Keyword research is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Going after and being able to rank for the right keywords will bring you a steady stream of visitors to your website!
Bloggers and website owners can sometimes find doing keyword research for their SEO confusing or time-consuming.
However, it doesn’t have to be that hard.
What I’m going to show you in this post is how to do keyword research for your next blog post or article in about 30 minutes.
What is Keyword Research?
When you’re going to be writing a blog post you probably already have a general idea of what you’re going to write about.
For the sake of this article, we’ll pick “dog food” as our broad topic. (because who doesn’t love dogs?)
Keyword research is simply finding the keyword or keyphrase that you want to rank for. You will be specifically writing your blog post targeting this keyword. So it’s important to pick the right keywords.
Getting found for the right keywords will help you grow your traffic, email list and income.
Head Keywords Vs. Long-Tail Keywords
If you’re new to SEO and doing keyword research it’s important to know the difference between head keywords and long-tail keywords.
It’s pretty straightforward:
Your head keywords are the main short phrases, often one or two words that often get a lot of searches. Long-tail keywords are longer (duh) more specific keywords.
In our example case “dog food” would be a head keyword.
An example of a longer tail keyword would be “labrador dog food advice”. It’s more specific, gets fewer searches, but there is more than likely a lot less competition. Many blogs and websites about dogs would want to rank for “dog food”, because a lot of people search for that search term.
Fewer of your competitors will go after these long-tail keywords.
When you have a new blog or one that doesn’t have a lot of backlinks (and thus authority), it’s best to go after lower competition keywords. This is because it’s easier to rank for them than your head keywords.
If your blog is new, there’s not a snowball’s chance of ranking #1 for “dog food”.
So when doing keyword research for SEO, look for the long-tail keywords that have weak competition. Finding these search terms with low competition means you will have a better chance at ranking on the first page of Google.
These kinds of keywords usually don’t have a lot of people searching for them.
However, it can quickly ramp up as you start ranking for more and more of them. Each of these will send you a trickle of traffic each month, which is going to add up to a lot of traffic over time.
How to do Keyword Research
There are a couple of different ways and tools you can use to find long-tail keywords.
In this keyword research guide, I will share multiple tools that you can use to find real winners for your next blog post.
Step 1: Finding Long-Tail Keywords Research
When you get to Ubersuggest, you type your broad idea into the search bar. Then select the language and country you want to target. Finally, press the big search button and wait for a few seconds.
Tip: If you know other bloggers in your niche, you can type in their domain instead. It will show you keyword ideas based on their domain and content that they have.
Here’s what you get when you type in our example keyword:
Let’s go over what this all means:
Search Volume: This is pretty straightforward. It’s an estimate of how many people search for the keyword.
SEO Difficulty: The score you see is out of 100. The lower it is, the easier it should be to rank for the keyword. As you can see, I used a short head keyword, which results in a high difficulty to rank.
Paid Difficulty: This indicated the competitive the keyword is for advertisers. You can safely ignore this when you’re doing keyword research for your blog post.
Cost Per Click: The average amount advertisers pay for each click. You can really see the value of SEO here, since ranking would mean getting clicks for free (or rather the work you put in).
Average Backlinks and Domain Score: Conveniently shown next to a smiling Neil Patel. I’d recommend following Neil to learn more about marketing your blog. Moving on to the actual metrics.
Here’s what they mean:
Ubersuggest looks at the top 10 sites ranking for the keyword. Average backlinks means the number of links that point to these pages. If you’re new to SEO, a backlink is a link from 1 site to another, which helps with ranking. (the higher this number, the more difficult)
Domain score has to do with the authority of the domain. The more quality links it has, as well as some other factors, the higher this score (out of 100) will be. You want the number for your keywords to be as low as possible.
The next step is to research long-tail keywords, so head over to the “Keyword Ideas” tab on the left. This is where you’ll see a lot of the power this tool offers!
This page has 2 main areas:
On the left, you will see a list of suggested keywords based on the one you typed in along with the main stats of that keyword. On the right you can see the URLs that are currently ranking in the top 10 along with more information about these pages.
One thing I would like you to notice:
Look at the SD (SEO difficulty) column, and notice how all of the values are lower than that of the keyword we put in. This indicates that these longer keyphrases have way less competition than the short, highly competitive ones.
They often have fewer people searching for them though.
What you would do from here is to find keywords to target with your blog post.
If your blog is new I would suggest a keyword with less than 5000 searches (already at the high end). Any higher and you will face a lot of competition making it harder to rank.
That’s part 1 of your keyword research done! Scroll down
Honorable Mentions for Keyword Research Tools
While Ubersuggest would be my recommended SEO tool for finding keywords, there are some alternatives that you could try again.
Google Keyword Planner: This would not be a keyword research guide without mentioning the good old Keyword Planner. It used to be a lot better than it is today, because it only gives search volume ranges (1k-10k, 10k-100k, etc.). Still it might give you some good suggestions that you didn’t have before.
Answer the Public: Because people often type in questions to a search engine. Give this keyword tool your broad keyword and it will spit out questions people have based on Google’s Auto-Complete suggestions.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer: Ahrefs is another SEO powerhouse! Again it’s a complete toolset for a lot of things. This is a paid tool, but has some amazing tools that will greatly help you with your SEO.
