Despite the constant changes in Google’s algorithm over the years, keyword research is still the foundation for optimizing websites. The need for proper keyword research remains consistent. But the methods used for this SEO task have grown and evolved.
While writing great content plays a huge role in ranking on Google, if you can’t get it in front of the right audience, all your efforts will be in vain. Keyword research ensures that your content is topical, helpful, and will rank high on search engines.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll get tools and strategies on how to do keyword research for blog posts. These tactics will help you build strong content. But before we dive into the details of keyword research, let’s first understand the basics.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of discovering and analyzing the search terms that your audience use to find content, product, and services in your industry. It provides you with a better understanding of your target market and how they search for content.
It helps you answer the following questions:
- What is your audience searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- What type of content does your audience prefer?
It’s not only about finding keywords you want to rank for. It also means discovering search terms your target market is using. Aim to rank for those keywords to put your content in front of the right audience.
That said, keyword research is often used for search engine optimization (SEO) or content marketing.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
You wouldn’t want to keep publishing blog posts that nobody is going to read, right? Unfortunately, 90.63% of pages get no significant traffic from Google.
This is where keyword research comes in handy.
Although using keywords that match a person’s search is not as effective in ranking on search engines, keyword research can still go a long way in reaching your target audience.
First, it provides valuable insight into the queries that your audience is actually searching on Google. Secondly, it allows you to analyze the intent behind the queries.
Keyword research, then, becomes the blueprint for your content marketing strategy. Your content must have the answer for every intent behind search terms.
That said, properly using keyword research in your content strategy can help you achieve the following:
- Discover popular keywords within your industry that your audience is looking for.
- Find content ideas that will help you rank higher in search engines.
- Look into your competitors and the type of blog posts they are publishing. How are they answering their audience’s queries? Are they addressing their questions? How can you create a better content strategy?
- Get more search traffic and grow your audience with each new blog post.
Keyword research also helps you answer the following questions:
- Will you be able to rank for this keyword?
- How stiff is the competition for this keyword?
- How much traffic can you expect if you rank for this search term?
- Are the people searching for this keyword more likely to purchase your products or services?
By researching keywords – their popularity, search volume, and intent, you can answer your target market’s frequently asked questions.
How to Research For Keywords For Your Blog
When researching keywords, you must think like your potential customers. What would they be searching for in your business or website?
You can then use a keyword research tool to look into each term’s insights and find even more search terms.
Step 1: Create a List of Relevant Topics or Phrases That Describes Your Content
To start, think of generic topic buckets. Come up with around 5-10 topic buckets that are relevant to your business or industry.
For example, you’re in the business of selling coffee beans. Your general topic buckets might look like this:
- Coffee bean guides
- Coffee bean recommendations,”
- Coffee grinder
You can also think of seed keywords that define your niche.
But what are seed keywords?
These are short search terms – usually one or two words, without modifiers. For example, it could be as simple as “coffee” or “espresso”. It’s simply a starting point. Most keyword research tools will ask for a seed keyword to generate a huge list of search term ideas.
However, SEO experts suggest using more specific seed keywords. These are called long-tail keyword phrases. For example, instead of “coffee”, a long tail keyword could be “coffee recipes with instant coffee”.
Why is this important? Because seed keywords are so competitive.
That said, seed keywords are still essential since they’ll help you throughout the process.
Now that you have a broad topic and keyword ideas, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Understand User/Reader Intent
As previously stated, user intent plays a huge role in keyword research. It’s one of the crucial factors in ranking well on search engines. That said, it’s not enough to use popular keywords. Your website must also address what your audience intended to solve.
So how will search intent affect your keyword research process?
Let’s say, for example, you’re researching the long tail keyword “best coffee for French press”. First, determine the searcher’s intent. Are they looking for coffee beans because they want to buy them? Or are they looking for coffee bean recommendations?
If your goal is to sell coffee beans, your first instinct might be to set up a product page with your best coffee beans. But that’s not the best course of action.
Why? Because if you look at the search results on Google, the top-ranking content is blog posts about coffee bean recommendations. This tells you a lot about user intent.
To help you in targeting keywords, here are the 3C’s of search intent:
1. Content Type
There are different types of content, but these are the most common:
- Blog post
- Product page
- Category page
- Landing page
For example, if you search “how to make french press coffee”, you’ll find many blog posts. But if you search for “buy coffee bean grinder”, the top search results are mostly product pages.
This is because the user is intentionally looking to buy a product. That said, when conducting your keyword research, you need to look at the most common content type in the search results. Create content that aligns with it.
2. Content Format
How does your competition present information to their readers?
