Step-by-step guide to Keyword Research
Keyword research is about matching user intent to their desired solution
We ask ‘what are they searching for today that they can’t successfully find or aren’t being well exposed?
Objective: find primary and secondary keywords for SEO
Why: any content needs to be search engine optimized
Procedure: Since you know the topic, you locate the keywords following 5 steps.
First, you will go through the online forums and communities to check your targeted audience’s exact wording when they talk about the topic. Then, you will check the search engines, mainly Google, to get a more systematic representation of the words used. Follow a similar procedure with the competitors who have content about the topic. In Step 4, you will dive deeper into the possible keywords using various free tools.
While you go through steps 1 to 4, your goal is to collect as many keywords relating to the topic. At this phase, quantity is more important than quality. Then, you will have a detailed list of tens of keywords, if not more, that concern your topic. It is now time to decide which keyword to be your main one and which ones to be your secondary keywords. In other words, it is time to use King Google and its Keyword Planner (step 5).
Step 1: CHECK ONLINE COMMUNITIES
Why: people ask questions on Reddit/Quora because they couldn’t find their answers on Google
- Reddit: use Keyworddit, a free SEP tool that scans Reddit for words and phrases that people use and sorts those phrases by the monthly search volume.
- Search in Quora: Google: “topic Quora” or “topic” + “Quora”
- Check in specialized Forums. Google: “topic forum” or “topic” + “forum”
- Check Udemy: —> search for courses by category/keyword & scroll to best-selling courses
- Check Amazon Table of Contents —> search for the topic & look for a book with lots of ratings & “Look inside” to see the table of contents
- Use Conference Agendas —> head to a conference website about the topic & go to agenda page & pop the conference agenda page into the Google Keyword Planner (choose “This page only”)
- Check Wikipedia’s table to content, “See also”, “External Links”, “References”.
- If relevant, check reviews from Amazon, eBay, GoogleMap, TripAdvisor. Pay attention to the 3/5 reviews, which are the most skeptical and will point out what is missing
Step 2: USE SEARCH ENGINES
Why: Search engines group individuals’ searches
- Check related topics in google searches: Google the topic and at the bottom of the
- Google search results, see the Related Topics, then switch to image search and see the topic bubbles on top
- Check Google’s questions: “People Also Asked”. To summarize, you can use the AlsoAsked tool.
- Use Google, Bing and YouTube Suggest (add your topic at search panel and see the suggestions)
- Use Ubersuggest, which generates keyword ideas from Google’s search suggestions
- Check lesser-known search engines: Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Dogpile
Step 3: CHECK THE COMPETITORS
Why: competitors’ websites make for a handy reservoir for ideas (finding keyword opportunity gaps)
- Use Google to locate the leading websites that rank for the topic you are after
- Search for [allintitle:keyword]. This search will show how many web pages have that term (i.e., headline) in the page title. That number is exactly how many web pages you are trying to over-rank.
- Read or skim through the relevant content from the competitors’ websites. Pay attention to titles, subheadings, and highlighted sentences.
- Use the free service Spyfu, which locates all keywords used in a website next to their frequency. Another tool you can use here is Google’s Keyword Planner
Step 4: USE TOOLS
Why: tools can process information faster
- Hubspot —> Writing prompts, ideation starts
- Tweakyourbiz —> Ideation: help you create exceptional titles
- Wolfram Alpha —> Get condensed info about the topic
- Thesaurus —> Get synonyms or related terms
- Keyworddit —> looking for topic ideas on Reddit
- Soovle—> Initial brainstorming for new keywords
- Questiondb —> get queries from question websites like Quora and Reddit
- Answerthepublic —> Find question keywords: This tool scans the internet for questions that people have around the topic you type into it.
- Ubersuggest —> content ideas
- Wordstream keyword tool —> free pay-per-click keyword research
- Isigraph —> Find related keywords
- Kparser —> Generate a list of terms based on a seed keyword
- Infinitesuggest —> Generate a list of keywords
- Keywordtool.io—> Finding long-tail keywords for SEO
- Ahref keyword generator —> Also good when it comes to drilling down to a single term
- Semrush —> Light SEO work (free version)
Step 5: CHOOSE THE KEYWORDS using the Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is THE most reliable source of keyword information online.—> Go to Performance Report, sort by “Impressions,”. That will help you create a piece of content optimized around the first keyword (especially if it has low clicks)
Go to Google Ads, open an account and start a campaign (its free). Then choose Tools & Settings —> Planning —> Keyword Planner —> Get search volume and forecasts. Insert all the keywords from steps 1-4 and rank them through Average Monthly Searches. It is time to choose your primary and secondary keywords.
3 things to keep in mind when you choose keywords:
- The chosen keywords should be relevant: Prioritize Search intent: the intent or reason behind why people search for a specific term. —> put yourself in your target audience’s shoes (ask “Why are they searching?”! “Are they searching because they have a question and want an answer to that question?”, “Are they searching for a specific website?”, “Are they searching because they want to buy something?”
- The chosen keywords should be easy to compete with —> check keyword difficulty metric: Avoid a primary keyword with tough competition, prefer those with lower keyword difficulty (e.g., under 30). Another way to check the competitiveness is by looking at the results from the Google search. If the first page includes small sites, include the keyword. Prioritize post ideas you can write better than anyone else.
- The chosen keyword should be searchable (at least a few people should use the keyword —> check monthly search volume). Prefer keywords that are trending upward (Google Trends). Prefer long-tail keywords to attract a more relevant audience
Verify your choices
- Before you include a keyword in your final list, make use to have done a Google search and double-check if the query is informational (looking for info) or transactional (looking to buy). You do not want to compete for a keyword with navigational intent (looking to reach a particular site).
- On the Google search about your chosen keyword, make sure that at least a few articles rank. If they are all home pages, better exclude the keyword. If you can spot shopping search results, news results, or image search results, you also better exclude the keyword.
- Use common sense for confirming the keyword selection. The Keyword difficulty in Keyword Planner does not always reflect the organic search competition. It shows how many advertisers want to pay to show their ads for that term, so it is not always the competition relevant to you.
I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide to Keyword Research and had a glimpse through my workflow.
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