In search engine optimization, everything starts with keyword research and even if you are completely new to SEO, you have heard this term.
Everyone is talking about this for ages, and there are 1.78 billion websites present in the globe while writing this article.
It looks impossible to compete in this environment.
Not really. Else, we wouldn’t see any new website every second.
What exactly do you need to do to get your website on the first page?
It’s 2020, and if you are new to SEO, the first thing that will come to your mind is how do I choose keywords for my website?
In this guide, you will know the exact keyword research steps to choose the right keywords for your website as below
What exactly keywords are
Technically keywords are the search terms that will describe the content.
In simple, they are words, phrases, or questions that users type on the search box of the search engine.
These are also called search queries. It means if you type anything in a search engine, you will see a list of websites talking about the same or related topics.
We use them in search and website owners put them on their website in the hope of getting rank in the search engine for specific keywords.
Keywords can be anything
Or like this
Or like this
The objective is to show the information based on a search query and that could be text, image, or video format.
Why should we do Keyword Research?
Suppose you are planning to buy a smartphone, the first thing you will do is search the internet.
The objective is to identify the best features, warranty, price as per your requirement.
If you don’t get any right information, you could lose your hard-earned money.
The same thing happens when you are creating content for your blog/website.
If you are writing without knowing your audience, your all hard work will become worthless.
That’s how important is keyword research; because you need to understand your users’ requirements.
Let’s make it simple.
People are using search engines for finding information, and they are trying their best to show the result as per users’ wishes.
The history of search engines is almost three decades old and big players are here from the beginning of the internet.
Suppose you are typing Jaguar, instead of seeing the animal, we can see the car.
This happens because Google understands people are looking for the car, not the animal.
It doesn’t predict randomly.
It took Google some years to understand that users’ are clicking on the car instead of the information related to the animal.
If you want to know about the animal, you need to use a specific word
Now you can see the difference between both keywords.
If you notice in both images, you can see the Wikipedia result comes first always in both Jaguar, and Jaguar animals.
It’s because the website created content on both topics that give everything a user is looking for.
Of course, users are clicking the Wikipedia results more, and that’s why it’s sitting on the top position.
But if you create content based on Jaguar cars or animals, it’s impossible to rank on the first page when big websites like Wikipedia, National Geography, and Jaguar official websites are present.
Does that mean you should not create content on these topics?
The answer is you can create content and achieve the top position if done correctly and here, the importance of keyword research comes to the picture.
To be honest, it’s impossible to get rank if you simply use any of the above keywords and create an article.
But the good news is these two are not the only keywords to describe these two subjects.
You can get top rank and can attract thousands of visitors if you know how to do keyword research.
So when you will create content, you have to go in-depth to and define your target audience.
Here is an example below
If you type “can jaguar hunt crocodile” keyword, you won’t see Wikipedia in the first result.
In fact, on the first page, Wikipedia is not present.
You can type long keywords and will see the results of different websites.
But the twisting part is, sometimes, you can see the same results even if you type a different keyword.
This can be anything, a small word, or a phrase.
It’s because they somehow use that in their content and that’s serving the purpose of the keyword.
Means users are clicking and spending more time on that web page when they type that keyword.
A webpage/website can rank for one or several keywords
Now let’s see the type of websites that’s getting rank in the top pages for keywords.
When we type “best fitness tracker watch”, you can see the result as below
The above snippet is talking about the three fitness trackers because Google found that people are buying these watches and the website is also talking about this and the click rate is higher than other websites.
Apart from that, you can see other results too which people are clicking after typing the query “best fitness tracker watch”.
Now, if you notice carefully, all these websites are talking about tech-related topics and have a reputation for being authentic websites.
You can see Forbes in the search result even though it’s not a tech-related website like PC Magazine or Wired.
Why is it happening?
It’s because users show an equal amount of trust to Forbes as other tech websites.
Forbes is a big brand itself, and when it’s talking about something, users give more priority and that’s why Google displays its results on the first page.
Tech websites like Wired, PC Magazine have targeted audiences and the same applies to Forbes also.
They don’t need to worry about keywords and all those off-page SEO.
