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SEO Keyword Research: Long-tail Opportunities, Research, Strategy

SEO Keyword Research: Long-tail Opportunities, Research, Strategy

SEO Keyword Research is a crucial part of any successful content marketing campaign. Content creators need to know which keywords are the most popular in your industry, the least competitive, and the most valuable so that you can target them effectively. Get more traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.

In this article, I’ll show you how to perform keyword research, how to discover top keywords your competitors are benefitting from, and how to do keyword research. I’ll also share some helpful tips on using tools to achieve maximum results.

What is SEO Keyword Research?

Keywords are the best way for a business owner or blog to drive targeted traffic to a website. They are also one of the most effective ways to increase conversions and sales. If you want to rank higher for specific terms in search engine result pages, then it’s essential to understand what those terms mean.

The process of keyword discovery involves finding out what people are searching for online when they type certain words into a search bar. It would help if you found out what your audience wants before creating content.

If you create content around topics that aren’t relevant to your audience, then no matter how good the content is, it won’t be useful or interesting to anyone. That means it won’t attract visitors to your site and won’t convert well.

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Search engine optimized Keyword Research involves identifying keywords that people use to look up information about your niche. Once you understand what people are looking for, you can write content that answers their questions and solves their problems.

How to Perform Keyword Research

You might think that keyword research is just about typing many keywords into a tool and seeing what comes up. But there’s more to it than that. There’s a lot of work involved. And you don’t necessarily need to do all of it yourself.

First, conducting keyword research requires choosing a tool. There are many different tools available, but I’ve found two main types of tools that work best.

1. Tools that give you a list of all the keywords people are entering into search engines. These are called “keyword tools” because they allow you to find keywords based on a word or phrase entered into a search bar.

2. Tools that let you enter a single keyword and generate a report showing you the volume of searches per month, as well as the competition level.

Once you choose a tool, you’ll need to decide whether you’re conducting a manual analysis or if you’d rather automate the process. For example, manual keyword research requires you to input every keyword into the tool manually.

Depending on how much data you’re collecting, this can take hours if not days. On the other hand, automated keyword research lets you run reports with multiple keywords at once.

Once you’ve chosen a keyword research tool, you’ll need a list of keywords that you want to include. For example, if you sell pet supplies, you may want to focus on keywords such as “pet food,” “puppy food,” and “dog treats.

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Keyword Research Process Step by Step

  1. Keyword Strategy: Make a list of a few exact match top keywords you think your target customer would use.
  2. Choose a Keyword research tool (like SEMrush) and type the popular keyword (seed) into the search bar
  3. Use a filter to sort the KD score by lowest to highest (starting with zero)
  4. Find the longtail phrases that your website visitors would use
  5. Create content for these longtail searches as part of your keyword strategy
  6. Use your target keyword in your SEO title, URL, first paragraph, first H2, Image alt attributes, and closing paragraph.
  7. Build in topic clusters to establish authority
  8. Create one pillar post in each topic category
  9. Use anchor text and internal links between relevant content and pillar posts.
  10. Only optimize one page for a keyword.

Determining Traffic Potential of a Keyword

“90.63% of pages get no traffic from Google” (ahrefs.com)

Next, it’s time to determine how much traffic a particular keyword will bring to your site. Some basic math skills come in handy.

While studies provide varying data on how many clicks each position earns, they are all relatively close.

This study by Ignite Visibility brought the following clicks based on the position on page one of Google:

Therefore, if a keyword is estimated to bring in 1000 visits per month and earn 29.9% of that traffic from position number 3, you would generate 299 clicks from ranking on Google for that keyword.

That being said, it is hardly a perfect mathematical formula due to inaccurate estimates of keyword tools and all of the keywords around that phrase that page tends to rank for as well.

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I often rank for hundreds of related keywords on my top pages, targeting a single phrase.

Longtail Keyword Research

Longtail keywords are the hidden gems of the internet.

They have less traffic than broader topic keywords (also called seed keywords or head terms), but they get exactly what they’re looking for when someone does type in those keywords.

We call keywords from this list a “longtail keyword” because they tend to be longer than average.

Longtail keywords typically consist of three to five words (or more), making them ideal for long-form content like blog posts, eBooks, and product descriptions.

There are more longtail keywords used in search than broad terms. For example, using my favorite keyword research tool, SEMrush, I researched “Dog”. The vast majority of users won’t use a broad term when performing a Google search.

‘Dog’ would be considered a seed keyword or head term.

The term has nearly 2 million searches each month in the United States and almost 6 million globally. That being said, the search intent of what a user wants using that term would be unclear.

Do they want to buy, feed, or train a dog?

