Been thinking about writing this one for several weeks and finally decided to write it. There are many misconceptions when it comes to keywords and the keyword research process. People are treating SEO like it’s some sort of luck game when it really isn’t. Know what you’re doing and you’ll see patterns and consistent results most of the time. Easier said than done nevertheless, but keyword research is definitely something you should be paying more attention to. Build a site around the wrong keywords and no link package will save you – been there, done that.
In this article I’m going to talk about some practical ways of finding good keywords and keeping the good ones, without getting too side-tracked. I’m going to focus on a few key tools – these are in no way my entire arsenal, but they can definitely get much of the job done. This should be enough to have you on the right track of doing your keyword research properly. Anyway, let’s get started.
First things first, before you start your keyword research, you need to get real. There is no magical 10,000 US monthly searches buyer intent keyword for a $500 product, or anything similar. I’m yet to see one of those in 2+ years of ACTIVE keyword research, yet newbies come and ask me to find them these “gems”. There isn’t some secret club where someone all holds all keywords like these (regardless of what some sellers would say) – and if there is, I’m certainly not a member.
Also, don’t expect to find keywords that none of your competitors would have ever heard about. If it has the monthly searches, it means that enough people are putting that into the little Google search box. And if enough people are doing that, why would you think that none of your competitors would have thought of that particular keyword as well?
Found some huge MS keyword that all the tools say is “low competition”? I’ll take a wild guess and say that’s it’s an ecommerce keyword that HUGE, million (or even billion) dollar business are ranking for with their category pages (don’t confuse category pages with product pages – those are way easier to outrank). Some overpriced tool like Long Tail Pro might say that it’s “low competition” because it has 0 links or whatever it is they account for today with their ridiculous formula, but it won’t be even close. If something looks too good to be true, it is.
What you CAN hope for is finding keywords that not too many of your competitors know about or are targeting, or keywords that are mostly targeted by pages with either bad onpage, a lack of links, or both.
Short/Long Term Keywords
I mean short/long not so much in terms of time, but more as a way to separate the keywords that you will be able to rank faster (short term) vs the keywords that you can rank for eventually (long term).
I don’t see this discussed often at all, yet I think it’s quite crucial when building a site. This part goes hand in hand with silo structure, so if you don’t know much about that you better read some here.
I’m going to shamelessly steal the image from the post above:
Without going into too much detail about silo, here are a few points regarding short/long term keywords:
- The review keywords would be considered short term, since you’d be far more likely to rank for those faster, compared to the ones listed below. Easier to rank keywords are important in my opinion, as you can start seeing some page 1 ranks way before you start ranking for your real money keywords.
- Beef dog food, best chicken dog food, best dog food, dog food… – these would be more long term keywords, with some being more long term than others. The further “up” the silo you go, the tougher the keywords – or at least it should be that way. Competition for these (non-review) keywords will be usually higher.
- Before picking the review keywords you’re going to target, I would look at the product names themselves. These would be more long term and slightly harder competitiveness than the review keywords themselves, but still definitely worth targeting as they will have X times the monthly searches of the review keywords and you can rank for these eventually as well.
Before you start targeting a niche, you should definitely get familiar with it first. Do the products go by any other names (for example, British vs American English, slang words, etc)? Is there a super related product that you could be targeting?
Try to get as many keyword ideas as you can. This is where I’m going to mention the AdWords Keyword Planner – even though I currently don’t see another use of it and I’d say you’re better off without it. Something I find more useful is simply LSIGraph.com – finding words semantically related can help a ton with your research. LSIGraph can also come in handy for on-page optimization, but that’s a whole other topic.