SEO Keyword Research Blueprint: 2020 Edition
SEO Keyword Research Blueprint: 2020 Edition

Published by:

Charles Travers

Published by:

Charles Travers

Last Updated

January 2, 2020
Reading Time:

23 mins

Table of Contents

Published by:

Charles Travers

Last Updated

January 2, 2020
Reading Time:

23 min

Reading Time: 23 minutes

Before You Begin

Buckle up! 

We’re about to deep dive into the realms of SEO keyword research.

This blueprint is our most comprehensive guide on Keyword Research and provides everything you need to know about selecting the right keywords to optimise your webpages. 

Whether you’re just starting out with SEO or a little further along your learning journey, this guide is all you’ll need to master the art of Keyword Research.

Ok, you ready? 

Let’s get started!

Conducting keyword research is still one of the most important aspects of SEO. 

In fact, not doing your due diligence when it comes to keyword research can be the difference between ranking on the first page of Google, and disappearing to page 20 and beyond!

This guide covers each step of truly comprehensive keyword research, and it’s a great idea to open up an Excel or Google Sheets document before you begin. 

Now is the best time to become acquainted with how you should organise all the valuable data you’re about to collect.

The best way to go about this is to create a “master keyword list” containing several tabs. Each tab is then dedicated to a particular type of keyword or a particular topic.

Master SEO keyword list

Getting into the habit of collating your keyword research properly at the start will save you a lot of tidying up later on.

What Are Keywords?

Before we start, we should take a moment to look at the dictionary definition of a keyword as it relates to online marketing and SEO:

A word or phrase used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document.

  • Google is the information retrieval system.
  • The document is your website.

How this works in real life is the words you enter into Google are the “keywords” used to retrieve information from the website listed in Google’s database.

Most people search with keywords that contain two or more words

For example, the average person would never use the keyword “vacation”, to choose their holiday destination.

Instead, they might use keywords like “cheap sun holidays” or “two week holiday in Greece”, for example.

One of the many challenges facing businesses is finding the best keywords for their website or online store.

What should be a straightforward process is often complicated by “experts” sharing advice on forums, and/or the latest and greatest keyword tool offering to do all the hard work for you.

This guide will show you the approach we use when researching keywords.

We don’t claim it’s the only way to do keyword research, but these are the methods we use very successfully for our clients.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Profile Your Audience

Before you begin researching keywords, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider the humans behind the searches.

Human beings type keywords into the search engines, so you need to understand:

  1. Why they do that
  2. The results they expect

There’s very little point looking at search volume or competition without having a very clear picture of who your target market is.

A smart business doesn’t try to market to “everyone” because you can never capture 100% of a market.

I bet you’re thinking that a company like Coca Cola probably dominates the soft drinks market?

Coca Cola - seo keyword research

Nope, they only have a 48% share of it.

You probably assumed they had at least a 75% share of the global soft drinks market, and most people would have agreed with you.

And that’s an important lesson in making assumptions about a market or the customers in it.

So…how do you get inside the head of your prospective visitors or customers?

You do this by creating what copywriters call an “avatar”.

Your Customer Avatar

But not like the movie.

Think of it like creating an FBI profile on your target audience, taking into account a number of factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Political beliefs
  • Hobbies
  • How much disposable income they have
  • Do they use slang or formal English?
  • What questions would they ask?


This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it points you in the right direction. 

The reason you perform market intelligence is because it will help you uncover keywords you won’t find in any keyword tool.

Keywords that are 100% relevant to your target audience.

Your visitors will also find content written using terminology/language they’re familiar with.

Or, to put it another way, you’re speaking their language.

Let’s take the example of an e-commerce business that sells dog toys.

You’d be correct in assuming that people would probably use keywords like “dog toys” or “toys for puppy” to find gifts for their four-legged friend.

But if you take a closer look at the target audience, you’ll find they refer to their canine family members as “fur babies”, “doggos” or “puppers”. 