But most of the websites are not big like them and it’s not easy to win the users’ trust easily especially when your website is new or a few months old.
Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all and no magic formula in SEO that will help you to achieve the first-page rank in a few days.
If you think by using Black HAT techniques you will achieve first-page ranking, keep in mind that Google can penalize your website at any time and it’s not easy to recover.
Sometimes, they do it manually; so refrain yourself from doing SEO in that way.
To be honest, it takes a minimum of six months to one year for search engines to trust a new website even though they crawl it regularly and this also depends on various factors.
When you are working for a new or low traffic website, you should focus on your target audience.
Gone are those days, when you can write on various topics on a single website, and you will get first-page ranking after using some keywords and backlinks.
Today, Google prefers niche websites that means you should not talk about finance and health on the same website unless you are Forbes or Time Magazine, or a big player like them.
For example, you have a website that talks about finance.
You need to start researching finance-related topics, and even you may choose to create content about a specific topic from finance.
For example, personal finance, or mutual funds.
Finance is a broad niche, and personal finance and mutual funds are sub-niche.
Suppose you choose mutual funds as your main topic of the website. That means you will start researching that topic.
You will type keywords related to mutual funds and check if those results give satisfying answers or not.
This is how you will dig deeper, and you will discover there are many unanswered queries that people are looking for.
Is Keyword Research Still Relevant? How Search Engine Has Changed
This will be the main question for everyone who wants to start their journey in SEO.
The short answer is keywords are not relevant in SEO if you want to create content for the sake of search engines.
The biggest problem here is focusing too much on keywords instead of creating the content that will help the users.
We are not living in the era of the 2000s where you can easily make fools of Google by manipulating keywords and links.
The objective of search engines is to give accurate information to users and that’s why they are changing their algorithm constantly.
Day by day Google is becoming smart and now, it has reached a point where it can easily identify spam websites whose purpose is to stuff keywords in their pages.
Although it’s important not to focus on keywords much at the same time, we need to understand that, whatever we are typing in the search engine is a keyword itself.
Till 2011, the situation was easy where anyone can start a website and attracts thousands of visitors if not lakhs.
The process was something like below
- People used to find a niche that was not popular, but high search volume.
- Make some websites and fill them with keywords and drive traffic to their products/service website
Fortunately or unfortunately (for spammers) Google Panda changed everything and then again Google Hummingbird made it worse for them.
The good news is Google does SEO for you even if you don’t.
The bad news is you don’t know how to win the game when everyone is a competitor.
To be honest, Google is saying to focus on quality content instead of keywords, and backlinks.
The problem is we don’t know where to start because whatever we are searching for is available.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop creating content.
Keyword research is still relevant, but you need to focus on the conversation rate instead of trying to get ranking on the first page.
Doing keyword research means trying to understand user requirements.
For example, footwear, footwear under 2000, best footwear for men over 40
The above three keywords will give different results but the beauty of keyword research is you need to dig deeper and if done correctly, you will find the target customer.
What Do Searchers Really Want? Understanding Keyword Intent
You may hear about 9 types of keywords, 15 types of keywords, and many more that ultimately makes you confused.
Of course, there are many variations of keywords, and SEO marketers are talking about this because they have found these variations.
It happens because searchers are looking for something while typing a keyword and that’s the whole concept of SEO and keyword research.
They are typing a keyword for a specific intention, and that’s how search engines determine keyword intent.
The fact is if you go deeper, you will find more keyword types and in this cut-throat competition, you may feel disappointed.
But you should not if you understand the basics of keywords.
To be honest, there are only 4 categories of keywords and everything falls under any of these categories.
Understanding keyword types means knowing the users’ intention. These three are as follows
When users try to find any information on a specific topic. This could be like anything; question or phrase.
When people are using the above types of keywords, they are looking for some specific information.
It could be anything like how to tutorial, guide or anything that helps to educate them.
Here, the user’s intention is to learn something.
Usually, such keywords contain why, how, what before the word or tips, and tricks they may use before or after the word, guide, and tutorial.
For example, Fitness tips for retired people, tricks to crack the interview
Commercial keywords mean users are looking to purchase something.
