I’m pretty sure that everybody who has ever created some web content has at least a vague idea about SEO keyword research.
It’s basically any process that helps you to identify the right keywords to optimize your content for.
The more important question is: What does “the right keyword” mean?
Although keyword research is a complex process, it is not rocket science. When done properly, it may help you to rank better and bring more relevant traffic to your website.
(Note: This is a guest post by Vlado Pavlik, an SEO enthusiast working over at Mangools. This guy has some serious knowledge on Keyword Research for Beginners. Enjoy!)
All you need to do is to focus on these 3 key factors when looking for your ideal keyword:
1. Keyword Popularity
Keyword popularity, or, in other words, the search volume of the keyword is the cornerstone metric of the keyword research.
The math is simple – the higher the search volume of the keyword, the more visitors will you get to your website if you rank for that keyword. It’s a pretty obvious factor when deciding what keyword to rank for so it does not need to be analyzed in detail here.
The problem is that many beginners focus only on the search volume and reduce the whole keyword research to these 3 steps:
- They put their keyword into Google Keyword Planner (or any other keyword suggestions tool)
- They detect the keywords with the highest search volume
- They try to optimize for those keywords
Although these steps are not totally wrong when taken separately, this process lacks too many other important steps and the keywords found in this way may not (and most probably won’t) bring the desired results.
Although the search volume is a very important number to focus on, there are two other factors that need to be considered: DIFFICULTY and RELEVANCY of the keyword.
2. Keyword Difficulty
Let’s say you have a food blog and you want to do a keyword research for an article about homemade pizza dough. If you focused solely on the search volume, you would probably go for the keywords such as “pizza dough” or “pizza dough recipe”.
However, as soon as you use a keyword tool that has a keyword difficulty metric, you will see that the competition for these keywords is high and it would take a lot of time and effort to rank for these keywords.
Not to mention the fact that as a beginner, your website/blog is probably not as authoritative as other websites and it would be almost impossible to beat the competition.
A screenshot of the keyword suggestions with the keyword difficulty metric (KD) from KWFinder tool. Green color indicates lower competition of the keyword.
As soon as you consider the keyword difficulty, you will find many other keyword possibilities that are not so hard to rank for – the keyword “italian pizza dough” is a great example.
Of course, the keywords with lower difficulty are usually not as popular as the main keywords in terms of search volume, but the competition is much lower so you will save a lot of time and energy that you can invest, for example, into another article!
Keyword research can also help to specify the topic. In our example, the keyword “pizza dough without yeast” has even better difficulty/popularity ratio, so it would be worth considering to focus the article in this direction.
Note: Be careful, the “competition” metric in Google Keyword Planner is not a keyword difficulty metric. It simply refers to the level of competition in the AdWords PPC system. It is useless for keyword research purposes.
3. Keyword Relevancy
Another important factor is keyword relevancy. The easiest way to see whether the keyword you found is actually relevant to your content is to check the search results for this keyword.
If you want to rank with a product page of your e-shop and all the results in the SERP are the product reviews, the keyword is probably not right for you. The same applies the other way round.
It’s important to differentiate between the main types of keywords – informational, navigational and transactional keywords.
A person who is just doing research about a certain product will definitely use a different keyword than somebody who is already decided and ready to purchase.
To find out whether the keyword is relevant, you need to analyze where does your content fit in the buyer’s journey:
Three basic stages of the buyer’s journey as represented at the HubSpot blog.
Very often, the so-called long-tail keywords (keywords containing 3 and more words) are the best way to go, as they may comply with the search intent of the user more precisely.
The long-tail keywords such as “Olympus E-PL8 best price” may have significantly lower search volume than “digital cameras”, but you know that the user is much further on the buyer’s journey and the probability of the conversion is much higher
You need to ask yourself these two questions:
- In what phase of the buyer’s journey is the user that would benefit from my content the most?
- What keywords will he use in this phase?
Search volume is one of the most important factors to consider when doing keyword research, but it is not the only one. If you find a keyword that is massively searched for but irrelevant to your content or too difficult to rank for, it is useless.
In the following diagram, you can see that the proper keyword research should equally consider the popularity, difficulty, and relevancy of the keyword.
Usually, it is not worth the effort to aim for the keywords with the highest search volume, unless you are an authoritative website able to outrank the competitors in Google. Therefore, it is always good to consider the keyword difficulty.
By checking the actual SERP results for the given keyword, you can find out whether your content fits into the results that are shown for this keyword.
Finally, a proper analysis of the buyer’s journey will help you to decide, where does your content fit and what kind of keywords to look for.
Think of these three aspects – popularity, difficulty, and relevancy – as three legs of a three-legged stool that represents the ideal keyword. As soon as you take one of the legs, it will collapse.
About the Author:
Vlado Pavlik is an SEO enthusiast and a huge inbound marketing fan. He works at Mangools where he takes care of the customers and participates in the content marketing of the company. In his free time, he dabbles in web development and loves nature and hiking. Follow him over on Twitter!