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SEO Keyword Research for Beginners

On Sep 11, 2017

Getting started with keyword research can be extremely overwhelming. There are many options and different routes to take, but many can just confuse business owners even more. Knowing which terms and topics to focus on could be the difference between creating compelling content or falling short. In this video, I cover the basics of keyword research, some popular free tools, and I walk through of our free keyword research template. 

Before checking out the video, make sure you grab your free keyword research template here. This template has been designed for use with Moz Keyword Explorer. You can find that free tool here. Enjoy the video!

 

Video Transcript:

All right so today we're going be taking a look at keyword research and how we find those core topics that push our content into a whole new realm of engagement. Both of the search engines and for the users. When we're talking about keyword research a lot of people, get, you know, nitty gritty and deep into the numbers. And while the numbers are really important and they do show us tracks in trends, they can also uncover some misconceptions as well.

Just because a term has a lot of traffic doesn't mean you're going to get that traffic. It doesn't mean that you're going to get that interaction. So first you need to find the right terms with the right amount of traffic with the right amount of relevance. And then add the content that you build on top of that as well as the links and the many other factors that come together. The combination of those factors is going to play a role in how you rank.

But this process is how we define those core topics, and that's why we're going to walk through using some free tools.

All right. So what we're going to cover is why taking the long-tail approach is important. We're going to take a brief look at Humming-Bird and how that's really impacted search. And then we're going to overview a couple of tools tips and tricks. And then after that, we're going to go into a tutorial on how to do the keyword research and how to use the template that we've created.

So, taking the long-tailed approach long-tail keywords are extremely important because they're more specific. Users are starting to search way more precise, and they're looking for exact solutions to their problems.

You know when they come in they have a problem. Searchers may use a broad term in the beginning. They're just getting an idea of the information they are seeking. But, as you can see, you know with the broad terms you've got a number way more results to weed through. But you've got a lot less competition as you get more specific.

You may not get as much in the numerical value of the number people searching for that term may not be as high, but the people who are searching that keyword are way more action oriented. And that's why long-tail keywords are so important. Popular more generic search terms make up only about 30 percent of daily searches. The remaining 70 percent is long-tailed, way more specific queries. So people are looking for these specific answers to their problems so long-tail terms typically to be a lot easier to rank higher.

They tend to be way more conceptually relevant to your audience, and they also tend to be more action oriented. And that's really what you want in search. It's great to have people come to your site, but if they don't act then really what's the point. Right? So why is keyword research so important? Well, let's take a look at Google's algorithm in September of 2013. Google made this major change to its search for them and it was called Humming-Bird. Now Humming-Bird was designed and is designed to deliver more contextually appropriate results not just keyword specific.

So in the past, you could have terms that could have to do with a number of different industries. Maybe you have searched using one word that's used in marketing but also sales and maybe in another business realm, and you've kind of had mixed results. Right?

So you know if you would type in Thunderbird there's a car known as a Thunderbird, but there's also a camp Thunderbird. So Google would give you mixed results because they didn't know which Thunderbird you were searching. Well, that's changed, and Hummingbird changes that and helps Google understand the context of a user's query. And it also changed the way we approach keyword research.

Mobile voice played a huge role in pushing this change, and we know now that mobile voice search is increasing its popularity which means context is going to continue to be more and more important. So as search has become more contextual, Google had to respond to that in order to remain the king of search. But as site owners, marketers, salespeople and as small business owners, we also need to understand our users intent. We need to adapt accordingly. We need to make sure that we're not just writing content or going after keywords because they have a lot of traffic.

We need to know what our users want and then deliver that to them and educate them on that. And Google is looking for co-ocurrence of keywords rather than repetition. So what does that mean? Last week we talked about LSI keywords. I have a video on my YouTube channel about LSI keywords, and it's all about finding those latent semantic index words where they're related. So a co-occurance word will be a word that's similar. It's in the realm you know. For example, SEO and search engine optimization and search marketing are co-occurrences of the word SEO.

