Keyword Research: Here’s How You Do It Right
What Is A Keyword?
A keyword refers to any word used as a search query via search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. With the right keyword tool, you can determine how many monthly searches that particular keyword has.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is at the foundation of SEO. Let me put it this way, you can’t build a home without the foundation. You can’t do SEO without keywords. Being successful at search engine optimization begins by choosing the right keywords for your business.
Every day, millions of people search for keywords in Google, Bing and Yahoo. Right this second, someone is searching for keywords that relate to your business, so ensuring you have the “right” keywords in place is essential to successful SEO campaigns.
Keywords are your map, you can find out which keywords your customers are using and you can begin targeting those keywords to drive traffic to your website, products and services.
In my SEO checklist guide, I state how keyword research is one of the first steps you should take for search engine optimization.
To Benefit From SEO, You Must Learn How To Find And Use The “Right” Keywords
Since a keyword can refer to any word, you need to begin choosing keywords that are relative to your business, products, services or the topic you’re building content around.
Business owners get in trouble when they do keyword research because they don’t know which keywords to target. They search a few keywords, plugs them into their content and hopes it will bring in sales.
It’s time to stop the guessing and do your keyword research right.
What you’ll learn today is the proper way to find your best keywords, super simple, easy, fast and it will allow you to get the best possible results for your efforts.
Where Do I Start My Keyword Research?
Before you go try a keyword research tool or Google Keyword Planner to find your keywords, let me tell you why niche keywords are better and why this is the right route to begin your keyword research.
Your niche has specific keywords and you need the ability to find these keywords on your own. I’ll use SEO as an example. If I’m a digital marketing agency that provides SEO services, I want to be found when people search SEO related keywords.
Thanks to Ahrefs’ SEO software, I have a built-in keyword research tool where I can begin searching for keyword ideas around SEO. (If you don’t have SEO software or keyword research tools, don’t worry, I’ll cover these in just a minute.)
By starting my keyword research within my “niche” of SEO, I’m going to immediately begin seeing what keywords will be the highest valued to target when I begin creating content.
Niche Keyword Research
In this scenario, I started searching my niche keyword, which is SEO. If you look at the image below, I used Ahrefs keyword tool and searched the keyword “SEO.”
Thanks to the software, in a matter of seconds, I have over 300K niche related keywords to go through and determine which ones I’ll target.
Now that you have a pool of niche keywords to analyze, which keywords do you choose? (Hint: It all depends on your specific situation.)
How To Understand Your Keyword Data
For this new example, I used the niche keyword “social media marketing.” You’ll notice above that there’s several data points for each keyword, knowing what these mean is super important.
- Keyword – This represents the exact keyword being searched.
- KD – This stands for keyword difficulty, which is a metric that tells you how hard a keyword is to rank for. It ranges from 0-100 with 0 being the easiest keywords to rank for and 100 being the most difficult.
- Volume – This is the estimated amount of searches the keyword gets on a monthly basis.
- Clicks – This is the estimated amount of clicks a first page, first spot ranking would bring you.
- CPC – While this stands for cost-per-click, this refers to the value of the keyword based on what Google Ads charges you to show an ad on the first page of Google. The value of “social media marketing” is $18 per click!
- CPS – This is cost-per-search, which is the ratio of clicks to keyword search volume.
- RR – This metric is return rate, which represents how often the same user searches for the same keyword during a 30 day period.
- SF – This stands for SERP features, which shows how many specific SERP features any keyword has in Google.
Note: While many keyword research tools will allow you to search for keywords, difficulty levels, monthly volume and CPC, the other features above are specific to Ahrefs’ SEO software. (I highly recommend them)
Analyzing Competitor Keywords
Another easy way to start researching keywords to begin targeting is by evaluating your competitor’s ranking keywords.
In the image above, I can use my keyword research tool to look up any website that I want. In this example, I found that the website is ranking for 3.9K keywords. In a matter of seconds, I have 3.9K potential keywords I may be able to target.
On top of that, I can use this tool to evaluate my competitor’s competition too, which will give me even more keyword ideas.
With this SEO software, I can also evaluate competitor backlinks, which is essential for ranking the same keywords as your competition.
Again, the SEO software I use is Ahrefs. (The only one I give my full recommendation).
Other Ways To Find Great Keywords
I remember when I was first starting out in SEO, it was tough to pay a few hundred dollars a month for keyword research tools. Even if you don’t have a keyword tool, there’s plenty of ways to find keyword ideas.
Wikipedia – Wikipedia has a ton of great research and there’s a wealth of information for you to begin finding keywords. Pay close attention to the table of content and the keywords they use there.
