Keyword research when done right, can be a fairly complex process. It involves a multitude of different sources, advanced toolkits and a great deal of thoughtfulness.
Quick Jump Menu
- Create a list of seed keywords
- Use Google Search Console to find what keywords you rank for
- Intent-based keywords and micro moments
- Competitive keyword research using Ahrefs
- Analyse keyword metrics with Ahrefs Organic Keywords Report
- Find content topics with Ahrefs Top Pages Report
- Generate long-tail keywords and topic branching
- Keyword to content map
1. Create a list of seed keywords
Seed keywords are generic keywords. They describe your business and the industry you operate in.
They can comprise of the products/services you offer and the words people might use to find you.
Seed keywords form the foundation of your keyword strategy. They also give insight into who your competitors are.
Example (1), if you are selling a product like payroll software, your seed keywords will be “payroll software”, “online payroll”, “e-payroll”.
Example (2), if you are selling a service like presentation consulting, your seed keywords will be “presentation design services”, “visual storytelling”, “presentation strategy”.
2. Use Google Search Console to find what keywords you already rank for
If you have a website for a year, you might already be ranking for few hundred keywords. Identifying them is a great way to kickstart your keyword research strategy.
Most importantly, you can learn more about how your site appears in Google’s search engine results.
- what search queries have lead visitors to your site?
- what search queries are you appearing for?
- what are the pages that are doing well and driving keyword traffic?
Knowing your search query data can make or break your website’s efforts to be found on the web. Use google search console data to easily verify this.
Login to search console, in the ‘Search Analytics’ report:
Find which query (keywords) are driving traffic to your website
Most of the queries shown in search analytics report will be branded keywords. Our strategy is to gain organic ranking for non-branded keywords relevant to our industry/niche with content optimisation.
Step 1: Click on ‘Search Analytics’
You can click on the arrow on the top right corner of the query to see which page that query lands on.
Step 2: Select ‘Queries’
Filter Queries ‘not containing’→ insert [your brand/website name]
Now you have a list of non-branded keywords that people have searched for on Google which your website has appeared for. Then, the ‘position’ column indicates the ranking position of your website that ranked for that query.
This information is important for two reasons:
- Non-branded keywords contain lots of insight on search behaviour and semantic context about how your customers are looking to solve specific pain points
- Develop a content strategy that can see immediate results by identifying low-hanging fruits
After you have filtered the data, Download CSV!
Step 3: Analyzing the data
Analysing data on excel is really fun when you know what you’re looking for and why.
Clean up your data first by removing any duplicates and add an additional column for ‘Monthly Search Volume’.
For our keyword strategy, we want to find keywords with significant search volume but are not ranking in top 10. Then look at our website pages which can be further optimised with additional content.
3. Intent-based keywords and micro moments
Intent-based keywords are important as they attract the right traffic to your site.
This strategy focuses on user intent – whether informational, navigational or transactional. As a business, this helps you respond with the right content that drives the most ROI.
Micro-moments are about thinking in the shoes of your customers. It’s about building customer connections before they’re at the purchase stage.
4 categories of micro-moments
Google introduced the concept of micro-moments to illuminate the changing expectations in consumer behaviour. Users are searching with intent-rich moments based on their path to purchase. This changed keyword research frameworks and how content was mapped to conversion paths.
Nobody wakes up in the morning with the intent to buy right away. The shift to mobile has empowered consumers to find any information they want within their fingertips. Serving up a checkout page during the “I-want-to-know” moment is an example of responding with the wrong content.
If you provide helpful content in their “I-want-to-know” moments, they’ll likely remember you during their path to purchase.
Identify must-win micro-moments
Understanding your customers and their needs will help you discover their intents.
Start by identifying must win micro-moments for your business.
4. Competitive Keyword Research Using Ahrefs
Ahrefs keyword explorer + site explorer platforms have really proven to be a real powerhouse.
In this section, we will discuss exactly how to find profitable keywords with high potential to rank in the top 10 search results.
For this example, let’s pretend we are going to launch a product about carpet cleaning in Australia.
Search for “carpet cleaning”.
Check the keyword difficulty and search volume metrics.
Search volume and click metrics show you the traffic demand and value of a keyword.
- Keyword difficulty – how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 position based on backlink data. It also provides an estimated no. of referring domains you’ll need to rank.
- Search volume – avg. monthly search volume
- ‘With clicks’ – the percentage of searches that resulted in clicks. This is invaluable information to weed out keywords with huge demand but pathetic traffic. It even breaks down how many clicks were organic versus from paid ads.
From the above metric, we can see that 45% of searches for “carpet cleaning” resulted in clicks on search results. The chart also suggests that keyword has been popular for quite some time.
