How To Do Keyword Research For SEO

(For educational purposes only.)

*NOTE: I am aware that I copied and pasted some things from Ahrefs’ article “How to Do Keyword Research for SEO,” but I did that because I couldn’t write those things in my own words. I understood but couldn’t put those things into my own words. And also because I just wanted to show that I understood the concept behind this.

So, let’s start, how to do keyword research for SEO.

What Is Keyword Research?

It’s the process of searching for keywords so we can rank for those and make our website visible when people search for a topic that we are making content on.

First, we should be careful. If we are going to make our content, we should first think and research if people are searching for that topic or not. If not, then there will be no value to that topic because no one will visit our website.

Second, how do I find keyword ideas?

First, let’s say I want to make content on SEO, or what SEO is.

I will write these keywords: SEO, what is SEO, how does SEO work? And this will be my seed keyword.

Seed keywords are those you use when you want to start your research. Basically, you start your keyword research with these seed words.

When you write these seed keywords in the keyword research tool, more keywords that are related to SEO come up. ­­­

For example, what is SEO? How does SEO work? What’s on-page SEO? What’s off-page SEO?, etc.

Then we will check our competitors, who are also ranking for these:

Our competitors are those who are ranking on the first page, or specifically, on top of us (above ours).

Then we will check our competitors keywords. And if they’re ranking for it, we can use them too. We just want to make a list for now.

But there’s one thing: we can’t use the “sell SEO tool” keyword if our blog is informational in intent.

Make sure to repeat this process for as many competitors as we can.

Ahrefs website has a handy report in Site Explorer that will help you discover more of them. It’s called “Competing Domains” and shows you similar websites to the one you’ve entered based on the common keywords that they rank for in Google.1

If we feel we have covered a lot of topics, then we use the content gap tool by Ahrefs again.

When conducting keyword research for a website that is well-established, you can discover that you’ve already covered the majority of the keywords used by your rivals. In this situation, you ought to try using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer’s Content Gap report. It identifies those keywords for which one or more of your rivals are ranked but not you.

To use it, type some of your competitors’ websites into the top section, then paste your own site into the bottom field and click “Show keywords.”

Then we’ll use a keyword research tool or tools.

Your Competitors can give you a some good keyword ideas.

Competitors are a great way to find keyword suggestions. However, it’s highly possible that there are still a lot of keywords that your rivals haven’t yet optimized for. You can find these using various keyword research tools.

Keyword research tools all work the same way. You insert your seed keyword, and they give keyword ideas from their databases based on that keyword.

Google Keyword Planner (GKP for short), maybe the most well-known keyword tool. It’s free to use, and yes, it’s for those people who want to display paid advertisement on Google but it’s also helpful to find keywords for SEO.

Keyword ideas that GKP has provided for the seed keyword “coffee”:

5 google keyword planner ideas by ahrefs

GKP can also generate those keywords ideas that don’t contain your seed word. For example, take the keyword “percolator.” How this relates to coffee? Well, you probably won’t know unless you’re a hardcore coffee connoisseur. Which makes GKP an effective and useful tool for discovering non-obvious keyword ideas.

When we discover something, like an interesting keyword, we can use it as our new seed keyword but also see and search what new ideas we will get from that new seed keyword.

I think in the Ahrefs keyword tool, there’s “Matching Terms.”

This will only show us the data that contains our seed keywords. It has two modes:

Terms Match and Phrase Match

Terms Match: Your keyword can come anywhere—in the beginning or at the end as well. You will see what I mean.

So, our keyword is “coffee machine.” Let’s see what keyword ideas we have now:

  1. coffee vending machine
  2. machine gun kelly coffee

Phrase Match: When the words of your seed keyword are in the exact order, only then “phrase match” returns your keyword. Like so:

  1. best coffee machine
  2. coffee machine with grinder

Related terms

In this case, it won’t have our seed keywords.

It has two modes:

  1. Also Rank For
  2. Also talk about.

Also rank for: shows those search queries of top ranking pages that are ranking for our seed keywords.

Also talk about: shows us those words and phrases that top ranking websites frequently mentioned on our seed keywords

We should study our niche

If my niche is writing about SEO and I see someone talking about it, Its searches are less, but its likes are more.

In that case, people want to read more about that topic.

And even in our conversation, we should be careful when we are talking to someone because that can also give us some ideas for our keywords.

