What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a process utilized by PPC, SEO, Content, and Marketing professionals to help reveal commonly used keywords and phrases, searched by people, to maximize the effectiveness of their web content.
Writing quality content on topics that will interest your target audience is great. Using the right words – keywords or keyphrases – helps your audience find this content.
Once you choose your keywords, you’ll want to use them as naturally as possible, making an effort to get them into the headline, subheadings, and the first paragraph of your post.
How Do You Choose Keywords?
The quick way to choose your keywords is to think about the words your ideal visitor is likely to use to find content like yours, use them, and then check back in 4 months to a year to see what the results have been like.
The smart way, however – that is why you’re here, right? - is to use a suite of the best tools on the web. Many of the following resources will do wonders for your campaign free of charge.
1. Find keyword ideas with Google's Keyword Planner
It’s probably no surprise to you that effective keyword research begins with Google. Google’s Keyword Planner will help you build content campaigns by giving you lots of information about potential keywords and suggesting ideas.
You start by searching for words and phrases that are related to your services or your products. Keyword Planner will help you find the ones that are most relevant.
Keyword Planner will allow you to compare keywords trends. It will very quickly provide you with useful information on how often people search for the keywords that you have chosen and how that search volume may change over time.
This tool is very useful for narrowing down your keyword list and it’s invaluable if you’re an AdWords user on a budget.
If you don’t want to create an AdWords account (required), you like Microsoft, or you just enjoy encouraging competition, no matter the source, check out this alternative from Bing. http://www.bing.com/toolbox/keywords It uses up to 6 months of data to suggest the best keywords for your business.
You will also have a history of 25 keywords, so you can have quick access to previous topics researched.
Best of all, Bing gives you natural ideas. The data it uses is from organic search, not paid search. When it gives you numbers, you can be sure that they are accurate and not based on averages.
2. Spot keyword trends with Google Trends
This fantastic tool allows you to do two particularly useful things. It will show you:
a) which search terms are popular right now, and
b) which terms have been gaining in popularity over time.
Free to use and instantly compelling, it might seem more like an entertainment website than a business tool. Don’t be mistaken.
Search data presented via Google Trends will give you an insight into popular opinion and interests. You can take the pulse of what people think about your industry.
Being able to check out the direction in which keywords’ popularity is heading is very helpful. Your chosen keyword may have been hot once, but looking at a graph displaying ‘interest over time’ can show you whether your chosen keyword is in decline. We like things that can save you vast amounts of time, effort, and money.
You can also line up 5 keywords or keyphrases side by side, which will give you an insight into how their popularity compares. Compare, for example, “Indianapolis 500,” with “Marco Andretti” or “Tour de France.” Or compare your product with your brand name and the brands of your top competitors.
3. Uncover long-tail keywords KeywordTool.io
Unimaginatively named (but great for its own SEO purposes), Keyword Tool is self-described as an alternative to Google Keyword Planner and other such tools. Where it excels, in our opinion, is its ability to help you form long-tail keywords.
When you have your core keywords and keyphrases but you want to use more on the same topic, Keyword Tool will help. It uses Google Autocomplete to generate a list of relevant keywords (we’re talking hundreds) on your chosen topic.
Note that Google Autocomplete performs by using data to determine which keywords people have searched for most often. Your keyword lists generated by Keyword Tool will benefit from that analysis.
Keyword Tool also harnesses the power of Google Suggest and allows you to use it for keyword research.
Although it can be used for SEO and content creation purposes, Google’s Keyword Planner is designed for advertisers who will ultimately use Google AdWords. It hides, therefore, profitable long-tail keywords with thousands of searches per month.
Unlike Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool does not hide popular keywords.
4. Turn keywords into topics with Answer the Public
So you’ve got your keywords and long-tail keywords. Now you need a context in which to use them.
You’ll probably be able to come up with several topics by yourself, but there’s no need to run dry before using a tool to help you. Answer The Public will turn your keyword or keyphrase into multiple questions that your ideal visitors might ask.
Using this tool is a great way to generate topics and also stimulate new ideas. It’s common for this tool to take you in new directions.
The visualization feature, which shows you the results in ‘mind map’ style, allows you to see many long-tail keywords at a glance.
5. Score Ranking Potential with the Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz has provided a great tool for perfecting your keyword choices. We recommend using it to get your Google ranking score.
Moz Explorer will tell you not only how popular your keywords are per month, but it will also give you an idea of how hard you’ll have to work to rank for them. Ranking well is not just about reaching visitors. It’s about beating your competitors too.
Enter your keyword or keyphrase and Moz will provide you with a graphical representation of its volume, difficulty, opportunity, and priority.
Search volume and keyword difficulty are self-explanatory. Priority looks at those factors, plus the opportunity metric, and determines whether it’s recommended to go after this keyword. The higher the priority score, the more you should target it.
The opportunity metric refers to what percentage of searchers are likely to click on organic web results for this keyword. To come up with this figure, Moz analyzes SERP features including AdWords ads, image blocks, and featured snippets.
Note that the presence of a featured snippet does not mean that you should target another keyword. It might mean that you have an opportunity to take over the featured snippet and dramatically improve your traffic.
