Keyword Research From A to Z

kwrIf you know anything about SEO, chances are you’ve heard quite a bit about keyword research. We’ve talked about it here on the blog quite a few times, and it’s a pretty well-known fact that, when it comes to moving your site up in Google rankings, KWR is certainly an integral process. After all, search terms and keywords are the lifeblood of organic search, and if you can get your site to rank for some popular ones then you can get one step closer to internet domination.

But, though you may have heard these buzzwords before, knowing about and doing are two different things. In fact, it’s quite impossible to truly understand the process of keyword research without proper guidance and information. That’s why we’re here to hold your hand through this infinitely boring but crucial topic! So, without further ado, here are our forbidden and exotic secrets of keyword research; we’ll try our best to keep it entertaining.
 

What is a Keyword?

Before we get started, it’s important that you understand what, exactly, a “keyword” is. For a searcher, a keyword is simply text that they enter into a search box describing what they are looking for. If a user wants pizza, a “keyword” that they’ll enter might be “pizza shops” or “pizza in [their city]; it doesn’t really get much more complicated than that. But, on the search engine side of things, a keyword is so much more! In addition to signifying what a searcher is looking for, a keyword is a signpost for your site. It is a simple way of describing what your site is about and it is one of the many things that search engines look for when a searcher runs a query. This is where the battle begins. With keyword research and implementation (and all SEO, really), you are competing with other sites to make your site “show up” when someone looks for this signpost by running a query. In other words, if you own a pizza shop in New Jersey, you are trying to find the right keyword—based on market research, psychology, and basic ingenuity—that is searched by enough of the right peopleTweet: Find the right keyword—based on research, psychology, basic ingenuity—that is searched by enough of the right people... http://ctt.ec/gG7c3+ to put your site high up in the rankings, thus bringing you traffic and (hopefully) profit!
 

Getting Started

At this point, you may be wondering what keyword you need to make sure people find your site. This, dear reader, is something that every SEO type person thinks about on a daily basis, and this is where keyword research begins. The first step on the path towards determining this answer is to begin brainstorming a list of keywords that you can start out with for your webpage. These are only beginning keywords, and you might not even use them when all is said and done, but they do give you a leaping point upon which the rest of the process is built upon. Here are a few things to keep in mind about this step:

  • Make them relevant: You need the base keywords that you choose to actually concern the content on your webpage. Are you talking about pizza? Then make the keywords pizza related. DO NOT shoehorn other keywords that you might want to rank for into this step; if it’s not related to the overall theme on the page, throw them out or make another webpage to use said keyword on.
  • Consider keyword intent: The number one mistake that beginning keyword researchers make is believing that keyword research is all about trafficTweet: The number one mistake that beginning keyword researchers make is believing that keyword research is all about traffic http://ctt.ec/9MlEa+. “But wait,” you might say, “isn’t that the whole point? I want more people to visit my website!” While that may be true, what you must understand is that getting traffic is only half the battle. You shouldn’t be just trying to get traffic; you should be trying to get the right kind of traffic. For example, instead of targeting the word “pizza”, why not try targeting “nearby pizza” or “cheap pizza”? The adjectives attached to pizza tend to be good signifiers of what the person is looking for, which will bring you traffic that might actually commit an action on your site (like ordering a delicious pizza). Remember; being 1st on Google for a general keyword may bring you traffic, but it won’t necessarily bring you the payday that you’re looking forward to.
  • Keyword Redundancy: One thing that you must remember is that keyword implementation is all webpage based, not website based. In other words, each website will need its own set of keywords to build around. If you don’t and simply use the same keywords on every page on your site, then your webpages will compete against each other, undermining their performance and your overall profit margin. You can also think of it this way; there are an infinite amount of keywords out there that you can target, and if you’re only targeting a couple for your entire website, then you might be missing out on a profit source somewhere along the line.

Using these facets, create a list of keywords (at least ten is good for now), and record them somewhere. If you did it right, you’ll have a list of potentially valuable keywords that will lead to even more valuable ones down the line. Got it? Then on to the next step!
 

