Doing a SEO keyword research and selecting the right keywords for your website is crucial to becoming visible in Google and other search engines. In the good old days of search engine optimization coming up with keywords was very simple. You just stuffed your website with many keywords and almost immediately became visible in Google. A little later, this “keyword stuffing” strategy was no longer effective and every page had to revolve around an exclusive keyword. Each page was then set up according to one focus keyword and all content had to be completely in line with it.
The latter strategy is still used and can work very well. However, determining the right set of keywords is becoming increasingly difficult due to the constantly changing Google algorithm. With the so-called “Hummingbird update“, the context in which the search is performed has become much more important. This means that one should not think so much in keywords, but rather in different topics.
The shift to contextual search
Have you ever noticed that when you google ‘weather’ or ‘cinema’ for example, the most logical and relevant search results are displayed for you? For the keyword “weather” the temperature in your city or town is displayed. For the keyword ‘cinema’ the cinemas with their opening hours in your area are shown.
If Google had taken your search too literally, it would probably display Wikipedia pages of the terms. This so-called ‘contextual search’ is becoming more and more precise and in the long run search engines will understand more and more of your context. In addition to context, Google tries to gather as much information as possible from the searcher. This means that for every searcher, even if they google the same search term, the results shown will be different.
Does this mean you don’t have to take keywords into account anymore? No, not at all. People will continue to search primarily for more general keywords such as “weather” and “cinema”. It is therefore still important to have these types of keywords incorporated into your website. The main advantage of the update is that visitors will now arrive at your website with different search queries, depending on their personal preferences.
So how do I do a keyword research?
The funny thing is that you don’t actually need a marketing agency at all to do a keyword research for you. You have something very important that they don’t and that is: years and years of industry experience. Your industry experience and knowledge of your customers form the basis of the most powerful tool humans possess: common sense. What we are trying to say is that you know better than anyone else what your target audience is googling for. And this is exactly what Google wants to achieve with the Hummingbird update. Context and logic are becoming increasingly important. As an industry expert, you can capitalize on this.
Our top 4 keyword tools for a successful SEO keyword research
To confirm your common sense, you need objective data. Only then will you be able to compile an optimal list of keywords for your website. You need to know how often a keyword is searched for in Google and how likely it is that you will achieve a good ranking for the keywords.
Before you start analyzing the keywords, you should first try to create as large a database as possible of possible keywords. If you are wise, you will also use your common sense for this 😉. The keywords that you have come up with can then be used as input for a number of keyword tools that we have selected for you.
Option 1: Google keyword planner (free)
With Google’s keyword planner, it is very easy to investigate which keywords are being searched for and how often this happens per month. Based on the data, you have insight into the information needs of the target audience, and you can select relevant keywords that your target audience searches for.
To this day, Google’s keyword planner is still one of the best free tools available. This is not surprising because the data you see comes directly from Google itself. This makes the data accurate and reliable.
Because the tool has been set up in recent years primarily to convince you to start with paid Google Ads, it also has some limitations. For example, keywords are often bundled with closely related search terms and merged into one search term. It also shows certain parameters that are only relevant to Google Ads.
That said, the keyword planner is certainly a suitable tool for finding new keywords.
Option 2: SEMrush (paid)
SEMrush is one of the most complete keyword research tools you can find. With the tool, it is possible to find new keywords, find out search volumes and analyze competitors through various options. The tool is available from $83 per month if you pay annually.
But SEMrush is actually much more than just a keyword analysis tool. In fact, you can extract an awful lot of different information for ranking higher in Google.
In short: SEMrush is a perfect replacement for the Google keyword planner and offers a lot more functionality.
Option 3: SE Ranking (paid)
SE Ranking is a very complete SEO analysis tool that we use for many of our clients. The handy thing about the tool is that you can track keyword sets and their positions in a very clear way.
If you are doing SEO yourself and you want to track the progress of positions, then our advice is to use this tool for your clients.
Other useful features that the tool offers: the backlink checker, technical SEO audits, index checker and a complete SEO plan that you can go through for a client.
Option 4: Ubersuggest (free and paid)
Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool developed by the SEO guru Neil Patel. It is possible to use the software for free, but there is a daily limit on this. However, the free version is useful for doing a quick check of the search volumes, competition and CPC of a number of keywords.
The tool is very useful for getting new content ideas for your keywords. You can also see the URL, backlinks, domain score and social shares of the competitors you will be competing against.
Strategies for selecting the right keywords
Now that you have some understanding of how to do keyword research, it’s time to select the right keywords. This is a very important process, as it is the basis for becoming more visisble in Google. If you pick the wrong keywords, you may not be found by potential customers.
Analyze with these three factors in mind
For the keyword analysis, it is important that you carefully analyze the following data:
The search volume of the keyword, check for yourself if this is high enough and how many potential visitors you can get on your website with this keyword;
The difficulty of the keyword, whatever tool you use, almost all of them will give you an indication of how difficult it is to score on the keyword based on the competition. Consider for yourself if the struggle is worth it or if you would rather score on an easier keyword;
The number of backlinks of the competitor, find out how many backlinks the competitors have on the keyword you want to score on. If there are hundreds of them, the chances are slim that you will overtake them, unless you also go to work on link building.
Use keywords that turn your visitors into customers
When selecting a keyword, it is wise to ask yourself the following question: can this keyword bring me more potential customers? A smart tactic is to boost your words by adding some extra selling power.
How to do this?
Adding purchase keywords
Buy keywords are the searches that searchers use when they plan to purchase a product or service. For example, consider the following additions to a keyword:
- Children’s clothing offer
- Garden furniture discount
- Outsourcing kitchen assembly
- Buying paracetamol
When someone is searching for a specific product, they may add certain keywords to a product keyword that they want more information about. Adding related product keywords can make a big difference:
- Apple Watch 3 Experiences
- Acer Swift 3 reviews
- Best headphones
- Most popular vacations
- Cheap suitcases
- Affordable laptops
Long tail vs short tail keywords
An additional tip for picking out suitable keywords, is by distinguishing between short tail and long tail searches. Short tail searches are keyword that consist of no more than three words, such as “cheap running shoe” or “best restaurants”. These types of keywords have a high search volume and the competition on them is therefore fierce. Long tail keywords include longer and more specific search queries. More combinations are possible, but the traffic per search is usually lower. Instead of searching for “best restaurants”, a long tail search could be “best sushi restaurants in New York”. The number of visitors from long tail keywords will be less, but the chances of these visitors converting will be higher. There are also fewer competitors on these types of keywords.
How do I incorporate the keywords into my website?
To ensure that the keywords you have selected score well, you can incorporate them in the following places:
- All the different page titles
- In your meta description
- In the slug
- In the alt attribute of your images
- In the URL of the page
- About once per paragraph
- Note: choose a maximum of one keyword per page!
Extra tip: install Yoast SEO to receive hands-on tips about how to optimize your pages for Google and other search engines.
A first step towards an SEO optimized website
With the strategies and tips we have given in this article, you can take some first steps towards developing your SEO strategy. However, there are more important SEO strategies for ranking higher in Google and other search engines. Meaning that, with only a keyword research you will not achieve the rankings you desire.