There are 8.2 million longtail keywords variations of the seed keyword “dog.”

Some examples of these are:

On the contrary, less than 100,000 keyword variations for the seed keyword ‘dog’ have less than 3 words.

Most searches performed on Google are longtail keyword phrases.

Therefore, when creating a list of keywords to use throughout the content on your website, the longtail keywords should be your priority.

Keyword Search Volume

One way to determine which keywords will perform better is by analyzing their search volumes. It’s vital to determine how often users are searching for those keywords when conducting a google search.

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Enter one or more keywords into its search bar using a keyword research tool. You’ll then see a list of keywords ranked from most searched to least searched. The higher the number, the more frequently people are typing it into search engines.

While pursuing the keywords that have the most potential for generating a lot of traffic, if you don’t rank on Google for those keywords, you won’t earn any traffic due to the high level of competition.

Search engine optimization starts with choosing the right keywords.

Instead, it’s best to create content around the most relevant keywords to your website with less search volume and less competition.

As your domain authority grows (gaining backlinks, trust with Google, visibility, brand awareness), you’ll be able to focus on the higher volume keywords.

Keyword Competition

“If your site is new, then you probably don’t want to sift through pages of keywords with 100k+ monthly searches because they’re likely to be competitive.” (ahrefs.com)

Instead, start by focusing on keywords with fewer organic competitors. The lower the number of sites competing for a relevant keyword on Google search results pages, the easier it will be to rank for that keyword.

When using SEO tools to measure the competition of a keyword, you’ll want to look for organic competition, not paid competition. Conveniently, many tools show how hard it would be to rank organically (unpaid) on Google and how much competition there is for sponsored ads (pay per click).

I use SEMrush for keyword research, but I have a list of keyword research tools here. SEMrush uses the term Keyword Difficulty and assigns a KD score to each keyword.

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When creating content for a new website, the list of keywords should be sorted by lowest competition (KD score) first, and then create content around more competitive keywords as the domain name gains authority.

For example, staying within our research for Dogs, we can sort our list of longtail keywords (with three or more words in the phrase) by the lowest KD score first. SEMRush has a KD score range of 0-100, with 100 being the hardest.

Some of the 0-1000 search volume keywords won’t be relative to the content you are creating. Yet looking through these, you can find massive opportunities for untapped keywords.

As a rule of thumb, new websites should focus on content with a 40% KD score or lower to improve their chances of earning search engine traffic.

A smart SEO strategy is starting with the lowest competition for a keyword and working your way up.

Keyword Research by Intent

SEMrush is a keyword research tool that offers another filter for Keywords. It lists the user intent for each keyword, including:

  • Informational: The user is looking for an answer to a question
  • Transactional: The user wants to complete an action
  • Commercial: The user is looking for brands or services. These are potential customers.
  • Navigational: The user is looking for a specific page or website

Here is an example of a blog I’m building. SEMrush takes all of the keywords I rank for on Google and summarizes user-intent for my keywords.

When focusing on the longtail keywords, informational content will generally be the most created type. It’s important, however, to build in commercial intent keywords as you go to earn more money in ad revenue, affiliate income, or sales of your products.

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You can also search any keyword phrase by user-intent keywords with SEMrush, or other keyword tools on this list.

Competitive Keyword Research

Using keyword tools like SEMrush, one can learn a lot by evaluating the results of their competitors.

Copy and paste any URL (website address) in the search bar, and instantly see all of the keywords they rank for organically. Sort these keywords by highest traffic first, and you’ll see which keywords generate the most traffic from organic search.

Next, use filters to sort by keyword intent, volume, and difficulty.

When a website is new, and the content strategy is just beginning, and the domain authority is low, it’s best to sort these keywords with a maximum KD of 40.

In SEMrush, you can click the + sign next to a keyword to add it to a list. I always keep a running list of keywords for which I want to create content, starting with low keyword difficulty.

Finding Profitable Keywords

The most profitable keywords are generally those with commercial intent. For example, if you are building a niche website focusing on monetization through Google Ads or affiliate marketing, then looking at keywords with the highest CPC value (cost per click) can indicate a profitable keyword.

Another step some creators choose to implement in keyword research is using Google Trends to determine the demand for a particular keyword. This step is where you enter a keyword into Google Trends and see how many searches occur per month.

If there is not much interest in a particular keyword, it may be time to move on. However, if there is high demand, people are searching for information related to that topic. This result is an excellent indicator that you have an opportunity to rank for that keyword.

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Google Ads

When buying Google Ads, keyword research is also essential. You need to know what your target audience is looking for to bid on those terms.

