SEO Articles


Yesterday afternoon, SEO Twitter was abuzz with the news that SEMRush had filed to go public. Some great initial analysis on the numbers in this thread by Dan Barker:

SEMrush, the SEO tool, has filed to go public. Here’s the S-1:

They spent $54 million on marketing last year, for revenue of $125 million.

(gross profit $95m, net loss $7m)

— dan barker (@danbarker) March 1, 2021

With some interesting competitor guesstimates by Mr. Rand Fishkin:

Really impressive what they’ve done the last 6 years.

SEMRush went from 3rd/4th place in SEO software, to a clear #1 in revenue & growth rate.

Ahrefs is #2 at ~$55-75M, with Moz in 3rd (~$45M)* at a slower growth rate (after leading for years prior).

*those are guesses, BTW

— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 2, 2021

I know all of you are girding your loins for the Page Experience Update, but the SEMRush IPO will perhaps have a much bigger impact on many SEO lives than yet another algorithmic belch from Google.

If memory serves, the last B2B business that went public that came even close to serving the SEO industry was Yext in 2017. And Yext’s SEOness was tangential to its core offerings at best. There have been plenty of businesses that have gone public lately that rely on SEO – DoorDash, AirBnB, etc. But it’s odd that given how dominant Google is in our economy, that SEO is seen by the investor community as a mere pitiful remora, sucking up an endless discharge of crumbs from Google’s over-stuffed mouth.

About a year ago, an old friend, a Wall Street big shot, called because SEMRush was talking to him about potentially becoming their new CFO. He asked what I thought of the company. My take back then was that they seemed pretty focused on becoming the biggest thing in Search and he should take a serious look at the job. He responded that the whole thing seemed kind of “low rent”. I enjoyed DM’ing him a link to their S-1. Maybe now SEO-related businesses will finally get some damn respect from the investing public?

At a minimum, I’d wager SEMRush is finally getting some respect from the other SEO tool co’s. The Slack channels at Bright Edge, Conductor, Ahrefs, Moz, Botify, On Crawl, Deep Crawl, Sistrix, Majestic, etc. are all likely on fire at the moment. Actually what am I saying?  Majestic is for sure using Microsoft Teams.

This is going to be the popcorn event of the SEO world.

— Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide) March 1, 2021

We SEO types have an overdeveloped sense of our importance in the Internet economy. If not for us, none of these fucking businesses would make it right? We’re just like doctors, always complaining about the patient who won’t lay off the Cheez-Its, and always responsible for extending said patient’s life so he can spend it eating more Cheez-Its. We are Unicorn shepherds, yet we often watch them ride off into the public markets without us. Yet as a group we all feel like one of these days we are going to hit it Justin-Timberlake-as-Sean-Parker big, maybe by osmosis or something.

So imagine all of these “Big Data” SEO Tool co’s, whose likely primary focus has been to achieve Unicorn trajectory, watching the first one make it over the wall. The question is will SEMRush make it out bathed in glory or in pig shit?

I don’t know about you, but I sense some panic among this group. They have had a great ride sucking YUGE dollars out of corporate buyers, but lately I have noticed corporate buyers getting a bit stingy with their big tool budgets. Yet everyone of them seems to have an SEMRush account on their company credit card.

So let’s say SEMRush pops out of the gate. If you’re one of the other guys, I think you’ll want to scale up as quickly as possible so you can take your shot. And that could mean M&A with one of the other guys.

Out of the co’s I’ve listed, like Rand I’d guess that Ahrefs is in the strongest position and its product is the most similar to SEMRush’s. But none of the other guys other than Moz or Sistrix have a model that would make a good fit IMO. And if Moz’ growth has stalled out (no idea if it has), then it might make a tempting target, just to acquire the customer base, and its storied brand of course.

But then I think about the tools with bigger price tags like Bright Edge and Botify. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are being forced to go down market. There are only so many eight-figure SEO budgets to go around after all. Those sales forces are expensive, and no one is taking anyone out for a steak dinner these days, unless, of course, Gavin Newsom is in the market for an SEO tool. So perhaps some consolidation occurs in this tier too.

And what if SEMRush tanks? Well let’s just say the race to profitability will have a “hair on fire” kind of quality to it.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole scenario is what SEMRush’s IPO will do to our collective SEO psyche. If it hits it big, we will all be buoyed by the temporary high of knowing someday that could be us. The even better news is that if it screws the pooch (and I certainly hope it doesn’t), most of us will all be fine lighting our cigarettes off its smoldering remains and getting back to work saving our client’s collective asses with a few well chosen Keyword Magic reports.

Editor’s Note:
This news is so fresh that there currently are no PAAs in the SERPs for the query “SEMRush IPO” so check back here next week when I add some Q&A like “When Is The SEMRush IPO?” and “What Is The SEMRush IPO Price” and maybe even “How Do You Pronounce SEMRush?” for the semantic entity je ne sais quoi.

The post The SEMRush IPO #SEOSTONK! appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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Phone calls critical for business during the pandemic; Tuesday’s daily brief

Phone calls critical for business during the pandemic; Tuesday’s daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, what solutions dominate your search marketing toolkit these days?

