HOW TO DO SEO KEYWORD RESEARCH IN 2024

Find below how to do SEO keyword research in 2024. The best SEO keyword research for free. All the steps, instructions and template for Search Engine Marketing.

Brought to you by Mau, a Senior SEO Specialist at eDigital.

HOW TO DO SEO KEYWORD RESEARCH IN 2024

User experience is one of the most important elements in search engine optimisation. And that experience means you must provide the information or answer a user searches for, in a way that search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) can easily find, understand and value.

That’s how search engines provide relevant information to users. In less than one second a search engine algorithm will decide what web pages (previously indexed) are the most relevant for the user’s search intent.

No doubt, search engines are getting better and better at understanding their users’ search intent, which means they are providing more unique and granular search results that better address the user’s specific query.

You know the content on your website needs to provide a solution to a user’s problem, whether it’s a long-form article, a quick tip, a fact sheet, an image, an explanatory video or any other type of content.

The question is: Which searchers will provide the most return on your SEO investment and how to present optimised content to Google so you can improve your Search Engine Organic Rankings

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Keyword Research for SEO is a priority across all business industries as they know it can positively help across the customer purchase funnel: generating awareness, preference, leads, sales and loyalty.

This way, doing effective keyword research and optimising your content for search engines not only means potential customers will find you via search engines but also help all your marketing goals.

WHY KEYWORDS ARE SO IMPORTANT?

Text will always be the foundation of search, you need to make sure relevant keywords (text) around your online content assets are descriptive, this way your keywords will help your content rank well in search.

When you’re forming your SEO strategy, you must start with keyword research and below I will explain what this means and how to do it.

What is keyword research for SEO?

START WITH KEYWORD RESEARCH DISCOVERY

Before you start your SEO keyword research project and fill in a specific keyword research template, you need to understand the business, current customers and potential customers.

  • What you sell (exact products and services)
  • What makes the business tick (unique value proposition)
  • Main business goals.
  • Who the key (most valuable) customers are or key segments you want to prioritise to reach via SEO?
  • What do the customers care about the most when deciding on a service or product in your category? Why do those most valuable segments buy? what need are they satisfying?
  • How do those customers search? any insights?
  • Are there any seasonal trends that may affect search?

If you are an SEO Agency or an SEO Consultant, you may want to send the above questions and give them some time to think about their answers. Then have a meeting to walk through the questions with them and get the answers. When they can see who they are talking to, they will be more engaged and happier to share information about their business.

SEARCH INTENT IS VERY IMPORTANT

Google’s search results for a query are based on what the Google algorithm thinks is the searcher’s intent. It is no longer as much about the actual search keyword or phrase as it is about the meaning behind the search.

GOOGLE SEARCH QUALITY RATING GUIDELINES

On Google’s quality rater guidelines, they explain the four major user intents:

  1. To know something (information queries): harder to rank for as Google will display the info in:
    • Their own Google answer box
    • The first result is likely to be a paragraph from Wikipedia answering the query.
    • Auto-complete even before the user has finished typing the query. Example below.
search query answered by google auto complete - hard to rank for

Search query answered by Google auto complete – hard to rank for

  1. To buy something or sign up for (Transactional query). The user is looking to buy.
  2. Find a website (navigational query). The users are looking for a particular destination on the web. if you search in Google for “eDigital keyword search template” you will see the page ranked on the first page of Google results.
  3. Visit in person (Local query). The user is looking for something in their local area. Example: “Sydney SEO consultants“.

You can figure out what Google has decided the intent for a specific query is by looking at its results. Please note that the more generic the search is, the harder is for Google to figure out the intent and for you or your client (if you are an agency) to rank on Google. For popular generic searchers such as “shoes”, Google presents a mix of different intents as Google cannot figure out what the exact intent is.

A user searching “shoes” on Google will get a variety of mixed-intent results:

  • Image gallery that takes the user to “shoe” related e-commerce sites. (Transactional intent)
  • Local “Shoe” shops (Local intent)
how to do keyword research - generic words are very hard to rank for

how to do keyword research – generic words are very hard to rank for

BUILDING YOUR KEYWORD LIST

If you already understand the problem/need the business is solving with your brand then it will be easy to understand what customers will search for; allowing you to infer the user’s search intent.