Some of the most common formats are:
- How-To articles
- Step-by-step guides
- List posts
- Opinion pieces
Using our previous example, “how to make french press coffee”, you’ll see that most of them are how-to guides.
And when you search for “best coffee for French press”, list-type articles are dominant.
When creating content, take a look at what your competition is doing. So if most of the top search results are how-to articles, then create one.
3. Content Angle
This is what makes content attractive to your audience—the main selling point of your content.
For example, if you search for “how to use a French press”, the results are about the tools used, ground coffee to water ratio, and basically, a beginner’s guide.
So to attract your audience, you need to write your content with this angle in mind.
Note: It’s important to align your content to what searchers are looking for. But this doesn’t mean you always have to follow the crowd. That said, if you’re confident that your content type, format, and angle will attract your target audience, then go for it!
Step 3: Research Related Search Terms
Need more keywords? Scroll through the bottom of the search engine, like Google, and you’ll find a list of related search queries.
Related keywords are useful because:
- They help further explain the content of your webpage. This will help search engines in understanding, classifying, and ranking your page.
- They help you discover different variations of phrases that your audience uses to find content related to your topic or industry.
- You can also target these phrases in your pay-per-click ads.
- They help you discover other topics for your blog post as well as in creating editorial calendars.
Step 4: Take advantage of Keyword Research Tools
Below are three of the most popular keyword research tools in the market today. Use these tools to come up with additional keyword ideas. More importantly, use insights like search volume, keyword difficulty, and keyword competition to help you choose the best search terms to rank high on search engines.
These tools might help you find alternatives you haven’t considered before.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
This keyword research tool provides excellent in-depth information on each keyword. Aside from the usual search volume, you’ll also get a breakdown of your competition.
It also has unique keyword metrics and filters:
- Clicks per search
- Return rate
But to get these metrics, you’ll need to click the “Get metrics” button.
Most importantly, Ahrefs provide detailed information about the keyword difficulty. It tells you exactly how many backlinks you’ll need to rank high on search engines. This tool allows you to filter your list of keyword suggestions by:
- Search volume
- Keyword difficulty
These are always available for the entire database of keywords.
SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool is an easy-to-use yet powerful tool for analyzing keywords. It provides in-depth data to get ahead of the competition.
So how do you use SEMrush?
First, you’ll input your seed keyword, and then you can set match modifiers. You can choose between the following:
- Broad Match
- Phrase Match
- Exact Match
- Related keywords
Additionally, you can also filter for question-based keywords. This helps build your content strategy since it offers ideas for blog posts, campaigns, or featured snippets.
You can also enter a specific keyword and see where you rank compared to your competitors. This feature is helpful since you’ll see the pages that are ranking high.
Do your research and see what related keywords they’re using and the type of content they’re publishing.
Ubersuggest‘s free keyword tool promises to provide hundreds of keywords and long-tail phrases. You’ll also get insights regarding search volume, competition, and seasonal trends for each keyword.
This keyword research tool takes any search term and immediately lists alphabetized and numerical search term variations. Ubersuggest also provides information about:
- The websites ranking for specific keywords
- The common questions asked by your target audience contain your keywords.
- Keyword competitors
Need more keyword research tool suggestions? More on them in the succeeding sections below.
Step 5: Write A Good and Strong Blog Content
Now it’s time to use your keywords in your content.
Whatever you choose to write, it should be informative and engaging. Keep your target audience in mind when creating content – what do they find most useful? What would they like to know? Why are they searching for these keywords?
Most importantly, your content should be cohesive and has a decent length. For better SEO, your blog post should be more than 300 words.
How to Find and Choose the Right Keywords For You
Listing a bunch of keywords that are related to your industry or topic is half the battle. When it comes to boosting the organic traffic to your website, you need to be strategic.
Traffic alone will not help grow your business. That said, choose the right keywords that are relevant and will bring in viable prospects who are ready to buy from you.
Step 1: Understand What Makes a Good Keyword
When curating your keywords, there are three factors you must consider. You must choose keywords based on:
Is the keyword relevant to your products and services?
Remember, search engines rank content based on relevance. This is why you need to understand the intent behind the search term. Your content will most likely rank for a keyword if it meets the audience’s needs.
Additionally, your content must be informative and valuable. It must be able to compete against content that already exists on the internet. Search engines will not rank a blog post that is full of fluff.
How is the competition in your chosen keywords? Who are the authority figures in your industry?
Your website or blog needs to earn credibility in your industry. Why? Because Google gives more importance to websites, it deems authoritative.
This means you don’t only create an outstanding blog post but also boost your website through promotions. Here’s what you can do:
- Create helpful, informative content.
- Promote your blog post on social media or through email marketing
- Earn social signals and backlinks
If your website does not have any authority in your industry or if the keywords you use have stiff competition, you’ll have a lower ranking chance.
