Keyword research is evolving to be very different from what it was a few years ago. Search engines constantly change their algorithms to make sure the results reflect better quality content for searchers.
Keyword research is an important part of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The keywords you use and the intent you convey in your blog posts or articles will make a big difference in how the post ranks on search engine results and also in reaching your target audience.
Keyword research involves finding words or groups of words that people use to search for information on the internet. By understanding this, you can provide relevant content that matches the user’s search intent.
The keyword research process gives you a keyword list. This list of key terms related to a topic can help you decide the type of content to put out, ranking, and your SEO strategy in general. This helps optimize your content and website for your target audience.
Keyword research is primarily done with SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) in mind. SEO keyword research involves optimizing your website for keywords that searchers use to find your content. This is directly linked to rankings, long-term traffic, and growing your online presence.
PPC keyword research is to do with keywords used for advertising at the top of SERPs to attract users and increase traffic in the short term. One of the important differences is that with PPC keywords, you want only relevant traffic, as you literally pay per click.
Learn more about how to do keyword research for SEO and PPC.
Now, let's look at 7 keyword research best practices for higher SERP ranking:
Find industry-specific keywords and study competition
The most important part of the keyword research process is to look for industry-specific keywords and understand your niche. This means looking at what your competition is doing.
You can get an idea of keywords and phrases associated with your industry by searching for terms related to your industry in Google or another search engine. You can analyze the top search results for different bits of information that will help you understand what ranks well or, in other words, what people are looking for.
This could include data on what kind of content they publish, the structure of their content, active social media channels, and even how frequently they post through these. You can also find common search terms by looking up words related to your industry in Google Trends.
This process will give you information on trending topics, geographic regions where specific terms are popular, associated topics, and related search queries. You can also make use of other tools available for this purpose. You can analyze top keyword trends and keywords of competitor websites using keyword research tools such as Semrush.
These steps will help you identify keywords associated with the industry and gauge how popular they are. You can also identify competitors and get keyword ideas for what works and doesn't.
Sometimes, there may be a disconnect between keywords you think will achieve high rankings and what actually works for SERP display. This exercise will give you a clear idea of a keyword list that works.
Look out for low competition high search keywords
Low competition and high search keywords are the most lucrative spots to target. This is especially important if your website is relatively new, has nil to low domain ratings, and is entering a highly competitive space.
Keywords with a high search volume will be highly competitive and have thousands of websites competing to show up on the first page of the SERPs. Seed keywords are one or two-word search queries that are highly competitive. These words have a high monthly search volume and also tend to be more competitive.
Low-competition keywords are keywords that have the potential to rank well, even with low domain authority. By sites with a high domain rating, we mean popular, trusted resources that do not have to do much for content to rate well. For example, websites such as Apple, blogger.com, and CNN have high domain rankings, according to Moz's top 500 websites.
Though the process can be difficult and cannot be pegged down to an exact science (as each search engine uses different algorithms and keeps evolving), there are some ways to look for low competition high search keywords.
Analyzing search results on Google and competitor websites for key terms will always be important. You can also enlist the help of keyword-analyzing software to aid in targeting specific topics. It is helpful to have a minimum search volume in mind. Some long-tail keywords will be low competition.
Let's learn about long-tail keywords next.
Aim for long-tail keywords
If managed well, long-term keywords could be the answer to finding low-competition keywords and ranking well. As the term suggests, long-tail keywords are a string of three or more words that have a low search volume and address a very specific user intent.
For example, in search queries and topics related to 'shoes,’ a long-tail keyword would be 'best walking shoes for kids.’ Long-tail keywords make up a high percentage of searches and can attract quick organic traffic in a shorter amount of time.
Again, doing a manual search on Google and checking the other SERP sections such as 'related searches' and 'people also ask' can help you identify long-tail keywords. The Semrush keyword research tool can also help in this regard, where you can search for words of a particular word count.
To learn more about finding long-tail keywords, check out our blog on 10 smart ways to find long-tail keywords with low competition.
It is always good to aim for long-tail keywords as they match how most people organically search for information, especially with voice searches. People tend to type out their specific problem or need in the form of queries instead of general keywords.
Avoid keyword stuffing in your content
Keyword stuffing is the practice of including keywords in a webpage to bring traffic in and rank well, regardless of whether the content developed sense. In such cases, there is also usually a mismatch of the content with the search intent.
Most search engines constantly change their algorithms to prevent keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing might bring in quick traffic to your webpage but does not serve a purpose and is more counter-productive than helpful, both for potential customers and search engines.
