Growth Marketer Academy: Episode 16 – 7 Tools the Insiders Use for Faster Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of successful SEO.
You’ve got to have a clear understanding of the keywords your customers are likely to use to search for your product or service.
Without it, you’ll waste time and resources creating assets that don’t line up with your customer’s searches.
And you’ll likely end up with unqualified or irrelevant leads.
And nobody wants to throw money at leads that don’t want what you’re sellin’
In this episode, we have 7 Tools those of us “in the know” use to make Keyword Research go faster.
What Is A Keyword?
The information individuals enter into the input field of search engines.
Example, let’s say I’m interested in basketball. Possible search terms:
- Basketball games
- Basketball games online
- Basketball rules
“Basketball” is pretty vague
Searchers tend to add more information
Increase their chance of finding exactly what they want.
Different formats of keywords you’ll come across:
Usually, have large search volumes.
BUT hard to nail down the intent behind these phrases.
Example: “basketball hoops” doesn’t reveal much about a user need.
Are they trying to:
- learn more about basketball,
- find a place to play hoops,
- or buy a hoop for their own backyard?
Phrases that reveal user intent
A little more focused than head keywords
Example “basketball hoop types” narrows what users want
Still doesn’t classify the type of intent
Super specific long-tail phrases
tell search engines exactly what a user wants.
Example “basketball hoops for sale in Carmichael”
Here’s a graphic to help you conceptualize the different formats:
low competition and high conversion rate
used by individuals near the end of their purchase cycle.
You trade traffic volume for conversion if you get overly specific.
The key is to find the best balance to drive the right traffic to your page.
Your chosen keywords dictate your SEO campaign.
You should build your content strategy and develop your site around the words and phrases you determine to be the most likely to bring in traffic that converts.
Overview: Keyword Research Process
1. Discovery phase
Brainstorm a list keywords you think customers are searching for in your niche.
What problem are customers trying to solve with your product or service?
How might they communicate that?
If you are a dog trainer, this could include keywords like:
- Potty train puppy
- Leash training
- Stop dog barking
Make use of data that already exists:
Talk to your sales or customer support team
- What do customers ask for when they first call or write?
Read online comments and questions.
Read your competitor’s content for:
Focus on direct competitors that are doing it right:
- They have a well-honed adwords campaign
- They pop up in searches you want your page to appear in
Group your list of keywords into categories based on shared themes or intent.
For each group, create ‘search personas’
Try to see the world through their lens.
Consider details about your sample searcher:
- Struggles and aspirations
EP:2 Audience Analysis for Avatar worksheet
Example: let’s pretend you are a shoe supplier setting up a new site.
Your search persona may look something like this:
3. Determining keyword value
To figure out which keywords are worth going you need to compare the value of each on your list.
A keyword’s value is based on:
- Monthly search volume in relation to competition level
- How well it converts
Google’s Keyword Planner can help you determine search volume for keywords.
You enter your product or service
Choose “Keyword Ideas”
It will show you:
- the average monthly searches for each suggestion
- How competitive the term is (Low or High)
- Suggested bid price (shows you how competitive it is)
Competitive/expensive keywords will be harder to place in SEO/content searches.
Lots of people fighting for placement in that search
You can even narrow down keyword popularity based on factors like:
- level of competition.
If your focus is on conversions, you’ll be determining value differently:
Segment keywords based on the 4 different types of intent.
- Navigational: When the keyword aims to navigate to a specific location.
- Informational: When the searcher is looking for a specific answer or educational resources.
- Transactional: These keywords hint at the searcher’s desire to take a specific action like:
- Buy something
- Find a professional to provide a service
- Find a tool to help them achieve a goal
- Branded: When a user mentions a specific brand or website.
Keywords best suited for conversions are transactional
Searchers are at the end of a conversion funnel
Ready to make a purchase.
Example of how a travel agent might assign value to conversion-oriented keywords related to booking a China vacation:
Tools To Speed This Up
It would take forever to repeat these steps for every keyword you brainstorm in your seed list.
By the time you narrow down a list of the top 3 or 5 keywords to target, things may change.
Here are the 7 keyword tools that will simplify your life.
1. Spy On Your Competitors With Ahrefs
First, identify competitors with similar products and/or services.
Include leaders in other locations (don’t limit to your geographical area)
Go to Ahrefs
Plug in the URL of your competitors.
It will return all the popular keywords they are ranking for on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and show you the traffic they are getting.
Do this for multiple competitors
You’ll compile a list of proven keywords you should be creating content for.
Alternative spy tool: Spyfu
You can search for any domain and see:
- Every place they’ve shown up on Google
- Every keyword they’ve bought on Adwords
- Every organic rank
- Every ad variation they’ve used in the last 11 years.
