What Is Keyword Research and Why Is It Important?
SEO experts and gurus say that the foundation of a good SEO campaign is Keyword Research.
And you know what? They are right!
For an online business to thrive organically, people should know that your business exists.
This happens when search engines feature your website prominently on the SERPs (search engine results page) for relevant search terms.
When your site is on the first page, expect traffic to increase. Getting more traffic means more opportunities to convert those visitors into customers. Best of all, you do this without having to spend money on ads.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of gathering keywords that can help you with On-Page SEO.
Having the right keywords in the right places (Page title, Headings, Sub-headings, URL, body, etc.) makes your content easy to understand not just by people but also by search engines.
Make it a point to gather the keywords relevant to your chosen niche. Doing so will set you on the right path to a good SEO campaign.
You have the keywords that people type in search engines to look for something. They can also be terms that naturally come up in conversations (semantic words) within your niche.
You talk about these keywords through your content. Do this correctly and you give value to your website visitors because they can learn something from you.
Let’s say that you have an online store selling running shoes (hypothetically).
Your content should be about any topic related to running shoes.
- How to Pick the Right Pair of Running Shoes
- What Type of Running Shoes Are Best for Ultramarathons?
- When Is the Best Time to Get a New Pair of Running Shoes?
These are the possible topics that people into running or want to get into the hobby would like to find when they visit your site, aside from checking the products featured in your store.
Deviating from your niche and talking about golf or taxes would turn off not just people but search engines as well.
It’s just downright weird or irrelevant to your niche.
Coming up with relevant topics is a byproduct of doing keyword research correctly.
By doing so, people will get to know and trust your business if they want to buy or learn more about running shoes.
Other than that, search engines will start rewarding your site because they can find the right keywords on the right pages.
Keyword research is a tedious process. With the help of some plugins, it can be made more manageable.
5 Essential SEO browser extensions or plugins for Keyword Research
Allows you to browse the top search results of a specific country without using a VPN.
This lets you know the other terms that people usually input in search engines that are related to your search term or keyword.
Gives you the list of URLs and their corresponding rankings for the search term you just entered. You need this info to research more about your competitors and find out why search engines are rewarding them.
Lets you open multiple URLs with ease
Lets you copy the URLs of all or selected tabs with ease
How to perform Keyword Research
It’s no secret that the most prominent search engine out there is Google.
The steps laid out in this article will be using the Google search engine.
Now that we’ve covered the tools that help you do this process right, let’s now tackle the actual steps in performing keyword research.
One of our main goals in keyword research is to get as many relevant terms or keywords that are associated with your chosen niche – e.g. running shoes.
Achieving this goal helps us know the right keywords to target so that search engines will understand that the site is all about running shoes and more importantly, search engines will see the site as an authority in the said niche.
Before we perform step 1, the 5 plugins mentioned above must already be installed on your computer.
Step 1. Type in your seed keyword in the Google search bar
In this case, our seed or main keyword is “running shoes”.
In keyword research, we usually start with 1 or 2 seed keywords. From there, we populate our list with more keywords using the SEO plugins mentioned above.
Step 2. Adjust Google settings
The default setting in Google is only 10 results per page. We can adjust this particular setting so we can see up to a hundred results per page.
Here are the steps to do this (note. You need to be in the SERPs).
2.1> Click the gear icon (Settings).
2.2> Select Search Settings.
2.3> Move the square in the Results per page section to 100.
2.4> Click the Save button found near the bottom of the page.
Step 3. Activate the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar plugin
This plugin is a viable alternative for VPNs. By activating the plugin, we can select from which country the SERPs come from.
3.1> Click the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar plugin to activate it.
3.2> Under country, select or type in the country of your target market.
3.3> Click the Apply & search button.
Step 4. Get the other related terms or keywords
4.1> Click the SERP Keyword Scraper by searchanalyzer icon on your web browser.
4.2> Open a spreadsheet application – it’s up to you what kind of spreadsheet application you want to use at this point. It can be MS Excel, Google Sheets, or any other spreadsheet app.
4.3> Hit CTRL + V to paste the other related keywords gathered for you by the SERP Keyword scraper plugin.
Step 5. Get the URLs of the webpages ranking for your main or seed keywords
5.1> Go back to the tab showing the SERPs of your seed keyword.