As we celebrate the recent launch of our Enterprise Marketing Attribution and Predictive Analytics Martech Intelligence Report (MIR) I’ve been thinking deeply about effectiveness data. I find it fascinating that our industry continues to raise the bar in terms of what is possible to measure, innovating past hurdles like new privacy regulations and the deprecation of cookies. It’s one of the things that most energizes me about working in this space — it never stands still. 

And speaking of not standing still, this is the first newsletter issue that embodies our new Tuesday focus — research. Each week, I’ll aggregate important and insightful research we’ve recently come across, and we’ll also do a bit of original research ourselves, asking our audience for their perspectives on subjects challenging the industry — from strategic thinking to today’s best practices. We’ll gather what you say and then share the results so we can all learn from one another — we hope you’ll participate and that you’ll find the conclusions valuable in your day-to-day work. 

This week, we ask that you share how your search marketing stack has changed in 2021. We’re so curious how the events of 2020 have impacted your workflows. 

Read on for more data on how searchers’ devices impact their likelihood of clicking on the first result, and for a look at trends in the call analytics space. 

Pamela Parker,
Research Director

Video with Steve Marin and Barry Schwartz on SEO & Content

Barry Schwartz spoke with Steve Marin of Spark PPC about a slew of search marketing topics. This video was recorded a few months ago but covers topics on SEO, content development, how to help your clients write better content and how to come up with the right structure for your pages of content.

They also spoke about ranking for keywords to fill your ego needs and to prove a professional point. They ended their talk about the importance of proving your search marketing campaign assumptions with real hard data.

Telephone calls emerge as critically important in pandemic  

Even before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted American lives and businesses, the telephone — particularly the smartphone — had become an integral part of the consumer purchase journey. More than 170 billion inbound mobile calls to U.S. businesses were forecast in 2020, according to BIA Advisory Services. 

When faced with the worst public health crisis in more than a century, U.S. consumers used the telephone more than ever before. During the first half of 2020, Google My Business recorded a 61% jump in consumer calls, from inquiries about open hours to arrangements for curbside pickups. For the 12 months ending June 2020, call volume increased 35% and continues to track 27% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Learn about enterprise call analytics solutions>>

New perspectives on the eternal question 

Savvy search advertisers are continuously optimizing their campaigns to achieve the best results for the lowest spend, and new research published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) sheds light on the importance of one critical factor: the device upon which the ad is displayed. The study concludes that the device people are using when searching significantly influences whether they’re more likely to click on the first result or scroll further down — at least where non-branded queries are concerned. 

Users on tablets or smartphones were more likely than those on desktops to click on the first result for unbranded queries. When tablets and smartphones were compared, interestingly, people using tablets were most likely to click on the top result for unbranded searches, which would seem to confound an interpretation that smaller devices = more reliance on the top results. For branded searches, the lure of the top result held steady when it came to tablet users, but there wasn’t a significant difference between desktop and smartphone users.

Why we care. The results add weight to what’s become a best practice for search engine advertisers — to use bid customizers and even break out devices into separate campaigns, so you can tailor placements to the characteristics of those users. For example, you could compete aggressively for the top spot in campaigns running on tablets and for non-branded campaigns running on smartphones. 

The study’s authors, Chongyu Lu of Pace University and Rex Yuxing Du of the University of Houston, analyzed more than 20 million ad impressions from 13 different advertisers across a variety of industries.   

Pinterest powers up creators during stressful times

In addition to helping its audience navigate a stressful time, Pinterest has also taken steps to grow and strengthen its community. Often, they have done so to distinguish themselves from other platforms like Instagram or YouTube, instead of following standard social media practice. On Pinterest, there is following and sharing, but for years they’ve emphatically denied that they are social media. They define themselves as visual discovery.

What they call themselves isn’t as important as what they help members of their community do. And this is important for marketers because last summer Pinterest topped 400 million monthly active users. It’s growing among millennials and Gen Zers, including a 50% boost year-over-year for men on the platform.

Strengthening Pinterest’s creator base powers the entire community and makes it even more valuable to brands. The moves Pinterest is making in this direction show how users and their preferences have changed.

At the end of September, Pinterest introduced Story Pins, the ability for creators to tell multi-page stories. This beta version also included a new creator profile and analytics tools to track performance. Pinterest is also giving creators access to analytics across the community through its trends tool.

At the heart the new Story Pins format is a wager against how other digital stories are told. For instance, the stories on Instagram expire after 24 hours. On Pinterest, they stay where they are. This feature leverages the evergreen value in Pinterest content, allowing Pinners to discover and rediscover what might have been overlooked in the past.

Read more here.

How to identify your products for Google

Making it easier for search engines and marketplaces to identify your products will also make it easier for your audience to find and, potentially, buy them. To that end, Google has published a list of best practices for manufacturers, retailers and publishers about how it identifies products and what they should do to ensure that Google understands what product is being referenced.

The most important, and repeated, piece of advice is to use the right Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Recycling or inventing GTINs can cause marketplace catalog data to become inconsistent and create confusion. Additionally, retailers and content creators should apply structured data whenever possible (including the GTIN); retailers should also submit structured data to Google via their product feeds. To some, this may sound like obvious stuff, but it’s important enough for Google to publish an entire post about, so make sure that your product data is accurate — sales could be depending on it.

