Keyword Research Guide For 2021

A step By Step Blueprint to do Keyword Research for your Blog

Keyword research is a critical component of modern days of search engine optimization.

Whether you are developing a content strategy for your new blog or kick-starting an old blog — the strength of your keyword research will make or break your success as a blogger.

However, unless you are an SEO professional, the idea of performing keyword research may sound like a daunting task.

That’s why I have written this beginner’s guide. It teaches you a proven keyword research framework that you can use to find easy to rank keywords in any blogging niche.

Google seo ranking factors

Ready to skyrocket your organic traffic from Google? 

Let’s go.

CHAPTER #1

Basics of Keyword Research

Before we dive into the intricacies of how to do keyword research, let’s make sure we understand the basics:

01. What are Keywords Anyway?

The keywords (sometimes referred to as “SEO keywords”) are words and phrases people type into a search engine like Google to find certain information on the internet.

For example, someone needs help in baking a cake so they might search on Google for “How to make a cake” or “cake baking tips.” Here the search term they are using is the keyword.

02. What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding, analyzing and prioritizing the best words and phrases (aka “keywords”) that peoples are using in the search engine to find informations related to your blog niche.

In other words, it’s all about understanding the language of your target audience and using this knowledge to optimize your web contents.

03. Is Keyword Research Still Relevant in 2021?

It is an undeniable fact that search engines (especially Google) have evolved over the last decade.

And the importance of keywords for web page ranking has declined a bit.

With Google making a few big changes in their algorithms in the last decade, its no longer required to use keywords that exactly match a user’s search query.

Today, what matters is the user intent behind the search query and whether your content aligns with that search intent.

keyword research evolution over the years

But that doesn’t mean keyword research is not important – quite the contrary.

Let me explain…

Keyword research helps you find the answer to some of the most important question that comes in your mind before planning your content strategy:

  • What topics people care about in your niche?
  • How popular those topics are among your audience?
  • How competitive it is and what it takes to rank for those terms in top results?
  • How much traffic you are likely to get if you rank for that topic?
  • And even what exact kind of content you need to create to be able to rank for that topic?

Finding answers to these questions will help you pick your battle wisely.

In a nutshell: Even in 2021, proper keyword research is the most crucial factor for a successful content and SEO campaign that drives the right audience and helps you make money. Click To Tweet

04. How Often Should You Do Keyword Research?

Keywords are the primary building blocks of your blog content. And they require periodic evaluation and Maintainance.

Most often, it is needed when you’re:

  • looking for a new blogging niche
  • revamping an old blog
  • looking for new content ideas
  • launching a new product
  • or optimizing your existing blog post

In my case, whenever I start a new niche site, I plan at least 50 contents in the advance which gets published in the next 6 month as per schedule.

This is the time when I do heavy keyword research (at least spend 7 days) to find all type of keywords (discuss in a moment) that is required for my niche site.

For example, last year I started a new “vacuum cleaner” niche site and here is a screenshot of my keyword research planning for that niche site.

niche site keyword research
Keyword research planning for a niche site (Note: I use Notion to plan everything related to my business & life)

One thing you need to keep in mind is that never ever do your keyword research & content planning for more than 6 months.

Because new keywords emerge as the need and preference of your audience evolve. As well as, the competition also change in long run (more than 6 months).

05. Which is the best Keyword Research Tool to use?

Keyword research involves making data-backed decisions. And to do this, you need to have the right tools in your arsenal.

I would love to tell you that you can perform keyword research with a free tool (like Keyword Sheeter, and Answer the Public), but unfortunately the metrics we need to make right decisions all cost money.

Fortunately, I have plenty of experience with both free and paid SEO tools and can make some good recommendations.

SIDENOTE: This recommendation is solely based on my experience of experimenting with different SEO (or keyword research) tool for my blogs & niche site over the years.

1 Ahrefs

Ahrefs keyword research tool image

Ahrefs is the very first SEO tool I started using in my early days of blogging. Previously, it was mostly known for its powerful backlink analysis data & features.

But with the time, their “Keywords Explorer” feature has got better and better. It lets you discover thousands of great keyword ideas, analyze their ranking difficulty and calculate traffic potential.

Apart from the basic data, it provides a few unique features like organic CTR, estimated backlinks required and a notably most accurate keyword difficulty score (as per my experience).

2 SEMrush

SEMrush keyword tracking tool image

SEMrush provides you a comprehensive suite of tools to carry out keyword research and improve your SEO rankings.

