Last Updated on September 18, 2021 by scottkandh
I was reading a Facebook post one day about keyword research and it occurred to me that even though blogging for over a year I never investigated examining keyword research to optimize my website.
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The contents of this blog post is focusing on keyword research to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and optimize your website. My goal here is to let you know of the various tools that are available and hopefully you’ll select one that you find suits you best. For example, these are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of favorite programs. Thus being, my favorite program for the powerful and informative things that it offers is SEO Quake and the toolbox that you can get for your browser.
When to do keyword research?
One of the principal first steps of a website is to do keyword research. Yes, I set up a keyword bank for Pinterest when I first starting blogging but, in all honesty, I rarely use it and I haven’t gone back in time to update it.
There are times that you will definitely want to do keyword research which include:
- Looking for a new niche
- Brainstorming ideas for new content ideas
- Optimizing your existing blog content
Who should do keyword research?
Webmasters, bloggers, SEO specialists, content creators, and more.
The evolution of keyword research has changed over the last ten years from trying to put the right keywords into your posts to placing the right keywords into the right place. The Keyword Research tools listed below are good ways to “find” your keywords or “look up” keywords.
Keyword Research tools
The most common way to find plenty of keyword opportunities is to use a keyword research tool. There are many tools on the market. My goal here is to let you know of the various tools that are available and hopefully you’ll select one that you find suits you best. For example, these are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of favorite programs. Thus being, my favorite program for the powerful and informative things that it offers is SEO Quake and the toolbox that you can get for your browser.
- Alexa Rank Analysis Tool – Get a free, automated website analysis to quickly gain insights into a site’s strengths, weaknesses, and digital marketing opportunities. I was hoping for quite a lot more beneficial insights in the free version but I didn’t find it to be useful. I was more hoping to see the image depicted on the What is Alex Rank post.
- Answer the Public – This is one of the best tools I’ve seen to easily build up your keyword bank. Put this program at the top of your list and sit back to watch your traffic grow if you fully utilize the suggestions in this program. AWESOME!!
- Backlinks Analytics Tool – “[Backlinks] are links on other websites that direct people to your site. When your site is consistently referred to by other quality websites, Google recognizes that it’s trusted. Such backlinks are even more useful if the linking website is trustworthy. SEMRush has a whole host of useful tools to analyze your and your competitors’ backlink portfolios. You can find some targets through the Backlink Analytics Tool”
- KeySearch – I finally found a keyword program that I’m comfortable using and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. KeySearch makes Keyword Research Easy to find relevant, low competition keywords for your website, blog, or business. I was surprised to find out that many of the keywords I was using aren’t even searchable. I’ve already updated 20 of my blog posts, so I’m curious to see what’s going to happen after making those changes. My blog traffic averages about 60 visitors per day so hopefully this will jump it to over a 100 per day. I’ll keep you posted.
For a very thorough video on how to do Keyword Research, I highly recommend a blog post called Keysearch Review – – The Best Affordable SEO Tool. I really enjoyed the video because it explains some of the processes used in the keyword research to build the SEO for your own website. To get the KeySearch program (depicted below) and to save some extra money (20%), use the coupon code KSDISC.
- Keyword.io – enter your domain and it’ll give you the list of your competitors, then enter one by one all your competitor’s domain and you will get a list of keywords they are using. I tried it out and wasn’t able to get the latter, maybe it will work for you.
- KWFinder – You can start a 10-day Free Trial by Mangools by providing your e-mail address and a password. This is a very worthwhile program that provides you with 5 tools for your SEO needs. The best thing that I can suggest to you is to sign up with the 10-day Free Trial and that “should” give you a 10% discount (with a limited time offer) for you to apply to one of the three membership plans (Basic $29.91 > $26.91/mo., Premium $39.90 > $35.91/mo., Agency $79.90 > $71.91/mo).
1. Keyword Research
2. Rank Tracking
3. Local SERP Analysis
4. Backlink Analysis
5. SEO Analysis
- Long Tail Pro – Long Tail Pro helps you easily find less competitive keywords that can get you tons of high-converting online traffic regardless of your niche.
- FAQfox – A free Keyword Research tool to tremendously examine posts that contain the keyword you’re looking for. What I like about this program is that it will generate an exhaustive list of posts for you to peruse. Especially useful if you’re looking for other sites that have a higher domain authority (DA) than yours.
- SEO PowerSuite – an all-in-one SEO Toolkit that includes:
- SEO Power Suite
- Rank Tracker
- Website Auditor
- SEO SpyGlass and
- SEO Quake – One of the best programs that I’ve seen and you can get a Free SEO Toolbox for your browser. I like it best for one principal reason, it’s free. If you’re looking for a keywords cloud like what Wordtracker Scout had to offer you can find it by clicking on the density tab and looking in the lower right (see the sample below for this post). I have found my go to tool now to use. Wahoo! I just saved you more than $200 a year.
- SpyFu – Personally, I prefer the program SpyFu to look at Keywords (as compared to KWFinder). It shows a more accurate representation of your keywords.