And so instead of me just repeating SEO, SEO, SEO you've probably seen this a lot with this content that clearly has been keyword stuffed. Google knows that and they don't like that. Users don't like that. When I read something like that I usually leave. So, we need to be more natural in the way that we use our keywords. And this is where code co-occurance comes in and this is again where it's important to understand the long-tail benefits where we may want to rank for a specific broad term. It's more beneficial to us as a whole to go after the long-tail keywords then to add in a bunch of co-ocurrence terms because we can actually end up ranking for a lot of different terms. This can bring a lot of quality, engaging traffic to our side.

So, what are some tools that we can use to do this? Google has a great tool. It's Google's keyword planner and it's free. And all you have to do is sign up for an Adwords account. You don't even have to put in your credit card information. It gives you search trends and volume and ad costs and estimates. It's a really cool tool. It's a very helpful tool. They've made a couple of updates to it that make it a little harder to know exactly what a key word range would be or the exact amount of queries per month. But it's still a very good tool and it can be used to do some great research and we'll take a look at it.

The second one is Google Trends and Google Trends is another great tool. This allows you to see how keywords trend over time and over geography. So, you can compare two or more terms, you could estimate traffic by location. It's a free tool, and once again and it's very helpful especially when you're looking at seasonal searches or when you're looking at location based searches. You can kind of see what's happening in specific areas and you can adapt your content strategy around that.

And the last tool. It's actually free as well and it's Moz Keyword Explorer. Again, you can research terms and you can actually see a snapshot of the SERPs. It gives you an estimate on the minimum and the maximum traffic and it also allows you to put in some relevant metrics to kind of help you understand how relevant that term may be to your business.

Again, Moz is free, but you don't get as much data. I think you get 2 queries per day so if you're a bigger business you might want to look at buying the tool. We use this tool all the time it's a great tool but the free version is really good just to get started. And our keyword research tool template that we've built in Excel is actually going to now be based off of Moz Keyword Explorer because of some of the insights we have there and that way you can just copy and paste the data into this tool. That's going to help break down the metrics for you.

All right so let's take a look at the tools really quick and then we'll walk into our key research template. OK so this is Google Trends and you can find it at trends.google.com/trends. As you can see it's going to pull up some trends that people have been searching right now. You can kind of see what's going on but you can also explore your own topic so let's say I wanted to just explore SEO and what I can see here is the amount of activity SEO has had over, right now, the past two months and I'm looking worldwide. Say I don't want to look worldwide. I want to just look at the United States and I could pull that in here over the past 12 months and see that wow you know Kansas has the most interest right now. Who would have known that right?

But let's say I wanted to see how that compared to search engine optimization and as you can see it has a very similar correlation. Now I'm comparing a search term and a list so let's just go after as a search term as a whole. Now you can see it drops very significantly. So, I can compare either a list - which has terms like so co-occurrences terms that are related to search engine optimization - which SEO would be a part of. But I actually broke it down even further and said I want to know term versus term and SEO has a lot more trend than search engine optimization does in the United States you know over and over again we're seeing that that SEO is a much more positive and popular term.

Let's see if I go to SEO agency and type that as a search term and that's going to reveal that it’s even got less interest. It's more specific because now this is somebody fulfilling somebody's search engine optimization. You can go up here and look at categories. You can see web search, image search, news search, and we can break this down even further if we wanted to. We go to the United States and then we can actually say SEO. I'm in Florida. I can look at what that search is like just in my state specifically. Again, you can go even deeper and start to look at specific areas. In around the Orlando area what does it look like? How does it how does it impact the people around me?

Google Trends is a great tool to get very granular when you're doing keyword research. Now I would usually use this tool after I did my big research study. I would do my high-level research first and then I would come back to Google Trends to see what's trending and what's not trending. Is this term popular in my area? Is it not popular in my area? This is where we start to get really down to the granular level of what people are actually doing on search because this data is pulled straight from the Google search results. And this is real user data and how they're interacting with different queries over time.

OK, so this is the new Google Adwords interface. And as you can see they've made a huge update to it. It's more user friendly, but there's also a lot of buttons and some stuff to click. And when these types of changes happen a lot of people don't know where to find different tools or how to access them. If you've upgraded to Google Adwords Beta and this is what you see and you're wondering where your tools went. they're not far away.