2. Use Google Search Console to Build On Existing Success
If your site has been live for some time, you might already be ranking well for certain keywords.
Pull up Google Search Console
Explore the “search analytics” section
Note keywords for which you rank in the top 30.
Look at “Position” to identify your best performers.
Here’s a sample of what you might see:
If there are multiple keywords that rank well, congratulations!
Narrow down by comparing impressions and click-through rate (CTR).
Example: Let’s say you run a Paleo diet blog.
Search console shows that your page for “paleo diet” ranks 9th.
You want this page to rank higher:
Upgrade your content.
Aim to be the ultimate authority for this keyword
If your blog post is 500-words, expand it to create a definitive post.
There are a few ways you can do this:
Update the page content in a way that Google recognizes it as new.
- Google favors “fresh” content over stale
- Change enough of the content on the page to be recognized as fresh.
Make your content “evergreen” (never outdated)
- Ensure a consistent stream of traffic and links.
Republish content that is already definitive and evergreen
- can improve your page’s rank and traffic.
Moz performed an experiment to determine the effect of republishing blog posts to determine the effect on traffic. The results were impressive:
- Avoid republishing lots of articles without any actual content changes
Google views that negatively.
- When you republish, include an “originally updated on XX/XX, last updated on XX/XX” notation somewhere on the page.
Choose the best of your content that could use a boost
Drive your own page rank by making it fresh.
3. Brainstorm Alternatives with UberSuggest
Targeting hyper-relevant long-tail keywords is likely to result in a higher ROI
- They’re less expensive to target in pay-per-click
- More likely to convert.
How do you find the long-tail variations of your primary keywords?
Ones that potential customers are actually searching for?
Plug in your target keyword into Ubersuggest
it will return a list of long-tail variations.
Let’s say “online marketing” is your keyword.
It will suggest long-tail variations like:
- Online marketing tips
- online marketing jobs
- online marketing strategies.
Now you just need to create relevant content.
Maybe you create a blog post “Best online marketing strategies for B2B companies.”
Another tool = AnswerThePublic.
Just type in your keyword it’ll show a list of questions commonly associated with that term.
Here’s a sample of results for the term social media marketing:
Lets you search for what’s popular on other platforms
Like the App Store, YouTube & Bing
Why would you care about popular searches on Youtube?
It’s the second most popular search engine after Google.
4. Learn from your Competition’s Ad Spend With SEMrush
When someone repeatedly spends money on a keyword in PPC, it probably converts well.
EP7: Paid Search for Lead Generation
Go to SEMrush and enter your competitor’s URL.
The tool analyzes their entire PPC campaign
Returns a ton of insightful information
- the keywords they bid for most
- the traffic it generates.
Go after the keywords your competition is spending the most money on.
*Up to a point*
You may not want to duke it out over a super expensive term if you can target less expensive long tail variations.
5. Predict The Future with Google Trends
Keyword research is all about staying ahead of trends.
Relying on historical data and competitor keywords will likely target expensive and highly competitive search terms
What if you could get ahead of the pack and be the first one to the party?
Google Trends and Google Autocomplete can help you predict the future.
Shows search trends
Select a time frame long enough to see changes in interest for your keyword over time.
Compare your keyword against alternatives
We might look at “digital marketing agency” vs. “inbound marketing agency”
Historical data shows a clear rise in interest for digital marketing over the past couple of years.
Respond to people’s evolving needs
Create content before others join in.
6. Use MarketMuse To Uncover Gaps In Your Content
Determined to rank for a particular keyword despite the competition?
You’ll need masterful content on par or better than the top-ranked results.
A keyword stuffed page isn’t gonna cut it.
Google rewards thoroughness.
- It scans your content
- Determines how meticulously you cover information around your root keyword.
- The more comprehensive your content, the higher you rank.
Measure the performance of your content with MarketMuse.
Enter your domain or Subdomain & the primary keyword you’re targeting
It will crawl your domain
Compares your work with similar content on the web
Shows commonly used related keywords and:
- Their frequency
- Their relevance
- Their volume
Update your content to include these ‘LSI’ (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords
7. Put it All Together With SerpStat
SerpStat is a relatively new tool in the market
It combines features from almost all of the tools we’ve talked about
Type in your keyword
It will answer who, what, or why related questions related to your target keyword.
- Reveal the top pages for a keyword
- Provide similar search suggestions
- Suggest LSI keywords
- Show which keywords competitors are bidding for
Here’s what a sample search looks like:
Until you hone in on the words and phrases that YOUR customers are using to look for you, your content strategy won’t convert.
Think of keyword research as an investment in the future of your digital marketing success.
Because without knowing what keywords you should be targeting, you’re just going to spin your wheels.