Keyword research is the technical basis for the development of a content strategy for any digital medium.
Although the process is relatively simple, the methodology to follow can be quite complex due to different factors. Think about the difficulty of the market you’re targeting or the search intentions of your potential customers, for example.
In this guide, we’ll explain you step-by-step how to search for the most suitable keywords to meet your objectives.
But first things first. Let’s take a look at some key points and best practices to do keyword research like a pro.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the technique we use to search and select keywords to structure the content of a website and to respond to user searches.
Simple, isn’t it?
Now we’re going to explain the variables that influence the keyword research.
This never-ending concept has had a greater impact since Google deployed the latest updates to its algorithm based on artificial intelligence and machine learning (Hummingbird, Rank Brain, Medical Update, Florida 2) and updated its Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
The search engine tries to constantly improve its ability to learn and understand human semantics. And that’s exactly why it gives more importance to specific URLs that give a better response to the search intent of a user.
Let’s take a look at a simple example, to clear things up:
So, what is the user looking for in Spain? A pet, or a tool to fix his car?
The search intend actually is much more complex, but in general, the goal is often:
- To know something
- To do something
- To look for a website
- To find a location
So far, we have tried various SEO techniques to force positioning by filling pages with a whole range of variations of the keyword.
And it worked… until today.
Because Google has noticed that these mega articles, regardless of their completeness, couldn’t respond quickly and with accurate information to what the user needed.
Which brings us to the next point.
By the way, don’t buy but always adopt a pet 😉
Generally speaking, entities are concepts that help contextualise and structure information, as well as avoid ambiguities.
Google uses them to process natural language through N-gram analysis to offer better answers to users, depending on the probability that a word is surrounded by others.
Here you can think of the suggestions you get when typing into the search engine, or the famous “Search instead for…”.
Following our previous example, SEO entities could be:
- Domestic animal
- Companion animal
- Tool kits
It’s clear, isn’t it?
But the next question is: how to find entities related to the main theme?
At the moment there are not many tools that work correctly and efficiently. So an alternative is the TF-IDF analysis (term frequency – inverse document frequency).
It basically consists of analysing the top 10 results in Google for a given keyword and discovering the frequency of the most repeated related keywords.
This will give you insight into which concepts you should include and in which quantity to keep up with your competitors.
A free software offering this functionality is SEO Power Suite from Link Assistant.
Lastly, you can also search for LSI words (Latent Semantic Indexing) which are basically synonyms, variations and words related to the main keyword.
To find such words you can use tools like LSIGraph. But we won’t go into details since we’ll talk about this later in the article.
Types of keywords
Understanding all this, the next step to do your keyword research is to know the most common keyword types.
Navigation or brand keywords
These are the keywords we use when we know the name of what we’re looking for but don’t remember its exact address.
Words of this type can be brand names (Apple, for example) or very generic keywords, such as “cat”.
These are keywords that respond to the need to search for information with no purchase intention.
The user uses them to acquire general knowledge on a subject or to find the solution to a specific problem.
- What is keyword research?
- What time is it in New York?
These types of keywords are great to include in the content strategy for your blog. You can use them to inform your target audience, benchmark your business against your competitors or attract more web visitors to achieve sales objectives.
Commercial research keywords
Here the user already has an initial purchase intention, but uses keywords to better inform himself before making a decision:
- Differences between iPhone and Xiaomi
- Best cheap laptops
Content that responds to this type of keyword must contain the appropriate information that will ultimately convince the reader to make a purchase.
These are the keywords with a direct an obvious purchase intention:
- uy cheap party shoes
- Rent a car in Barcelona
Such keywords can be used for categorising your products or services.
As you can see, the types of keywords follow the same structure as the sales funnel:
Looking for information (TOFU) > Extensive knowledge for comparison (MOFU) > Making the purchase decision (BOFU).
How to do keyword research?
Open Excel or Google SpreadSheets and create a template like this.
In the header of each column, you can indicate the general theme for structuring the keyword research, as well as the user intent.
This way you won’t lose focus and it will be much easier to group the contents you develop later on.
Some keywords may be in more than one column since the same keyword might have different intentions. Software keywords, for example, can be used clearly stating that you want to hire someone with specific knowledge, or because you want to know what tools exist in the market.
Tools to do keyword research
Previously we made a comparison between Semrush and Google Keyword planner but here are a few more tools that could be useful for your keyword research.
