Keyword Research is vital to any business looking to grow its online presence. Not only is it a catalyst for traffic growth, but also plays an important role in brand positioning and awareness. By devoting time to this activity, experienced individuals are able to strategically position themselves ahead of the competition and provide great value to their customers and brands.
Keyword research is a simple process which is often ignored by inexperienced marketers.
In this article, I will take a deep dive into the world of keyword research, analysis and the way it impacts SEO. For those who are not convinced it’s worth the effort, I will begin by emphasizing some of the reasons why you should be putting more focus on this activity. I will follow-up with a high-level overview of the entire process and finish with a section of specific steps and tools you should be aware of.
Ignoring Keyword Research and Analysis in Marketing is equivalent to gambling with your money.
Why is Keyword Research and Analysis Important for SEO?
In its traditional form, marketing is an art through which a brand is looking to position itself or the product in front of its target audience. A large company will invest time and money into figuring out who the potential customers are, what they do, where they hang out and what’s the most cost-efficient way to reach them.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Marketing relies on the concept of Keywords just like traditional marketing relies on market research.
At the core level, keywords are unique words or phrases which allow you to target a specific audience.
Target Audience & Actions – Knowing your target audience is simply not enough. By doing keyword research, you are selectively investigating what your potential customer is using to reach you.
Keyword Metrics – By following the process of keyword research, a business can estimate the effort required to drive traffic for that particular term. Furthermore, keyword analysis will give you information about your competition, what their targets are and ultimately allow you to leverage this data to outrank them.
Strategic Approach – Depending on your budget, time and team size, it’s important to pick the right strategy when it comes to keywords and content generation. During your keyword analysis phase, it’s possible to find the target keywords your company must tackle in order to maximize success.
How Keyword Ranking is Used in Metrics and Performance Monitoring
Online marketing efforts MUST be quantified and tracked.
Although website traffic can be a good indicator of your efforts, it’s not always clear as to what strategy specifically has worked.
By analyzing the performance of your target keywords, you can set specific goals, measure them over time and identify which pieces of content are performing and which are not. Furthermore, you can implement a Performance Monitoring (a term often used in large-scale manufacturing) strategy for your business which will allow you to accurately track results and drive specific actions.
The Process of Finding Relevant Keywords for Your Niche
You either already understand or have been convinced by the section above that keywords are extremely important.
However, those who aren’t used to a certain process, start in the wrong place and end up with keywords no one cares about or simply can’t find anything for their particular niche. In this section, I will take you on a journey through a process which I personally use to find relevant keywords for ANY niche.
Step 1 – Broad Niche & Topic Brainstorming
In most cases, you have a broad idea of which topic you want to position yourself in. This could be internet marketing, fitness, makeup, electronics, etc.
Start by clearly identifying your broad topic. Before we dive into any tools, brainstorm at least 5 to 10 terms which you believe are relevant to your niche. These are used as a starting point for the research.
Note: if you are working within a niche you are completely unfamiliar with, use the “Google Planner Tool” (Covered lower in this post) to find a few relevant terms.
As an example, if you’re looking to target the fitness niche, you can come up with terms such as workouts, gym, lifting, swimming, bodybuilding, running, Crossfit, etc.
Step 2 – Finding Relevant Longtail Keywords for Your Niche
Keywords come in many shapes and sizes. A term such as “fitness” is extremely popular and is difficult to rank for unless you have the financials to back your efforts.
Therefore, the solution is to find keywords for which you and your team can rank. This is done by adding additional words to the original keyword. However, the goal is not to simply append words and hope they stick. I will show you how to find keywords which are relevant and are easy to rank for.
Before we get too far into the process, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, a long tail keyword is simply a keyword which contains numerous words and is commonly know to be easy to rank for (although not always the case).
Go to Google.com and type in one of your keywords. Press search. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and notice that Google has provided you with a list of keywords which are relevant based on what you are trying to find. In other words, Google is giving you advice on what other people are looking for.
Example: to continue with the “fitness” niche, here’s what I have in my search screen.
Do note that the keywords displayed for me also include the number of searches per month they are getting. This is through an extension called “Keywords Everywhere” which I will cover in the tools section of this post. For now, I just want you to realize that Google has provided me with 8 more keywords which are much broader than my original one. We’re getting somewhere!
