This article sets out a process for how to use keyword research to improve your search engine optimisation (SEO) results. This process requires writing articles, either in blog form or another webpage form, intentionally for the purpose of having the webpage discovered by your target audience when they are searching for information on a search engine, such as google. This process is a very popular content marketing strategy.
What are Keywords?
Keywords in the world of search engine optimisation, are the searchable phrases and terms that your audience enter into search engine websites (Google, Bing etc.) to find you.
A search keyword could be a specific term like “Bread” or “vegan”, or it could be a longer phrase (or long-tail keyword) like “healthy vegan bread recipes”, and on your own website, keywords are all the simple words and phrases left over when you strip away all the media and design etc.
It’s important to understand that not all keywords are created equal. Keywords are characterised by a combination of their search volume, competitiveness, and commercial intent. This information is found out through keyword research (which we’ll talk about soon). Seeing this information helps us to compare and decide on the relevant, and effective keywords to use in our blog posts and web pages. This allows us to make our way up the google search results page and improve the chances of our content being found.
Knowing what keywords your audience is using to find you, and then what keywords that are the most valuable is the important first step to creating effective content help searchers find you more easily.
Using Keywords to decide on the blog topic
You may be aware that writing blogs is a part of your content marketing strategy, but do you know how to make decisions about what to write about to get the results you are seeking?
Content-based SEO optimisation is not just about writing a blog and pushing it out to the world with the hope that someone reads it. It's about developing a strategy based on the available data, maintaining focused and consistent effort over a long period, and measuring results.
Keyword research provides direction and focus for your writing, and measuring the results of your efforts provides a feedback loop that is important for incentivising ongoing efforts. Without this feedback mechanism, it is easy to feel like blog writing is a fruitless effort.
In this article, we're going to talk about how to use keyword research to create a strategy to make sure you are focusing your efforts in the right place.
To do this, you must look at the data on what people are searching for, and the search terms that you are able to compete on (more on this later). Here is the process:
- Step 1: Decide on your article categories or key topics
- Step 2: Do your keyword research using tools
- Step 3: Write articles optimised for the keyword
But first, let’s discuss the tools available to complete keyword research. These tools compile and present the necessary data for making decisions for SEO optimisation. It is nearly impossible to improve your SEO results in a meaningful way without using such tools.
Tools for Keyword research:
There are a range of tools available to help with keyword research. Prices range from free to $200+ per month, depending on the level of data and features offered. At Mum’s Garage, we use Ahrefs. To learn more about the tools we use, head to our blog ‘Top Tools For Executing a Content Marketing Strategy’. Here are some other options available:
1. Uber Suggest
Ubersuggest by Neil Patel is a SEO tool which helps you get the edge over competitors in your market. It offers similar features to other big Keyword research tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs, but is considerably cheaper long term.
- Domain Overview
- Top SEO Pages
- Keyword suggestions
- Content ideas
- Backlink Data
Ubersuggest is different to competitors in that rather than just being subscription based, it can purchased for lifetime (Equivalent to paying for 10 months).
Individual - $290 Lifetime
- Entrepreneurs & small businesses
Business - $490 Lifetime
- Small & medium businesses
Enterprise/Agency - $990 Lifetime
- Large businesses & agencies
SEMrush is a comprehensive search engine optimization multi-tool. For keyword research it offers a list of 5-10 very specific keywords already used by competitors.
- Finding Long-tail keywords
- Yearly Keyword trends
- Access to a complete keyword research tool kit
- Keyword difficulty analysis, and organic traffic insights.
If you want to use SEMrush beyond the 7-day free trial there are three different pricing plans suited to your business and level of content marketing.
Pro – $99.95/mo
“For freelancers, startups and in-house marketers with limited budget"
“For SMB and growing marketing agencies"
Business – $399.95/mo
For agencies, E-commerce projects and businesses with extensive web presence"
Ahrefs is one of the most effective keyword research tools on the market. The service generates keyword reports for users which offer important insights, supported by clickstream data.
- Precise and accurate keyword difficult score
- Comprehensive keyword suggestions
- Global support
- Click metrics for increasing click-through-rate
Lite - $99
- 1 User
- 5 Projects
Standard - $179
- 1 User
- 10 Projects
Advanced - $399
- 3 Users
- 25 Projects
Agency - $999
- 5 Users
- 100 Projects
The KWFinder keyword research tool (created by Mangools) helps content marketers discover keywords with low difficulty, as well as offering a range of useful tools and features.
- A clean and efficient user interface
- Multiple language and location keyword research.
- Accurate statistics regarding competition on keywords
- Keyword suggestions filters and refinement.
KWFinder is offered as a component of Mangools SEO Toolkit which gives subscribers access to four other great SEO tools.
Basic - $49/mo
- Targeted at freelancers and small businesses.
Premium - $69/mo
- Targeted at start-ups and blogs.
Agency – $129/mo
- Targeted at big eCommerce stores and large sites.
Long-tail keywords are an effective strategy, and increasingly popular way for websites to attract users. Long Tail Pro helps websites (particularly niche sites) reach their target audience.
- Effective and comprehensive keyword metrics
- Easily and quickly finds long-tail keyword ideas
- Offers insights for increasing conversions from organic traffic
- Starter – $25/month
- Pro – $45/month
- Agency – $98/ month
Step 1: Deciding on your content key topics
Key topics are the starting point for brainstorming keywords that are relevant to your business.
Key Topics describe the overall themes of your business, products and services and related problems that your customers are trying to solve, or are interested in learning more about. For example, if your product is vegan bread, your key topic might include vegan bread, vegan lunch ideas, vegan recipes, vegan nutrition, vegan food, vegan health benefits.