Very similar to Ahrefs, it has a keyword overview tool which shows you all the necessary data of a keyword like the search volume, keyword trend, keyword difficulty, CPC, SERP overview and much more.

Their newly added Keyword magic section is a great way to quickly discover millions of keyword suggestion from your seed keyword.

Not to forget, each suggested keyword comes up with a range of insightful metrics helping you evaluate its potential for achieving your goals.

3 KWFinder

KWFinder keyword research tool image

If you are looking for something which is completely dedicated to keyword research, KWFinder is your best bet.

Unlike the above two giant, Mangools (the company behind KWFinder) is new in the market yet they are one of the fastest-growing SEO tool company.

It is a good tool to quickly discover problem-solving long-tail keywords that will help you drive highly targeted traffic.

But what really makes them unique from other paid SEO tool is their ‘pricing’.

Their affordable pricing (almost ⅓ of their competitor’s pricing) makes them a top recommendation for low budget bloggers and SEO consultants.

Conclusion of Keyword research tool:

Personally, I have been continuously using Ahrefs and SEMrush for a long time. Still, if I have to make one recommendation then it would beSEMrush“.

Why?

Because the number of tools and feature SEMrush provides for a blogger or content marketers is incomparable with any other SEO tools.

From Keyword research to SEO content writing, backlink analysis, PPC research, social media content planning, rank tracking, link building and whatnot.

Overall, it has a complete suite of tools that you’ll ever need to up your blogging and content marketing game.

IMPORTANT NOTE

SEMrush offers a 7-day free trial of every tool available in their suite. So, better use the trial period first to check how good the tool work for you.

Click here to activate your free trial

CHAPTER #2

How to Find Keyword Ideas

Now that you know what is keyword research and why it is still important, we’ll now get into the nitty-gritty of keyword research for blog & SEO.

A successful, keyword research-backed content plan starts with thinking about how your potential audience might be searching for your blog or business.

You can then use any keyword research tool to expand on those ideas and find even more winning keywords.

Don’t worry, it is a very simple process. But two things need to true to do it well:

  • You need to have good knowledge of your target audience and their needs.
  • You need to understand how a keyword research tool (like SEMrush) works and how to get the most out of them.

In this chapter, we will run through a few actionable ways to master both those areas.

Let’s dive right in.

01. Brainstorm ‘seed’ keywords

The keyword research process starts with a rough list of “seed” keywords that are relevant to your blog and business.

What are seed keywords?

Seed keywords are basically baseline (Foundational) keywords that fit your bogging niche.

Every keyword research tool first asks for a seed keyword, which it then uses to generate a big list of related keyword ideas (discuss in a moment.)

For example, let’s assume you started a new “Coffee” niche blog (one of my favourite niche🤭)

Now, you would want to ask yourself: “what topic people would search for to find your content related to coffee?”

Some topics that would come to mind would be:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee Maker
  • French press
  • Coffee beans
  • Cold coffee

Note that seed keywords will be usually too broad to be targeted on their own. As the name suggests, you will use them as “seeds” to narrow down on more specific keywords in the next step.

👉 Still, Struggling to Find seed keywords?

Let’s take a look at a few places that can help you find “seed” keywords (or main topic) related to your niche.

1 Wikipedia Contents

Wikipedia is a goldmine of keyword ideas that are all curated into neatly organized categories.

Here’s how to use Wikipedia to find keywords:

First, head over to Wikipedia and type in a broad topic; for example, coffee:

wikipedia search

This will take you to the Wikipedia page on that topic.

Once you’re there, take a look at the “table of content” section on the page. It will help you discover sub-topics that would be tough to find any other way.

wikipedia keyword research

Not only the table of content section, many of the internal links added on the page will also give you more closely related keyword ideas.

Wikipedia keyword research guide

2 Find Keywords on Reddit

Reddit is a massive community of people that discuss almost every topic you can imagine.

Which means you can usually discover lots of good topics and ideas on this platform.

Here’s how:

Head over to Reddit and search for your niche topic. Then, open any popular subreddits related to your topic.

reddit keyword research

Now go through every thread and keep an eye out for words and phrases that tend to come up frequently.

subreddits keyword research

PRO TIP: You can use a free tool called Keyworddit to extract frequent words and phrases used in a subreddit.

keyworddit tool

3 Google and YouTube auto-suggest

Just type your main topic in Google, and you will notice that it will suggest related search phrase directly in the search form.

