How to Do Keyword Research- For Successful SEO (Full Guide)
Keyword Research is difficult.
How many of you have heard that?
Many of us pay thousands of dollars to SEO experts on Fiverr or upwork to find Keywords. Sometimes this is a hit or miss!
What if you could do it on your own?
It only takes a bit of patience and curiosity to get started!
I still remember the first time I was doing KW research. I was totally confused and didn’t know what to do.
So, I started following Gurus and famed marketers. That became more painful.
Lots of suggestions!! Do this, Do that, Don’t do that!!
I was on the verge of giving up.
Finally, I told myself let’s try on my own.
Here I am now with lots of different sites under my belt and providing SEO service to hundreds of clients.
These are the exact techniques that I use and can help you get started!!
What Really Is Keyword Research?
Before knowing what keyword research is, you should know what “keyword” means. Any term of phrase that has a search value is known as a keyword.
Now, what do you understand by search value?
Search value can have different meanings. Either the keyword has enough search volume, people are talking about it in different places, it has a buying intent or for any reason the search engine provides relevant results.
Keyword research is simply the process through which you can find and analyze that search value of certain terms that can be valuable to your SEO campaign.
Here’s a good example of a keyword. It has search value and from the SERP, it looks like people are talking about it. With keyword research, we can find the relevant data that could tell us whether or not we should pursue this term.
Why Is Keyword Research Critical For Your Online Success?
You might have a great blog idea. You might have all data in the world to create a unique and enjoyable piece of content that others haven’t covered yet.
But, if people can’t find it then all your efforts are in vain.
Keyword research helps you to gain search visibility. But that’s not the only reason you should learn this.
● It gives you data to identify whether or not the chosen term is of any value to your business or content.
● Gives you an opportunity to find a plethora of topics and ideas that you haven’t thought of.
● Helps you bring in different levels of visitors: information hunters, buyers and potential customers.
● Provides you data on what your target audience loves to hear
● Saves you from going after terms that will end up wasting your resources and bring in zero value.
For example, you want to build a blog/business on climbing gears. So, should you start publishing content around every topic related to this term?
That would be a disaster! You don’t know whether your target audience needs that information and you don’t know whether you will ever rank for them. And not to mention, the money you will be spending blindly!
Instead learn how to do keyword research and play smart!!
Step By Step Keyword Research Guide
Step 1: Done With Niche Selection? Time to Find Topics/seed Kw
Niche selection needs a different article altogether! I’m not going to go deep into that. Even if you haven’t chosen a niche yet, you might have several ideas on your mind.
The first step is to find broad topics or in more technical language find seed keywords. These are topics closely related to your niche and will help you to find more specific keywords in the later stages.
Here’s what you can do!
1. Research on your niche and find broad topics
Let’s consider that you want to build a blog around generators! The prices of these machines are way high, people lack technical knowledge and lots of people in the U.S and around the world need them. These are just basic assumptions and common knowledge we have in the niche.
But..that’s not enough.
You need to go deep. You will need to create a list of categories that talks about different aspects of the generators.
A good place to start is Wikipedia.
This is what you get when you search for ‘generator’ on Wikipedia. If you search further, you will find different topics related to the engine working principle, fuel consumption, different types of gas, electric and motor generators, their uses and what not.
2. Use Google related search and search box
This is one of my most favorite techniques. Let’s talk about google auto suggest first.
Head over to google and search “golf club”.
The moment you click on the search box after typing a term, google will suggest lots of other terms. These terms are valuable and if google is providing them, they aren’t some random words. It means people are searching for them or talking about them.
Now, get to the end of the search page.
These are the terms people search who also search ‘golf club’.
Now if you click on one of them, you will find more seed keywords.
3. See what your target audience is discussing
In most cases, I just head over to Reddit and I will be surprised not to find anything related to my niche.
It’s packed with real users who share their problems and chances are your target audience is already there.
Let’s assume you want to build a mattress business.
Now type a word that best describes your niche. In this case we will be searching with the term mattress.
Hit enter and you find few subreddits/groups that are talking about the term.
Join them and keep surfing around the threads to know more about your audience’s problems.
Other than reddit you can also search on google with a search pattern like this:
“Mattress + forum”
Here’s a mattress forum I found. If you keep on searching you will find lots of them and save the keywords that you think are relevant.
