How to find the best keywords
You can see keyword research for your SEO strategy as a foundation to your house and making the wrong decisions now, can cost you a lot later on. Worst case scenario? You would have to rip the house down and build it all over again. Our tip: don’t make assumptions concerning your profitable keywords and make sure you conduct proper keyword research. Let us show you how to choose the right keywords and use a range of tools to set up a winning SEO strategy for your (new) website.
Keywords as the basis of search engine optimization
Choosing your keywords is the starting point of the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website. Being able to choose the right keywords requires some effort however. You can determine the best keywords by performing solid keyword research. This research can best be performed on the basis of three important components: search volume, competition and conversion rate. These three form a result oriented keyword trio. Besides, you aren’t looking for an individual, best keyword, but for a perfect combination of keywords, a keyword group. Because, someone who uses Google as a search engine, is more likely to use a keyword group than just one specific keyword.
Finding the best keywords: the keyword research
To be able to determine the right keyword group, you do well to follow the three cornerstones: search volume, competition and conversion rate. You start with determining the search volume of the potential keyword group: how many people do actually use a certain keyword group in Google? The higher the search volume, the more visitors you should be able to lead to your website. Mind you, a high search volume doesn’t always equal high visitor amounts.
That’s where competition comes into play. For every high search volume keyword you find, at least ten competitors probably have designed a page already. In an ideal situation, you encounter a keyword group with a high search volume and low competition. To realize this, you have to look further than the regular keywords. For example, you can make use of less obvious options, such as ‘budget holiday France’ instead of ‘cheap holiday France’.
Did you manage to find a keyword group with a high search volume and low competition? Then you still need to determine its conversion rate. In other words: how many percent of your visitors does proceed to take action (purchase, registration, application)?
Choosing keywords with common sense
Before starting your keyword research, you should have a brainstorm session. Bend those brains! Grab a piece of paper, keep in mind your website’s topic and write down every keyword that comes to mind. Try to identify with your target group and your service or product: what kind of questions does your target group have? How would you look for your product or service yourself? A good start is half the battle: odds are you will find a number of fruitful keywords here already.
After composing a list of potential keywords, you can start with analyzing those keywords. You can do this with the help of different online tools. A widely used tool to analyze keywords with is Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Simply enter a number of keywords into the Keyword Planner and Google will immediately suggest a selection of related keywords and give a (rough) estimate of their search volume.
There are some disadvantages associated with the free Keyword Planner however. You competitors too have access to the tool that gives the same suggestions over and over again. So, that keyword you ought to be a winner is also presented to your competitor. Also, the Keyword Planner just gives a global indication of the amount of searches a certain keyword gets, so you’ll never know exactly how many searches a keyword gets. But how to design a proper keyword research then?
Baseline measurement with Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Do you have your website up and running already? Then you can discover the keywords that users are currently using to find your website. Revealing these keywords can give you a head start. Log in at Google Analytics and go to Acquisition -> Campaigns -> Organic keywords. You can find the most used search terms that your visitors have used to reach your website. Write them down!
For a deeper insight into your current keywords, you can use Google Search Console to discover keywords that Google Analytics might not have revealed yet. Login at Google Search Console and go to Search Traffic -> Search Analytics and check Clicks and Queries. This will show what search terms your visitors have typed into Google search.
Determining search volume (step 1).
Doing research into the most profitable keywords starts with determining the search volume of your keywords. How often do people use this keyword group? You can make use of Google Trends: an online tool where you can compare the search volume of different keywords. Mind you, again, Google Trends only gives a global indication of the search volumes.
A low search volume doesn’t always mean a keyword is useless, just like a keyword with a high search volume isn’t automatically a guarantee for success. If a certain keyword has a relatively low search volume but has low competition too, then you could consider to design a web page specifically for that niche. When your keyword has a high search volume, combined with a high amount of competition, chances are little you’ll rank high.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner versus SECockpit
Don’t focus on popular or widely used keywords alone, but rather go for less obvious terms. It’s a common mistake to try and rank for highly searched keywords. You can use a keyword research tool like SECockpit, to find out which keywords score high on search volume and low on competition in an accurate way.
Whereas AdWords Planner only gives a few related suggestions coming from Google’s own search results, SECockpit also gives suggestions of big search engines like YouTube and Amazon. Besides, SECockpit allows you to either make a distinction between synonyms of keywords or merely take into account closely related terms for your keyword investigation. You can also set a minimum number of searches per month. One by one, these are features that make your keyword research a lot easier.
