SEO has long evolved from the good old days when the Google Keyword Tool was the main weapon of choice for online marketers who would primarily focus on high search volume keywords to could rank for. As the years have gone by and more businesses come to grips with the importance of having a first-page presence in Google, and every professional SEO Agency takes this factor seriously when working on their clients campaigns.
Change is not always a bad thing though, it just means that webmasters need to start thinking smarter about how they approach the task at hand and come at it from a different angle than their competitors. There are a few aspects of SEO such as keyword research, that when looked at differently, have the potential to give you an edge in the organic traffic game.
The best place to start is going to be with your competition – you need to have a good idea of what they are targeting and how hard it is to rank for those keywords. If you find that the competition is not that difficult, then you can try to outrank them but if not, then you will have to find other opportunities that they may have missed out on or that you can do better.
So how do we do all that? Well, this is where the Google Keyword Planner (GKP) comes back into action, if only for a brief point! We do need to get our keywords from somewhere and GKP is still one of the best databases suited for the task.
There is a slightly different way that you can use it though, this method is often overlooked but it tends to uncover a more diverse range of keywords than the standard ‘search for new ideas’. In this example, I’ll use the term ‘online butcher’ in the UK. If we search for that in GKP we will get a bunch of fairly generic related terms coming back that close to the original phrase, as in the example below:
Now, if we search in Google for ‘online butcher’ you will see all the competing websites, from this you can select any worthy advisory and copy their URL, then go back to GKP and input it as in the pic below:
Once you hit Get Ideas, you will now find that GKP has given a much different range of search terms that may/may not have less competition… but the point here is to start getting more creative with keyword researching by discovering search terms that GKP would usually not provide if you used it in the traditional sense:
While the first option may suit your business needs, there are plenty of less competitive terms that are just as valuable, as displayed in the second option above and coming up.
GKP is a free option and a great place to start. For other free and paid options, consider HREFs, SemRush, UberSuggest…etc
SMART KEYWORD RESEARCH
Many sites are still optimized for just their main generic terms, leaving a wide range of long-tail keywords up for grabs, the kind we are after! You can start this process by using your main keywords or if you have been through the previous method you can use those keywords as seeds to discover various longtail terms.
We can start our smart keyword research with the help of Google suggest. I’m sure you have noticed that when you search for something in Google it often suggests terms that other people have used underneath your search. These terms can be very useful as they are active queries and often very focused. To help us in this task, we will make use of some free and easy to use tools that are based on search engine requests.
The first is Soovle – this tool has a wide range of search engines built in such as Amazon, Youtube, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Answers.com. By just entering your search term, you will see it populate with ideas from across the web.
The second is Ubersuggest and this one is primarily based on Google. It allows you to search by Geo Location along with platform (images, web, video, etc…) and will often provide hundreds of longtail keyword variants. The awesome thing about Ubersuggest is that it appends a letter of the alphabet with each search so that you don’t have to manually do this, which brings in the gold.
The third tool is Keywordtool.io which stands out from the crowd by adding a prefix and suffix while searching for suggested terms – the nice thing about this is that it also has a feature to search for questions based on your seed keyword. While the free version gives plenty of ideas back, the Pro subscription allows you to retrieve more keywords along with other features such as being able to export the data and see search volume.
INFORMATIVE KEYWORDS WITH SEARCH INTENT
Some of the best keywords I have ever used were based on the practice of finding keywords that have intent, as the people searching for them usually are one step away from making a decision or performing an action – this makes your job a lot easier when trying to covert this traffic.
First up are informative keywords, these contain words such as:
- When can I
- How can I
- How to
- Best way to
- Ways to
- I need to
It’s easy to come up with great content based on informative keywords and it gives you an opportunity to built trust with your visitors. The more you come across as an authority/go-to place for industry information, the easier it will be for people to sign up to your email list or become a customer.
PRODUCT BASED KEYWORDS WITH INTENT
Next up are product-based keywords. People using these terms are very close to making a decision and just need a final browse around to make an informed decision. You can help them by providing the relevant info that they need to make a decision by creating content based on product keywords. Here are some ideas below:
- Review of
- Top 10
- (Specific brand name) Apple, Addidas, Oakley (review/comparison)
- (Specific product) Apple iPhone, Oakley Sunglasses (review/comparison)
- (Product Category) running shoes, winter jackets (review/comparison)
Product-based content is another great angle to take when writing for a specific audience, it allows you to showcase the pros and cons of what’s hot in the current market all while helping people find products/services that they actually need. Once again, you can gain a lot of trust by providing an honest take on these products/services.
BUYING TERMS WITH COMMERCIAL INTENT
Buying terms are going to usually be the most beneficial keywords to go after as these have commercial intent. The people using them have usually done their research and are looking to pull the trigger. They may have low search volume but their strong intent definitely makes up for it! Be aware though that you are probably not going to be the first person to discover the term so competition could be high, but I have been lucky in the past so its always worth a look at least. Such terms consist of words like:
- Best price for
- Free Shipping
If I am building a review site I will almost always have a buying term as part of my targeted keywords, even if I can’t see any search volume in GKP.
Targeting by demographics is also a highly effective approach, by narrowing down your audience you get to speak directly to the person on the other end of the keyboard and deliver content that matched their needs and expectations. The more you get this right, the more success you will have as your visitors will end up spending more time reading through your article. Some general demographic keywords to use as part of your search terms could include:
- Approximate income
- Hobbies and interests
- Things that they struggle with (health issues, people issues, work performance issues)
- What they want to accomplish (new job, better health, stress-free life, happier relationships)
When you start speaking to your audience directly by addressing their specific needs, you form a bond and become that figure of trust mentioned earlier.
The great thing about doing keyword research like this is that it enables you to cover more ground creatively and actually find what people are really using instead of just working off generic terms.
Once you have begun this process you can mix keyword types up even more by including phrases from the different groups above. This will give you plenty of ideas to work with along with endless article ideas.
Last note, I know many people trash keyword research in 2020 given that Google RankBrain AI algorithm requires minimal information to rank web pages accordingly. And I agree!
Yet, I still used keyword research as a foundation for my post, and so it covers what web users are looking for and makes it more extensive.
Let me know if keyword research is still part of your SEO efforts? and if you do it any differently?
About the Author
Nizar Bamida is a front end web developer, and an SEO savvy person. The co-founder of SEO Agency HQ. Managed more than 900 SEO campaigns for clients in various niches, and helps businesses direct their online efforts in a way that generates ROI, and makes algorithms happy. Follow Nizar’s recent posts at Facebook.