If you’ve just started blogging, you’ve probably read somewhere that your success depends on keywords and their position in Google. In the world of SEO this phrase is as common as dollar in finances or syringe in medicine.
That being said, let’s explain what keyword means.
What is a keyword?
It is a single word or a phrase that allows you to rank in Google.
Each time someone types a phrase in Google search bar there is a chance one of your articles or videos with that exact keyword will appear. The odds increase or decrease based on the strength of your website as well as the strength of a particular article (simply put).
As you can see, the more keywords you have on the first page of Google the more visitors you will get.
What do we get from keyword research?
Keyword research tells us how many people type in that phrase during the month and how hard it is to rank for it. In other words, there is no point in optimizing for a keyword that doesn’t have enough searches or for one that is too hard to rank for.
Basically, this is a procedure that increases your efficiency allowing you to get the most out of your blog.
Things to consider before starting your research
People often neglect the fact that they are performing a research which should allow a blog to become more popular.
Similarly to any type of industry, you have a target audience and product/service which you want to position. Keyword research is not a senseless, mechanical process based on data procured from various SEO tools.
Always start by using common sense!
For example, if you have an Irish restaurant, using keywords such as “premium steak” seems good in theory. In the end, these are the names of your product.
However, the Internet user is more likely to Google things such as “best place to get some grub in Carlow Ireland”. It may seem long and convoluted but this is the thing which an ordinary person will use.
Similarly, keyword volume will be impacted by current events.
Summer Olympics will be the most popular sport topic during this summer regardless of anything else that is happening in other sports. If you wish to get some short term exposure, try ranking for such a keyword.
At the same time, you have to be realistic regarding your actual capabilities. If you are a small business owner, it will be very hard to rank number one for “lamps”.
Simply put, there are a lot of big companies that have already built their reputation within the field and will not relinquish precious first place.
However, you can find a good opportunity if you compete for some rare term like “paper lamps with square shape”.
First and foremost, it is necessary to be realistic. You shouldn’t start keyword research by thinking “I am a hard working guy, I can make it to position 1!”
When it comes to blogging and internet, same rules apply as for real companies. You cannot become the most influential organization for your product through sheer hard work. There are no magic tricks which can help you.
Instead, this article should help you understand your limitations and how far you can go.
Let’s start with some ground rules.
Optimal length of a keyword
Now you got the basics.
Hopefully, you understand the fact that an internet company works within same borders as a real world company.
But, you are probably still banging your head against the wall thinking “How should this keyword actually look like?”
The optimal keyword you should pursue is a so called medium tail keyword.
Why a medium tail? Let’s explain it a bit further.
There are three phrases used to explain length of a keyword: short tail keyword, medium tail keyword and long tail keyword.
Short tail keyword is a phrase that consists of one or two words. These are the hardest keywords to rank for as they very often represent a product or a service (“coffee”, “laptop”, “carpet cleaning”).
Long tail keywords on the other hand are usually very easy to rank but at the same time their search volume is close to none (“buy cheap organic coffee online”, “affordable second hand laptops London”).
Medium tail keywords are the optimal choice. They are an expanded version of short tail keywords and they further explain terms (“SEO outsourcing services” or“Digital Griffon engineer”).
Image taken from conversionrateoptimization.co
Why are medium tail keywords optimal?
These keywords are too long to be very competitive and too short to be irrelevant. Golden middle of sort.
Let’s say you work within a financial service industry.
You have various financial products such as insurance, stocks, bonds, forwards, options, credits, etc. In order to promote these services, you should start creating content which includes all these words.
Here are some suggestions as to how your target keywords should look like:
- Insurance – 20 year term insurance, cheap auto insurance, insurance agents near me
- Stocks – high profit stocks, bull market winners
- Credits – paying off your home, long term payment
As you can see, you are able to promote a product or service by using a seamlessly non-relevant phrase (“long term payment” doesn’t have word “credit” in it).
However, there needs to be some sort of a connection.
For example, people who are searching for ways to “pay off their home” are likely to get a credit.
In that regard, your keyword doesn’t have to be directly connected to your product. Its main purpose is to lead a visitor to your website. After that, internet user will easily recognize the fact that you have credit services.
It is crucial to have a methodical approach while working.
Keyword research can be an extensive process during which you have to keep track of numerous things at the same time. Best way to do this is if you place all the relevant info into a spreadsheet.
Now, you can either choose between Microsoft Excel sheets or Google sheets. Both of these are good however, I personally prefer using Google sheets.
It is much better to have all your info stored on the Internet. This way, you make sure that data will not be lost. Everything is directly uploaded.
Again, if you are professional you most likely won’t lose your docs. Nevertheless, Google sheets are much more modern and practical.