Task: Write down 10-20 key topics relevant to your business and audience. You may like to do this in a spreadsheet or as a mindmap.
This gives you something to work with when it comes to completing keyword research.
Step 2: Keyword research
Next, you want to find specific keywords that have a high search volume, but low enough competition, so there is a chance of your article ranking.
Search volume is the number of searches per month, within the relevant country (or countries). Usually, when you use a tool for keyword research you will need to specify the relevant country you are targeting. There needs to be enough people searching for the keyword to justify spending time and money on content that targets the word.
The level of competition: It is important to choose keywords that you can realistically compete on. You are competing for a spot on the first page of the search engine. For google, to get on the first page you must appear in the top 10 results. Your ability to compete is determined by a metric called Domain Authority. Each website has an Domain Authority score, which is determined by a number of factors. You can work out your domain authority using a free tool such as this one, Website SEO Checker.
If there are lots of websites with higher domain authorities than you that are already ‘ranking’ for the keyword, it will be difficult for you to get onto the first page of google with your article. So it’s better to find a keyword that has a low level of competition.
KEY TAKEAWAY: You are trying to find the keywords that have high search volume (relative to all the other keywords that you have compiled) and low competition (low enough so that your article has a change of ranking on the first page of Google).
Example of what to look for (from Ahrefs):
A Bad Keyword (Very high competition)
A Good Keyword (Low competition, High volume)
As well as keywords, you should include what is called 'long-tail' keywords. These are longer phrases which are more specific to what the reader is searching for, for example, 'How to create a content marketing strategy'.
From our vegan bread example:
How do you prioritise your keywords?
Here is the process we recommend for organising and prioritising your keywords.
As you do your keyword research, add all the words you find to a spreadsheet. Include the word, the level of competition, the search volume and any other relevant information you want to track (e.g. the cost per click if you were to pay for advertising).
Once you have a long enough list of keywords, rant them by keyword difficulty, from lowest to highest. Based on your website's domain authority, make a judgement about the competition level that you can reasonably compete with. This is your cutoff. Above this cut off, prioritise the keywords that have the highest search volume and order them in terms of priorities.
The result is a list of keywords that will determine the blogs you will write next. For example:
Related keywords can help you to position your article higher in Google search results. So as well as having one primary keyword that you optimise your article for, you can also include secondary keywords. These are keywords that align with the purpose of your article.
To find related keywords, we use Contento Marketing. To learn more the functionality that Contento has and how it helps to improve the SEO of your blog head to our blog ‘Top Tools For Executing a Content Marketing Strategy’.
Step 3: Write articles optimised for the keyword
Now that the important steps of choosing a topic and finding your list of primary and related keywords to focus on are done, you can finally start writing. The idea here is to build the informative meaningful content you think your audience would love to learn about around the keywords you have identified. Focus on quality while keeping keywords in mind, rather than a throwaway article crammed full optimized terms. It’s important to remember that while you want people to find your site through search results, it is then important that they stay and see what you have to offer.
Beyond keywords, two best practices which affect article discoverability through search engines include readability and content length.
People are hungry for content but are sometimes too lazy. It’s unlikely someone scrolling through their phone on their lunchbreak will want to read an incredibly detailed article using academic language and technical detail. Generally, articles should aim for a 10th grade level of readability, so that they are informative, but not mentally taxing. This will mean your audience stays reading for longer and are more likely to look around.
While it may feel like a good idea to save yourself some time and write a lot of short posts, this has been shown to hurt success in organic search results. Google typically values longer articles, the logic being, more content means more authority. Longer articles mean visitors are getting everything they need through staying longer on site, and importantly, encourage social engagement. So to achieve higher rakings in search, there is much value in fleshing out your content.
One tool which can help with this balance is Contento. At Mum’s garage we use Contento to refine all our articles. It’s Optimize Content tool uses machine learning to grade articles by related term frequency, content length, and article readability. It knows the right keywords, readability and length to use by gathering information from the top 20 articles, meaning that you can measure your articles up against your competition. This means that you can be as competitive as possible and get immediate feedback for refining your content before you put it on your site.
Also, if you’re struggling for what to add, using the Contento Ideas tab gives you some ideas and concepts which can inspire your writing.
Final tips to amplify your SEO optimisation and content creation efforts:
So now that you have a well designed, SEO optimised article, how can you make the most of your efforts? Well firstly you can share it with your existing audience through social media or a newsletter mailout. Getting traffic to your new article as soon as it’s published can also help with improving it’s ranking, so it’s important to do this.
Another way to leverage your efforts is to share your article through other websites. Note that Google will penalise duplicate articles (the same article share through different urls) but, as a guideline, if you share another article that is 30% different than the original article, it will be fine.
You can share through other websites by paying them to share your content. Contento Placement offers this service. Or you can find websites that will appreciate your content and its relevance to their target market, so will share as a free guest post.
Google’s algorithms rewards websites that post regularly, as it’s an indication that the website is well managed. To really grow your traffic through SEO optimised content, you should aim to create a new piece of content once a week, or once every two weeks at the least. Because of the ongoing efforts that are required to maintain a consistent content strategy, many businesses outsource this process. If you would like to outsource your content creation, we offer this as a service through Mum’s Garage. https://www.mumsgarage.com/marketing-services/
To conclude, following the steps, and using keyword research tools to identify effective keywords is an important starting point, and a proven way to ensure the content you produce is refined and oriented to attracting your audience. Then focussing on creating value in your content, while keeping in mind the google algorithm and using tools like Contento you can create meaningful and attractive content which is not only easy to find, but more likely to lead to conversions.