Search engine optimization is not something to be taken lightly, and keyword research is one of the most important steps in devising a solid SEO strategy. Finding keywords en masse is not straightforward, however. Following a standard keyword research process is the solution for this.
Keyword research doesn’t just focus on search volumes. There are also other aspects to consider like intent, keyword difficulty, competition, and other factors to consider. But when done properly, the rest of the task becomes much easier.
We at FVG use keyword research to build out content recommendations at scale. This process mostly revolves around general and local SEO and local keyword research as well as in most cases where we are trying to rank a client’s website in a particular geographic area.
In this blog, we will look at how we approach keyword research and use keywords to find relevant blog topics. We focus on some of the top tools that help in finding the right keywords and also some of the strategies for local keyword research that you should know. Here we go!
The Top 5 Keyword Research Tools to Discover High Intent Blog Keywords
Let’s begin here. It’s hard to pull keywords out of thin air. Even if you know your business inside out and the various topics that you think are relevant, it is difficult to generate keyword ideas in bulk without using a tool to help you.
The idea is to find out what the target audience is interested in and what they are searching for. If you get a clear idea about this, you can create content around these search terms or specific keywords. Using a keyword research tool gives you some ideas around what are the local search terms that are popular and also related keywords that your competitors are ranking for.
Here are some of the top generic and local keyword research tools that can help you find the right keywords for your business.
Semrush is one of the most popular keyword search tools in the market. Semrush allows you to do competitor keyword research in detail, and identify what keywords your competitors are ranking for. It also allows you to understand what keywords you are not ranking for.
The Semrush keyword magic tool helps you quickly populate a whole bunch of keywords which can then be filtered down based on various criteria. There are also several metrics that you can rely on to do this - search volume, competition, difficulty, and more.
Semrush also has other tools that help you generate keyword ideas for content and understand how your competition is doing on organic search and which keywords are being ranked for.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz Keyword Explorer is another handy tool that helps you a lot in simplifying keyword research for your business. Like other tools, it gives you a wealth of information on the keywords you choose, and it also suggests other related keywords that you may be interested in.
Moz’s SEO tool makes the process simpler by assigning a score to your keywords based on analysis and gives you an indication of whether you should be chasing the keyword or not. This is dependent on historical search volumes, difficulty in ranking, and other parameters.
Moz has a limited set of free features that you can use, but for advanced functionality, a pro plan is essential. Other features such as link explorer will go into depth and analyze your site’s backlinks and domain authority. It is a great asset when you are working on link building for your site.
Moz is easy to use and has a browser extension that makes keyword research quite easy for marketers. You can also analyze search queries and understand how these queries rank based on the various parameters used to analyze keywords too.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is one of the most popular tools for SEO research. Ahrefs fits the bill for most of the features that you are looking for in a research tool. There are also some additional features that are not found on other tools that make Ahrefs a worthy candidate.
Using Ahrefs, you can understand how many of the searches can be converted to actual page visits, which is a great insight to have while doing generic and local SEO keyword research.
Ahrefs boasts of one of the largest keyword databases spread across 200 countries. It has insights on over 19.8 billion keywords. Like Semrush, it can also tell you how your competitors are doing and what keywords you should be ranking for which the competitors are already using.
GetKeywords is ideally suited to do local keyword research. This tool allows you to break down the data for keywords you are interested in and filter it down based on the location. You can analyze what is the search volume, click-through rates, and other important metrics for each keyword in your service area. You can categorize your list of keywords and get insights on these keywords using this tool with ease and filter down to the best local keywords.
GetKeywords also tells you what is the organic clickthrough rates and bounce rates for the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) as a whole which is a great way to know whether it is worth ranking for a particular keyword or not.
Google Keyword planner
Most of the tools that we discussed above are paid tools, but with limited features for free. If you are working on a tight budget and looking for a free keyword research tool, the Google Keyword planner is your best bet. Google is after all the biggest search engine out there and has loads of data to work with.