If you go over here to these three dots it's going to expand and you're going to see your keyword planner and now keyword planner is going open up. It's going to look exactly the same.

So again, if we were using Google keyword to do our research we've got a number of different options. We can search for new keywords using a phrase we can get search volume data and trends we can build multiple keyword lists and new lists. So, if you entered or uploaded keywords into search volume data and trends it will actually start to pull historical stat volume search data and group them into Adword groups for you. This is obviously built for Adwords but we can still use it for search because it does give us some insight into what people are looking for.

If we want to create a new list we can go up here and just search for new keyword. So again, I'd say I want to look for SEO again, and I can target Brevard County if I want where I live. Or you can target your local area. We can add filters and let's say we're just doing a broad search. Just getting some ideas. It will start to pull this list right here. So we've had 100,000 to a million monthly searches. It says medium competition but that is just because it's very broad. So, it means that this ranking and this changes quite a bit. To really rank number one for us. It's going to be a lot harder than medium. So, this is where the competition numbers are. A lot of times these are skewed and it's hard for people to really understand how competitive something is like SEO checkers high can competition but low volume SEO services is much more like a monthly search and is more competitive.

So, it says you can also look over here and see the suggested bid price that could give you an indication of actually how competitive that term would be. So, SEO Services you're talking about a 22 really $23 per click that's a very competitive term a very expensive term. So, what do you do with all this data?

Well you actually can go over here and download it all and you can download it into an .csv file which we can pull into Excel and it's got 701 terms will save  the file opened it up.

So, as you can see it's got an ad group. It's got your keywords. It's got the currency. But what they changed, they used to give you over here in the average, give you a medium number, a mean number, where it would be like the average in between. Now it's kind of a range and that makes it a lot harder to run an Excel number query or being able to multiply and divide these numbers because it's more of a string now than it is a numeric value and you could go back and fix this and make them all strings. But, I mean, this is quite a bit of terms to go through.

Over here you've got the competition again. How competitive are these terms and the suggested bid price so you can go through this and you could actually run some of your own tests and see how competitive, how much volume really, how much that term is really worth. I would, if you're going to just use this planner, I would really look at the cost or the suggested bid that's going to give you a lot better idea of how competitive that term really is.

With that change it really rendered the keyword template that we created kind of pointless because it would take a lot more time just to go through and fix all these search terms. So, what we've done is we’ve created a new one using Moz Keyword Explorer.

So, this is this is Moz. And if you look on their main site (I have a pro account but I'm not going to log in because I want to show you that it actually is free) and you go to the free tools that brings up a number of tools, and these are really cool tools. If you're starting new, just getting into a SEO, and you're trying to figure out how to really use search to promote your business Moz really has a lot of great resources.

When I was starting out early it used to be SEO Moz, and I would use their tools all the time to help me out. And today we use them at a much higher level on a paid account. But they've got great free tools. If you're going over here you've got an open site explore, which is going to explore, and it's pretty decent. They are making some updates on it so you can kind of see how many backlinks and how we have and how many backlinks your competitors have.

You can also get your on-page metrics with the Moz Bar if you've got Chrome, which is which is the preferred browser. I'm using Safari on this because I'm logged in on Chrome and don’t feel like logging out of everything. What we have here is a target with keywords. So, if we go a hit this term it's going to say I've got zero of two queries available today. I can make two queries today, and you can go as broad as you want, or you can go as long as you want in this keyword tool. What we're going to do is stay broad and just keep doing what we've done in all the other sites. Just type in and you see very quickly it pulls up a lot of really cool information.

It pulled in monthly search volume. Gave me a range here. It showed how difficult this term is. It's a very difficult opportunity. This is some more factors. So, it's a score between 1 to 100 it estimates the relative organic click-through rates. Even if you're ranking at 48 percent the chance of getting some traffic basically in probably is 1 to 100 again. High priority means it's a really good opportunity to go after. A low opportunity priority means you should probably leave it alone. This is a very competitive term. It would be hard to rank for.

This right here is really neat. This gives you a SERP analysis. SERP stands for search engine ranking position. It shows you who's ranking for this term and what their page authority is, what their main authority is, what the URL and what's actually ranking. You can see for analysis, if we open up this window right here we've got four ads at the top.

