SEO keywords are essential for your content to attract web traffic and rank on Google. Without the right keywords, your content won’t be found and your business won’t grow. That’s why keyword research is so important.
In addition, if you pick the wrong keywords, you’ll have wasted all your time writing and publishing your content as the queries you use won’t result in any traffic. The good news is that keyword research is fairly easy to understand. And with time and practice, you’ll become better at it and eventually use it by default to optimize your content.
Ready to learn the essentials of keyword research? Here’s how to go about it.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research involves looking for the type of words and phrases that your target audience inserts into Google and other search engines to find specific information, products, or services.
While there are some strategies that allow you to find keywords without any specific tool or website, a dedicated keyword research tool will make the hunt for keywords much easier and faster for you.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
If you publish a website or blog on a topic that nobody is searching for, your site won’t get any traffic from search engines. In fact, more than 90% of websites don’t get any organic traffic on the internet. That means there’s huge potential for you to use search engine optimization to rank on Google and beat the competition!
Through keyword research, you confirm that your topic of choice is in demand on the internet. That way, you won’t waste your time writing about it.
How to Find Keyword Ideas
1. Brainstorm the “Seed” Keywords
Seed keywords are the starting point of your research and keyword tools use them to create long lists of keyword ideas. Here are some examples of seed keywords for a shop that sells home appliances:
- Home appliances
- Home Improvement
2. See What Keywords Competitors Rank For
Use your seed keywords, insert them into Google and look at the top-ranking websites for those terms. These are your competitors.
Now, take a competitor and insert them into a keyword research tool like SemRush to find out which pages it gets most of its traffic from and which keywords those pages use. Assess other competitors in the same way to come up with a list of relevant keywords for your site.
3. Use Keyword Research Tools
Insert a seed keyword into your keyword research tool of choice to find keywords that your competitors aren’t yet using. If you want to use a free tool, you can opt for Google Keyword Planner (GKP), which even generates ideas that don’t include your seed keyword. Here are the two keyword idea reports that your keywords explorer will generate:
Keyword ideas in this report will contain your seed keywords and appear in one of two modes: “Terms match” and “Phrase match.”
- “Terms match” involves keyword ideas with your entire seed keywords but these words won’t be displayed in any particular order.
- “Phrase match” comes up with keyword ideas that include your seed keywords in the exact order you entered them.
This type of report generates keyword ideas that may not include your seed keywords and appear in one of two modes: “Also rank for” and “Also talk about.”
- “Also rank for” are keywords that the top-ranking pages for your seed keyword also rank for.
- “Also talk about” are keywords that are often mentioned on the top-ranking pages for your seed keywords.
4. Study Your Niche
In addition to the strategies we’ve already gone through, you can research groups, industry forums, and Q&A sites that your target audience frequents. Reddit is a great place to look for communities in your niche.
Also pay attention to the questions that your already existing customers ask as that may give you some more keyword ideas for your website or blog.
How to Analyze Keywords
Now that you have a long list of keyword ideas, you’ll have to sift through and analyze them to pick the best ones. Instead of going through them one by one, you can make the process easier by looking at the following SEO metrics:
1. Search Volume
This is the average number of monthly searches a keyword gets. When looking at search volume, it’s important to remember that:
- This refers to the number of searches, not the number of people who searched – remember that someone may search for a keyword several times per month.
- It’s not an indication of how many visits it can get you once you rank for it.
- This number is an annual average.
- The number refers to your selected country.
Your keyword research tool has a search volume filter that allows you to identify queries based on popularity. There are:
- High-volume keywords – If a keyword has more than 10K monthly searches, it will be too competitive for you, unless you’re one of the top-ranking sites in your niche.
- Low-volume keywords – Also known as “long-tail keywords,” low-volume keywords only get little traffic but don’t have much competition. Some of them even have zero search volume that brings only a few monthly visitors. However, these will add up over time as you publish more content and are, therefore, worth using.
2. Traffic Potential
People don’t always type in the same words as queries into search engines. Google understands that and ranks websites not just for one specific keyword but also for similar queries. The top-ranking websites have this figured out and often rank for thousands of keywords that are similar to their original ones.
To leverage this information, look at the top-ranking pages for your keyword and check how much traffic they get from all the variations of that keyword. This metric can be referred to as “traffic potential.” Remember, though, that traffic potential is also, by default, country-specific.
3. Keyword Difficulty
When it comes to the Keyword Difficulty (KD) score, backlinks (the number of websites linking to your site) are essential. That means that KD refers to the number of linking sites you need to rank in the top 10.
Instead of setting the KD filter from 0 to 10 to get easy keyword ideas, you should also take high-KD keywords into consideration. Many backlinks are required to rank for high-KD keywords. Since it will take time to build this up, it’s smart to start incorporating high-KD keywords from early on.
In addition, since top-ranking websites in your niche have many backlinks, you know that your topic is worth linking to. Now create something original that nobody has covered within that topic, and you’ll increase your chances of getting people to link to you.
Remember that the KD metric is not meant to keep you from using specific keywords. It’s supposed to guide you and help you understand how to rank for certain keywords and how worthy of linking a topic really is.
4. Cost Per Click (CPC)
Cost Per Click (CPC) is another important metric that refers to how much advertisers are willing to pay for a click on an ad that shows up at the top of search results for a specific keyword. While this metric is more important for advertisers than for your SEO strategy, you can still use it to understand a keyword’s value.
Keep in mind, however, that CPC is more volatile than search volume. As more companies publish ads for certain keywords, their CPC can change — literally by the minute. Search volume, on the other hand, remains steady for the most part as demand for keywords generally stays the same.
So CPC numbers you see in your keyword research tool only show you values at a certain point in time, which may no longer be accurate when you look at it. AdWords can give you real-time CPC data if you need it.
Learning everything that goes into keyword research may seem daunting but it is important to your site’s long-term success.
While other people may follow a slightly different process, this comprehensive guide is a good starting point for you to choose the right queries and topics for your niche. It may seem difficult in the beginning, but over time it will become easier for you to research keywords and use them in your copy to ultimately grow your business.