Keyword Research for SEO: The Definitive Guide (2021 Updated)
Potential customers are searching for a service or product like yours on the internet right now.
The goal of keyword research is simple – it helps you convert as many of these potential customers as possible.
Another goal of keyword research is to attempt to be listed as high as possible in the search results for a particular phrase or word. Doing so helps a business move ahead of its competitors.
Hence, we cannot emphasize its importance enough.
Conducting keyword research means finding phrases and words (also known as keywords) which people use in Bing, Google, YouTube, and other search engines.
This kind of research affects every other SEO task you undertake, including content promotion, searching for content topics, and much more.
Keyword Research: The Most Important Benefit
One of the most significant benefits of keyword research is it helps businesses familiarize themselves with the search intent.
Search intent is a term used to describe the purpose behind conducting an online search. It has become increasingly important because search engines such as Google are prioritizing ‘user experience’ above anything else.
When you gauge the intent behind the phrases or keywords that people use for searching information, you can create improved content strategies and produce targeted content that brings traffic to your website.
Let’s discuss the types of search intent:
1. Informational: Internet users with informational intent want to search for more information on a subject. Users use informational keywords to update or educate themselves regarding a particular topic. An example of an informational search is “types of loans.”
2. Transactional: An internet user carries out a transactional query with the intent to buy a service or product. A transactional query doesn’t always imply a purchase but depicts the user’s readiness to make a conversion.
3. Commercial: When the user has not yet made up their mind regarding which product or service to choose, they use this type of query, which may not lead to a sale directly. A majority of commercial queries display results that help the user in making a decision regarding a purchase.
4. Navigational: A navigational query helps locate a website or pages when the user enters brand keywords rather than typing the target URL in the address bar. For example – “Gmail login” is an example of a navigational query.
Now that you have understood search intent, you may wonder how to do keyword research for SEO. There are many ways to do it, the most important of which we will discuss in this guide. Let’s start:
1. How to Research for Keyword Ideas?
How can one come up with keyword ideas? It is not as difficult as you may think.
First, you have to brainstorm a comprehensive list of topics that your potential customers are likely to be interested in. For instance, if you run a digital marketing agency, think of topics related to your business that people will search for.
Some of these topics would be:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Website traffic
- Email marketing
Note: These topics cannot be termed as keywords yet.
Once you have prepared the list of topics, follow these steps:
A. The “Searches Related To” Section
The “Searches Related To” section that appears at the bottom of Google’s search results proves helpful in finding keywords. For example, one of the topics you listed was “email marketing.” Now, head over to Google and search for the same. Scroll to the bottom, and you will find a heading “Searches related to email marketing.”
Under this heading, you will find 8 keywords that are closely related to “email marketing.” These keyword ideas are presented to you straight from Google. Hence, the search engine is crystal-clear in its message that several people are searching for these 8 keywords. So, it is best that you utilize it to your advantage.
Insider Tip: Click on one of the keywords in the ”Searches Related To” section, then scroll to the bottom of the search results. You have a new keyword list ready with you!
B. Wikipedia Table of Contents
Were you surprised by the word “Wikipedia”? You are certainly not alone. A lot of people don’t know, but Wikipedia is an excellent source of finding keyword ideas. Industry experts have curated its content and organized it into categories, which we certainly can use to our advantage.
These are the steps you need to follow to search keyword ideas on Wikipedia:
- Open Wikipedia and enter a broad keyword such as ‘tea.’
- Now, its Wikipedia page will open.
- Scroll and look for the ‘contents’ section that lists the subtopics
- The subtopics listed here are excellent keywords that will be difficult to find elsewhere.
- You may also spot “See also” when you click one of the subtopics. For instance, if you open the subtopic called ‘Chemical Composition’ on the Wikipedia page of tea, you are shown – See also: Phenolic content in tea and Health effects of tea. When you click on any of the two links, you are presented with another table of contents.
- The subtopics listed on this page can also be used as another set of keywords. Interesting, isn’t it?
C. Use YouTube and Google Suggest
Take the topics from your list and enter them into Google one by one. Now, check the terms that Google is suggesting every time. These terms can be great additions to your keywords list. Remember, if Google is giving you suggestions, it means that lots of people are actually searching for those suggestions.
Do the same thing with Youtube and Bing to get a ready list of keywords.
D. Search for Famous Topics From Forums
You can always search for forums where your potential customers hang out. All you need to do is search phrases in Google keeping this structure in mind:
- “Keyword” forum
- “Keyword” forums
- “Keyword” board
Once you locate a forum, check the sections the forum is divided into. Each one of these sections is a potential keyword that you can use.
