SEO Keyword Research
Andonette Wilkinson
on
June 11, 2024

How To Do Keyword Research in 7 easy steps (Updated for 2024)

Why Keywords Still Matter in 2024

Despite the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, keywords remain a crucial factor in how people find what they’re looking for online. Understanding the monthly search volume (MSV) of a keyword through keyword analysis is essential for selecting the right keywords and measuring their popularity. As content writers and marketers, we continue to invest significant time and effort into keyword research to ensure our content reaches its intended audience.

The Good News About Keyword Research

Anyone can master keyword research with a bit of know-how and dedication. Many business owners feel frustrated by the lack of attention their pages receive, but the solution lies in understanding the importance of a well-rounded online presence. A solid keyword strategy is essential for achieving this goal.

While content is undoubtedly important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To truly succeed, your website needs a strong foundation, which includes targeted keywords, writing engaging content, and a user-friendly design. A keyword research tool plays a crucial role in generating keyword ideas and understanding search volume.

Step 1: Establish Your Essential Toolkit

To gauge your progress, you need to be able to measure your performance. Start by ensuring you have Google Analytics 4 installed on your website. Next, set up Google Search Console and link it to your analytics account. This step is often overlooked but is crucial for tracking your site’s performance.

Ga4] Overview Of Google Analytics Reports - Analytics Help

Lastly, sign up for a tool that can monitor your progress. As of 2024, Semrush remains one of the best SEO keyword research tools available. Examples of a keyword research tool include Google Trends, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, and Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. It helps in tracking progress and generating keyword ideas. With a free account, you can track one project, making it perfect for small businesses looking to monitor their own performance. Additionally, tools like Semrush offer keyword tracking, which is essential for understanding how your keywords are performing over time.

Introducing The New Search Console |

Step 2: Determine Your Context

Before diving into keyword selection, establish clear goals for your website’s primary purpose. Are you selling products or services? Is your site an e-commerce platform or a lead generation funnel? Perhaps it’s a blog?

Each page on your site should have a unique topic and purpose that aligns with your overall theme. For example, if you’re a small e-commerce retailer selling shoes, your keywords should reflect a user’s intent to buy.

Keyword mapping can help align keywords with the website’s goals by ensuring that each keyword is strategically placed to match the intent and purpose of each page.

Ranking for broad terms like “men’s shoes” could take years, given the fierce competition. However, by studying the top results on sites like Amazon, you can identify potential keywords to target.

Consider Customer Intent

The length of a keyword phrase often indicates the level of user intent. Let’s examine a series of key phrases related to our shoe example:

  • ladders

  • roof ladders

  • anti-slip roof ladders

  • anti slip roof ladders prices

  • anti slip roof ladders buy online

As the keywords become more specific (long-tail), the intent to buy increases. While broad terms like “ladders” may generate millions of searches, the likelihood of those searches leading to a sale is much lower compared to the more targeted, long-tail keywords at the bottom of the list.

Although long-tail keywords yield fewer searches, the users who do find your site through these terms are more likely to be ready to make a purchase. In a world where no one wants window shoppers, long-tail keywords prove their value.

Micro-Moments and User Intent

Google has identified four main types of user intent, known as micro-moments, which are especially relevant in our mobile, multi-screen era:

  1. I want to go

  2. I want to know

  3. I want to do

  4. I want to buy

For example, “near me” searches fall under the “I want to go” category, while “how to” queries align with the “I want to know” intent.

Interestingly, 15% of searches are unique, meaning they’ve never been performed before. While it may seem pointless to target these queries, Google’s Rankbrain algorithm can decipher the context behind a search and serve the most relevant pages to users.

To gain insight into the keywords triggering your website’s appearance in search results, utilize Google Search Console. If the words driving traffic to your site are irrelevant, consider rewriting your content to better align with user intent.

Step 3: Explore Related Keywords

Google considers over 200 factors when deciding which pages to serve for a particular search query, with content, linking, and RankBrain being the top three. While the order of importance between content and linking is unclear, RankBrain ranks third.

To rank well for a specific search term, focus on using a variety of related keywords throughout your post rather than relying on keyword stuffing, which can make your content sound unnatural and drive readers away. Using keyword research tools can help you find related keywords and understand their search volume.