Using the knowledge you gained from the discovery phase, start by listing important topics relevant to the business and the customer’s needs. Separate the list into buckets (similar concepts and ideas are grouped) and prioritise the buckets according to how each bucket helps users move across the purchase funnel from awareness to purchase and then to loyalty.

Once you have your main buckets figured out, you can start filling them with keywords. This is the “brain dump” phase where you can come up with anything you can think of. You will refine the keywords on each bucket later.

Places you want to check to fill in your initial keyword buckets:

  • Check your most popular pages on Google Analytics. Your top landing page data (in Google Analytics) will give you a very good indication of the keywords you may be already ranking. You can also search for a specific keyword using the search box below.

 

  • google analytics search top landing pages

Google Analytics searches top landing pages

  • Find the exact keywords already bringing you organic traffic from Google. Use Google Search Console to find what keywords your website is already ranking for. You may find some great opportunities to improve some of your current rankings. For example, keywords already ranking on positions 6-10 on page 1, you could try to get those into 1-5 positions. You should also work on bringing keywords on page 2 (positions 11-20) to Google’s page 1 (positions 1-10).
google search console performance report - finding keywords your website already ranks for

Google Search Console performance report – finding keywords your website already ranks for

  • Include competitors’ keywords. It is important to include search phrases that competitors rank well for. Especially if it is quite well known your competitors have been doing SEO for a while you can piggyback from their SEO efforts and “borrow” their SEO keywords’ winners. To find what keywords your competitors rank well, you can use Google keyword planner, Google similar searchers tool, Alexa or Ubersuggest
  • Check Google’s Autocomplete keyword variations. The Google autocomplete tool offers great ideas for keyword research.
keyword research google autocomplete

keyword research google autocomplete

  • Check Google’s “People also search for” box. At the bottom of a Google search, you can find the “Searches related to [search term]” This can also bring some great keyword ideas to take into consideration.
searches related to keyword research google results

searches related to keyword research google results

  • Use a variety of keyword research tools. Use some of the best keyword research tools to bring more variations to your initial keyword list.
  • Check Pinterest keyword suggestions. If your business heavily relies on visual imagery, you may want to use Pinterest-suggested keywords to complement your keyword discovery phase.
Pinterest keyword research suggested words

Pinterest keyword research suggested words

  • Check Youtube’s autocomplete. Youtube autocomplete gives you some popular keyword combination ideas.
youtube autocomplete keyword research

YouTube autocomplete keyword research

  • Ubersuggest too. Ubersuggest can offer you keyword ideas. You can simply type a keyword or a website URL and ubersuggest will bring you some keyword combinations.
keyword research results ubersuggest tool

keyword research results ubersuggest tool

  • Check Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo tool can offer you the top popular content related to your most important keywords. Check out those popular articles for the keyword you have typed and find out some other similar keywords you may have missed.
buzzsumo keyword research find top popular content

buzzsumo keyword research – Find top popular content

  • Check popular forums and community groups. Research Q&A sites and forums where your audience is hanging out, for example, Quora, Reddit or even Facebook groups.

HOW TO PRIORITISE YOUR KEYWORDS

When prioritising your list, keep these considerations in mind: 

  • It is okay to decide not to target “Fat-head” terms – “Fat-head” terms are generally shorter terms 1-2 words that get high monthly volumes. They surely are harder to rank and also harder to make them convert as they mostly are “information intent” queries. This means users are just browsing. Examples: “houses”, “shoes”, “Australia”, etc. Unless you have a very strong reason to rank for a “fat head” term, it is better to just take them out of your keyword research list. If you have competitors far bigger than you with massive SEO budgets, it is likely they will be dominating the “fat-head” term space.
  • It is totally valid to focus only on “long-tail” keywords. If you are new to SEO and with a low SEO budget, you may decide to only target very specific “long-tail” keywords. These are longer keywords 3-5 words that get lower monthly volumes than its closely relevant fat-head ones. Example: “leather women’s shoes Sydney“. The nice part of targeting “long-term” keywords is that there are plenty of them, far more than 1 word “fat head” ones.
  • Use a keyword discovery tool that offers you an estimate of  “Keyword search monthly volume” as this will help you prioritise what search term combinations you may decide to target. Remember that you do not necessarily need to target “Fat Head” keywords with a high volume of searchers, you may prefer to focus on “long-tail” keywords with fewer searchers but are likely to convert or get higher rankings.

