If you know anything about SEO, you know that the keyword is where it all begins.
Without keywords, there can be no SEO.
I mentioned it briefly in the Sharp Guy Guide to SEO, but I don’t think I emphasized the actual importance of keywords.
Everybody knows that “Content is King”
I concur with that, but I believe:
“Content is King, but Keyword research is his trusted adviser.”
You can just go ahead and create content, and you may build some traction, but without keywords, you’re just shooting at a target blindfolded.
And you know what they say about targets:
“You can’t hit a target you can’t see.”
A better strategy is to first figure out what people want to know about, then create great content about that, and optimize it for search engines.
That first step is what keyword research is about.
The Guide to Painless Keyword Research
Now, don’t be misled.
Keyword research is not easy.
To be honest, it’s a bit difficult when you’re just starting out.
But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it has to be a painful, arduous process.
That’s why I wrote this Sharp Guy Guide- to show you a short and sweet way to do keyword research sans pain.
First off, the Sharp Guy definition for keyword research is this – finding the words your target audience are using to search for your topic in search engines.
So how do you do this?
There are many beautiful, wonderful, “senrenre”-involving ways to do keyword research, but as a Sharp Guy, you don’t have time for “senrenre” plus some of these ways involving spending money you might not have.
So what do Sharp Guys do?
They use the free Google Keyword Planner. I’m going to show you how to use that in a bit.
But first, let me show you one simple method I use to find topics my audience would be interested in.
The Buyer Persona
This is where it all begins for me.
I mean, it’s all well and good to do keyword research, for obvious reasons, like search engine ranking, traffic, etcetera shmetcetera.
But as part of something I’m going to call “value marketing”, I just ask myself “What would my target audience need to know about?”
How can I give value to them?
And then, I write about that. To do this, you need to first figure out who your target audience is.
You need to know their gender, ages, hobbies and interests, desires and struggles. Also you should have an idea of how much they earn (this helps when you want to sell them a product or service).
Armed with this information, you can create a few buyer personas that would help you understand what kind of content to create that will get read by your target audience.
Okay, enough about this… let’s get back to Keyword Research.
Using Google Keyword Planner Tool for Keyword Research
As a Sharp Guy, most times your preferred price for any tool is usually free. And it doesn’t get any “Freer” than Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
Now, let’s get you set up with Google Keyword Planner.
The first thing you need to do is set up an Adwords’ account.
Go to www.adwords.google.com to begin. Usually, it would require that you log in to your Google account, and if you don’t have one, you’d need to set one up.
Next, Adwords would ask you a few questions about your business, your first campaign and ask you to make payment to run the campaign.
Calm down for Jesus.
You don’t have to make any payments before you set up your Adwords account. Just follow them up, and fill in whatever you like.
You’ll need to fully set up your Adwords account before you can use the Keyword Planner, but you don’t have to actually run a campaign.
When you’re set up, go back to www.adwords.google.com and log in. You should see this window next:
Click the tab titled “Tools” and select the Keyword Planner. You should see a page that looks like this:
Look at the “Find new keywords and get search volume data” section. That is the part of this whole page that “concines” you.
Underneath it, there are three different options:
- Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category
- Get search volume and data trends
- Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords
All 3 options essentially do the same thing- give you new keyword ideas. They just have different processes.
The 1st option allows you to input a keyword phrase, your site or a category to find new keywords. The 2nd option requires you put a list of keywords in order to get new keywords and the 3rd requires you provide at least 2 lists of different keywords which it then uses to generate new keywords.
They’re all very helpful, but as a sharp guy, no time for too much “senrenre”. Just click the first option and you can start.
You should see this next:
That first field- Your product or service
This is where you enter in your idea for the blog post. Let’s say you blog in the tech niche and talk mainly about mobile phones.
This is where you type that in.
The next field- landing page
This comes into play if you’re actually going to run an Adwords campaign so skip right over it.
And then the one about Categories. Use this if you want to look for general keywords in a niche. Right now just leave it blank.
In the lower left side, you’ll find the “Targeting” section.
I think it’s set by default to target English speakers in all locations who use Google to search. You can adjust that to target Google and other search partners, but most people usually use Google to search so you can leave that as it is.
Negative keywords basically mean keywords you don’t want to rank for. Not really a feature you should pay attention to, unless you’re running an Ad campaign using Adwords so leave that alone.
On the lower right, there’s a section titled “Customize your search”.
The most important feature there is the Keyword Filter.
This section allows you to select the option to only show keywords above a certain number of average monthly searches, pick a bid or select how competitive the keywords that come up would be. You can always edit this later so for now, let’s leave it as it is.
