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Comprehensive Step by Step Guide to Keyword Research

keyword research guide

Keywords are the bedrock of search engine optimization. Keyword research is thus a quintessential exercise. There are different ways to find the keywords relevant for your industry, business, products or services. You must also consider the target audience and the platforms you are using to reach out to them during the research. There is a traditional or old school method of keyword research. This process can be broken down into four phases. The following approach can help you find high search volume with low competition keywords and long-tail keywords.

Four Steps of Keyword Research

The four steps of traditional keyword research are finding seed keywords, plugging seed keywords, filtering keyword opportunities and evaluating competitiveness. These steps should get you the keyword you can target with all your contents for effective search engine optimization. The keywords you zero in on should be used for your official website content, marketing articles and other materials you will use to promote your business online.

You can use a free tool such as Google Keyword Planner for this research. You can also explore premium or paid keyword research tools. The first step of finding seed keywords is primarily about using different methods to come up with a list of potential keywords. This step includes researching competitors. The second step is to plug the shortlisted seed keywords to generate a much larger list of phrases and words. These are your keyword opportunities. The third step is to filter these keyword opportunities on the basis of search volume per month and other search engine optimization data. The fourth and the final step is to evaluate the competitiveness or strength of all the keywords you intend to use. The keywords should be evaluated on the basis of difficulty metric and SERP analysis.

Find Seed Keywords

Seed keywords can be conceived without using any tool as you can come up with relevant terms for your products, services or business. These keywords need not be perfect. They simply create the foundation for subsequent and more specific research. Make a list of seed keywords and then use relevant tools to find out more information about them.

You can use UberSuggest to get search suggestions by harnessing the auto-complete API of Google. This is a painstakingly long process and also tedious. You can of course automate the whole process with UberSuggest. Get the resulting list of seed keywords exported in CSV format. You can use AnswerThePublic for the same purpose. This is a free tool that uses a primary keyword and includes questions to find seed keywords. The tool uses common questions such as what, how, where, which and when to come up with many ideas for your seed keywords.

Amazon is a great source for commercial keywords. You can have some great ideas for your seed keywords. Reddit is another useful platform. If you happen to target the same audience that is most active in various communities on Reddit, then they are a wonderful source for ideas and actual seed keywords. Go for the forums and message boards that are most relevant for your business.

Plug Seed Keywords

This is a simple step. Get a keyword research tool and plug the seed keywords. If you have only a few keywords, you can enter them manually. If you have a long list of seed keywords, you can import the list to Keyword Planner of Google. You will get a substantial list of keywords for the seed keywords. The entire list of keywords may not be completely relevant. There will be keywords that shall be somewhat relevant.

Filter Keyword Opportunities

This is a crucial step as you eliminate the irrelevant or semi relevant keywords to focus on the most important ones. You can still use a free tool or some premium software. There are specific objectives of this step. You must prioritize high search volume in the niche relevance while ensuring the keywords have low competition.

Niche relevance is about excluding keywords that are about something in general whereas your focus is something more specific. When you have seed keywords and get them plugged, you will have related keywords. Taking the keyword that best describes your niche away will lead to semi relevant and in some cases irrelevant keywords. You must prioritize the keyword that best suits your niche and filter keywords on that basis. Exclude keywords that use other semi relevant words or phrases that are farther from your niche or totally unrelated.

You must assess the search volume of filtered keywords. Do not worry about search volume of keywords that you do not intend to use and those that are not so relevant. Keyword research tools will allow you filter the results as per the monthly search volumes. Only a few tools are accurate so you must choose a reliable one. You should also be able to easily export the data onto a spreadsheet. Ascertain that your filtered keywords have low competition. You can do this by evaluating keyword difficulty. This is actually the fourth step since there are some challenges in this complex process.

Evaluate Keyword Difficulty and Competitiveness

SERP analysis plays a crucial role at this stage. You need to know which keywords are being searched and are generating sufficient traction in the context of traffic but are not being targeted by any and sundry. You need low competitiveness so you can shine with your content optimized for the chosen keywords. You may use free tools or paid software for this exercise.

Free tools are not ideal for SERP analysis. The problem with Google Keyword Planner is that it focuses on keywords used by advertisers. Their target market comprises of advertisers but you need to find out the competitiveness for organic search engine results. Your aim is search engine optimization and not pay per click advertising or sponsored posts for chosen keywords. There are other free tools available but they are not entirely reliable. You need lots of data and the information should be accurate.

There are many paid SERP analysis tools. Try to compare them and use the most reliable tool. Prioritize volume of data, accuracy and relevance for your niche. You need the tool to provide you access to extensive search engine optimization data. The data should be aggregated and the tool should have relevant suggestions for you. You can use Ahrefs for keyword SERP analysis and SERP competition.

The Last Word on Keyword Research

There is no one way to conduct your keyword research. This guide talks about the traditional approach. There is a choice between free and paid tools. You may have your own take on relevant keywords. It is not always that a tool will come up with the most relevant keywords. Users influence the data aggregated by tools. If you can spot the trends or even set them, then you can be a winner with your unique content marketing strategy. This is a lot less certain than an approach that relies on available data.

Keyword research is not a onetime exercise. Search engine optimization is a perennial process, so is keyword research. The search volume, the competitiveness and even relevance of keywords will change from time to time. The keyword that perfectly suits the niche will always remain relevant but how people search for the related information will change and this should be taken into account as soon as possible. Contents should always be optimized for the present and the future. You should also consider leveraging the organic ranking of competitors so you can pick prequalified keywords.

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