Back in school, our teachers used to tell us to write a whole essay for a given title. That was easy, wasn’t it?
Guess what? SEO writing is as easy as just that.
Except instead of writing based on a title, you are writing based on a single topic, which will henceforth be known as ‘keywords’.
And instead of having a teacher to tell you what keywords to expound on, you have to figure them out yourself. But it’s easy AF, kids. Don’t let the technicalities intimidate you.
Keywords should be as easy as they seem. Short, simple, easy to understand at a glance. If you’ve been browsing those long articles that look like they are written for pros, I promise you that this is written for newbies, with the exact same tips pros (like me) have been using.
So let’s get started!
What is Keyword Research?
This whole marketing-on-the-Internet thing all begins with words, typed into the search bar. It is the first step every Internet user performs, hence making it one of the most insightful, important, and valuable knowledge to everyone who has something to offer on the web. If done right, you can expect a higher return in activities, even more than what you can earn from regular buying & selling.
But you must know this; ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website.
Keywords research help you to learn about the hottest terms and phrases associated with the latest trends and also gives you a sneak peek into who your target audiences are; you want audiences who actually care about what you can offer.
Like if you’re selling menstrual cups:
- Obviously, you’ll want to weed out the men.
- You’ll try to sell it to women who don’t mind shoving a cup in there.
- Now you have a super narrowed down audience, you gotta find out what are these girls typing into their search bars.
When it comes to SEO traffic, it’s quality over quantity (contrary to popular belief), guys.
How Much Importance Should You Place On Keyword Research?
A lot. A LOT.
To break it down for you, here’s the formula I use across all my blogs and it’s giving me the best results in terms of traffic (and $$$) flow.
Keyword Research (30%) + Backlinks (30%) + Quality Content (40%) = 100%
And if I have to use to a metaphor to describe its importance…
Without the right keywords, your website isn’t going to show up on anyone’s radar. You can have killer content with the best virtual assistants and bots in place to spam the shit out of everyone with your backlinks but no humans are ever gonna discover you.
Unless you’re cool with that. (Yes, some are, read about white hat vs black hat.)
When you nail this Keyword Research thing, you will be able to predict changes in market trends. Demands, new products, the latest hype, PR disasters, etc.
You’ll know these things because people are talking about it and searching for it on Google, Yahoo, and Bing!
And there’s no excuse for you not to master it because, in this digital era, information is FREE and everywhere. Even most tools are free!
Understand 4 Types Of Website Intent Before Moving Onto Keyword Targeting.
Website intent basically means what your site is made for. Does it serve to give people information, drive sales transaction, etc? Here are the basic ones for you to familiarise:
For audiences to acquire information. Some examples are news sites, journalistic blogs, weather forecasts, travel guides, body workout tutorials, signs your crush likes you back, etc. Oh, this blog you’re reading now is also a good example.
To persuade or help audiences to decide what to purchase in the near future. This mainly appeals to users who are still doing research before actually buying anything. Some examples are Tech Radar and Trusted Reviews, where the content of the website are centered around reviews and comparisons.
If you see lots of keywords like Buy, Subscribe, For Sale, Discount, Coupon, Promo, and Deal, you can be sure you’ve stumbled upon a website with transactional intent. Basically, these guys are aiming for audiences who are ready to make a purchase or take valuable action.
When your website is popular, there’s no doubt that many people will be searching for your website directly on Google. Examples are Adidas (to look at sneakers), McDonald’s (for fast food delivery), Trip Advisor (to read about some tourist hotspots).
How To Know Which Keyword Works Best?
Let’s say you run an online sneaker shop. Which one of these keywords do you think can give you more sales, in other words, have higher intent?
- Sneakers 2018
- Nike sneakers
- Nike Kyrie 4
- Nike Kyrie 4 best price
I’m sure we can hypothesize, based on our own experiences as an Internet user.
But keywords isn’t based on pure hypothesis you see, that’s why we have Keywords Research tools to help you and me with these things so that we can be 100% sure we got our audiences where they are. However, the tools (got a list for you down there) merely display data, and it’s up to us to make sense of those numbers through trials and tests.
Here’s a checklist for some of the most basic things you need to determine the right keywords:
- Is the keyword relevant to your website?
