How to Do Keyword Research – Keyword Research is one of the most important aspects of SEO. The SEO process of Analyzing Search Engine Keywords, especially those that prospects use to find new websites.
But do you know what makes it so significant?
Your prospective customers use various words and phrases to find products or services you offer. But how customers search for your service could be different from what you’d use to describe it, in text content on your website.
Where you think you sell “Kitchen Appliances”, your customers might be searching Google for “Kitchen Utensils”. And customers will not find you unless you optimize for the phrases they use.
Keyword research helps you discover the very keywords your audience is going to use to find you. It can help you find out about what topics to write about, or what keywords to add to a primary topic page you already have on your website.
By analyzing the keywords that your prospective customers use to find sites like yours, you’re better able to provide those customers with the content and landing pages they’re looking for.
Here, in this guide, I will quickly show you How to Do Keyword Research Effectively for SEO, using SemRush. This popular software suite helps professional SEOs and marketers discover important data points for competitive analysis and KPI measurement, especially when it counts the most.
Getting Started with SemRush.
SEMrush is a very powerful SEO tool that specializes in keyword research, competitor analysis, and Google Ad campaign optimization. Whether you are in-house or an agency/consultant, SEMrush is a great tool for you as it gives you access to that data you have never had before and allows you to discover what you can do to improve your site’s SEO.
The SemRush platform is a paid tool, providing a number of subscriptions and options for your business. Portions of the tool are free to use, but the majority of options require a subscription. To get the most out of this guide, make sure you have a SEMrush subscription. If you don’t have one, click here to get a free 7-day trial!
How to Do Keyword Research Effectively for SEO
Before we begin researching keywords, we need to discuss some of the most common terms you’ll come across in this guide. Knowing them will make it easier for you to understand different aspects of the keyword research process.
1. Keyword: A word or string of words user enters into a search engine in order to find relevant information.
2. Traffic Volume: The average number of searches a keyword receives in the last 12 months. This metric helps to establish how popular a keyword is.
3. Organic search: All search result page listings apart from paid ads.
4. Paid search: Paid search engine listings.
5. Phrase match: A variation of a keyword that appears when someone searches for an exact keyword or variation of it.
6. Related keywords: Different keywords that relate to the original topic you specify in keyword research.
7. Average CPC: The average cost of bidding on a paid Ad words ad for a given keyword. It helps to establish how popular but also competitive a keyword is.
8. Competition Density: How many advertisers bid for a given keyword. It helps to establish the conversion opportunity per keyword.
9. Results: The number of URLs displayed in organic search for a given keyword.
Understanding the Different types of Keywords.
If you look closely at how you search on search engines, you will notice that you use different keywords depending on what you are looking for. Sometimes, you simply type in a single word into the search box. Other times you ask a question or describe the product in detail.
These keywords make it easy for prospects to find site like yours. In general, we divide keywords in two ways.
Keyword by Length
There are basically three types of keywords in this category. These include, head, body and long tail. Head Keywords typically contain a single word describing a topic, a searcher is looking for. For example, “bags”. There are often in general form, and do not really entail what the person is looking for. Although, they receive huge amounts of traffic, they offer very little opportunity for conversion.
Body Keywords surpasses the head term by adding additional information. For example “school bags”, which explains the type of bag needed. Though, it can still be quite generic.
Long Keyword plays a vital role in describing what the searcher is looking for in full detail. For example “best school bags for kids” and these are often used by searchers who intend to buy.
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Keyword by Buying Intent
Another way to categorize keywords is by their role in the buying cycle. There are basically four types of keywords in this group.
1. Informational: Searchers use this keyword to find information and answers to their questions. You can easily recognize informational keywords by such words and phrases as “how to”, “where”, “when”.
2. Navigational: Customers often use these keywords to find a business location or contact details. Most times, these keywords include just a brand or company’s name.
3. Commercial: These keywords help customers research and compare solutions before buying them. Basically, in comparison, they might include words like “best”, “between”, “compare”, etc. (best Techno phones).
4. Transactional: The last category is keywords customers use to find products they want to purchase. These keywords often include terms like “buy” or “cheap” etc.
Being able to recognize different keywords will help you to pick the best keywords. Single keyword research can generate hundreds, if not thousands of potential keywords. Not all of them, however, can help you achieve your goals.
Being able to distinguish different keyword types will help you pick the phrases that best match what you’re trying to achieve. Create better content. Knowing why customers use certain keywords will help you write better content to deliver to their needs and increase your website’s relevancy.
Doing Keyword Research with SemRush
Now, that you have learnt and presumably understood the theoretical aspect of keyword research, it’s time you know how keyword research works.
To guide you through the necessary steps to doing keyword research effectively, we’re going to use SemRush, an all-in-one suite of digital marketing tools popular among professional SEO. It includes almost every tool you’d need to manage a successful organic online marketing campaign.
Once you’re logged in, use links in the left side column, scroll down to Keyword Research section and click Overview:
Do not panic if there nothing displaying on the screen right now. We haven’t started the process yet and so the tool has no information to show us. Let’s change that then.