Google autosuggest keywords

As Google is suggesting search phrases that are used by tons of real user, they can be a nice inspiration for interesting keywords.

PRO TIP: Add any letter before (or after) to see more and more suggestions.

How to find keywords with google

You can try various combinations like:

  • Coffee a, b, c…
  • Coffee ab, ac, ad…
  • a, b, c, …. coffee

You can try the same method with YouTube search engine too.

Keyword research with youtube search engine

PRO TIP:

To streamline your keyword research process, you should group your seed keyword ideas (main topics) together to form topic buckets. This simple exercise will also help you in creating topic clusters for your blog (more on this at the end of the post).

For example, as I am doing keyword research for my new coffee blog, my topic buckets might include the following:

  • Coffee Beans
    • Espresso Bean
    • coffee brand
    • Organic Coffee Beans
  • Coffee Brewing
    • Cold-brew coffee
    • Americano Coffee
    • French Press Coffee
    • AeroPress Coffee
    • cappuccino 
  • Coffee roasting
    • Light roast
    • Dark Roast
    • Medium roast
    • Pan Roasting
  • Coffee Gears
    • Espresso Machines
    • Coffee Grinders
    • Coffee Makers
    • Coffee Roaster
    • Coffee Mugs
    • Coffee blender
  • Coffee Subscription Box
  • Coffee recipe
  • etc…

This is a general idea of how you can create a topic cluster (group topically related ideas) during the beginning of your keyword research process.

If you have good knowledge of your blogging niche, coming up with the initial broad topic ideas will be not so hard. Otherwise the above 3 sources (Reddit, Google auto-suggests and Wikipedia) will be very helpful.

02. Drop your seed keyword in SEMrush

Once you’ve gathered your ideas, it’s time to convert those ideas into SEO keywords.

SEO keywords are basically the actual search queries people type in Google related to your niche.

To do that, we need to take the help of a keyword research tool. In this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate the process using SEMrush (my favourite) but you can use any other popular tool like Ahrefs or KWFinder.

So, open SEMrush and go to the “Keyword Magic Tool” (appearing under keyword research section).

SEMrush keyword magic tool

Now, enter one of your seed keywords into the keyword magic tool. To continue with our example of a coffee blog, I entered “Coffee brewing”.

Guess what? SEMrush has revealed more than 42k keyword ideas related to our just one seed keyword “coffee brewing”.

SIDENOTE: Beside keyword suggestion, all keyword appears along with their SEO metrics that will help you analyze and pick the right keywords.

SEMrush keyword ideas

Looks like a very big list of ideas to manage! So let’s use the “search volume” filter to remove keywords not worth your attention.

What is search volume?

The search volume is the average number of searches performed on Google per month for a particular keyword.

So, lets select “search volume filter” and enter ‘500’ and leave the highest filed as it is.

search volume semrush

Guess what! we have successfully removed keyword ideas with very low search traffic potential and left with only 119 keywords.

Search volume semrush tool

Now, go through your list of keyword ideas and select all those keywords that make sense to cover on your blog.

For now, don’t bother about whether you’ll be able to rank for these keywords or not. We will talk about different factors for checking ranking possibilities in the next chapter.

Repeat this simple process again and again until you find enough keywords ideas related to your seed keywords.

PRO TIP: Remember we talked about “topic clustering” in the first step?

You can use SEMrush’s “keyword list” feature to group your topically related keyword ideas together.

Just click on the “+” icon appearing after your keyword and create a new keyword list. You can create various keyword list depending on your requirement.

SEMrush keyword lists.

Once you are done with finding keyword ideas, open SEMrush keyword manager. Here you’ll find all your keywords lists.

keyword manager semrush

Now open all your keyword list one by one and export your ideas into a spreadsheet file.

keyword list in semrush tool

03. Check your competitor’s domain to get new Keyword ideas

It is always a good practice to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.

Competitive analysis can help you analyze their strength and weakness, so that you can utilize both accordingly for your blog & business.

However, it can be a super-tedious work for you to find your competitor’s ranking keyword manually. You would literally have to go to their each page one by one and guess the keyword.

Fortunately, it is a matter of few clicks with a good keyword research tool.

By checking which keywords your competitor’s website /blog is ranking for, you can discover some amazing keyword ideas for your own blog.