There are memes on the above keywords, which is the type of social proof you need to back up your decision to choose one range of keywords over another.

memes 1 - seo keyword researchmemes 2 - seo keyword research

This research automatically provides you with extra keyword data to work with, regardless of whether or not a tool says these keywords actually exist.

Even at this early stage of the research we find there are two ways to spell a particular type of foamy dog treat:

  1. Puppaccino
  2. Puppuccino

And that Google prefers the spelling “puppuccino”.

What resources are available to help you research your audience behaviour, habits, slang, etc?

  • Reddit 
  • Facebook Groups
  • Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  • Online forums
  • Competitor websites
  • Quora
  • Google

The moral of the story is: Never assume you understand what keywords customers use to find products or services.

You’ll be wrong most of the time.

Different Keyword Types

Before we delve into the meat of keyword research methods, it’s important that we discuss the types of keywords this guide will help you uncover.

There are two basic types of keywords: 

  • Head
  • Long-tail

 

Head keywords

Also referred to as broad keywords, these are the cornerstone of all keyword research. These are often made up of a just a 1 or 2-word phrase e.g. dog collar.

You use head keywords to help you find all related keywords in your niche or market.

 

Long-tail Keywords

These are multiple word phrases e.g. best dog collar for large dogs.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t make perfect sense to you right now, because it will by the time you’ve reached the end of our guide.

  • Head keywords usually have very high levels of competition, so take a lot of effort to rank for.
  • Long-tail keywords typically have very little competition, so don’t require as much effort to rank for. 

The term “long-tail” comes from the fact that these keywords are further along in the search/purchase cycle, so tend to be more descriptive. 

Here’s an infographic to illustrate this in more detail:

Search Demand - seo keyword research

The most common definition of a long-tail keyword is that it contains 3 – 6 words, but some SEOs argue that “long-tail” should only refer to how competitive a keyword is. 

But approaches have their merits, but there’s a more direct correlation between the number of words in a keyword, and lower competition levels for that keyword, than a random number generated by a keyword research tool. 

Keyword Search Volume

It’s a good idea to begin any keyword research session with a head keyword.

This is because it gives you a broad overview of the tens of thousands of keyword variations related to your core keyword.

Where things go wrong is when marketers only pay attention to the search volume of keywords, basing their decisions on this factor alone.

Search volume is the number of times a keyword is searched for every 90 days (if you’re using Google data), or per month if you’re using a different keyword tool.

And this is the main problem with approaching keyword research based on nothing more than search volume – the data you’re working from is only ever approximate.

The truth is that most search volumes figures are completely wrong, even expensive paid tools.

Here are the search volume results for the keyword “dog toys” as presented by three separate keyword tools:

keyword tool 1

keyword tool 2keyword tool 3

That’s a pretty broad range of search volumes. So which result is correct?

None of them.

You can repeat the above test, using any keyword tool, and you’ll get the same end result – the data doesn’t match up. 

After all, out of a total global population of almost 8 billion people, you’re meant to believe that exactly 49,500 people searched for “dog toys” within the last 30 – 90 days? 

No keyword tool in existence -free or paid- can give you accurate data on how often a given keyword is searched for in any country each month, quarter or year.

To do that would require that one company harvests all the search data from Google, Yahoo and Bing, from mobile and desktop devices, and is able to present that to you in almost real-time.

Most keyword tools take search data from a number of sources (including PPC search engines), and then extrapolate the number of “organic keyword” searches based on that.

So, the numbers you get from any keyword tool are nothing more than a best guess.

How inaccurate are keyword search volumes?

The search volumes presented by keyword tools is anywhere from 10 to 100 times lower than the actual number of total organic searches any keyword receives. 

Keyword tools are however a great way to find variations on your original keyword, as well as long-tail keywords.

But never make the mistake of basing your decisions solely on keyword search volumes as reported by any keyword tool.

Which keyword tool is best?

If you’re on a strict budget then either Keyword Finder or SerpStat are very affordable and produce good results. 

Another keyword tool that shows a lot of promise is TwinWord – the “Popular Topics” 

feature is excellent for generating related topics for any niche or market.  

For those of you with a bigger budget, Ahrefs has an excellent keyword tool, as does SEMrush.