How To Analyze Keywords?

Search volume of a keyword. How many people are searching for it?

But it really depends. If the volume of a keyword is 500, It’s nice, but out of 350 times, 150 times were searched by a single user. Then, in that case, it’s not okay.

Even if we rank for that keyword, which has a high search volume, that doesn’t mean we’ll also get traffic.

We should also remember that search volume is a country-based metric.

And annually. Hmm, it’s an annual average. Since I am not that good at math, let’s check what Ahrefs has said regarding this matter:

If there are 120K searches for a keyword in December and none for the remaining 11 months of the year, its reported monthly search volume will be 10K (120K/12 months).2

Two things we do when our website is new are:

  1. We filter our high-difficulty keywords because it’s very hard for a new website to rank for those.
  2. We filter for low search volumes. These are usually long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords help us because even if they have low search volume, for a new website, it’s better because we can rank for them and we shouldn’t disregard them. Slowly, traffic can increase.

Also, we should keep an eye on trends.

For example, if a keyword is searched more in a single month than in the previous 11 months, we should think about creating content and releasing it in that specific month or some days before, because it can bring traffic. But only if it falls within our niche.

Traffic Potential Matters

In keyword research, we have traffic potential. Traffic potential means, how much potential a keyword has to send traffic to our website.

Just because two keywords have the same search volume doesn’t mean we will get the same traffic.

It depends on how many keywords you’re ranking for.

Remember, for example, that one page of my website, doesn’t rank for only a single keyword. It has multiple keywords in it.

Let’s say, there 5 people and their destination is same. They may not take same route but eventually, they’ll reach.

In this also, one keyword can have different variations and we should research for this when we do our competitor analysis.

If you have 50 keywords on what is SEO. And all those 50 keywords have good ranking, that can bring your website to the first page.

That’s why, traffic potential matters.

Keyword Difficulty In SEO

Keyword difficulty means the difficulty of that keyword. If it’s 80 then it’s super hard. This is a very important step in keyword research because if you don’t know what the difficulty of your keyword is, or if its difficulty is too high, then it’s unlikely you will be able to rank for that keyword.

Keyword difficulty can be because of many things,

Intent of the user,

Content depth, how relevant the content is, content freshness, and content authority,

Backlinks – Both in quantity and quality but quality is more good important rather than low quantity,

Domain Rating,

SERP features,

Etc.3

There is no consensus on what is and isn’t important here, and this process varies from person to person.

But we all agree on backlinks.

If we have backlinks, we can rank on those difficult keywords.

We shouldn’t avoid picking those difficult keywords. We should use it sooner than later.

If we are talking about something and our pages ranks highly on some keywords of that page, this is a sign of link worthiness. Because if my content is original then people will link it from other website/other domain(external link) and this will help me to rank on those keywords that have high keyword difficulty. And this is why knowing keyword difficulty in SEO matters. 🙂

Cost Per Click (CPC)

It falls under PPC (pay-per-click). How much money you’ll spend per click.

If you want to rank for that search query that matches the user’s intent, then your CPC which means cost per click, will be higher.

For example, we have a “project management software” keyword and its CPC is pretty high of $30. That’s because people who are searching for it, they seem to be looking for a “product” to buy.

18 metric cpc by ahrefs

But when it comes to “project management methodologies.” It’s a completely different story. As you can see, “project management methodologies,” is an informational query, and it’s chances of selling your project management software are low, that’s why the CPC is lower of $6.

That people whose intent is informational, are not looking to buy. That’s the thing.

You should about CPC that it is much more volatile than search volume. CPC can change any minute because more companies display ads for them. But for search volume, demand stay roughly the same for most keywords from month to month.

This means in various SEO tools, the CPC values you see, are just merely snapshot and are not particularly exact. For real-time CPC data, use AdWords.

How To Target Keywords

In order to maximize your chances of ranking it’s important identify what kind of page you will need to create. And whether you can use that page to target a group of relevant keywords or all at once, or maybe you’ve got to create some additional pages to target other keywords individually.

Identify a parent topic

19 list of keywords 680x319 by ahrefs

Let’s say you search for something and you see some queries talking about the same thing. But just because they’re talking about the same thing, does that also mean a single page can rank for all those keywords? Or maybe you need to create individual pages to target each of them separately.

