How Do You Do In depth Keyword Research?

How Do You Do In depth Keyword Research?

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of discovering which keywords or key phrases people are using to search for content on the web.

These terms are used in organic (or unpaid) search engine results when a user enters a query.  It’s your goal to ensure that you rank high for your target keywords so that visitors who are looking for your content will be able to find you.

Why Do Keyword Research?

Keywords are integral to any SEO or content marketing plan because the higher your site ranks in search engine results, the more people will see it.  If you can show up for keywords that others aren’t targeting, you will have an advantage over them.

This article will walk you through the process of performing your own keyword research so that you’ll know which keywords are most likely to help you achieve your goals.  It starts with some background information on how search engines work and what factors affect the rankings they assign to sites.  Once we’ve covered the basics, you’ll learn the five steps to creating a productive keyword research plan.

Keyword Research Process

The process of finding keywords is simple at its core — look through the search suggestions made by Google, Yahoo, or Bing and write down words that describe your website or industry-related terms that people might search for.

You can do this manually or with a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner or SEMrush (or you can use the Long Tail Pro Chrome extension to get keyword ideas while you browse).

The trouble comes in when it’s time to analyze your keywords and prioritize which ones are most likely to drive traffic, build subscribers, increase conversions or help you meet whatever other goals you have.

In order to do this, there are five steps that you can follow:

  1. Determine Your Niche
  2. Find the Right Keywords
  3. Find Traffic Statistics
  4. Tabulate What You’ve Found

Determine The Competition And Difficulty For Your Target Keywords

One of the primary criteria for determining whether a keyword is a good one is how competitive it is.  For example, if you’re selling running shoes and people are searching for “running shoes,” that’s a highly-competitive term.  On the other hand, if people search for something more specific like “discount Nike running shoes for women,” the competition will be much lower.

Keyword competition is a term used in SEO to describe how difficult it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a particular search term.  The more competitive a keyword, the more difficult it will be to achieve high rankings because there are so many other websites already targeting that term.

On the other hand, keywords with low competition levels will require less SEO effort and you’ll have a much easier time achieving good rankings.

The difficulty is closely related to keyword competition and it’s defined as how hard it would be for users to find what they’re looking for on your site when compared to other sites competing for the same keywords.

For example, if you’re selling running shoes and people are searching for “running shoes,” that’s a very competitive term.  On the other hand, if people search for something more specific like “discount Nike running shoes for women,” the competition will be much lower.

The further down the keyword totem pole you go, the less competitive (and easier) it will be to achieve high rankings.  So if you enter “discount Nike running shoes for women” into Google, the results that show up would have lower competition than those for “running shoes.”

By using difficulty as your guide, you can focus on keywords that are more likely to help you achieve your goals.

Step #1 — Determine Your Niche

Aside from being able to choose keywords that are less competitive, there’s another reason why it’s important to be specific when it comes to the terms you enter into Google.  If your business is targeting a very small niche of people who are actively looking for your product, you’re not only likely to achieve better rankings with less competition but you will also be able to convert that traffic into sales at a higher rate than if your site were targeting something very broad.

For example, consider the following three phrases:

Running Shoes All Star Sneakers Recreational Running Shoe Brands

When someone types the word “shoes” into Google, it’s very unlikely that they’re looking for running shoes.  Instead of targeting a keyword with low competition levels and high conversion rates, you’d be better off choosing something more specific like “Nike All-Star Men’s Sneakers” because people searching for “shoes” are probably just browsing for other types of shoes other than the ones you sell.

You’ll also want to do research into other popular search terms that are related to your niche.  For example, if you’re running an ecommerce site for nutritional supplements, Buzzfeed recently published a Listicle featuring Buzzfeed staff’s favorite bulking supplements.  So in addition to targeting terms like “weight gain supplements” and “protein shakes,” you’d also want to target the names of some popular bulking supplements.