Reddit – Millions of users use Reddit and you can find discussions on just about anything you can think of. All you have to do is go to the search feature and begin searching using your niche keywords.
Google – When you go to Google and begin typing in keywords, Google will display several keywords closely related to what you’re searching for. You can also scroll to the bottom of Google’s search engine page to get more keyword ideas.
How To Choose The Right Keywords
Since every business is in a different scenario as it pertains to which keywords you should choose, I’m going to give you a few rules to follow.
User Search Intent – While you rarely hear about user search intent, it’s vital to choosing the right keywords. With every keyword you evaluate, I want you to ask yourself, “why is someone searching this specific keyword?” Are they looking to learn something? Looking for information? Wanting to buy something? Looking for an answer to a question?
Keywords – If a keyword makes sense to target, you put it on your list despite what volume or difficulty level it has. While you want to find long-tail keywords that have low competition, you also want to rank for the best possible keywords that relate to what it is you do.
Volume – Most keyword research tools base volume on a monthly count. While you do want to target keywords that have a lot of volume, the search amount of a particular keyword shouldn’t be the main reason you choose a keyword. That belongs to “relevance,” meaning the most relevant keywords should always be the priority.
Difficulty Levels – Yes, you want to go after low hanging fruit (keywords) with low competition levels. Just like volume, difficulty shouldn’t be the main priority whether to target a keyword or not. If that keyword is relevant to what it is you do, you want to rank for it, so add it to your list.
Relevance – More than anything, you want to target relevant keywords. In the example above, we have “email marketing.” It has a 83KD, meaning it’s super hard to rank for. However, if I’m an email marketing service, that’s a relevant keyword I need to rank for. I’m going to target that keyword.
Now, I’m also going to look for other opportunities that may have less competition. You can build a keyword panel out in Google Sheets and make sure you document the keyword, volume, difficulty and CPC for each.
Understanding The Value Of A Keyword
While you can estimate a keyword’s value by comparing it to how much you pay per click to run a paid ad via Google Adwords, you need to track the real-time results SEO is giving your business. You can do this with tools like Google Analytics, which can determine what keywords are bringing you sales or generating leads. It’s also nice to have a software that does it for you.
Short-Tail Keywords VS Long-Tail Keywords
Let me give you another example, we’ll say we’re an ecommerce store and sell socks. Authority is a common term used in SEO and refers to the amount of SEO value a specific webpage has.
In the image above, we can see socks gets 105K searches a month in the U.S. alone. With a low keyword difficulty rating of 11, this appears to be a prime keyword to target, right?
Most ecommerce business owners would jump all over this keyword, but should they? Here’s why this would be a mistake.
While socks get a lot of search volume, it’s likely a keyword query that doesn’t convert good. This is because people search “socks” for many different reasons. If you’re not making sales, you’re not making money, so this type of keyword is not the best to target even though you’re selling socks. Make sense?
While it won’t hurt to rank for socks, there’s much better keywords for us to target. We want to aim for keywords that customers use when they’re ready to buy socks, AKA “buyer keywords.”
How To Find Keywords That Result In Achieving Your Goals
You just learned a very important lesson in targeting the right keywords and why the biggest volume keywords are not always the best to target.
Using our same sock store example, we’re now looking at long-tail keywords that are more revenant and appropriate to target.
Above, we’ve found 2 great long-tail keywords to target for our ecommerce store, “compression socks for men” and “compression socks for women.” Why are these keywords more appropriate to target?
Relevance – Since we’re selling compression socks, these keywords are super relevant to our products.
Gender – If your products are gender specific, you want to use keywords that identify to that.
Search Volume – Both of our example target keywords have good monthly search volume.
Low Difficulty – Both of our keywords have low difficulty levels.
User Intent – If I’m looking to buy compression socks, this would certainly be a keyword I could use.
Buyer Cycle – While we can target any end of the buyer cycle, our money keywords will always be the keywords that bring in potential customers ready to buy.
These are the same 6 factors I evaluate for every keyword I evaluate in my keyword research. Make sure you write them down or print them out so you can make sure you’re targeting the best keywords possible.
What Are The Best Keyword Research Tools?
Now, in order to find the best keywords, you need a software or tool to find them.
Personally, I highly recommend Ahrefs (just in case you haven’t figured that out). But in all seriousness, it’s one of the best keyword research tools on the market.
All of the examples used in this guide is from Ahrefs’ software.
One free tool you can use is Google Keyword Planner. While Google’s tool is used to research keywords to run paid ad campaigns, you can also use it to research keywords.
Another keyword tool you can try is Moz’s keyword tool.