Keyword Research for SEO: Your step by step guide
How do I find the right keywords?
Well I’m glad you asked…
Believe it or not, keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO campaign and this is something you will hopefully know a lot more about by the end of this guide.
Here is what you can expect to learn:
- Where and how you can find the key phrases used by your potential customers
- Methods for picking your focus keywords
- How people are most commonly getting it so wrong when choosing their keywords
Keyword List Building Techniques
There are several ways to find out which keywords are the most lucrative in an industry or market. The most common way is to use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool and while this tool is really good in some ways, it shouldn’t be the only method for un-covering the ultimate keyword list.
Note: You do not need to execute a Google Adwords campaign to have access to the Google Planner Tool.
To uncover those hidden underground gems you may have to dig a little deeper and compile a list from other sources. Some of my suggestions include:
Search for your industry’s keywords within Wikipedia to find related content. You can often uncover related keywords which are referenced and linked to within the content of that page. You can actually uncover endless potential keywords here by rinsing and repeating with various keywords and by following links to other pages within each of those pages… endless opportunities.
As an example here is a page from Wikipedia which highlights all the other pages / keywords you can build an initial list with.
While some of these keywords may not be directly relevant to your offering, a lot of the time they uncover great topics for the blog or content marketing efforts and the potential to pull in substantial traffic to your website.
Niche / Industry Forums
What are other people talking about in relation to your industry. You can actually search for forums and discussion boards in your industry with a few nifty search strings like:
- Keyword + inurl:”/forums/”
- Keyword + “discussion board”
- Keyword + inurl:”showtopic.php”
Find out what your competitors are targeting, by evaluating their: title tags, meta descriptions and page headings on important pages within their website’s.
Google’s related searches
You can actually use Google’s very own search engine results page (SERP) to uncover new untapped keywords.
Scroll to the bottom of the first page in Google search until you find this and you can add them to your keyword list.
Tip: In fact you can then use these very keywords to see what else Google suggests.
Another endless list of potential keywords.
Why use Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner Tool?
The number one reason this tool is great for keyword research is that the service is available free of charge whether you are an advertiser for AdWords or not. However, as mentioned earlier, the GAPT shouldn’t be used to source all of your keywords.
The GAKP is great at sourcing tightly related keywords to a group of source keywords you give it and for telling you which of the keywords you provided (and those tightly related keywords) get the most search volumes in a given month.
But it is not that good at uncovering new keywords across a broader spectrum, particularly keywords which are very related, but don’t use any of the keywords you entered.
For this I recommend using some of the above methods.
Also, the GAKP tool doesn’t provide 100% accurate information on search volumes.
The most accurate numbers come from Google AdWords as it gives you the precise data about how many people saw your ads when searching via a specific keyword, rather than just an estimation.
AdWords is brilliant for choosing which keywords you should optimise for based on conversion metrics and which keywords get a lot of impressions.
It is actually the best way to test whether certain keywords are going to work for your business and just how well they will perform, before investing more heavily in search engine optimisation (SEO).
Thorough keyword research is the foundation of any successful search marketing campaign. Creating your own list of keywords is a great starting point, but the importance of ensuring you expose the highest searched and most relevant keywords is imperative for leveraging the best outcomes in SEO.
How to use Keyword Planner
Once you have sourced all the keywords you think are relevant to your business via the keyword list building methods mentioned earlier, you can load them straight into the Keyword Planner tool.
To do this you need to:
- Sign up and login to your Google Account. You can sign up for one here – https://adwords.google.com/
- Once you have an account setup , you will need to login to the AdWords Dashboard, click on the Tools link in the top navigation menu.
- Click on Keyword Planner, and you should see this screen below.
- From here you will want to copy / paste all of your keywords into the first text area field you can see in the image above, select one or more regions from the country targeting drop down menu and click on ‘Get Ideas’.
Here is an example of what you can see once you have done this.
As you can now see, The Keyword Planner tool has given us figures on the average monthly searches (Don’t count on accuracy of these figures, these are very much indicative only).
We have also have additional keywords which Google Keyword Planner deems relevant to your list. Check out the image below for an example of other potential keywords and their associated monthly search volumes.
The power of localised search
Localised search phrases are often more lucrative than non-regionalised / non localised search.
Depending on the type of industry, when people search for a service, they often use the location that they are based in so that results are more relevant to what they are searching for.
They are usually looking for contact details such as an address or inquiry form that will allow them to get in touch.
Tip: You can often use the ‘Suggested Bid’ information to determine, how much other contenders in the market are willing to spend to maintain their Ad positions within the search results. In many cases you can spot the more lucrative of search terms based on this information.
For example: The image below illustrates that all keywords are of high competition, but that in most cases regionalised search is worth more than non-regionalised. Regionslised search often has a lower search volume which needs to be taken into account also.
The trap many fall into
Although AdWords is a relatively harmless way to determine which keywords are going to convert into paying customers, search engine optimisation can take significant time to develop. Ensuring the correct keywords are determined before engaging in SEO is super important to avoid spending time on keywords which are not returning you the results other keywords could be.
Targeting the biggest keywords, which don’t convert as well , can be a waste of resources.
Identifying the searcher’s intention
Regionalised search is often the result of the searcher’s previous query being too broad and therefore not relevant.
While the Keyword Planner may show the results below (as an example), the intention of the searcher can be quite different for each of the keyword phrases.
The intention behind a search for ‘blinds’ could be:
- What are blinds?
- What types of blinds are there?
- Where can I buy them?
As you can see, the intention is not always about buying blinds and can therefore potentially not be worth targeting initially.
However, the intention for someone searching ‘Roller Blinds Auckland’ can be more clearly defined as someone who is ready to buy a specific type of blind in Auckland.
Because it may be difficult to target all industry keywords equally at the same time, prioritising which keywords are going to give you the best return would be a far better use of budget in the early stages of your SEO campaign.
Even though some search terms have better search volumes, it does not mean that the quality of traffic is better. If someone clicks on your site and does not stop, look around or make a purchase then it is no better than them not having clicked on it at all. It means you are not offering the service they want. Being more specific when choosing your keywords is the best way to ensure the people are actually looking for the value you can provide.
Plural vs non plural search
In some cases, it is possible to get too technical when choosing keywords.
Remember to think about conversational tone and natural thought patterns (and this can be very different depending on industry like their mood when searching and the urgency).
i.e. I am personally much more likely to type in “Plumber Wellington” than I am to type “Plumbers Wellington” (if I lived in Wellington that is). Although the Keyword Planner tool will probably tell you this in the results, here is my explanation:
When I am searching for this type of service, I need it urgently and I only need one plumber. While some people may still shop around for the best price while their kitchen is flooding, I am certainly not one of those people and I would imagine many others are just wanting to get a plumber urgently to fix an issue.
Putting it to the test
Like anything in the online marketing world, testing is the only way to ensure you are getting the best results. Continually working on refining your keywords and optimising your website for best conversion is important.
Read enough about keyword research and want to apply some of this to your website? Continue on to our ‘On Page’ SEO guide.
Have some other tips? Feel free to add them in the comments!