If you’re here, you may already have an idea of how powerful SEO keyword research can be. You may already know that keyword research is the foundation of winning SEO.
In fact, you could almost say it’s necessary for the majority of SEO campaigns.
The “magic of SEO” happens because, when you know what people are searching for, you can make the answer appear the exact moment they search for it.
On the other hand, if you don’t know what people are searching for — and/or you don’t create content for it — then you don’t know if there is any demand for what you publish. It’s like throwing darts blindfolded. You have no idea if you’ll hit anything.
Most of the time, this gamble fails.
But when done right — and combined with other solid SEO processes (including link building) — keyword research helps you to produce a repeatable content process that consistently earns traffic over time.
Keyword research benefits
Ultimately, keyword research helps you understand exactly what content to create to best help your business goals and target relevant traffic.
There are literally billions of possible keyword combinations out there, and in every language too. Even if you tried, it would be impossible to target them all.
Fortunately, people tend to search for the same things — or often very similar things — for which you can group keywords together. When done right, keyword research helps you find the best keywords for your particular website.
“Winning” keyword research helps you to find phrases and topics which:
Are most relevant to your business
Have sufficiently high search volume
Have low competition (e.g. are rankable)
You can see how these factors play together in the diagram below.
- Discover valuable keyword phrases and topics
You think you know what you want to rank for, but are you certain? Do you know all the ways people are searching that might lead to your website?
For example, if you sell “wholesale wine glasses” this might be a good term to target. Keyword research can help you uncover other relevant terms such as:
wholesale wine glasses bulk
cheap wine glasses
8 oz wine glasses bulk
If you run a wine glass business, how valuable would ranking on the first page of Google be for each of these terms?
You might have been able to guess some of these, but a smart keyword research strategy can help you uncover thousands of these keyword opportunities at scale.
- Find keywords with sufficient search volume
Truth be told, while there are billions of possibly relevant keyword combinations out there, not all of them are worth going after.
In the wine glass example above, would it be worth it to create content for each of these keywords? To find out, it helps if we attach a search volume to each keyword phrase.
We’ll cover this in greater detail later, but “search volume” is roughly the number of times these phrases are searched for in Google each month.
Keyword Phrase Search Volume
wholesale wine glasses 600
wholesale wine glasses bulk 50
cheap wine glasses 1500
8 oz wine glasses bulk 10
As you can see, search volume can vary wildly from one phrase to the next. Our original phrase, “wholesale wine glasses”, has decent search volume, but we’ve discovered “cheap wine glasses” blows it out of the water.
At the same time, “8 oz wine glasses bulk” doesn’t seem very popular by comparison. On the other hand, if your business sells these types of glasses, earning only a few clicks a month might be hugely valuable.
This is a good time to talk about the “long tail” of keyword research, and the 80/20 rule. Only about 20% of the keywords people search for will be popular “head” terms. The majority of keyword phrases will be less-frequent, long-tail keywords.
- Find keywords you can actually rank for
Finding popular keywords is great, but it’s a double-edged sword. That’s because the more popular and valuable a keyword is, the more competition there is to rank.
The key is finding the sweet spot of keywords that are valuable to your business, but not so competitive that you don’t have a chance of ranking for them.
“Cheap wine glasses” may be a great keyword phrase, but because it has such a high monthly search volume, it’s likely lots of established and popular sites are also trying to rank for it.
If you’re a smaller site just starting out, this can make it difficult to rank for your most desirable keywords.
The trick is to find those keywords with high demand and low competition. Let’s look at our table of keywords one more time, but also add a column for “Keyword Difficulty.”
Keyword Phrase Search Volume Keyword Difficulty
wholesale wine glasses 600 35
wholesale wine glasses bulk 50 36
cheap wine glasses 1500 46
8 oz wine glasses bulk 10 38
Surprise! “Wholesale wine glasses” is actually the least competitive of all the phrases we’ve considered so far. “Cheap wine glasses” has more volume, but it is also harder to rank for.
There are other considerations we should include while building a keyword list, including language, seasonality, and click-through rates. We’ll cover these in more detail in Chapter 3.
- Crafting a complete content strategy from keyword research
Once you have a list of relevant keywords to target, you can create a plan for building content around those keywords. This is your content strategy or content roadmap.
With keyword research, you can start to answer questions like:
What are my main topics, and what are my child-topics?
When can I target multiple keywords on a single page, and when should I split them into separate pages?
What kind of content do users expect when searching for each phrase?
Where does each phrase fall in my visitor’s journey (i.e. awareness > interest > purchase)?
So far, we’ve touched on finding keywords for a single topic or page. Using this guide, we’ll walk you through a process you can use to discover hundreds or thousands of relevant, potential topics. We’ll also cover powerful competitive analysis techniques so that you can uncover all the valuable keywords that every one of your competitors ranks for, allowing you to craft a completely dominating content strategy.
Ready to dive in? Get started with uncovering seed keyword ideas.