How To Do Keyword Research For SEO In 2020: Beginner’s Guide

Spending a few hours writing the best stuff in your niche. But still not getting enough traffic. The problem is keyword research.

In simple words, you aren’t targeting the right keywords in your blog posts. Once you start targeting the right keywords, you can make money with affiliate marketing or AdSense.

Keywords are the first step to a successful SEO. The simple way of keyword research for SEO is to determine your target audience and what it will take to rank for those keywords.

While Google algorithm updates keep us on our toes, the only thing stayed consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize the blogs for keyword research.

It is a bit time-consuming task and involves a little effort to pour through details, numbers, and comparing long lists of keywords. But it is essential to do it well. Thorough keyword research will be the foundation of your SEO strategy and content development.

And when you nailed your SEO, that is when your organic views start coming in. In this complete guide, we will take you through the whole process step by step.

Chapter 1: Keyword Research Basics

In this chapter, the fundamentals of keyword research are covered. You will learn what keyword research is and why it is important.

What are the keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases that a user types into the search engine to find specific information. These keywords are also known as search queries or “SEO Keywords.”

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of analyzing and searching keywords that you want to rank for first position in search engines. It is about understanding what potential people are searching for and how.

By researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics you want to create. Then you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.

When To Do Keyword Research?

Finding out the keywords is the first step in search engine optimization of any website. SEO Keyword research is required when you are:

  • Searching for a new niche
  • Looking for new content ideas
  • Optimizing the existing content

Importance Of Keyword Research

Until you don’t know from which search terms you want to rank your blog post at the top position, you won’t be able to optimize pages, content, and images to draw qualified traffic to your website.

Suppose you choose a keyword that is not related to your site or niche. And then you place that into your post. There is a chance for a short time that your blog post may get ranked in search. But loose traffic and users won’t stick to your site as wrong keywords may not satisfy the user’s intent.

This will increase the site’s bounce rate and leads to losing your overall ranking.

When you do proper research and select keywords based on data, you will be more effective in completing a key goal.

  • Attract Qualified Traffic

The selected keywords determine the amount of traffic your site can attract and the high quality of traffic. Visitors who are not a part of your target audience are considered low-quality traffic. The keywords you select have a big impact on which type of traffic your site attracts.

Brief History

In the 2000s, the whole process of ranking the keyword is so simple. Just do the keyword research on Google Keyword planner, find a keyword with the highest search volume, and stuff them into the website text. But many people misused it, and Google responded with several Algo updates over the years.

Major Algorithm Updates

These updates are made to understand what users want and serve them with the best possible results. Some of the important updates that influenced the way to do keyword research:

Panda: This Google update is developed to reduce the prevalence of low quality, thin content in the search result, and to reward unique content.

Penguin: This update massively changed SEO, as Google targeted manipulated link building tactics and webspam.

Hummingbird: It has improved semantic search, focuses on search intent, and how the subject of a search relates to other information in the broader sense.

From all these updates, it is cleared that SEO keyword research is becoming more and more topical. It is no longer about finding one keyword. It is all about understanding the audience and covering the topic with user satisfying content.

Types Of Keywords

  • Short Tail Keyword

These keywords are known as generic keywords which are not having any intent around it. These broad keywords are so generic that most of the time, they don’t carry any user intention.

These keywords are difficult to rank but easy to monetize.

Example: Weight Loss, Restaurants, WordPress

  • Mid-tail Keywords

These keywords carry small information along with them.

Example: Weight Loss Diet, Continental Restaurants, WordPress themes

  • Long-Tail Keywords

These keywords are more specific, and the user’s intent is cleared easily. Long-tail keywords are money-making or buy persona keywords.

If you are targeting the customer who wants to buy a room heater in India, then your main keyword is “room heater”, and to create best keywords, you would have to be specific in your targeting and create long sized keywords.

  • Best Room Heaters In India
  • Best Room Heaters Under 2000 In India
  • Best Room Heater For Winters In India
  • Best Halogen Room Heater In India

The idea behind a long tail keyword is that it is an easier method to target a long-tail keyword.