We’re also in love with the Keywords Everywhere extension for Google Chrome and Firefox. It’s free and generates tons of related keywords.

Keywords Everywhere

What happens though when you uncover an “avatar” keyword, but your keyword tool of choice doesn’t show any search volume?

That’s covered in the next section.

Using Google To Validate Your Research

So you’ve found some keywords that sound cool…but you’re nervous about using them because a keyword tool told you they have a search volume of zero. 

Never fear, Google is here!

Google shares a surprising amount of keyword data, but most marketers ignore it.

In fact, you see live keyword data in Google every time you use it.

Earlier we found out that “pupachinos” are something dog owners search for on a daily basis.

But how do we know if Google knows this weird phrase exists?

Google Autocomplete

Open Google and start typing:

Google Autocomplete - seo keyword research

And we immediately see that Google has indexed searches for “pupachinos”.

Or if we just type in the head keyword “pupachino” we’ll see there’s an alternate spelling: “puppuccinos”.

Google auto 1

The plot thickens!

 

But you now have absolute proof that, no matter what any keyword tool says, that there is search volume for both the terms “puppuccino” and “pupachino.” Google wouldn’t include them in its Autocomplete feature otherwise.

At Finetune Digital we use Google’s data before anything else, knowing that most paid keyword tools do the same thing. 

Hundreds of thousands of new keyword searches appear each day, or are not in common usage. The majority of these haven’t been mined by any “mainstream” keyword research tool.  

In fact, Google admits that 15% of all keyword searches are brand new.

How do you find these keywords?

Google Related Searches

Google shows you exactly what these untapped keywords are with the ‘Related Searches’ feature.

To find these keywords:

  1. Open a web browser and go to Google.com
  2. Type in the head keyword you want to research
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen, and you’ll find a list of “Searches related to” your head keyword:

4.Using the ‘Searches related to’ feature will help you uncover keywords that do not exist in most keyword tools

These keywords are also useful to build an entire piece of content around, or simply as subheadings within a larger piece of content.

If you’re looking for a way to automate finding keywords using “Searches related to” then Keyword Tool is a reliable option, as is Answer The Public.

People Also Ask

Google are continually adding new features to their search results, which can make them a little bit cluttered at times.

But one feature we’d recommend you pay attention to is “People also ask”, or what are also called “featured snippets.”

People also ask - seo keyword research

This is a treasure trove of keyword data. 

“People also ask” shows you a set of questions human searchers have used when they’re looking for dog toys. 

These are search phrases other sites in your niche have deliberately optimised their site for. 

Some of the keywords we could extract from the above example include: 

  • rope toys for dogs
  • toughest dog toys
  • washing dog toys
  • Kong dog toys

These aren’t machine-generated queries or guesses at what types of keywords are relevant – this is live Google data.

Insider Tip: These questions are also extremely useful as subheadings in long-form blog posts. 

Google Keyword Research Hacks

As much as we love using keyword research tools, sometimes it’s fun to see what you can achieve just with the Google search box.

One neat Google search hack is to enter your search phrase as normal, as illustrated below:

Now if you go back to the beginning of your search query and press the spacebar on your keyboard once you’ll notice the search results change:

Neither of these hacks will change your life, but they can be useful when you find yourself stuck in the middle of a keyword research session.

Search Intent

So, now we get to the really interesting stuff – the intent behind the search.

This is where the vast majority of SEOs, bloggers and content marketers fall short.

Why?

Because they follow the same parroted keyword research method that’s been doing the rounds since 2004.

  1. Find a market
  2. Use a keyword tool to find keywords with high search volume
  3. Add some LSI keywords into the mix
  4. Create a page of content using those keywords

There is nothing wrong with this approach if your only concern is getting lots of search engine traffic.

The problems only start when the traffic doesn’t convert into clicks and sales. Or even worse, the page gets no traffic at all.

And that’s when most digital marketers wonder where they went wrong.

The answer is simple: They completely ignored search intent.

Here’s an example to illustrate how search intent can go awry. 

You create a website around recipes for different times of the year. 

