How To Do Keyword Research Like An SEO Pro
A successful SEO program is dependent upon choosing the best SEO keywords to drive high-quality traffic and sales leads. To conduct keyword research like a seasoned SEO pro, follow these five steps.
#1) Analyze Your Portfolio Of Products and Services.
Just like you would manage a stock portfolio, you want to look at your best sales volume and profitable products and services.
Answer these questions:
✔️ What are your top-selling and profitable product categories?
✔️ What are the top 10-20 selling/profitable products by category?
✔️ What are your top-selling and profitable services categories?
✔️ What are the top 10-20 selling/profitable services by category?
✔️ Consider these products and services as your tier 1 keywords. You will follow the same process to develop your tier 2, tier 3, and other SEO keyword tiers.
#2) Talk To You Customers.
Once you have your top 3-5 tiers of keywords, it is time to talk to your best customers.
Grab a list of 5-10 customers per tier and ask them if they were sourcing for specific products and services online, what exact keywords and phrases would they use.
Some of the feedback you receive may surprise you. It is typical for businesses and their customers to use different terminologies.
Keyword research finds the intersection of where your customers, industry and business keywords overlap.
Note: Of the entire keyword research process, this is one of the most critical steps to take. Do not rush through this process. (This is where search term gold is usually found.)
Once you have spoken to your customers and gotten feedback, combine all keyword research data into an Excel document.
#3) Get insights From Customer Service And Sales Team Members.
Another excellent resource for keyword research is your sales and customer service colleagues.
Answer these questions:
✔️ What specific wording do your colleagues use when talking about your products, services, and solutions?
✔️ How do customers refer to your company’s products and services (in their language)?
✔️ What industry-specific terminology is commonly used?
✔️ Do customers use geographic terms (including region, city, or state)?
✔️ Do customers use modifier terms? (Examples: best, reviews, top, compare)
There are several ways you can collect information from your teammates.
1) You can conduct one-on-one interviews with each person. This is typically the best option to get the most comprehensive information you can about search terms used.
2) You can collect data from an online survey. Some standard options include Survey Monkey, Survey Legend, Google Survey, or even Google Sheets.
3) Hold focus groups with customer service and sales personnel to collect data within a group setting.
This option is usually best when you have time constraints or complex work schedules where it is challenging to arrange one-on-one interviews.
Once all surveys and interviews are completed, compile all the information collected into the Excel spreadsheet, you started in step #2.
#4) Use The Right Keyword Research Tools.
Once you have completed combining the keyword research you discovered in steps 1 and 2, it is time to use third-party research tools to provide essential metrics you will later use to narrow down the best search terms to target for your SEO initiatives.
Usually, keyword research tools will provide valuable information, including:
✔️ Total monthly search volumes
✔️ Filter search volumes by country or other geographics
✔️ Filter search volumes by (broad, phrase, exact match, or related)
✔️ Competitiveness (number of competing web pages for that specific term)
✔️ Rankings difficulty (estimate of how hard it would be to rank for the term)
✔️ Historic trends (Is search term increasing or decreasing over time?)
✔️ Estimated cost per click (Google Ads paid search data)
✔️ Top 10 search engine result listings (shows who is ranking for the search term)
To help you save time, here are my top (5) SEO keyword research tools I use.
1. SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool. This is one of the best tools to examine search volumes, trends, keyword difficulty, paid search cost per click, questions, related terms, and analysis of top-ranking web pages.
You can also use filtering to quickly determine long-tail terms (3+ word search terms) and filter by search volumes, keyword difficulty, and total competing search result web pages.
2. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. Ahrefs touts it has the world’s biggest third-party search query database of over 7 billion keywords and supports 171 countries.
This is a brilliant SEO keyword research tool to find broad and niche search terms. Quickly filter results by volumes, word count, cost per click, and keyword difficulty.
Easily find competitor keywords and search terms by URL and competitive metrics like the number of backlinks.
An exciting feature is their SERP volatility feature that shows you historical ranking positions. This is important to determine the feasibility of ranking for specific terms. Search terms that vary wildly in rankings would not be a good term to target for your SEO efforts.
3. Google Ads Keyword Planner. If you use Google Ads, you are already familiar with this keyword research tool. The Keyword Planner provides estimated search volumes (by impressions), competition levels, location-specific data, estimated cost per click and click through rates.
Google Ads is an excellent resource for keyword research. Look at your paid search keywords with high conversion rates and high cost per clicks.
These make good terms for your SEO strategy and can help lower overall monthly PPC budgets.
4. KW Finder. If you are looking for a tool particularly useful for finding long-tail terms, then try KWFinder. It pulls data from Google autocomplete, suggestions, and questions to help you find questions and long-tail terms used by your customers.
5. Answer The Public. As searches become more conversational, research tools that provide question terms have become more critical in your search term strategy. Answer the Public is a good tool to find questions used by customers.
This tool uses data from Google autocomplete and provides actual questions used by customers, comparisons (versus, like, or) and related terms.
#5) Prioritize and Develop Your SEO Keyword Strategy.
When you have completed collecting data from the keyword research tools, update your Excel document. Your keyword research document will give you a comprehensive analysis and metrics of your search term tier lists.
Now it is time to narrow down your search terms.
Here are common ways to reduce the total number of terms per tier.
✔️ If using SEMRush, filter out all keywords with Keyword Difficulty scores of 60+.
✔️ Remove keywords that are not relevant to your business.
✔️ Remove keywords that have extremely low monthly searches.
✔️ Remove keywords from your list where the search engine results pages (SERPs) are dominated by big-box stores, major brands, directories, and other sites where you see no individual company websites listed.
✔️ Look at your Google Search Console keyword data.
✔️ Filter out branded keywords and look for keywords where your ranking is 20 or less (first two pages of SERPs).
✔️ Terms ranking five to twenty are good terms for your first round of SEO improvements.
Now that you have narrowed your list, it is time to prioritize your search term groupings and tiers.
In terms of prioritizing, here are common ways to arrange your lists.
✔️ Do search volumes warrant the SEO effort and resources needed for search engine optimization?
✔️ Is the term so competitive that you have little chance of obtaining top 10 rankings?
✔️ Does the term lend itself to high lead conversion intent?
✔️ Does the search term represent a highly profitable product or service you want to promote?
✔️ Can a good ROI be expected from this search term?
Note: When prioritizing your SEO terms, you are not looking for the easiest search terms you can rank for. The focus should be on what terms bring the best ROI and support the growth of the business.
It this article, we discussed five simple steps to do keyword research like an SEO pro, which range from talking to your best customers to using third-party research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.
Choosing the right keywords is a critical component of a successful SEO strategy. Do your best to follow the five steps and do not rush through this process. You will be rewarded by experiencing increases in site traffic, leads, and sales.