Let’s see how it works:

Open your SEMrush dashboard and navigate to Competitive Research > Organic Research

Now, enter one of your competitor blog URL and hit the enter button on your keyboard.

competitor keyword research

SIDENOTE: If you have researched a bit before starting your blog, you would be knowing at least a few of the blog working in the same niche. Otherwise, search for “best + your niche + blog” in Google to find out some good blog in your niche.

Continuing with our example, I have entered one of the popular coffee blog “https://www.roastycoffee.com/” in the SEMrush.

This will open up the organic research report.

Navigate to the “Top Organic Keywords” section to view your competitor’s top-ranking organic keywords.

Organic-keyword-semrush

Finally, here is the list of more than 88k keywords this website is ranking for.

Check competitor's ranking keyword

SIDENOTE: You can sort the keyword list by any keyword metrics like search volume, traffic percentage or keyword difficulty.

04. Check specific URL to get keyword ideas for a specific topic

This method comes very handily when you already have a blog post topic in your mind.

For example: Let’s say you want to write your next blog post about “Coffee Grind Size” on your hypothetical coffee blog.

Just enter your topic in Google and copy one of the top-ranking page URL.

Google serp for coffee grind

Now, open SEMrush tool > head over to organic research section > enter the blog Post URL in search box > press enter button.

Check keyword of a blog post

Finally, SEMrush will reveal all the SEO keywords that are bringing users to that page.

Organic research semrush tool

In the screenshot, you can see that one article about “coffee grind size” ranks for more than a thousand keywords.

CHAPTER #3

How to analyze keyword ideas

If you’ve followed the above advice and used SEMrush, within 30-40 minutes, you’ll have tons of keyword ideas. Now it’s time to analyze those ideas and see if they are worth investing your time on.

After all, if a keyword is too competitive to rank for, you won’t b able to pass the 3rd page of Google.

So, you have to narrow things down and filter out the most valuable keywords before adding them to your content calendar.

But how?

That’s exactly what I am going to show you now.

01. Relevance (search intent)

While assessing your keyword list, the very first thing you need to do is identify the search intent for each keyword.

Search intent basically means the reason behind a searcher’s query.

There are 4 basic search intent categories:

  • Navigational – where users search for a specific website or brand.
  • Informational – where users search for getting an answer to their question.
  • Commercial – where users search for information that may eventually lead to a transaction.
  • Transactional – Where users search for buying something online.

Here are some examples of keywords and common content types for each category of search intent.

The best way to find search intent behind a keyword is to Google it and analyse the top 10 results in the SERP.

Because Google algorithms very accurately understand the actual intent of the user. So what they show on the top 10 results are very close to what users are looking for.

This simple exercise will help you eliminate those keywords from your list whose intent don’t match with your website offering & goals.

After all, it is a waste of time and resources to focus on those keywords that won’t get you the kind of organic users you want for your site.

Here is a simple example to understand what I am trying to convey:

Looking at the top 3 results for “pour over coffee,” you can tell just from the title that all the page are informational blog posts.

If you have a coffee blog and you can write an informational blog post about “what is pour-over coffee and how to make it” then yes you can fulfil the search intent.

Whereas a query like “” shows product and category pages for e-commerce stores.

So, if you don’t have an eCommerce store, then it doesn’t make any sense to target this keyword because you won’t be able to match the searchers intent.

02. Popularity of the keyword

The popularity of a keyword usually means search volume (number of time a keyword is searched in Google.)

It is usually calculated as a monthly average based on the data of last 12 months.

All three recommended SEO tool (KWfinder, SEMrush & Ahrefs) lets you check the search volume of a keyword.

One thing you need to keep in mind that different SEO tool uses different sources and data processing method. As a result, there may be a difference in search volume among different SEO tools.

To find a keyword’s search volume with SEMrush, click on the  Keyword Explorer tab and enter your preferred keyword.

It will then show you the search volume of your keyword. In addition to monthly search volume in your selected country database, it will also show you keyword’s global search volume.

Global search volume is basically sum of the keyword’s average monthly search volume across different country.

The million-dollar question: What’s a “good” search volume?

Short answer: it depends.

The long answer: If your site is new, then you probably don’t want to focus on high search volume keywords because they are likely to be competitive.

Perhaps you want to focus on uncompetitive, low-volume keywords where you can easily rank on the first page of Google.

Example: Focusing on “Best coffee for weight loss” with a monthly search volume of only 700 is a lot better than focusing on “Best coffee” whose search volume is 30k per month. Because the former keyword is more specific and probably less competitive for a new blog.

