When having a website of any kind, may it be a product site, a service site, or simply a blog about coffee, understanding keywords is critical to your success. Keywords are the terms people put into search engines, that will then allow Google to show them relevant websites and content from millions of websites. By targeting certain relevant keywords, you can tell Google what your content is about and what traffic to send to you.
Having said that, you might now have a peripheral idea of how keywords and search engines work together. Now, that sounds really simple, right? All you have to do is find some keywords with high search volume, put it in your webpage and traffic starts to pour in from search engines.
I would not mistake you if you are thinking along those lines already. However, there is more to keywords and keyword research than what meets the eye. In this article, I will guide you through each step involved in finding out the right keywords that are worth focusing your energy and money towards.
The first and most basic step in keyword research is brainstorming. Sit down with a paper, pen, and a cup of coffee and run through some keyword ideas in your mind based on your site’s niche. Get your mind to focus on terms that most people might probably use while searching for relevant information in search engines.
For example, if you own a website or blog about pregnancy, then think about the terms which most people will use related to it to look for information they need on the topic. List out all the terms that come to your mind. Once you are done with listing out the keywords, you will have a rough idea about the kind of content you need to create for your website.
Most people will stop their research into keyword at this stage. What they do not realize is that this is the first step and not the final one. This is one of the main reasons why most people fail to achieve success.
Long tail Keywords
It is likely that most of the keywords you listed from your brainstorming session are highly competitive and hard to rank for. However, you can extract more long-tail keywords from your primary keywords. For example, take the term “Pregnancy foods” which could have been one of the terms that struck your mind when thinking about pregnancy. If you use the tools like “Semrush” or “Long Tail Pro” to analyze this keyword, you would come to know that this term is highly competitive, and the sites that rank in the top 10 for the term are highly authoritative on the subject.
Choosing this keyword to bring traffic to your site is probably a bad idea. As it can take a lot of time, energy, and money to push your site into top spots.
However, the term “Pregnancy foods during the third trimester” is relatively a lesser competitive term in comparison. Additionally, it could bring in some more targeted traffic to your site with lesser effort, time, and money. This type of long search terms is what we call long-tail keywords in SEO.
Contrary to short keywords that are one or two words long, long-tail keywords come with its own set of benefits.
- Less competitive
- Offers better conversion rate
- Great for PPC advertising
- Brings in more targeted traffic
- Easy to optimize
So, we now know your best bet for success comes from focusing on long-tail keywords. The next step in the process is finding those keywords that are less competitive and brings in a substantial amount of targeted traffic with less time and effort.
The next step in the process branches into two segments. Segment one is where you find out keywords that already bringing in traffic to your website and find new keywords for already existing content. Segment two is where you research for less competitive and long-tail keywords based on which you can generate content for a totally new website.
Segment one: First form of keyword research
The first form is monitoring existing keywords that your site ranks for as well as what your direct competition is ranking for. This form of keyword research is great, as you can see what keywords your site already ranks for and proceed down that rabbit hole and keep trying to rank higher or maintain your rank in those keywords.
That being said, let me give you a little secret that most SEOs use. With the right tools in place, you can extract keywords from your competitor’s site, and spy the pages that bring in most of their traffic. You can then look at the contents on those pages, the age of those pages, it’s ranking in search results, and its backlinks. This will give you a rough idea of what kind of effort it takes to outrank those pages. It is more like spying on your competitors and reverse engineering their tactics to your own advantage.
So, what is the best tool for this job?
Semrush is one of the most recommended SEO tools if you are looking for keywords based on the existing content on your site. It is also the best tool to spy on your competitors and find out the prime keywords that bring in valuable traffic for them.
Login to Semrush dashboard and under the “organic research” option enter the URL of your website or your competitor’s and click search.
Once you click search and head to the “pages” subsection, you will see a list of all pages that rank well for your domain or your competitors, along with the number of keywords it ranks well for and the percentage of traffic the site gets on each of these URLs.
The initial piece of information you get from these results may not be super helpful. However, when you enter a specific keyword in the filter field and hit search. You will find a list of pages that are related to that keyword you have entered.
Once you click through the top pages on the list, you can mine into a lot of valuable long-tail keywords that those pages rank for. If it is from your competitor, you can make use of those keywords on your site and try to rank for the same terms.
Probably you can create better content than your competitor for the term, build some links, and try to outrank your competitor’s page for those terms.
Segment Two: Second form of keyword research
The second form of keyword research is mining keywords. This is ideal for new websites or when you already know what your site currently ranks for, and want to expand your reach into other segments that your existing keywords do not apply towards.
How to Search for New Long Tail Keywords (Long Tail Pro)
This is the time where you bring in the list of keywords you have already listed in your brainstorming session. You do not want to use those keywords directly on your site. This is because there is a high probability that those keywords do not generate targeted traffic from search engines.
To generate long-tail keywords from your existing list, you can make use of another tool called “Longtail pro”.
Once you have signed up with the long tail pro tool, sign in to your account and create a new project.
The tool offers two options: “Keyword Research” and “Rank Tracker”
Under the “Keyword Research” tab choose the “Google Adwords suggestions” option and enter your seed keywords on separate lines.
In the next number field, you can choose the number of results to display per seed keyword and choose other options to your needs.
Once your options are set to your needs, you can click on the “Retrieve Adwords Suggestions” button.
Now the tool will populate you with a list of long-tail keywords based on your seed keywords.
Once the results are in, it’s a matter of choosing the right keywords you can focus on. For this, you need to consider three main things.
- Keyword Competitiveness (Avg. KC): This is represented with a number ranging from 0 to 100. 0 being in the no competition range and 100 being the most competitive one. Most experts recommend choosing a keyword that lies somewhere between 0 to 30.
- Volume: This represents the average number of searches performed for the particular keyword. Most keywords with higher search volumes are usually very competitive. However, you do not want to focus on a keyword that has a really low search volume like less than 50 searches a month.
- Bid value: This value represents how much money advertisers are willing to pay per click for the term. If your site is purely content-driven, then choosing keywords with decent bid value makes you earn better through Adsense and other contextual ads.
You can also do additional keyword research by using good-old Google to search for related terms and see what suggestions they show people are searching for at the bottom of the page.
My preferred strategy
In my personal experience, what I notice works best for our companies is actually diving into Google search and having Google help us find the best keywords. Google, over the many years and hundreds of millions it has invested in their algorithm, is actually great in telling us what people are searching for. Sure, tools like LongTailPro are good side-tools, but my preferred strategy is simply typing in a term I want to create content for, scrolling down to the bottom of the first page, and seeing recommendations of what Google is seeing people are searching (keywords similar to your root keyword).
Now the above works great for finding new keywords. For existing keywords and seeing what brings my companies the most traffic, I use SemRush to give me that data, which helps me isolate what to focus on.