Step 1. Make a list of topics or themes that best describe what you do
To begin, think of any terms or topics describing what your business offers. When thinking about those topics, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How would they call what you do? Think of your sales interactions, how did your prospects refer to your business or products?
If you run a textile company, these topics could include “t-shirts” or “suits” for instance.
Step 2. Input each of these topics into SemRush
Your generic topics or themes will serve us as a great starting point to research new keywords. You’ll also have a chance to use SemRush now.
Go back to the tool, in the left side column navigate to Keyword Research section and click Overview. Then type one of your topics into the search box on the top of the screen and hit SEARCH.
Note: You will notice two more options inside the search box, one says (keyword) and the other lists a region (US in this case but it does have a good UK database):
The first of those options denotes the tool currently being used – keyword research. Don’t click it off, as doing so will reset the tool.
The other allows you to specify what regional search engine you want to see the results from. Even though you reside in one country it doesn’t mean that you can’t retrieve search data from another. This option allows you to specify that.
Once your hit SEARCH the tool will display an overview of various data on a theme you’ve selected. Following the example of a textile company, I am going to use “t-shirts” as my theme.
Let’s look at the information that important to keyword research in the report:
Organic Search. This section displays data relating to organic traffic this keyword receives. Volume indicates the average monthly number of searches for this keyword. The number of results shows how many URLs compete for this keyword.
Paid Search. This section presents the paid traffic data – cost per click and competitor density.
The trend indicates the monthly distribution of search volume for the keyword. This metric is ideal if you want to establish keyword seasonality.
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Phrase match keywords and Related Keywords
These two reports are the heart and soul of keyword research.
Phrase match keyword shows variations of the main keyword you specified that customers might use to search for a product or service.
Related keywords report shows different keywords that relate to the main keyword in one way or another.
We’re going to be working on those two reports.
Click on “View full report” under the Phrase match keyword report. This will give you access to a full list of phrase match keywords SEMrush had found for the topic. In my case, the tool generated 4836 results. Not so bad!
As you can see, apart from the list of keywords the tool also displays information that can help me better assess those keywords:
It also lets me see the cached SERP (search engine results) page for each keyword. By analyzing this data you can assess which keywords might be worth targeting your SEO efforts.
Now do the same for Related Keywords. Click on Related in the left sidebar, under the Keyword Research section.
The tool will now display a list of keywords related to your main topic.
(Related keywords report in SemRush)
Notice that this time these keywords are not as closely tied to the main keyword. For instance, my search for “t-shirts” also revealed such phrases as “custom ink” or “make your own shirt”.
That’s because related keywords report widens the search and displays not only closely relevant but also related terms. This report is useful when you’re trying to spread out your content and attract new audiences to the site. With the Related Keywords report you can identify keywords you could use to build related content on.
Repeat the whole process for every other topic you listed to find other sets of relevant keywords. But having those long lists of keywords is one thing. Figuring out which ones to try and rank for is another.
Figuring out which ones to try and rank for is another. Here are few other reports that can help you with that.
Step 3. How to Work Out Keyword Difficulty
SemRush’s Keyword Difficulty tool allows you to find out how difficult it would be to seize a competitor’s positions in search rankings for a given keyword. This is all relative, and a propriety calculation by SEMRUSH – it’s never going to be exact – so use the data it provides accordingly.
The tool analyses other domains ranking for a keyword and gives a % estimate of how difficult a keyword is to rank for. Here’s the result of analyzing a few t-shirts related keywords.
As you can see, these keywords are quite competitive. Don’t get discouraged by such results. Instead, use it to estimate and plan your SEO strategy ahead. To use the tool, go to the Tools section in the left side column and click on Keyword Difficulty.
Type one or more keywords into the Keyword Difficulty one keyword per line and click “Show difficulty”
The tool will output a report similar to the one shown above to help you quickly establish your keywords’ competitiveness.
Step 4. How to Research Competitors’ Keywords
SemRush also allows you to take a peek at keywords your competitors use and even compare phrases you optimise for with them.
SemRush includes a tool called Domain vs. Domain which basically allows us to compare up to 5 domains to see common and unique keywords for each domain. To use it, navigate to Tools section of the sidebar column and then click Domain vs. Domain.
In the tool, specify up to 5 domains, select Organic, Paid or PLA (Product Listing Ads) to choose what data to compare and click GO.
Since we’re researching organic keywords, I recommend that while studying this tutorial you select Organic traffic. In my example, I’m comparing two t-shirts companies – bustedtees.com and tshirthell.com.
The tool displays results in two ways: It shows a table view of keywords domains you specified rank for, along with additional information.
From this report, you can tell current ranking position each domain sports per keyword along with typical data on each keyword (volume, average CPC, etc.)
And that’s it!
That’s essentially the entire keyword research process with SemRush in a nutshell.
SemRush is a very powerful tool that helps you improve your blog’s SEO performance. Applying the above process religiously on all your posts will help you reach your target audience by ranking high in Google organic search and increase your traffic.
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