Read more here>>

Weekend Google search ranking update – unconfirmed.

Weekend Google search update. It has been turbulent times in February 2021 when it comes to unconfirmed Google ranking updates. This past weekend, to round out the month of February, there were signs of another Google Search ranking update – again, unconfirmed.

Add Return Policies to your Shopping Ads. Google is really doubling down on trying to make returns as clear as possible on Shopping Ads, says Duane Brown. “Google may show your policy information to help customers with their purchase decisions,” the screenshot says.

Be different with SEO. John Mueller of Google said on Twitter “the beauty of SEO (and lots of roles) is that people can have an impact in so many different ways. Sometimes, doing something different – *not* doing what others are doing – is the best way to have an impact. Try to make your case by the effect, not just through actions.”

We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.

Google Discover surfacing YouTube in ‘Short videos’ carousel – 9to5GoogleGoogle is Removing Pages From the Search Index Based on False DMCA Claims – Joe YoungbloodGoogle See Results That Mention Filter On Left Side Panel – Search Engine RoundtableHow To Find & Fix Layout Shifts with Chrome DevTools – UpBuildThe complete guide to Google News SEO – DeepCrawl

The post Phone calls critical for business during the pandemic; Tuesday’s daily brief appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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WordPress Mixed Content Warning FIXED

WordPress Mixed Content Warning FIXED

Are you having trouble getting a GREEN PADLOCK on your browser bar for any visited URL on your site? If so you have a WordPress Mixed Content Warning and we are going to show you how to fix it fast! See the image below. By the end of this post you will be on the GOOD side…

The whole reason this is happening is because the URL where you see a broken padlock has paths in the code that are using HTTP instead of HTTPS. So your goal is to make sure that any resource needed to load on any page in your website loads using HTTPS. Makes sense so far?

There is a developer technique you can do is see what is causing your padlock not to be GREEN and kicking out a WordPress Mixed Content Warning. To do this you will need to use your browser to diagnose what paths are loading that are not using HTTPS.

If you are not familiar with using your browser console to display the errors on your site there is a really cool walkthrough for each and every browser at THIS LINK.

If you look at the image below you will see an example of a browser console report where it is showing that there is content trying to load using HTTPS but it cannot because the path it is loading is using HTTP.

This step is actually not fully necessary unless you are having trouble drilling down the exact cause of a path that is making the padlock break. You do not necessarily need to use the browser console tools to see which parts are broken because in the next steps were going to show you how you can update all of the paths within your website using some quick, tried and true techniques.

The browser console tool to identify mixed content is helpful in some situations when you do have a broken browser padlock and you’ve already completed the next steps that we are going to outline. We will discuss this further later on.

So let us first think about all of the different areas of content that make up the entire WordPress website. We have our files which consists of our images, your active theme and any plugins that you are using. Then you have your database which stores all of the data that is populated to display content on your website. It also stores the settings for your plugins and theme.

Now within the above mentioned areas that make up your website we need to make sure that all of the paths that are loading resources are loading with HTTPS in the URL structure. Doing this will ensure that you do not have a WordPress Mixed Content Warning and the browser padlock will be green.

Where WordPress Mixed Content Can Exist 

Okay let’s get into the actual steps that you will take in order to fix a WordPress Mixed Content Warning. We have done our best to make this process as simple and as easy as possible so you can get it done on your own and get your browser bar to have that lovely GREEN padlock. It is only 3 steps!

STEP #1 – Install & Setup Really Simple SSL Plugin

This step here is actually going to save you a lot of time and it’s going to take care of many of the paths that are currently loading in HTTP on your website but need to be changed to load in HTTPS. You just have to love WordPress and the plugin developers that are part of the community that create these great free plugins that save us time and energy to accomplish important tasks on our website.

The developer that created this plugin has definitely done a great job. With over 5 million installs you can be sure that you will not have any issues using this plugin or will it have any negative impact on the speed or the functionality of your website.

Please watch the short video below to show you exactly how to install and setup this plugin.

There is an available pro version of the plugin which offers additional options but fixing the WordPress Mixed Content Warning on your website can be done with the free version.

How is the list of items that this free plug-in does on your website.

The plugin handles most issues that WordPress has with SSL, like when you’re behind a reverse proxy/loadbalancer, or when no headers are passed which WordPress can use to detect SSL.
All incoming requests are redirected to https. Default with an internal WordPress redirect, but you can also enable a .htaccess redirect.
The siteurl and homeurl are changed to https.
Your insecure content is fixed by replacing all http:// URL’s with https://, except hyperlinks to other domains. Dynamically, so no database changes are made (except for the siteurl and homeurl).

Now in some cases this may be the first and last step that you need to do to ensure that you have fixed the WordPress Mixed Content Warning and every path on your website is using HTTPS. The majority of the time there are however additional steps that need to be completed. See more below.


STEP #2 – Install & Run Better Search and Replace Plugin

This step is going to ensure that any path which was missed in step #1 well be changed to HTTPS. The process in which we are going to complete right now is going to scan your entire database and make sure that any URL paths that you are searching for are replaced with the string you want in its place.

