Search Engine Optimization
Keyword Research for SEO: Comprehensive Guide for 2021
Over the past few years the way we do keyword research has changed greatly.
In the early days, keyword research was simply finding a few very high search volume keywords and stuffing your content as much as possible.
But over time search algorithms got smarter, more focused on search intent and information accuracy.
The latest algorithm DeepRank in combination with natural language processing provides even more accuracy to show the most relevant search results possible.
While Google keeps rolling out new updates keyword research becomes more and more crucial for any digital strategy. In order to optimize for such changes simply adding a few keywords into your content won’t cut it anymore.
For today’s marketer, it’s more than a set of words that need to be used in your website copy. It is the equivalent of market research giving you an in-depth idea of who your audience is, what they are searching for and why.
Today, keyword research has become more and more topical. It’s no longer about finding that one ideal keyword, it’s about understanding your audience and their needs and covering the topic in a complex way providing as much value as possible.
The need for keyword research is pretty clear, but how do you do it?
That’s what I’m about to cover in this guide.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at:
Keyword Research Basics
What are Keywords?
What is Keyword Research?
The Importance of Keyword Research
Types of Keywords
Long Tail Keywords
LSI keywords are words and phrases that search engines see as semantically-related to a topic and use to deeply understand the content of a page.
As search algorithms have gotten smarter, search engines got better at reading the contents of a page by looking for certain keywords that are closely related each other.
Pro Tip: You can find tons of lsi keywords by closely looking at Google suggests or by using the free tool LSIGraph.
How to Find Keyword Ideas
My first advice to anyone reading this: Know your niche!
Think about the topics you want to ranked come up with as many topic buckets as you think is relevant to your business, and then you can use those general topic ideas to come up with some specific keywords later in the process.
A really cool way to find tons of keywords is to check out the Google Suggest, “Searches Related to” and “People also ask” section of Google’s search results.
Simply type in a topic of your choice: “web design”.
Although keyword suggestions on YouTube are specific to the platform and are focused on video results, it can still be useful.
Just like Google and YouTube, it collects data about popular search queries and offers automatic suggestions. The relevance of the suggestions is based on the product conversion rate and buying behavior.
The difference between the keywords found on Google suggest vs Amazon suggest is the search intent behind each query. These suggestions are keywords with transactional intent used together with buying words such as – “shop”, “shipping”, “discount” clearly showing the searchers readiness to make a purchase.
Are you an affiliate marketer? An e-commerce store owner?
Don’t overlook Amazon keyword research even if you’re not selling on it.
Just head over to Reddit, search for a broad topic related to your niche then, choose a subreddit where your audience probably hangs out: start engaging with the community and following interesting threads and you’ll find what you were looking for.
Pro Tip: “Keyworddit” is a really great free SEO tool that scans Reddit for words and phrases that people use.
Google Search Console
Google search console is another ‘not hidden’ goldmine of keyword ideas that shows the search terms that bring in the most clicks from Google. By simply analyzing and filtering your performance report by impressions you might find hidden keywords that get lots of impressions but not that many clicks.
The great thing about GSC is that you know for sure these are keywords your customers search for and Google sees you as a good fit for such queries, so a little bit of effort can make a whole lot of difference.
You can access Google Ads data from your Google Analytics account, as long as your GA and Ads accounts are connected. Now in your dashboard go to “Acquisition > Google Ads > Search Queries” and export the data you’d like to analyze.
Moreover, as I‘ve mentioned amazon I can’t help but think of amazon advertising as well. If you are an amazon seller and run search ads, your customer search result report is a hidden goldmine for finding tons of highly converting keywords.
Keyword Research Tools
The most common and most accurate way to find keywords is probably by using a keyword research tool.
There are plenty of free and paid keyword research tools on the market but how do you know which one to use and is it worth paying for a keyword research tool?
There’s no yes and no answer to this: it depends on your goals and your niche.
