Keyword Research for SEO
For those of you who are very new to SEO, Keyword Research is the process of researching keywords!
In other words, it's about figuring out how people will potentially find you online.
Why is keyword research important? Your entire SEO strategy is based on sound keyword research. You can't write relevant content if you don't know what phrases people are going to use to discover you, or which phrases Google is going to associate with worthy content. You can't optimize your pages without knowing which phrases to optimize for.
In the early days of SEO, when Google's algorithm matched keywords entered into the search term with the same keywords on a website, creating content that contained exact match phrases was infinitely more important.
What is Entity-based search
Now that Google's algorithm has evolved into an entity-based search, you don't have to worry about exactly matching search terms; instead, it must match the intent behind the search, the main concept of what the searcher is looking for.
This means, of course, that your keyword search is not just about finding the words that people use to find a company like yours, but also about discovering the intent that search engines have when they search for you.
How important it is to find the right keyword
Keyword research will help you understand the concepts that resonate with potential visitors - what they are looking for and what matters to them. Keyword phrases are rated based on popularity; there may be hundreds of ways to search for the widget you are selling, but there will be two or three phrases that are used much more frequently than the others.
Once you have completed your research, compiled your keyword list, and sorted it by importance or popularity, you know exactly how to create content that resonates with your potential users - and Google's algorithm considers that relevant. So basically do keyword research to find out what your target audience is looking for.
Understand the Keyword Research in Business
Whether you're starting a keyword research project for your own business or a customer, you can't get started without understanding the pros and cons of the business. You need to understand what drives the business, who your customers are, what those customers are all about, and you need to align everything with the company's goals.
You already know your business, why waste time on boring things? Just jump straight to content creation and link-building because it's more fun and more obviously related to ROI.
But this shortcut can kill your entire SEO strategy.
Focus on the needs of your target group
It is quite common for companies to think that they have to rank certain concepts, when in reality their audience is no less interested in these concepts and is looking for something completely different.
You need to focus on your audience and potential customers so you can understand how they fit into what the company is looking for.
Definition of business objectives
Before you start your keyword research project, you need to ask questions.
Even within a single vertical, each business is different and has different goals. One dealer might want to push trucks, while another wants to push his used car inventory. Another street dealer might specialize in selling commercial vehicles.
If we just kept going and started doing the same SEO for all distributors, they would all get the same broad SEO strategy.
Start with questions about the company. What do they sell, how do they work, what motivates them. Make sure you ask about your business goals, not your SEO earnings goals, but about your top goals that drive the day-to-day business.
Discover how to reach your customers and then ask about your customers or your audience. Do you know how people look for them? Do you have ready-made audience members who can help you shape your strategies? Are there seasonal trends in your audience's behavior?
Then you have to try to solve the "why." Sure, they sell colored widgets and their customers buy colored widgets... but WHY do their customers buy colored widgets? What problem do you solve for your customers? What need do they meet?
Finally, ask your expectations of what you offer - how can you help them fulfil what your customers or your audience are looking for?
How to conduct business surveys for your keyword research
It is useful to put together a questionnaire to help new customers through the discovery process. If you work exclusively in a vertical, you will become familiar with the main facets and can adjust your questions to go even deeper.
If you are working across multiple verticals, it is even more important to have a strong identification process onboard new customers. The next customer you are working with may be the first company you have come across in a particular vertical, so your questions need to be precise.
When the company is close, it is always best to discuss the discovery issues face to face. If they are not close enough to make this possible, use a video chat solution so that they can still see each other. If they see who they are talking to, they are more engaged and likely to give better answers to your questions.
Let them share their experiences - they have great knowledge about your business and are happy to share it with you. The more you know about your business and your customers, the more focused you can be with your SEO strategy.
Intention of Search Query
The search results that are displayed for each search query are based on what Google interprets as the search engine's intention... It is less about the keywords that are actually searched for and more about the meaning behind the search.
I'm talking about it now, because as you make your list of keyword phrases, you need to understand how the intention affects your keywords and the possible searches related to those phrases.
In Google's Quality Testing Guidelines, Google explains the four main objectives that search engines pursue when performing searches: "to know," "to do," "to find a" website, "or" to visit it personally. "
Let's dig a little deeper and see how intent shapes search results.
In an informative query, the user searches for certain data. These queries are more difficult to categorize, as Google usually only displays the information in a response field.
If you search for "Who wrote Red Rising," you will find this answer box at Pierce Brown in search result.
When someone searches for "How tall is the Eiffel Tower?," Google displays the answer in the autocomplete drop-down menu, so you don't even have to finish your search... but if you do, you'll get a simple answer.
Using a navigation query, the user searches the Internet for a specific destination.
If someone is looking for the "SEMrush Academy" Google offers search results that allow them to navigate directly to the page they are looking for.
With a transactional query, the user looks for something to buy or register.
When someone searches for "hotel in London," they will see a page listing different ways to find and book a hotel room in London.
With a local query, the user searches for something in his local environment.
When someone searches for "Coffee Shop," they get a list of nearby coffee shops. If they search for options in another city and change their search query to "Chicago Coffee Shop," Google will display a list of coffee shops in Chicago.
When you start compiling your keyword list, test the phrases on Google. You can find out what Google has decided is the intent of that phrase by looking at the search results page.
If you search for "sneakers," you will see mixed intentions. Google shows an advertising carousel at the top of the page, then a local package in case the user intends to buy the shoes at a nearby location. It is definitely a transactional intention, but Google is not sure whether the user wants to buy online or at a local store.
If you understand how they search for the company, it is easier to conclude on their search intentions. You can test these searches to judge whether Google understands the same intention or not. You will be able to create better content that is more accurate in what the search engine is looking for.