One of the most important things about keyword analysis services is finding out what’s currently ranking on the first page of Google for your keywords of interest.  It’ll give you a sense of how difficult it would be to outrank the competition for those keywords.

To figure this out, you’ll need to use a tool like Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool.  Enter the first-page ranking URLs into that tool and it will spit back their corresponding keyword difficulty scores.  The higher the number, the more difficult it would be to beat them in the rankings.

There are a few different keyword research tools out there and each one will produce slightly different results depending on how they calculate their metrics.  I personally use Keyword Difficulty Tool because it’s free, easy to use, and provides accurate results when it comes to ranking difficulty.

Step #2 — Filter Out Competitive Keywords

Now that you’ve got a list of keywords to target, it’s time to start filtering out the ones that are too competitive.  Sometimes when you do this kind of research, you may find keywords where your website doesn’t have much chance of ranking on the first page.  If so, just delete them from your list and move on.  The quality of a keyword research list is inversely proportional to its length so you’ll want to keep it short and sweet.

For the keywords where your site does have a shot at ranking, you’ll need to do some further digging.  You can’t just enter them into Google and expect accurate results because that’s not how Google works.  Instead, you’ll need to use free tools like Google Keyword Planner and Soovle to figure out which keywords are currently bringing your competitors the most traffic.

Google Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool for this purpose because it’s easy to use, provides very accurate estimates of average monthly searches, and will show you the top 10 organic search results for your keywords.

To use Google Keyword Planner:

Enter a keyword into the tool and click “Get Ideas.”  Google will return a bunch of related keywords along with some helpful data like search volume, CPC (cost-per-click), and more.  Click on an individual keyword to get a more specific idea of how many people are currently searching for that term.

Keyword Tool is very similar to Google Keyword Planner but has a different layout and fewer features.  To use Keyword Tool, just enter a keyword into the search box and click “Get Keywords.”  It’ll return some related keywords with information like search volume, CPC, and competition level.

Once you’ve got all of your keyword ideas, put them into a spreadsheet so you can easily filter them based on the metrics that matter most to you.  If one of your top 5 keywords has an estimated search volume of 0 (zero) searches per month but is extremely easy to outrank, then just delete it.  There’s no point in targeting that keyword because you’ll never be able to rank for it.

Step #3 — Filter Out Unappealing Keywords

Some of your keywords will have a decent volume but may not be very appealing from a user perspective.  For example, let’s say you’re selling protein supplements and one of your keywords is “best protein powder for women.”  That keyword may have hundreds of searches per month but if the users in that niche aren’t specifically looking to buy protein powders for women, then there’s no way you’ll be able to rank.

To identify these unappealing keywords, use Google Trends.  Just enter a keyword into the tool and look at the trends for both web and news results.  The web will demonstrate search volume over time while news demonstrates how often people are writing about that term right now.

If you find a lot of trending activity in the news section but very little in the web section, that may be an unappealing keyword.  You’ll want to avoid targeting keywords whose search volume comes mainly from news headlines because you’ll need a lot of backlinks and social media activity in order to rank for them.  They simply won’t convert well so it’s best to keep them off your list.

Step #4 — Put It All Together

Once you’ve figured out which keywords to target and which ones to avoid, it’s time to put your list into a spreadsheet and start organizing the data.  Group your keywords by topic and then create 3 separate columns: Monthly Search Volume (from Keyword Tool), CPC (from Google Keyword Planner), Est. Difficulty (from Moz), and finally a column to note which of your keywords have more than 3,000 monthly searches.

You’ll also want to add a column for the average monthly search volume so you can see your list’s power in one glance.

One final step

Calculate your average monthly search volume by adding up all of your individual estimates and dividing the total by the number of keywords.  This number is useful because it shows you the combined power of all of the keywords on your list. If you’ve found 10,000 monthly searches on average, then one individual keyword with 500 monthly searches will be 5% of your total volume.

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