Finding the best keywords for SEO doesn’t have to be hard.
A few years ago when I started blogging, I used to sit down and write a lot of long-form blog posts. But none of them were read or appreciated by people.
Do you know why?
Because I didn’t do any keyword research before writing those blog posts.
And guess what, they all were buried somewhere on the last pages of Google.
Keyword research is the ultimate way to find the best keywords that you can try to rank for.
In this blog post, we will see how to find the best keywords for SEO purposes in a step by step manner.
1. Find out what your audience is searching
This is the very first step in keyword research.
You should know who your audience are and what they are searching for.
You can get keyword and content ideas from questions that people ask on various online platforms. Facebook and WhatsApp groups related to your niche are a goldmine of keyword ideas.
You can also go deep down into websites like Quora and Reddit where people ask genuine questions.
Also, many niche websites act as a great source of keyword ideas.
Apart from all these, there are two excellent tools that will help you find questions that people are asking.
First one is Answer the Public. In this tool, you can just enter your topic and get a boatload of questions that start with what, how, why etc.
Below given image shows the set of questions generated for the topic ‘digital marketing’ by Answer the Public.
The second tool is Question DB. It will show you relevant questions people are asking about your niche. You just enter the topic into the tool, and it will provide you with a list of questions which you can turn into keyword ideas. (see below image)
Now, these 2 tools doesn’t directly give you keywords. But they can give you real questions that people are asking which can be converted into useful keywords.
In some cases, you can directly get useful keywords that can be readily used on your website. The keyword ‘how to learn digital marketing’ can be a good example for this. It is a commonly asked question across the web, and it makes a good keyword as well.
Another interesting tool to consider is Google Trends. This is a free tool offered by Google and it will help you find trending search terms across various locations.
The tool will also show you how the search volume varies for a given search term across a specific time period. Google Trends can be used to find out new and emerging topics that can easily be converted into attractive keywords.
2. Turn queries into useful keywords
Now that you know what your audience is asking on the web.
As discussed above, in most cases, these questions will give us only content or keyword ideas. Content ideas are usually easy to generate, but getting good keywords will require a little bit of fine-tuning.
Now, to refine useful keywords out of these keyword ideas, you will need to consider 5 important factors.
- Search intent
- Corresponding stage in buyer’s journey
- Length of the keyword
- Monthly average search volume
- SEO Difficulty
I will explain how you can make use of these 5 factors to find the right keywords for your blog or website.
3. Understand search intent
After Google’s Hummingbird, RankBrain and recently the BERT update, they are focusing more on providing the right kind of search results to the users.
No matter what you search and how you search Google will make sure you are getting the right results.
So how does this impact when we do keyword research?
The answer is simple.
We need to focus more on the users’ intent behind their query and create content that is answering them well.
For example, if someone is searching for the term ‘top coworking spaces in New York’ they are certainly looking for coworking office spaces in New York city that are well-known.
But if you create a piece of content that mostly talks about the features of coworking spaces and try to target the keyword ‘top coworking spaces in New York’, that is not really matching the user intent behind that query.
Keywords can be classified into 4 types based on search intent.
i) Keywords with informational intent
ii) Keywords with navigational intent
iii) Keywords with commercial intent
iv) Keywords with transactional intent
Let me explain these keyword types to you in detail.
i) Keywords with informational intent
These are keywords used by people to gather information about something that they are interested in.
Keywords with informational intent can mainly include questions that users ask on Google.
Let’s look at a few examples.
- How many states are there in the US?
- Who is the president of Canada?
- How to prepare Kerala style fish curry?
When people type in such questions into the search engine, they are certainly looking for information. And some of these questions result in one-word answers, whereas some others may lead the user to bigger and more elaborate answers.
ii) Keywords with navigational intent
When users type in keywords with navigational intent, they already know where they want them to be taken.
For example, if I need to log-in to Twitter, I would obviously be typing in ‘twitter log-in’. And I expect the search results to take me to the log-in page.