Such types of queries show that users are looking to purchase something but before that they are verifying product or service details.
Commercial keywords include price, description, expiration date, specification, product origin, shipping fee.
Everything that describes the details about a particular product or service is called commercial keywords.
The purpose of the commercial keyword is to promote the product or service.
Transactional keywords are the next version of commercial keywords.
When the user knows about the product but is looking for a deal or discount, and the keyword h/she is using here is called transactional.
Usually they include keywords like “buy”, “for sale”, “discount”, “subscription”, or describe the exact product name.
For example, Samsung Galaxy M31
Here, the user already knows what h/she is looking for and the purpose is more specific in nature.
Navigational keywords means searching for a particular brand, product, service, or information about which the user wants to know more.
This works well for popular brands or products as people already know about them.
Sometimes, some websites try to trick users by using the name of popular brands to get the rank in the first page, but it could backfire if they do only for ranking instead of creating real content that will be related to the brand or product, or service.
For example, Samsung smartphones in 2020, Samsung, Apple watch series 5
Different types of keywords
We have discussed above how to understand keywords.
Now, we will talk about different types of which fall under the 4 categories.
It’s also called head keywords.
Short-tail keywords consist of one or two words which we call head keywords too.
Initially, during the beginning era of Google, short-tail keywords were everything as there was less information available on the internet.
These are generic, popular, and have high search volume as users use it widely and competitive.
Example: fitness band, t-shirts
This falls between the head and long-tail keyword and consists of three to five words.
Mid-tail keywords are descriptive in nature.
Though the search volume is less than short-tail and more than long-tail keywords, however, mid-tail keywords are still considered as highly competitive.
Example: Best fitness band, Best fitness band for men
These are the longest search queries and have targeted audiences and consist of several words.
The search volumes are low and conversion rates are high in long-tail keywords and that’s why it’s easy to rank.
These are more specific in nature and are meant to provide the exact answer of a query.
Example: Best budget fitness band for men in India
Geo Targeting Keywords
Same as its name, Geo targeting keywords objective is to focus on a specific location.
Usually, for local seo, these keywords are important and due to the rising popularity of local search, it became an essential part of search engine optimization.
Its popularity increased because it became the easiest way to get ranking for small businesses in their respective local areas.
Here, the area is more important than the search volume and keyword difficulty.
Example: Fitness center near me, Fitness center at Bangalore, Fitness center near bay area
Latent Semantic Keywords (LSI) is also called related keywords that are closely related to the main or primary keywords.
This means these are semantically related, or synonyms, or variation of primary keywords.
If we type Samsung smartphone, we can see many related searches in the search bar.
Here, the primary keyword is Samsung smartphone, and the rest of the suggestions are related keywords.
Apart from that if you type samsung smartphone, you will see results like this
These titles are also using keywords related to Samsung smartphones.
LSI Keywords are specific, low search volume, low competition, and are related to the primary keywords.
The reason why marketers are focusing more on LSI keywords is that it will increase the conversion rate.
These two LSI keyword research tools are completely free.
When you type a keyword but the result shows something different, it is called negative keywords.
In Google ad campaigns, negative keywords play an important role in paid marketing.
Here, advertisers exclude keywords from the search campaigns that tell Google what exactly
they should not include.
So when a user types a keyword, Google ad doesn’t show the related advertisement if that is excluded.
Example: If a clothing company is running a campaign “t-shirt for girls”, they will exclude “men” and “t-shirt for men”.
If someone will type t-shirt and the ad about “t-shirt for girls” displays, negative keywords will be men t-shirt and t-shirt for men.
How do I choose the best keywords for my website
You have a fair idea about keywords but you need to understand what exactly you want to do.
If you decide your target market, you solve half of the problem because understanding your target audience is important and that’s where keyword research plays an important role.
First, you need to identify your competitors’s website and have to do a thorough research about them.
All you need to know their traffic, keywords they are ranking for, popular pages/content, and Domain Authority.
Suppose you have a fitness website, you need to judge your competitors. But in this competitive market, it is difficult to get ranking soon, if you choose a broad niche.
