Today, we’re taking it back to basics. We have a long history of creating in-depth blog posts on the small details that can make a big difference to your SEO. But we have been guilty of overlooking the humble keyword.

Like scientists splitting the atom, there’s a whole world of detail beneath this simplest, most fundamental part of all digital marketing.

What is keyword research and why keyword research? Well, keywords are called keywords because they unlock audiences. That’s how I like to think about it anyway. They open the door to your efforts being discovered and engaged with online. Without that, you have nothing.

Keyword Research in digital marketing is something people often associate with SEO, but just like atoms form all molecules in the universe, keywords are fundamental to all of digital marketing. A good digital marketing strategy should be informed at every stage by the right keywords.

But what are the right keywords?

We’ll be exploring that question, helping you discern relevant keywords, and select them with traffic, sales and ROI in mind. We’ve already covered the basics of short vs long tail keywords, so if you need a definition, start there. Then come back here, and pick up where you left off.

Ready to bring in qualified leads, increase your conversion rate and generate real revenue? Read on!

Great Keyword Research Needs To Be Geared Toward Qualified Leads

Here’s a bit of knowledge from another part of the marketing world – posters. It’s called AIDA.

You need to think of keywords like they’re posters. The point is to generate interest in an action – namely, clicking a link that leads to your website.

Search for the keyword “digital marketing” into Google. What do you see?

Educational resources, definitions, and you’re probably being advertised a course of some kind.

That’s because this keyword is as broad as it gets. It’s a whole discipline. People looking for “digital marketing” are probably only just thinking about launching their first website.

Now type in “digital marketing trends 2018”.

Smart Insights wrote this in May, a full seven months before 2018. It gave the article time to rank, and the keywords reflect Interest, Desire, and Action. Those looking for this keyword in May are strategic long-term thinkers looking to find actionable advice that will give them an advantage.

This is the difference between unqualified and qualified leads. In a nutshell:

Unqualified Leads don’t know what solution they are looking for, don’t recognize your company or don’t know what it offers, and often aren’t willing to invest in your product or service as a result. You can convert unqualified leads into customers, but the churn rate (your number of subcribers and unsubscribes per actual customer) will be huge. It’s inefficient to target these people.
Qualified Leads are people in control, looking to fill in gaps to complete their knowledge. They know what they need from a solution, have a budget to work with, and are prepared to spend it on the right product or service. These people look for more specific terms because they need specific things. Their attention, interest, desire, and action are all driven toward getting the best results. As a result, their churn rate is much lower, and they’re much closer to converting when they arrive.

I recommend always trying to target qualified leads, and you do that by getting specific about your keywords. If a keyword has an incredible search volume, it doesn’t really matter if the quality of traffic is poor. You are looking for keywords that strike the right balance between volume and quality. You can look at the importance of keyword research being targeted at qualified leads like airing your commercials at the right time.

With that in mind, we can now look at how to do keyword research.

1) What Keywords Are You (& Your Competitors) ‘Naturally’ Ranked For?

If you are looking at how to do keyword research, chances are you already have a website and you’re disappointed with your traffic. Despite this fact, you may actually rank for keywords you simply aren’t exploiting properly.

Google Analytics can tell you what keywords people are using to find you, just go through Acquisition > Search Console > Queries to find a list of the queries that caused people to click on your site.

If you don’t know what keywords you already rank for, you can use my favorite tool: RankReveal.

RankReveal is a great tool that helps you find out what keywords your site is ranking for and it will even tell you who you are competing against.

They have recently launched another FREE tool, WhoRanksWhat that allows you to discover the keywords you’re ranking for, what that rank is, and what search engine.

WhoRanksWhat: You can also put in your competitors URLs to find out the same information for them.

2) What Are Your Competitors Trying To Rank For?

While the above information might help you understand what your competitors have historically managed to rank for, it won’t tell you what they’re up to right this minute.

Fortunately, if they want to rank for keywords, those keywords will have to be put in the title, description and metadata of their articles. All of these is available for you to view if you’re willing to pore over the source code. Simply go to their website, or a specific article, and open the console to view the source code. Here’s a breakdown by the browser for PC and Mac:

Firefox: Press CTRL + U (PC) or Command+U (Mac).
Edge: CTRL + U.
Chrome: Press CTRL + U (PC) or Option+Command+U (Mac).
Opera: CTRL + U (PC) or Command+U (Mac).
Safari: Press Option+Command+U.