Here are a couple of more examples.
- Amazon global store
- Google Search Console
Though you can write content and try targeting these keywords with navigational intent, mostly you will end up with no clicks even if you manage to rank on the first page.
This is because someone searching for Twitter log-in will click on that first result and go to the log-in page of Twitter, they don’t even try to look at other results on the first page of search results.
iii) Keywords with commercial intent (commercial investigation)
These are keywords used by people when they are planning to buy something, but not immediately. They could be using this type of keywords to weigh their options or to compare different products.
Below are some of the examples of commercial investigation.
- Best Bluetooth headset
- iPad vs. Samsung Galaxy tab
- Amazon Echo Dot review
This type of keywords work exceptionally well for bloggers and affiliate marketers where they create content around product reviews and comparisons.
iv) Keywords with transactional intent
These are the kind of keywords that people use when they are ready to buy. The intent behind the search is to make a purchase immediately.
Here are some of the sample keywords with transactional intent.
- Amazon Kindle offer price
- Buy iPhone X
- Wondershare Filmora coupon
These are the main 4 types of intent behind search queries. When you create content and optimize them for search engines, always make sure it matches with the user’s intent.
Well, there is an easy way to get the right match between the user intent and the content on your webpages.
Once you have finalized your main keyword for a page or a piece of content, Google it and see all the results that are appearing on the first page of search results. There will be a specific pattern followed in most cases. (see image below)
For example, if the keyword has a transactional intent, all the search results will lead to sales pages or product pages where people can directly make a purchase. In such a scenario, you would certainly want to create a sales page to match the user intent, not a how-to article or a review page.
Hope this makes the concept of search intent more clear to you.
4. Understand the corresponding stage in buyer’s journey
This is one of the basic but very important concepts that every marketer should know about.
Understanding the buyer’s journey and its different stages will help you pick the right keywords that align with each of these stages. Then you can use these keywords to craft content and target users in these different stages of the buyer’s journey.
I will tell you a bit about the concept of buyer’s journey first and then how you can pick the right keywords to match each stage of it.
So here we go.
Buyer’s journey as a concept describes the 3 stages (sometimes more than 3) that each customer will go through before making a purchase in the end.
These stages are awareness, consideration and decision. (see image below)
These 3 stages act like a funnel through which you will drive your customer towards your offer where they will make a purchase in the end. The purchase should ideally happen at the bottom of the funnel.
But before that, to take your customer through the 3 stages of buyer’s journey, you need to create content that fall into these 3 stages.
Normally it’s like this.
Awareness Stage: In this stage, your prospects are aware of a problem that they have. The content that you create here should help your users to find a solution to their problem.
Consideration Stage: In this stage, your prospects already know about a few solutions to their problem, and are just weighing their options. The content that you create here should help your target users to choose between multiple solutions to solve their problem.
Decision Stage: In this stage, your prospects would have already decided about getting a particular solution and they are looking for more information on it. The content that you create here should explain them more about the benefits of this particular solution and possibly drive them towards making a purchase.
Now, let’s look at how we can pick the right keywords to match each of these stages in your buyer’s journey.
Let me explain it with the example of ‘people who want to reduce weight without working out’.
This category of people will be mostly asking questions like ‘how to reduce weight without working out?’ On Google. This is a typical top of the funnel question (awareness stage) where they are looking for solutions to a problem.
Now, if you are creating content targeting your audience in the awareness stage and want to bring them inside your funnel, here’s what you need to do.
Pick keywords that align with the awareness stage of buyer’s journey, and create great content around these main keywords.
Let’s look at these examples.
- How to reduce weight quick?
- How to reduce weight without working out?
These are long-tail keywords (I’ve explained long-tail keywords in detail below) that fall into the awareness stage of buyer’s journey. Interestingly, most of these questions directly make competitive long-tail keywords without much modifications.
