SEO: A guide for performing keyword research

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Last updated on September 14th, 2017 at 10:47 pm

If you have a website, you’ve probably come across the words “SEO” and “keyword research” ad nauseam and understand the importance of them if you ever want to be found in the vast expanse of the world wide web. Social media can bring in great referral traffic to your website but imagine bringing in organic traffic from people simply typing a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google and getting to your website through it being displayed in the search results.

But how do you go about performing keyword research and what tools are out there to help you? We’ll answer these questions and more in the article below in the hopes to give you a better understanding and an opportunity to fine-tune your keyword research strategy.

Choosing the Right Keywords

This is what you need to do and get good at if you want to ever see your website on the first page of Google. Identify the niche keywords in your industry – the keywords that your target clients would be interested in searching for — with the help of keyword research tools. If you have a company in Youngstown, Ohio that does gardening and landscaping, a keyword your clients will probably type into search is: “youngstown ohio landscaping company”. Avoid trying to rank for one-word keywords, or head keywords. Head keywords are extremely competitive and provide little, if any, ROV (return-on-value) for your efforts.

An example of a head keyword is “cooking”. At the time this article was written, this keyword fetched 810,000,000 results on Google. That is a high number and it’ll be way too difficult to compete for this keyword amongst websites, articles, social media posts, videos, and other content that has been around for years and have domain authority. Let’s narrow it down a bit to vegan cooking. This keyword is a tiny bit more specific and fetched back 56,900,000 results. Still a high number but as you can see is reduced considerably from the head keyword. Still. Those are a lot of results to try to get in front of. Long tail keywords are what we should implement on our website and try to rank for.

Keyword Research Tools To Help You Select

The first thing people suggest to do is head over to Google Keyword Planner. While this tool has several useful features, ultimately, Google Keyword Planner suggests the same exact keywords to everyone resulting in you having to select among highly competitive keywords.  I find really helpful in finding what other keyword phrases and questions are out there. It’s straight forward and free to use but there is also a pro version where you can view search volume and competition. However, if you’re just doing research for alternative keyword phrases, this tool proves extremely efficient and useful. Typing in “vegan recipes” in the query brought me back 375 unique keywords I could choose from.

keyword research tools

Alternately, (you may see an overlap between these two methods) there’s a really simple way to see related keywords to use when you search the term on Google and scroll all the way to the bottom. Many search engine users ignore these suggestions or prefer to type out their own, but as someone with SEO in mind, this is a simple way to get more suggestions about related terms people search for.

keyword research tools

Another tool I like to perform keyword research on is UberSuggest. Typing in my keyword “vegan dinner recipes” will provide me a list of alternate keywords that I can select from. I can do several things with this list of keywords that will help me in my research:

  • I can expand the search by clicking the drop down on one of the keywords suggested and search that term this time to come up with a whole new set of keywords

keyword research tools

  • View terms in a word cloud to have a visual of some commonly used and related keywords

keyword research tools

  • View the list of keywords in a text box which will allow me to copy and paste the entire list to save in an excel file or other.

keyword research tools

Answer the public is one of the fun and useful keyword research tools for uncovering phrases in a question format that people search for. How many times have you simply typed out an entire question into Google in the hopes that, since your question is direct, you’ll receive the most direct answer? Well, with this tool, now you’ll know what types of questions are being asked and you will be able to take notes and possibly use them as the keyword phrase for your articles.

Sticking with our niche, I’ll type in “vegan recipes” into the search and get this pretty cool and very large visual showing me the questions associated with my keyword. You’ll notice at the top, you can select 3 different categories as a way to view keywords.

keyword research tools

Selecting the prepositions category will show you normal keyword phrases in the same type of graph, organized by prepositions. This graph is cool for visual readers and those who don’t mind a little more excitement than a conventional list when doing keyword research. Clicking one of the terms will take you the Google results for that term which will allow you to see how many results are associated with the keyword and, don’t forget, let you scroll down to the bottom of the first page and see related keyword terms.

keyword research tools

Keyword research tools and best practices

We hope these keyword research tools will give you a jumpstart into SEO’ing your articles and website. Remember, the first thing you need to do is

  • identify a topic that’s related to your business
  • research the keyword phrases that are associated with that topic
  • make a list of about 5-6 keywords phrases within that topic that you can make several pieces of content around
  • create your content

Welcome to the world of keyword research!

Want More SEO? Check out: Why SEO Matters for Small Business and Bloggers


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  1. Great resources! I find that using Google Trends also helps figure out what local audiences are using in comparison to the region or country or continent–it’s quite often different than you’d think!

  2. Pingback: Keyword research for beginners | What are long-tail keywords?

  3. Pingback: SEO Strategies For Small Business - Why SEO Matters.

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