You find the keyword “holiday turkey” and notice it has 74,000 monthly searches.

Awesome. You could get thousands of visitors per month to your site if you can rank for this one keyword!

You create an amazing blog post on preparing a holiday turkey.

After adding some internal links the new page of content gets indexed and you wait for an avalanche of traffic.

But after several weeks you notice the page is getting very few impressions and zero clicks.

So you add some backlinks to the page, but still nothing happens.

Then in a fit of desperation you Google “holiday turkey”…and the penny drops.

The search intent for this keyword is actually for people looking to enjoy a vacation in the country of Turkey…and not a recipe for a delicious roast turkey.

That’s a pretty random example, and you would assume that Google wouldn’t rank you on the same page as sites about overseas holidays.

But the truth is that Google makes this mistake all the time…because it’s just software and not some omniscient being.

Here are some other examples of where search intent could also go quite badly wrong.

Keyword: Adopt a donkey

  • Do you mean adopt a donkey to keep at home?
  • Or contribute to a charity that cares for donkeys?

The vast majority of people would choose the latter, but then some people will actually want to provide a sanctuary for rescued donkeys.

Chelsea loans

  • You’re a resident of Chelsea looking for a loan?

Or are you looking for information on what players Chelsea FC have on loan this season?

This could be a person who’s interested in both topics, but that’s highly unlikely. 

Most SEOs and digital marketers obsess over search volume, competition and a million other metrics. 

But very few SEO take search intent into account when they give advice on the subject.

The mistake they make is a simple one: A keyword with lots of search volume = valuable keyword.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, this is the single biggest mistake a digital marketer can make.

You are better off ranking your page for a keyword with great search intent that gets only 10 searches per month, than a keyword that brings in 10,000 searches per month, but has poor search intent.

 

So, how do you work out what the search intent of a keyword is?

Your first step is to understand the different types of intent:

  1. Informational
  2. Navigational
  3. Transactional

Informational

People looking for an answer to a question:

  • What does a financial advisor do?

 

Navigational 

People looking for a specific website, business or brand:

  • Ramsey Financial in London

Transactional 

People considering a purchase or financial contribution:

  • Make appointment with Ramsey Financial

Informational searches usually have much higher search volume than both Navigational and Transactional searches combined. 

But Informational searches usually have a much lower conversion rate than either Navigational or Transactional searches.

This is because people looking for information are usually just doing research, or window shopping online. 

The Big SEO Secret

This is the part where we reveal the SEO secret you’ve always suspected some marketer had, but never shared with you.

Information that will forever change how you view search engine optimisation.

We actually do have a secret we want to share with you, and again, it’s one most SEOs and digital marketers don’t bother with.

You can secretly gauge search intent…by looking at Google search results with your own eyes.

Yes, in a world of complex algorithms, expensive software, and even more expensive SEO training courses, our advice is to manually check what’s ranking in Google.

Most SEOs overcomplicate what is a very simple process. They’ll have in-house software and systems that run all kinds of crazy calculations on why a certain page ranks #1 in Google.

But most of that is a waste of time.

Instead just look at the sites ranking on the first page of Google for a particular keyword, and that will tell you whether or not your search intent is on target.

Analyse the keywords these sites uses in their Title and Meta Description tags. Visit the page and look at what keyword they use in their H1 (Header) and sub-heading (H2 – H4) tags. 

Make note of the number of images they use, how many words are on the page, do they have videos embedded on the page, etc.

No piece of software can evaluate search intent as well as a human being can.

You could quite easily waste weeks or months chasing the wrong keywords because you didn’t take five minutes to look at what types of site are already ranking for them. 

Human beings excel at something called pattern matching, something even advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) still struggles with.

Google is a complex pattern matching system.

It’s a very good one, but still not as effective as the human brain.

Keyword Competitiveness 

The traditional approach to keyword research is finding the “hot” keywords for your market, and running them through a keyword tool. 

The tool will give you the search volume for a keyword, and how competitive it is i.e. how many other sites are trying to rank for it.