4. Search on Youtube
Search on Youtube. When you type something youtube gives you different suggestions. Many marketers simply overlook this thinking that their primary focus is just google. But from my experience, youtube provides unique topics that nobody seems to care about.
Here’s what I got when I searched for ‘mattress’
I can find at least 5-6 topics here that google didn’t provide when I searched previously.
Add all this to your master list and dig deeper.
Here’s another trick you can follow.
Let’s head over to a video that shows up for your topic.
Now, start reading the comments section. Admit it, we always do that. I’m sure you will find lots of different seed keywords from comments alone.
Here’s someone stuck between Helix and Brooklyn aurora mattress. You can cover a post that helps buyers choose between the two if the topic is worthy of writing.
5. Get ideas from social media
For most marketers, Pinterest is the only social media that provides valuable data. Twitter and Facebook can be valuable in some cases but it doesn’t work for me.
Search with relevant terms or your niche topic on Pinterest.
Let’s just say you want to know what people on pinterest love about ‘essential oil’. You see, you already have 7 different topics that you didn’t know about.
Pinterest can be fun. You can find lots of different articles talking about these topics. If you think, you can do better and outrank them, go on!!
Step 2: Generate a List of Keyword Ideas
All these techniques I described above will give you enough topics to get started!
Now it’s time to find keyword ideas.
In this step, we will not be using any type of tool. We will just use common sense and insights from our previous topic research to assume certain keywords.
For example, we previously searched essential oil. If I brainstorm a bit, some of these keywords easily comes to mind:
- Importance of essential oils
- Best essential oils
- Where to find essential oils
- Types of essential oils
- Essential oil recipes
And.. so on.
The point is to come up with as keywords that you think your customers are searching.
Together with these and the seed keywords we found earlier will give us a good ground to find our main keywords and search terms using data driven tools.
Step 3: Using Kw Research Tool to Enhance the Process
Getting Acquainted With Free & Pro Tools
1. Ubersuggest (Free)
Among the free tools, Ubersuggest is probably the best!
Well, it’s got upgraded recently and will give you 100 or so data for each query. For beginner marketers that’s more than enough.
Here’s how it works.
Create a free account and login to Ubersuggest.
Click on the keyword overview panel on the right and type in your seed keyword. As you can see, it provides search volume, SEO difficulty and lots of other metrics.
Now, here’s where the magic happens! When you click on keyword ideas, you will get loads and loads of keywords. Based on your niche and business needs, you can add them to your final list.
Play around with it. You can gain a lot more from it. And if you think, it’s effective for your business, you can always upgrade to get more keyword ideas and metrics.
2. Keyword Generator (Limited)
Keyword generator is a great tool for beginners. It’s powered by Ahrefs and gives you top notch results.
Here’s an example.
I searched for ‘dog food’ and this tool gives me 100 new keyword ideas instantly. For accessing more, you will need to upgrade to a premium plan. For now, this is more than enough to get started.
Now if you click on a question, you will get 50 different Q/A based keywords for your informational content.
Notice that there is a KD metric for the first 10 of the results. This is a score ranging between 0-100. It is a measure of competitiveness of your keyword.
Normally, the higher the score, the greater number of backlinks is needed to rank for a particular keyword. We will cover this metric later in this post.
3. Answer the public (Free)
Here’s an interesting free tool you can use for finding question type keywords/topics. I still use this tool whenever I’m building a new niche site or blog.
Using this tool will give you head start and make your blog authoritative in no time. Just get some topics, give them to your writers and see the traffic flowing to your site.
Here’s how it works!
First, type in any topic/seed keyword in the box. Then select a country. Here, I searched for ‘paleo diet’ and chose the U.S.
The tool gives you different types of keywords. The first section provides questions that start with ‘is’, ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘which’ and so on.
Then there are topics that contain preposition words like can, for, etc.
4. Keyword Surfer (Free)
I used to love Keyword Everywhere. Sadly, it’s paid now!
Keyword Surfer works in a similar way and till now it’s totally free.
It’s a chrome extension that provides you a monthly search volume of any term you type into google search box.
After installing the extension, just type something. For the term ‘bungee jumping’, it shows the monthly search volume for the U.S is 33,100. You can also choose other countries or global search volume from the setting.
