Your blog posts are informative, authoritative, and extremely helpful. So why is it that no one is reading them? Usually, it’s because you’re not writing what people are looking for.
But, the good news is, you’ve just found the answer that you’re looking for: this step-by-step keyword research guide. You see, proper keyword research is the key to providing the content your audience wants to read. And this guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to do it.
Then, you won’t waste any more effort in creating content that doesn’t even get seen. Instead, you’ll post exactly what your public is looking for. And you’ll raise your search rank while you’re at it.
Learn all about the importance of keyword research and how to do it in this guide.
What is a Keyword?
Before we define what research is, let’s talk about what keywords are. A keyword is a word or phrase that a search engine user types into the search box to conduct a search.
A keyword can be a single word, like “tyres.” Or, it can be many words, as in, “Which tyres fit my car?”
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding specific keywords that are valuable for helping search engine users find your website content. There are two factors that determine if a keyword is valuable for your content or not.
First, the keyword must be a popular search term in your industry/niche with a bit of search volume behind it.
Second, it must be as specifically relevant to your content as possible. For example, using a popular keyword pertaining to turtles won’t do you much good if your business is selling tyres.
Why is Keyword Research Important For SEO?
This is sort of a tricky question to answer without a brief history lesson in SEO. It used to be that you would rank high in search engines simply by matching the keyword phrase exactly in your content and repeating it as many times you could.
Since then, search engine algorithms have gotten smarter. As such, a search engine can now tell if your article actually provides helpful and informative content on the relevant topic or if you’re just “keyword stuffing.” If you do try to spam a single keyword over and over again, you will actually be penalized for it instead of rewarded.
The point is, yes, keyword research is still important today, but not in the same way it used to be. Today, search engines try to rank how helpful your content is to the search engine user.
Search engine companies understand that users enter their search terms hoping to find more information on a topic or to solve a problem. This is called user intent.
Search engine companies want satisfied customers as any other business would. So they try their best to help solve their users’ problems. That means giving priority (e.g. better ranking) to the websites that answer the users’ query, not those that simply match the keyword phrase.
How This Affects Keyword Research
So, how does this affect modern-day keyword research? Basically, it makes choosing the ideal keyword more difficult than it used to be.
For example, let’s say that “keyword research” is a popular keyword that you’ve found. Now, remember: your goal is to solve for the actual user intent, not just repeat a keyword.
So, before you create a blog post about this keyword you have to think. What is the user actually hoping to find with this keyword?
They might want a guide that tells them how to do their own keyword research. Or, they may be looking for keyword research tools or services.
There are ways to help you figure out user intent. But we’ll explain these in the step-by-step guide further down in this post.
Besides that, keyword research will tell you the hottest topics relevant to your niche that people are searching for. It lets you look at what questions your audience is asking.
Then, you get to help them out by providing a great answer to their problem. That, in turn, should boost your search rank. These days, there are many popular tools to explore trending topics or simply just using Google Trends to find out what’s the next trending topic.
Each popular, relevant keyword gives you a topic to post content for. Remember: these are the topics internet users care about the most. As such, you can even give each of these keywords its own section on your website.
Each one can have its own landing page. Then, you can create multiple posts under these categories, each post exploring a different variation of the original keyword.
Keyword Research and SEO
Let’s go back for a moment to why keyword research is important for SEO. If you simply post content without researching keyword popularity and understand user intent, there’s a very good chance you’re wasting your time. You’re basically taking shots in the dark, hoping you might accidentally rank high in SERPs and connect with your target audience.
This means that most of the time, you’re probably spending all that effort writing blog posts no one is interested in in the first place. It’s far better to research what topics your audience is interested in before you write.
Step-By-Step Keyword Research Process
Now comes the good part. Here is where we provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to conduct keyword research.
1. List Keywords
First of all, if you’re planning to start a blog this means you clearly have some understanding about your own niche. So, right this second, you might as well list any topics you are already thinking of writing about.
List as many topics as you can think of related to your niche. Remember to think of questions your target audience might ask. What answers can you give them?
This gives you something to work with when using a keyword research tool.
2. Using a Keyword Research Tool
Next, take this list to the keyword research tool(s) of your choice. Our personal favourite is Keywords Everywhere, which is now a paid tool but for as low $10/month you find some great gems there. Also, free tools like Keyword Surfer and Bing Webmaster Tools work very well. They’re also easy to use.
Now, submit each of the keywords from the list you made into the keyword research tool. This will generate a list of related keywords, each with a plethora of helpful statistics. For example, Keywords Everywhere will tell you the monthly search volume of a keyword and will tell give you a list of related keywords. See below example.
Using this information, compile a list of the most popular keywords to your blog. Refine the list until you have a solid set of keywords you want to go after.
The Sweet spot is finding a keyword with decent search volume with a low-mid CPC and competition level. Just like the one above!
3. Determine User Intent
Determining user intent is fairly simple: trust the search engines. That is, plug your keywords into a search engine and see what comes up.
The search engines have been guessing at and prioritizing user intent long before you have. Besides, they’re the ones that determine who gets the top results. So, the best way to see what kind of topics rank highest is to search the most popular keywords and see for yourself.
Then, write the titles of the top 3 posts next to each keyword on your list. These are exactly the topics you need to post on your website. Be careful not to include search ads.
Searching up the keywords can also serve as an alternate Step 2 for finding popular, related keywords. If you scroll down to the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find a list of related keywords. These are the most-searched keywords related to your search terms.
This won’t tell you the exact statistics of how popular each of these keywords is. But it does take less time than opening up Google Search Console.
4. Be You
You now have a quite complete list of popular keywords relevant to your niche. But you’re still missing one of the most important steps: being yourself. That is, you must find a way to provide your own unique contribution when covering these topics.
You must now choose the keywords from this list that are the most specific to your company and the services/products it provides. When you write about a topic you are quite familiar with, you should have a lot of valuable content and insight to offer on the topic.
Plus, remember that any topic you post will most likely have been posted online hundreds of times before. Therefore, figure out what will be unique about the way you present it.
In other words, what makes you special? What do you have to offer on the topic that most other companies don’t?
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to make your content unique is targeting it as locally as you can. This is called hyperlocal content: content that is targeted to a specific neighborhood your company serves.
In other words, try to relate as closely as possible to those locals who live right in your neighborhood. Reference places, activities, and other interests that are the most popular.
These references are known as hyperlocal keywords and they make your content extremely unique. Also, with hyperlocal content, you’ll be more relevant to your audience than anyone else on the internet. Plus, it makes your audience see you as one of them.
No Company Is Too Big For Hyperlocal Content
Best of all, hyperlocal content isn’t only for small, local businesses. Companies that operate globally can (and, for the above reasons, should) provide hyperlocal content for every location they serve.
Keep This List
With this list, successful keyword usage is really quite simple. Follow the tips in this step-by-step keyword research guide and watch your search rank rise.
Now that you know what to write, learn more about how to write. Next, read our top 7 tips for writing web copy that ranks high.