Each keyword tool uses its own set of internal metrics to give you a competition score. This means the data you get from them is pretty subjective in most cases and completely wrong in many others.

A more insightful approach to calculating keyword competition is to look at the domain authority of your competitor’s websites, and also the URL authority of the specific page you’re competing against.

Remember, you’re only ever trying to outrank a single page and not an entire website. 

What is “domain authority?” 

Put simply, it is how much weight that domain has in the eyes of Google. This is typically calculated by looking at the authority (DR) score of the sites that link to that domain.

You can uncover domain and URL authority via a tool like Ahrefs – they refer to it as ‘Domain Rank’ (DR) and ‘URL Rank’ (UR). 

Keyword Finder also delivers reliable competition data, their measurements being ‘Domain Authority’ (DA) and ‘Page Authority’ (PA). 

Don’t worry too much about the terminology used here (DA vs. DR) because they basically mean the same thing. 

Ahrefs and Keyword Finder base their keyword competitiveness calculations on a mixture of domain and URL authority, making them far more accurate than their competitors. 

Look for competitor sites with relatively low domain and URL authority scores, because they’re usually easier to outrank than sites with lots of authority.


There are exceptions to that rule, but that goes beyond the scope of this guide.

You’re going to be very surprised at the opportunities you can find using this approach, especially in markets other SEO agencies will tell you are “saturated”. 


The truth is that no market, keyword or topic is ever saturated – it’s simply a case of how much time and money you’re willing to invest in competing in that niche.

Using MozBar to Measure Competition

Another, and 100% free option, is to use the Mozbar extension for the Google Chrome browser. 

  1. Click on the MozBar extension link above, then click on ‘Download MozBar Free’ 
  2. Click on ‘Add to Chrome’ in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
  3. Click on the ‘Add Extension’ button.
  4. You will now see this icon in the top right-hand corner of Chrome: 
  5. If you don’t already have a free Moz community account, then you’ll need to create one, and then login.
  1. Click on the ‘Settings’ icon (a small gear symbol), and then click to enable ‘Domain MozRank’.
  2. Open a Google search window, and type in the keyword phrase you want to research, and you’ll get domain and page authority results as illustrated below:

Let’s use the keyword“financial advisor London” to examine what many would assume to be a saturated market.

After all, keywords around the financial services industry must already be insanely competitive, and even more so in London.

In the above example you can see the top position is held by The Telegraph newspaper, with a domain authority (DA) score of 94.

That would present even the best SEOs with a huge challenge.

But if we look at the search results immediately below The Telegraph we can see sites with authority scores of just DA18 ranking for this keyword, and pages with authority scores as low as PA19.

What this tells us is that this is a keyword we can rank for because:

  1. Technically a DA31 website with focused on-page SEO could outrank most of the other sites on page one of the search results, with the exception of The Telegraph. 
  2. At very worst you would need a DA19 site to rank on page one for this keyword.

YouTube For Keyword Research

For all the people who spend hours every day glued to YouTube, how many of you have ever thought of it as a keyword research tool?

There are two facts worth remembering here:

  1. YouTube is owned by Google.
  2. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet

So if we enter a sample keyword into the YouTube search bar, we’ll see search suggestions returned such as:

And as you can see we’ve found some brand new keywords to consider such as:

  • pros and cons
  • scams
  • business plan
  • dave ramsey

N.B. The search volumes and PPC costs listed alongside these keywords are only displayed because we had the Keywords Everywhere browser extension activated.

Quora For Keyword Research

Answering questions that people ask is one of the quickest ways to get in Google’s good books.

You probably didn’t consider questions to be part of keyword research, but it absolutely is. 

After all, isn’t that all Google does – provide answers to questions people ask?

You can use sites like Quora to find out what these questions are. 

Here’s how you do that:

Here’s how you do that:

 

  1. Go to Google.com
  2. Enter the following: site: Quora.com “your keyword”. Here’s an example of how you format the search query.

Then analyze the search results  for keywords you could use:

A search that took seconds to complete has given us the following new keywords:

  • good diet for losing wieght
  • foods for losing weight
  • lose weight fast and healthy 

It is highly unlikely you would have come up with those keywords on your own, and the chances of finding most of them in a keyword tool is effectively zero. 