Keyword clustering can help in organizing related keywords for better content relevance. This approach, known as latent semantic indexing (LSI), involves using semantically related keywords to improve your content’s relevance. Tools like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest can help you identify these related keywords quickly and easily.

Using Ubersuggest for Keyword Suggestions

Ubersuggest 7.0: The Ultimate Keyword Research Tool

Enter your target keyword or phrase into Ubersuggest, and it will provide a list of related keywords. For example, typing in “how to do keyword research” yields a variety of useful suggestions.

Ubersuggest also indicates the difficulty level of ranking for each keyword and highlights the top-ranking pages for that term. Analyzing these high-performing pages can offer valuable insights into how to structure and present your own content.

While it’s essential to be original, drawing inspiration from well-ranking pages in terms of subject matter, writing style, and keyword usage can help you create more effective content.

Keyword Clusters: Creating And Analyzing Term Clusters | Similarweb

Step 4: Track and Measure Everything

Many website owners using WordPress are proud of their “Yoast SEO” plugin results, boasting about the green lights their posts receive. However, upon closer inspection, it’s common to find that highly generic focus keyphrases have been entered into Yoast.

For example, a restaurant trying to rank its menu page using the focus keyword “chicken” is unlikely to succeed, as the term lacks intent. Tracking and measuring keyword metrics is essential to understand the effectiveness of your chosen keywords and to make necessary adjustments.

Step 5: Understand the Limitations of SEO Tools

Tools like Yoast or Rankmath (our recommended SEO plugin for 2024) are helpful but can be misleading if not used properly. They only score your content based on the keywords you provide, so if you input a useless keyword, you’ll receive useless metrics.

Keyword optimization can be affected by the limitations of SEO tools, as they may not always account for the nuances of search engine algorithms.

Don’t get too caught up in achieving green lights, as these tools don’t always consider newer ranking factors like related and semantic keywording and may still flag keyword density as an issue.

As long as you use a string of related keywords, your page will be relevant to search engines. Don’t be afraid to experiment – if something isn’t working, revise it.

Another limitation of Yoast is its readability traffic light system. While it provides a general indication of readability, it’s based on a single writing style. We recommend using tools like Grammarly, Surfer SEO, and Jasper for more comprehensive analysis. If you write frequently, consider investing in the pro versions or partnering with an agency like ours that has access to all the premium licenses.

Step 6: Learn from Your Competitors

Competitors Discovery - Position Tracking Manual

Your competitors can be a valuable resource for competitive keyword analysis. Since you share the same niche, you may find some of their keywords useful for your own content.

Use Ubersuggest to input a competitor’s domain and discover their organic keywords. Keep in mind that not all of these keywords may be intentional targets. For example, as a digital agency in Manchester, we rank well for our clients’ names, even though we’re not actively trying to rank for those terms.

Competitor research is about understanding how businesses in your niche are being found online and using that information to inform your own strategy.

Step 7: Prioritise Page Two Keywords

Start your keyword optimisation efforts by focusing on keyword prioritization for the keywords you rank for in positions 11-20 (page two of search results). Improving these rankings is more efficient than starting with keywords at the bottom of the list.

As you optimise for the 11-20 range, you’ll likely see improvements in the rankings of lower-positioned keywords as well, thanks to the increased relevance of your page and overall site.

Use tools like Ubersuggest or LSI Graph to find semantically related words that can enhance your page’s relevance. If adding certain words feels unnatural, trust your instincts – search engines also measure readability, so forcing keywords where they don’t belong can backfire.

The Bottom Line

While keyword research requires time, effort, and commitment, it’s a skill anyone can master. And if you’re looking to dive even deeper into SEO strategies, check out our comprehensive guide on mastering topical authority for your brand.

If you need assistance, our team is here to help. Contact us today HERE for a free audit of your web content or to discuss how we can support your keyword research efforts in 2024 and beyond.

Keyword Research FAQs

Why is keyword research important for SEO?

Keyword research is essential because it helps you understand the keyword relevance and what your target audience is searching for on search engines. By identifying the right keywords, you can create content that ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), driving more organic traffic to your website.

What are some of the best keyword research tools available?

