Researching keywords is an extremely important part of SEO, because the keywords you choose will be your target. Keywords give direction to your SEO strategy.
To understand what this means, first, you have to understand what keywords are and how search engines utilize them.
When you use a search engine like Google, you enter a word or group of words to search. Those are keywords. You can ask a question, type in the name of something or someone you want to know more about, or anything else.
The search engine takes your keywords and returns the most relevant results. One of the primary ways search engines do that is by finding web pages that contain the keywords you typed.
Why Target the Right Keywords?
Now that you have a basic understanding of what keywords are and how search engines use them, let’s look into the benefits of finding the right keywords for your website.
If you use a specific set of keywords and practice other SEO techniques, like backlinking, you can greatly improve your website’s ranking in search results. That leads to:
- An increase in high-quality traffic on your website,
- Exposure to your target audience without paying for ads,
- The ability to improve your brand image.
There are people looking for the products or services you sell on your website. If your site is optimized with the right keywords, all those people will find you. That can be extremely beneficial for your business―your target audience will visit your website, leading to new customers.
But to achieve this, you need to find the right keywords, and that requires keyword research.
How to Do Keyword Research
Keyword research, first and foremost, is about knowing how to pick the right keywords. In this section, we’ll show you how to choose the perfect keywords for SEO.
1: Choose Long-Tail Keywords
The length of your keywords can have a big impact on the success of your SEO strategy.
There’s a simple reason for that.
Shorter keywords have a lot of competition. That’s not the case for long keywords.
For example, the keyword “Playstation 4” is a short-tail keyword. As such, it is highly competitive. Here are the results you get when you type ‘Playstation 4’ into Google.
The websites that show up are very high authority and very popular, getting millions of visitors per month.
Since your website is receiving nowhere near as much traffic and popularity, there’s almost no chance that you’ll be able to rank your site for a keyword like that.
Instead, consider a keyword like ‘best playstation 4 split-screen co-op games’. This is a long-tail keyword with a lot less competition.
You can target these keywords easily because the domains that rank for them have little authority, and that can make it easier for you to take their spot.
2: Pay Attention to the Intent of Your Keywords
When you’re targeting a keyword, make sure the intent behind it is clear.
Suppose you run a travel blog that focuses on popular locations within the U.S. You review destinations like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and the Statue of Liberty.
In that case, you might want to target keywords like “hidden places in Grand Canyon to visit.” This keyword has serious intent behind it, meaning the person typing it is probably planning to visit the Grand Canyon.
On the other hand, for a travel blog, a keyword like “pictures of Grand Canyon” does not have a lot of intent behind it. This person might be just casually checking out what the place looks like. With a keyword like that, there’s a smaller chance that a travel blog would attract the target audience it’s after.
If you were selling an e-book about the wonders of the Grand Canyon, that same keyword, “pictures of Grand Canyon,” might be just what you should target. The user who types this keyword clearly wants to learn more about the Grand Canyon, and your e-book might be exactly what they’re looking for.
The point is, you should consider the intent behind the keywords you target. It will vary depending on what you’re promoting, so you have to think of the audience you want to attract to your website.
3: Use the Same Keywords as Your Audience
If you hit a wall when thinking of keywords, all it takes is some inspiration to get back on track. You can get content ideas that will lead you to great new keywords.
The internet is full of sites that have fresh and trending conversations. These sites reflect what people are talking about right now, and the words used in their conversations can be great keywords for your site.
Here are three places you should check out to get keyword ideas:
Reddit is one of the best places on the internet to find content ideas. It has subreddits on almost every subject you can imagine. For example, if you want to read discussions on SEO, head to the r/SEO subreddit to see the latest threads on that topic.
If you were promoting SEO services, then within this subreddit, you could find some very interesting content ideas that will yield new keywords.
If you really want some excellent keywords to target, there’s no better place to look for them than Udemy. Here you can find courses on any topic imaginable. For example, if you want to target an audience that might buy your SEO course, you need to rank for keywords that are relevant to that subject, and you can use Udemy to find such keywords.