Google also award bonus points for answering these types of questions by featuring your answer in the ‘People also ask’ section of their search results pages, as we mentioned earlier in this guide.

You can use the keywords you find in Quora either as long-tail keywords for your content, or as subheadings. 

You can also simply register for a free Quora account, and run searches internally on the site:

The only real difference is that the internal search is a bit more cluttered, and you’ll find adverts mixed in with some of the answers. 

Answer The Public

This was a completely free service up to quite recently, but the free version is still a very effective tool.

You can use Answer The Public to generate some very interesting keyword ideas based on search queries.

Even just a quick search for keywords related to “dog toys” brought up the following:

And we found some interesting keywords and phrases like:

  • are Nike shoes vegan 
  • how to wash  shoes 

These are all the types of questions those searching and looking to buy Nike shoe want answers to. 

So, although these keywords have informational search intent, there’s also a lot of transactional search intent too.

This means if you can answer the searcher’s question, and provide a solution, then this shoe trainer lover is likely to buy whatever you’re selling.

LSI Keywords

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, which sounds very complicated but it isn’t.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition (SVD) to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text.

The good news is that you can instantly forget every single word of what you’ve just read because LSI for SEO purposes is much easier to explain.

In simple terms LSI is how words on a page relate to each other

Or to put it another way, LSI keywords are the words and phrases that should occur naturally within a page of content on a specific subject.

So, let’s assume you’re creating a blog post about arachnophobia. 

Is it possible to write an informative piece of content on this subject without using the word “spider”? 

Of course not.

Google expects to find certain words and phrases throughout your content. As an SEO your job is to find a way to weave those LSI keywords into the pages or posts on a site.

The correct way to analyze LSI keywords is to examine each of the sites on page one of Google for your desired keyword.

You would then create a list of commonly occurring words on those pages, then using those same keywords in your own page of content on the subject. 

That’s a whole lot of work to do manually, so people have come to rely on tools like LSIGraph and others to do that research for them.

The issue is that many of the LSI tools you’ll find online are that they’re not really LSI tools – they’re actually just Google Related Searches scrapers.

You can already do that research manually, or with a tool like Keywordtool.io

What you’re looking for are thematically related keywords to include in your content. 

The best free online resource for doing that type of research right now is Niche Laboratory.

 Here’s how to use it for real LSI keyword research:

  1. Enter your head keyword in the search field on the Niche Laboratory homepage.
  2. Click ‘Run Niche Laboratory Lite.’
  3. Look for the ‘Job complete!’ notification, and click on the ‘Key Words’ tab.
  4. You’ll then see a list of dozens of different keywords that are related to your original keyword topic. These are all harvested from pages ranking on the first page of Google for your keyword:

Obviously you could never include all of these words on a page, plus some of them aren’t entirely relevant to your core topic of toys for dogs.

But a quick scan of the results shows me words I can use, like the following:

Kong, balls, launcher, reviews, chew, fetch, chuckit, advice, training, bone, health, stress, plush, interactive. 

A blog post on the subject of dog toys should include these words naturally, but you can use Niche Laboratory to help keep you focused on what Google expects from your content.

Another very useful, and free, keyword tool is Ultimate Keyword Hunter

The interface is a little bit clunky, but it is the only free LSI software that generates the types of LSI keywords we recommend using in your content writing.

There are numerous other LSI keyword research tools on the market, but the best in its class is Web Content Studio, by Dr. Andy Williams. 

Dr. Andy is an SEO with literally decades of experience in on-page optimisation, and knows more about LSI keywords than 99% of other marketers. 

Evaluating Commercial Intent

Although it might sound complicated, commercial intent is simply working out whether or not keywords have any commercial value. 

The easiest way to figure that out is to look at what it would cost you to run a paid ad for that keyword.

This is called the CPC (Cost Per Click) for the keyword, or how much it costs the advertiser every time a web searcher clicks on their paid ad. 

