If you don’t have the foggiest of how to do keyword research or where to start, then read on. If I can do this, anyone can…
Keywords. Even in 2023, They are still the primary way people find what they want online. This is why as content writers and marketers, we spend a lot of time on keyword research.
The Good News About Keyword Research
Is that can anyone do it with a little know-how…
Let’s just lay it all out on the line. There is loads of advice about writing content, blogging, what to say and how often to do it, but many business owners are frustrated at the lack of attention their pages get. Why is this?
Content may be king, but where would any self-respecting king be without his court, his subjects and his advisers? Content has a significant role to play, but content alone does not a website make.
As a business owner, no one cares more about your success than you. With a little time and commitment, you will start to improve your ranking on major search engines.
How To Do Keyword Research – Steps for Successful Keyword Research
Step 1: Set Up Your Minimum Toolkit.
If you can’t measure, then how can you tell what’s working?
Ensure you have Google Analytics 4 installed on your website.
Next, an often overlooked step: set up the Google search console and link it to your analytics account.
Thirdly sign up for a tool that can track your progress. What is the best keyword research tool? Semrush is an excellent SEO keyword research tool, and you can track one project for free with an account: that’s perfect for the micro SME who just wants to measure their own performance.
So how do you select keywords?
Step 2: Decide On Context
First of all, you need to set goals around the primary purpose of your website.
Are you a product or service? Are you selling directly online or taking people through a lead funnel? Is it a blog?
Ideally, every page on your site should have a unique topic and primary purpose relating to your overall theme.
Let’s say you are a small e-commerce retailer. Your keywords should reflect an intent to buy. Let’s say you sell shoes. I’m using this example because it’s easy.
Trying to rank for men’s shoes could take years. A quick type of men’s shoes into Amazon yields over 200000 results. Some have to be at the top, though, so this can be an excellent indication of what keywords you could include.
Decide Where Customer Intent Lies.
The shorter the phrase, the lesser the intent. Sticking with our shoe example, consider the following key phrases. What do you think the user may have considered when typing them into a search engine?
- roof ladders
- anti-slip roof ladders
- anti slip roof ladders prices
- anti slip roof ladders buy online
This example is pretty clear. The longer tail these keywords are, the higher the intent to buy. That’s what we mean by intent. We can see here how the last couple of searches are from someone looking to make a purchase.
Now the keyword ladders will get millions of searches, but the chances of those searches leading to a sale are far lower than the keywords at the bottom of the list.
Those keywords will yield far fewer searches, but the ones that do are ready to buy. Since no one wants tyre kickers, you can see why long-tail keywords hold their own.
Google tells us that customers search in a series of micro-moments. Especially so in a mobile and multi-screen era.
There are four main things your users are looking for in any given micro-moment.
I want to go
I want to know
I want to do
I want to buy
Those can be broken down further. I won’t go into it here in depth, but an example of want-to-go micro-moments would include the search term “near me”. It’s a popular ad strategy we use.
I want to know what might include “how to”, “how do I”, “how can I” and so on.
You can learn much more about intent on thinking with Google’s website.
15% of new searches are unique. Meaning they have never been performed before. So is there a point in trying to rank for them? Well, yes. Google’s Rankbrain (which is a whole other subject) can decipher the context behind a search and serve the most relevant pages to a user.
As well as thinking hard about what a user might type in, the search console can tell you this information. It’s pretty handy because you can immediately see if you are already on the right lines or are entirely off the mark. If the words that trigger searches to your website are completely wrong, your first step may be to consider rewriting your content.
Of course, you can always ask a focus group of users if this is possible for you to do. Put yourself into the shoes of your ideal customer and do a few test searches to see what results you get.
Step 3: Research Related Keywords.
When deciding which pages to serve for a particular search query, Google considers over 200 search factors. But the top three, according to Google themselves, are content, linking and RankBrain.
They don’t say whether linking or content comes first or second, but we know Rankbrain comes third. Because Google is looking for contextual relevance, the days of keyword stuffing to get seen are no longer necessary. Indeed, they can prevent you from sounding human, so your readers will probably leave.
Instead, the best way to rank for a particular search term is to use a series of related keywords throughout your post. This is called latent semantic indexing, & there’s a lot of information on the web about how it works. But for a quick and handy tip, use a website like Neil Patel’s ‘Ubersuggest’.
The Ubersuggest Tool
You can type in any keyword or phrase, and it will immediately give you a selection of related keywords. For example, I have typed in How to do keyword research. Neil then gives me some great suggestions on related keywords I can use.
Ubersuggest also tells me how easy or hard it is to rank for this keyword and which pages rank top for the keyword. It’s great to have a look at these pages and see how they are presenting their content.
