Keyword research for SEO: how to be successful
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Keyword research is the cornerstone of search engine optimization (SEO). Without in-depth research, your SEO measures will fail to hit the mark. Therefore, this article deals with the topic in more detail, providing the basics on keyword research as well as some tips and tricks.
How do people search for information on the Internet?
The following situation is probably familiar to you. You’re looking for certain information on the Internet – let’s say a cottage in England. When you type cottage england into the search field, you see a long list of search results that offer cottages to rent for your next holiday.
You soon realize that the resulting pages also offer cottages in areas where you don’t want to spend your holidays. Or you don’t want to rent the cottage for your holiday, but buy it. To obtain the required information more quickly, you can restrict your search, for example by typing in one of the following: cottage england cornwall or cottage england for sale.
Based on the query you enter, Google decides which results will be displayed. You’ll notice that the above-mentioned keywords will lead to different results. Which of the keywords you’ll opt for depends on what you’re looking for – your search intent. The search intent plays a vital role when you’re conducting keyword research for SEO.
What’s the benefit of doing keyword research for SEO?
Keyword research gives you an insight into the terms that are searched for on the Internet. You can see how frequently users type in the search term and how difficult it is to rank first in search engines for this keyword. Researching keywords for SEO is followed by keyword analysis. The analysis helps you to identify the keywords that match the search intent.
You can use the keywords determined to tailor your content to your target group. This means customizing your website content to provide the answers and solutions that people are searching for. You increase the number of visits (traffic) to your website thereby. As this traffic grows, search engines classify your content as more relevant. This can translate into hard cash for you, because you gain visibility with your offering.
Conducting thorough keyword research not only has advantages for your SEO copy. The success of your SEO-optimized website translation will also stand or fall by your use of the right keywords in the target language.
Which keyword research tools can I use for SEO?
There are various tools that you can use to find out what people search for. Meticulous keyword research requires you to use a range of tools that each have a different focus. Here’s a selection of useful keyword research tools:
What all these tools have in common is that they come up with valuable keyword ideas. My tip is to be open to terms that deviate from your own original idea; in my experience I’ve often ended up with keywords that I didn’t have in mind at the beginning. This is usually the case with SEO translations – the common and correct translation of a keyword is not always what Internet users in the target country actually search for. Keyword research is also a must for SEO-optimized translations, therefore.
The autocomplete function of Google Suggest provides some initial clues for your keyword research. When you enter a query into Google’s search field, the search engine automatically displays some suggestions based on what other users entered. By entering cottage england, for instance, you’ll see the following suggestions:
Google suggestions, retrieved on 8 August, 2022
Classic keyword tools for SEO
Classic keyword research tools include Google Keyword Planner, Hypersuggest, KWfinder, Ubersuggest and many more. Most of these aids incur a fee, although some allow you to input a certain number of free queries or give you access to a trial version after registration.
I use Ubersuggest because this keyword research tool provides all the necessary information. In addition to the search volume, it shows how difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword. The tool distinguishes between paid ads (paid difficulty) and organic search (SEO difficulty). If you want to rank with your blog posts and web pages, SEO difficulty is relevant to you. This value is highlighted with a coloured background – from green (low competition) to orange and red (high competition). Thus, you get a quick overview of the competition for the individual keywords.
Coloured competition for keyword research in Ubersuggest
Note: The competition detail in Google Keyword Planner refers to paid ads only. This value can deviate from the competition for organic searches.
Tip: Most keyword research tools for SEO allow you to export the generated keyword lists so that you can use them for detailed keyword analysis and restriction.
Keyword question tools
The number of search queries in the form of questions is increasing because of voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. I recommend, therefore, that you also make use of keyword question tools. Examples include AnswerThePublic, the Wh-questions tool by Hypersuggest, Keyword Tool and the questions module in the Keyword Magic Tool by Semrush. Sometimes it may be useful to tailor a text to a very specific question to provide the answer that users are looking for.
Important information for keyword research
You need to classify the information you obtain from keyword research to draw the right conclusions. Consider the following aspects:
The search volume indicates how often a keyword is searched for on average per month. It is an important criterion for keyword research, but should never be considered in isolation. The combination of search volume and competition is pivotal.
The search volume is an average value that is determined over a period of 12 months. For some keywords the volume is quite constant, while for others it fluctuates heavily. Seasonal products have the biggest fluctuations. So if you wish to rank first with a seasonal product, the time at which you publish your content is an important variable.
If the search volume varies over time, you should use Google Trends to determine the optimal time to publish your content. You can also use it for a direct comparison of the search volume of several keywords.
Common keyword research tools for SEO indicate how much competition there is and thus how difficult it is to rank first for each keyword. While the Keyword Planner only shows the competition for paid ads, Ubersuggest provides a more detailed view, distinguishing between the competition for paid ads, so-called Paid Difficulty (PD), and for organic searches, SEO Difficulty (SD).
Result of keyword research in Ubersuggest, retrieved on 3 August 2022
A general keyword such as shoes for women usually has a higher search volume, but also more competition. Therefore, it makes sense to look for more specific keywords with less competition. If you specialize in shoes for women with small feet, you should go for the keyword women’s shoes small sizes because its competition in organic searches is less than for the generic keyword. In doing so you increase your prospects of a high ranking – even if the search volume is lower.
Search intent is not a piece of information that can be found directly in the keyword tool. To find out the intent, you need to take a closer look at your target audience. Slip into the skin of your target group and switch perspectives. It’s important not to be influenced by your own keywords and desired terms. Therefore, erase the hard drive in your head and start your search with an open mind.
It‘s often helpful to imagine a specific person with a name, profession, marital status, challenges and goals. Ask yourself what drives that person, what difficulties they have to overcome, and what their goals are. These are important aspects that impact the intent behind the search. With such a person in mind, it’s easier to track down the search intent.
A guide to successful keyword research
Keyword research determines the success or failure of your SEO measures. Take the time to research keywords carefully during the individual phases, therefore.
- Collect keyword ideas
Write down all keywords that come to your mind for the topic as if you were brainstorming. Use encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia as a source of inspiration. Also make use of Google Suggest: type the keyword in the search field and determine which of the listed suggestions fit.
- Research keywords
Enter your ideas into your preferred keyword research tool to obtain information on search volume and competition. Based on your entry, the tool generates a keyword list that you can export to Excel for later analysis.
- Analyze keyword list
Get into the mind of your target audience and ask yourself which terms your target person would type in. Delete any terms from the list that don’t match the search intent. You may come up with new keyword ideas as you review the list. Check them with your keyword research tool and add them to your list if necessary.
- Sort keywords
You should now have a list of all appropriate keywords. Rank the keywords based on search intent, topic of your text, search volume and competition. Note that search volume alone is not decisive. Promising candidates of keyword research are mostly long-tail keywords (consist of several terms) with medium search volume and low competition.
- Classify keywords
In the last keyword research step, you define one main keyword and, if necessary, one or more secondary keywords per web page. By having main and secondary keywords, you increase your chances of ranking for multiple keywords and cover the topic area better.
If you perform all these steps carefully, you should have promising keywords to hand for which you can optimize your content. Good luck with your keyword research!