Click on “Get ideas” and you should see this next window.
If you look at the left side bar, you’ll see those “Targeting” and “Customize your search” sections again. This allows you to customize your search after you’ve seen some of the results, just in case you feel like changing a few things to help you get better ideas
By default, the “Keyword ideas” tab is selected and it would show you a few keyword ideas, their average monthly searches, competition and suggested bid.
Before we continue, let’s talk a bit about different types of keywords…
Types of Keywords
#1. Head Keywords: These are usually 1 word e.g. phones, flowers, money, business.
The problem with head keywords is that there’s a lot of competition on those keywords and the traffic they drive is not targeted.
For example, someone looking for phones might actually want to find out about android phones or iPhones. Most people are looking for specific terms, not the general category.
#2. Body Keywords: These consist of 1-3 words e.g. mobile phone accessories
They’re much better than the head keywords, as they’re a bit more specific but still don’t command as much search volume as the…
#3. Long tail keywords: Usually about 5-7 words long e.g. crack a Samsung mobile phone
These are more specific, and attract way more traffic than the other types of keywords. And the beauty of long tail keywords is that as they attract traffic to your page, they’ll also help you rank for the body and head keywords as well.
Now that that’s done. Let’s go back to Google Keyword Planner yarns…
Click the Ad group ideas tab.
Here you’ll see different groups of keywords and if you look under each group, you’ll find a few beautiful keyword ideas that you won’t have found if you only focused on the keyword ideas section. You can then take any of these and find out the search volume and determine if it’s a keyword that would serve your purposes.
Ideally, the keyword you’re looking for should have a high average monthly search volume, and low competition, but we’ll talk about this in a bit.
If you look at each keyword, you’d see:
- Average monthly search volume- This gives you a range of monthly searches using that keyword
- Competition- This tells you how competitive it’s going to be to rank for the keyword
- Suggested bid- The higher this is, the more lucrative the keyword is.
What do you do with this information?
Well, the suggested bid usually tells you how much people are willing to pay for a keyword, meaning the higher it is, the more it means that customers who search for that keyword are willing to spend money. In that case, that’s a keyword you probably want to rank for (unless you no like money).
I mentioned that the keyword you want should have a high average monthly search volume and low competition. Now, the average monthly search volume is a range so it may vary, but the range should give you a good idea. Anything from 10K upwards is good in any book though.
When it comes to competition, here’s the thing.
Sometimes you’re lucky, and you come across a great keyword with high monthly searches and low competition, but most times, the really good keywords are highly competitive, because that’s where the money (and customers) are.
So what do you do then?
Well, you put on your black tuxedo, get some spy glasses and do some recon on your competition.
Take the keyword of your choice, and go to Google’s search field. Input that keyword, and search.
You’d see some sponsored posts before the organic rankings.
If the sponsored posts for that keyword are too many, you might want to stay away from that keyword. If there are only about 2 or 3, then continue down the page.
Look at the first couple of organic search results.
Do those results match the keywords exactly? Are they big brands and big names or are there more .blogspot.com and other non-big-name sites? If there are more of the latter, this might be a keyword worth pursuing. You’d just have to knock the high ranking sites off the top.
Next, check out their content.
Is it informative or just a small 500 word sneeze about the topic? Do they link out to authoritative sites or not?
Take note of their backlinks. If they have a lot of backlinks from authoritative sites, then you should probably leave them alone. If on the other hand, they’re one of these blackHat SEO people, mehnnn feel free to get in on that keyword and knock them off.
To knock them off though, you will need to create better content than they have, go hard on your SEO, acquire more quality backlinks and social shares. See this post by SEO King, Brian Dean, on how to do this.
Another great thing to do is to scroll to the bottom of the search results page and take a look at the Related terms Google offers you. You can’t always get what you want, but you will find a few great keywords there as well.
And when you find one, you run it through Google’s Keyword Planner and repeat the process till you find a great keyword.
Keep in mind though- there are no perfect keywords. All you need for a keyword is one with high search volume, and either low competition, or competition that you can knock off.
This has been a long rant. If you still wanna yarn more, hit me up in the comments section.
Keeping it 500,
Author: Tomi Joshua
Tomi is a case.
A bit brash, at first blush. But ultimately, he means well. There are very few things he won’t say or do in the presence of tolerant company (especially when it could make for a good story later).
Tomi is a Doctor, writer, certified inbound marketer (Shout Out to HubSpot), Digital Hustler, and online business addict.
He is most likely to be found dancing to the beat of his own drum, even in accapella.