White desk lamp beside green plant

SEO Keyword Research: What To Look For & How to Do It

Published on July 02, 2019
by Samer Awada

Ever wonder how your competitors are ranking so well for their blog posts? Most likely they are doing their research before even thinking about writing on specific content. Think about it... is it even worth writing about something if no one is interested in reading? 

Some bloggers don't bother researching their blog content and then wonder why their posts are not ranking on Google. 

Keyword research is not something that sort of has to be done. It's something you must do. Before any SEO campaign takes off, this is a necessary prerequisite to all of it. It makes for easier and more effective content optimization. You are able to figure out the thoughts and desires of the people you are targeting. You are essentially entering the minds of your desired clients. Starting the SEO campaign without research is akin to taking off without a place to land. You just fly around aimlessly hoping a landing strip will show up somewhere. 

  1. Know Your Target Audience

The number one thing to keep in mind is the search intent. Before you start to go through suggestions, you must consider a few things. While tools like SEMRush are wonderfully useful, they also do not know your target audience as you do. SEO tools might provide great suggestions but how do those fit into the website?.

There are about four different kinds of searcher intent. There is informational, navigational, commercial and transactional. Which intent will the specific keyword chosen serve? Thinking about what else the targets are searching in the same scope will help come up with some great choices.

  • An informational search query is self-explanatory, these are queries that will yield informational results for the user.
  • navigational query is a search query entered with the intent of finding a particular website or webpage.
  • Wikipedia defines informational search terms as “Terms that cover a broad topic (e.g., Florida or shirts) for which there may be thousands of relevant results.”
  • transactional search query is a query that indicates an intent to buy or complete a transaction on your website.
  1. Mixed Keyword Pool

It is also important to mix types of keywords. The first type is the head terms. This is a one-word keyword. Then there are body terms. These have up to two words in them. Then there are long tail keywords. These have three or more words in them. It is advisable to mix up the types in one pool of keywords. This diversifies the portfolio. See, while head terms are frequently searched, the long tails often offer more desirable content. They will send you better quality clicks. Those with more potential. You want to be both of those things to a searcher. Both available and providing satisfaction.

  • Head terms keywords are one-word keywords with a large amount of search volume but are not targeted. They are generally broad with no specific search intent.
  • Body terms are two keyword phrases that will usually carry informational search intent or navigational if looking for a specific company.
  • Long tail terms or sometimes referred to as long tail keywords are your money maker. These are transactional or lead generating keywords. The good news on these is that since they are niche related phrases they are much easier to rank for but do have much less search volume.
  1. Keyword Gap Analysis

You can find the gap analysis tool in multiple SEO platforms. This is a comparison between domains, usually yours and your competitors. You get to see the keywords other sites rank for that yours does not, and vice versa. The goal here is to find new keywords in your niche that you can capitalize on and grab a part of the search market from your competition. You can see exactly what they are doing to rank and all you have to do is the same but better.

Do they have a 500-word article on the topic and 25 backlinks? Well, you need to write a 1500 word article and 100 backlinks to dominate that search term. This is a lot like casing out the competition.

  1. Related Keywords

These are keywords related to your main target keyword. For example, let's say you want to rank for "link building". You can type in "link building" into SEMRush's magic keyword tool and get a list of related keywords to that. Here is a brief example of how it looks:

related keywords

Using this tool you can discover new search terms that you otherwise wouldn't have thought of. We like to do this to get content ideas for our blog posts and content.

  1. Competitive Analysis

There is nothing wrong with casing out the competition. In fact, do not stop at just their keywords. Look at the overall SEO strategies of the competitors. Many SEO tools have a feature where you can find out who their organic competitors are. Where exactly are they getting their backlinks from? Can you also get them from the same source? Competitive analysis is all about collecting data about the competitors. Finding out which SEO tactics they employ. You get to find out which tactics are popular and most effective in your industry. You learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. You can use this data to take advantage of their weaknesses and imitate their strengths. 

There are many tools out there that offer you all this SEO data and metrics but the one that has exceeded our expectations is SEMRush.com. They do require a monthly subscription but if SEO is something you will deal with often then it is 100% worth it!

Results of Effective Keyword Research

In conclusion, you will want to take some time to do your research before you write your next content piece. Even though it could be time-consuming to do it will pay off in the long term. Many publishers focus on quantity of blogs over quality and this is simply not the case anymore. 

In today's world, we have billions of blogs and articles out there unlike back in the 2000's where there were just a couple of thousands. Google is now looking for quality of content to rank and the quality of the websites they are receiving links from. Keep this in mind and you will start to exponentially increase your organic search traffic.

Category: SEO

Samer Awada

Samer Awada

Software developer & digital marketer living in Miami FL.
Follow him on Twitter: @sam_devworld