improve seo strategy with better keyword research

The right keyword gives you better ranking in Google.

Google keeps us up to date with all the algorithm updates they bring out, one thing has remained fairly consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.

Well, the need for keyword research has stayed the same.  How you actually do it has not.

We need to know what keyword research is?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing actual search terms that people type in search engines.  The insight you get into these actual search terms can help influence the content strategy as well as your broader marketing strategy.

How important is keyword research

We are hearing more and more how much SEO has developed over the past 10 years and how unimportant keywords have become for our ability to rank well in search queries that are performed daily.

And to some extent this is true;  In the eyes of an SEO expert, the use of keywords that exactly match a person's search is no longer the most important ranking factor.  Rather, it is the intent behind this keyword and whether or not part of the content dissolves for that intent (we'll talk more about intent in just a minute). 

However, this does not mean that keyword research is an outdated process.  Let me explain: 

Keyword research provides insight into which topics are important to users and how popular these topics really are for your target group, provided you use the right SEO tool.  The operative term here is "topics".  By searching for keywords for which a large number of searches are carried out each month, you can identify your content and sort it according to topics for which you want to create content.  You can then use these topics to determine which keywords to search for and which ones to target. By searching keywords for popularity, search volume, and general objectives, you can answer the questions that most people in your target audience want answers to.

How does the intent affect keyword research?

As mentioned in the previous section, user intent is one of the most important factors in your ability to rank well in search engines like Google.  Nowadays, it is more important that your website addresses the problem that a searcher wants to solve than just containing the keyword that the searcher is using.  How does this affect your keyword research?

It's easy to use keywords as a face value, and unfortunately under-surface keywords can have many different meanings.  Because search intent is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra careful about how you interpret the keywords you're targeting.

Suppose you are researching the "how to start a blog" keyword for an article you want to create  "Blog" can mean a blog entry or the blog website itself.  The intent of a searcher behind this keyword affects the direction of your article.  Does the searcher want to know how to create a single blog post?  Or do you want to know how to start a website domain for blogging purposes?  If your content strategy only targets people who’re interested in the latter, you’ll need to review the keyword’s intent before committing to it.

To check the intent of a user in a keyword, simply type that keyword into a search engine yourself and see what types of results are shown.

I'm going to set up a keyword research process that you can do to narrow down a list of terms that you should target.  This allows you to set and execute a strong keyword strategy that will help you find the search terms that really interest you.

How to do keyword research for best seo

 Step 1:

Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your company. To start this process, you need to think about the topics for which you want to rank general buckets.  You will find about 5-10 topic areas that you think are important to your business, and use these topic areas to find specific keywords later in the process.

If you are a regular blogger, these are probably the topics that you blog about most often.  Or maybe it's the topics that crop up the most in sales talks.  Slip into the role of your buyer - what topics would your target group search for, for which you would like to find your company?  If you were a company like HubSpot, for example - selling marketing software (which happens to contain some great SEO tools ... but I'm digressing ... you could have general topics like:

  •   "Inbound Marketing" (21K)
  •   "Blogging" (19K)
  •   Email Marketing (30K)
  •   "Lead Generation" (17K)
  •   "SEO" (214K)
  •   "Social Media Marketing" (71K)
  •   "Marketing Analytics" (6.2K)
  •   "Marketing Automation" (8.5K)

Do you see these numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword?  This is your monthly search volume.  You can use this data to measure how important these topics are to your target audience and how many different subtopics you may need to create to be successful with this keyword.  To learn more about these subtopics, we go to


Fill in these subject areas with keywords.

Now that you have some subject areas that you want to focus on, it's time to identify some key words that fall into those areas.  These are keyword phrases that you think should be classified as important in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is likely to search for these specific terms.

For example, if I took the last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company  "marketing automation" - I would reconsider some keyword phrases that I think are related to this topic.  This could include:

  •   Marketing automation tools
  •   Use of marketing automation software
  •   What is marketing automation?
  •   How do I know if I need marketing automation software?
  •   Lead care
  •   E-mail marketing automation
  •   Top Automation Tools
And so on.  This step is not about making the final list of keyword phrases.  You just want to get a collection of idioms that potential customers may use to search for content related to that particular topic.  We'll narrow the lists down later so you don't have anything too bulky.  Once you've made your final list, there are several data-driven tools available to help you figure out which keywords are most likely to rank well for you.

(Note: If you are a HubSpot customer, HubSpot Content Strategy can make your list of topics and keywords a little shorter. Content Strategy helps you identify and research topics based on existing content.)