5.2> Click the SERP Snippet Scraper by searchanalyzer icon on your web browser.
5.3> Go back to your opened spreadsheet application
5.4> Hit CTRL + V to paste the top 100 URLs on your spreadsheet application.
Once you have pasted the top 100 URLs ranking for your seed keyword, the next step is to sort them out to classify which URLs are offering purely informational content and which ones are the pages of e-commerce sites.
Step 6. Sort the URLs
Because we have 100 URLs on our initial list, we can do it by batch to lessen the number of web pages opened simultaneously so it would be more manageable.
It’s up to you how many URLs you want to classify at a time. In this case, I’m limiting it to 5 URLs per batch so it’s not too overwhelming.
6.1> Highlight the first 5 URLs on the list.
6.2> Hit CTRL + X to cut the selected URLs
6.3> Click the Open Multiple URLs plugin on your web browser
6.4> Hite CTRL + V to paste the list of URLs
6.5> Click the Open URLs button
After performing step 6.4, the URLs are opened all at once and you need to sort them out.
6.6> Sort the webpages
You can do this by dragging to the left the pages offering informational content (articles) and the e-commerce pages (products) to the right.
6.7> Hold the CTRL button on your keyboard and click to select all of the tabs offering informational content.
6.8> Click the TabCopy icon on your web browser
6.9> Click “Copy # tabs in window”
If in case you were able to select 8 tabs, the TabCopy plugin would say “Copy 8 tabs in window”
6.10> Go back to your spreadsheet application
6.11> Hit CTRL + V to paste the URLs you’ve just selected under the informational column.
6.12> Repeat steps 6.7 up to 6.11 to do the same for the tabs that are e-commerce in nature.
6.13> Repeat steps 6.1 up to 6.12 to do the same for the remaining URLs on your list
Step 7. Repeat the process (steps 4 to 6) and use another keyword that you have gathered while performing Step 4.
Step 7 lets you get more keywords that you can use to create an effective On-Page SEO strategy for your site. Do this to gather the keywords and URLs that are relevant to your chosen niche.
You will know that you’re almost done with gathering your initial list of keywords when you can see that you’re no longer seeing fresh results.
Step 8. Auto-generation of keywords
Once you’re done with the first 8 steps, try to find a pattern in which the keywords you have gathered are formed. You can do this manually but by using simple but effective spreadsheet formulas, you’re able to generate a ton of keywords in a short time.
Simply put, auto-generation is more time-effective than having to manually type in the letters of each relevant keyword.
To do this step more effectively, arrange the keywords as you would in a multiplication table. Have a column dedicated to the prefix (different types of running shoes) and a row dedicated to the different product types (ways of saying shoes).
What you need to do next is to combine the words using a simple spreadsheet formula. In this case, we need to set the column and row as absolute references so we can get the correct combinations.
Step 9. Use the list of gathered URLs to extract the keywords they are ranking for using an SEO Keyword Research Tool
The reason for gathering the URLs ranking for our main keywords is to get to know the other organic keywords they are ranking for.
It is useful info because Google or other search engines are rewarding them. After all, those keywords are relevant to our chosen niche.
If we follow their lead, Google and other search engines may also reward us for our efforts because we also have the right keywords.
Skim through the export results and list down any keywords that seem interesting or relevant that you haven’t listed down yet. Update your list each time you find a new keyword so as not to miss anything.
Step 10. Use your curated keyword list to get more keywords using an SEO Keyword Research Tool
Now that we have a list of keywords, we also need to get the other related terms that people type when searching for (any kind) of running shoes in search engines.
Doing this makes sure that we don’t miss any important keywords that would be detrimental to our SEO efforts and validate the keywords by knowing which ones have search volumes and which ones aren’t searched that often.
Once you have gathered all the keywords, you’re more or less done with Keyword Research and now ready to move on to the next step – Keyword Processing.
Why is keyword research important?
Keyword research gives you a clearer picture of your chosen niche.
You will learn about the high-volume keywords, your competitors, the most popular topics or products, and, most importantly, the reason why people like it.
This information is critical because it sets you on the right path to developing your website. You know what you need to focus on to get results that help grow your business.
In other words, you have your work cut out for you. And if you need this task taken off your plate, you can always outsource this to a VA (Virtual Assistant).
And this is where experience plays a key role when you want to hire someone who can do this for you.