List of Potential Keywords
Now you're finally ready to create your keyword list. Start with the knowledge you gained from your discovery questions by creating a list of important business-related topics that should include both what's important for the company and what's important for customers.
Separate the topics into groups so that similar concepts and ideas are grouped. Use your business knowledge to prioritize groups. Some concepts may be better for information retrieval, while others are more likely to generate customer transactions.
Once you have solved your concept cubes, you need to start filling them with keywords, leveraging your newfound knowledge of customer wishes and needs. Create keyword phrases that these customers use to search for the company or what they are selling.
This is the discharge phase of the brain. Think of everything you can think of, you will refine the list later.
Don't forget to check the phrases the company is already in. Check out Google Analytics, Search Console, and any rank tracking tools that can be configured for your business, or your own rank tracking tools if you already have them.
It is also important to insert phrases that classify competitors. If your competitors have done SEO, they have already done a lot of this work for you, so use their efforts and "borrow" their strategies!
So you want to get creative and create variations. Check the widget that people ask Google. Look at the corresponding search terms that appear at the bottom of the SERP.
Once you have your keyword list, it's time to refine and prioritize it. For those of you new to the SEO game, it's important to understand the difference between the so-called "fat head" terms and the long tail terms.
Bold terms are on the left - These are the shortest terms that get the most monthly search volume. If you scroll to the right, the search volume is lower, but there are more terms. If you get to the long tail terms, you can see how the chart stretches due to the large number of phrases.
When you try to rate the popularity of a keyword sentence, you are not only targeting the top terms with the highest search volume. There are incredible possibilities in long-tail searches, and as searches continue to be more talkative, long-tail possibilities will continue to increase.
For example, if you're looking for "jacket," you're probably browsing, while someone else looking for "cheapest North Face raincoat near me" is ready to buy right away.
Regardless of which keyword tool you use, the estimated monthly search volume for each sentence is displayed. Note that certain phrases have seasonal volume peaks, but the volume numbers displayed in the keyword tools are annual averages.
Use volume estimates to prioritize keywords. Of course, if a phrase has a higher search volume, it is an important phrase to aim for, but this does not always mean that you should focus your ads on that keyword...
Remember, while long-tail keywords have a much lower search volume, there are a lot more long-tail phrases. Most companies target the top terms with the most traffic, which means that the competition makes the ranking more difficult. You can potentially make big profits by targeting more long-tail phrases, which could lead to a higher monthly search volume.
Each keyword tool includes a keyword difficulty metric. You can analyze every single keyword on your list, compare it against the competition, test the actual search results, and use your SEO skills to determine which keywords will be easier to categorize... but if you add more keywords to your possible target list, you may end up with thousands of keywords, and that just won't scale. Keyword difficulty saves you time in analyzing each sentence.
Competitor Analysis in Keyword Research
Searching for competitors is incredibly helpful when you're working with a new customer in a vertical you don't know. You know you need to do a lot of research to get to know that vertical, so why not use the efforts of those who were before you?
Competition research is also a key tactic when working with a local company in a new area. You may know the vertical, but if you don't know the local area, your competition research will help you get going on what works best at that location.
They have already gone through the search process, created content, already created backlinks, and already optimized the optimization of various pages on their website to improve performance.
Of course, you don't want to just copy their work, but delving into what they have done and what they are doing now can provide incredible information about the keyword phrases that are most valuable.
This is one of my favorite ways to use SEMrush, enter your URL, and see what keywords you rank by. Really look at the list - keyword difficulty values, potential traffic, everything you can use to judge the value of the keywords for which they show up.
Remember, they've been working on their visibility for a while, so if they've been pushing for certain phrases, it's a good sign that those phrases are driving traffic.
Even if you don't run Google Ads, you should check the keywords your competitors use for their campaigns, which provides even more information about what's important, because you know you're paying to appear for those phrases.
I like to check both ends of the spectrum, both the expensive and the cheap terms. Look at the big money terms - the phrases with the highest CPC. These are phrases that cost a lot more, but the competitor still thinks that it is worth competing and paying for clicks on that rate. That's a good sign that it is a valuable keyword that will convert customers.
But I also like to look at the little ones, the really cheap phrases that are still worthwhile in order to reach the goal. Typically, these are keywords with longer tails and less competition, but here, too, they pay to appear for these phrases. Unless they are really bad at Google Ads or really like to throw money away, you know that these phrases are worth being targeted as well.
I also like to check the ad text to see what ads they are running. Since they need to compress a compelling message into a few lines, you can see what is most important to each concept and how they think customers are attracted to clicking.
Again, I suggest that you analyze your competitors back links, but instead of doing this as part of your link research and link building campaign, I suggest that you do it as part of your keyword research. If you pull out your competitors" link profiles, look at the sites that have the most links. If you have some content pages with significantly more inbound links, you know that the content is important to your audience and your customers.
Sort the list by the number of incoming links per page, remove the start page, and then use the remaining pages as a guide. Don't ignore a page if it has only one or two links; it could be an important concept that your competitor has done a bad job of targeting.
Pay particular attention to competitors who have unique links, where they have a page to a concept that receives incoming links but no one else gets links to that concept.
This is a sign that it is a valuable concept, but as there is less competition, it will be easier for you to create better content and potentially outperform it.
Also watch out for overlapping links - if several competitors link to pages with the same concept, it is all the more obvious that targeting one's own page is an important concept.
Finally, you need to manually review each competitor's website. Link research that you just completed gave you a list of key pages that you should check out, but you really should take a look at all the top-level pages on each page.