Examples: Best Weight Loss Diet For Moms, Best Continental Restaurants in Delhi, WordPress Themes For Blogs

  • Evergreen Keywords (Long Term)

Evergreen keywords are those that are relevant all the time. If you are looking to start a long term website, you can start with evergreen keywords and build a niche website around them.

Example: Best helmets for bikes, Best Washing Machines

  • Seasonal Keywords (Short-Term/Fresh )

These keywords are commonly searched in a specific season. You can make use a fresh keyword’s explosive volume of search to attract organic views but be ready for harsh fall when the hype is over.

Example: Best 1 Ton AC, Best Room Heater, Happy Diwali Wallpapers

How To Do Keyword Research For SEO In 2020?

Effective keyword research is a prime key for digital marketers. Develop an ideal keyword list for SEO isn’t enough. They also need keyword research to determine what topics they should write about and what phrases they should use while writing.

Keyword Research Steps

There are three stages of keyword research:

Let’s get started with details of each step. 

Chapter 2: How To Find Keywords

Now it’s time to get into the basics of keyword research. There are different ways to do it, either manually or using keyword research tools. However, whichever way you choose, there are various important steps to consider.

This step-by-step guide to keyword research will help you perform proper and thorough research.

Study Your Niche

The first step before starting keyword research is to dive deep into learning more about your topic or niche. With this, you can get out of the box ideas and SEO strategy that you might not have thought about before.

Create a list of 5 to 10 generic keywords around your niche. Also, you should be completely aware of your niche market and the sub-niche market.

Search-Based On Seed Keywords

Keyword research starts with seed keywords. A seed keyword can turn up a dozen of long-tail keywords that you can rank for on Google.

First of all, let’s understand what seed keywords are?

These are known as ‘head keywords’ or ‘main keywords’. They consist of just one or two words.

  • Start Brainstorm

Suppose you start a website on a bicycle. Think of broad topics related to it that are relevant to your audience and industry.

Example:

Electric Bicycle | Exercise Bicycle | Fitness Bike | Bicycle for kids | Hero Bicycle

  • Using Ahrefs

Here I am using Ahrefs, as it is a professional tool and contains billions of keywords. Plug the keyword and check all the keyword ideas by the search volume.

Ahrefs Example

  • Amazon

Amazon has its own search engine called A9. Like Google and Youtube, it collects data about popular search queries and provides automatic suggestions. You can search for them manually or use any free tools that do that automatically.

The relevance of suggestions is based on the product buying behaviour and conversion rate.

Amazon Example

If you are an affiliate marketer or an e-commerce store owner, then don’t forget about Amazon. Amazon is a treasure-trove of keyword ideas. You can either navigate to your niche related category or perform a search using a seed keyword. Moreover, you can scope out more keyword ideas by looking at the top-selling product names and suggested subcategories.

Or another easy way is Google Auto Suggest.

In the below screenshot Google Auto Suggest has added various modifiers to the seed keyword ‘Bicycle’:

Using Google Auto suggest

Compiling a list of seed keywords is the main step to find long-tail keywords.

Plug Your Seed Keywords

Armed with your list of seed keywords, the next step is to feed them in the keyword research tool.

Enter a few of your seed keywords and see how many ideas it generated. For a more precise result, go to “phrase match”. Apply filter for ‘KD’ (Keyword Difficulty) Max is equal to 10 and ‘Include’ terms’ best, review, for’.

Ahrefs Example

Here, you’ll find so many long-tail keyword suggestions. 

Now, that might seem like a long list of ideas. How to narrow down this list we will learn in the next section.

Identify Long-Tail Keywords

These keywords are more descriptive and related to the brand’s smaller buckets of sub-topics. Matching the target audience’s search intent to these keywords is easier compared to seed keywords.

Let’s say you have a blog about Bicycle reviews. And you are targeting a keyword “Bicycle”. The problem with these keywords is that they have very high competition.

Long Tail Keywords

But if you dig deeper into the niche, you will find that people interested in Golf or looking Golf club sets may also use keywords like:

  • Best Bicycle For Kids
  • Best Bicycle Helmets In India
  • Best Folding Bicycle
  • Best Geared Bicycle

All of these are called long-tail keywords. These keywords have higher engagement and conversion rates.

Competitor Based Keyword Research

Competitor keyword research is one of the most valuable features of paid tools. Finding what your competitors rank for manually is tedious work. You have to go page by page and guess the phrases your competitors focus on.