- Will users find what they are searching for on your site if they Google that keyword?
- Will they be satisfied with the find?
- Will this traffic contribute to your goals (awareness / education / purchase / etc)?
If you can confidently answer YES to all of those, let’s move on further to…
The Proven Formula To Hack This Whole Keyword-Thingy
See the chart above? This is the Keyword Pyramid you will adopt for every blog or website you plan to start. A closer look at the chart gives you an idea that every successful website ever is basically replicating the same formula within the website to get a shitload of traffic:
Main Keyword has 5 LTK, and each LTK has at least 3 LSI.
The abbreviations have simple meanings:
- LTK = Long Tail Keywords
These keywords are three or more words and typically have low search volume, but also low competition and easier to rank. Going back to the sneakers example:
- Sneakers 2018
- Nike sneakers
- Nike Kyrie 4
- Nike Kyrie 4 best price
You have identified (d) and (e) to be Long Tail Keywords, you are right. It makes sense that it’s easier for you to rank for Long Tail Keywords because it’s definitely more niched, and you’re funneling in quality traffic from people who want what you have to offer. Just imagine 200,000 other websites are ranking for ‘Sneakers’ (high competition, high traffic, low intent), versus 50 other websites ranking for ‘Nike Kyrie 4’ (low competition, low traffic, high intent). Pick your battles wisely.
Don’t think that a mere 200 search volume is too low; that’s 200 HIGH-INTENT searches for that keyword! And if you can score Top 1 for ten Long Tail Keywords of 200 search volume each, that’s easily 2,000 quality traffic to your website.
My advice to you is to go for keywords that are EASY to rank, be it either with commercial intent or not. Generally, Long Tail Keywords can give you a better result in a shorter time, bumping your website higher in ranks little by little. Over some time, you will then have the confidence to rank for the more difficult, high competition keywords, because you have evidence that the strategy you’re using is working.
In fact, go ahead and use Long Tail Keywords as your main keyword!
- LSI = Latent Semantic Indexing
LSI keywords are simply keywords related to the topic your page is talking about. For example, travel & tour websites will surely include LSI keywords like ‘flight’, ‘accommodation’, ‘hotel’, ‘visit’, ‘vacation’, and so on. It’s not hard to pinpoint what are the LSI keywords that will work for your blog; think of LSI as more of a topic match. Moreover, a topic match is exactly what Google’s new Panda update is looking for, instead of mere keyword matches.
In fact, you see LSI keyword examples by Google every day, under ‘People also ask’ and ‘Searches related to [your keyword]”.
So yeah, remember earlier when I said that SEO writing is as easy as writing a homework essay, and you have to figure out the topics/keywords on your own?
So here’s a guide for your homework essay, based on the chart up there:
- Main keywords: Write the main article about 3,000 words long.
- LTK: Write LTK articles about 1,500 words long, with links to the main article. Your LSI keywords should be used every now and then when writing for LTK.
In total, you’ll be writing 6 high-quality articles (1 Main + 5 LTK) for each keyword group.
And that’s not a lot for someone who has a lot to say.
PS: If you’re still unsure what to write about, check out my article here about finding your niche.
Checking Out Your Competitors & Who Else Is Targeting Your Keywords
Identifying which other websites (and how many of them) have already ranked for your keywords will give you beneficial insight into the competition, as well as the difficulty to rank for that period of time.
Do you see search ads running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Usually, a high occurrence of search ads means a high-value keyword. And if you spot multiple search ads above the organic results, it often means that the keyword is very lucrative and conversion-prone.
The Few Tools You Will Be Using
Heads up; the guide below may be a bit more technical because I’ll be showing you how to maneuver around these tools. Don’t shy away from them, because by the time you finish this I can guarantee you will be an SEO keywords expert.
I’ll briefly take you through all these tools below; what they are good for, and how much it cost to buy them (most are FREE). These tools are actually pretty simple and straightforward once you understand them. I personally feel that even Photoshop and video editing is more difficult.
(1) Keywords Everywhere
Keywords Everywhere is a FREE keyword tool that is easily installed as a browser extension on either Chrome or Firefox. What makes it easy for beginners like you, is that you won’t have to switch between your keyword tools and Google Keyword Planner. I’ve found this all-in-one tool to be super helpful in my early stages of keywords research because it saved me all the time I would have spent on copying data from multiple websites, by letting me access all the data I need in one page.