03. Keyword Trends

Given that search volume showed by SEO tools are based on an annual average, it often makes sense to check the trend graph for keywords that you’re considering.

If your keyword is seasonal or a viral topic, then search volume might not be the best predictor of month-to-month traffic.

How to check the trend of a keyword?

Whenever you enter a keyword in SEMrush keyword overview tool, you’ll get a trend graph (of past 12 months) in the top right side.

If you see that a keyword’s graph doesn’t fluctuate much, then it’s a clear signal that you’ll get consistent traffic from that search query.

However, if a keyword graph fluctuates too much, that means you are not going to get consistent search traffic throughout the year.

Black Friday related search queries are a good example of this. They all spike in November- December before dropping to zero in February.

04. Traffic Potential

Search volume and trend only gives you half of the story.

To get the full estimate of how much traffic you can get from the #1 page of Google ranking, you need to analyze the keyword (topic) traffic potential.

For example, let’s say you are planning to write a blog post around the topic “how much coffee per cup .”

According to SEMrush keyword overview tool, this keyword gets an estimated 6.6k monthly searches.

However, keep in mind that if you rank for this keyword in Google’s top position, your blog post will probably also rank for all kind of synonyms and related keywords, like:

  • how many scoops of coffee per cup — 1.1k monthly searches
  • how many tablespoons of coffee per cup — 900 monthly searches
  • how much coffee per cup — 2k monthly searches
  • how many spoons of coffee per cup — 200 monthly searches
  • tbsp per cup — 700 monthly searches
  • how many scoops of coffee per cup of water — 320 monthly searches

Since all of the above search queries means roughly the same thing, estimating your organic traffic potential from just a single or main search query is a big mistake.

So, it is better to look at how much organic traffic the current top-ranking pages gets from Google SERPs.

How to do that?

Well, it is super easy to do in SEMrush Keyword overview tool. Just scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find SERP Analysis tab which shows the estimated traffic of top ranking pages.

In our case, we can see that the top 5 ranking page for “how much coffee per cup” gets more than 10k monthly visits and rank for thousands of keyword.

Moral of the story?

Don’t ignore a keyword just because it has a low search volume. Look at the top-ranking page to get an estimate of the total search traffic for a particular topic.

Plus, also check the list of all keywords top pages are ranking for. This will help you prioritize your keywords and discover new keyword opportunities that your competitors have overlooked. 

05. Keyword Difficulty Score

The keyword difficulty score is basically an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank in top organic position for that keyword.

It is generally given as a percentage (1-100%), the lower the percentage the less difficult it would be to rank for your target keyword.

Each SEO tools has its own way way calculating keyword difficulty score, but in general most popular SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs calculate the score based on the link profile of top results appearing for that keyword.

To check a keyword’s difficulty, you can either check it in keyword overview tool:

or keyword magic tool:

According to SEMrush, they have grouped their difficulty score in 3 buckets to make it easy for you to understand how difficult it’s going to be to rank for a keyword.

  • Above 80% – High Difficulty : In order to rank for keyword with difficulty over 80%, you would need to invest heavily in SEO & link building. If you are researching for a new site, these keywords most likely be not worth your time & efforts.
  • From 60%-80% – Medium Difficulty : Ranking on the #1 page of Google for keywords in this range won’t be easy, but it’s more realistic to target these keywords if your website has some authority in your industry.
  • Below 60%Low Difficulty : Keywords in this difficulty range are easy to rank for but hard to find. They keywords likely to have low search volume and highly specific search intent. New website owners should better focus on these keywords.

Can You Rely on SEO Tools Difficulty Score for Estimating Competition Level?

Short Answer: NO!!.

Long Answer: Keyword difficulty score is pretty good for basic filtration of keyword in your list. But no matter which SEO tool you use, they will never give you accurate idea of competition level.

So, how to get accurate idea of competition level in SERP?

Well, that’s what i am going to cover now….

06. Look at Page Authority of top ranking page

“Google doesn’t rank sites…it ranks pages.”

Although a website’s domain authority & brand presence plays a vital role, still the #1 factor in a page ability to rank higher is the authority of that page.

If you look at SERP Analysis section in SEMrush keyword overview tool, the first metric after each URL is about page authority score ranging from 0-100.

The higher the page authority score, the more difficult it would be to outrank them from their position.

SIDENOTE: Every SEO tool has their own way of calculating page authority, but usually it is calculated based on backlinks pointing to the page, backlinks quality, traffic, etc.

