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Google processes about 40,000 search queries every second, and every search query involves keywords. If you’re a writer or an online business owner, it’s how people find you. And when you do it right, it’s how you get traffic.
This article is intended to teach you all you need to know to conduct effective keyword research as a beginner.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of finding and analyzing relevant queries in your niche or industry entered into search engines. The result is a list of keywords relevant to your goal which guide you to write more useful and search-worthy content for your audience.
Why is keyword research important?
People search for all kinds of information and products online every day, and they do this using keywords. Proper keyword research ensures:
- Your content is useful to your audience
- Your content stands a better chance of appearing on the first page of search engine results
Appearing on the first page in the search engine result is a blogger’s dream because most readers don’t go past the first page of the search engine result pages (SERP) when they enter search queries. The higher your content ranks, the more traffic to your website you get.
How to find keyword Ideas
Brainstorm ‘seed’ keywords
Think of what people type into Google when they look for what you offer. You can plug seed keywords into keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner to find thousands of related keywords.
See what keywords your competitors rank for
Look at the keywords that send web traffic to your competitors. Type your seed keyword and view which websites rank first.
You should then plug these websites into another keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and check the Top Pages report. This would show their most popular pages ranked by estimated monthly search traffic. It also shows each top page’s “Top keyword.” This is the keyword sending the most organic traffic to the website.
Use keyword research tools
There are keywords with great potential that your competitors may not be targeting yet. You can find them using keyword research tools. You plug in a seed keyword and it comes up with keyword ideas.
Here’s a list of research tools you can use:
- Google keyword planner
- Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
- SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
- Moz Keyword Explorer
Some of these tools are free to use while some require a paid subscription. Depending on your needs, test and find what works best for you. If these tools sound completely new to you, don’t feel overwhelmed. Most of them have blog and video tutorials where you can learn to use them effectively.
Understand your audience
The success of your keyword research process hugely depends on your understanding of your audience. Knowing what topics they’re interested in and how they search for these topics would give your keyword research process a foundational headstart because you understand your audience’s needs and challenges and equip yourself to provide high-ranking content that solves their problem.
The first question a writer or online business owner should answer is the goal the blog would center on. Answering this question makes handling keyword research easier. Knowledge of the topics your audience is interested in is an asset because it provides context for how to create content that provides value to them.
Other useful keyword research tools
Google trends is an important tool in the keyword research process. It shows you what’s trending and what’s becoming popular over time.
Quora is a Question and Answers site where you can discover the interests and questions of your audience.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook groups are also a good way to find out people’s interests.
Using the information from these various sites and tools, you can draw up a list of keywords, and thus content ideas, that is highly relevant to your audience. You can use a simple spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel for this curation process.
Evaluating your keyword research list
Now you have a deliberately-curated list of keywords but it’s not enough to have a list of keywords and pick them randomly. There are important metrics to consider when evaluating your keywords.
Search volume is measured as monthly search volume which means the number of times a keyword is searched per month. The higher the volume, the more potential there is for traffic.
This is also referred to as SEO difficulty. It indicates how difficult it’ll be to rank on Google. A high keyword difficulty means there’s a lot of content around that term making it more challenging to climb the results.
You have a better chance of ranking for a keyword with low keyword difficulty (40% or lower).
However, the sweet spot is finding a keyword with high search volume and low keyword difficulty. It implies that people are searching for the term, but you have less competition in ranking for it.
To effectively gather this data, you’d need the help of SEO tools we mentoned above.
Good keyword research is the foundational basis for content optimization. It should be done before you start creating content for a niche audience. It is important to note that keyword research is a continuous and iterative process that should be done regularly.
You can then move on to the content creation process and use the information gotten from your keyword research to create high-quality content to satisfy the search intent of your audience and potential readers.