Chris Buckley – MD of Pixel Kicks – on the basics of Keyword Research
You can’t start an SEO campaign without having a good set of keywords. Everything stems from this.
A large percentage of your customers will use Google or other search engines (SERPS) to search for words or phrases, and whether your website appears in the list of websites is based on how well optimised your site is. But how do you know what customers are actually searching for?
For example you might think that users type in “football tops”, when more might be searching for “football jerseys”. Or you could have optimised your site for “business voip systems” when in actual fact more people search for “voip providers”. Customers might not find you unless you correctly optimise for the phrases that they’re searching for.
That’s what keyword research helps you discover – the very keywords your audience is going to use to find you. It can help you find out about what topics to write about, or what keywords to add to a primary topic page you already have on your website. From this data we can work out what information we need to write about, and what additional keywords we need to make sure our website contains.
How do I create a keyword list?
Firstly you’ll need to start with a seed list. This is a manually entered set of services, products, topics and general themes that describe what your website offers. Think in terms of the customer, and ask yourself what would they search for? Ask your family and friends, and try to get a good varied set of keywords. Create a spreadsheet and enter all your keywords. Google Sheets is ideal.
**Can’t I just use Google Analytics to find out keywords that users have searched to find my site? **
Well you could, but the caveat here is that you’ll likely only be seeing information on keywords that you already rank for. Certainly you can include this data, but be careful that you’re not excluding keywords that you don’t currently rank for – because of course Google Analytics won’t have any data for these.
Should I include locations?
You could, but it’s not really necessary anymore. For example we rank well for “web design Manchester”. We also rank the same for “web design” but only for searches carried out in the Manchester area. If you’re in London and search for “web design”, we don’t appear. So for now, just keep your keywords lean and without locations on the end – we’ll delve more into this later on the article.
Expanding the initial keyword set
With your seed list in place, you’ll want to expand this list using different keyword research tools. A favourite of ours is KeywordTool.io, and you can enter different sets of phrases to get lots of related suggestions back. This actually uses Google’s own Autocomplete data to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail and short-tail keywords for any topic.
See what other keywords are suggested, and add these to your list. You’ll still need to manually check them still, as not all of them will be relevant. Use your judgement and common sense.
We sometimes like to separate keywords into “Primary” and “Secondary” lists. The primary consisting of the most important ones, with a fairly lean amount, say 10/20, whilst the secondary list can go into hundreds.
Scan for your competitors keywords
Seeing what your competitors rank for is hugely important at the start of any campaign to improve organic visibility. The two main tools we recommend for this are:
- Google Keyword Planner
Using Google Keyword Planner to find keywords for a URL
With Google Keyword Planner it’s relatively simple. However, in order to use this, you will need to have a Google Ads account. Don’t worry though, it’s free, so go and create one if you don’t have one already.
Once you’ve signed into Google Ads, click “Tools” > “Keyword Planner”. Then select “Find New Keywords” and simply paste your URL and click “Get Started”. You’ll then be presented with a selection of keywords on the next screen.
Using SEMRush to find keywords for a URL
SEMRush is a great app and there is so much you can do with it. To find keywords for a URL it’s very straightforward.
All you need to is go to “Organic Research” and enter your URL. Click “Search”. On the next screen you’ll see a ton of useful information. Look under “Top Organic Keywords” to find the keywords that the site is ranking for. You can also look under “Main Organic Competitors” to find more competitors (as well as the ones that you already know about).
Now we have some additional sets of keywords, add them all to your spreadsheet (perhaps in a new tab), and cross-check them with your existing list. Look for new ones & alternatives that we don’t already have and then add them to the main lists.
How does my site rank currently?
We use SEMRush to track keywords for all our clients, but there are a huge variety of alternatives you can consider. Other apps we’ve used in the past include Ahrefs, Accuranker, Advanced Web Ranking, Moz & ProRankTracker to name but a few. Using any of the above sites, simply add your chosen keywords as a new campaign. The search engine you choose will depend on the location & country you’re targeting. UK nationally? Choose Google.co.uk and organic. UK regionally? Choose Google.co.uk with organic local, with your chosen town, city or county.
We mentioned earlier about whether to add locations with your keywords. If you’re tracking regional keywords then all you need to do is choose Organic Local and then add your location name. Then your keywords will be tracked as though you were searching in that region. You can easily end up tracking too many different combinations if you start adding location selectors to your keywords.
Should I value all keywords the same?
Add all of the keywords into Google Keyword Planner to pull out search volume and costs for each of them. This will let us know how many times each keyword was searched for in a certain period and also the competitiveness of each one. The higher the cost, the more competitive it will be, and therefore the more traffic it could generate for your website.
Use this information to help determine which keywords to focus on.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Pixel Kicks .
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