This can be a great starting point for structuring your own content. Be original, but research a well-ranking page and take inspiration from its subject matter, the way it is written and presented, and the way it uses keywords.
Make an effort. When I first started writing content for Factory’s website, no one ever found it because I just wrote whatever was in my head, which is usually a swirling maelstrom of rambling thoughts and ideas.
Applying the advice from SEO experts and changing the style of my writing made a massive difference in the visibility of our content. Every new article we put out there now ranks in the top 20 for a keyword with a search volume.
Neil reckons I can have this in the top 20 pretty quickly. That’s good news. Thirteen minutes after posting, I was in position 125. Watch this space.
Step 4: Measure Everything.
Like many agencies, our preferred web platform is WordPress, so it’s not unusual to find a client who is very proud of the results they have achieved with their ‘Yoast SEO’ Plug-in. Every post has two green lights! They proudly say.
On further inspection, we will usually see a highly generic focus keyphrase has been entered into Yoast. For example, a restaurant ( and we don’t SEO for any restaurants, mainly fall safety! so I’m just using this as an example) may be trying to rank their menu page by using the focus keyword ‘Chicken’.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you will probably agree chicken as a keyword has no intent behind it.
Step 5: Don’t Assume Tools Are Magic
Tools like Yoast or Rankmath (our recommended SEO plugin as of 2023) are great, but if you aren’t careful, they can fool you into thinking your SEO is great when in fact, it’s just a tool. It will only score you based on what keywords you ask it to measure. In essence, garbage in, garbage out.
If you put in a useless keyword, you’ll get useless metrics. Don’t be overly concerned about green lights, Yoast doesn’t consider some of the newer ranking factors like related and semantic keywording and still flags up keyword density.
Providing you use a string of related keywords, your page will be relevant to search engines. Experiment. This is the web, not pen and ink. If something isn’t working, revamp it.
The other issue with Yoast is its readability traffic light system, while a good indicator of overall readability is based on only one writing style. We really recommend tools like Grammarly, Surfer SEO & Jasper. If you write a lot, invest in the pro versions, or just use an agency like us, who have all the pro licences!
Ubersuggest also allows you to type in a competitor’s domain and see what their organic keyword are. These may or may not be deliberate. We are a digital agency in Manchester, so when I researched that key phrase, I could see a list of agencies that ranked well for that keyword.
Now running the first two or three through Ubersuggest gave me some impressive results. Most digital agencies rank well for the clients they work for. So it wasn’t surprising to see the names of their clients in their organic keywords.
The takeaway is just because a competitor attracts traffic for a specific keyword. It doesn’t mean they are trying to rank for it. We receive clicks for Enterprise N
Competitor research is merely looking at your niche to see how they are being found.
Step 6: Research Your Competitors
Your competitors are not your enemies. At least, they may be of help when it comes to keyword research. Since you share the same niche, you may use some of the keywords your competitors use.
Pick a handful of relevant ones and use them as a starting point. Also, remember one page can rank for many keywords. In some cases, hundreds. So don’t feel like you have to choose one per page and stuff it in.
Start with putting your seed keyword into Google and looking at what sites rank for those keywords. Those are your competitors. Check them in advanced tools like Ahrefs or Moz to get the list of their keywords.
Don’t be afraid to remove keywords you’re showing for that you aren’t getting clicks for. Your overall click-through rate also tells Google’s Rankbrain algorithm that you’re worth clicking on, and so they will begin to increase your position in the search engine.
Step 7: Start With Page Two
Page two is where they hide the bodies. – Start with your keywords in the 11-20 range. These are the ones you should look at improving. There’s no point in starting with the ones at the bottom.
If you start with the 11-20s, it’s likely that some keywords ranking lower will begin to increase in position too. This will be down to the relevance of the page, the overall site and your click-through rate.
Take those keywords and run them through Ubersuggest, LSI Graph, or a similar tool. From here, you can get a list of semantically related words that can improve the overall relevance of your page.
If it feels strange adding words into the content you already wrote, then know that search engines measure readability score, so if it feels wrong to put a word in a specific place to buy shoes online, it probably buys shoes online.
Yes, I was making a point!
Dig a bit deeper and check the keywords that your pages rank for on positions from 11 to 20. It’s that second page of the Google SERP, which people often mock as “the best place to hide a dead body.” Those pages should be your primary focus for improvement and additional keyword research.
For more in-depth insights on SEO, check out SEO The Movie by Ignite Visibility. You can watch it here, or stream below.
Keyword research isn’t difficult, but it requires commitment, time and effort. It’s also something we can help with. Talk to us today, or if you want a free audit of your web content, fill out the form below.