How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
Rank higher in Google and optimize your content for search
If you are a business owner, or if you work for a business, you are well aware that the ultimate purpose of any website is to attract customers. After all, what’s the point of having a website if no one is looking at it?
Filling pages with carefully researched keywords is one of the most effective methods to attract users to a website and a critical component of any SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research involves finding popular words, phrases, or questions that users frequently search in Google. This helps business owners and writers understand what prospective clients are looking for, helping them make well-informed decisions when deciding which article topics they should add to their site. This is also helpful when determining which topics to post on social media.
If you are a freelance writer, you can also advise your clients on which topics will help bring the highest traffic volume.
Doing this research also involves learning about other keywords, phrases, and questions that people tend to search in Google. Understanding related keywords is helpful because you can weave related keywords, phrases, and questions into your article as well.
Here’s an example of keyword research in action:
Let’s say you or your client have a website that focuses on how to eat healthy. You are trying to come up with new topics to write about but are struggling to find them. One quick way to find new topics is to type a popular search query into Google, such as “how to eat healthy,” and look at the suggestions that come up below that. This is Google’s way of telling us other commonly searched phrases:
But what if we want to know how many people are searching for these topics? Or what if we have already written about these topics and need new ideas?
There are several free resources that will help do the keyword research for you. Here is one of my favorites:
For those who are not familiar with Neil Patel, he is the KING of SEO. I owe a lot of my SEO knowledge to his blogs, videos, and e-books. He launched a product called Ubersuggest that allows users to do free keyword research. Here’s how I go about doing that:
First, visit www.Ubersuggest.com.
Then, type in your keyword or phrase. I am going to type in “how to eat healthy” to see how many other users are searching for that phrase:
As you can see in the screenshot above, “how to eat healthy” is searched 14,800 times per month. That’s a lot of searches! But what if I want to write about something a bit more specific?
If you scroll down, there is a section called ‘Keyword Ideas’ that has other topics related to healthy eating:
As you can see, eating healthy in college and on a budget are two popular keyword phrases. We can assess the popularity of these phrases by looking at the ‘volume’ column to the right, which indicates the number of users who search that phrase each month.
In addition to the suggestions you’re seeing in this screenshot, Ubersuggest generated 439 other topic ideas related to healthy eating that I can export as an excel spreadsheet and use for future blog posts.
There is an additional section below this one called ‘Content Ideas’ that lists popular websites that focus on healthy living. This feature allows me to check out competitors, see what kinds of content they’re publishing on their site, and try to write pieces that are similar (but better) to outrank them in Google.
Why does this matter?
After doing the research we did above, it is apparent that “budget” and “college” are valuable keywords because so many users search for information on those two topics. If you own a blog dedicated to healthy eating and do not have any articles with those keywords, you are probably missing out on opportunities to bring more users to your website.
When a user types certain keywords into Google, Google’s search engine looks for articles with those words or related keywords.
Think of keywords as the map that guides a user to a destination. Google is the vehicle, and keywords are the GPS.
Without those keywords on your website, you are missing out on tons of potential traffic when users search for phrases related to eating healthy on a budget and in college.
Keyword research helps you find topics to avoid
In addition to finding new topic ideas, keyword research also helps you know what not to write about. For example, if I type “healthy foods for seniors” into Ubersuggest, I see that was only searched 70 times per month. “Healthy foods for older people” was only searched 10 times this month. Due to the low volume of searches for that topic, it’s safe to avoid writing about it and focus on the more popular topics provided, as those will likely bring in higher traffic volume.
Other Great Keyword Research Tools:
1. Answer The Public — Free
Answer the Public helps you find commonly-searched questions using ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how.’ If you’re struggling to find your next article idea, this tool generates tons of popular topics.
2. Google Trends — Free
Google Trends helps you identify which topics are popular by city/region. So, if your blog focuses on a specific area (if you own a photography business, for example), this site is a great resource for understanding what individuals search locally.
3. SEMRush — Free
SEMRush has a great keyword research tool as well. Their free subscription allows users to track 10 keywords per month (and they have expanded premium subscriptions as well).
4. Ahrefs — 7 days for $7
I tried to only include free keyword tools in this post, but Ahrefs is by far the best keyword research tool for SEO on the market, so I had to include it. It is the most powerful, has the strongest research capabilities, and is the most accurate. Their paid plans are pricey but worth it if you are serious about optimizing your SEO strategy.
My name is Amanda Sapio and I am a freelance copywriter with 8+ years’ experience as a writer/editor.