The keyword planner tool is a part of the Google Ads platform, and if you have one, it allows you to find keyword ideas in bulk and to sort and analyze them as you deem fit. The planner also gives you a lot of insights on each keyword such as search volume, competition, local search volume, and approximate CPC. Google Keyword Planner is quite robust but it does not give you insights as to what your competitors are doing or what are the keyword gaps you have on your site.
Local Keyword Research 101: Everything You Need to Know About Local KWs
Now that we discussed what tools are available, it’s time to get into the details of local keyword research. Here is how you do it.
Identify All the Local Services You Offer
Most SEO keyword research begins here. Look at your business and list down all the various services you offer that your clients would be searching for. This is a great starting point to identify the keywords you want to rank for.
Say you are offering car repair and maintenance services in Orange County. You should be listing the various services you offer. For example, the services you offer could be
- Car repair services
- roadside assistance
- Dent repair and painting
- Deep clean services for cars
It is possible that you cannot list all these services on the homepage. It is thus a great idea to list all the services you have as separate landing pages on your website. Having separate pages is preferred because the Google Search algorithm ranks for the relevance of content on the pages and hence having separate pages improves the chances for better organic ranking. Also, less confusion for the potential customers landing on your page.
Expand Your Identified Keywords
Expanding the keyword refers to creating a set of long-tail keywords from the main keywords you have identified. It's a good idea to rank for long-tail keywords rather than just the direct keywords mainly because of the competition factor. The basic or general keywords will be much more competitive from a ranking standpoint.
Long-tail keywords can be identified by adding modifiers to your main keywords. It further specifies the services you offer and helps in adding to the keywords. You can use some of the tools we discussed in the section above to identify related keywords and add them to your target list.
It’s also recommended that you look at your competitors while listing the keywords. You should be able to find more ideas for keywords that they are ranking for and ones that you are not ranking for.
Filter Your Keywords Based on Metrics
It’s now time to use metrics to further narrow down on the keywords you have and find out which ones you should be ranking for and which ones to exclude from the list. While you may find a lot of relevant keywords, it is possible that not all of them have enough search volume that warrant being ranked on. Or it may be too difficult as there is high competition.
Filter down the listed keywords and arrive at a limited set of keywords that you can realistically rank for and where you have a good chance of success.
Segregate Your Keyword list
The next step in the process is to segregate the keyword lists and figure out how you want to use each keyword on your website. You should be looking at intent and also whether the keywords are implicit or explicit while segregating.
Intent refers to how close the keyword is in relation to the user taking a purchase decision. Say for a keyword such as Emergency car repair in Orange county, it is likely that the searcher is looking for a quick solution. These keywords are high on intent. Some keywords can be segregated as to be lesser on intent, such as “how to deep clean the car”. These topics can be covered as blogs or videos to attract users and convert them at a later stage.
Implicit keywords are ones where the location is not mentioned. Google does a great job of identifying what keywords are usually high on local intent and shows location-specific responses along with results on Google Maps. However, it is also a great idea to add locations to your keywords and make them explicit.
It is a good idea to check manually as to which keywords have a local intent and which ones do not. A simple Google Search will tell you this. You should then segregate the keywords with local intent and the ones without separately.
Once you have the keywords segregated, you can start using them on your website to make sure that you are ranking for these, and to get some organic traffic come in!
Most business owners are looking for sustainable ways to drive organic traffic to their websites. This is the single most important reason why SEO continues to play a major role in digital marketing today.
The above steps give you the necessary tools and steps to do local keyword research and to get started on your SEO journey. However, just this won’t help. You need to look at your Google My Business profile as well and make sure your website has all the necessary elements to rank organically on SERPs.
All this sounds complex? It can be a bit challenging for sure. FVG is here to help. We have been dealing with general and local SEO for various businesses for years. Talk to us today to get started!
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.