“Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle
We’ve all heard that saying, or some variation of it through our lives. When it comes to SEO, the journey begins with keyword research. Laying the right foundations ensures the stability of the structure being built.
Before you even begin writing your article, it’s important to put in the time and effort into having a clear understanding of what is keyword research in SEO and its purpose, and then we can dive into how to do keyword research for seo.
You probably have a website or a blog where you’re writing content pieces and posting them, hoping to rank on the first page of Google! But is your blog post getting the traffic it deserves?
While there are many factors to be considered in SEO, keyword research is the most important component to begin with. Getting this right will ensure the longevity, relevance and overall quality of the content that you write.
This article will go through how you can get started with your keyword research for SEO and improve your overall strategy.
What is Keyword Research in SEO?
Before we dive into it how to do keyword research for SEO, let’s understand what keyword research is.
Keyword Research is a process of finding and identifying search terms that users use online to look for information, products or services. It is a process of analyzing and understanding the mindset of your audience through their search queries.
Google’s algorithm has over 200 parameters based on which it delivers its results to users. But predominantly we can understand that they fall into three broad categories: relevancy, authority and user signals.
Google has become an advanced and intuitive search engine in understanding the search intent behind the keywords, and offers only the most relevant results. It assesses this through it’s algorithm.
Keyword research and analysis is integral to building the relevance of your content to best present the information that your target audience is looking for. Once your relevancy is established, it will influence the user signals positively and you can go on build your authority.
One of the great things about SEO is that it is an opportunity for you to meet your audience half-way. If you can understand the mind of your audience, you can successfully create content that they’re actively looking for in that moment. This is in contrast to social media, where you’re competing for attention at a time when they may not be interested in what you have to offer or share.
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
This section will be focused on some of the cornerstones of the keyword research process. In the next section, we will discuss more technically how you can do your keyword research and analysis.
1. Identify your Niche and Audience
It is really important to select a niche that you’re passionate about and that can be profitable. A niche should neither be too broad or too narrow. Having clarity in this regard helps you to further identify who your target audience is. You can develop Buyer Personas, which are a great way of visualizing your audience. It helps you to personalize your content so that it connects with the reader.
2. Identify Stages of the Buyer Journey
Once you have a clear idea of who your potential and target audience is, it’s time to understand the different buckets of the buyer’s journey that they fall into. There are four stages of a buyer’s journey: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Conversion.
Understanding this aids you in creating content across the funnel. The search queries at different stages will vary, and by understanding the search intent of the keywords you will be able to create content that is relevant to the audience across the funnel.
A person who is at the Awareness stage is looking for content that is informational about a topic, while someone who is at the Conversion stage has made up their mind and is ready to purchase a product.
It may be tempting to jump or focus primarily on content that is focused on conversions, but it is equally important to focus on the earlier stages. Capturing the audience at that stage will establish your authority in the field and will enable you to build a relationship with your audience and guide them on their journey to a purchase.
3. Competitor Research
This is another important component of keyword research in SEO. Once you have identified the competitors in your niche, you can study their content and get an idea of the type of topics that are being discussed and that they are ranking for.
It gives you a kickstart into understanding what kind of information your target audience is looking for. You can then identify the gaps, and create better, more detailed content around those topics. You will also be able to identify sub-topics and generate a number of ideas for your content strategy.
4. Analyze and Optimize Existing content
If you have an existing blog or website with published content, one of the best ways to improve your overall SEO is to undertake keyword research for existing content and work on improving it.
There is a lot of scope in optimizing your content for relevant keywords, adding information depth and getting it to rank even if it wasn’t ranking well earlier. You can also update old articles with new information and trends.
This helps you to create wholesome content and prevents you from creating multiple articles competing for the same focus keywords.
So now that we’ve discussed the broad concept of the keyword research process, and keyword research tips – how do you actually undertake keyword research?
You need the right tools and methods to take you through the process.
Components of Keyword Research and Analysis
One of the first things you need to assess is the search volume of the keywords. Maybe you have a great idea for an article and you put in the hours to write it – but no one is looking for it! You have to measure the demand for a particular topic by taking account of the search volume and then curate content specific to your niche.
Keyword research can be a time consuming process. Below are some guidelines to keep in mind so you can select the right keywords for your SEO strategy.
1. Keyword Length
Keywords can be classified as short-tail (1-2 words), mid-tail (3-4 words) and long-tail (5-7 words). Short tail keywords are highly generic and have high search volumes. They are not keywords that you would want to compete for and they would be hard to rank for. Most importantly, it doesn’t help you capture a relevant audience as it is too broad in nature. Mid-tail or Long-tail keywords give you the best opportunity to identify niche keywords relevant to your audience and that are easier to rank for.
2. Keyword Search Intent
We discussed the different stages of the Buyers Journey earlier. Aligning with that model, we can classify keywords as informational, navigational, commercial investigational or transactional. Understanding this will enable you to curate content at various stages of the customers journey. Transactional keywords are going to have higher competition with many businesses paying to rank for them. If you’re starting out, a good strategy would be to focus on the information and navigational keywords that you can rank for in your niche. This will help you build your audience base and drive traffic to your website.
3. Keyword Search Volume
If the search volume for a keyword is high, it means there is a great demand for it, but also that it is too broad a topic to cover. So what is a good keyword search volume? If you’ve chosen your mid-tail to long-tail keywords well, you should aim for keywords with at least 250 searches per month. This will allow you to rank for those keywords and improve your authority score.
4. Keyword Groups
This brings us to the next point of creating keyword groups. How many keywords should you target? You can classify your keywords into two main categories: primary and secondary. You should select one primary focus keyword which is the main topic of your article and at least five secondary keywords. Incorporating these keywords into your articles will give added depth to your content. These keywords should be directly or contextually related to the topic at hand. When calculating the search volumes for a keyword group, you can consider the total search volume of the primary and secondary keywords.
5. Keyword Competition
The rule to go with through this process is to find keywords which have a high search volume but low competition. You can do a check of this metric by entering your primary keyword in quote (“keyword”) into Google. This will give you an estimate of the number of search results around this topic. To get an estimate of the sites competing for this keyword, check the inurl:”keyword” and intitle:”keyword” results in the search engine.
These are the five main components of the keyword research process which will help you optimize your keywords for the best results. But wait a minute, there’s still one thing missing! You need the right tools to carry out this keyword research. Here are some free keyword research tools that you can use:
Free Keyword Research Tools
- Google Keyword Planner – this is a free tool by Google. You will need to create an Adsense account to access this. It will give you a range of the Search Volume (Link: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/)
- Google Auto-Suggest, People May Ask & Related Searches at the bottom
- Keyword Surfer, Keywords Everywhere, Ubersuggest – these are Chrome extensions that you can install in your browser. They will enable you to see the Search Volume and other metrics right in your SERP’s. They may have some features which are free, while others are paid.
- Ubersuggest – by Neil Patel is a great tool with a lot of useful information available even in the free plan. (Link: https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/)
- AnswerThePublic, AlsoAsked – these are great tools to conceptually and visually see search queries and patterns of questions asked on Google
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator – it gives an unlimited amount of searches with search volumes available. (Link: https://ahrefs.com/keyword-generator)
You are now equipped with a overview on how to do keyword research for SEO, the keyword research process and the keyword research tools needed so that you can start ranking on the first page of Google!
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