Several excellent keyword research tools and keyword analysis tools are available, including Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz Keyword Explorer. These keyword research tools help you find relevant keywords, analyze search volumes, and assess keyword difficulty, aiding in effective search engine optimisation. They offer various features and functionalities, such as detailed keyword analysis and competitive insights, but also have limitations like restricted access in free plans.

How can I use Google Keyword Planner for my keyword research?

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google Ads. It helps you discover new keyword ideas, get keyword suggestions, understand search volumes, and gauge keyword competition. To use it, set up a Google Ads account, then access the Keyword Planner to start researching keywords relevant to your business.

What is the significance of long-tail keywords in keyword research?

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific search phrases that play a crucial role in keyword targeting. They usually have lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. Focusing on long-tail keywords can help you attract a more targeted audience and rank more easily in search engine results pages, as there is often less competition.

How does Google Search Console assist in keyword research?

Google Search Console provides valuable insights into the keyword performance of your website in search results. It shows the search queries that bring traffic to your site, the pages they land on, and the click-through rates. This data helps you identify which keywords are already driving traffic and which ones you should target more aggressively.

What are some free keyword research tools I can use?

Several free keyword research tools can help you get started with the keyword research process, including Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, and AnswerThePublic. These tools offer keyword suggestions, search volume data, and insights into search intent, allowing you to conduct effective keyword research without any cost. Additionally, you can use these tools to analyze the monthly search volume (MSV) of keywords, which helps in measuring their popularity and tracking search volume trends over time.

Google Trends Time Chart Example. | Download Scientific Diagram

For more in-depth insights on SEO, check out SEO The Movie by Ignite Visibility. You can watch it here.

Further reading:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner

  • Semrush Keyword Research Tools

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

  • Moz Keyword Explorer

  • AnswerThePublic

Expanded Blog Post

Keyword Research Guide 2024: 7 Steps to SEO Success

Why Keywords Still Matter in 2024

Despite the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, keywords remain a crucial factor in how people find what they’re looking for online. As content writers and marketers, we continue to invest significant time and effort into keyword research to ensure our content reaches its intended audience.

Understanding Keyword Evolution

Keywords have evolved from simple terms to complex phrases that capture the intent and nuances of user searches. Today, search engines use sophisticated algorithms to understand context, synonyms, and user intent, making keyword research more important than ever.

The Good News About Keyword Research

Anyone can master keyword research with a bit of know-how and dedication. Many business owners feel frustrated by the lack of attention their pages receive, but the solution lies in understanding the importance of a well-rounded online presence.

While content is undoubtedly important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To truly succeed, your website needs a strong foundation, which includes targeted keywords, writing engaging content, and a user-friendly design.

Step 1: Establish Your Essential Toolkit

To gauge your progress, you need to be able to measure your performance. Start by ensuring you have Google Analytics 4 installed on your website. Next, set up Google Search Console and link it to your analytics account. This step is often overlooked but is crucial for tracking your site’s performance.

Choosing the Right Tools

Lastly, sign up for a tool that can monitor your progress. As of 2024, Semrush remains one of the best SEO keyword research tools available. With a free account, you can track one project, making it perfect for small businesses looking to monitor their own performance.

Comprehensive Toolkit Suggestions

The 9 Best Seo Tools In 2024 | Zapier
  • Google Analytics 4: For tracking and analyzing website traffic.

  • Google Search Console: To understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance.

  • SEMrush: For in-depth keyword research, tracking, and analysis.

  • Ubersuggest: A great tool for keyword ideas and competition analysis.

  • Ahrefs: Another powerful tool for keyword research and backlink analysis.

  • Moz: Offers comprehensive SEO tools including keyword research and site audits.

Step 2: Determine Your Context

Before diving into keyword selection, establish clear goals for your website’s primary purpose. Are you selling products or services? Is your site an e-commerce platform or a lead generation funnel? Perhaps it’s a blog?

Defining Your Goals

Each page on your site should have a unique topic and purpose that aligns with your overall theme. For example, if you’re a small e-commerce retailer selling shoes, your keywords should reflect a user’s intent to buy.

Ranking for broad terms like “men’s shoes” could take years, given the fierce competition. However, by studying the top results on sites like Amazon, you can identify potential keywords to target.