- Wordtracker Scout – This Google Chrome extension utility (for looking up keyword research) is very nifty! Once you’ve installed it, (you need to install it through Google Chrome) click on the “W” (within a circle) and it will start to pull all of the data. Very smart way to look at your competitors (to see their keyword content). It used to be free but the “free” version is now broken and if you want to get the free version you have to try one of the trial versions. I’d rather not use one of those so that I don’t forget to unregister. Although the button doesn’t work anymore to give you image that it used to (maybe it’s available in the paid version), you can use the WordTracker page for a variety of information about websites. For the best savings on the paid versions, be sure to select annual for a considerable savings.
QuestionDB – The free version will give you a snippet of information on keywords. To build a complete and thorough Keyword Bank (especially useful for Bloggers using Pinterest) this would be a worthwhile investment.
For example, I typed in Pinterest and got an exhaustive list of what came up for Pinterest:
Should you pay for a keyword research tool?
The best recommendation I found is this:
“If your website or blog brings you money in any way, keyword research tool(or an SEO toolset in general) is a great investment that will return value.”
Using professional keyword research tools offers you many advantages such as:
- Saving you lots of time (get hundreds of keywords ideas literally in one click)
- Data hard to find elsewhere (i.e., keyword difficulty, search volume, and SERP data)
- A competitive advantage over other bloggers not using a keyword tool
Keyword research usually consists of three main steps (listed below). And with a keyword research tool you’re able to complete the first and second steps.
- Using it
How to do competitor-based keyword research
If you manually try to find the keywords for your competitor’s it is very tedious. With a program like KWFinder it’s relatively easy and we’ll look to see how it’s done.
There’s two basic ways to check:
a) Check your competitor’s domain to get new topic ideas (search by keyword or by domain).
b) Check specific URL to get keyword ideas for a specific topic. Enter the keyword into Google and see who ranks for it.
Once you found the competitor, enter the URL of their article and you’ll be able to the keywords that the article ranks for.
Every time you create new content, you should give it a focus keyword. The focus keyword is a keyword that best represents the topic of the page and has the best properties from the SEO point of view.
There are three key aspects to consider – Popularity, Difficulty and Relevance of the keyword.
1. Popularity of the keyword
The popularity of the keyword usually means the search volume – how many people search for the given phrase. It is usually calculated as a monthly average based on the last 12 months.
Note: Don’t forget that well-written content will most probably rank for many other keywords and the total search volume will be higher. Don’t become a slave of search volumes, take them as a clue.
A great tool to help you with this is Google Trends. You simply enter a specific keyword or topic and the tool will show you the interest over time on a scale from 1 to 100.
Google Trends can also help you spot the seasonality of the keyword. Seasonal keywords are keywords bound to a specific time of the year (summer/winter, holidays, annual events).
2. Keyword difficulty
Keyword difficulty is a metric that estimates how hard it is to rank for a certain keyword. The higher is the keyword difficulty, the harder it will be to rank for the keyword with your website.
There are various well-established authority metrics. The most popular are Domain Authority and Page Authority by Moz and Citation Flow and Trust Flow by Majestic.
To work with the keyword difficulty metric correctly, it is important to remember a few things:
- Don’t take the keyword difficulty as the only clue. The metric should serve only as a guideline, not an absolute value. If your content is better and more relevant, you can outrank websites with higher authority.
- Don’t compare the numbers between different tools. Each keyword research tool uses different data to calculate their keyword difficulty so the values will differ. Instead, compare the difficulty metrics between the keywords.
- Don’t forget about the subjective factors. No metric can tell you exactly how hard it will be FOR YOU to rank for a certain keyword. There are many subjective factors you need to consider, namely:
- your SEO skills,
- your website’s authority,
- the relevance of your content.
Pro tip: Find competitors with similar website authority as yours (compare DA or PA for example). Then, look at the keywords they rank for and create better content to outrank them.
3. Relevance (search intent)
An integral part of keyword research is an SERP analysis
Firstly, you can better evaluate the keyword difficulty by looking at the authority of the ranking websites.
Secondly, it helps you to discover the search intent behind the keyword to see whether the keyword is relevant to your content. The best way to discover the intent behind the keyword is to Google it and see what ranks in the first SERP.
There are 4 basic search intent categories:
- Navigational – the user is searching for a specific website/brand
- Informational – the user is searching for general information
- Transactional – the user wants to buy something online
- Commercial – the user wants to do the research before purchase
What interests me the most is how to use keywords – the third step.
After you’ve done your keyword research and analyzed the keywords it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to use them within your own content.
Keywords are an integral part of on-page optimization
Arranging your site structure
Start to think of your keywords as your main topics. Instead of arranging your site by categories organize your blog posts into topics using a cornerstone approach.
Pillar content or cornerstone content: The most important articles on your blog, the posts that are bringing you traffic.
Supporting content: Posts to complement your pillar or cornerstone content. Don’t leave any orphaned posts.
One of the easiest ways to use a cornerstone approach for your blog is with the Yoast SEO Premium plug-in. Articles are woven and linked together through suggested internal links to your blog.
Using this approach will strengthen the search engine optimization for your site.
Here are some other posts that you might want to visit on my website: