Keyword Research for SEO: The Easy Guide (2018 Update)
When Tim Berners launched his website in August 1991, he had no idea what keyword research meant.
You can’t blame Tim because he actually invented the first website.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of identifying or creating new keywords in order to use them to dominate first-page rankings on search engines.
It involves using Search Engine Optimization tools and webpage analysis.
Keyword research is the foundation of on-site SEO.
The good news is that you don’t need any specialized computer knowledge or a background in SEO to understand keyword research.
In fact, keyword research is highly relevant to offline businesses.
The Honesty Era
During the late 90’s, website owners didn’t struggle with keyword research due to two reasons.
- First, not many people could afford websites and the ones who did almost automatically gained first-page rankings on Excite, the first search engine.
- Second, the early 90’s search engines mainly relied on spiders to crawl information without checking for black hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing.
In the mid-2000's, Google’s programmers noticed that it was too easy for undeserving websites to attain first page rankings through keyword stuffing.
In order to curb this practice, Google invented complex algorithms to de-index websites that were oversaturated with keywords.
And so, the first Google penalty had been issued!
Nine secrets that will help you master keyword research in any industry
If you strongly desire to attain first page rankings for the hottest keywords in your industry, pay attention to these proven keyword research tips shared below.
Most people have no idea about tip #7 and tip #9.
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1. Understand Search Engines
Search engines exist to provide end-users with the most credible information online.
In order to do this, search engines rely on algorithms to crawl the vast cyberspace and properly index content according to the right keywords.
When you type, “watch movies online” you’ll notice Hulu and Netflix appearing on Google’s first page due to one simple reason.
Google deems these websites as the most credible globally for the keyword “watch movies online”.
It’s important to note that search engines do not create keywords.
You’ve probably heard someone talking about cold and hot keywords.
Search engines gauge a keyword’s strength based on how frequently it occurs in its particular industry.
This is the logic behind Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
Google enables website owners to do research on the trending keywords in their respective industry using the keyword planner tool available in AdWords.
With this tool, you can search new keywords that have high search volume when creating a Pay Per Click (PPC) or SEO campaign.
2. Do thorough market research
A keyword is a query typed into a search engine in order to obtain specific information.
For instance, if you want to purchase a new iPhone 8 in New York, your keyword will probably be “affordable iPhone deals in New York” or “Apple stores in New York”.
These keywords enable potential iPhone buyers to get specific information on where to find brand new iPhone 8 as well as price ranges.
SEO experts always advise business owners to first do thorough keyword research before launching websites and posting content.
Doing this enables you to identify hot keywords that have low competition, making it easier for you to attain first-page rankings on popular search engines.
When you create a list of highly relevant hot keywords, you’ll be able to write relevant articles that attract a high volume of web traffic.
Unique and engaging content easily converts readers into loyal customers.
One way of doing keyword research for commercial intent is by going online and noting the words and phrases people use to refer to products or services.
You can also visit your business rivals’ websites and sign up for their email newsletters.
When reviewing the different newsletters, you’ll be able to notice frequent keywords.
This insight helps you to avoid wasting time and money on oversaturated fields where it’s almost impossible for new brands to outpace dominant rivals in terms of first page rankings.
3. Identify all niches
In marketing, a niche refers to a small section of customers that have specific product or service needs.
Niches exist whenever a percentage of customers grow tired of challenges experienced when using a certain product or service.
Vaporizers exist because a section of cannabis and tobacco smokers grew tired and concerned of inhaling smoky, burnt plant material.
The best means of discovering untapped niches with high volume keywords is through analyzing buyers’ personas as part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
This term refers to a unique set of traits found in specific customers.
Think of traits such as age, income, country, gender, and frequency of use of a particular product or service.
Let’s go back to the Cryptocurrency illustration.
A quick research in most Cryptocurrency forums shows that most traders are either college students or fresh graduates in their first job.
Most budding traders struggle with insufficient capital.
By digging deeper, you’ll come across cryptocurrency traders urgently in need of capital, but don’t know where to access low-credit scores business loans.