We like this because you can interpret the results and respond according to your marketing strategy. Whether you are seeking low-hanging fruit or are willing to fight your way to page one, Moz and its Opportunity metric will advise you on how much work is required and what the result will be.
6. Analyze PPC Competition with Spyfu
"Analyze PPC Competition" is putting it nicely. SpyFu allows you to take part in digital marketing espionage.
Unlike other keyword research tools, you start with SpyFu by entering your competitor's URL.
Within seconds, SpyFu then presents you with comprehensive information on your competitors, including where they've been on Google, every keyword that they've bought using Adwords, ad variations, and their organic keyword rankings.
We particularly like the SERP tab, which provides you with ranking difficulty, the number of homepages on the first page, how many keywords are in the titles and URLS, and more.
It's good to know who you are going up against before diving into an ad campaign. SpyFu will tell you which websites have paid for the keyword you are considering.
With the Monthly Domain Overview, you can type in your URL and SpyFu will give you a look at the results of your SEO strategy and which competitors you should be worried about, dividing them into organic competitors and paid competitors.
Enter your competitor's URL to learn more about your industry, opportunities and threats, and where you fit.
SpyFu provides so much data, digital marketers will be salivating at their screens.
7. Analyze organic competitors with SEMRush
SEMRush provides enough tools for a digital marketing professional to make it his or her one-stop shop. We like it for its ability to analyze organic competition.
We’re fans of the organic research positions graph. It will very quickly tell you how many keywords are bringing visitors to the page of your choice (via Google’s top 100 organic search results). It will also project how much traffic the site should receive the following month, and how much those keywords would cost in Google AdWords.
After entering your domain, click on ‘Competitors’ under ‘Organic Research’ and you’ll be rewarded with very clear information on organic competitors for your chosen URL or keyword. Find out who is buying ads for your chosen keywords, their costs per click, and how different keywords are performing.
In another nifty feature, SEMRush’s Phrase Match Report will show you how variations on your keyword (or URL) have performed over time. You could say that it’s like Google Trends in miniature. It’s a useful addition to an impressive array of features
8. Audit the Search Engine Results Page with SERP Checker
At some stage, you’ll want to audit the SERP. It’s good to know who else is ranking well for the keywords you are targeting. If you dig deeper into the SERP you will be more likely to achieve that coveted page one Google keyword ranking.
Use SERPChecker to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Watch out for any sites with high SEO difficulty, high domain authority (sites with URLs that are likely to rank well), or a high page authority (sites with pages that are likely to rank well).
Also note the effect of backlinks and Google Pluses. The Citation Flow (CF) metric will help you assess the effect of having links from trusted, external sites.
We like the ‘manage metrics’ feature, which allows you to display only the metrics that matter most to you. Customize your experience from a large selection of available metrics. The analysis screen is very simple to use
9. Discover Related Keywords with...
Expanding your keyword list doesn’t get much easier than with LSI Graph. Enter your keyword and, within seconds, you’ll have a list of related keywords that you can use to diversify your content and generate new ideas and new leads.
These keywords are semantically linked to your original keyword. This means that using them will not only prevent your pages seeming overstuffed with the same keyword, but it will normally mean that Google ranks your pages better.
If you’re looking for a tool that does this kind of thing, but will integrate with WordPress, Chrome, or any CMS, try nTopic. It is great at delivering words related to your keyword. They say that just incorporating their suggested keywords into your content can boost your rankings by 4%.
It will not only help you to make sure that your content is on target, but it will also point to words and phrases that are actually lowering the relevancy of your pages. This is not an angle you see very often. Diluting your pages with irrelevant content is an SEO killer.
We don’t get out of this section without another nod to SEMRush. Here, we’re looking right at the SEO content template.
Let’s get straight to:
You tell it the keywords you want to target and it analyzes the competition for you. It then suggests how you can achieve a higher ranking than your competitors, including what keywords to use, where to put them, and how long your article should be.
It feels nice having this work done for you.
Then, get your feet off the desk, export the report to .doc, and take action.
10. And Finally, One Keyword Tool with it All? Try KWFinder
KWFinder is a good all-rounder. It does a decent job of combining the features mentioned above. It’s a valuable addition to this list because it will give you the big picture.
You’ll get hundreds of keyword ideas by using the very straightforward form on the home page. The site uses data from Google, including Google Autocomplete.
We like the questions tab on the search form. This turns your keywords into questions that people are asking on Google. It’s a bit like Answer The Public, but more comprehensive in terms of data attached to those questions.
For each question, KWFinder will tell you the average monthly search volume, the cost per click, AdWords competition level, and the difficulty of ranking well with that question based on the links on Google’s first SERP. It gives you a handy view of the SERP on the right-hand side of the screen.
It’s worth taking the time to hone your keywords. Doing the proper research can save you hundreds of hours writing irrelevant content!
While keyword research might seem to be slowing things down, it’s actually fast-tracking your strategy by focusing you on the keywords that are important to your business. They will also suggest how much work will be involved and who you will be competing with.
Whether you need a keyword generator or a tool to help you analyze your SEO strategy, you’ll find something to suit every need in this list. Give them a try, experiment, and run with the blend that works best for you.