You may want to test a mixed strategy in which – for example – you decide to target 50 keywords, 40 of which are “long-tail” keywords you believe will convert better and easier to get higher rankings and also target just 10 “fat-head” keywords that might not convert as good but that may bring lots of traffic and generate interest about your services or products.

DO NOT FORGET COMPETITORS SEO

If you have competitors who are bigger than you and likely spending higher dollar numbers on SEO, they may be already targeting and ranking for “fat-head” keywords so it will make it far more complicated for you to target those keywords. The more diversified your keywords strategy – including unique long-tail” keywords – the less competition you have for it.

Example:

This article was created to get great organic Google Ranks for the “Best keyword research template” search term.

The search intent we are targeting is digital marketers or in-house SEO managers looking for a template to do their SEO for their company’s website.

There may be also some Junior SEO Consultants interested in getting this SEO Keyword research template.

We know that if they get into any trouble or challenge we could be top-of-mind when they decide to hire some support as they have already been exposed to this piece of content.

Now, this exact term is a long-tail search term, it includes four words: “best keyword research template”.

We will be more likely to rank for this than for “fat-head” terms such as SEO services or SEO support which are far more competitive, we do not have the website’s age or an extensive library of SEO content on our website to get Google to see us as a relevant result for these popular “fat-head” searchers. So, to get marketers or business owners to find us for SEO support, we need to focus on long-tail keywords and forget about the fat-head ones.

In some cases when the Search Engine ranking positions (SERPs) competition is fierce at all levels; you will have to think “out of the square” and start testing different content types that may not even be directly related to your services or products.

At the end of the day, your customers are people who are interested in a broad range of topics (not only about your services or products) and you can offer your perspective, opinion, support or help on those non-core topics to your business.

Throughout the year, many popular topics and themes may be relevant to people but not relevant for your brand to participate in or have an opinion about. The key here is to ensure there is a valid proposition for your brand to be active in the topic’s conversation. To find out more about this you can contact us.

USING CUSTOMERS’ PSYCHOGRAPHIC INSIGHTS

If you have completed some market research and have some psychographic insights about your customers you can make a list of other topics your most valuable customer segments are very passionate about. This may include topics such as sports, film, food, travel, nature, climate change, life-work balance, parenting, relationships, design, architecture, gender equality, human rights, photography, etc.

Pick your top – not related to what you sell – topic. For example, you found out your most valuable customers value interior design.

You do not sell them design-related services or topics but you may want to test and experiment with creating a couple of “long-tail” interior design-related articles that can easily be ranked on Google and go viral _ only if your article is amazing enough-.

GOOGLE TEXT ADS ARE YOUR “PRETI DISHES” BEFORE IMPLEMENTING FULL SEO KEYWORD EXECUTIONS

All keyword research projects luckily get to a point where there is a set of keywords defined and to be implemented for SEO.

To ensure they work (generate valuable traffic, leads or sales), you can run a Google Text Ads (former Adwords) campaign to test those selected keywords before you fully press the SEO accelerator to try to optimise them for organic (free) rankings.

For example: if we decide that the keyword combination “how to do keyword research” is a phrase that we want to optimise for; we could run a Google text ad campaign to evaluate the quality of traffic this exact search phrase can generate for our business.

You might have some budget restrictions and might not be able to test all your final SEO keywords list from your research, so you may want to pick and choose some you are not quite sure about and leave the others for a later testing phase.