Step 3 – How Competitive Is Your Keyword?
It’s nice to have found some keywords, but how competitive are they?
You have two options here; use the “Google Planner Tool” which I don’t recommend or by using a simple formula tied to the number of appearances a keyword is found in!
The concept is fairly simple. Find the number of searches a keyword is getting per month (Can be accomplished with “Keywords Everywhere” OR SERPS) and the number of articles which use the exact keyword in their title. Divide the number of articles by the number of searches and you obtain a ratio of Content VS Search. This ratio will be unique for each keyword and will determine if a particular keyword has either many people looking for it without answers or there is a lot more content then it is being searched for. Follow the example below to find your ratio.
Example: we’ve drilled down to the keyword “fitness for men” at this point. The first step is to find the search volume. By using the extension “Keywords Everywhere” I am able to see that this particular search term is getting ~9900 searches / month (at the time of this blog post!).
The second step is to search the following phrase: “allintitle: fitness for men” on Google. Taking a step back, the keyword “allintitle” before our keyword allows Google to isolate search results which include ONLY those which have the entire keyword in them. The result of this we’re looking for is below the fold. Do note that in this case, we aren’t looking at the volume, but the number of searches found by Google.
The third step is to find our ratio which is 66,400 / 9,900 = 6.7
A ratio of 6.7 is relatively high based on personal experience, you want this number to be as low as possible especially if you intend to rank quickly. Based on this outcome, we need to take a step back and find a keyword which is easier to rank, but is still relavant!
Step 4 – Finding Keywords with a Better Content to Search Volume Ratio
We’re circling back to the second step of the process at this point.
Go back to Google and type in your keyword. Find the relevant terms listed at the bottom of the page and perform the same analysis as we covered in step 3. If you have come this far, I highly recommend starting a simple Excel spreadsheet to track your keywords. See my list below in action.
Note: You can keep following keywords on Google without reaching an end. That being said, you want to find keywords which are being searched by people. It will do you absolutely no good to find a keyword which no one is interested in.
By looking at my initial results we can start to notice that we should be rejecting certain keywords immediately. However, the “mens fitness workouts” is very interesting as only 1400 pieces of content are found and 2900 people are searching for it on a regular basis.
The bottom line is that I recommend looking for keyword with a ratio of 0.3 and below. If you absolutely can’t find any such keywords or believe you have the funding to rank for keywords with a higher ratio, by all means!
Step 5 – Know When to Stop Searching
An important part of the research process is to know when to stop the research process and move to the content creation. With that in mind, the calculated ratio we’ve obtained above should be a good indicator. However, how do you know what is good enough for you?
Depending on where you are in your internet marketing journey, the answer may vary. However, as you get started with this process, I would recommend aiming for the following:
- Find keywords which have between 300 and 1000 monthly searches.
- Find keywords which have a Content to Search Volume ratio of 0.3 and below.
If you write a compelling piece of content and properly distribute your keywords within the piece of content, you will rank in no time!
Relevant Free Tools You MUST Know for Keyword Research
I’ve mentioned a few tools in the above sections. However, there is a wide array of available tools you can use to enhance the keyword research and analysis process.
In this section, I will go over the most critical tools you should be using in your research, go over their strengths, features and how I recommend you leverage them.
FREE at https://keywordseverywhere.com/
Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome and Firefox browser extension. It allows you to see keyword relevant information next to every single keyword on the web. It has been designed to display this information in a noninvasive manner by injecting it next to the keyword.
The tool has been tried and tested by many bloggers, marketers and content creators. It works on Google, Youtube, Twitter and any other keyword relevant websites.
I highly recommend downloading the tool through their site; it makes hunting for keywords that much easier.
Answer The Public
FREE at https://answerthepublic.com/
Answer the Public is a great resource for finding longtail keywords. The webpage is built with a search bar in the center. By entering your keyword, you will receive numerous ideas about your particular keyword and niche. Furthermore, answer the public allows you to narrow down your search to particular terms and to dive deeper into the questions people commonly ask about a certain topic.
