How to Do Keyword Research and Beat Your Competitors

SEO Marketing
May 7, 2020

Keyword research is a critical part of search engine optimization, but it does not have to be a difficult task. In this article, I will teach you how to do keyword research easily using the right tools.

This strategic research will determine which keywords your potential customers are using to search for information at different stages of the buying journey.

Carefully done keyword research plays an important role in helping you produce better, relevant content and put your site at the top of Google’s organic search results.

Well-optimized content on your site will also improve your quality score in Google Ads, meaning you will save money.

Avoid the most common SEO-pitfalls

The first and most common mistake when doing search engine optimization is to completely ignore the keyword research process and base your SEO on pure assumptions.

It’s also a good idea to check the current status of your site by looking through Google Analytics to see what content is already bringing in organic traffic and looking at which keywords are used to find them from your Google Search Console data.

Insufficient background work almost always leads to the following problems:

  • The action taken is based on an assumption and not on real data.
  • Focusing on keywords that are too general and competitive, making the likelihood of success almost non-existent.
  • Focusing solely on technical optimization.

Here are a few essential points to consider before you begin your keyword research.

Fix obvious technical errors

Of course, it is always a good idea to audit your page for critical errors. Things like bad markup, broken links, and poor page loading speed should be corrected immediately.

You can easily perform a technical audit using, for example, SEMrush’s Site Audit tool .


Focus on the search intent of each keyword

There is a reason behind each search. When looking at different search terms, consider what the person wants to find out and whether it is relevant to the buying journey of your product or service.

For example, a sushi buffet is a much more relevant search for a sushi restaurant than a sushi recipe.

Short- and longtail keywords

So what does a longtail search terms mean? A company that offers facade renovations would naturally like to hit the first page for keywords like facade renovations and there is nothing wrong with that, it can still be a longer-term goal.

However, it is much easier to get faster results by focusing on the more specific keywords that answer a question of a potential buyer planning a renovation or comparing suppliers. While they might have lower search traffic, these low competition keywords are easier to rank.

What is the best tool for keyword research?

There are several free and paid tools available to examine search-related data and find new keyword ideas.

Google’s own tools

The Google Trends tool can be used to study the number of searches over a longer period of time to see if it’s worth investing in that particular keyword in the long term.

Google Keyword Planner helps you find new relevant search terms. The tool can be found within the Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) platform and requires an active advertising account.

It is primarily designed to find keywords for paid ads and is not ideal for broader keyword research.

Keyword research tools

Other tools designed for keyword research are almost always paid, although some offer limited free use.

My personal favorite is SEMRush, which, in addition to keyword research, provides all the tools you need to track and implement paid ads as well as improving your organic visibility. All the examples presented in this article have been implemented using it.

SEMRush offers a free 7-day trial, so I recommend you try my tips with it. The same principles apply to other tools, although the data they use may differ slightly in terms of search term availability and keyword search volumes.

Links mentioned in the video

HubSpot Make My Persona tool
HubSpot Topic Clusters

Easy steps to do keyword research

SEMRUsh Keyword Magic tool is the best for keyword research

Start by opening the Keyword Magic tool and entering a broad keyword based on which you want ideas. If your content is in a local language, be sure to change the country whose data you want to analyze.

Analyze your ideas and choose the best ones

Easily see your keywords search volume and competition

The tool lists so-called long tail keywords derived from a broad term. The columns in the table provide useful data for analyzing them. Let’s go through the ones that matter most.

Number of searches per month

The Volume column lists the keyword search volumes, that is, the average number of searches per month that people have done for that term over the last 12 months.

Keyword difficulty

KD % (Keyword Difficulty) tells you how difficult it is with that search term to get to the top on a scale of 0-100. Even difficult terms should not be ignored, but by focusing on the easier ones first, you will see results faster.

The commercial potential of the keyword

CPC (USD) and Comp. (Competition) the columns provide good information on how commercially competitive that term is. CPC shows how much advertisers are willing to pay for a click on that term and comp. the density of competing advertisers on a scale of 0-1. You should invest in highly advertised keywords, as it means other businesses are willing to pay big money to get attention on those search terms.

Focus on keywords that are in question-form.

Focus on questions

You can also use the tool to view question-type keywords. This is really useful information to help you produce content that answers the questions that your target audience has in their mind.

Questions can even give you ideas for developing your product or service.

Use filters to find the right keywords

Use the filters

Another way to narrow your search results is to use more advanced filters that open behind the “Advanced Filters” button. For example, you can limit your results to keywords that exceed a certain search volume, or only those where the competition is below a certain score.

Gather ideas in Keyword Manager

Save your keywords in to list for later use

The best ideas can be saved as a list in the Keyword Manager tool, where you can return to them at a later stage. To save, click the small plus sign next to the keyword and select which list you want to save. Keywords already stored in the list are identified by a green symbol.

Keyword Manager tool in SEMRush menu

You can access the Keyword Manager tool from the left menu. When you open the list you’ve saved, it’s a good idea to update all of your keywords first so that your decisions are based on the latest data.

You’ll want to dive deeper into the different search terms by actually searching them in Google and reading through the results on the first page. You want to know who you’re competing against and what kind of content they’ve produced.

What next?

The next step is to decide which keywords you are going to focus on. You can either optimize existing content already on your site for these keywords, or you can create content that answers a question type keyword for example.

However, I will tell you more about this in another blog post.

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Ville Teikko

Ville Teikko is an award-winning creative & digital marketing specialist with over 20 years of experience in the digital design and advertising industry. Currently working as a Head of Digital at Harva Marketing.

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