Keywords Everywhere: This is an awesome, inexpensive browser extension. Whenever you do a search on Google, you get information on the sites that are ranking, how many people search for the keyword, trends and other related keywords.
Step 2: Check Competition for your Found Keywords
By now you have some short and long-tail keywords that you may want to target.
Having keywords in mind and actually ranking for them are two completely different things!
That being said there is 1 more crucial step in doing keyword research:
Evaluating your competition!
Search volume alone isn’t enough to find the best keywords to go after. You need to know how tough it will be to rank for it.
Let me ask you this:
Would you rather try to compete with sites like Amazon, Wikipedia and a couple of mayor blogs or publications for a 50k/month search term?
Compete against a few small blogs with barely any authority and backlinks, and a few sites that aren’t even well optimized for a keyword with 500 searches/month. When you know that you can easily rank for it.
The best course here would be the latter.
Unless you already have an established blog with good domain authority, you won’t win against huge authoritative sites. You’d most likely get exactly 0 of the 50k searchers to come to your blog!
On the other hand:
With the less competitive keyword, you actually have a shot to get on the first page of the search results and actually get traffic from that search term.
How to do competitor research
There are a couple of ways to do your research.
Firstly if you use a paid tool like Moz or AhRefs, you will have access to detailed competitor statistics and analysis. However, for the sake of this article, I will assume you don’t have any paid tools at your disposal.
Let’s get back to Ubersuggest.
Right now we will focus on the right part of the results.
Whenever you click on any of the keywords, it will show you the pages that rank for this keyword, your competition. The 2 things to look at are DS (Domain Score) and links. You want these to be as low as possible so that it’s easier for you to rank your article.
Have a look at this keyword:
For this example, I have chosen the keyword “dog food to gain weight”, which gets ~2400 searches per month. This is a keyword that you could potentially rank for if you have a dog blog.
When you look at the results that I have highlighted, you will see that the site ranking 5th has almost no domain score with only 7 backlinks. The number 7 and 8 that rank have low domain scores and have no links at all! This is exactly what you want to see!
The fact that these sites rank means that you don’t need to have a huge blog to rank. It also shows that you should be able to easily outrank some of these sites by just building a handful of high-quality backlinks. This is a fight you can win!
So, do we have a winner?
Not yet at least. There is something else that we need to check before we can be sure that we have a winning keyword, which is the search intent.
Step 3: Figuring Out Search Intent
Every search has a reason.
In order to have success with SEO, it is not enough to show up on the first page for a search term. You also need to have the right content for that keyword. If your content doesn’t satisfy the intent, the reason someone searches for a certain keyword, you’re not going to see results!
I remember reading one of Brian Dean’s articles where he shared he wrote a blog post on “How to get high search rankings”. And at some point, somehow, that article was ranking for the keyword “how to get high”. His guide obviously didn’t fit the search intent for that keyword.
Guess what happened?
Google quickly caught on. Their algorithm figured out that his guide did not satisfy the searchers. And as quickly as he ranked, his article stopped ranking.
So, how do you figure out the search intent?
Google has already done most of the work for you!
The amount of data they have on their users is scary! But in this case, it’s a good thing for us. All we have to do is look at the top 10 ranking pages. Google has determined that these 10 are the pages that best satisfy the search intent.
Here’s what to look for:
What you want to figure out is what kind of content is ranking for your chosen keyword. This means that if you create content that is similar, but better, you will fulfill the search intent for your chosen keyword.
If you see that most of the pages are product pages, for example, products on Amazon or other e-commerce sites, you might want to reconsider. People searching for that keyword apparently want to buy a product instead of reading a blog post on the topic.
When someone searches for “best gaming headset” you might think that they’re looking for an in-depth review on the best product out there. However, this would be wrong. If you check the results, you will find that they are looking for a list of headsets so that they can compare them, rather than a single review.
And that’s how it works.
Once you figure out what people actually want to get, when they search for something, then you know what kind of content you should create to rank for it. And if you conclude that you cannot produce that kind of content (for example if people want to buy a product), then you might have to reconsider the keyword.
Step 4: Picking Your Winners
At this point, you will have quite a bit of data for potential keywords to target in your blog post. All that is really left to do now is to put the pieces of the puzzle together and pick which keyword to target.
Here’s what you should know though:
Over the years Google’s algorithms have gotten way smarter. They can now understand the language you use in your blog post pretty well.
There is way less focus on using the exact keyword that you found over and over in your article. While I do recommend using keywords, you can mostly just write for your reader as long as you keep the search intent in mind and make sure your blog post satisfies that intent.
Here’s my recommendation for keywords:
I would recommend picking 1 keyword that will be the focus. In addition to your chosen keyword, I recommend you pick some secondary keywords that you will be using in your article.
Let’s say you went with the keyword “parenting responsibilities”. Some longer variations would be “parenting responsibilities for mothers” and of course “parenting responsibilities for fathers. You can use these keywords in your blog post as well to hopefully rank for them.
For your main keyword, I would recommend using your keyword in your title, meta description, in one of your subheaders, and possibly as the name/alt text for one of your images. Additionally, you would use your main keyword where it fits naturally in your content.
For your secondary keywords, I find that they often are great for one of your subheaders, and of course to use throughout your blog post where they fit well.
And that’s it!
The first time you go through this process, it might take you a while. However, once you get used to the process you can get the time it takes you to do keyword research down to that 30 minutes, or perhaps even less!