Determining competition (step 2).
The most accurate way to measure the amount of competition on your keywords, is to simply enter them in Google. Although Google usually shows hundreds of thousands of results, not all of them are competitors to your page. How to determine your competitors then, you might wonder? Try to find out the number of pages that have included your keywords group in their title tag. You can do this by typing the refined search ‘allintitle: + ‘your keywords group’ in Google. For example: allintitle: budget holiday France. Add up these pages that use the same keyword group in the title tag to get a global impression of the competition.
It’s not a secret that the major part of Google users only clicks one of the 3 first search results, so of course you want your page to be one of them. How you can achieve this? Again, by checking out your competition: is there a weak page in the top 3? One that shouldn’t actually be there and only ranks high because of the lack of serious competition? Then there’s a chance for you! A page that should be easy to knock out of the top 3, might not use keywords in the title tag, not have a catchy meta description or perhaps lacks domain authority. If you notice one of the top results in Google doesn’t optimally make use of these SEO possibilities, you make sure your page does and aim to go straight past!
Again, you can also make use of the keyword tool SECockpit. After entering your keyword group, SECockpit provides an extensive analysis of the top 10 results, based on Google’s search results. On the base of a few standards (authority, meta data, backlinks), this analysis shows the potential your keyword group has to transcend its competitors. On the basis of these results, you can decide whether it’s feasible to try and push a page and set up a SEO strategy for this keyword group.
Another useful tool is SEMrush, which is an application that provides insight into which organic and paid keywords your competition is ranking for. Whereas Keyword Planner merely suggests keywords based on what you enter yourself, SEMrush goes beyond that and shows you the keywords that your competitors are ranking for.
Conversion rate (step 3).
The conversion rate is the aspect ratio of the number of converted visitors and total number of visitors. After all, not all your visitors will do what you want them to do: convert. A converted visitor is someone who has performed a desired action (purchase, subscription). Have you found a keyword group that has a relatively high search volume together with weak competition? Then chances are you can lead lots of visitors to your website in a short time. But how do you know whether these visitors will actually convert?
You can discover this with SECockpit: the tool indicates the cost per click (CPC) per keyword. If you’re using SECockpit, you can best choose for keywords with a high CPC. It’s the price competition pays for one click on an advertisement concerning that keyword. The higher the CPC, the more the keyword will yield. The AdWords Planner functions in a similar way, by showing a suggested bid per keyword. This however is a global amount, and not as accurate as the results from SECockpit.
Are your conversions not financially oriented and doesn’t anything have to be purchased? Then you don’t look at the CPC, but you use your common sense and gut feeling to determine the conversion rate. Don’t forget your target group exists out of regular people like yourself. Which keyword groups would you use yourself? What kind of links would you click? Also, long tail keyword groups tend to work better than short tail keywords. The more specific a search query is, the higher the purchase intent. Don’t try to face up to the big players, rather focus on a niche market with less competition. SECockpit can be of help, by showing a niche value per keyword. On the basis of this information you can decide which niche to focus on.
Personalizing keyword research: local entrepreneur versus multinational
Just like every entrepreneur is different, also every keyword research differs from one another. Therefore, make sure not to compare apples and oranges: a local entrepreneur sets up a keyword research from a complete other perspective than a large company acting worldwide would. A local bakery can suffice with a keyword that has only dozens of searches from the same village as compared to a multinational that hopes to attract thousands of visitors with its keywords.
Your own keyword research
If you take our advice and tips into consideration, keyword research shouldn’t be too hard for you. Improper keyword research occurs only when you make too many assumptions and you forget to base your strategy on data. As said earlier, tools like Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, SECockpit and/or SEMrush can offer lots of valuable data. Use this to your benefit and uncover the profitable keywords that will form your very own foundation.
Our final advice: try different options! Create multiple landing pages for multiple keywords, for both short tail and long tail. Long tail might not attract that many visitors, but you can profit from the lack of competition and probably a higher conversion rate. Then, if you also succeed in ranking high for a frequently used search query, you have definitely succeeded in your keyword research.
Want to get to know more about the keyword research tools out there?
Then go to the keyword research overview page where you can find all the keyword research tools we have tested and reviewed.
Here, you can find reviews of the complete SEO solution SEOProfiler and SEMRUSH.