Congratulations, you’ve come across a new niche of cryptocurrency traders with poor credit scores.
4. Capitalize on long-tail-keywords
Both businesses and customers determine keywords that appear in search engines.
Businesses create products, services, and online content that match keywords frequently used by consumers with buyer’s intent.
In marketing, buyer’s intent refers to the signals a customer sends right before making an online purchase.
For instance, the use of buyer’s intent keywords in order to find a suitable online store that sells certain products.
If you want to purchase an iPhone 8 online, you may use the keyword “apple stores near me.”
Marketing research proves that customers who use keywords ending with the words “near me” almost always end up making a purchase.
Sometimes, emerging needs lead to new customer inquiries.
For instance, when vaporizers emerged, the most commonly used keywords according to Google were; “Online vape shops,” “cheapest online vapor store,” and “vape kits.”
As time has passed, customers have developed new vaping needs.
Some consumers now want waterproof vaporizers in order to enjoy smoking by the poolside, beach or at a drizzling outdoor concert.
Using your research you can create a few unique keywords such as “affordable waterproof vape kits online," “waterproof vaporizer mods near me," and “outdoor waterproof vape kits.”
You can get ideas of strong and unique long tail- keywords by reading customers' comments on a particular brand's Facebook page or Twitter handles.
Nowadays, most people inquire about new products or services through the comments section rather than relying on emails or phone calls.
After compiling a list of unique long tail keywords, all you need to do is create engaging content using your long-tail keywords as titles.
5. Differentiate buyers’ intent keywords from tire kickers
In order to dominate search engine results and convert website visitors into customers, businesses focus on proven keywords that precede online sales.
These are buyers' intent keywords. For instance, if you reside in Fresno, CA and want to have pizza for lunch without leaving your office, you'll go to Google and type "buy pizza online" or "pizza deliveries in Fresno".
When you dominate the buyers’ intent keywords in your niche, it’s easy to make high sales because the users are already willing to spend money.
This isn’t a customer who will bookmark your product page then wait until their next paycheck to purchase items.
You can come up with a list of buyers’ intent keywords by noting frequent keywords that appear in customers’ comments on Facebook or Twitter.
Take note of comments that begin with, “Where can I buy…," or, “Can I order this online?”
A tire kicker is a type of keyword used to obtain free items online.
Tire kickers will not bring you hundreds or thousands of customers, but they are great for leading potential ones through your sales funnel.
If you offer online cryptocurrency courses, you can reach out to traders by offering free ebooks or video tutorials.
Traders who use the keyword “Free BitCoin tutorials” in various search engines will end up on your website.
If, let’s say, 1,000 cryptocurrency traders visited your website and downloaded free ebooks, probably 10-15 people will pay for your online course.
Tire kickers have high search volume but low conversion rates because they usually start with the word “free."
Because of this, the audience is already prepared not to spend anything in order to acquire an album, ebook, movie or software.
6. Create engaging content related to high converting but overlooked keywords
Thriving brands in any industry usually dominate first page rankings for buyers’ intent keywords.
It’s hard to topple these brands because they have hundreds or thousands of high-value backlinks from credible websites.
Fortunately, you can outrank competitors who have few credible backlinks by creating and aggressively sharing unique content relevant to high converting, but rarely used keywords.
This requires the use of keyword research tools in order to rank various keywords and come up with new keywords that closely match hot keywords in your industry or niche.
If you rely on PPC advertisements, you can snatch significant web traffic from higher-ranking websites through paying way less for your newly discovered keywords.
Moz Keyword explorer helps website owners analyze keywords by monthly search volumes and organic Click-through-Rates (CTR).
A click-through rate refers to the percentage of your audience that obeys your call-to-action statements when it comes to clicking links contained in email sales copies or other online advertisements.
One way of creating hot keywords that have low bidding rates is by combining closely related keywords.
For instance, when you search “WordPress hosting” on Google, you’ll notice the following keywords.
