SEO Keyword Research
SEO Keyword Research

SEO Keyword Research

You know your audience and deal with them far more than anyone else could. This knowledge of their needs, their ways of interaction, and their concerns is very compelling. However, is this knowledge useful without the proper research that backs it up? Do you know what they search for precisely and the alternative search terms that they may type into search engines while looking for something similar to what you do or offer? Well here’s where keyword research comes in handy! Without initial detailed research, analysis, constant follow-up and data enhancements, your knowledge of your customers and what they search for online is a mere guess. Basing your website and its content strategy on mere assumptions could be costing you a lot of lost visits and conversions. So we now agree that keyword research is the first and most essential part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, and it will help you optimize your website effectively, understand your target market, and determine how to speak to your audience or website visitors in a way they find relevant.


Starting your Keyword Research: 3 Key Considerations


Let’s get to business. Keyword research tools, brainstorming, Excel sheets, data filtering, rankings, understanding insights and reports, the list goes on. Sounds like a hassle? We’re not going to lie to you; It is a hassle that is completely worth going through. This process requires dedication and time, so don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s a one-time thing. Wrong and outdated data won’t get you anywhere near the position you want on search engine results pages, or mostly known as SERPs. Competition is fierce, and search engines are on a never-ending quest of changes and updates towards better user experience (UX). Which means you always need to be armed with the latest updates, practices, features, tools and of course, data!

Before you start data mining, keep in mind simple key questions that you’re conducting this research to find answers to. Those will help you simplify the process and stay on track.

  • What is your audience searching for?
  • How many are searching for it?
  • And in what form do they want to find it?

Once you gather enough data to answer those questions, you will be able to understand your audience and create a content strategy that caters to them, and search engines alike.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

The first step is to put down the terms that you have in mind already and want to rank for. Just jot them down. Those terms will be the base of your research and could be topics related to your brand, services, and products. Start by entering your current results into Google AdWords Keyword Planner to get insights about them and find similar suggestions. The initial results will help you discover variations of your keywords and other topics that you might have missed. As you come across relevant terms, you will notice that their search volume varies, which is the approximate 12-month average number of queries for it.

Search volume is one of the factors that will help you determine which terms you want to target or optimize your content for later on. Another factor is the type of competition you’ll be up against to rank for this keyword. To get ahead on increasing organic traffic, aim for low competition terms and avoid selecting broad words or obscure phrases that are hardly searched for.

For better conversion, make sure you include phrases which are very specific to your website (long-tail keywords, we’ll get back to this with more details later). You can also filter the suggested ideas to either show broadly related or closely related terms. Now you can export your data by simply downloading your Stats as an Excel sheet to get to the next step: filtering and cleaning your data. But before that, don’t forget to explore other tools and tricks that can add a lot to your research.

You can expand on some of your basic ideas by looking at Google search suggestions. Start typing in a keyword in the search box and take a look at the suggested phrases that pop up below. As you continue typing, you get more detailed suggestions that can help you with long-tail phrases. Another handy step is examining SERPs for the ones you’re interested in to get a better understanding of searcher intent; which is what the searcher wants to find and what type of content Google tends to show him when searching for specific keywords.

Keyword Difficulty: Filtering and Cleaning

So now that you have a decent amount of ideas, you need to clean up your data. Start by running through it and removing any ones that you don’t find relevant or useful at all. We recommend that you narrow them down to 100 keywords. One of the essential factors to consider when making your choices is Keyword Difficulty. The best way to calibrate ranking difficulty is to manually scrutinize search results using your experience, judgment and intuition. So why do you need to look at keyword difficulty? If you choose highly competitive terms, you would be deliberately burying your website page at the bottom of SERPs. However, if you aim for lower competition, you may have a high chance of ranking on the first page. So here are a couple of ways to determine difficulty.

Authority Websites: Another quick way to evaluate competition level is by searching for and checking whether any authority sites (like Wikipedia or major news publishers) are ranking for this word. If so, you probably want to leave it behind. You’ll also find heaps of keyword research tools that have features that help determine keyword competition. That being said, high competition does not necessarily mean giving up entirely on a keyword. It would be best if you balanced between its value to your business and its ranking difficulty. Some might be easy to rank for but don’t convert that well, and in this case, you would be wasting your time and effort for no good reason. Contrarily, some extremely competitive keywords could be your one-way ticket to glory, if you manage to rank for them. But remember, you must be willing to invest your effort into them and just wait. Really wait.

Keyword Categories: There are three main categories that SEO people divide terms into; which are head, body, and long-tail. Head terms are usually single-word keywords that are well-searched and have high competition. The search intent behind this category is quite ambiguous since it consists of very generic terms like “health” or “cars”. Someone searching for the term “health” could be looking for a definition of the word, or a health insurance company, or most probably the Wikipedia page for it. For this reason, head terms hardly convert well. Body phrases are more specific but not too specific. They’re usually 2-3 word phrases that get high search volume but are less competitive than head terms. Examples of Body phrases would be “health insurance” or “cars for sale”. The third category, long-tail keywords, are long and precise word phrases like “health insurance companies in UAE” and “used cars in Dubai for sale by owner”. Long-tail terms don’t have high search volume, but when added together with other similar ones, they make up a considerable number of online searches. So, when it comes to competition, long-tails are usually the least competitive keywords.


Final bits of advice


A good way to go about this is to group your keywords by “parent topic” to bring some sense and structure to your most probably chaotic list. Group semantically or contextually related terms under one of your parent topics.

For guidance on making your final choices, go back to your niche. If your website is offering products or services, go with keywords that have commercial intent. And if your website is based on providing informational content, go for ones that have informational intent. You can determine that by looking at the current ranking website on SERPs.

Look for keywords that have high search volume with low competition OR high search volume with competitors that have lower domain authority and backlinks.

If you’re successfully ranking on the first page for some keywords that have decent search volume, but not on the top 5 results, focus your efforts on ranking higher for them.

Finally, you need to check if your chosen keywords are growing/trending or slowly perishing. The best way to do that is through Google Trends. If you’re considering a term, run it by Google Trends first, if you find it to be growing fast, it means it’s an excellent opportunity for you to target it, and vice versa.

SEO results require hard work and patience!


So here you go. You’re now blessed with the knowledge of keyword research basics! All you need to do now is get going. Start somewhere. You will probably come across many challenges that will help you enrich your research strategy. Maintenance is imperative, always go back, check your data, and refine it. And don’t forget, you won’t be seeing results overnight. So, put in the effort and just be patient.

Frequently Asked Questions

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