Keywords are vital for SEO, blog posts and general website, digital marketing success. Dan Taylor shares his methods for researching keywords to optimise results…

In the last couple of years, a lot of businesses have been shifting their focus from link building to content marketing, as Google cracks down on ‘paid-for links’ with their Penguin updates.

One of the foundations of good content marketing is good keyword research, something a lot of companies take for granted or invest very little time in, based on  the feeling ‘they know best’. Very rarely do businesses fully understand the full extent of the phrases that their target audience use when they’re at various stages of the ‘buying cycle’:

reseach keywords funnel

In my experience, businesses generally have an idea of the large, marquee keywords that they want to rank for, but then don’t consider variations or long tail modifiers.

In this post I’m going to outline a number of methods that will help you improve your search for the correct keywords, as well as then how to select them.

Research keywords that are right

Long tail search

Long tail search phrases have two great advantages, they are generally easier to get in a good position for (if you produce a great piece of content) and they tend to have a higher conversion rate as searchers that use them are further down the path to conversion.

The best way to discover long tail phrases is a tool called Übersuggest. Here you enter a short keyword (maybe even a single word) and Über spits out a long list of associated long tail phrases. You’ll first get a short list of keywords based on your exact phrase, and then underneath a long list of (alphabetically sorted) keywords that people use in Google that use your phrase.

After getting your results, there is an option to ‘Download all’ the keywords, I’d recommend doing this and then using Google Keyword Planner to find their search volume.

Competitor Analysis

It’s very important to analyse the keywords that bring your competitors traffic – even if you think that they have a poor site or you don’t think their brand is as good as yours (or that yours isn’t as premium) – on the Google playing field, all brands are equal when it comes to general search terms.

In my opinion, the best tool for this is Semrush, which you can use for free (albeit a limited account). All you need to do is enter your competitor’s homepage URL and then click on the organic research tab on the left and then export the data (export button is to the right, above the table of results). Semrush also provides search volume data, although this data does differ slightly from the search volumes that Google Keyword Planner provides.

Google Keyword Planner

To access the keyword planner, all you need is a Gmail account. Primarily a tool for AdWords and PPC marketing, it’s become a very useful weapon in the SEO’s arsenal.

As well as a tool to find the search volume for a keyword list you’ve found elsewhere, you can also use it to generate lists.

research keywords adwords

You want to use the ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’ option. From here you can either enter a handful of keywords you know are relevant to your site, or enter your site’s homepage (or your competitors).

When you do, make sure that in the ‘Customize your search’ box you change the keyword options to only show keywords related to your phrases – keyword planner sometimes can bring in some unrelated phrases that are similar but no good.

Research keywords filters

You can then export these keywords and sort them by search volume.

With all of these methods, you will need to do some manual filtering. As intelligent as these tools are becoming, human input is still vital.


Blog Post Optimisation

It’s important that you also optimise your blog posts. Google rewards content that is designed to provide value for the user, but it is still important to include them in areas of your page that are important to technical SEO:

–          Your keyword should appear in the page URL once and not be repeated

–          You should use the keyword in the page title (H1 tag)

–          The keyword should appear once in the meta title tag, along with any modifiers

–          If you have an image on the page, the ALT text for this should contain a variation of the target keyword

–          Break up blocks of text with H2 tags, especially if you can use ‘modifier words’ in them (if relevant)

–          Include relevant internal links to other pages and blog posts