It’s better to focus on sub niche or super sub niche topics for websites to get ranking in search engines.
The best way to check about the topics that competitors are writing and choose a single one of them that you like or have knowledge.
P.S: Google Medic became more aggressive in niche topics and their algorithms heavily affected fitness and health related websites. It’s because their search algorithm prefers authoritative sites in health niche topics.
However, the new update is equally applicable to other niches also as they wanted to show correct information from specialized people instead of random websites that talk about everything.
Once you decide your niche, go deeper and identify other websites that talk about the same topics.
Use SEO tools and check their popular keywords and contents.
Here are some tools you can use
Even if you don’t have money to spend for an expensive SEO tool, no need to worry. There are lots of free seo tools where you can get the data for free.
For your competitor websites, you need to know about
- Popular keywords
- Popular content
- Domain Authority
- Monthly visitors
You can find these data for free from Ubersuggest and Semrush for a limited period.
Now you need to analyze their popular keywords.
How to Pick Your First SEO Keywords
For each keywords, you need to know about following data
- Search Volume
- Keyword Difficulty/Search Engine Difficulty
- Click Rates
- Cost Per Click
Now go to Moz Keyword Explorer, and type a keyword of your competitor. You will see monthly search volume, difficulty level, Organic CTR (Click Through Rate),
Here, we type a keyword “Weight loss”, and get these data about monthly search volume which is about 70.8K-118K, Difficulty score is 71, Organic CTR is 34%, and Priority score is 72.
Understanding Moz Keyword Explorer
Monthly Search Volume
This shows the number of searches for that keyword in a month.
The difficulty score shows how hard it will be to get the first page ranking.
This will show the click rate for that keyword. Higher CTR means more users are clicking the result that indicates if you get the first page ranking, chances of gaining visitors are more.
Lower CTR will help you to identify more opportunities. If you see images, you can optimize them with those keywords to increase your ranking.
Often this confuses people, but it’s simple and important to understand. The priority score is calculated from 0 to 100, and higher priority means good for higher volume and lower difficulty.
For example, a high volume keyword with a lower difficulty score, higher organic CTR will have a large priority score.
Keep in mind that there is no particular score for priority that you should look at, but usually, higher numbers are better.
To get a detailed analysis, you can click “see all suggestions” of Keyword Suggestions, “full analysis” of SERP Analysis, and “Go to Fresh Web Explorer to see all mentions” of Mention sections.
By going like this you can find better keywords for your website that will have high search volume, less difficulty, and a high CTR.
P.S: It’s better not to use a keyword more than twice, and focus on long-tail and LSI keywords for a better ranking.
Pro tips for choosing the right keyword
The bitter truth is wrong keywords can destroy all your hard work and you are going to lose your targeted customers.
Keyword research is a broad topic and you will find something new every time, you start doing it.
The problem is everyone targeting the same keyword, so how to beat the competitors?
Here are some pro tips keyword research.
Answer the question
The primary objective of keyword research is to answer a question. Everyone including me and you always open the search engine to get an answer.
Check your competitors and analyse their missing points.
Even though they write in-depth guides, you will find something they don’t cover yet crucial for users.
Understand the funnels keywords
There are three types of funnel keywords in SEO
- Top-of-funnel keywords
- Bottom-of-funnel keywords
These are informational keywords that talk about how to guide, best way to, step by step; anything that teaches about something.
These are the keywords that talk about solutions of a problem.
How to avoid, how to fix, ways to fix, hacks, that actually works etc.
These keywords focus on buying intention.
Price comparison, where to buy, how to buy, cheapest, affordable, best price, order etc.
Analyse your competitors keywords and check if you can use that by adding the funnel strategies.
But you need to identify the keywords that’s related to their industry but they are not getting enough ranking.
For example: A shoe website may get first page ranking for “best shoes under 5000”, but there is no guarantee that it would get ranking for “best shoes for men over 50”.
Of course, they may include this, but you need to identify keywords like this, which doesn’t give them enough visitors and click rate but has the potential.
Once you go deeper, you will find amazing hacks of keyword research.
Hope you will have a fair idea about the process of keyword research and how to use the tools to find the best keywords for your website.