I personally find MOZ’s (a reputed SEO tool) page authority score more accurate and realistic.

They have built a free chrome extension called “MOZ Bar” which lets you quickly check page authority score of a page directly in the SERPs.

Just install the extension and look at “PA” number in the MozBar SERP Overlay.

It is completely fine to have a few high PA results on the #1 page. The important thing is to keep an eye out for pages with low PA score.

Those pages can be easily outranked with your new 10x content (10 times better optimized content).

07. Check Out Referring Domains & Link Profile

It’s no more a secret that backlinks plays a vital role in page ranking.

Time to time SEO researches has shown the number of referring domain is correlated to higher rankings more than any other factor.

If you look at SERP Analysis section in SEMrush keyword overview tool, the 2nd & 3rd column is about referring domain and backlinks.

If you find that too many referring domains point to top results, then it will be very hard for you to outrank them.

Why?

Because you will also need to build those many links for your page which is going to take too much time and efforts (sometimes impossible for new bloggers).

But before you make your judgement, here is one more truth:

“Not all backlinks are equal”

For example: If page ‘A’ has 10 backlinks and page ‘B’ has 25 backlinks this doesn’t mean Page B is always going to rank higher because it has more links.

Links from low quality web directories, blog networks, comments and low authority sites does not pass much value to the linking page.

This is why it makes sense to open backlink profile of top 10 result and have a look at which websites is linking to them.

But how do you check backlinks of a page?

SEMrush allows you to check backlink profile of a page in different ways.

If you have opened a keyword in “Keyword overview tool” then just scroll down to SERP section and click on backlinks number appearing after each top page’s URL.

This will display all of the external links pointing to that page.

Now have a quick look at the Page authority score of linking domain, Website URL and anchor text.

If you find a lot of link from news sites like Businessinsider.com or links from authoritative blog in your niche — beating them in SERP is going be more competitive.

The point here is not to obsess over their backlinks profile. Just check them in advance to make an informed decision.

If you think that you will be also able to get those high quality links for your blog post then congrats you can target that keyword otherwise better focus on some other less- competitive keyword.

08. Authority of Top ranking websites

Google loves ranking pages from high authority sites like Wikipedia, WikiHow, Forbes, Business Insider or even industry specific authoritative sites.

I do agree that some of their page actually have high quality content and good page authority.

Bust most pages on authoritative sites gets a huge advantage in SERPs just because they are coming from an authoritative domain.

So, while evaluating your keyword competition, you should also take a look at the websites you are competing against (not just pages).

For example, if I search for “How to make coffee” in Google, you’ll notice big authority sites like WikiHow, Food Network, Allrecipes, GoodHouseKeeping, CNN and other giant recipes sites have occupied the top position.

This simply means that although “How to make coffee” is a term I would like to rank for, but this is not going to happen in reality.

So, always look for keywords where you can see at least 1-2 position is occupied by small niche sites.

After all, your first target will be to outrank those small players and then compete with the big ones.

Pro TIP: If you don’t know how authoritative a site is then just drop the site URL in SEMrush domain overview tool:

and look at the authority score metric:

If you see a domain with authority score of less than 40 ranking in top 10 position, you’ll have a good chance to outrank them.

04. Understand the importance of Long Tail Keywords

As you go through the list of seed keywords found in Step #2, you will realize that most of them (if not all) are super competitive.

In simple words, when you search for those terms in Google, you will find hundreds of top authority sites competing for one of the top ten positions in SERPs.

Well, if you have an established website (A very old site with incredible link profile), then this may not be a very big issue for you, but if your site is relatively new in the industry, this is going to be a huge problem and you might have trouble getting past Google’s third page.

For example:

Let’s say I want to write a post about best web hosting on my blog. But when I searched for the term “Best web Hosting” in Google, all top position was occupied by the biggest sites in the industry like Quicksprout, Tech Radar, PC Mag, WebsiteBuilderExpert, etc.

Now here, no matter how much better content I create on my blog about Web hosting, I can’t compete against these massive sites for this target keyword. (Yup!! that’s the sad reality)

So, What should we do?

Well, we should adjust our keyword research strategy and start looking for the keyword that are less competitive

i.e. long-tail keywords.

A typical long-tail keyword has these properties:

  1. Consists of 4 or more words.
  2. Has lower search volume but usually also very less competition
  3. Is more specific = has higher engagement and conversion rates
Long tail keywords explained by Bloggingnova

As you can see in the image, the number of the audience coming through long-tail keywords may represent a significant share of all search traffic but still, you’ll be in the winning side.

