How to do keyword research for SEO
Without keywords, there really is no SEO. When I talk about a keyword, I’m not necessarily referring to a single word. I’m actually talking about a specific search term. It could be one word, it could be 10 words. You’re probably not going to want to try and rank for a single word search term because the competition will be insane. On the other hand, a search term with too many words gets very little monthly searches. That’s just part of why understanding how to do keyword research is so important.
Even though it may seem obvious to you what keywords you should try to rank for, don’t just go off a hunch.
- How are you going to know how many monthly searches your keywords get? For example, according to SEMrush, the search term “Electrical contractors Vancouver” gets 3x the search volume as “Vancouver electrical contractors”.
- What about the competition?
- If you’re thinking about using Google Adwords, it’s good to have an idea of the CPC (cost per click) of each keyword.
- SEMrush gives you an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for a specific keyword (based on 100% being the most difficult)
Deciding on keywords
There are 3 types of keywords, commonly referred to as Head, Body and Long tail keywords.
One word search terms. Individually, they get a ton of search volume but are incredibly difficult to rank for and don’t convert very well. Don’t bother with them especially if you are just starting out.
2-3 word search terms. They still get fairly significant search volume and can still be quite difficult to rank for depending on your niche. They convert better than Head keywords and can definitely be worth looking into. When you focus primarily on body keywords, you’ll often tend to automatically rank for long tail keywords as well.
Long tail keywords
Search terms with 4 or more words. They are usually much easier to rank for because they get a lot less search volume and therefore are less desirable, but also because they are more specific than head or body keywords. The advantage is that they have a higher conversion rate because the searcher generally knows what they’re looking for and is closer to that buying stage. Even though long tail keywords get less search volume individually, when added up, they actually make up the majority of searches. The disadvantage, like I said, is that individually they get significantly less search volume than head and body keywords. To bring in high volumes of search traffic to your blog you’ll need to pump out a lot of content to focus on ranking for lots of different long tails.
Before jumping into Google keyword planner or SEMrush, there are some other resources that can be valuable and are often over looked. When you type in a search term to most keyword tools, they provide you with a list of relevant keywords but only ones that are very closely related. For a more broad list of untapped keywords here are some sites I recommend:
Get a few ideas of some keywords you think you might want to rank for and start typing them into Google. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the related searches area for some more ideas. Write down the ones that stand out to you.
Type your keywords into Amazon and find some related books with lots of good reviews. Click on one of the books and then click the featured image. They usually give you a preview of what’s inside, including the table of contents. It’s a good way to borrow some ideas for more potential keywords.
Search for your keyword in Wikipedia. Scroll through the contents on the left side for more ideas.
quora.com is another good place to look. If you type in your keywords, they’ll present you with commonly asked questions. If you type in “web design”, you might come up with some ideas such as:
- How can I learn web design
- Most important principles of web design
- Easy ways to generate traffic to your website
- How to increase your website speed
Knowing how to do keyword research is a great thing!
Now that you have a good list of possible keywords, it’s time to take them over to Google Keyword planner or SEMrush.com. SEMrush has a free and paid version. The free version should be all you need.
(insert image of SEMrush.com)
- “Keyword” shows you the relevant keywords
- “Volume” shows the average monthly search volume for the last 12 months
- “KD%” shows the keyword difficulty (100% being the most difficult to rank for)
- “CPC” shows the average cost per click for that keyword in Google Adwords
- “” shows the competitive density of advertisers using that keyword for Adwords (1 being the most difficult)
- “SERP Features” shows how many features are shown in Google for that specific keyword (ex: images, video, tweets)
- “SERP” gives you a snapshot of the search engine results page for that keyword.
I think you’re good to go!
Now you should have a pretty good idea of how to do keyword research and put a nice list together. I can’t say how many keywords you should try rank for because it depends on your niche and the amount of content you have on your site. The more you can rank for the better, as long as your site looks and sounds natural. You don’t want any of your content to sound spammy by stuffing in as many keywords as you think you can get a way with. If you do that, it’s only a matter of time before Google penalizes you and your site drops in the search rankings.
To start out with, your goal should be to try and rank each page of your site on the first page of Google for one specific keyword per page. Also add some relevant keywords so that it sounds more natural and so you have a better chance of ranking for those ones in the future.
I hope this helps! Now onto the content creation!