Consider Customer Intent

The length of a keyword phrase often indicates the level of user intent. Let’s examine a series of key phrases related to our shoe example:

  • ladders

  • roof ladders

  • anti-slip roof ladders

  • anti slip roof ladders prices

  • anti slip roof ladders buy online

As the keywords become more specific (long-tail), the intent to buy increases. While broad terms like “ladders” may generate millions of searches, the likelihood of those searches leading to a sale is much lower compared to the more targeted, long-tail keywords at the bottom of the list.

Although long-tail keywords yield fewer searches, the users who do find your site through these terms are more likely to be ready to make a purchase. In a world where no one wants window shoppers, long-tail keywords prove their value.

Micro-Moments and User Intent

A Look At Google'S Micro-Moments And How To Make Use Of Them | By Frank Van  De Ven | Ux Collective

Google has identified four main types of user intent, known as micro-moments, which are especially relevant in our mobile, multi-screen era:

  1. I want to go

  2. I want to know

  3. I want to do

  4. I want to buy

For example, “near me” searches fall under the “I want to go” category, while “how to” queries align with the “I want to know” intent.

Interestingly, 15% of searches are unique, meaning they’ve never been performed before. While it may seem pointless to target these queries, Google’s Rankbrain algorithm can decipher the context behind a search and serve the most relevant pages to users.

To gain insight into the keywords triggering your website’s appearance in search results, utilize Google Search Console. If the words driving traffic to your site are irrelevant, consider rewriting your content to better align with user intent.

Step 3: Explore Related Keywords

Google considers over 200 factors when deciding which pages to serve for a particular search query, with content, linking, and RankBrain being the top three. While the order of importance between content and linking is unclear, RankBrain ranks third.

Using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

To rank well for a specific search term, focus on using a variety of related keywords throughout your post rather than relying on keyword stuffing, which can make your content sound unnatural and drive readers away.

This approach, known as latent semantic indexing (LSI), involves using semantically related keywords to improve your content’s relevance. Tools like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest can help you identify these related keywords quickly and easily.

Using Ubersuggest for Keyword Suggestions

Enter your target keyword or phrase into Ubersuggest, and it will provide a list of related keywords. For example, typing in “how to do keyword research” yields a variety of useful suggestions.

Ubersuggest also indicates the difficulty level of ranking for each keyword and highlights the top-ranking pages for that term. Analyzing these high-performing pages can offer valuable insights into how to structure and present your own content.

While it’s essential to be original, drawing inspiration from well-ranking pages in terms of subject matter, writing style, and keyword usage can help you create more effective content.

Step 4: Track and Measure Everything

Many website owners using WordPress are proud of their “Yoast SEO” plugin results, boasting about the green lights their posts receive. However, upon closer inspection, it’s common to find that highly generic focus keyphrases have been entered into Yoast.

The Pitfalls of Generic Keywords

For example, a restaurant trying to rank its menu page using the focus keyword “chicken” is unlikely to succeed, as the term lacks intent.

Understanding the Limitations of SEO Tools

Tools like Yoast or Rankmath (our recommended SEO plugin for 2024) are helpful but can be misleading if not used properly. They only score your content based on the keywords you provide, so if you input a useless keyword, you’ll receive useless metrics.

Don’t get too caught up in achieving green lights, as these tools don’t always consider newer ranking factors like related and semantic keywording and may still flag keyword density as an issue.

As long as you use a string of related keywords, your page will be relevant to search engines. Don’t be afraid to experiment – if something isn’t working, revise it.

Another limitation of Yoast is its readability traffic light system. While it provides a general indication of readability, it’s based on a single writing style. We recommend using tools like Grammarly, Surfer SEO, and Jasper for more comprehensive analysis. If you write frequently, consider investing in the pro versions or partnering with an agency like ours that has access to all the premium licenses.

Step 5: Learn from Your Competitors

Your competitors can be a valuable resource for keyword research. Since you share the same niche, you may find some of their keywords useful for your own content.

Use Ubersuggest to input a competitor’s domain and discover their organic keywords. Keep in mind that not all of these keywords may be intentional targets. For example, as a digital agency in Manchester, we rank well for our clients’ names, even though we’re not actively trying to rank for those terms.

Competitor research is about understanding how businesses in your niche are being found online and using that information to inform your own strategy.