Keywords Everywhere lets you find long-tail phrases with their accurate search volume, CPC and competition data, and bulk Upload 10,000+ keywords at one time. I highly recommend you download this extension. If knowledge is power, then this power is FREE.
Also FREE to download as a plugin for your browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera), SEOQuake mainly provides you with organic research data and is able to help you estimate keyword difficulty instantly. It’s great for shortcut-seekers who just can’t deal with digging through the numbers, and simply want to glance through important data on search results.
The two parameters on SEOQuake which I find most useful (and use them only) are Alexa Rank and Age. The lower the Alexa Rank of a competitor, the more traffic they’re getting every month (which means they’re doing great on SEO and will be harder for you to outrank them). For the Age parameter, it basically tells you how old the website is. Obviously, the older the website, the more established it is.
Moz is FREE for the first 30 days only, with the Pro version costing you about $179 per month on average. Frankly speaking, I’ve only used Moz to check for Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA).
Both of them are scores developed by Moz to predict how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages; with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability for that page to rank. That means if your competitors got a super high score, you’re gonna have a hard time outranking them. The same goes for the number of Backlinks (links) or Referring Domains (RD), the higher the score, the harder it is for you to outrank them.
These scores come in super handy as the next best indicator after Google decided to hide Page Ranks in March 2017.
Now, if you ask me whether or not to invest $179 a month for the tool, I would tell you NO because the 30-days FREE trial is sufficient for you to finish all the keywords research you need.
(4) Similar Web
The FREE trial gives you a month Mobile App Data plus three months of Web Traffic Data, and five results per metric. Their paid plans are modular, so no pricing is displayed on their website and you have to wait for their representatives to contact you.
But if you’re into free shit like me, here’s how to fully utilize Similar Web during your free trial period.
Similar Web gives you an insight of a website’s estimated visits during the past 6 months. Use that to gauge your competitor’s web traffic, and several other websites in the same industry. Then, you can set a realistic benchmark for your own web traffic.
On top of that, dig into ‘Geo’ to know which country is a website is targeted for. Also, under ‘Search’, Similar Web allows you to catch a quick glance through their top organic keywords. Now you can use this info to get some ideas for your own keyword targeting.
This is one AWESOME tool created by Neil Patel. It is FREE, and I use it to automatically generate a long list of ideas for my Long Tail Keywords and LSI. It’s incredibly easy to use. Export to a CSV format to see everything at a glance.
(6) Google Trend
Last but not least, and it’s also FREE to all. Google Trend enables you to get your hands on real-time data, including the keywords that are currently trending. All you have to do is type in the keyword, and the page will display insightful statistics that will help you decide whether to keep or drop the keyword for now.
Step-By-Step SEO Keyword Targeting For Beginners
Hurray for you for reaching the end of the Keyword Research guide! Now, I’m going to show you step by step how to put your lessons into practice. To make this fun for you, I’ll be using Keto Diet for example.
Let’s assume that you’re going to start a blog all about dieting, and Keto Diet is the new fad diet that you wanna write about, you know, to grab a bit of the traffic pie while it’s still hot.
You’re set and ready, with all the plugins and extensions downloaded into your browser. What’s next?
There are only FOUR steps to perfecting your own Keyword Pyramid.
Step 1 – Generate Keyword Ideas
Your first option is to type ‘Keto Diet’ on Google, and go straight for the ‘People Also Search For’ and ‘Related Keywords’. You can see on the right sidebar in your Keywords Everywhere box (visible only if you downloaded the extension) a list of keyword ideas you can grab and use.
Or you can go for the second option of typing ‘Keto Diet’ on UberSuggest, and export all the results to CSV format. Now you got a super long list of keyword ideas, including the scores of each keyword idea. As seen in the screenshot below, the list can go beyond 200 keyword ideas, so you really have a library of keywords you can cherry pick.
If you want even more options, go ahead and type ‘Keto Diet’ on KeywordShitter, AnswerThePublic, etc.
Now, let’s say you picked ‘Good Keto Meals’ because you aren’t a fickle-minded butterfly.