BASIC KEYWORD SELECTION

With limited time, resources and budget you will not be able to rank for everything and anything. A basic way to choose your keywords is by starting with the 50 keywords you want to focus your SEO strategy on. A mix could be:

  • 8 “fat-head” popular keywords: tonnes of traffic, but lots of competitors trying to rank for it, possibly not as good for conversion.
  • 40 “long-tail” keywords with a great chance to rank and convert into sales.
  • 2 “top-customer-psychographic” AND “long-tail” keywords

EVALUATING RESULTS

Run your initial Keyword research strategy and after 6 months have passed, evaluate the results.

What you want to find out is:

  • Did we increase rankings for the “fat-head” keywords? How much traffic did they generate?
  • Did we increase rankings for the “long-tail” keywords? How many leads and sales did they bring?
  • Did we gain rankings for the “top-customer-psychographic” keywords? How much traffic do they bring? should we create more content on this topic?

For serious businesses investing heavily in SEO, this basic keyword selection methodology may not be enough. You will then need to move to an advanced keyword research methodology.

ADVANCED KEYWORD RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

An advanced keyword research methodology will follow the following steps:

  • Listing the qualities/attributes for the ideal “keyword” and then weighing them (hierarchy) as objectively as possible to determine the importance of each attribute. For instance, the number of monthly searches may be worth roughly half of “Relevance to the business”.
  • Each keyword will be evaluated for each attribute and given a number from a 1-10 scale
  • Scored each keyword attribute by attribute, multiplied those numbers by their weights and add the results to get a final score.
  • Once you have a score for each keyword then you can easily select your top 50 or top 100 keywords you should optimise for.

Benefits of evaluating keywords against a set of attributes:

  • You will stop any speculation about what anyone – within your company – considers a fantastic keyword your business should be ranking for.
  • You will have real numbers and a professional methodology to back up your keyword selection.
  • You will stop “objectifying” keywords by just their popularity on Google (a common incorrect practice) as most lazy competitors might.
  • Take emotions out of your keyword research. Because you think a keyword is worth ranking for does not mean you should allocate your time, resources and budget to rank for it.

Disclaimer: I am not claiming the above system is perfect. It can be entirely speculative (as you are guessing how important an attribute is compared to the others) and you may end up with overweighted attributes, meaning you are giving too much importance to an attribute that it actually deserves. But despite these imperfections, data are a better guide to ending up with a better keyword research list than the conventional wisdom: optimise just for popular keywords in your industry.

You may ask: what are the attributes I should use to evaluate all the keywords?

All the attributes and suggested weights for each ( you can edit them as you wish) are listed on this premium keyword research template.

Tip: You already know two! 1) Average monthly searchers (Popularity) and 2) Relevancy to your business. With this template, you will unlock the other 6 attributes you must add to your keyword research formula.

keyword research google sheets attribute data set scores

keyword research google sheets attribute data set scores

KEYWORD RESEARCH IS AN ONGOING PROJECT

You should deploy Agile methodology in your SEO keyword research. The goal is continuous improvement. You can hold monthly retrospective meetings, where you review keyword successes and failures and set “action points” for the next month-long sprint.

It is not uncommon to find Growth Marketers optimising the process of acquiring keyword rankings and improving them. They are using basic maths to help their companies perform better in Search Engine Rankings.

To maximise a variable, such as a specific keyword ranking, you can manipulate the different inputs. Today, keyword research and SEO are regularly applied to most businesses and your competitors may be on top of the game.

Keyword research can now be tracked, quantified and streamlined as most marketing does. Google uses algorithms to bring results to its users, so why wouldn’t you use basic math formulas to come up with your killer list of keywords your business should optimise for?

All the attributes and suggested weights for each ( you can edit them as you wish) are listed on this premium keyword research template.

GETTING THIS TEMPLATE IS FAST, SECURE AND EASY!

  • Complete payment on Paypal.
  • Once payment is completed, Paypal will automatically redirect you to our confirmation page where you will find the template.
  • You can always contact us if you have any questions or issues.

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HOW TO DO SEO KEYWORD RESEARCH in 2024

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