You might also notice that these keywords fall into the informational intent category that we discussed above. This is because users in the awareness stage are always looking for solutions or information that can solve their problems.
In the same way, you can find keywords that match the consideration and decision stage of buyer’s journey.
Here are a few examples.
- Does green tea cause weight loss?
- Green tea and paleo diet
- Paleo diet and weight loss
- Best green tea brands
- Buy green tea online
- Green tea offer price
To make this process of finding keywords easier, you can make a list of keywords that you want to target and classify them into 3 groups based on the buyer’s journey stages.
Once you have made these 3 categories, you will be able to use these keywords effectively in your content that align with your buyer’s journey.
5. Pick the right long-tail keywords
This is the step where you find real keywords for your website or blog.
Honestly, if you try to rank for generic terms that are so common, I would say it is not even worth trying.
For example, it would be so hard to get a blog post ranked for a keyword like ‘digital marketing’. And often, it would be a waste of time to even try.
But you can target long-tail keywords. These are keywords that contain 3 or more words in it. In the example I mentioned above, instead of ‘Digital Marketing’, you can try to rank for keywords like ‘what is Digital Marketing’ or ‘how to learn Digital Marketing’.
The possibility of ranking for such long-tail keywords are much higher due to low competition and search volume.
There are a few places to find useful long-tail keywords.
One place worth mentioning is Google itself. Just enter your seed keyword (the main topic/generic keyword) into the search bar and don’t press enter, Google will show you some queries that people are searching. Most of these queries make great long-tail keywords.
Another place to find long-tail keywords is the bottom of the first page of search results. (see below image)
Depending on the seed keyword that you enter, you will be able to generate some solid long-tail keywords from here. (I have used the seed keyword ‘digital marketing’ in this example)
Now, if you make use of this Chrome browser extension called Keywords Everywhere, you will be able to generate much more keyword ideas based on the seed keyword that you enter into Google.
In the same way, you can generate long-tail keywords from other tools as well.
6. Know the search volume
This is probably the most important part of keyword research.
You should try targeting keywords that are having a decent search volume. Because if no one is searching for a particular term, what is the point of creating content or pages targeting that one keyword?
It is as simple as that.
Now, what is a good average monthly search volume for a keyword?
Well, there is nothing like a magic number. But you can start with 50 searches per month, especially when you have a new website. Low search volume keywords are generally easy to rank for.
However, if your site is 1-2 years old, and is seeing some traffic, you can try targeting keywords that are having higher search volumes.
There are multiple tools that you can use to find out the search volume of keywords. But here are some of the free ones.
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere Browser Extension
- Ubersuggest by Neil Patel
But honestly, search volume alone won’t make a keyword worth targeting.
You’ll also have to look at the competition, which I’m going
7. Check the competition
First of all, this is not the ‘competition’ that you see on Google’s Keyword Planner or Keywords Everywhere, which is totally associated with search ads.
Here, we are going to look at the competing sites for one particular keyword.
Basically, if your website is going to compete for a keyword with sites that are having good domain authority and backlinks, it is going to be difficult to rank for that keyword.
To know how strong is the competition for a particular keyword, there is an easy method.
Use a free tool like Ubersuggest and see the SEO difficulty for a particular keyword that you want to rank for.
The lower the SEO difficulty, the easier it is to rank for that keyword.
If you find the SEO difficulty to be less than or equal to 20, it is an easy keyword. It gets tougher to rank for a keyword when the SEO difficulty goes above 20. (SEO difficulty on Ubersuggest is on a scale that goes up to 100)
However, all this will depend on your website’s backlink profile as well as your content quality.
I have tried to cover all the important aspects of keyword research in this article.
To summarize, always go for long-tail keywords that match the user intent well.
And look for the search volume and SEO difficulty using a tool like Ubersuggest.
Hope this guide turns helpful in finding some of the best keywords for your website’s SEO.
Got any queries or feedback?
Leave a comment below, I would be happy to respond.