Once you’ve opened the console, use “find in page” in the browser tools to search for “meta”, “h1” “h2” and “image” – pay attention to what words or phrases get repeated and you should be able to identify the keywords they’re trying to rank for.

If you know what they’re ranking for, it all depends on how much you trust them to have used best practices in finding their keywords. If your competitor is far larger and more dominant than you are, you may wish to avoid these keywords and find others.

However, if you put the keyword into Google and find few good results, you could enter a direct competition with them and try to get that traffic for yourself. Just be sure to measure your keywords in Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out how popular and lucrative they are.

3) How Does Google ‘Guide’ People To Keywords?

If you’ve been using Google regularly for the past couple of years, you’ll doubtless have taken advantage of Google Autocomplete. Well, so is everyone else.

Autocomplete is an indispensable tool for learning what searches are the most popular for any given keyword or phrase.

What’s more, you can see at the bottom of the first page a shortlist of the most popular related searches.

These will provide you with more keywords to focus on.

This information come from simply checking out the first page of Google, which is all your potential customers will do in 90% of cases. Replicating their behavior will allow you to optimize your content to what your customer base is doing.

4) What Do Your Customers Want, And How Do They Really Find It?

Start thinking outside of the box, I want to challenge your assumptions for a second here.

Why do you want to know how to do keyword research? Chances are, to appear at the top of Google searches for your product or service, right? Well, finding keywords and populating them on your own page may not be the smartest way to get that same result.

The whole point of using keywords is that consumers are using them too. But once they’ve used them, what do they do next? The typical journey of an acquisition goes something like this:

Identify A Problem
Look For Solutions
Evaluate The Options
Make A Purchase
Evaluate The Purchase
Recommend Or Critique

At no point does this say “Use google keywords to identify websites trying to rank and choose from one of them.” The second and third steps are the ones we’re interested in today.

Increasingly, lists are getting featured at the top of Google. I’ve decided I want to get into hiking and I want the best gear. So I type in “best hiking gear”. I get a list recommending products from an influential site immediately.

Do I want to spend huge amounts of time evaluating thousands of products, or do I want to take an expert at their word and choose the product they recommend?

For most people, it’s the latter. So when it comes to keywords, knowing what high authority websites and influencers dominate them is useful. Instead of competing, look at guest posting. Send them a product to review. Look at influencers on Social Media (Instagram in particular) and try to get featured by them.

5) There Are A Hundred Ways To Say The Same Thing

We’ve hinted at this with Google’s “related searches” list at the bottom of the first page, but this rabbit hole goes down a lot further.

Using Thesaurus on your keywords can open up a huge array of new opportunities. Run these synonyms through AdWords’ Keyword Planner, and you can identify new potential opportunities.

Keyword Planner by Google AdWords is a free keyword tool that can help you to look for more keyword ideas and analyze the performance.

Another essential component of making the keywords you’ve identified work hard is discovering the LSI keywords associated with it. LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, basically means “related or shared meaning” – similar to the thesaurus idea above.

Using LSIGraph, you can put in your keyword to find long tail keyword alternatives that are already popular search terms.

This keyword suggestion tool is specifically designed for generating Keyword Research. No doubt, it has contributed hugely in the world of SEO.

Do The Fundamentals Well, And You’ll Be Rewarded

Keyword research process may feel basic, even mundane, but it’s absolutely essential to success, so it’s worth doing it well. With these resources, you’ll be able to ensure you maximize the benefit you get from the time you spend doing keyword research.

Once you’ve done it, it’s time to optimize your content using SEOPressor.

You can use it to input up to 3 keywords and get suggestions on how you can better optimize your content to maximize its rank on Google.

When was the last time you performed keyword research on your website? Tell us in the comments below. Any tips and tricks on how to do keyword research you know that we haven’t included here? Share them with our readers!

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The Four Step
Keyword Research Tracker

Access various keyword research tools from one convenient page
Improves search intent discovery and keyword expansion process
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