4 Keyword Research Tips for Beginners
Keywords are the key to getting your content discovered by both users and search engine bots, which is why keyword research is central to the success of every SEO and content marketing strategy. With properly executed keyword research, you can find and choose the most relevant keywords that resonate best with your target audience.
How do you get started with keyword research? What tools can you use? How do you choose the best keywords among your options?
Getting Started: Keyword Research for Beginners
1. Keyword discovery
The first step is to create a list of possible keywords to use. There are several criteria to base your choices on, but for beginners, you can focus on the following:
- Search volume: This refers to the number of times a keyword was searched in a given period (typically by month). This is a good gauge of how important a keyword is to your audience.
- Keyword difficulty: Also referred to as keyword competition. This is a metric that evaluates how difficult (or easy) it takes for a keyword to get into the top 10 search results. It’s based on several factors including page and domain authority, as well as content quality.
TOP TIP: Use an Excel/Google spreadsheet to organize your list.
Some of the best free tools and resources you can use for keyword discovery are:
- Google Keyword Planner: The most common keyword tool being used by marketers.
- Google Trends: This is best used for finding keywords or topics with seasonal fluctuations.
- Forums: Some of the most popular online communities that you can get ideas from are Quora and Reddit, as well as Facebook Groups. Depending on your industry, you can also go for niched forums such as Stack Overflow for programmers or GameSpot for gamers.
- Google Search: If you already have a vague idea on which keywords to target, using the auto-suggestions and related searches from Google Search is a good way to discover more relevant keywords.
2. Choosing the right keywords
The next step is to narrow down your list by choosing the top keywords that are most relevant to your goals and your audience. A few considerations to make:
- Relevance: How relevant is this to the search intent of your target audience? (More on search intent in the next sections.) Does the keyword/topic make sense to your brand and the industry you’re in?
- Volume and competition: The goal here is to find your “sweet spot”—that is, keywords with medium-level or high search volume with low competition. In many cases, it’s best to go for highly specific keyword phrases (i.e., long-tail keywords). Search volume may be lower for long-tail keywords, but using them ensures that the audience you’re gaining is more intentional in their search and are more likely to convert.
- Authority: Choose keywords that have medium-level or high search volume whose competitors have lower backlinks and domain authority (DA). This will work in your favor, especially if you’ve established yourself as a reliable source of information in your industry.
- Trend and projection: On Google Trends, you can opt for low-volume keywords that have a favorable trend history and projection. If you can assess whether a certain topic may become more popular in a few weeks or months, it can be a great choice.
TOP TIP: Determine your target readers’ needs, interests, level of knowledge, and at which stage of the sales funnel they are in. It will help you shortlist your keywords.
3. Getting cues from competitors
Another strategy for keyword research is to do content gap analysis with competing domains. What this means is that you evaluate the content and keywords that your competitors are currently ranking, and you identify what topics or angles they haven’t explored yet.
Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is a good premium tool to use for content gap analysis. You can also simply look at the content on the first page of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and see where you can fill in the gaps. A few things to factor in:
- Timeliness/freshness of the content: Is the competitor’s content outdated? When was it last published or updated? Is there new information that you can include in your version of the content?
- Content thoroughness: This is especially important for more complex topics. Did the competitor explain the content well? Does it have any lacking examples or details?
- Usability: Evaluate the usability of the competitor’s webpage. Is the content easy to read on a variety of devices? Does it load fast, are ads affecting the experience, etc.? These factors are all the more relevant now that Google is putting a heavy emphasis on UI/UX with their Core Web Vital algorithm update.
4. Phrasing your shortlisted keywords
Considering user intent and context is crucial in phrasing your keywords. Your keyword phrase needs to be relevant to the needs and interests of your target audience for it to be ranked well in SERPs.
There are basically three types of search queries:
- Informational: Queries of this type are usually in question form. Users are seeking answers to questions. For example, “How do you do keyword research for beginners?” AnswerThePublic is a good tool to use to find commonly searched questions for specific keywords.
- Navigational: This type of query is closely related to informational ones, but for navigational queries, users are looking for a specific URL/webpage to learn more. These are commonly used for business queries. For example, “Keyword research tool.”
- Transactional: This type of query is typically commercial in nature—that is, users are a step ahead in converting. For example, “Best keyword research tool” or “SEO provider in Texas.”
TOP TIP: Don’t over-optimize your headlines. Insert your target keyword as naturally as possible. Phrase your keyword for humans, not search engines.
Optimize Your SEO Strategy with Keyword Research
Keyword research is but one of the many steps involved in SEO. And while having the right keywords helps to establish the direction of your strategy, its success ultimately rides on your ability to produce high-quality content.
If you’re just starting out on your SEO journey, or if your brand needs additional support for your keyword research and content marketing needs, Ilfusion is here to help. We have the resources and professional experience that can help you optimize your SEO strategy even better.content marketing, keyword research, long tail keywords, SEO
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