Is your target market using your keywords to search content, products, or services on Google?
Even if you rank first on Google, if your audience is not searching for it, you won’t gain any traffic to your site. That said, you need to take into account the search volume.
Monthly search volume is the number of times the keyword is searched for every month across all audiences. A keyword research tool like Ahrefs can provide this metric.
If you can rank on the first page of Google for a keyword that is searched 20,000 times instead of 200 times, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining organic traffic to your site.
Step: 2: Learn the Long and Short Of It
We started the process of keyword research by listing topic buckets. From there, we listed head keywords or “seed” keywords. Now, it’s time to learn about long-tail keywords.
Here’s a quick review:
- Head Terms: These are search queries that are very broad and generally shorter. They are usually just one to three words in length.
- Long-tail keywords: These are search queries that are more specific and consist of four or more words strung together.
The longer the phrase, the more specific it is. Typically, long-tail keywords have fewer search results, but this is not always the case.
Take a look at this example:
- If you search for “coffee” you’ll get millions of search results.
- If you search for “coffee machines”, you’ll get hundreds of thousands.
- If you search for “which coffee machine is best” you’ll get much fewer search results.
So from your audience’s point of view, the more specific the keyword, the better results they’ll get.
However, good SEO practice means using a healthy mixture of head terms and long-tail terms. The reason being – head terms are more popular, making them more competitive. So, they are harder to rank.
Look at the example above. You know that it’s so much harder to rank for “coffee” than the other two search queries. That said, although head terms have high search volume, the traffic you’ll get from long-tail keywords will be more beneficial.
For one, you’ll know what people are exactly looking for. For example, an individual searching for “coffee” could be searching for content not related to your business.
Secondly, an individual searching for specific phrases is more likely to purchase your product or service than someone looking for generic terms.
So it’s best to have a good mixture of head terms and long-tail terms. It’s essential to mention important search queries in your content. However, your content must also have related words and phrases and must be appropriate for the searcher’s intent.
Step 3: Check your Keyword Competition
How difficult will it be to rank for your chosen keywords?
It’s not enough to have a list of seed keywords and long-tail keywords. You also need to know how much time and effort it will take to rank for these particular search queries.
So how do you check your keyword competition?
Here are the metrics you need to take into account:
- Search volume: This is the average number of times a keyword is searched per month. This metric indicates the number of searches – not the number of people who searched it.
- Clicks: This metric tells you the average number of clicks the keyword received on the search results. Remember, people can search a term but not click on the search results or visit the top-ranking page.
For example, the long-tail keyword “how much caffeine in coffee” has a very high search volume of 48,000. But it only gets around 8,600 clicks. Why? Because Google answers the questions right away. There’s no need to find additional information from top-ranking sites.
- Traffic Potential: Don’t estimate your potential search traffic based on one search term. It’s best to look at how much traffic the top-ranking websites are currently getting. Doing so will help you determine which keywords to prioritize. Plus, you might discover keyword opportunities that your competition might have missed.
- Keyword Difficulty: Some tools, like Ahrefs, base their keyword difficulty score on the number of unique sites linking to the top-ranking pages. This metric will help you understand what it’ll take to rank for a keyword.
Most professional SEOs manually assess keywords before using them in their blog and other content. Aside from that, you can use tools like Ahref’s Keyword Explorer, Moz, and Hubspot.
Step 4: Refine Your Keyword List with Google Keyword Planner
So after checking your keyword competition, you now have a good mix of search terms. It’s time to narrow it down further using quantitative data.
Google Keyword Planner is a super powerful tool – and it’s free!
To get started, this tool gives you two options:
- Find keywords: Provide you a list of keyword ideas to reach your target market.
- Get search volume and forecasts: Get insights on specific keywords and forecasts on how they will perform in the future.
Since you already have a list of keywords, you’ll need to evaluate it using different metrics. So start with the search volume and forecasts option.
Note: You won’t find keyword suggestions here.
Instead, you can get search volume as well as traffic estimates for the search phrases you want. It’ll also show you the clicks and impressions of each query.
Are you planning to use your keywords for advertising?
Then input them into Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Doing so will give you estimated costs, CTR, and CPC. This will help you determine which phrases and terms work best.
More Useful Tips to Narrow Down Your Keyword Search
- Start by searching for more generic keywords and then narrow it down to more specific queries. Find search terms with high search volume yet with low competition.
- Use SEMRush or Ahrefs to get insights into your keyword performance, then compare it with your competitors. Simply enter your URL into the keyword research tools.
- Focus on your target market’s search intent. This means discovering keywords that answer your audience’s questions and help them make purchase decisions.