- WordPress hosting comparison
- WordPress hosting GoDaddy
- Best WordPress hosting
In order to obtain first-page rankings for the same topic, you can come up with unique keywords such as:
- Affordable annual WordPress hosting
- Expert WordPress hosting
- 2017 WordPress hosting comparisons
- Convert product or service nicknames into hot keywords
Pop Culture is behind most product nicknames used internationally.
The 90’s rappers popularized the term “Beema” (or “Beamer”) as a reference to the classic BMW luxury motor vehicle brand.
Young Money Records founder, Lil Wayne coined the term “Bling Bling” to specify big, pricey jewelry.
Nowadays, it’s not unusual to come across online jewelry advertisements containing the word bling bling.
In fact, this term is even popular with consumers who don’t listen to rap music.
Because of this bling evolved from a song title to a hot keyword in the jewelry industry.
Businesses that maintain active and interactive social media campaigns have the advantage of learning new terms used by millennials.
It’s no secret that millennials determine the current slang vocabulary.
In order to decipher new slang, it’s advisable to hire or outsource your online marketing to professionals not older than 35 years of age.
Slang words are actually high converting but highly overlooked keywords since most marketers only focus on recycling hot keywords that are probably aged.
The advantage of this method is its low-cost and affordable nature.
All you need to do is monitor your audience's comments on social media platforms and listen to the hottest music genres among millennials.
7. Enhance your position for the keywords you dominate
If you follow the keyword research steps explained above, your brand will dominate first-page rankings for some commercial intent keywords within a short time.
However, just like sports, everyone wants to be on top of the mountain looking down on their competition.
Once you appear on Google’s first page, your priority is maintaining your enviable position.
Dominant businesses in your industry maintain their enviable search engine rankings by frequently creating and sharing compelling content relevant to their keyword strengths.
This is why you need analytical search engine tools such as Alexa and Moz to enable you to identify your brand’s keyword strengths.
Otherwise, you may waste time and money competing to rank on the first page for the wrong keywords.
To enhance your position, take a pen and paper and note all the keywords that put your brand on Google's first page.
Then, brainstorm all topics related to your keywords.
Doing this enables you to identify unexploited niche and long-tail-keywords.
Using this new list, you can write new articles that provide your audience with information that’s exclusive to your website.
This strategy enhances your brand’s credibility ensuring the audience respects you as an authority.
It’s easy to convince other higher-ranking sites to post your content in exchange for backlinks when you establish your brand as a credible authority.
Posting unique content helps both you and backlinking websites to attract and retain high volumes of web traffic.
8. Take note of the hottest YouTube videos in your market
YouTube is a rich but highly overlooked search engine.
Most people think of YouTube as an entertainment website, yet it can help you discover hot keywords that your competitors won’t find on Google’s Keyword Planner.
If you look at search engine results for a particular keyword, you’ll notice that Google ranks results in four main categories.
When you click “Videos,” Google directs you to YouTube.
In order for a video to appear on the first page, it should contain relevant keywords and sufficient backlinks from credible domains.
Google also respects YouTube as a credible source of information due to both being part of the “Alphabet” parent company.
Many upcoming businesses upload numerous videos to exploit this with YouTube.
When you watch a video on YouTube, you’ll notice a column of related videos appearing on the right side of your computer monitor.
YouTube suggests these videos because they contain keywords and content that are similar to your search query.
Smart entrepreneurs know that these suggested videos contain keyword gems in their titles and descriptions.
Just like Google, YouTube will provide you with the closest results in case you can’t find content that correctly matches your keyword.
These results can help you come up with a list of niche topics.
The YouTube comments can help you catch up with the latest slang in your industry.
Slang can help you gain an edge by posting engaging articles or videos and then converting that slang into hot keywords.
9. Plan it, plan it, plan it!
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
You need to properly map out your keyword research strategy to ensure you dominate Google’s first-page rankings as soon as possible.
Keyword research enables you to anticipate emerging hot keywords in your niche giving you an edge over your competition.
Once you have your keywords researched and ready to go, you’ll want to make sure that your page is properly optimized for all of the other variables of SEO.
Our SEO Cheatsheet can help you out with that, click below to download.