Here, you can place information such as volume, competition and keyword difficulty.
Sheets are especially good as they allow you to filter your results instantly showing you keywords with most or least volume as well as keywords with most competition or difficulty.
Google Keyword Planner
This SEO tool will be your alpha and omega during research.
When it comes to retrieving various data, it will be the most precise instrument at your disposal. Before you can use it, you will have to get a Google Adwords account.
With Google Keyword Planner, you will have the following 4 options:
- Search for new keywords and ad group ideas
- Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups
- Get traffic estimates for a list of keywords
- Multiple keyword lists to get new keyword ideas
As you can see, there are a lot of things which you can do with Google Keyword Planner.
You are able to predict traffic, to search for new keywords, to combine keywords in order to get new suggestions and to predict search volume for a particular keyword.
The biggest advantage of this tool is that it allows you to filter results based on your location, industry, search engine, volume, etc.
Isn’t this great?
You can pinpoint just the right phrase that can work for you.
But, Keyword Planner doesn’t have to be used only during initial phase of the process.
You can also use it as the final stage of the process. You can get keyword suggestions from other sources and at the end of the process, place them into this tool to get traffic and difficulty stats.
Synonyms in keyword research
Another way to approach keyword research is by using synonyms.
Whenever you find a keyword that is potentially interesting, you can also try its synonyms.
Sometimes, a keyword may be too hard to compete for. However, that doesn’t mean that related words or phrases are also hard.
By doing a proper keyword research, you are able to find hidden keywords which can have really high traffic and low competition. This is the real reason why you are performing research in the first place.
As Google becomes more and more sophisticated, these synonyms will play a bigger role.
Currently, Google is really good at recognizing connections between words and phrases. So, even if you decide to pursue a less popular word formation, you will also be able to rank for other forms of that phrase.
Furthermore, these synonyms are a good way for small websites to find their place under the sun.
The person performing the research has to have good command of the language. With that, we come to the next thing on our list.
Use of Google search and industry-specific words
Any keyword research should start with Google.
In the end, the entire process is performed so that we can achieve higher visibility within this search engine. So, we have to take into consideration all the things that real people are actually searching for.
As you probably know, Google often gives you auto-suggestions when you type something within the bar. This feature is called Google instant search.
Let’s say you have a an SEO blog like Niksto.com and you’re working on an article about keyword research.
When you type in “keyword research” into Google search bar, here are the results which you get:
Same principle can be used for any type of query. With it, you can instantly recognize what people are searching for and what kind of a keyword can potentially make it work.
Naturally, as you add more words, new options will appear. Similarly, Google provides suggestions at the bottom of the page. They are called “searched related to”:
Google should be used with caution. It is not Google Keyword Planner nor does it have its strength. But, it is a great way to get used to using search terms.
Same goes for slang.
Each profession has specific terms and phrases. As we previously mentioned “keyword” is the basis of SEO however, how often will you hear this word outside this profession?
Understanding the lingo will be detrimental for your success.
Not only does it give you numerous additional options, but it usually has much higher volume than some other words which laymen may use. Some groups have a specific way of expressing themselves and you will have to adapt to it.
But, there is a trick.
If a word is new or really obscure, there won’t be enough people looking for it. Occasionally, there are professional words that not even professionals use.
For example, botanists may use term “Bellis perennis” for a common daisy. But, although this is a professional, Latin term, in common language botanists will still use word daisy. So, in the end, it comes down to your judgment call.
Some cool tools to help your research
Besides keyword planner, there are a lot of other tools which you may use to improve your research process.
Ahrefs Site Explorer is one of them.
This tool is a Swiss knife among SEO tools and besides keyword research it can also help you to track links as well as to spy on your competition.
SEMrush is another awesome tool which you should try.
Unlike Ahrefs, this application is primarily meant to help us spy on our competitors. Instead of placing a keyword within its search bar, you place a name of certain domain and tool retrieves all the data regarding its keywords and positions.
When mentioning keyword research tools, it is hard not to mention Keyword Shitter.
This amazing tool is able to give you numerous suggestions in a blink of an eye.
Have in mind that, unlike other tools, it doesn’t provide stats such as volume and difficulty. Its genius lies in the fact that it can suggest a massive number of keywords and it has positive and negative filters. These filters include or exclude certain word or phrase when retrieving keywords.
Like most other things in SEO field, you will have to be rational and make sound decisions.
Keyword research is closely connected to our vocabulary and the way we express ourselves. If you begin with this mindset, the entire process will be much easier for you.
When it comes to choosing the best keyword research tools, these four are our picks. However, you can always try new stuff. Who knows, perhaps there is some other cool tool which may work even better for you.
What kind of issues have you encountered during keyword research? Tell us in the comment section below!