There are two basic ways to do it:

Method-1

Check your competitor’s website to get new topic ideas

You can discover new exciting topic ideas or new keyword by checking the terms your competitor ranks for.

In this example below, I have entered the domain of a blog about treadmill. It shows a list of keywords the website is ranking for.

Competitor Based Research

Method-2

Check By Specific URL To Get Keyword Ideas For Specific Topic

You can use this technique if you already have a topic in mind. Let’s say you want to write an article about “Best GPS Watch For Hiking” for your Fitness blog.

Just enter the term into the search bar and see who ranks for a top position.

Once you found the competitor, just enter the URL of his article and check other phrases the articles rank for. All of them are closely connected to your main topic.

Chapter 3: How To Analyze Keywords?

After getting a dozen keyword ideas, the main task is to choose the ones that will bring the most value to you. There are three key factors: popularity, difficulty, and relevance.

The Fan Rule

I like to correlate these three factors as a table fan which helps you understand the term more clearly. So I called it “The Fan Rule of Keyword Research” This is my theory to make learning easy.

Why Fan? Because it is balanced and gives good airflow only if all three blades are attached. If one of the blades will be missing, the fan will be unbalanced. And the result in less airflow. Similarly, the same applies to any keyword:

  • If its search volume is high and low keyword difficulty but isn’t relevant to your content, you won’t rank for the keyword.
  • If relevance and search volume are good, but the difficulty is too high, it will be hard to outrank your competitors.
  • If the difficulty is low and the keyword is relevant but no search volume, you will get no traffic.

Popularity (Keyword Search Volume)

Suppose your specific keyword is ranking on the first page, but if no one searches for it, what will be the result? It will not lead traffic to your site. It’s like setting up a shop in a ghost town.

Search Volume

Search volume means how many people search for the given phrase. It is measured by MSV (Monthly Search Volume) that means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.

Keyword Difficulty

It is a metric that helps to understand how hard it is to rank for a particular search query. This keyword difficulty metrics used in various paid and free keyword tools are analysed by looking at the number of referring domains of the top 10 ranking pages. KD evaluates the chance of getting into the top 10 of search results.

The higher is the KD, the harder it will be to rank for the keyword with your website. If there are low authority websites in the first SERP, there is a good chance of ranking for the keyword.

How is website authority calculated?

You can calculate by taking into account two things:

  • Number of Backlinks: It indicates how many pages link to the given website
  • Quality of Backlinks: It depends on the authority and relevance of the linking pages.

These metrics capture the authority of the page in one number of scale from 1 to 100. If you consider the authority of the websites ranking on 1st SERP, you can estimate how difficult or easy it will be to rank for the keyword.

Authority

When Analysing KD metric, keep a few things in mind:
Don’t Compare Number Between Different Tools: Each tool uses different data to calculate their keyword difficulty so the value may differ.

Don’t Take The KD as the only clue: The KD metric only helps you as a guideline, its not an absolute value. If your content is relevant and better, you can outrank websites with higher authority.

Don’t Forget About The Subjective Factors: Only one metric can’t tell you exactly how hard it will be for you to rank a keyword. There are various subjective factors:

  • Your SEO skills
  • Your Website Authority
  •  Content relevancy

If your site is new or doesn’t have many links yet then target low competition term first. And when your site grows in authority, you can start to target more competitive SEO keywords.

For example, when I first launched my website, I targeted almost long keywords. And because I didn’t have a ton of sites to compete with, I was able to get some organic traffic rolling in a few months. This helps me achieve some early SEO success.

Relevance

As Google ranks the content for relevance, the concept of search intent is vital. By SERP analysis, you can better evaluate the difficulty by looking at the authority of ranking websites. And it also helps to discover the search intent behind the keyword to see whether the term is relevant to your content.

Your content will rank for a keyword when it meets the searcher needs. Also, your content must be the best resource out there for the query.

