This is the most comprehensive guide to keyword research.
We will cover keyword research tools, difficulty / competition, finding and picking keywords, special tricks and more!
If you want to learn how to write the perfect title tags for your website in order to improve the SEO for your site, read this article.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the work you do in order to find the keywords and phrases that your target market are typing in search engines.
The end goal is to optimize your website’s content to rank for those keywords / phrases or ‘terms’.
There are many places where you can build your keyword list: text document, spreadsheet, in a keyword research tool, or just on a sheet of paper if you want.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Well quite simply because it shapes the content that you make.
It is usually the first step you take when optimizing a website for SEO.
By researching the keywords you want to rank for in your content, you are giving yourself a much better chance in ranking positively in search engines, and also in getting relevant traffic to your website.
Generating Keyword Ideas
The easiest way to start coming up with ideas is to have a brainstorming session.
What you want to do is start by writing down a list of topics that are related to your business.
So, let’s say you run a real estate business, you will want to write down topics like:
Once you have a list of topics, you will want to start the process of narrowing them down into keywords.
The first step is to type each of them into Google, but don’t click search!
You will see some different options below your original search, this is called Google Suggest because these are searches that a lot of other users have made, which is why Google is suggesting them to you.
Now you should add all of these to your initial keyword list.
You can also do the same with any other search engine, like: YouTube, Bing or Amazon to see what searches users are making on there too!
The next thing you can do is use the related searches section that Google gives us.
Simply search for each of your topics (and actually click search this time), and then scroll to the bottom of the results where it says “Searches related to …”
Here you will see 8 more keywords that are related to the search that has been made.
Add all of those to your list.
Now click on one of the searches related to your keyword, and if you scroll down again you will see 8 new possible keywords that you can add to your list.
This is a great way to start building your initial list of keywords.
You should keep doing this until you are happy with the amount of keywords in your list.
The Best Keyword Research Tools
Tools make the whole process of finding and checking keywords much easier and faster.
Here is a list of some of the most helpful keyword research tools currently available:
An SEO auditing platform which also has a useful keyword research tool which is easy to use.
Just enter one or more keywords into their research tool and they will give you keyword ideas with the search volume and competition data for each keyword that they suggest.
This is a keyword research tool that scrapes data from Google suggest.
This will save you a lot of time and also gives you information on search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC and more for every keyword.
Just enter your keyword & click search and all of the information will be right in front of you.
It first analyses the keyword that you searched, and then below that it gives you keyword ideas, suggestions, questions & more, all related to the original keyword that you entered.
You can even filter the suggested keywords and export them or choose to copy them if you want!
Considering this is free, it is probably one of the best SEO tools available right now. (And that’s not even looking at all of the other features that Ubersuggest has, like it’s traffic analyser, SEO analyser and more!!)
This is one of the best paid keyword tools on the market!
It tells you what keywords other sites rank for, so enter a competitors web address into their tool and BOOM!
Now you can see every keyword that their site organically ranks for, along with A LOT of technical information.
Some of the information that you will see for each keyword includes: Search position, traffic amount, traffic %, volume, CPC and more!
You can now get inspiration from their keywords when building your keyword list.
This is a free & paid keyword research tool.
It covers Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, Play Store, Instagram & Twitter. The free plan is fantastic for finding keywords, questions & prepositions.
The paid plan gives you search volume data, CPC, competition & more! I would suggest that for building your keyword list, this is one of the best free tools available even without the paid information.
Google Keyword Planner
Data shown in the Google keyword planner comes straight from Google as the tool is made by Google, so it is certainly a trusted & accurate source!
The keyword planner gives you all of the information you need to find keyword ideas, along with large amounts of accurate data.
Use this tool like you would with any other by entering your term and clicking search.
They give you the EXACT information for every single keyword, including: CPC, competition & average monthly searches
I highly recommend Google keyword planner as it is free, it is made by Google and it works very well.
It was actually made to be used with Google adwords but it is a very useful keyword research tool, so many people use it for just that!
And then just like with the other tools, you can extract them by clicking “download keyword ideas” and it will download them to an excel document.
Take a look at the image below to see just how much data you get when you use Google keyword planner and them remember that it is completely free … incredible.
This is probably one of the most comprehensive SEO tools.
It has EVERYTHING that you can think of, from backlink tools, to a keyword explorer, and even an SEO toolbar for Google chrome and Firefox!
The main subscription starts at $99 per month, so if you are a starter, this may not be for you.
It’s keyword explorer gives you massive amounts of data for each keyword, so it is great for helping you choose whether or not a particular keyword is worth using.
The UI is also very clear displaying keyword difficulty, search volume, CPC and global volume for each keyword that you enter into the tool.
It is very good, but I think that if you are just using it for the keyword explorer I would suggest using Ubersuggest, or Google keyword planner as they are both free.
So to recap, Ahrefs is an incredible suite of SEO tools, but it is not worth the price if you are only paying for it to use one of the tools that they offer!
You want to see the keyword competition (or keyword difficulty) because it shows you how many other websites are ranking with the same keyword.
The more sites using the same keyword, means the more difficult it will be to rank for that particular keyword, because you are not the only one!
If you try to rank for a keyword that has high competition, it is likely that you will not rank very high and your page will be hidden at the bottom of the search results.
However, if you find a keyword with very little competition or difficulty, you could see your site ranking well for that particular keyword.
This means it is important to research the competition of a particular keyword before using it.
Luckily, there are many easy ways to do just that!
First we will look at the easiest way to compare keyword competition and that is with keyword tools that just give you all the data you will ever need!
We have already looked at many brilliant keyword research tools, so now we will have another look at them to see the data they each give on keyword difficulty.