It depends on Google. Google sees these keywords. Does Google sees them as the same topic or part of the same topic? Or Google sees them as an individual topics?

When you start searching for these keywords one by one and start comparing the search results, you will start getting a sense of this by searching. For example, let’s compare the search results for the keyword “whipped coffee” with those for the keyword “whipped coffee recipe“:

20 whipped coffee serp overview 1536x997-1

As you can see, for both keywords, the top ranking pages are almost similar. What this means or this tells us that Google sees the “whipped coffee recipe” search query as a subtopic of a more general query, “whipped coffee.” So you can rank for both keywords on a single page.

But look at here, when you compare “whipped coffee” with “whipped coffee without sugar”, 

21 whipped coffee serp overview 1536x1086-1

There is no match. That means, “whipped coffee without sugar” is not part of a broader topic “whipped coffee” topic.

I think I read it in Moz’s “Keyword Research4.” If you are making content and you know keywords are related and the topic is the same too, you won’t create individual topics targeting different keywords when their keywords are the same. It will be called thin content. You will make that content into a single topic and add those keywords to a single page.

It makes sense too because if two topics are related to each other, it’s possible both of those topics have the same or related keywords, but it’s better to check with the help of a keyword tool first.

Study The User Intent

Intent is the main thing. You can know user intent, the reason behind a searcher’s query. It’s important to know what the intent is. what the searcher is trying to find. What is the intent of the user? Is it commercial, navigational, or does the searcher want to know something, information?

You can discover the user intent by looking at the top ranking pages that you rank for.

If you want to sell your cooking product, you won’t be able to sell it on the recipe keyword because the majority of the pages will be on recipes, and you won’t rank it either. That’s why it is important to know the intent.

If the topic you are writing on has equal results on SERP (3 informational and 3 shopping – Transactional), then you can create any of them.

But in SEO, this is called fractured user intent. What this means is that you may rank for this keyword on any of the two pages. If the same keyword is ranking on two different intents, then you can rank that keyword on these two pages or two user intents.

Finding the appropriate page type for a particular query is only the beginning. Ideally, you should also consider the following things:

  1. Content Type – For example, It could be a product page, blog post, video, landing page, category, etc.
  2. Content Format – How-to-guide, opinion editorials, review, listicle, comparison, etc.
  3. Content Angle – Your unique way to hook your audience on that content, to give a special spin on that topic that you are talking about. 

This is what a good example of a dominant content angle looks like. In the search results for “how to make latte,” someone has focused on making latte without an expresso machine and someone has focused on how to make a perfect latte.

26 serp content angle

However, what if you attempted the following angle for your own article: “How to Make a Latte Like Gordon Ramsay?” Perhaps some people consider Gordon Ramsay “perfect.” I think “perfect” and “Gordon Ramsay” are connected in this context and also used interchangeably.

How To Prioritize Keywords

Ask questions. If you don’t ask, you can’t know. And in order to know, you have to ask. You will only find when you are going to ask.

Some questions:

Q. Does that keyword have the potential to bring traffic? If yes, then how much?

Q. Should you target long-tail keywords or both?

Q. What’s the ranking difficulty?

Q. Who are your competitors?

Conclusion

So, this is how keyword research is done. Make sure to do all these steps. Asks questions and, most importantly, thinks like a user. If you were searching for something, what keywords would you type?

Keyword research is important because it helps us or our content reach an audience.

FAQs

Q1. Why use keyword research tools?

Keyword research tools help you find the volume of a keyword, its traffic potential, its difficulty, and other things. And this is why keyword research tools help us find relevant keywords on the basis of our research.

Q2. What is a good keyword difficulty?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It depends on your website. For example, if your website is new, it would be very hard for you to rank for a keyword whose difficulty is between 60 and 80.

Q3. What is search volume in keyword research?

Search volume tells you how many times that keyword has been searched for. Be careful about one thing: don’t base your decisions on search volume alone because one person can search one keyword multiple times. Check the traffic potential as well.

Q4. Does keyword difficulty matter?

Yes because without keyword difficulty, it’d be very hard to to complete your keyword research.

Q5. What is user search intent?

User search intent tells you about the intent of the user. Whether a user wants to know something, go somewhere, compare something, or buy something,

Resources:

  1. How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
  2. How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
  3. How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
  4. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Keyword Research

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