Search String =
Replace String =

You are basically doing a search for the HTTP version of your website URL and replacing it with the HTTPS version. I also like to do the same search and replace process adding the www in the search string and the replace string. After we complete this search and replace process we will be left with all of our website URLs in the database using the HTTPS prefix.

Please watch the short video below to show you exactly how to install and setup this plugin.


STEP #3 – Run Why No Padlock Report

You have made it to step #3…congratulations! You are now in the home stretch of fixing the WordPress Mixed Content Warning. Give yourself a pat on the back and let’s dive into the reward for your hard work.

We now need to ensure that the browser padlock is green and everything is loading in HTTPS. To do this we are going to use a free online tool called “Why No Padlock“. 

The free version of this tool will allow you to scan any single URL and it will check to see if it passes the green padlock test. They do have a premium option which will allow you to scan all of the URLs on your website instead of one by one.


Some Odds and Ends Just In Case

So if you have gone through all of these steps and you are still having troubles getting the browser padlock to turn green and pass the “Why No Padlock” test there are some additional things that you can do to reach your goal.

If you have some type of path hard coded into your theme files or your plugin files and these paths are using HTTP, the steps that you just went through above would not correct those paths. If this is the case you have to track down where those paths are and manually change them.

Remember in the beginning of this post when we talked about using the browser console to identify what paths are loading as mixed content? This is the exact tool that you will need to drill down those hard coded HTTP URLs in your plugin files or theme files. The browser console tool will show you the path that is being loaded as mixed content. Once you identify this and make the adjustments to your files you can go back to step #3 and run your website through the “Why No Padlock” test.



Just Wrapping Up

We really hope that this article was helpful for you to fix the WordPress Mixed Content warning on your website. It is so important that every URL on your website loads with a green and happy padlock. If there is a URL on your website that has a broken padlock the browser will display a not secure message to your website visitor. Make sure that it looks like the GOOD example in the image below. Please comment below if oyu get stuck or have any questions.

The post WordPress Mixed Content Warning FIXED appeared first on WP Fix It.

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How To Track Passage Ranking SEO Performance in Google Search Console (And Why You Might Want To)

How To Track Passage Ranking SEO Performance in Google Search Console (And Why You Might Want To)


You’re really not an SEO blogger until @rustybrick has called bullshit on one of your posts

— Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide) February 11, 2021

So I may have jumped the gun on the “passage ranking” thing, but even though this may be old news, these URLs started showing up in a lot of GSC accounts over the past week so I wouldn’t be surprised if these are related to passage ranking. And I do think the idea of using the slugs for content research is a good one – Ed


Google just announced that “passage ranking” is now live in the SERPs:

Update: passage ranking launched yesterday afternoon Pacific Time for queries in the US in English. It will come for more countries in English in the near future, then to other countries and languages after that. We’ll update this thread as those further launches happen.

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 11, 2021

I think it actually launched about a week ago as that’s when I noticed that odd-looking URLs were showing up in the Search Performance Report in Google Search Console like:

It’s possible, these may not be actual “passage ranking” URLs, and are just some other flotsam Google has launched. I am seeing them popping up over the past week on several client sites. But for the sake of this post, let’s assume these are passage ranking URLs. It’s an SEO blog post so cut me some slack.

If you want to track the performance of your content with passage ranking, all you have to do is filter the GSC Search Performance Report by Page containing “/#:~:text” and you get a nice little graph like:

Looks like we need to do some work on getting some actual clicks from these though….

Why should you track passage ranking URLs in Google for SEO? (yes I am trying to rank this passage)

Based on what I am seeing so far, the URL slug displayed in GSC provides some pretty interesting clues as to what content on the page Google matched with the query. For example, according to GSC appeared for searches for “local seo” and “local seo expert.” This may be a signal that “case studies” are important to searchers when they are looking for local SEO help.

Hell, even if these aren’t passage ranking URLs, this is still a good technique for figuring out what content on your page Google is prioritizing for certain queries.



The post How To Track Passage Ranking SEO Performance in Google Search Console (And Why You Might Want To) appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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Yoast SEO 15.9: Performance improvements

Yoast SEO 15.9: Performance improvements

Today sees the release of Yoast SEO 15.9 and Video SEO 13.7. In Yoast SEO 15.9, we focussed on performance improvements and general enhancements. In addition, we made Video SEO available in Elementor. Find out more!

Performance improvements

Improving the performance of our plugins is always on our radar. Sometimes, we do big changes that enhance the performance and other times they are small. But, like they say, from the tiny acorn, grows the mighty oak. For Yoast SEO 15.9, we picked two changes that might not seem huge but that do have an effect on overall performance.

For one, we limit the database queries for indexing the homepage. As a homepage doesn’t typically change that often, we don’t need to fetch it all the time. This saves a request. Two, in the redirects section of Yoast SEO Premium, we changed the order in which we load a piece of code. This simple fix prevents two extra queries that are not needed on every page load.

Structured data visual guide

Have you seen the rich results, structured data and Schema visual guide we launched recently? It helps you understand a complex topic in an easy to understand format. Check out the structured data visual guide!