2. How to Find Keywords with Keyword Research Tools?
You can search keywords without a tool, but tools tend to make the whole keyword search process much easier. Let’s discuss some excellent recommendations:
A. The Google Keyword Planner
The data you receive from the Google Keyword Planner is accurate because it comes from Google itself. Unfortunately, this tool is created to help businesses with their Google ad campaigns. However, this tool is also an excellent source of keyword ideas and enables you to find search queries with lots of searches.
B. Keyword Surfer
Keyword Surfer is yet another tool that helps in keyword research. It is a free Chrome extension that allows you to gain insights into the estimated search volume and CPC in the search bar itself. You will also be able to check different keyword ideas along with associated data.
If you want to invest in a paid keyword tool, look no further than SEMrush. All you need to do is type in your competitor’s URL in Google and view the keywords they rank for. You can then use the exact keywords for your website. A brilliant time-saver, isn’t it?
Ubersuggest produces keyword ideas from search suggestions on Google.
Just enter a term in the tool, and it will get you long-term keywords. It also provides you data on every keyword such as CPC, search volume, etc.
Now, you may wonder what is a long-tail keyword and why use it? We will discuss it in the next section.
3. How to Know a Keyword’s SEO Difficulty?
75% of searchers don’t go past the 1st page of the search results. It is important to know if a keyword is too competitive to rank for. You may find it difficult to get past the third page of Google if you use an extremely competitive keyword.
On the other hand, a keyword that doesn’t have too much competition provides you a good chance to reach the top 3. So, let’s find out more about a keyword’s SEO difficulty so that you can make the best decision in selecting your keywords:
A. Types of keywords in SEO
At the time of keyword research, you must be aware of the different keyword types to get the desired benefit. Let’s discuss the different keyword types:
a. Short-tail keywords
Short-tail keywords are phrases that contain only two to three words. They have a high search volume and hence, are very competitive. Users use these keywords at the starting stages of research when their search intent is not very clear.
For example, “running shoes” is an example of a short-tail keyword.
b. Long-tail keywords
This type of keyword has lesser search volume as compared to a short-tail keyword. It is composed of more than 3 words and tends to be longer than other keyword types. Specific in nature, these keywords clearly state the search intent.
It is also important to know that long-tail keywords are less competitive as compared to short-tail keywords. For instance, “running shoes for summer” is an example of a long-tail keyword.
These types of keywords have high conversion rates. Let’s see how:
People who are searching for long-tail terms tend to be much further in the buying cycle. For instance, consider a keyword – “paleo diet.” Someone searching for a “paleo diet” is perhaps trying to know more about it. This means they don’t have any intention of purchase.
But if a person is searching for a “paleo diet supplement,” which is a longer version of the term, they are more likely to be closer to making a purchase. Therefore, the traffic from these keywords tends to convert well.
c. Short-term fresh keyword
Short-term fresh keywords are the ones that have been recently hyped on social media or have been in the news. In other words, these are the keywords that are currently trending. A fresh keyword can get more organic views. But once the hype is over, be ready for a harsh fall.
In 2018, an instance of a fresh keyword was “The Avengers: Infinity War.” Think of any newest blockbuster for an example of a fresh keyword in the current year.
d. Long-term evergreen keyword
Evergreen keywords are those keywords that are relevant regardless of time. If you use long-term evergreen keywords in a content piece now, you can rest assured that people will search for this content even after 2-5 years. When you do this, you get consistent traffic over the years.
Some examples of evergreen articles are:
- 10 Ways to Soothe A Crying Baby
- How to Make a Dog House
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Apples
While producing good evergreen ideas, you may feel a lot of them are already covered, that too in excess. At this time, you can search for long-tail keywords which do not have super-high competition but do have volume.
Tip: Try to keep your evergreen pieces based around the keywords you want your website to rank on.
e. Customer-defining keyword
When you reach the stage of keyword research, you already know about your target audience. You are aware of whether they are females, males, kids, etc. If you are targeting a particular group, make sure your content is clear in addressing them. For instance, a customer-defining keyword can be “video games for kids.” When you use these keywords, it draws people from your targeted category and builds credibility for your business.
B. Check Websites on First Page of Google and Export Their Organic Keywords
You must know a faster way of evaluating the competition level of a keyword. To do this, search for your keyword in the search bar of Google. Now, check the sites that rank on the first page. If you see uber authority sites such as Wikipedia on the first page, you should reconsider using the keyword. On the other hand, if you see a few smaller blogs on the first page, it means you can try to hit the first page too with the help of this keyword.
How To Check Organic Keywords on SEMrush?
In case you want to check the best keywords of your competitors, visit the Organic Research Tool in SEMrush. When you use the tool, you get one step closer to the top of the SERPs. Here’s how to use the tool:
1. Go to Organic Research Tool in SEMrush
2. Enter the URL and click on the search button
3. Check the keywords from the list and include the suitable ones in your SEO campaign
Interestingly enough, there is a complete tool called CanIRank dedicated to keyword difficulty. It evaluates the competition level of a keyword relative to your site. For example, once you enter the keyword “CRM” into the tool, it will look at the first-page competition of Google compared to your website’s authority. It will then give you a “Ranking Probability.”