On the right side, Keyword Surfer gives you related searches and their MSV.
This tool will help you get instant insight into a keyword that just pops up in your mind.
This tool also shows three different data for a particular page. The first one from the right shows MSV for the domain. The middle one shows the word count of the article and the left data shows the number of times the particular keyword was used in the article.
5. Keyworddit (Free)
If you don’t know anything about your niche yet, Keyworddit can be a great place to start.
We talked about using Reddit to gain keyword ideas before.
This tool helps you to find relevant keywords that are discussed in different subreddit.
Just type in a word. If there’s a subreddit available, it will show up in the box. Usually, only the subreddits that have more than 10,000 subscribers are shown in the box.
Click get keywords!
Here’s a list of keywords that are available in reddit along with their search volume.
If you click on context, you will be taken to a google page of the thread. From there, you can learn more.
6. Ahrefs (Paid)
If you ask any digital marketer, “what’s the best keyword research tool?” The answer will almost always be ‘Ahrefs’.
It’s paid but the money ultimately pays off a big time.
You will need some time to get a hang of the process of searching keywords on it.
This one I love and most beginners will find it easy. The Ahrefs Keywords explorer.
You just type in any topic/seed keyword, the tool will show you monthly search volume, new keyword ideas, KD (keyword difficulty) and the number of backlinks you need to reach #1 position.
What’s great about Ahrefs is you can gain thousands of keywords in minutes and filter them as you want.
7. KWFinder (Paid)
KW Finder is the most user-friendly tool out there! You type in a keyword and you get everything in a single page.
I searched ‘best tailgate tent’ and the tool gives me data for that particular keyword and lots of other keyword ideas relevant to the topic.
Based on my experience, I can say the keyword difficulty offered by KW Finder is the most accurate among all other tools.
It graphically shows you and tells you whether or not the term is easy to rank or difficult to rank.
On the right side, you will find the data for the SERP results. This helps to know your competition and who you are dealing with.
Kw Research Metrics: How to Choose a Keyword?
Having thousands of keywords at hand isn’t enough. In fact, too many keywords without data are useless!
You need to filter your keywords based on certain metrics.
Here they are:
1. Search Volume
The search volume shows you the number of times people are searching for a particular term every month.
As a general rule, you want your keyword to have at least some search volume. Even if the value is 10, it means people are looking for it.
Depending on your niche and the type of keyword, the appropriate search volume will vary.
For example, a long tail keyword starting with ‘best’ will almost always have low search volume. But that’s okay. If the term is specific, it’s always easy to rank it.
For a broad term like ‘bunk beds’ the search volume is expected to be higher and they are almost impossible to rank #1.
2. Keyword Difficulty
Keyword difficulty is a widely used SEO metric. For newbies, this metric is a blessing.
This metric is derived from a combination of backlinks, site authority and lots of other factors. Keep in mind, different tools calculate difficulty in different ways.
I like to stick with KW Finder for this metric. It’s easy to use and the metric is pretty much accurate and most importantly works for me.
If you are starting out, you can go for a keyword having difficulty like this:
It’s 24. Usually, it doesn’t take a lot of backlinks and time to rank for KWs at this range.
As your site becomes authoritative, you can go for terms with KD 40 or up!
3. Organic CTR
Many people overlook this. Even if you have a keyword that has a high search volume with low keyword difficulty, you will need people to click on your result.
Tools like Ahrefs and Moz show this metric.
If the percentage of people clicking on the organic result is less, you should avoid the keyword.
However, you can still go for it, if it has enough search volume or buying intent.
4. CPC: Does it Matter?
Cost per click (CPC) is more important for those who are into paid campaigns.
But it can still work for SEO.
For ‘best keyword research tool’, the CPC is $4.43. That means, people are spending quite a lot to rank for this term.
The keyword is a gold mine. Once you rank for it, people will spend money on it. This metric just provides data for the commercial intent.
As you get more experienced, you can use CPC data to enrich your SEO campaign.
5. Trend: Is your KW evergreen or seasonal?
One of the deadliest mistakes people make is not checking the trend or seasonality of the keyword.
Sure, your KW might have a sufficient search volume, low competition and high CPC. But if the demand curve is falling, no one will be searching for it in the upcoming years.