Visual enhancements

In various places in Yoast SEO, you can upload images to use in your meta data. Up until now, we didn’t always show you a preview of that image. For instance, in the Search Appearance settings, we wouldn’t show you the image you uploaded in Knowledge graph section. In Yoast SEO 15.9, we’ve fixed that and you’ll now see the image you uploaded.

You now see the uploaded logo in all its glory

Video SEO: Now compatible with Elementor

A couple of weeks ago, we updated our Video SEO plugin. We cleaned up the UX and added a new way of handling YouTube videos. You can now tell the plugin to only load YouTube videos once a user interacts with it. This keeps the page from loading heavy JavaScript that might not be necessary — thus, keeping the page quick to load.

In Video SEO 13.7, we added another cool feature to bring it in line with Yoast SEO. Video SEO now works in our Elementor integration. Elementor user can now seamlessly optimize their videos and work on their video SEO!

That’s Yoast SEO 15.9 for you!

Yoast SEO 15.9 comes with a couple of nice improvements. In addition, we’ve updated our Video SEO plugins with a cool new Elementor integration. Happy updating and thanks for using Yoast SEO!

The post Yoast SEO 15.9: Performance improvements appeared first on Yoast.

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10 Best Practices to Perform Keyword Research For SEO

10 Best Practices to Perform Keyword Research For SEO

Keyword research is a critical step of SEO. Knowing what users type in a search engine will help you create relevant content to satisfy their intent.

When you do this successfully, your pages will start ranking for those search terms and this translates to an increase in SEO traffic.

In this guide, you’ll learn what keyword research is, the keyword research best practices to follow, and how to do keyword research successfully.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the SEO process of finding out which words or phrases users type into a search engine when looking for information, products, or services on the Internet.

By knowing the exact search terms, you can provide them with relevant content that satisfies their intent.

The outcome of the keyword research process is a list of keywords:

That can potentially bring you traffic. Trying to rank for keywords that won’t generate website visits is a waste of time and resources.
That can increase your conversions. In other words, keywords aligned with your business goals to generate sales, leads, or affiliate earnings.
You can actually rank for. The web is a saturated place, and unfortunately, it’s impossible to rank for all the keywords you want.

You can use the list as the fuel for all your digital marketing campaigns.

Why is keyword research important for SEO?

Keyword research is important for SEO for many reasons:

If you don’t know the actual search phrases people are using in Google, you risk optimizing your website for the wrong keywords.
Without analyzing the potential of a keyword, you don’t know if it’s a keyword you want to rank for.
Without doing research you cannot know for which keywords you can actually rank for and you might be targeting keywords you will never be able to rank well.
Keyword research will help you understand your industry and identify your true competitors.
Keyword research will give you a list of keywords to monitor their rankings and evaluate your SEO performance.
With keyword research, you get to know the size of your potential audience, a metric useful in setting marketing goals and creating growth plans.

Different types of SEO keywords

When doing keyword research, you’ll come across different definitions like ‘seed keywords’, ‘focus keywords’, ‘long-tail keywords’. It will be less confusing to know about the different types of keywords before starting your research.

Seed Keywords – Also known as the head, focus, or main keywords, are usually or two words search phrases that have a high search volume. These keywords are also highly competitive with hundreds of websites competing for one of the top spots in the SERPS.

Here are some examples of seed keywords: ‘SEO’, ‘Social Media’, ‘Online Marketing’, ‘diet’.

Synonyms or closely related keywords – These are keywords closely related to each other. It’s keywords that have the same meaning but written differently.

Here are some examples: ‘how to replace a light bulb’, ‘how to fix a light bulb’, ‘how to change a light bulb’.

Long-tail keywords – Are search phrases consisting of 3 or more words. They have less search volume compared to head keywords but their intent is more specific.

Here are some examples of long-tail keywords: ‘What is SEO’, ‘How to become an SEO Expert’.

Semantically related keywords – also known as LSI keywords, are keywords that are related to each other conceptually.

For example, for the search phrase ‘keyword research’, some semantically related keywords are ‘search volume’, ‘keyword analysis’, ’google keyword tool’.

In this video, you’ll learn two different techniques you can use to perform keyword research and find lucrative keywords for your SEO campaigns.

10 Best Practices to Perform Keyword Research

These are the keyword research steps to follow to find keywords to use in your SEO campaigns.

Get to know your Niche
Write down topic ideas and create topic buckets
Find seed keywords for your topics using keyword research tools
Examine the search intent of each keyword
Find long-tail keywords
Find keywords your competitors are ranking
Choose the right keywords for your website
Convert keywords into content titles
Find Semantically Related Keywords to use in your content
Keep checking for trending keywords

Step 1: Get to Know your Niche

The first step of the keyword research process is to find out as many details as possible about your niche.

Knowing who you have to compete with, will help you create a realistic keyword list and an SEO strategy that can get you results.

Let’s get started.

Go to Google and start typing search terms related to your niche. Visit all websites that come up on the first page of Google and take note of things like:

Their posting frequency (how often they update their website with new content)
Type of content they publish (is it text, videos, etc.)
How their website is structured (what they have on their homepage, menus, etc.).
Learn more about their social media presence (channels they are active, how many followers they have, what they are posting, etc.)
Use tools like SEMRUSH or Ubersuggest to find out their domain authority.
Register to their newsletter (if they have one) and add them to your Feedly (to get notified of content updates)

The main idea behind this exercise is to identify your main competitors and get new ideas about topics/keywords you can target.