If you’re targeting local businesses, you might want to consider bidding on phrases such as “restaurant” or “barbershop.” For eCommerce stores, you might want to bid on “best selling items,” “top sellers,” or “fastest shipping.”

It’s important to note that you don’t bid on every word within a phrase when bidding on ads. Instead, you should only bid on the exact term and exclude other words that aren’t relevant.

For example, if you were creating a product review site, you would bid on “product reviews” but not “reviews” or “products.”

Now that we’ve covered some basic keyword research let’s look at finding profitable keywords.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool for use by those advertising with Google Ads. To access the Keyword Planner, visit google.com/keywordtool. From here, you can either select a specific industry or location or choose the broad match option.

After entering your keywords, you’ll get a report showing monthly search volumes, CPC, and competition to gather keyword ideas. Once you’ve found a few potential keywords, you can add them to your keyword list and start testing them out.

The lower competition scores will offer you the highest opportunity for more clicks with less spending with organic rankings.

Google Analytics

You can use Google Analytics to track which keywords bring traffic from organic sources versus paid advertising. These reports display traffic sources that include social media, as well. With this free tool, you can also see what phrases people are searching for on your website specifically.

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There are two types of keywords: those that bring visitors directly to your site and those that lead to another page.

The latter type is called “referral traffic.” It’s helpful to keep an eye on both because they provide valuable insight into your content strategy.

Google Search Console

With this free tool, you can see which search terms bring you the most traffic and sort by click-through rate. From here, you can make a list of keyword ideas for content that could be closely related.

References:

  • Moz Long-Tail Keywords: https://ahrefs.com/blog/long-tail-keywords/
  • Google Keyword Planner: https://ads.google.com/
  • Google Trends: Google Trends

Glossary:

Relevant Keyword: A keyword with a high search volume and low competition.

Long-Tail Keyword: A keyword with low search volume but high conversion rates.

Keyword Difficulty Score: How difficult would it be to rank for a given keyword?

Search Intent Filter: What does the searcher expect when they type in a keyword?

User Search Intent: What is the purpose of a visitor

Keyword Suggestions: A list of related keywords

Monthly Search Volume: How often do people search for a given keyword?

Google Ads: An auction of ad space based on keywords

Organic Traffic: Organic traffic refers to visitors who

arrive at your site without clicking an advertisement.

PPC Traffic: PPC stands for pay-per-click advertising. When someone clicks on an ad, you pay each time they land on your page.

Search Engine Optimization: The process of improving the visibility of a web page in search engines like Google and Bing.

Search Engine Results Page: The first page of results returned by a search engine.

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Search Terms: Words typed into a search box.

Shorttail Keywords: Shorttail keywords tend to have higher search volumes and higher competition than longtail keywords.

Targeting: Choosing which pages to show ads on.

Traffic Sources: Where your visitors come from.

Competition Score: How competitive a keyword is.

Competitive Analysis: Analyzing the competition for a keyword.

Search Trends: Changes in search trends over time.

Search Queries: Searches performed by users.

Content Topic: The topic of your blog, webpage, or article

Conversions: Conversions refer to actions taken after a user lands on a page.

Exact Match Keywords: Keywords that exactly match what a user types into the search engine with no variations.

FAQ

What is the best source of keyword ideas?

The best way to find good keywords is through research. First, you’ll need to know your audience and their interests so that you can create content around topics that matter to them. Then, once you’ve done some keyword research, you can start building out your content strategy.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is how a person wants to use a search engine. For example, if I’m looking for information about a specific product, my search intent might be “how to buy .” On the other hand, if I want to learn more about a particular company, my search intent might look something like, “what makes it different?”

How do I determine the difficulty of a keyword?

The easiest way to find the difficulty of a keyword is with a keyword tool like SEMrush.

How do I find keywords with low search volume?

You can use tools like SEMrush to generate lists of keywords with low ASVs.

How do I target high-volume keywords?

You can either bid on those keywords yourself or use paid advertising platforms like AdWords.

How do I identify keywords with high monthly search volume?

Use tools like SEMRush to see which keywords are most popular based on searches per month

What is a target keyword?

A target keyword is one that you want to rank for.

What is a non-targeted keyword?

Non-targeted keywords are ones you want to rank well for but aren’t optimizing the page as primary. They’re often used as part of a broader campaign.

What is a broad keyword?

Broad keywords are typically longer phrases that include multiple words.

What is a Keyword Research Process?

Keyword research involves collecting data about a market segment. The research includes analyzing competitors, identifying opportunities for new products/services, and finding relevant keywords.

What is an SEO Content Strategy?

An SEO content strategy is a set of guidelines that will help you produce quality content for your website. These guidelines should include creating unique titles, meta descriptions, images, etc.

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