The term ‘best fishing rod’ has a pretty consistent demand in the last 5 years. But it has the highest demand during June and this year, the curve is at the highest.
This is sort of a seasonal keyword but still evergreen as it looks like it will maintain the curve for upcoming years.
6. On Page Seo
On page SEO is crucial to make your KW rank.
It’s pretty simple to read and doesn’t require any tool in most cases.
To check on page SEO, check the following things:
- The title of the posts on the SERP
- Position of KWs in the post
- The URL
- Number of times the KW is mentioned in the post
- Interlinking to other posts
- Content Quality
- Meta description
- Speed of the site
These factors work in different ways. For example, if you find a site ranking #1 but has a slow page loading speed. You can create better or a similar piece of content and make a faster loading page and outrank that site.
7. Search Intent and Different KW Formats
This is where many people go wrong.
While search intent is not a metric that you can find in tools.
You will need to manually figure out.
Say, you have a keyword ‘toilet safety for babies’. Now, you need to decide what sort of information the searchers are looking for.
Is it unjust information? Or are they looking for product recommendations?
Do they need a short and precise answer or a long and descriptive answer.
If you get this right, you might rank higher and if you do, people will read your post.
There are two types of keywords:
- Informational keyword: building a DIY plane
- Commercial keywords: Best air conditioners
Sure there are others. But most keywords fall in between these two categories!
8. Analyzing Keyword Competition
This metric is quite similar to the KW difficulty we talked about earlier. However, there’s more to it.
To analyze the competition of a keyword, you will need to find out the backlink profile of the top ranked post. Ahrefs is the best tool for this job!
When you have the list, you will need to find ways to replicate the backlink profile of your competitors. I’m not talking about the overall backlink of your competitor’s site, it’s just the single post.
If your competitor’s post gets a link from CNN, you should try to get from that site or any other site having similar authority.
If you think it’s unrealistic and impossible to gain backlinks for that particular keyword, it’s best to leave that.
Step 4: Is it worthy to pursue?
Say, you have a keyword that seems possible to rank with fewer backlinks and with no real competition.
But is that keyword important to your business?
For example, you are operating a hair salon. You find a keyword ‘buy hair salon products’. Sure, it’s related to your niche. Is it suitable for your business?
Unless you are selling hair products, this keyword is no use to you.
You will find lots of such keywords that seem relevant to your niche but in the end doesn’t bring you money. Even if it brings traffic to your site, they are useless!
Step 5: Organizing Your Keywords for Specific Use
You have a giant list of keywords! Now you want to publish some pieces of content around it.
The first step is to organize your keywords by ‘parent topic’
For example, if you have a fishing site and you want to create a post regarding different types of fishing rods. Now, you need to organize keywords that can be put in that article.
If you think, there are keywords that demand a separate topic, then put it in a separate parent topic and find relevant terms to create another article.
Ahrefs shows you parent topics for each KW. If you use that, most of your work is already done for you!
But that’s not the end.
You will have to group your keywords based on the search intent.
Some terms might satisfy users who are just here for information. Others might satisfy more technical needs.
Make a complete user journey.
Say, you have an article on ‘what is fishing’ or ‘how to fish’. Now the next step is to introduce visitors to different tools of fishing. And then you can create content around different models of products.
Pro Tip: Steal KWs from your Competitors
Stealing KWs from competitors is my favorite strategy to fast pace building a new site.
I just type in the site URL into Ahrefs and it gives me all the different KWs that site is currently ranking for.
Now, I can filter and find KWs that meets my business needs. If I want KWs with only ‘best’ at the beginning and having low competition, I can find it easily.
This saves a lot of time and it works for people who have already chosen a particular niche.
Here’s a Ninja technique I use.
Find a site in your niche that is still new and hardly ranked for any KWs but looks like it is putting up content regularly.
Scrap KWs from that site and use it. The person behind that site is doing all the hard work for you! But don’t try to copy every step. The opportunities are endless!!
Keyword Research might feel complicated and overwhelming at the beginning. But if you truly understand how it works, it will become interesting and sometimes very addictive.
To understand it, the only way is to play around with tools and search engines. The theoretical part is just 10% of the work and the rest depends on finding keywords and putting them to test.