What is important to understand before doing keyword research for SEO purposes, is that there is a big difference between the keywords you would like to achieve high rankings and the keywords you can actually rank high on Google.

If your website is new, some keywords might be impossible to target (usually these are highly competitive keywords), so it’s good to know this from the beginning to adjust your keyword strategy to go after keywords that you have more chances of reaching the first page of Google.

Related Resources

Best Keyword Research Courses – A list of great courses to improve your keyword research skills.

Step 2: Write down topic ideas and create topic buckets

Once you are done with step 1, it’s time to get more specific by writing down (in a spreadsheet), topic ideas.

Do your brainstorming and write down anything that comes to mind related to your niche, industry, and products.

Put yourself in the position of the Google searcher and try to think what search terms they might type in Google.

If needed, revisit the websites noted in step 1 and take a closer look at their page titles. This can give you more ideas about topics related to your niche that you might have not thought about.

Group your ideas together to form topic buckets. Each topic bucket should include related ideas.

Let me give you an example of how this works.

Let’s say that you are in the digital marketing niche and want to find keywords that can potentially help you get clients for your digital marketing agency.

Your target market is small businesses and startups looking for different kinds of services related to digital marketing.
Your topic buckets might include the following:

Examples of Topic Buckets

General Information Bucket. This bucket includes ideas related to general questions about digital marketing.

Small Business Bucket. This bucket includes search terms that a small business owner might use in Google when looking for digital marketing agencies.

Services bucket. This bucket includes search terms related to specific marketing services like SEO and social media marketing.

If this is the first time you’re doing keyword research for your website, you may end up having many topic buckets. This is perfectly fine.

Remember that this is an ongoing process and not something you have to complete 100% on the first go.

To begin with, write your basic ideas and move on to the next step.

Step 3: Find seed keywords for your topics using keyword research tools

Now that you have a list of ideas grouped into topic buckets, it’s time to convert your ideas into SEO keywords.

SEO Keywords are the actual queries people type in a search engine that are important for your website.

To do that, we need the help of keyword research tools. I will demonstrate the process using SEMRUSH, but you can use your favorite tool to go through the process.

If you don’t have a SEMRush subscription, you can take advantage of our exclusive offer and get a 14-day free subscription to SEMrush pro.

Login to SEMRUSH and go to the KEYWORD MAGIC TOOL.

Take your first topic bucket and start your analysis.

Go through the list and select all keywords related to your business and click the ADD TO KEYWORD MANAGER button.

At this stage, we don’t care about the monthly search volume or Keyword difficulty but to select the most relevant keywords for our website.

SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

Repeat the process to analyze at least ten ideas from your topic buckets.

When you finish adding keywords to your list, you go to KEYWORD MANAGER to view your selected keywords.

SEMRush Keyword Manager Tool

Click the Update Metrics button to refresh the metrics and sort the keywords by volume.

Step 4: Examine the search intent of each keyword

Now that you have a list of seed keywords, it’s time to examine each keyword’s search intent.

The search intent is simply the type of information users are looking for when they perform a search.

For some keywords, the search intent is obvious but for others, it needs more investigation.

For example, when searching for ‘SEO packages for small businesses, their intent is clear, but searching for ‘SEO’ is very vague.

The best way to figure out the search intent of a keyword is to type the keywords in Google and examine the first page of the results.

Google is doing a great job in understanding the user’s actual intent so what they show on the first page, is very close to what users are looking for.

You need to do this exercise to find and eliminate from your list keywords that have a different intent than what you are offering. You don’t want to waste your time targeting keywords that won’t get you the right type of traffic.

For example, I initially added the keyword ‘Freelance Digital Marketing’ to my list.

When you search for this keyword on Google, you will see that most of the results are resources on how to become a freelancer.

Since my goal is to find keywords to get clients, this keyword is not a good fit. The intent of the searcher is not to hire a freelancer but to learn how to become one.

Step 5: Find long-tail keywords

As you work through the list of your seed keywords, you will realize that most of them (if not all), are highly competitive.

In other words, when you search for these keywords on Google, you find hundreds of websites competing for one of the top 10 positions.

If you have an established website, this may not be a very big issue but if you are starting out now, this is a huge problem.

What should you do? Adjust your keyword research strategy and start looking for keywords that are less competitive i.e. long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all searches and it’s your only opportunity to start ranking high on Google for keywords that can bring targeted traffic to your website, in a relatively short amount of time.

Long Tail Keywords – Search Curve

You might think that the issue with long-tail keywords is that they have less search volume and while this is true, less is better than nothing.

In other words, there is no point in spending your time and effort on popular keywords that it’s impossible to rank. Better start with the low-hanging fruit and built your way up.

Once you manage to achieve high rankings for several longtail keywords, you also increase your chances of ranking for seed keywords as well.

How to find long-tail keywords? There are a number of ways to find long-tail keywords.

You can manually search Google and look for the ‘People also ask’ or ‘related searches’ section. You can also go to Wikipedia and Amazon and see what people are searching for.