There are four search intent categories:

  • Navigational – the user is looking for a particular website/brand
  • Informational – the user is searching for general information
  • Transactional – user wants to purchase something online
  • Commercial – user wants to research before purchase

Let’s understand it with example,

Search Intent

Navigational

Informational

Transactional

Commercial

Keyword

Electronics

How to wear headphone

Buy headphone

Best Bluetooth headphones

Content Types

Homepage/landing page

Any informative content

Product page

Reviews, Buying Guides

To discover the search intent look at what ranks in the first SERP. Sometimes the phrase may be topically relevant to your page but not relevant in terms of the search intent.

Example

Let’s say you have a niche website on electronics and you want to pick a focus keyword for the product review of a Noise Cancelling Headphones.

You come up with the phrase “best Noise Cancelling Headphones in India”. It has a high search volume and seems easy to rank.

Sony WH-1000XM3 – The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones with Mic! It sounds quite catchy.

But with this term, the SERP will show you that your chosen keyword isn’t ideal for your content. Google understands “best noise-cancelling headphones in India” as a commercial keyword – all the results are reviews and buying guides.

The term wouldn’t be able to rank with your product page as it has a transactional word.

Chapter 4: How To Use Keywords

Create content that covers the topic thoroughly and satisfies the user’s needs.

Choose the one focus keyword that represents the topic.

Remember that don’t overuse it. The best way is to use the exact match wording in:

  • The Title ( H1 and Title Tag)
  • Meta Description
  • One of the first paragraphs of the text
  • At Least One Subheading
  • A couple of times in the text

As you know, keyword stuffing is an outdated technique, So don’t try to stuff the exact match phrase in the post to meet certain keyword density.

What About LSI Keywords?

The LSI keywords stand for Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. These are related to the main keywords and add more value to your content. When you add such keywords in your article, it becomes easier for Google to understand the intent of your post.

Now the problem is that some SEO experts claim that you should use LSI keywords without even knowing what they are.

In actuality, there are no such things as “LSI keywords” when it comes to content optimization. When it comes to synonyms or semantically related phrases, be careful and use them only if fits naturally.

NoteNote

Don’t try to optimize for every variation of a phrase as it can be harmful in the same way as keyword stuffing. It is not the right path to follow. It can be easily identified and hurts the readability.

Write Long-Form Content

It is tried and proven that on average, a long-form content (over 2000 words) ranks better than short articles.

Benefits:

  • In a long article, keyword variations are used naturally that increases the relevance
  • Improves the image of your brand as an authority in your field
  • Higher engagement as it answers the user’s question
  • Attracts more links, than short articles

Look at this example:

This article “Best Refrigerator In India”, is long one with detailed products review and pros & cons. 

Content

A quick look at the article will reveal that it is a well written, comprehensive post.

With long word count, it is a typical long-form article covering the whole topic. Therefore, if your content is top-notch, you may rank for terms you didn’t optimize not at all.

Try, Evaluate And Try Again

Once you have analyzed keywords that have chances to rank a specific term, the next step is to create content, write an amazing article, optimize it, and hit publish. Make sure your blog post will attract some great backlinks. And wait a little while. Check out rankings – does your article hit the first page of Google’s SERPs? Or hidden away on page 2 or 3?

Google the keywords you have optimized the article for. Check whether your efforts are paying off or not.

If you are not able to rank on top, try to write another one, focus on more long tailed keywords. Make it a little more specific, more niche. And re-evaluate it. Continue this process until your article ranks on the first page of the SERPs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How To Use Keywords In Your Content Strategy?

  • Think of the main keywords as topics
  • Select a focus keyword that represents the topic
  • Write in-depth articles that cover the whole topic thoroughly.
  • Don’t stuff the keywords into the text naturally?

2. What Are The Three Main Factors You Should Consider When Looking For The Keyword?

The three aspects are Keyword Difficulty, Search Volume and Relevance.

3. What Is Keyword Strategy?

It contains every decision you take based upon your finding in your keyword research. It is about how you want to target those keywords, now and in the future.

4. Why is Keyword Research An Important Part Of Search Engine Optimization?

To get traffic, you need to understand what people are searching for and create content that targets popular keywords. If you produce content after doing keyword research, your article can rank easily and get meaningful traffic from the search engines.

5. What Is a Head Term?

It is single-word keyword with high search volume and competition. The head terms don’t convert very well.

For example, “vitamins.” User searches for “vitamins” might be looking for vitamins for hair, vitamins for skin, vitamin supplements, or types of vitamins.

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