Although more and more keywords are encrypted by Google every day, another clever way to develop keyword ideas is to find out for which keywords your website is already found.  To do this, you need website analysis software such as Google Analytics or the HubSpot source report, which is available in the Traffic Analytics tool.  Understand your website’s traffic sources and search your organic search bucket to identify the keywords that are used to get to your website.

Repeat this exercise for as many subject areas as you have.  And remember, if you're having trouble finding relevant search terms, you can always turn to your customer colleagues - who work in sales or service - and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions,  that you have.  These are often good starting points for keyword research.

  Step 3:

Research related search terms.

This is a creative step that you may have already considered when doing keyword research.  If not, it is a good way to fill out these lists.

If you're struggling to find more keywords that might be searched for a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you insert a keyword.  As you enter your search term and scroll to the bottom of Google results, you will notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input.  These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords that you might want to consider.

Keywords serch

Do you want a bonus?  Enter some of these related search terms and look at their related search terms.

Would you like another bonus?  HubSpot customers can receive suggestions for keywords and topics that should be considered in the Content Strategy Tool.

Content Strategy Tool.

  Step 4: 

Look for a mix of key terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.

If you don't know the difference between main terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain.  Headers are keyword phrases that are generally shorter and more general.  Depending on who you speak to, they are usually only one to three words long.  Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases that usually contain three or more words.

It is important to check whether you have a mix of main and long-term terms, as this will give you a keyword strategy that is characterized by long-term goals and short-term gains.  This is because key terms are generally searched more often, which often (not always, but often) makes them more competitive and difficult to evaluate than long-term terms.  Think about it: Which of the following terms do you think is more difficult to evaluate without looking up the search volume or difficulty?

How do I write a great blog post?

If you answered # 2, you are absolutely right.  But don't be discouraged.  While key terms generally have the largest search volume (meaning you have more traffic), the traffic you get with the phrase "How do I write a great blog post?"  Obtained, usually more desirable.


Because someone looking for something specific is likely to be a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (assuming you're in the blogging area) than someone looking for something really general.  And since long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to see what people who search for those keywords are really looking for.  Someone looking for the main term "blogging" could search for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with your business.

So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of keywords and long-tail keywords.  You definitely want to make some quick profits that you can get with long-tail keywords, but you should also try to avoid more difficult terms in the long run.

 Step 5: 

See how competitors rate these keywords.

Just because your competitor is doing something doesn't mean you have to do it.  The same applies to keywords.  Just because a keyword is important to your competitor doesn't mean that it is important to you.  However, if you know which keywords your competitors want to rank for, you can give your keyword list another rating.

If your competitor also ranks for certain keywords on your list, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those keywords.  However, don't ignore those who don't seem to care about your competitors.  This could be a great opportunity for you to gain market share on important terms.

If you understand the balance of terms that could be a little more difficult due to competition compared to terms that are a little more realistic, you can maintain a similar balance that allows the mix of long-tail and head terms.  Keep in mind that the goal is to create a list of keywords that will help you win quickly, but also help you achieve bigger, more challenging SEO goals.

How do you find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for?  In addition to manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and displaying the positions of your competitors, SEMrush allows you to create a number of free reports that list the most important keywords for the domain you have entered.  This is a quick way to get an idea of ​​the terms your competitors rank for.
Step 6: Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to narrow your keyword list.

  Now that you've found the right mix of keywords, it's time to narrow down your lists with more quantitative data.  You have a lot of tools to do this, but let me share my favorite method.

I like to use a mix of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner (you need to set up an AdWords account for this, but that doesn't mean you have to create an ad) and Trends.

In the Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can find the search volume and access estimates for the keywords you are considering.  Unfortunately, Google removed many of the more interesting features when moving from the Keyword Tool to the Keyword Planner.  However, you can make up for this by using the information from Keyword Planner and filling in some gaps with Google Trends

Use the Keyword Planner to identify terms in your list that are far too small (or too high) in search volume and that won't help you maintain a healthy mix as described above.  Before you delete anything, however, check the trend history and forecasts in Google Trends.  You can see whether you should, for example, invest in some low-volume terms now - and reap the benefits for later.

Or maybe you are just looking at a list of terms that is far too bulky and you need to narrow them down somehow ... Google Trends can help you determine which terms are on the up and therefore focus more on you.And you're done!

Congratulations!  You now have a list of keywords that can help you focus on the right topics for your business and achieve some short-term and long-term benefits.

Make sure you re-evaluate these keywords every few months - once a quarter is a good yardstick, but some companies do this even more often.  As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you will find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists in order to maintain your current presence and also open up new areas. 

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