How?

See, because these longer terms don’t get too many searches compared to seed keywords, they are usually aren’t very competitive.

So, its a wise decision to start with the low hanging fruit and built your way up, rather than spending your time and effort on popular keywords that it’s impossible to rank.


How to find long-tail keywords?

Firstly you can manually search for the seed term on Google and look for the ‘People also ask’ or ‘related searches’ section to get long-tail keyword ideas.

People also ask for Google suggestion
people also ask for snippet in Google SERP
Related search term
Related search terms appearing at bottom of the SERP

You can also go to online platforms like Quora and Reddit to check what peoples are searching over there in your niche.

Quora

But as I said earlier, if you have a good keyword research tool like SEMrush then you don’t need to waste time in manually finding the right keywords.

SEMrush can help you find any type of keyword you want.

Do you know?

As of 2020, SEMrush has 18.8 billion keywords from 118 countries’ databases – it’s the largest keyword database on the market!

Continuing with our example, head over to Keyword Magic tool again and enter you main keyword in the search box.

Now use the ‘Advanced Filters’ word count to search for keywords that have at least 4 words or more. Just enter the number 4 into the minimum ‘Words Count’ box and click Enter.

Word count filter SEMrush

You can also use another very handy ‘Volume’ filter to set minimum search volume to 500 or any number you want to show only those long-tail keywords which have at least 500 or above monthly searches.

Search volume filter SEMrush

What you are seeing now is the keyword that consists of more than 4 word (Less competitive) as well as which has at least 500 monthly searches (means also bring traffic)

Now go through the keyword list and select those keywords which match your business, examine their search intent, and finally add them to your main keyword list, so that you can target those keywords on your blog in the future.

How to use keywords in your content?

Now that you have analyzed and found the right keywords, you can start thinking about how to use them within your content.

Most of the Keyword research guide on the internet end at this point.

You have found the keywords, you picked the one with good metrics.

But what to do next?

As I promised in the beginning, it is going to be a complete Keyword research tutorial, so now I’ll share some useful principles and tips on how to use the keywords properly for your content.


Select the focus keyword First:

Select the one focus keywords that represent your content topic the closest.

Now following the best on-page optimization practice include your focus keyword in:

  • The title (both H1 and title tag)
  • Meta description
  • One of the first paragraphs of the text
  • At least one subheading
  • A couple of times in the content text (naturally)

That’s it.

Never ever overuse your keyword in the content because everyone knows that keyword stuffing is an outdated technique which no longer works in 2020.

So, Do not try to stuff the exact match keyword into your blog post to meet certain keyword density (there is no ideal number and never was).

EDITORS’ NOTE: If you are using an SEO plugin like Yoast or Rank Math, then it might suggest the optimal keyword density (means use exact match keyword certain number of times in your content). But don’t take them very seriously. Take their recommendations as a clue but never forget about user experience.


Write long-form content:

Various SEO case studies have already proven that on average, a long-form content (more than 2000 words) performs better in search results than short articles. (Source)

Few advantages of creating long-form content:

  • In a long-form content, different keyword variations are used naturally, which increases the topical relevance and helps you rank for hundreds of related keywords.
  • Long-form content usually has higher engagement as it answers the user’s question (or solves the problem) in a more in-depth way.
  • It naturally attracts more links than short, mediocre articles
  • People spend more time with your content. More time = more trust.
  • It ranks higher in the search engine. serpIQ did a study of the average length of the content in the top 10 results and found that the top-rated posts usually were over 2,000 words.

Now you must be wondering how to use the keywords in a long form content?

See, you don’t need to aggressively include every single related keyword in your content. With long-form content, you usually cover a topic in-depth, and naturally you’ll get the opportunity to add related keywords in your content.

Take this post you are currently reading right now as example:

This is 4800+ words long form content about Keyword research.

As this post cover every detail about Keyword research, so i have naturally used many related keywords in the post.

For example:

  • What is keyword
  • What is Keyword research
  • How to do keyword research
  • How to find profitable keywords
  • Keyword research for beginners
  • How to use keywords in your content
  • etc.

One more thing – it is not a hard and fast rule that you’ll rank for only those keywords which you add in your content.

You can rank for thousands of related keywords even without mentioning them in your content.

Understand this with the help of an example.

If you search for “How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker” the first result is an ultimate guide by a popular coffee-related blog Roastycoffee.