Ahrefs is highly recommended for link building and finding new content topics and keywords. Kiwosan,on the other hand, is also a quite convenient tool which can help you look for longtail keywords. Finally, keywordtool.io includes all of these functions for different types of search engines.
Since these are paid tools, we are gonna list a few that are free (but with limited possibilities):
- Ubersuggest from Neil Patel
- Answer the public, ideal for keywords in question and LSI format
- Google’s suggestions for discovering other ways to find semantically related searches
- Keywordseverywhere.com, great for finding related dynamic search keywords such as “Other user questions” that Google shows in some results.
- Google instant: by adding *keyword or keyword* you can find suggestions based on recent trends.
Just like Answer the public, Hyppersuggest allows you to find keywords in question format, for images, Amazon or eBay and more.
Wait, what? Amazon? Yes, the predictive search engine of the online shopping giant is also a creative alternative to find keywords for your online project.
Keep reading if you want to know more about the best SEO tools.
Before starting to use any tool, it’s important to define what you’re going to use your keyword research for:
- Blog articles
- Product/service categories
- Product/ service descriptions
- Lead generation
For each type of content, you should do general research and a specific one for each item.
In our case, we first prepare a generic one for our editorial calendar. This way we make sure all topics and keywords we want to cover in the upcoming weeks or months are included.
In order to do this, we analyse the websites from our competitors, sector trends, specialised magazines or freelance blogs.
Then, for each article, we look for secondary or additional keywords to ensure that we cover all the fundamental points on the subject. Additionally, we optimise the semantics and on-page SEO without excessive repetition (keyword stuffing).
And that’s what we’re gonna discuss next.
Keyword research and techniques in SEMrush
We have chosen this tool because its new version of keyword search is very comprehensive and has really interesting functions.
We’re talking about Keyword Magic Tool, which replaces the old way of doing keyword research.
Let’s take a look at the example below. We are going to use the word “keyword research” and look for words that will help us structure the content.
Forget a second about search intention, entities, type of keywords and all the other topics we just talked about.
Here you can see what the results are if you look for the keyword “keyword research” in the Keyword Magic Tool:
What can we do with all this information?
The first step is to filter and organise it.
We make sure that we have Spain marked as the country of reference and we take a look at the results sorted by the search volume.
The next step is to filter by “Questions”, which will result in keywords such as:
- How to do good keyword research?
- What is keyword research?
- How to do keyword research with Semrush?
Anyone looking for this type of keyword will need to know which tools can be used. Therefore, you can select “keyword group” in the left menu, and you’ll get the following results:
- Keyword research tools
- Tools to do keyword research
- Keyword research methods and tools to identify keywords
As you can see, little by little we’re defining the structure of the article without much effort. From this point, you can decide to keep on filtering to make your post as unique and useful as possible.
To do this we move on to the last functionality, “Related”, which provides you with keywords related to the main topic, even if they don’t include the exact same words:
- Keyword analysis for SEO
- Analyse web keywords
- Keyword finder
- Average monthly google searches
The last thing to do is to order all the keywords in your overview, add the number of monthly searches for each one of them and the level of competition regarding Google Ads. Taking the CPC (cost per click) for Ads into account will help to determine the relevance of the keywords at business level.
And that’s it.
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After doing a keyword research, it’s important to know how to evaluate the suitability of each of them accordingly to the type of content.
Obviously, you will need to discard those that are not related to the subject or intention of the article, as well as the ones with a low volume of searches.
Therefore, we’re going to remove the following keywords from the list:
- ASO keyword research
- How to do keyword research with sistrix
- Keyword research negative words
The next step would be to discard duplicates, very similar keywords or incorrectly written variations.
But which keywords are actually interesting enough to include in my text?
Well, like everything else in SEO, it depends.
You should not be carried away only by the volume of searches but by what we believe is the safest, most reliable and effective option:
Focus on the user.
In other words, choose the keywords that help to explain in a broad and understandable way the subject you want to talk about. You can do this by ordering the words by sections that help the reader to follow a logical order.
This also helps Google to understand the content of your page, and compare it with other publications to assign a place in its index.
As mentioned before, the level of competition in Ads is also a good indicator for the potential of keywords at commercial level.
However, all these metrics should be taken into account as examples. This because the SEO ranking factors are dynamic and constantly changing thanks to the latest technologies.
If you fully implement all techniques and practices you will probably over-optimise your content. Resulting in keyword stuffing and losing quality and engagement.
Do you still have questions about keyword research?
Leave it in the comments and we’ll help you solve it!