4. How to Select Keywords from the List of Keywords
Now that you have a keywords list, you may want to know which keywords to choose from it. There isn’t a tool that tells you the same; hence you need to consider a few factors to choose the right keywords.
A. By Checking Search Volume
Short-tail keywords can have hundreds of monthly searches. On the other hand, long-tail keywords have relatively low search volumes. Ensure you use a keyword that has reasonable search volume. Refrain from using keywords that nobody is searching for.
B. By Estimating Organic CTR
The number of Google searchers who click on an organic result has gone down. This is because featured snippets give you an answer right away without the need to click anywhere. It is also because Google is packing more ads in the search results as compared to before.
So, knowing about search volume isn’t enough. You need to estimate organic CTR to get a complete estimate of the number of clicks you will receive from the first-page ranking on Google.
Organic CTR is the percentage of searchers who click on a search engine result.
So, to estimate organic CTR, look at the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) by entering your keyword. If there are already several things on the first page, like a featured snippet and many Google ads, then it is understandable that you will not get a lot of clicks even if you rank number one.
C. Analyzing Keyword Trends
Google Trends is the best way to see if your keyword is slowly dying or growing fast. Add your keyword in Google Trends, and you will be able to see its “interest over time.” If it is growing, you can go ahead with the keyword as it is likely to reward you with increased traffic over time.
5. Helpful Tips and Strategies
Now that you are aware of the basics, it is time to know some advanced tips and strategies. Let’s start:
A. Use Barnacle SEO
Let’s suppose you have discovered a “perfect” keyword and achieved a rank in the top 3 for it. You may think that your work is done. However, the keyword can provide you more traction with Barnacle SEO.
Barnacle SEO is a practice where you use the authority of another site for ranking on the first page. For instance, suppose that “voice search SEO” is your best keyword when it comes to conversions and the post you write about it ranks in the top 3 for this keyword. But this means you have only one spot in the SERPs. In an attempt to take more than one spot on the first page, you can create a YouTube video that is optimized for this keyword. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
B. Find Niche Keywords
Some websites offer you scope for discussion on topics that are associated with your niche. One of the best examples of such websites is Reddit. It helps you discover the potential keywords that you have not yet added to your list.
To find keyword ideas on Reddit, head over to the website and search for a broad topic your potential customers will be interested in. Then, select a subreddit where you think your potential customers are likely to be hanging out. Keep an eye on threads that have plenty of comments to get keyword ideas.
C. Use Google Search Console for Keyword Ideas
The Google Search Console can provide lots of keyword ideas. For this, you need to log in to your GSC account and go to the “Performance Report.” This report displays those terms that provide the most clicks from Google search.
As a next step, sort the list by “Impressions” and check keywords that get loads of impressions, but not necessarily clicks. Choose one of these keywords to produce a piece of content that is optimized around it.
Why do this?
This keyword that you choose is what people are searching for. Plus, you already know that Google considers your website a good fit in the search results. Now, you can publish content that is highly focused on this specific keyword and you are all set!
D. Optimize Content Around Synonyms and Closely Related Terms
Don’t stop after you optimize your page around your target keyword. To get more search engine traffic, optimize it around synonyms. For instance, if you have created a post on your main keyword – “search engine visibility,” you can add variations of the keyword in the post, too. For instance, add “SEO visibility” to your post. Doing so gives you an opportunity to rank #1 for the keyword and its variations.
E. Search for ‘Shoulder Keywords’
So many people only optimize their websites around those keywords that are very closely related to what they are selling. This can be a huge mistake because product keywords are highly competitive. There are tons of keywords your target audience is searching for when they are not looking for what you are selling. These are called “Shoulder Keywords.” These are the keywords that are not directly associated with what you are selling, but are the ones your potential customers are searching for.
Hence, you can use shoulder keywords to publish fantastic pieces of content and when your customers notice it, they are more likely to purchase from you in the future.
To understand this better, let’s take an example. Let’s suppose, you offer a marketing analytics tool. So, apart from optimizing around “analytics software” and “marketing analytics tool,” you can also publish content around shoulder keywords, such as “how can analytics help optimize your website,” “marketing analytics benefits,” and so on.
With a ready list of keywords, you can focus on the right topics for your website. This will, in turn, help you achieve short-term as well as long-term gains.
So, now that you know how to do keyword research for SEO, it’s our turn to ask – which keyword research method did you love the most? Which tools will you definitely use?
If you are an agency and want to offer the best results to your clients, you can always consider hiring result-oriented white label SEO services from DashClicks. It is hassle-free, time-saving, and affordable!