How to do Keyword Research for SEO: 6 Simple Steps
Enjoying a reputation as one of the most important aspects of SEO, keyword research is the lifeblood of search marketing. Why? Because every online search starts with a specific set of keywords. Gaining insight into popular search queries is the starting point from which to build your online content, and the process of keyword research is concerned with doing just that.
There are several different ways in which you can approach keyword research. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through our 6 simple tips on how to research keywords – helping you to create a more targeted and effective keyword strategy.
Step 1: Identify Your Focus Areas
Before you get stuck into the more practical aspects of keyword research, it’s important to first identify the specific areas you intend to focus on. The focus of your keyword strategy will be dependent on the specific products and services offered by your business.
As an example, let’s say you’re in the floristry business. Aside from offering a range of plants and flowers, you may also offer flower delivery as well as packages for Mother’s Day, weddings and a range of other occasions.
Depending on what you find, it may therefore be a good idea to focus your initial keyword research around some of the areas in which your business currently operates. At this stage, it’s advisable to broadly categorise each of the areas you’re looking to target – there will be plenty of time later on to narrow things down.
Step 2: Using Keyword Research Tools
Once you have a clear idea on your areas of interest, it’s time to begin researching whether or not they match the interests of searchers. The importance of SEO has meant that there are a wide range of keyword research tools on the market, common examples of which include SEMrush, Google Ads, Ahrefs and Moz Keyword Explorer.
Each of these tools puts a variety of capabilities at your disposal, with features ranging from competitor analysis to advanced keyword research. Although you may opt to use multiple tools further down the line, it’s best to familiarise yourself with a single tool during the early stages. We’ll be taking a closer look at keyword research in SEMrush for the purposes of this blog post.
Conducting Keyword Research with SEMrush
Now that you’re ready to get stuck into the keyword research itself, you can begin taking the first steps towards targeting your website content around specific keywords. In order to make an informed decision on which keywords you should be focusing on, start by entering a basic keyword in the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool.
If you’re focusing your initial search around ‘flower delivery’, the Keyword Magic Tool will generate results similar to those shown above. It’s important to note that SEMrush allows you to filter your search in a number of ways, which includes searching by country as well as specifying a ‘broad’, ‘phrase’, ‘exact’ or ‘related’ match. Playing around with filters will allow you to ensure your keyword research is as accurate and relevant as possible.
So now that we have a list of keywords in front of us, how do we determine whether or not to target a specific one? There are a number of considerations involved in making that decision, of which user intent, volume and keyword difficulty are some of the most important.
Step 3: Balancing User Intent, Keyword Volume and Difficulty
Searchers take to the Internet to find an answer to a query, meaning that their searches are often motivated by a specific intent. Understanding user intent is incredibly important to determining your keyword strategy. Ideally, you’ll be looking to target keywords that show some kind of intent or interest in what you have to offer.
The difficulty of determining user intent may vary depending on the specific keyword. For most of the keywords shown in our previous example, a searcher’s intent seems to be relatively straightforward.
A user searching for ‘flower delivery’ is likely to be doing so due to an interest in having flowers delivered. The same can be said for ‘flower delivery London’, which suggests users are looking for a flower delivery service in London specifically.
Determining user intent generally becomes more complex as the search term becomes broader. A user may have many different reasons for entering the search term ‘flowers’; they may simply be searching out of educational interest or to find creative inspiration. For this reason, it’s important to consider user intent during your keyword research.
Keyword Volume & Difficulty
Keyword volume refers to the number of searches being done for a specific keyword. In the example below, SEMrush estimates that the search term ‘mothers day flowers’ sees an estimated 18,100 searches per month in the UK alone. This is significantly higher than the search term ‘flowers for mothers day’ listed several rows below, which sees an estimated 720 monthly searches.
The tactic of focusing solely on the search terms with the highest volume may seem like a good idea at first glance, but doing so is unlikely to provide you with concrete results. This is because there is likely to be a significant amount of competition in ranking for keywords with the highest volume. For this reason, SEMrush also lists a ‘KD’ (Keyword Difficulty) metric that gives you an idea on how tough it will be to rank for the search term in question.
Your ability to rank for a competitive keyword is dependent on the effectiveness and extent of your SEO efforts. If you’re just starting out, you’ll be looking to focus on search terms that combine clear user intent, a search volume that is as high as possible, and a keyword difficulty that is as low as possible.
Step 4: Considering Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are usually made up of four or more words that users enter into search engines. Keywords of this kind separate themselves from shorter search terms by being much more specific.
Although some long-tail keywords enjoy a much lower search volume in and of themselves, they actually make up the majority of Google searches when combined. Adding to that, long-tail keywords often also show clearer user intent and may not be as competitive in comparison to more common search terms.
You can use a number of different methods to identify long-tail keywords. One of the most simple ways of doing so is by using Google’s autocomplete function, which will suggest search terms associated with your specific keyword. In SEMrush, you can use the ‘phrase match’, ‘related’ and ‘search volume’ filters to find long-tail keywords in a similar fashion.
Step 5: Keeping an Eye on the Competition
Apart from conducting your own keyword research, many online marketing tools also offer the capability to analyse competitors’ keywords. Keeping an eye on the competition can be an easy way of finding keywords you might have missed, as well as offering insight into potential opportunities for you to outrank them.
The Keyword Gap tool offered by SEMrush makes it easy to identify differences and similarities between multiple domains. Simply enter the URL of your competitors’ websites, select the type of keyword you’d like to focus on and use the relevant filters to see how your keyword strategy compares to that of your competitors.
Step 6: Prioritisation
Once you’ve compiled a list of relevant keywords, it’s time to shape things into an actionable keyword strategy. At this stage, it’s all about prioritisation. If all goes well, you will likely already have sorted keywords according to user intent, keyword volume and difficulty.
You can specify your strategy further by selecting a range of keywords based on specific business goals. For example, you may wish to target keywords centred around a specific product. Alternatively, you may focus on a specific set of keywords for the purposes of creating long-term content and building authority.
Whichever route you choose to go down, creating an effective keyword strategy is all about making informed choices. The state of modern digital marketing has ensured that the tools needed to make those decisions are more widely available than ever before, and there is a wealth of opportunity for those who know how to use these tools to their advantage.
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