It is usually regarded as an unethical and exploitative SEO strategy. Sometimes, it is hard to avoid some keywords, as their usage is important in your content, but this should be done only as long as it flows naturally and does not seem out of place.
To build a trusted resource in the long term, it is best to avoid keyword stuffing.
Perform SERP analysis and align content with keyword intent
You should analyze the top search results to understand all you can about the user. Understanding demographics and the potential user's state of mind is vital to answer their questions. It is helpful to create personas for your target audience. This way, you will be able to empathize with their needs and wants.
This might also aid with putting together common phrases or keywords they might use when looking to fulfill their needs or solve their problem.
For example, say someone types in the query 'how to become a psychologist.’ Your article should meet this informational search intent and can cover the educational requirements, the process, and licensing requirements based on the state.
To understand the search intent, you can look at the type of results on the first page of the SERPs. The search results on the first page of Google search are pretty accurate toward understanding the search intent of the user. Doing this exercise helps you remove keywords that might not fit the predominant intent.
For good SEO, you should always look to help the user rather than merely rank well. If your content does not match the search intent of the user, it will not rank well either way.
Scalenut’s SERP analysis feature curates the data from the top-ranking pages on the SERPs and is very useful in understanding user intent. The tool generates a report that includes the average word count, readability, and average quality score of the top-ranking SERPs.
Key terms are also identified and can be viewed in terms of importance, presence in headings, and occurrence frequency. The tool also generates a quality score based on competitors' content.
Keep checking for trending keywords
It is important to keep abreast of new keywords associated with your industry and niche topics. A significant percentage of new queries that turn up every so often are new keywords. This means these keywords will not have a high search volume and, if caught early enough, will probably be low competition as well.
You should look to take advantage of these keywords to capture organic traffic and rank well for related search terms. This is a vital element of a good content marketing strategy.
We mentioned Google Trends earlier, which is a great tool to keep checking for trending keywords. In Google Trends, search for the seed keywords and filter as needed, by categories, area, and search channels. Analyze the related queries section to get a keyword list that you can use.
This process can yield valuable suggestions for new keyword ideas, especially specific long-tail keywords. It is helpful to check this tool every few months or at least once a quarter.
Build topical authority for keywords
Building topical authority in your industry niche is ideally a good way to rank well on search engines. Topical authority refers to a website building trust and recognition over a period of time in a particular field. Such a website is associated with proven expertise and high-quality content.
Some examples of such websites with a high trust signal are Reuters.com or Webmd.com. You know that the information on these websites is vetted and can be accepted without needing to validate it.
There are a few specific ways to build topical authority. One of the more effective methods is the topic-cluster strategy. This is pivotal when it comes to search engine optimization. The topic cluster strategy involves developing a group of content or related pages that revolve around one topic.
With a topic cluster, you have a pillar page, which is the main piece of content that broadly covers a core topic. Then, there are multiple posts on related subtopics that link back to the pillar page, almost like a hub-and-spoke model.
This interlinking prompts search engines to classify the webpage as an authority when it comes to that topic; over time, it might rank better for that topic. A pillar page specifically targets ranking for a keyword cluster. Keyword clustering is the act of grouping similar and related keywords.
This strategy entails a website organizing the pages according to a different and cleaner architecture. It also gives you more comprehensive content, as the cluster blogs cover in-depth information about the subtopics and link back to the core topic (pillar page).
Manually creating a keyword cluster is a lesson of considerable effort. There are keyword clustering tools that can help marketers streamline the process. Scalenut's topic cluster generator enables you to create keyword clusters in a few simple steps.
All you need is to input the main keyword and the relevant location. The tool analyses the SERPs, does keyword research by finding keyword variations and then groups them depending on their relevance to the main keyword.
The topic clusters model is an important concept in the evolution of digital marketing, especially for marketers responsible for SEO strategies. To read more, check our blog, ‘How Topical Authority Is A Way Forward For Keyword Research.’
Let’s wrap it up
We know that keyword research is evolving rapidly and continues to be a very important part of the SEO process. Keyword research enables you to make a huge difference in your content marketing campaigns.
However, it is not a one-off process; you will have to keep revisiting your research to add new keywords and improve your content for currency and SEO. As this has evolved to be a time-consuming process, it is better to rely on keyword research tools to aid you with the process.
It is also advised to follow the above-mentioned best practices for keyword research as part of your content strategy and ensure you consistently rank high on the SERPs.
Scalenut is an AI-powered SEO and content marketing platform that helps discover and create relevant content for your customers. Be it brainstorming ideas, creating comprehensive briefs, or generating the content, Scalenut has made the process extremely easy. Click here to create a free account and explore the many features of this platform.