The fastest way is to use two SEMRUSH functions, the ‘Keyword Magic Tool’ and the ‘Topic Research’ tools.

Revisit the Keyword Magic tool and use the ‘Advanced Filters’ to search for keywords that have 4 words or more. Just enter the number 4 into the ‘Words Count’ box and click Enter.

Find long-tail keywords

What you see now are keywords that consist of more than 4 words. Select the keywords that match your business, examine their search intent by analyzing the Google results, and add them to your main list.

Another way to find longtail keywords is to use the ‘Topic Research’ tool. Select the topic research option from the menu, type your topic ideas and click GET CONTENT IDEAS.

Find Related Keywords using SEMRUSH

Look for the ‘Interesting Questions’ section and find questions that relate to your business and products.

Step 6: Find keywords your competitors are ranking

While doing your keyword research, you created a list of websites that are your direct competitors. You visited their websites and analyzed their content, now it’s time to learn for which keywords they are actually ranking and the amount of traffic they receive from Google search.

Go to SEMRUSH, select ORGANIC RESEARCH from DOMAIN ANALYTICS, and type in a competitor’s URL.

Analyze your competitor keywords

What you see are the keywords your competitors are ranking. Click on VIEW ALL ORGANIC KEYWORDS to go to the full list and use the advanced filters to find keywords with a decent search volume, exclude brand-related keywords and keywords that do not fall into your line of business.

Find keywords with a decent search volume

Your goal with this exercise is to find keyword ideas that you might have not thought of before and use them to enrich your keyword list.

You can also follow the above procedure to find out for which specific keywords a competitor’s page is ranking.

In other words, instead of using the domain in the search box, type in the URL of a specific page.

Find keywords a webpage is ranking

What you see now are all the keywords that the particular page is ranking, the monthly search volume, and whether they generate traffic to the website.

Step 7: Choose the right keywords for your website

Once you reach this point, you should already have a list of keywords (both seed and long-tail keywords), you would like to rank for.

For sure it’s a big list and not easily manageable.

Now it’s time to revise the list once more and narrow it down to 20-30 keywords you can target by either creating SEO optimized landing pages, optimizing your homepage, or creating new pages (blog posts).

To decide, which keywords to keep or discard, we’ll use data gathered so far from the previous steps and add two more parameters to the mix, keyword difficulty, and authority of the domains ranking on the first page of Google.

What is keyword difficulty?

It is an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank well in Google organic search for that keyword. It is given as a percentage, the higher the percentage the more difficult is to rank high for the specific keyword.

Each tool has its own way of calculating keyword difficulty but in general the lower the value, the better.

In all SEMRUSH reports, you can see the keyword difficulty of a keyword, the column is marked as KD%.

Authority of domains ranking on the top positions

I’ve mentioned this a couple of times so far but it’s time to make it more specific.

When you search for a keyword on Google and you notice that the first 10 positions are occupied by big and well-known websites, it means that it is very difficult for a small business website or blog to get there.

For example, if you search for ‘Digital Marketing’ you’ll see websites like HubSpot, Moz, Wikipedia, and other giant websites.

This means that although ‘digital marketing’ is a term I would like to rank for, Google tells me that this is not possible so I take that term out of my list and instead look for variations (long-tail search terms) that are possible to target.

How to decide which keywords are the correct keywords to target

Go through the keywords one by one and decide whether to keep or remove them from your list, by answering the following questions:

Is the keyword search intent in-synch with your marketing goals?
Is the keyword difficulty low compared to other keywords?
Does Google rank normal websites in the first 10 positions or is it only big and well-known websites?
Is there a decent search volume (above 50) for that keyword?
Can you provide good content for that keyword?

If the answer to all the questions is YES, then keep that keyword in your list, otherwise if the answer to any of the above is NO, remove it from your list.

If at the end of this exercise, you have a short keyword list, you need to go back and repeat all keyword research steps and find more keywords to enrich your list.

Remember that the goal of keyword research is not to create a long list of keywords that you will not use but to create a list of keywords that you can actually use in your content marketing campaigns.

Step 8: Convert keywords into page titles

Once you reach this point you can relax, the difficult part is behind you. Now, it’s time to convert those keywords into page titles and write the content.

Why pay attention to your page titles?

Good SEO best practices indicate that each page or post on your website should target a specific keyword only.

There is too much content on the Internet and Google tries to pick up the 10 best pages for a particular keyword.

To help them in this process, you need to make sure that each page is focusing on a specific keyword and that this is reflected in your page titles.

To convert keywords into page titles, follow these simple rules:

Search for the keyword on Google and examine the first 10 page titles
Create a title that contains your target keyword but make it unique i.e. Make sure that it’s not the same as one of the titles that are already shown on the first page. You need to do this because Google rarely shows pages with the same titles in the SERPS.
Make your title interesting by adding powerful words (like Amazing, complete, easy, etc.)

For more information on how to optimize your page titles, read: How to create SEO-friendly titles.
Step 9: Find Semantically Related Keywords to use in your content

Now that you have your titles ready the next step is to create high-quality SEO-friendly content.

One of the things that you need to consider is semantically related keywords.

Semantically related keywords (or LSI keywords) are keywords related to your target keywords or keywords that have the same meaning.

