Keyword Research 101

In Blog, SEO
January 16, 2022
6 min read

It all starts here. Before doing anything else, you need to know about your keywords. What words do people type into search engines to look for information on your products or service?

The keyword or keywords are what lead people to organic search results and are the gateway to the websites where the information they are seeking lies.

Once you can find the phrases and words that people put together to look for things, you can then produce and optimise the content on your website to make sure you target these.

There are many ways to find keywords, one of the first tasks when doing keywords research is to find what are termed ‘pillar keywords’.

This article is only the starting point. There’s so much more to keyword research than discussed here.

Keyword Research

This is an SEO practice of finding and analyzing the words the searcher uses. These are the most common words that people will use for finding your niche.

Keyword research has changed and evolved, though, and is now becoming more about finding and understanding your audience and covering the content in a thorough and complex manner. For example, if you run a breed-specific dog website – say boxer dogs, it would be words like ‘boxer dog’, boxer breeds’ ‘boxer dogs’ that you should use.

The search terms that people use are not just from the usual Google search. They can also come from other online means such as social media, blogging or general conversations.

Google Search

One of the first places to start your keyword hunt is Google search. Here there are built-in tools such as ‘People also ask’ ‘Related search’ or Google autocomplete.

Using Google is a good place to start as you will begin to see how people are finding your niche. You will also get a feel for what terms they are using to search.

The other free online places you can look for keywords are Quora, Youtube, Facebook etc.

How to Measure Keywords

There are three essential things to look for when searching for keywords and include:

  1. Relevancy – how relevant is the keyword to your niche? The search intent must match your content.
  2. Search volume – how many people are using that search term per month?
  3. Keyword difficulty – how difficult it would be to rank for that keyword based on how many others are also trying to rank for it.

Let’s explore this further…

Keyword Relevancy

Keyword relevance is based around what your niche and content are all about. This is all around what is termed search intent, what is the intent of the searcher.

  • Is it to search for a brand or company name- navigational?
  • Is it to gain specific information on a product or service – informational?
  • Does the searcher want to buy – transactional.
  • Are they searching with the intent to buy after doing research – commercial?

Perhaps the most important metric is actually search intent.

Someone looking to buy a ‘new lawnmower’ will most likely end up with brand results in their search such as Amazon, Walmart etc.

However, someone searching for ‘the best lawnmower in 2021’ is more commercial in intent and will be presented with a list of buyers’ guides.

Just the subtle changes in the keywords used can significantly impact the search intent of the customer.

Search Volume

Many people get hung up on search volume, believing that this is the primary metric to watch out for.

Sure, it is important but can be misleading…

In days gone by, content creators would find high volume keywords and ‘stuff’ their content with these words to try and trick the search engines.

As the algorithms have become so much more sophisticated, this no longer works.

One of the best strategies is to not concentrate on the high-volume keywords but look for search strings or long-tail keywords. These usually have more words and are easier to rank for as the search query is more specific.

It is currently estimated that of all searches and traffic, 70% now come from long-tail keyword searches.

Keyword Difficulty

Many commercial keyword research tools will now give you an indication of how hard it would be to rank for that particular keyword based on the competition.

This is based on the quality and domain authority of your competition pages and the quality of your page.

Keyword difficulty is usually presented as a metric from 0 – 100, the closer to 100, the harder it would be to rank for that word or phrase.

Keyword Tools

As mentioned in the introduction, there are plenty of keyword tools out there – these include free and paid ones.

A keyword research tool is basically a piece of software that can either generate a list of ‘seed’ keywords for you and evaluate how difficult it would be for you to rank for that keyword. They are helpful in that they speed up keyword research and give you a myriad of results to compare and contrast.

One of the most popular free tools is Google’s very own Keyword Planner and, more recently, Google Trends.

Another great free tool is Answer the Public. This can help you find phrases you may never have thought of in relation to your niche.

They provide you with a string of related questions and related searches.

When it comes to paid tools, there are a couple that stands out…

Firstly, Ahrefs is a keyword tool and gives you content marketing, site audit tools, and rank tracking.

One of the upsides of Ahrefs is that it will help you discover the low competition keywords in your niche. In the keyword difficulty section or KD score, they also include incoming links of competing domains.

The other main feature is that it gives you an easy-to-understand SERP analysis.

The other favourite in my stable is KW Finder.

KW Finder is a really an intuitive tool to use and has many great features. It gives clear KE Difficulty scores and a comprehensive SERP analysis based on domain authority, page authority and even Facebook shares.

The interface is really easy to get to grips with and is hard to find fault with.

The only criticism is the limited number of searches is 700, which is probably the lowest of any paid tool…

To Conclude…

Like any aspect of SEO, keyword research is constantly changing to keep up with the search engine algorithm changes.

It is still one of the cornerstones of SEO and should be the starting point for anyone with a new website or proposed online project.