Coffee without coffee maker

Upon having a quick look at the blog post, I found it is a well-written comprehensive post explaining different ways to make coffee without the help of a coffee maker.

With more than 2800 words, it is a typical long-form content covering the topic in detail.

Roastycoffee

Entering the blog post URL in the SEMrush tool, we can see that besides the original main keyword “How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker”, it ranks for more than 253 keywords in the top 10 positions of Google.

Keyword rsearch tutorial

Some good keywords are:

  • how to make coffee in a pot -2900 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee on the stove-1600 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee without a filter – 880 monthly searches
  • how to brew coffee without a coffee maker – 590 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee in the microwave – 390 monthly searches

But again when I came back to the blog posts and searched for those exact match keywords in the article.

see, it is not even mentioned one time in the post.

Keyword

The author of this blog post could write 5 seprate article with these focus keywords:

  • how to make coffee in a pot -2900 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee on the stove-1600 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee without a filter – 880 monthly searches
  • how to brew coffee without a coffee maker – 590 monthly searches
  • how to make coffee in the microwave – 390 monthly searches

But instead, he wrote an in-depth guide that covers the whole topic of “making coffee with coffee maker” and he ranks for all these keywords (and many more) naturally.

Read also – How to increase your website traffic Quickly

Final Thoughts on Keyword Research

No doubt Keyword research is one of the most essential steps in search engine optimization. Through keyword research, you can find those keywords which actually suits your blog and help you drive free organic traffic.

However it is not a one time process, it is an ongoing process for any blogger or website owner. Yo do it initially when you start a new blog and depending on your content creation and marketing campaign, you need to go back and find new keywords again.

If you have read this post properly then you must have realized that the whole process of keyword research is not as complex or challenging as people often think about it.

But yes to make the process dead simple, you will need to use a good keyword research tool which will show you all the necessary metrics to identify good keywords.

Though you can use a free tool like Google Keyword Planner or Ubbersuggest, but for long term projects, you need the help of more reliable tools like SEMRUSH or Ahrefs.

I personally use SEMrush as it not only help me with Keyword research, but it also helps me with competitor research, keyword tracking, Backlink analysis, Detailed website audit to know if my website has any SEO issues and many more other SEO related tasks.

Yes, one more thing SEMrush also offers a free trial which means you can get a whole experience of this tool for free of cost and in case if you want to continue with the tool after trial period then only pay for it.

I have tried my best to distill everything i know about Keyword research into a single and fairly brief blog post. And now I’d like to hear from you.

Share some of your keyword research tips and tricks that you I’ve not mentioned in this guide.

Leave a Comment

9 comments

  1. Hey Shivam,
    keyword research is the backbone of content .As of now, most keyword research tools are paid now.
    But after keyword research quality matters in your content . As google said content is king but in my point of view engagement in your content is queen.

    Reply
  2. Of course, you want to make people notice your website, but you want to be sure you are getting the right kind of traffic. If you have an online store, you want to make it appeal to customers who are looking for the products you have for sale. If you are offering certain services, you want to make sure the traffic that comes to your site is looking for those services. Choosing good keywords that help people find your website is what it’s all about. A keyword search tool simplifies this process and makes it a lot easier to meet the needs of your targeted market.

    Reply
  3. Shivam,

    The real success in online marketing lies in the keywords that we choose. With no proper keyword research, our entire efforts would make nothing. Your article explains in detail about using the premium SEO tool, SEMRush to do in-depth keyword research to fetch the most potential keywords that actually make the content rank better. Good read!

    Reply
  4. hey shivam, you explained very well
    yes semrush is the leading tool in keyword research and competitor analysis. the tool suggesting by more pro bloggers. great article. you nailed it very well.

    Reply
  5. Hello Shivam,
    Informative article indeed.
    SEMRush is a really an impressive tool to analyze your website and find keywords as well. Few things I would like to add here:
    1) The biggest thing you need to keyword research is your own intelligence. Your thinking capability plays a lot when you are doing keyword research.
    2) Never be dependent on a single tool. Create different lists with different tools and then merge the best from all.
    3) You can also try Google Keyword Planner, Keywordtool, Keywordseverywhere and answerthepublic for better ideas.
    4) Google’s related searches also helps a lot.

    PS: You have mentioned shoutmeloud two times 😛

    Rest, you did amazing job with this article. Good luck.

    With Regards
    Naveen
    MightyThemes

    Reply
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