If we head over to Ahrefs, Keywords Explorer tool and use “SEO Services London” as an example, you’ll find this data:

Google Trends

Another very cool way to gauge commercial intent is to use Google Trends to look at how popular the keyword is throughout the year. 

  1. Go to https://trends.google.com/trends/
  2. Enter the keyword you want to analyse

As you can see in the above example the keyword “bed sheets” remains consistently popular throughout the year.

Is it a bad sign if a keyword doesn’t have a year-round positive trend? 

Not if the business expects that to be the case e.g. summer holiday travel agencies, or Christmas gift basket companies. 

Analyse Sponsored Ads

A final tip for measuring the potential commercial intent of a keyword is to analyze Google AdWords results.

Why?

Because if an advertiser is paying to promote their products or services on AdWords, they’re only doing this because those keywords generate revenue

So, we start by searching for “smoothie maker”, except this time we’re looking for sponsored ads:

We see lots of ads at the top of the page, so we know this keyword has good commercial intent.

The next step is to drill down into the results by refining our search by using “Searches related to” at the bottom of the page:

So we click on “best smoothie makers 2019” and check for AdWords and we again see lots of paid ads on display.

We refine our search a little further by searching for “blender comparison”.

The idea here is that you keep refining your keyword searches (making them more specific each time) until Google stops showing you ads.

When Google advertisers are no longer spending money then you can be certain those keywords have absolutely zero commercial intent.

However, it’s not to say you shouldn’t be trying to rank for the non-commercial intent keywords, it just means these aren’t like to convert to a sale straight away and are more “top of the funnel’.

Remember earlier on I mentioned about Informational, Navigational and Transactional keywords?

Well, something like ‘Blender Comparison’ would sit under the category of an information keyword. 

Keywords For Local SEO

All of the advice in this guide is just as relevant when researching keywords for local businesses, but with some minor exceptions.

Keyword competitiveness, for example, is one area where you won’t need to spend as much time or effort. 

This is because the level of competition for local keywords is usually quite low, unless you’re living in London or New York, for example.

Where you can place more focus is on reverse engineering your competitor’s websites for the keywords they currently rank for. 

There are two ways to do this, the first being to analyse their Title and Meta Description tags to see what keywords they’re focusing on.

If you Google. Let you use the following example;

You get the following results:

The keywords that seem to be important to Google here are “Mortgage Broker London“, “independent mortgage advisors ” and “mortgage advice”.

So you can add those to your keyword sheet. 

If you want to automate the process of finding what local keywords your competitors rank for, then you can use something like SEMrush.

  1. Login to the Ahrefs (they offer a 7-day trial)
  2. Click on Site Explorer from the top menu
  3. Paste your competitor’s URL into the search box at the top of the screen
  4. Click on Organic Keyword from the left-hand menu bar 
  5. Sort by Position
  6. Export the list and filter out their branded keywords, so you only have non-branded keywords 
  7. You can now see not only what keywords your competitor is ranking for, but also where they rank in Google for that keyword.

Use Local Modifiers

You now have a shortlist of keywords relevant to your business, so the next step is to look at the geographic locations you want to target. 

If we take the example of “Mortgage Broker London”, we can create variations on that keyword using Google Maps, or a similar app to find target locations.

  • Mortgage Broker Kensington
  • Mortgage Broker Chelsea
  • Mortgage Broker  Notting Hill
  • Mortgage Broker London Bridge
  • Mortgage Broker Sauna Croydon


If you want to really focus on those geographic areas, then you could consider creating a page of content on your site for each keyword. 

Summary

Professional keyword research has very little to do with secret techniques.

In fact, you can see it’s more about using a methodical approach to uncovering the keyword

 opportunities your competitors, and other SEO agencies, simply never took the time to look for.

With enough practice, and when using the right tools, you can become a keyword research expert too.

Author

Charles Travers is Managing Director of Award-Winning SEO agency Finetune Digital, specialising in Search Engine Optimisation.

They are a friendly and talented team of SEO experts who have a passion for helping companies get more business from Google & other major search engines.

Published by:

Charles Travers

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