (214K)
  • “social media marketing” (71K)
  • “marketing analytics” (6. 2K)
  • “marketing automation” (8. 5K)

See those numbers within parentheses to the right of every keyword? That’s their monthly search quantity . This data enables you to gauge how important these subjects are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to generate content on to be successful with this keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move onto step two…

Step 2: Fill in those subject buckets with keywords.

Since you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it’s time to determine some keywords that fall under those buckets. These are keywords and key phrases you think are important to position for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) your own target customer is probably performing searches for those specific terms.

For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software corporation — “marketing automation” — I’d brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would certainly type in related to that topic. Those might include:

  • marketing automation tools
  • how to use marketing automation software
  • what is marketing software?
  • how to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • direct nurturing
  • email marketing automation
  • top automation tools

And so on and so on. The idea of this step isn’t to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a mind dump of phrases you believe potential customers might use to look for content related to that particular topic bucket. We’ll narrow the particular lists down later in the process so you don’t have something as well unwieldy.  

Although increasingly more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another sensible way to come up with keyword suggestions is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you’re looking for website analytics software such as Google Analytics or HubSpot’s Sources report, available in the particular Traffic Analytics tool. Exercise down into your website’s traffic sources, and sift through your own organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.

Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have.   And remember, if you’re having trouble creating relevant search terms, you can always go on over to your  customer-facing colleagues  — those who are in Sales or Service — and inquire them what types of terms their particular prospects and customers use, or common questions they have got. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.

Step 3: Understand How Intent Impacts Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.

Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank properly on search engines like Google. Today, is actually more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher utilized. So , how does this affect the keyword research you do?

It’s simple to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent at the rear of a search is so important to your own ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful how you interpret the key phrases you target.

Let’s say, for example , you’re researching the key word “how to start a blog” for an article you want to create. “Blog” can mean a weblog post or the blog web site itself, and what a searcher’s intent is behind that keyword will influence the particular direction of your article. Will the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or perform they want to know how to actually start a website domain for the factors like blogging? If your content technique is only targeting people thinking about the latter, you’ll need to make sure from the keyword’s intent before investing in it.

To verify what a user’s intent is in a keyword, it’s a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of outcomes come up. Make sure the type of articles Google is closely associated with what you’d intend to create for the keyword.

Step 4: Analysis related search terms.

This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it’s a great way to fill out those lists.

If you are struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the particular related search terms that show up when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you enter your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google’s results, you’ll notice some suggestions for searches related to your own original input. These keywords can spark ideas just for other keywords you may want to take into account.

Related searches at the bottom of Google SERP that reads "searches related to cute puppies" along with keyword suggestions

Want a bonus? Type in some of those associated search terms and look at their related search terms.

Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage.  

Keyword study and SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest may help you come up with more keyword ideas based on exact match keywords and phrase match key phrases based on the ideas you’ve generated up to this point. This physical exercise might give you alternatives that you might not have considered.

How to Find plus Choose Keywords for Your Website

Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to rank regarding, now it’s time to refine your list based on the best types for your strategy. Here’s just how:  

Step 1. Understand the three main factors for choosing good keywords.

Before choosing keywords and expecting your content in order to rank for them, you must curate keywords for three things:  

1 . Relevance

Google rates content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent is available in. Your content will only rank for the keyword if it meets the particular searchers’ needs. In addition , your articles must be the best resource available for the query. After all, precisely why would Google rank your articles higher if it provides less value than other content material that exists on the web?

2 . Authority

Google will provide excess fat to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do any girl to become an authoritative resource by enriching your site along with helpful, information content plus promoting that content to earn social signals and inbound links. If you’re not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword’s SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can’t compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of position unless your content is extraordinary.  

3. Volume

You may end up ranking on the 1st page for a specific key word, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in visitors your site. Kind of like setting up shop in a ghost town.  

Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched a month across all audiences.  

Step 2: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail key phrases in each bucket.

If you do not know the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain. Head terms are keywords phrases that are generally shorter and more universal — they’re typically only one to three words in length, depending on who you speak with. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.

You need to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it’ll give you a keyword strategy that’s well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That’s because mind terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not usually, but often) much more aggressive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following conditions do you think would be harder to rank for?

  1. how to write an excellent blog post
  2. blogging

If you answered #2, you’re absolutely right. But don’t get discouraged. While head terms generally boast one of the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you will get from the term “how to publish a great blog post” is generally more desirable.


Since someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more skilled searcher for your product or service (presuming you’re in the blogging space) than someone looking for some thing really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it is almost always easier to tell what people which search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term “blogging, inch on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your company.

So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want several quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to nick away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.

3: See how competitors are rank for these keywords.

Just because your own competitor is doing something does not mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is essential to your competitor, doesn’t mean it’s important to you. However , understanding what keywords your competitors are attempting to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.

In case your competitor is ranking for several keywords that are on your checklist, too, it definitely makes sense to operate on improving your ranking for all those. However , don’t ignore the types your competitors don’t seem to worry about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on essential terms, too.

Understanding the stability of terms that might be a bit more difficult due to competition, vs those terms that are a bit more realistic, will help you maintain an identical balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms enables. Remember, the goal would be to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress towards bigger, more challenging SEO objectives.

How do you figure out what key phrases your competitors are ranking meant for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, Ahrefs allows you to run a number of totally free reports that show you the very best keywords for the domain a person enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the forms of terms your competitors are rank for.

Step 4: Use Google’s Keyword Planner to cut straight down your keyword list.

Now that you’ve got the right mix of key phrases, it’s time to narrow down your lists with some a lot more quantitative data. You have a great deal of tools at your disposal to do this, yet let me share my favorite strategy.

I like to use a mix of the Google’s Keyword Planner (you’ll need to set up an Advertisements account for this, but you can change your example ad off before you pay any money), and Google Trends.

Within Keyword Planner, you can get search volume and traffic estimations for keywords you’re considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends in order to fill in some blanks.

Make use of the Keyword Planner to banner any terms on your checklist that have way too little (or way too much) search quantity, and don’t help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their craze history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in today — and reap the advantages for later.

Or perhaps you’re just looking at a list of terms which is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down in some way… Google Trends can help you figure out which terms are well-known upward, and are thus really worth more of your focus.

Greatest Keywords for SEO

Realize that there’s no “best” keywords, simply those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it could up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages plus drive traffic.  

The best keywords for your SEO technique will take into account relevance, power, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you could reasonably compete for depending on:  

  1. The level of competition you’re up against.  
  2. Your ability to generate content that exceeds in quality what’s currently position.

Plus… You’re done!

Congratulations! You could have now got a list of keywords that’ll help you focus on the suitable topics for your business, and get you some short-term plus long-term gains.  

Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months — once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some companies like to do it even more usually than that. As you obtain even more authority in the Search engines, you’ll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated pertaining to comprehensiveness.

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