With a keyword difficulty of 26, it won’t be too difficult to rank for.
Let’s look at the top 5 ranking websites and how much search traffic they are actually getting.
The #1 ranking website, jimscleaning.net is actually ranking for almost 300 different keywords, which drives over 3.2k organic visits to his site.
So this proves the importance of long-tail keywords and topic branching (covered in our next section).
Analyse Keyword Metrics with Ahrefs Organic Keywords Report
The ‘organic keywords‘ report and ‘top pages’ from Ahrefs’ platform are great tools to enhance your competitive keyword research process. It’s simple to navigate and has the right data you need to get started.
With the ‘Organic Keywords’ report, we can gather:
- Number of keywords your target website ranks for
- Keyword metrics such as volume, traffic and keyword difficulty (KD)
This data is sufficient to tell us which keywords we can and should steal from our competitor’s.
Excited? So are we.
From above we can see that Electrodry is ranking for 5,925 keywords.
While its tempting to pick a juicy keyword with very high search volume, its harder to rank for it without building alot of backlinks.
An easy way to select the best keywords from your competitor analysis is to look at keyword difficulty. The lower the number, the easier it will be to rank in the top 10 search results.
Keyword Explorer → Export → On keyword column, filter ‘does not contain’ [brand name] → remove duplicates
This will give you a nice breakdown of non-branded keywords that your top competitor ranks for.
With just one competitor domain, I can see that majority of their keywords are location specific. I can consider creating individual pages targeting destination cities in Australia for carpet cleaning services to rank for those keywords.
It seems that “carpet cleaning sunshine adelaide”, “carpet cleaning brisbane” are not difficult to rank for and with huge search volume. Voila!
Besides that, we now know what keyword variation of carpet cleaning their audience is searching for. Such as “tile and grout cleaning”, “mattress cleaning”, “steam cleaning”, “upholstery cleaning”.
Find content topics with Ahrefs Top Pages Report
Find your competitor’s top content pages with the highest search traffic.
Why is this important?
Because you get to know what content topics are performing best on their website.
Take a look at our example, electrodry’s blog and export all data.
Site Explorer → Enter competitor’s blog → Organic Search → Top Pages
From this example, we can see that Electrodry’s top content with the highest search traffic is a post about the difference between carpet dry cleaning and steam cleaning.
It’s currently attracting 328 organic visits per month and ranking for 101 keywords – in a single post.
By clicking on the keywords number, we can see the individual keywords that the post is ranking for.
This is so invaluable because we can figure out which content pieces are:
- ranking for the most keywords;
- what those keywords are
- attracting high organic website visits
In this way, you can start with a small list of targeted keywords that is proven to rank on Google – then replicate it.
5. Generate long-tail keywords and topic branching
There are many keyword research tools out there, but our top 3 favourites are:
AnswerThePublic is great for brainstorming keywords with clear specific intent. This handy tool provides the queries and questions users have when searching for your targeted keyword.
For example, I want to know what people are searching for regarding ‘SEO’.
My 2 favourite uses for AnswerThePublic:
(i) Plenty of long tail keyword ideas, especially in question and comparison format. These suggestions not only give you more keywords to build content around, but insight into how consumers search.
(ii) Export all data for free in csv or as an image!
Ubersuggest takes a seed keyword and provides all relevant searches. This is probably the best keyword research tool to find related seed keywords and medium – long tail keywords.
The tool was recently acquired by Neil Patel and the platform underwent a slight makeover. It now includes search volume data and keyword suggestions from Google Keyword Planner and/or Google Suggest. You can also export it to CSV.
This is a very handy tool especially for bloggers, startups and small businesses who don’t have an active Google AdWords campaign running to use Keyword Planner for exact search volume data. (free users get the search volume in a range).
6. Keyword to Content Map
The final step is to create a keyword to content dashboard.
(i) Identify keywords that have no content pages mapped to them. To rank for your target keywords, you’ll need to build content around them. These are keywords which have no relevant pages or blog content around them.
Back to our “carpet cleaning” example, you may already have some product pages about carpet cleaning but none about “carpet cleaning in Brisbane”. If you don’t have relevant content pages targeting that keyword yet, this is when you can brainstorm new pages for content creation.
(ii) Identify content that have no keywords purposefully targeted. These are pages or blog posts in your site that don’t have clear keyword targeting.
(iii) On-page optimisation
Analyse on-page factors like title tags, meta description, H1 tags, URL structure and anchor texts to optimise for search.
On-page optimisation really deserves an entire guide on its own but for now we will focus on keyword related issues.
Keyword in URL
How valuable is it to have keywords in your domain URL?
Matt Cutts from Google has mentioned that “it does help a little bit to have keywords in the URL.” from a pure ranking perspective.