A Quick Foolproof Guide to Doing Keyword Research to Achieve Top Search Rankings

Keyword research involves the identification of words and phrases that search engine users use. You can use these terms to optimize your online content and improve its search engine ranking for results based on terms.

All search engine optimization (SEO) tasks that you or the professional SEO services your hire perform rely on keyword research. These tasks include promotion, outreach, on-page SEO, and identifying topics for content. For that reason, the first step of an SEO campaign is keyword research. In other words, keywords determine the direction of your SEO campaign and provide the basis for assessing your progress.

Moreover, keyword research uncovers your target market’s desires, fears, and thoughts because the exact phrases and words that people use in search engines offer insights into their needs. Put simply, keyword research is the 21st-century successor to market research.

Keyword research grows your site’s traffic

Successful sites receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every month, most of who come from Google. Sure, several variablessuch as technical SEO, link building, on-site optimization, and contentfactor into a site’s SEO success. But keyword research is the main factor.

Here’s one scenario. A site’s keyword research identifies a low-competition term, which the site uses as the basis to create SEO-optimized content. The minimal competition for term results in the site achieving the top spot of Google for the term. In turn, that top ranking drives hundreds of visitors from Google monthly.

Identifying ideas for keywords

Start by brainstorming several topics that may interest prospective customers. For example, to come up with some ideas, a digital marketing agency may start by asking: “What content topics related to digital marketing do people search for?”

Among the answers to this question are topics such as:

  • Website traffic
  • Blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • PPC
  • Social media

Keep in mind that the topics listed aren’t themselves keywords. Rather, they are general topics that you can use to derive keywords. To identify keywords, you can use several online resources, including:

  • Table of contents on Wikipedia– Search for and open the Wikipedia entry (wiki) for a broad topic and explore the subtopics on the wiki’s content to find amazing ideas for keywords.
  • Google’s “Searches related to”– Search for the broad topic on Google and scroll to the bottom results page section that lists eight related Google searches. These searches are popular keywords you can use.
  • Subreddits on Reddit– Search for the broad topic on Reddit to find subreddits that your prospective customers might participate in. The titles of popular (highly upvoted) threads clue you in on popular keywords to use.
  • Suggestions on Google and YouTube – Type the broad topic into Google’s or YouTube’s search box and take note of the suggested terms. Add these great keywords to your list.
  • Forums – Identify forums that your prospective customers participate in by searching the broad topic plus the word “forum” or “board” on Google. Take note of the names of sections within a forum as the names are potentially popular keywords you can use.

Research keywords easily using keyword research tools

Effective as the methods above may be, the whole keyword research process is much easier when you use a keyword research tool. Leading professional SEO services recommend the following tools.

  • The Google Keyword Planner– It’s highly reliable and accurate. Just keep in mind that Google designed it to improve Google ad campaigns and not general SEO.
  • Exploding topics– Better than Google Trends, this tool finds increasingly popular topics and derives keywords. It also lets you sort topics by category.
  • Keywords everywhere– It identifies keywords from specific sites such as Google Analytics, Bing and YouTube. Its Chrome extension displays individual keyword data in specific searches.
  • Ubersuggest – It uses search suggestions from Google to create a list of keyword ideas and shows individual keyword data such as search volume and CPC.
  • SEMrush– This paid keyword research tool saves you a ton of time by listing the precise keywords your site ranks for instead of showing random keywords.
  • Ahrefs– Primarily a link-building tool, Ahrefs has a “Keyword Explorer” feature that provides useful insight on keywords. However, it’s not the best for identifying new keywords.

Long-tail keywords are often the least competitive

One of the insights that keyword research provides is a keyword’s SEO difficulty: the competitiveness of a keyword. Optimizing content around an extremely competitive keyword makes it hard for a site to get past the third page of Google’s search results. In contrast, you have a good shot at making it to the top three pages when you use a low-competition keyword.

Brand new sites should focus exclusively on long-tail keywords because they are usually not competitive. SEO experts categorize keywords as head, body, and long-tail keywords. Head keywords are often single words, such as “diet” or “books”, with high volume and high competition. These terms typically have low conversion rates because the searcher’s intent is too general.

Body keywords are phrases with two or three words. These terms have moderate search volume (about 2,000 searches every month). They are more targeted and usually less competitive than head terms. Examples of body terms include “low carb diets” and “self-help books.”

Lastly, long tail keywords are highly specific phrases with four or more words. Examples of terms include “low diet carbs for people over 40” and “self-help audiobooks under $20.” These terms often have low search volume (10–200 searches every month), but altogether, they constitute the most online searches. Their low search volume makes them low-competition terms.

Each keyword category has its advantages and drawbacks and plays an important role in SEO marketing. Long tail keywords are the best choice when you’re looking for a keyword with minimal competition.

Choose the best keywords and get top rankings

Keyword research tools generate a list of popular keywords. You need to choose the right one for your business by considering several factors, including the search volume, organic click-through-rate, keyword difficulty, CPC, business fit, and keyword trends. You can also find professional SEO services that provide actionable, time-tested SEO advice.

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