How To Do Keyword Research

How To Do Keyword Research
Reading Time: 6 minutes

With Google becoming more and more selective in what information they give website owners, it’s critical that you are investing in the right tools to take your keyword research to the next level so that you can remain competitive.

In this post, we’re going to show you how to do keyword research step-by-step. We’re also going to be talking about some pretty cool ways you can do to find high-volume, low-competition keywords that can quickly increase your website’s rankings. 

Relevant Topic & Keyword For Your Business

Start with brainstorm. Start your keyword research by coming up with general topics and generic phrases that might be associated with your business. For example:
Ali’s Sandal – An online-only eCommerce sandal retailer

  • Buy sandals online
  • Buy men’s sandals
  • Athletic sandal

Your list should be rather long. Write down anything you can think of related to your niche or business. If you are new to your niche or business, one of the best ways to think about topics and categories related to it. Your goal is to find your customers’ “pain points” — what problem they’re trying to solve with your product or service. This is where you can get more specific. For instance, Ali may think about people who want to know the “best men’s sandals for hiking.”

As you are writing down these ideas, think about the intent that someone would have when searching for something. Search intent is the reason why people perform a specific search. There are four main reasons that people search for things:

  1. Informational intent: want to know the answer to a specific question or more about a topic
  2. Navigational intent: trying to get to a specific page
  3. Transactional intent: browsing with the intent to buy something
  4. Commercial intent: investigating a future purchase; doing product research

Google has a great understanding of what people are looking for when they do a specific search, so you should, too! Consider the reason that people might be searching a specific keyword. Knowing search intent can help you to write and use keywords in a more effective way.

Organize Keywords By Category

After thinking about intent, you will want to start pooling keywords like these together into different categories. For example, Ali could separate his terms into categories based on sandal style, best use for the sandal, and sandal trends. 

Categories help you organize your keywords, so you can create silos of content. Silos are important not only to organize the way that you are approaching your ideas, but also to help you perform better on search rankings.

Search engines reward websites that have organized content categories. Indexing, finding context for content, and deciding what result to display are all easier for the search algorithms when your keywords and content is categorized.

Divide your keywords using the following outline:

  • Group content by category based on topic
  • Divide each group of keywords into subtopics
  • Keep keywords in each subtopic and topic hyper-focused to that topic
  • Try not to overlap keywords between categories

Once you have categorized sets of keywords, you can then start building pages for your website. Each category of keywords could potentially be a new page on your site – so you’re tackling keyword research, thinking of SEO, and starting a content plan.

Find More Related Keywords

The reality is that you only know so much about your business, your audience, and the type of things you think people are looking for. Once you’ve exhausted your own brainstorming sessions, there are several free keyword planning tools that can help you uncover additional related keywords.

To find related keywords, you can use one of these tools:

Google Keyword Planner – A free tool that’s part of the Google Ads suite. All you need is a Google account to use this free tool. Once on the dashboard, select “Discover New Keywords,” enter a seed keyword, and a list of related keywords will be populated. You can view individual keywords or group them by relevance. You can also filter based on characteristics of the keywords; for example, Ali can filter related keywords by shoe brand or shoe style.  

Google Trends – This isn’t a traditional keyword research tool. Google Trends shows how often a keyword is entered into Google over a given period of time. For example, it shouldn’t be surprising that the search volume for “men’s sandals” peaks in mid-June. Additionally, Google Trends can show you search volume by region as well as related queries sorted by increase in search volume. In other words, what queries are ‘trending’ in the SERPs! This tool can be helpful for planning timely and seasonal content and promotions. 

Answer the Public – This clever tool uses the autocomplete data from Google and other search engines to generate a goldmine of keywords and topic ideas. Simply enter a seed keyword, like “men’s sandals” and let the magic begin! Using Answer the Public, Ali will discover that people are also asking things like “what men’s sandals are in style” and “how should men’s sandals fit,” which give Ali some great ideas for content! 

Observe On Your Competitors

Although you can’t access the Google Analytics of your competitors, you can definitely get a glimpse into which keywords they are targeting on any given page on their website. And this is going to be HUGE for you.

In years past, it used to be easy to see which keywords your competitors were ranking for; all you had to do was access their page source code, do a CTRL + F (find) for keywords and there you go, you had a plethora of information you could use for your own webpage on a similar topic. Today, you’ll be hard pressed to find many websites where this method still works. Many website owners have stopped adding keywords altogether to their SEO plugins.

Prioritize Keywords

By now you should have a huge, somewhat-messy list of keywords of interest. Most of them should be organized into “piles” according to their general category, and more than a few should be marked with priority scores based on the metrics Long Tail Pro used to analyze your keywords.

With these categories and rankings, you can begin to sort through this pile with page goals in mind.

Your first task is to locate the more-generic, less-specific search terms and separate them from the longer, more-specific terms. They will form the following two categories:

  • “Head” queries that represent overarching topics or the most general version of a search, e.g.:
    • Sandals
    • Dentist
    • Mechanic
  • “Long tail” queries that are looking for more specific information regarding a small slice of the overarching concept, e.g.:
    • Men’s casual sandals
    • Dental clinic
    • Mechanic near me

As you might imagine, long tail queries and keywords are more vague and harder to cover at once. You may only have a few pages or even just a few sentences dedicated to each one, if at all. This is okay!

Long tail queries make up around 70% of the average search, meaning that you don’t have to have all of your bases covered to be considered useful to online searchers. You should, however, cater to the long tail queries that most closely match your specialization, area of interest, or typical clientele requests.

At this point, you are almost done with keyword research. This last stage is simply refining your lists and priorities by thinking about what search terms come from the highest-value traffic — i.e. analyzing user intent.

Look at your pool of prioritized keywords and try to decipher where on a buying journey the customer might be. For instance, someone may be searching “how to repair flip-flops” and not necessarily be looking to buy a new pair just yet, whereas someone searching for “best price on leather flip-flops” almost certainly is.

Cross-check your newly chosen prioritized keywords with the competition each category faces once more, just to know what you will be up against. Don’t throw anything out just because it seems like it could be harder! Just maybe put it off until later, or keep the challenge in mind when putting your hard-earned research results to use.

What to Do with Your Keyword Research Results

This section could fill a whole new guide, so let’s leave it at some quick suggestions for how to use your priority keywords:

  • Inform site layout such as navigation, parent pages, and sub-page structure
  • Dictate the verbiage of headers, metadata, page titles
  • Develop a content marketing strategy to help you rank for priority keywords
  • Refine your online word-choice habits on social media when making new pages or when generally leaving a digital trail online
  • Refine your business model to more closely reflect the niches with the highest potential
  • Start a pay-per-click (PPC/AdWords) campaign to get more inbound traffic data
  • Create spreadsheets to help you assign a dollar value to ranking for a keyword-based on-site performance
  • Look to social, local, or other search algorithm influencers

No matter what you do, always remember these three words: Measure, Adjust, Repeat. Because that is the best way to do keyword research and then make it really work for your site!

Your work with keyword research is never truly done because you will constantly be measuring your site 

performance based on your keyword use, adjusting your strategy to pursue better outcomes, and repeating the process to make adjustments that help you pursue goals and push growth.

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