By adding these keywords to your content, you make the content more relevant to search engines and this dramatically increases your chances of ranking for your main keyword.

You can use SEMRUSH to find RELATED keywords (by clicking the RELATED button as shown below) or if you don’t have a SEMRush subscription, you can use tools like LSI Graph.

How to find conceptually related keywords

While optimizing your content for SEO, make sure that you add these keywords to your copy.

Step 10: Keep checking for trending keywords

Besides the above steps, you also need to monitor your niche for trending keywords and new keywords that rise to the surface.

It’s a fact that 30% of the queries entered into Google on a monthly basis are NEW and keywords that Google has never seen before.

This means that the keywords tools won’t show a big search volume for these keywords or not show them at all.

Most probably it’s keywords your competitors are not aware of, so this gives you a competitive advantage since you can rank for them faster.

I personally use this method a lot and it works great for almost all niches and industries.

Google Trends is the tool to use for this exercise. Go to Google Trends and enter your seed keywords.

Filter the results by area (if you are targeting specific areas), by categories, and Google search channel.

Look for the RELATED QUERIES section and drill down to get more details for a specific query.

Related Queries in Google Trends

A piece of advice, don’t give up too soon on this tool, try different filters and different keywords/topics and you can find some great keywords to target before everyone else does.

Add in your calendar a reminder to repeat this exercise at least once every 3 months.

How to use keywords in your content

Besides using your target keyword in the page title and adding LSI keywords within your content, there are a few other places where you need to add your keywords.

This is explained in detail in the SEO writing guide, the most important guidelines are:

Use your focus keyword in the page title – as explained above
Use your focus keyword in the page URL
Use your focus keyword in the page title tag and H1 tag
Use Long-tail keywords in your H2 and H3 headings
Use related keywords in the image ALT Text
Use related keywords and synonyms in your copy
Use LSI keywords in the content (as explained above).

Keyword Research Tools to Use

To perform keyword research, you need the help of tools. There is a lot of data to analyze and it’s impossible to do it manually.

These are the tools that I use and recommend.


This is my favorite tool for keyword research and the tool I use on a daily basis for all digital marketing tasks. It’s not free, it comes with a monthly subscription but worth’s every cent.

For keyword research, you can use SEMRUSH to do topic research, find out seed keywords, long-tail keywords, and related keywords.

If you don’t already have a subscription with an SEM tool, then SEMRUSH is the way to go.

Before selecting SEMRUSH, I have tested a number of other tools but none of them has the functionality of SEMRUSH at this price range.

You can register for a 14-Day free trial and test it yourself.

SEMRUSH 14 Day Trial

Google Keyword Tool (Free)
Google Keyword Planner

The Google keyword tool is a free tool provided by Google that allows you to do keyword research for PPC (Google Ads) purposes but you can also use it to do keyword research for SEO.

The tool is free but in order to use it, you need to have an active Google Ads account.

Go to Google Ads and register for a free account. Then, create a Google Ads campaign but do not activate it, keep it paused, and access the tool by selecting TOOLS and then KEYWORD PLANNER.

Google Keyword Planner

UberSuggest (Free)

Another free keyword research tool that is worth exploring is Ubersuggest. You can use it to do both topic and keyword research.

While the tool is free, the only disadvantage is that it does not allow you to create an account to save your reports or keywords and this means that every time you want to do keyword research, you need to start from the beginning.

This is not the case with SEMRUSH, where you have an account and all your lists/data saved and always accessible.


Google Search Console (Free)
Google Search Console

While the primary function of the Google search console is to optimize your website for technical SEO, it’s the tool to use to optimize your pages after they are published.

Keyword research is an on-going process and the best tool to use to find out the actual keywords your pages are ranking is the Google Search console.

Why this is an important step? When you optimize a page for a keyword, it does not always go as planned.

Google may rank the page for different keywords and the way to ‘correct this’ is to find out for which keywords the page has more chances of ranking and add those keywords in your content.

Here are the steps to follow:

Create an account and verify your website.
Access the ‘Search Performance Report’
Look at the ‘search terms’ and ‘positions’ columns
Identify keywords that are not included in your content.
Change your content to naturally add those keywords
Re-submit your page to Google.

Google Trends (Free)
Find Search Terms using Google Trends

As explained above, another tool you can use to find out about new and trending keywords is Google Trends.

Go to Google Trends and perform several searches, using different filters to find out what is trending in your industry.

Key Learnings

Keyword research is an important process of SEO. Through keyword research, you can find the keywords that really matter for your business and use them in your SEO and content marketing campaigns.

Keyword research is not a once-off process but it’s an ongoing process. You do it initially when you start a new website or SEO campaign and depending on the results, you need to go back and revise your keywords list.

The process is simple but it’s time-consuming. As your website grows you will need to find more keywords to target and this is the part that is becoming more challenging.

You cannot do keyword research without the help of tools. While you can use free tools like the Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest, for long-term projects you need the help of more reliable tools like SEMRUSH or Ahrefs.

Finally, if you already have an existing website with rankings then don’t forget to use the Google search console when doing keyword research.

Through the GSC you can learn which keywords bring Google traffic to your website now and which keywords Google believes are a good fit for your website and content.

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