We've actually got a knowledge card which is really cool thing that Google's been doing which allows you to actually jump into a first place result and kind of get on top. And then it shows us who's ranking the top 10, and it's got four. And then you've got some actual news stories, so we've got another knowledge card here and then we've got three Adwords at the bottom. This brings us a little bit of data on the people who are ranking for these specific terms.

So, we want to go back and look at the search volume, and we want to look at the keywords associated with this so we'll go over here. And the keyword suggestion, it's going to be right here on the left-hand side. Now, what this did is it pulled keywords and pull relevancy, and it pulled monthly traffic. Now what you can do is go through and say how relevant these terms are to your business. This is where you get to do a little bit of the work and you have to really understand your users.

And you can decide if this is the appropriate term or if it’s not as appropriate.

But if you want to just go ahead and export all these terms you can also do that in Excel. So, if I hit the export button Moz is going to let me take all this data with me at no cost. I'll pop open this report right here. What it has is it gives me my main keyword which was SEO. It gives me that I pull in suggestions. There's a thousand results in here. What I would really recommend that you do is go through and get rid of all the N/A, anything that doesn't have enough search volume. It doesn't have any of this information. It's really going to be a waste of your time to try to use these. So just delete them remove them from your data and once you do that you should have a pretty clean list.

So, we'll just do these first couple of terms here up to 24, and with our keyword research template (which it’s going to be a button to download it attached to this video) all you're going to have to do is pull it open. This is what it looks like and you put your mouse right there, you click into there, and now you paste.

So, what I did want to make sure this is a good thing to do if you actually use these two over here, is going to pull all the cells. We don't do that because we're going to delete a bunch of stuff. So, we just want to pull the data. Make sure that you're just highlighting those boxes, because now when we put this data into here it's going to pull the results for us.

Now what this tool is doing, is a couple of things. It's looking at the relevance. We've just had all these (terms) the same and they're all five. So right then it's looking at the minimum volume and the maximum volume. What this is doing is it's adding these two together and dividing by two to find the medium, the middle range, and then we're multiplying by relevance. And we're also multiplying by length. This will only get multiplied by 1 because it only has one length. But this may not be that relevant.

I can go here and do three. I can make this six. I usually go out of 10. It’s what I would like to do. SEO techniques, that are really relevant to my business. SEO Google, that’s ok, how to do SEO, that's pretty relevant, SEO tutorial that's very relevant. SEO company, we’re an SEO company – 3, 6, as you could see the numbers start to change on the back end.

Now some of these won't because of the zeroes involved but what this map will show you is if it's a green it's a go. Right? Or it's more up for positive for your for your business. And if it's a yellow, it's kind of in the middle range, and if it's red it means you know it's probably not worth spending your time on.

Now it's not perfect, but it's a really good way to help you start to organize your terms because now you can take these terms and go back to Google Trends and begin to look for search trends. So, keyword research isn't about just setting a defined set of terms and only going after those keywords. I think when you have that really narrowed focus on SEO you get very narrow results. If you want it to work, and you want it to work long term, and you want it to be more organic, what you need to do is use these terms as a starting off point. It’s some basic research to say yes, I’m heading in the right area.

You know it may be easy to rank for, Internet search engine optimization, but is it really going to be worth my time if the maximum volume is 10 and the medium volume so if I add those we get the divide by two is actually five visits a month, it doesn't matter how long-tailed it is. That five visits a month probably isn't going to be worth the effort I've got to put in to rank for that specific term. But as SEO, you know, I could actually rank for this locally now based on the way the algorithms work.

If I could get myself in those top positions, just because of local search. Search is going to change depending on device, depending on where you're searching from, what time of day you're searching, and how your search. There's so many factors involved now when we're talking about rank and where your site's going to be positioned. Just saying never go after the term SEO because it's so competitive might not always be the best advice because you may be able to jump in there with a knowledge grab or a map spot.

You never really know until you start digging into it. So, this is the basics of keyword research. This is just getting started.

SEO Keyword Research Template

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Ryan Shelley

By Ryan Shelley

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works has also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing solutions.

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