First we have marketgoo, their competition data is simplified with red, orange and green bars:
The green bar means that the competition for that particular keyword is low, orange is in the middle and then if you see a red bar next to a keyword it means that it will be difficult to rank for as the competition is high.
Next, take a look at the competition data on the Google keyword planner:
The final tool we will look at the competition data for is Ubersuggest:
As you can see, Ubersuggest gives you the difficulty / competition data for both SEO ranking and also paid search.
Because of this, I would say that Ubersuggest is the overall best free keyword research tool.
Now Let’s Talk About “Long tail keywords”
Long tail keywords are keywords but longer, usually they are phrases of 4 or more words.
If you are struggling to rank your pages, you should definitely try using long tail keywords.
These are less competitive as they are more specific keywords, opposed to other broader keywords which are much more competitive.
Here is an example for you:
The keyword “dog food” is very generic which means many people are searching for it and many websites are ranking for it already.
Now if you look at the keyword “affordable grain free dog food“, you can see that it is much more specific and the difficulty is lower.
This is because less users are searching that particular term, so less websites are trying to rank for it.
Even though less people are searching for the more specific long tail keywords, the people that are will likely be people that find your content more relevant.
So if you try to rank for long tail keywords that are more specific, you will have less competition, have a high chance of ranking higher, and also start seeing more relevant traffic to your site.
Picking Your Keywords
No tool can tell you which keyword to pick, that’s why there are a few more steps to take before finally picking the keyword that you will use.
The perfect keyword will be high in search volume, with ranking difficulty which is not too high, it also needs to be relevant to the content on your page.
When picking your keyword you first want to look at the search volume, as of course if 0 people are searching for it, there is no reason to try and rank for it.
Every niche is different, so it is down to you to research the optimum search volume for a keyword in your particular niche.
You should go back to some of the keyword research tools that we have looked at, and then pick out the keywords that have a good amount of monthly searches.
Next, you should look at Google Trends.
With this free tool by Google, you can see if your keyword is currently gaining or losing traction.
You just need to enter your keyword and then you can filter by country, time range and more.
You can also use it to compare two keywords side by side, so then you can pick which one has a higher search volume.
This is incredibly helpful as it shows you whether or not a keyword currently has high traffic and whether it is or isn’t currently trending.
Google trends also has some other features that you should try including: Interest by region, related topics and related queries.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
The next thing you want to look at is the Click Through Rate (CTR).
The CTR is the ratio of searchers who actually click onto your page.
There are some tools that estimate the CTR, but I recommend you estimating it yourself.
To do this you need to look at the search results page for your keyword, and see if there are google ads and featured snippets above the results.
If there are, it means that the chances of someone clicking onto your page are lowered.
To improve your CTR it is also important to carefully optimize your page title and your meta description, as these are the first things users will see when looking at your listing in search results.
If the estimated CTR is low, I wouldn’t necessarily avoid that keyword.
If the search volume is high, but the CTR is low, you can still try to rank for that particular keyword.
It is all down to your decision of which keyword you think will be best.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
Now let’s talk about the Cost Per Click (CPC).
The CPC tells you if people searching your keyword are spending money.
You can easily see the CPC by using any of the keyword research tools.
The CPC is the price that advertisers are paying Google for every click that their advert gets.
So if it is quite high they must have a reason for spending a high amount of money per click, and more often than not that is because their target market are spending a lot of money.
And the final piece of the puzzle when picking your keyword is to take a last look at the competition.
When you have a new website you want to start by ranking for keywords with low competition.
This will help you to increase your website’s authority in search engines.
Doing this will give you a strong base to help you rank for more competitive keywords.
But don’t forget, high quality and relevant content will be key to your success!
Keyword Research Tips & Tricks
You always want some sneaky tricks that will help you with your keyword research process.
These tips & tricks will save you time, money and also help you to sort the best from the worst keywords.
Write Evergreen Content
What is evergreen content?
It is optimized content that will stay relevant and fresh for a large amount of time.
Evergreen content keeps it’s relevance and can continue to drive traffic long after it is originally published.
Types of evergreen content can often include: How-to-content, product / service reviews, lists, recipes and more.
The two main reasons that makes writing evergreen content important are that it can continuously drive traffic to your website and it can improve your search rankings.
Examples of evergreen content:
- How to Properly Clean a Fish Tank
- Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home
It is important that you don’t only publish evergreen content, you want to write timely content on current topics too.
You should highlight your evergreen content, so that it can be seen in more places.
Some good places to put your evergreen content include: sidebar, home page, social media, etc.
One final thing to remember is that every time that you up-date, or add to your evergreen content, you should promote it again.
What is not evergreen content:
- News Articles
- Current Trends
- Statistics & Reports that go outdated quickly
When you think you are writing evergreen content you should remember that it is only content that will keep it’s value for a long period of time.
For example: An article about a current trend will not be relevant next year.
‘Steal’ Keywords From Your Competitors
Many SEO tools actually allow you to enter any domain to see what keywords are ranking well for that site.
If you use ubersuggest and enter the domain for one of your competitors, you can see which keywords they are ranking for and which pages of theirs are ranking highest.
This is great because it allows you to learn from what your competitors are doing well, in order to help you shape your keyword research process.
Rank For Google’s Special Features
Google now has many special features that show up at the top of some search results pages.
There are featured snippets, people also ask, videos and more.
If you can get your content to appear in one of these, you are in for a winner.
You can’t ask Google to put your content in their featured snippets, but if you make high quality content that answers questions, you are in for a chance.
As you can see, these features are put above all of the organic rankings, so having your content here will massively increase traffic.
So, in conclusion, you don’t want to just pick a random keyword, instead you want to carefully research the keywords that you will use.
Taking your time and researching your keywords will massively help you when you are trying to rank your pages in search engines.
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