Knowing how to do keyword research can be the difference between getting tons of traffic and watching your blog dry up.
In this guide, I’m going to tell you all you need to know to get started. I’ll be throwing in some keyword research tips.
This guide is intended for beginners and anybody who knows their way around but feels like they’re missing some pieces.
Let’s start with the basics.
Here's what we're going to be covering...
- 1 Why do you Need to do Keyword Research in the First Place?
- 1.1 Which Keyword Tools are Best?
- 1.2 Google Keyword Planner: FREE
- 1.3 How to do Keyword Research with The Google Adwords Planner
- 1.4 Google Trends: FREE
- 1.5 Keyword and Topic Research Using Google Trends
- 1.6 Market Samurai: PAID
- 1.7 Keyword Research with Market Samurai
- 1.8 SEMrush: PAID
- 1.9 Keyword Research With SEMrush (Advanced)
- 2 Keyword Research Tips 2017
Why do you Need to do Keyword Research in the First Place?
This question merits an answer, simply because keyword research can be tedious – especially at the beginning. If you’re a blogger or a content marketer, it would be much nicer to sit down and start pounding the keyword to see what comes out, without having to spend time planning (hey, I’m with you on that one!)
But here’s the reason why you need to get this done:
You want your content to be read, therefore you need to write content for which there is a demand and the way to discover how much demand there is for your chosen topic is called keyword research.
Make sense so far? Cool.
Let’s put that into practice…
This post (or article) that you’re reading right now is about how to do keyword research and includes some keyword research tips for 2017.
Before I started writing this content, I needed to know whether there is a demand for this topic.
Ahem. Well, I already knew that there is… but play along with this example.
So, I needed to do some keyword research. That would show me how much demand there is for this topic. If there’s plenty of demand for it, then it’s worth writing about… but let’s stop there because things are about to get complicated in a moment.
Let me add the finishing touches to the above example…
Before I can research a keyword, I need to know 2 things:
- what is a keyword?
- how do I research a keyword?
So here goes…
A keyword is the word or phrase that you want your article to be found for in the search engine results. In theory, the keyword is the key word in your topic.
So if you were an SEO (search engine optimizer) and you had a website promoting your services, the key word that you would ideally like to be found for may be SEO.
Now, you’d think that if there are multiple words in your idea keyword, it would be called keywords. But that’s not the case (search me… pun intended).
- SEO = keyword
- SEO in London = keyword (or keyphrase)
So think of a keyword as single words or phrases that you want to ‘target’.
The words keyword and keyphrase are used interchangeably because things aren’t complicated enough as it is. Heh.
Ok, so that’s that. This part always gets confusing at the beginning, but I’m glad we’re over that now. You’re halfway to becoming a keyword research ninja.Understanding keyword research is one of the most important things you can learn as a blogger or website owner.Click To Tweet
So far so good. Let’s carry on.
So my keyword for this article then is how to do keyword research.
My next move is to do some research to find out whether there are people searching for that phrase. If there are, then it may be worth writing about.
But if there are people searching for that keyword, then it means there’s a demand for that topic, and you just said…
Hang on, hang on! One step at a time. Remember I said things were going to get complicated? Heh…
The second part of this process is to determine how competitive it is to rank for our ideal keyword. Because if it’s too competitive, then we may not be able to rank, and that means nobody gets to read our awesome article.
So here’s what the process looks like so far…
- come up with an idea for a topic
- determine what the keyword is – the word that you think people looking for the topic may search for in a search engine like Google
- part 1: do some keyword research to verify whether there are indeed people searching for that keyword (or keyphrase)
- part 2: use that keyword research to gauge how much competition there is for the keyword or keyphrase and determine whether we have a chance to rank for the keyword
Don’t despair at this point, especially if you suspect that all the keywords in the world have already been taken and you’re too late to the game because I will give you some keyword research tips to help you improve your chances of ranking (yay!)
So now that we know what a keyword is and we understand the concept of research, we need to know how to do keyword research.
For the research part, we’ll be using tools. But before we dig in, let’s solidify what we’ve just learned by watching a video that explains keyword research and introduces you to using a tool to do the research:
Like it? Good.Keyword research tools can make or break your success when it comes to getting traffic. Choose good ones.Click To Tweet
Now that we’re clear on the whole keyword thing, let’s dig into some tools!
Which Keyword Tools are Best?
That’s a good question. The fact is that there are hundreds – if not thousands – of keyword research tools (and they’re all the best, can you believe that?)
I have in fact answered this question here: what is the best keyword research tool?
Here’s a choice of KW tools – free and paid – and a quick overview video on how they work:
Google Keyword Planner: FREE
Now, here’s the caveat: this tool was built for PPC advertisers. That said, if you’re on a tight budget, you can still use it to get a good idea of whether your keyword has search volume (i.e. whether people are searching for that keyword).
How to do Keyword Research with The Google Adwords Planner
Google Trends: FREE
Another great tool you can use, although it’s not strictly a keyword research tool per se, is Google Trends. This can help you determine whether the topic you’re researching is trending upwards or downwards.
G Trends is a great tool to use in many research scenarios, and it’s pretty addictive too, so watch out for that.
Keyword and Topic Research Using Google Trends
Market Samurai: PAID
This is one of the keyword tools that I like to use, although it’s not my ultimate tool (I shall reveal that in a moment).
Keyword Research with Market Samurai
The keyword tool provided by SEMrush is a paid tool, but it’s deemed by many as the best KW tool in the industry. Here’s how it works:
Keyword Research With SEMrush (Advanced)
Keyword Research Tips 2017
OK, at this point you know:
- what a keyword is
- what keyword research is for and why it’s needed
- some of the tools you can use to research keywords and topics
Now, to round up all that knowledge, let’s get into some keyword research tips to get the edge on this game!
Keyword Research Tips from Google: How to Find the Right Keywords
Keyword Research Tips from Google: How to Find the Right Keywords (another angle)
Let me introduce here what is known as the Longtail. Take a look at this:
- SEO = keyword
- SEO in London = longer keyphrase
- SEO for dentists in London = longtail keyword
So why target longtail keywords?
Because longtail keywords are less competitive – thus easier to rank for.
Take a look at this:
- SEO = very competitive keyword, very hard to rank for (out of the question for most websites)
- SEO in London = less competitive, but still pretty hard to rank for
- SEO for dentists in London = much less competitive and very focused on one target (i.e. dentists who are looking for SEO services)
Let me demonstrate what this actually looks like:
Keyword research for the word SEO (very competitive)
Keyword research for the word SEO for Dentists (less competitive)
Longtail Keyword research example (much less competitive)
That’s how and why you go after longtail keywords. If and when there is too much competition around a keyword, you can (and must) start to get really focused on who your ideal reader is. And that means using more words, which in turn removes some of the competition.If you're starting out with a new website or a new blog and you don't have any backlinks, then targeting longtail keywords is the way to go.Click To Tweet
You may want to take a look at how to go about your initial link building for a new site and my guide on how to create backlinks
How to do Keyword Research for Longtail
keyword research can seem complicated because there are a lot of pieces to it. But common sense will guide you. The basis is quite simple:
- if you want to ‘reach’ people you have to write about something they are searching for
- decide what the topic is
- do some research to see if enough people are searching for that topic
- gauge how competitive the search engine results are
- focus on (longtail) on a particular aspect (or subtopic) of the topic that still holds interest for enough people