Each part of this table of contents could be used as a source of new keywords to target. Because the keywords are from a high-authority site like Udemy, you can expect them to attract the right kind of traffic, in this case, an audience that’s interested in buying your SEO course.
Another great place to find high-quality keywords is Quora. Here people ask questions every day, and incredibly in-depth answers are posted in response. This makes Quora a goldmine of relevant content ideas and keywords you can use for SEO.
Just type in the product, service, or topic that you want to find keywords for, and you’ll be presented with a list of thoughtful questions on the subject.
For example, searching for ”software-as-a-service” brings up these questions:
After you open a question, you’re presented with a list of related questions on the right.
Any of these questions can act as relevant long-tail keywords that you can use on your website.
4: Use LSI Keywords
LSI keywords are keywords that help Google and other search engines understand the context behind a query.
LSI stands for latent semantic indexing, a mathematical approach to detecting how word groupings can indicate context. Don’t let the nerdy terminology scare you off—LSI keywords are simply words that are topically related to your main keyword and are often found close to it.
When you type in ‘transformers’, how does Google know whether you’re talking about the movie or the electrical device?
If you added “movie” as a keyword, the context would be clear. Google will scan webpages for LSI keywords related to your main keyword. Extending our example, some LSI keywords related to “transformers movie” would be “Michael Bay,” “Autobots,” and “‘Release Date.”
Using LSI keywords with your main keyword will help search engines factor in the context of the query and return the most relevant results—results in which your site could be extremely visible.
To find LSI keywords, there are good ideas available in autocomplete.
Metrics to Keep in Mind When Choosing Keywords
There are a lot of measurable factors you should take into consideration when choosing keywords. This section covers the top three.
Searches per Month
If few people are using a keyword to search for something, that keyword has very little value. Your website won’t ever be returned in search results if you use keywords that no one is searching for.
Type in a keyword you plan to use for SEO. If you see a lot of ads for that keyword, you know it has a lot of competition.
In addition, you can analyze your competitor’s websites with keyword research tools, find the top keywords they’re ranking for, and use those keywords for yourself.
Strength of the Top Domain
The more competition a keyword has, the harder it will be to rank for that keyword. So, before you use a keyword, type it into Google and see what kind of domains are ranking for it.
We touched on this topic earlier. Basically, you shouldn’t go for a keyword that has high-authority domains like Wikipedia and Amazon ranking for it. Look for keywords that lesser-known websites rank for―it will be easier to overtake those sites in search rankings for your niche.
Tools You Can Use for Keyword Research
Now that we’ve covered how to find keywords and which metrics will help determine if a keyword is useful or not, let’s look at some keyword research tools. Below is a list of tools that will help you analyze the keywords you plan to use for your website.
- Google Keyword Planner: Google has the most accurate information on the value of a keyword. In their Keyword Planner (that can be found inside the Google Ads tool), you’ll get information regarding how many searches a keyword gets, its price per click, and the level of bidding competition for it.
- Ahrefs: This is a complete SEO tool that can analyze keywords for you. It will show you valuable information about your keywords, including a list of domains that are ranking for those keywords.
- SEMrush: A research tool that will show you highly detailed data about your keywords. You’ll find out how many backlinks they have, what content is ranking for those keywords, the number of searches for them, and more.
There are many other tools that are just as good as these, including Moz Keyword Explorer, SECockpit, and SERPStat.
What to Do After Keyword Research
Once you’re finished with keyword research, you’ll need to incorporate your keywords in your website. Here are five great places where you can do that:
- Inside your content: Your content, i.e., blog posts, web pages, and videos is a great place to add your keywords.
- In backlinks: When you write a guest post for someone else’s blog or when someone links to your content, the anchor text can include the keywords you choose.
- In your URLs and meta tags: The URLs and meta tags for your blog posts and other web pages are great places to incorporate keywords.
- Your homepage: Your website’s homepage is an ideal location to add the keywords that you’re competing hardest for.
- Alt-text of images and videos: Your website probably has images and videos published. You can add your keywords to the alt-text of those media files.
By adding your keywords to these places, you will significantly increase your chances of ranking for those them.
Are you sure you are targeting the right keywords? And if so, how do you use them?