Keyword Research

This is the point where conjecture, ingenuity, and hope actually start turning into hard numbers that you can use to make your website soar. But, in order to make this a reality, you are going to need a few tools that will give you the data you need. The most popular include:

We will start by using Google Keyword Planner, which you will need an Adwords account for, before moving on to the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool. The Google Keyword Planner tool—perhaps the most popular keyword research tool on the web—gives you all sorts of yummy information that you can use to determine the value and the worth of a keyword. From search volume to competition to even local searches, the statistics you’ll get from here are invaluable to your research campaign, and should be used as heavily as possible. Here are the steps we follow when using Google Keyword Planner for a keyword research campaign:

  1. Make use of Keyword Suggestion: Keyword suggestion is a very powerful tool in any research campaign and can be used to find the best keywords that you can’t think of. This is where you should begin entering the list of keywords that you came up with in the first part of this tutorial. As you enter your list, you will receive thousands of suggestions for further keywords, of which you can pick and choose the ones that work best for you. Remember the above advice, about keyword intent, redundancy, and relevancy, when picking your keywords.
  2. Pay Attention to search statistics: In addition to the above facets, you should also only be picking keywords that have relatively high search statistics. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should only pick ones that rank up in the thousands—lower search terms can also be very useful if they fit well with your page and don’t have high competition (we’ll get to that later). However, make sure that the term is actually being searched for, and you can gain value from the term.
  3. Don’t forget the Long Tail: We continually talk about intent in this article, but it needs to be hammered into your head if you plan on having any sort of success: intent is key, regardless of search statistics! Yes, it may be awesome to get general terms (like pizza) that have thousands of searches a day; however, you will have to work extremely hard to actually rank on them—as everyone and their mother is trying to rank for them as well—and you won’t even be getting the value that you would from a term that has less search volume but is more relevant to your site/displays their intent to buy. Just remember; big ticket search terms may have large search volumes, but “long tail” (or intent laden) search terms make up 70% of all internet searches. If you target those keywords, you’ll not only have a better chance of ranking on them, you will gain more traffic that may actually give you money (rather than just clicking and quitting).
  4. Record, record, record: At this point, you should have a pretty large volume of keyword ideas; but, you aren’t quite done yet! Don’t forget to record all the keywords that you pluck from this wonderful research in an Excel document, with all the relevant information you need (search volume, especially). This way, we can move onto the final phase!

 

Using the Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool

Finally, we like to top everything off by using the Keyword Difficulty tool by Moz. This awesome tool allows you to determine whether or not a keyword is worthy of pursuing based on how high the demand is for the given phrase, as well as how difficult it will be for you to pursue it.

Though this is a premium service*—meaning you’ll have to pay for it—this step is invaluable, as you’ll be able to combine the search information and keyword ideas you’ve received from Google’s Keyword Planner with statistics about how difficult those terms would be to pursue, allowing you to make the final cuts. * If you wish to avoid paying for a service, Wordtracker is a good free demand tracker for keywords, and Google’s own keyword planning tool gives you a decent idea if you will be able to easily rank for a keyword or not.
 

Concluding your Search

Once you complete this step, you will finally be able to choose your final handful of keywords! Don’t forget; the keywords that you choose need to display the following qualities:

  1. Not too competitive
  2. Will bring you in search traffic
  3. Display intent
  4. Relevant to your site
  5. Firmly implanted in the “long tail”

Make sure you pick 5 or so keywords that display a decent balance of these qualities, record them, and you are finally done with this webpage’s keyword research journey, phew! All you have to do now is sprinkle those keywords naturally throughout the page—a topic for another day—and you’ll be able to reap the rewards your hard work brought you!

We know this was a long and in-depth article, and we know that it may seem a bit difficult. But, you have to understand that keyword research is one of the most important steps in any SEO campaign. It provides the lowest bar of entry to some of the most powerful marketing data, and it can make you a lot of money—providing you do it the right way! So, follow our directions, and make sure you put your utmost effort into each keyword research campaign; it will pay off in the end.

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