I talk about a lot of SEO topics, but the one I get the most questions about is keywords! Keywords are only a small part of SEO, but they can be helpful for knowing what people are looking for and what’s even possible for you to rank for in Google. So if you’re struggling with figuring out what keywords even are or how to find them, these are my top tips for keyword research!
What are keywords?
So before we get started with the research, what exactly are keywords? Keywords, also known as “search queries,” are words or phrases that tell search engines what your content is about, and they are what people enter into search engines to find the content they are looking for. So basically when you go to Google and type in words to find something, those are keywords.
When you’re on the other side of it and publish content for Google to show people, you’ll use keywords to tell Google what your content is about and what words and phrases it should be ranking for. If you want more information about what a good keyword is and where to put them in your post and everything, I wrote a whole post on Keywords 101!
Before we get into the keyword research part, I do want to say that there is so much more to ranking on Google than just keywords, and I don’t want you to get so focused on keywords that you lose sight of everything else. And above all, make sure you’re creating content with your audience in mind and don’t create content just because you think it will rank well!
Benefits of keyword research
There is more to keywords than just using them to rank higher on Google. You can use keywords to find which topics people are searching for and the types of keywords your ideal audience is using to find your services. Finding long tail keywords that have low competition can help you niche down your keywords to help you reach the right people.
If you’re struggling to come up with blog topics, you can use keyword research to help you find new topics to write about. I do this all the time!
Tools and tips for keyword research
To find keywords, this is where the keyword research part comes in. There is no right or wrong way to look for keywords, and it depends on your industry, goals, platform, budget, etc. There are actual tools for keyword research if you want to get technical, or you can use more basic websites. Or you can start basic and get more advanced if it’s something you’re interested in exploring more.
The most basic place is the one you’re probably trying to rank on anyway- Google. When you start typing into Google, it will autopopulate with phrases that people have searched for before. This will show you what people are searching for and the types of topics people are interested in. If you type in something that doesn’t autopopulate, it could indicate that people aren’t very interested in that topic.
This method isn’t going to show you exactly how many people are searching for the topic or what the competition is like, but it will give you ideas for what people are interested in. And it’s free!
Pinterest is just like Google- a search engine that will autopopulate with the topics people are searching for. And it’s also free! I like doing keyword research on Pinterest because it’s also easier to see how many people are currently covering a particular topic and which posts are doing the best. With Pinterest, you can just keep scrolling to see the top posts instead of having to click through pages on Google.
I also like doing keyword research this way because you can see the types of pin designs that are performing well for those topics for when you create pins for your posts. If you’re interested in learning more about Pinterest for your business, I have more blog posts that can help you.
Amazon is the exact same concept as Google and Pinterest, but it’s good for other niches. If you have a product or want to create a product or book, you can see what people are already searching for. When you click on a topic, you can also see what is ranking highest on Amazon so you can get an idea of what the competition is.
Google Search Console
I know a lot of people have Google Analytics set up, but so many people miss out on Google Search Console! Google Search Console lets you see what keywords are already driving traffic to your website. It will also show you variations of keywords that are bringing people to your site, so you can see if a particular topic is popular that you can cover in different ways.
You might also find that people are searching for keywords similar to posts you’ve already written, so you can write a new post to target those exact keywords.
Keyword research tools
Keyword research tools are exactly what they sound like- tools that will help you find keywords. They will show you things like a keyword’s monthly search volume and which websites are currently ranking for a particular keyword. There are tons of keyword research tools out there, some free and some you have to pay for. Google has a free tool called Google Keyword Planner, and other websites will let you research a certain number of keywords a month for free.
I personally use Keysearch, and other great options are Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz, and there are new tools being added all the time. If you’re ready to invest in a research tool, compare prices and what each tool includes so you can pick the right one for your research needs.
Ask clients and friends
This probably sounds weird and I don’t think I’ve seen other people in the SEO world give this piece of advice, but you should ask your clients and friends for keyword help! You’re obviously not going to get the data like you would with a tool, but this can be so helpful. Sometimes people get focused on wanting to rank for a specific type of keyword, but have you ever asked yourself if that’s what your ideal client is actually searching for to find you?
What you might think people are searching for to find your skills or photography style, it might be too technical for the average person or you might be getting bogged down with industry terms. But that might not be what your clients are even searching for in the first place! For example, I doubt many people are searching specifically for “SEO consultant” when they look for my services, so what kinds of phrases would they be searching for? Ask people outside your industry to describe your job or services so you can meet your ideal clients where they are.
So those are all my tips for keyword research! Don’t forget that keywords are only one piece of SEO optimization. Serving your audience should come before keywords, so don’t write a post just to target a “good” keyword that doesn’t help your audience. Keyword research can be so helpful, but make sure you use it to help both you and your audience! And if you need more help with keywords, don’t forget to sign up to get my free SEO cheat sheet.