- Don’t just focus on popular search queries. Consider longer keywords that you can easily rank for.
- Revisit your list of keywords every couple of months. You might also need to develop new long-tail keywords and remove those with low search volume. Remember, keywords go in and out of style over time.
How to Make the Most of the Keyword in Your Blog
Keyword research’s main objective is to know what your target market is searching for to find content, product, and services within your industry. Then, you need to rank for these queries in search results.
So how are you going to do that?
- Use the results of your keyword research to create a competitive content marketing strategy.
- Create and publish useful posts, infographics, videos, and other forms of content using these keywords.
- In your blog post, use the keywords in all the appropriate areas like the title, meta tags, and the article’s body.
- If you have a business website, you can also create landing pages, product pages, FAQs pages, and other content around these keywords.
- If you have an online store, make sure to integrate target keywords in your product titles, descriptions, categories, tags, etc.
Keyword Research Tools
1. Google Keyword Planner (Free)
This is a simple yet powerful tool with a few basic features. Its data comes directly from Google. That’s why it’s considered one of the most accurate sources of keyword insights. Plus, it provides historical statistics on what users have been searching for.
It’s mostly used for planning AdWords campaigns, but it’s also great for researching keywords for search engine optimization.
2. Google Trends (Free)
Use Google Trends for keyword research as well as for trend comparisons. With this tool, you can check whether a particular keyword is growing or if people are losing interest.
Additionally, you can use Google Trends to research geographical trends.
Lastly, it’s perfect if you want to write evergreen content. Using its insights, you can determine if a keyword will bring you traffic over time.
3. Google Search Console (Free)
Google Search Console is an excellent tool for keeping track of your website’s performance in organic search. It allows you to check the top 1,000 keywords you’re already ranking for. Plus, it provides insights regarding the traffic you’re getting from those keywords.
One of its key features is the Performance Report, a list of the pages on your site with the most clicks from Google. And it also shows the exact keywords that brought those clicks.
4. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (Free)
Ahrefs Webmaster tools is also an excellent tool for checking all the search queries you currently rank for. It also provides estimated insights for:
- Search volumes
- Keyword difficulty scores
- Traffic potential
- and other SEO metrics
Aside from that, this keyword research tool will also help you:
- Monitor your website’s SEO health
- View all your backlinks
- Internal linking opportunities
- Get insights regarding your website traffic.
5. Ahrefs Keyword Generator (Free)
Keyword Generator is another useful free tool offered by Ahrefs. It generates the top 100 keyword ideas from a seed search term or phrase.
Ahrefs boasts a database of over ten billion keywords across more than 170 countries. That said, you’ll get a comprehensive list with useful insights, including search volume and keyword difficulty.
On top of that, you can also see the top 50 related questions. This tool allows you to find keyword ideas for Bing, Youtube, and Amazon as well.
6. Keyword Difficulty Checker (Free)
Use this free tool to check how difficult it is to rank for a keyword. So how does Ahrefs calculate Keyword Difficulty?
They analyze the search results for a keyword and look at the number of backlinks that the top 10 ranking pages have. This means the more backlinks the top-ranking pages have, the higher the keyword difficulty.
7. Keyword Rank Checker (Free)
This keyword research tool works similarly to Google Search Console as it provides information about your website’s ranking progress.
It tracks the ranking progress of up to 10,000 keywords.
You can use this tool to:
- Check whether your rankings have improved or worsened over time.
- Determine the progress of your competitors’ rankings
- Identify whether your web pages are ranking for similar keywords
8. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (Paid)
Keywords Explorer is best when you’re serious about researching the best search words and phrases to use for your blog and other content. It gives you in-depth information on each keyword.
Aside from the usual search volume and keyword difficulty score, it also provides a thorough breakdown of the first-page competition. For instance, it shows how many clicks each page is getting.
Here are some of its key features:
- Thousands of keyword suggestions
- Accurate keyword difficulty score
- Click metrics
- Extensive SERP overview
Note: Ahrefs offers a trial offer of $7 for seven days on their Lite and Standard subscriptions plans.
All the steps above should be able to guide you in your keyword research. So by now, you’ll have a comprehensive list of keywords. Use these terms to plan your content strategy and improve user experience. If your content matches your audience’s search intent, you’ll have a much higher chance of appearing on search result pages.
Revisit these keywords every few months. As you gain authority in your industry, you can add or remove keywords on your list. Doing so will help you maintain or improve your progress. Most importantly, you’ll be able to grow in other aspects as well.
Need more tips in growing your website? Mint Chip will help you stay up to date with today’s digital trends! Subscribe to Mint Chip’s newsletter now and get instant access to the best tips, articles, and tools delivered straight to your inbox!