The second aspect of Answer The Public is that it provides all this data in manageable form; you can easily download a complete Excel spreadsheet which contains all the information about the relevant keywords you have found.
Lastly, I highly recommend pairing this resource with the “Keywords Everywhere” tool as this enables you to combine the suggestions from your searches with the analytics it gives you resulting in a lightning-fast method of looking for relevant longtail keywords.
FREE at https://kwfinder.com
Keyword Finder is an excellent tool which allows you to see a large amount of data about your keywords. Not only will it show you the number of searches, articles, and effort to rank your keyword, it will also display top pages, opportunity and how your competitors are ranking.
Luckily, KWFinder has an API which allows anyone to embed their tool so that anyone can try it below. Enter a keyword below and KWFinder will do the rest for you!
FREE at www.semrush.com
SEMrush is a tool which allows you to perform an in-depth analysis of your competitors. It provides a full-featured dashboard which will pull all the relevant information about your keyword. It will display who the top competitors are, how the keyword is trending, where the most relevant traffic is coming from and much more.
A particular feature which I use on a regular basis is the social media analysis. You can easily tell how the page has been ranked; where the traffic is coming from and which social media platform is being leveraged by your competitors.
Although SEMrush is not completely free, it provides you with a basic trial account which is plenty to get you to see how powerful the tool really is.
Organic Ways to Find Relevant Search Terms and Keywords
In the past, tools such as Google Keyword Planner were all the rave. They provided you with a ton of relevant information which you could easily stuff into your content and rank in a matter of days. This practice is now frowned upon and yields very little results.
Instead, we live in an era where finding relevant search terms MUST be organic.
This is done by searching the web for actual individuals and their concerns! Here are some resources to get you started on your organic keyword hunt.
We’re all familiar with the large brand YouTube has become. However, it is important to recognize how closely related Google and YouTube really are (I do realise that it’s the same company).
As video content grows in popularity, a lot of people will come to YouTube to find answers. That being said, their searches are relevant for Google as well. Not to mention, you can easily find ideas for your topic based on the answers provided by the YouTube content creators.
It may seem challenging to use YouTube to find relevant keywords. This is where TubeBuddy (https://www.Tubebuddy.com) comes into play. TubeBuddy is an extension of your YouTube channel which allows you to see tags, relevant videos, rankings and more as it pertains to a particular video or channel. I use this tool to see what my competitors are ranking for on YouTube and to leverage their keywords for my blog posts!
Google Search Console
If you have live content on your site which is linked to the Google Console (highly recommended), you will start seeing suggestions coming directly from Google. These suggestions will be shown in the “Search Analytics” section.
I routinely use this section in order to find keywords relevant to my current content. Not only are these coming directly from Google, but the dashboard provides me with nearly all the information I need to make an educated decision as to what my next piece of content can use as its primary keyword.
The process is fairly simple. You go into your console and sort the keywords in the “Search Analytics” section by monthly volume. This will give you an idea of how broad or narrow a certain keyword is. I would then look into my content see which page is ranking for this keyword. If the keyword has a high search volume and I don’t have a page which contains the entire keywords in the title, I can proceed with writing a piece of content which does. It’s almost guaranteed to rank as its relevance is backed up by Google and the authority of your site.
Forums & Niche Sites
Forums are a great source of relevant keywords. If you aren’t a member of a forum in your niche, I highly recommend you find the most relevant one and create an account today. Not only do you get to interact with real people, but you have an opportunity to see which questions are being asked, which topics are trending and what information is missing. By having this information, you can find relevant keywords, provide the information they are looking for and rank at the top of the search results.
Conclusion on Keyword Research and Analysis
We went over quite a bit of material in this post.
If you’ve enjoyed going through it, make sure to connect through one of the social media channels linked at the top of the site!
Remember that doing your keyword research is extremely important. A little effort on the front end will ensure that you are able to rank the content you will put a lot of effort into.
Secondly, you can find keywords by using tools such as the “Keywords Everywhere” extension in conjunction with Google and YouTube searches. Evaluate these keywords by finding out how many times they get searched and how much content is out there to cover them. Pick keywords which you are certain to rank for based on this ratio.
Lastly, make sure to check out the tools I went over and let me know which other methods you use to find your keywords!