Keyword research can be a long hard road and one I know a lot of marketers dread due to the seemingly never ending laborious task of finding new opportunities, categorising, prioritising and qualifying them.
On the other hand keyword research can be rather exciting; stumbling across a hidden gem with a high search volume and low competition can leave you giggling like a school girl... Keyword research is the cornerstone to any SEO campaign, it’s not links or content or ‘I can haz cheezburger’ memes it’s keywords that are at the core of it all.
To begin researching potential keywords I often follow a particular pattern to find potential opportunities and then move on to qualifying them. There are a few other techniques and tools I use from time to time but these are the main ones.
This can often vary from niche to niche and whether it’s B2B or B2C but generally speaking I will begin by writing and brainstorming ideas for how I personally might search for this particular product or service, also try including other members of the team to give a varied prospective (don’t forget to speak to your client either!). I think this is probably the most over looked step of keyword research but it can lead you to different ways in which people might search and it makes you really think about what it is you are trying to achieve.
After I have gathered my keywords, say 20 of them, I will then begin making the different variations such as plurals and suffixes this will usually double or triple my keyword list.
Next I’ll move onto looking at competitors, first of all I download their backlinks and review their anchor text these will go into a new tab within my excel sheet. Next I will scrape their navigation, these are often ‘optimised’ for targeting keywords people are searching for, again these go into a separate tab with excel.
Now we will take a look at our analytics, if this is a long established website this will work much better than if it’s a relatively new site. You can pluck keywords from different areas of your analytics but I personally like internal site search for finding new opportunities. Extract these and add them to a new tab.
Go through each tab one by one adding the different variations as before, and then run them through Adwords keywords research tool to extract the exact match keyword search volumes. Adwords will likely throw up some suggestions also so add these to the list. Once complete remove all the duplicates and anything that isn’t relevant that may have slipped through.
The reason I keep things on different tabs is to keep some kind of structure and order to the process as it can become overwhelming looking at so many keywords – it’s probably more mind trickery than anything else.
Lastly I will put all my keywords into a rank checker to see where the site is currently visible. Match this up with the estimated search volume and anything ranking off the first page of Google ‘naturally’ is seen as a quick win to move onto the first page, everything else can be prioritised and added into the targeting schedule as part of the ongoing strategy. Keyword research done! Phew.