Step 6: Prioritise Page Two Keywords

Start your keyword optimisation efforts by focusing on the keywords you rank for in positions 11-20 (page two of search results). Improving these rankings is more efficient than starting with keywords at the bottom of the list.

As you optimise for the 11-20 range, you’ll likely see improvements in the rankings of lower-positioned keywords as well, thanks to the increased relevance of your page and overall site.

Use tools like Ubersuggest or LSI Graph to find semantically related words that can enhance your page’s relevance. If adding certain words feels unnatural, trust your instincts – search engines also measure readability, so forcing keywords where they don’t belong can backfire.

Advanced Keyword Research Techniques

Keyword Gap Analysis

Advanced keyword research techniques, such as keyword gap analysis, involve identifying keywords that your competitors rank for, but you don’t. Tools like SEMrush’s Keyword Gap Tool can help you find these opportunities and create content to fill those gaps.

Utilize Google Trends

Google Trends is a powerful tool for understanding the popularity of search terms over time. By analyzing trends, you can identify seasonal keywords and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Voice Search Optimization

Voice Search Optimization: 6 Tips To Improve Your Results

With the rise of voice-activated assistants, optimizing for voice search is becoming increasingly important. Focus on natural language and question-based keywords to capture voice search traffic.

Common Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid

Ignoring User Intent

User intent is crucial for effective keyword research. Ensure your keywords match what users are actually searching for, whether it’s information, navigation, or transactions.

Keyword cannibalization can negatively impact SEO by causing multiple pages to compete for the same keyword, diluting their effectiveness and confusing search engines.

Overlooking Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords may have lower search volumes, but they often convert better due to their specificity. Don’t ignore these valuable keywords in your strategy.

Failing to Update Keywords Regularly

Keyword trends can change over time. Regularly update your keyword list to ensure your content remains relevant and competitive.

Future Trends in Keyword Research

AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning are transforming keyword research by providing deeper insights and more accurate predictions. Stay ahead by integrating these technologies into your strategy. Keyword forecasting can help in predicting future keyword trends, allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.

Semantic Search

Search engines are getting better at understanding context and intent. Focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that answers user queries comprehensively.

Mobile and Local Search

With the increase in mobile searches, optimizing for local SEO is more important than ever. Ensure your keywords reflect local search intent and include location-based terms.

Keyword Research FAQs

Why is keyword research important for SEO?

Keyword research is essential because it helps you understand what your target audience is searching for on search engines. By identifying the right keywords, you can create content that ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), driving more organic traffic to your website.

What are some of the best keyword research tools available?

Several excellent keyword research tools are available, including Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. These tools help you find relevant keywords, analyze search volumes, and assess keyword difficulty, aiding in effective search engine optimization.

How can I use Google Keyword Planner for my keyword research?

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google Ads. It helps you discover new keyword ideas, understand search volumes, and gauge keyword competition. To use it, set up a Google Ads account, then access the Keyword Planner to start researching keywords relevant to your business.

What is the significance of long-tail keywords in keyword research?

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific search phrases. They usually have lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. Focusing on long-tail keywords can help you attract a more targeted audience and rank more easily in search engine results pages, as there is often less competition.

How does Google Search Console assist in keyword research?

Google Search Console provides valuable insights into the performance of your website in search results. It shows the search queries that bring traffic to your site, the pages they land on, and the click-through rates. This data helps you identify which keywords are already driving traffic and which ones you should target more aggressively.

What are some free keyword research tools I can use?

Several free keyword research tools can help you get started, including Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, and AnswerThePublic. These tools offer keyword suggestions, search volume data, and insights into search intent, allowing you to conduct effective keyword research without any cost.

Conclusion

While keyword research requires time, effort, and commitment, it’s a skill anyone can master. And if you’re looking to dive even deeper into SEO strategies, check out our comprehensive guide on mastering topical authority for your brand.

If you need assistance, our team is here to help. Contact us today HERE for a free audit of your web content or to discuss how we can support your keyword research efforts in 2024 and beyond.

Further reading:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner

  • Semrush Keyword Research Tools

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

  • Moz Keyword Explorer

  • AnswerThePublic

Andonette Wilkinson

Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a a keen member of Neurodiversity in Business, Former board member Manchester Digital and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.