Step 2 – Validate The Keyword You Picked
Now, you type the keyword you picked, ‘Good Keto Meals’, into the search bar on Google and go to check your Keywords Everywhere sidebar. You’ll see even more keywords related to ‘Good Keto Meals’, as well as their search volume and other scores.
Remember, your Main Keyword should be around 3 to 4 words long, and have a search volume of at least 500 every month. Anywhere between 500 to 1000 is considered a good potential.
So you check them out one by one, and then found ‘Lazy Keto Meals’ to have quite the potential for you to champion the keyword. (I happen to be lucky here, but you usually have to repeat this step with a few keywords to find the best one for your niche).
Now, click on ‘Lazy Keto Meals’. What happens next is, Google will immediately display all the websites and articles that target ‘Lazy Keto Meals’ as their keyword. And with the help of Moz extension on your browser, you’ll be able to see the Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) of every single website displayed there.
Let me teach you how to pick your battles.
If the first page has at least 3 websites with a PA & DA below 25, the keyword (in this case, ‘Lazy Keto Meals’) is considered easy to rank for. However, if you notice that most of these websites have a PA & DA below 15, it means that the keyword has an ultra low search volume. Probably even lesser 50. You definitely don’t want that to be your main keyword, but I guess you can keep it as one of your LTKs.
If you’ve also installed the SEOquake plugin, make sure the first page displays at least 3 websites with an Alexa rank of over 1 million, or 3 domain age over 2015.
Step 3 – Expand Your Main Keyword For Even Longer LTKs (Long Tail Keywords)
Typically, Long Tail Keywords consists of at least 4 words or more, and a search volume of around 100 is good enough. Below are some pretty good examples of ‘Lazy Keto Diet’ expansions:
- Lazy keto weight loss – 170 search volume (have 6 PA below 25)
- lazy keto meal plan – 90 search volume (have 4 PA below 25)
- lazy keto vs strict keto – 90 search volume (have 7 PA below 25)
Step 4 – Find closely related terms for LSI keywords
The rule of thumb when picking LSI keywords is to avoid using the exact term in your Main Keyword, which in this case, is ‘Keto Diet’ or ‘Lazy Keto Diet’. If you do, there would be too many repetitions of ‘Keto Diet This’ and ‘Keto Diet That’ everywhere in your website. Google will recognize that as spam, and that’s bad news.
Here are some LSI keywords example for ‘Keto Diet’ or ‘Lazy Keto Diet’:
- Ketosis fasting
- Ketogenic nutrition plan
- Low carb diet
Notice that they are very much related, but do not share the same words.
There you go, boys and girls. You’re welcome.
Turns out Keywords Research isn’t as tough as other marketers made it up to be, right? The actual tough part of researching has been taken care of by the FREE tools you can download!
I typically spend one whole day dedicated to perfecting my Keyword Pyramid for each niche, before I actually start writing the articles for each keyword. And yes, I do have many more blogs in different niches, but my formula for Keywords Research is exactly the same and has proven to be successful in bringing in profitable traffic.
So what are your action plans right now? Here’s your homework.
- Install the free tools I mentioned above.
- Pick a niche and do your keyword research.
- Start writing.
If you are still clueless about what to write, do yourself a favour and read this article I put together about picking your niche.
As for the intermediate marketers reading this, let me know if we share the same method of doing our Keyword Researches; I’m interested to see how is yours different from mine. Why is this so, is because I’m currently working on a project to build a FREE keyword tool for everyone.
Tell me what features you’d like in this FREE tool I’m building in the comments below!
. . .
- Target important keyword in important parts such as the beginning or the end of your content.
- Main article with main keyword should have 3k words.
- Main keyword is also a long tail keyword, at around 500-1000 searches.
- Each main keyword should split down to 5 longer-tail-keyword articles with 1000 words, with mention to the main article once.
- The longer-tail-keyword can be at 50-100 searches
- Each LTK should have 3 LSI to be used in the articles, not just to prevent Google sandboxing, but it’s also giving Google more context on what your article actually means.
- Once you start seeing your main article ranking 1st page on Google, then you can proceed with even more main keywords, and start targeting keyword search volume at about 1000-10k.
Really informative, thanks for sharing this!