The main advantages of using a professional keyword research tool:
- It saves up a lot of time
- It offers complementary metrics you can’t find otherwise
- It gives you a slight competitive advantage
There are two methods to approach the research in a keyword tool:
Search Based on a Seed Keyword
Another cool trick you can do with paid tools like Semrush is to create gap analysis comparing yours and your competitors webpages to identify missed opportunities.
Google Keyword Planner
To use the Keyword Planner, you need to create a Google Ads account. After the signup, go to Tools – Keyword Planner.
Select Find new keywords and enter the seed keyword(s) to get the suggestions.
After that, you’ll see a list of keywords sorted by the relevance to the seed keyword.
Although it does give you hundreds of keyword ideas, it doesn’t fully replace some of the paid keyword tools below. But it can still be extremely useful, if you keep in mind:
- The search volumes are very often sorted based on close variants. Also, you can only see search volume ranges unless you spend enough money in Google Ads.
- Google Keyword Planner is part of Google Ads so the competition column doesn’t reflect the organic difficulty, only the competition in the PPC campaigns.
Answer The Public
The feature I like the most is generating keyword suggestions based on:
- Question words (when, how, where, what, can, will…)
- Prepositions (for, without, to, with,…)
- Comparison words (like, versus, and, or,…)
How to Choose and Analyze a Keyword
Now that we have hundreds of keyword ideas, it’s time to analyze them and choose the ones that will bring in real value.
There are some key aspects to consider when analyzing potential keyword ideas and I’ve made sure to cover them all.
Keyword Search Volume
But the thing is, what’s considered a good search volume?
The short answer: it depends on your niche.
Click Through Rate
If you want to get a full idea of how many clicks to expect from a first page ranking you need to look into organic CTR as well.
How do you do this?
Simply look at the search results for your keyword. Is it excessively overstuffed with featured snippets, ads and whatnot? You are probably not gonna get a lot of clicks out of it even if you rank #1. You can use a tool as well. Ahrefs and Moz Pro have the feature.
The majority of keyword tools have some type of keyword difficulty feature that measures the competitiveness of search terms. It estimates how difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword taking into consideration the authority of the websites ranking in the first page of the search results.
After trying most of the paid and free keyword tools, it’s safe to say that almost all of them show different keyword difficulty scores, but it’s more about getting a general idea so any of the mentioned above work fine.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
There’s one metric that sums it all up: CPC.
Do people searching for this keyword take meaningful action? Are they ready to actually spend money?
A good way to check it is Google trends or Exploding topics.
These tools give a comprehensive breakdown of the keyword trend letting you know what to expect.
How to Use Keywords for SEO
Most keyword research guides end at this point. You’ve found the keyword. You picked the ones with the best metrics.
But what’s next?
It’s time for optimization. Buckle up.
Using all the data we’ve gathered up until now, you can start optimizing for the groups of keywords where you are not ranking well while your competitors do.
First, prioritize pages with high business value and optimize them with relevant, targeted keywords.
As always, avoid overstuffing and look out for keyword cannibalization.
Some industries have very similar keyword groups and there might be some instances when certain pages can target the same keyword. To avoid this, look over your keyword research file for duplicate values before moving forward with implementation.
After optimizing existing pages, move over to industry trends and high search value keywords that you can use in order to create valuable content pieces around them. Create various content clusters and start creating supporting blog posts around them.
The content hub method is a great way to start out your blog in an organized and highly targeted way.
Try writing long-form content packed with value and relevant information and the results might surprise you: you can easily rank for terms you haven’t optimized for, simply because your content interests your audience and is top-notch.
Moreover, the topic clusters strengthen the semantic relationship between your blog posts in turn helping search engines better evaluate the topical relevance of the articles.
It makes internal linking super easy too!
Now is Your Turn
Keyword research isn’t simply about finding words or phrases that your competitor targets or are relevant to your business.
It’s about finding never explored areas of content demand, analyzing the market, understanding your potential customers and their thought process, by helping your business find a market position where it can prosper in the midst of overstuffed, mediocre sea of irrelevant content.
Until next time!
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