The 4 Step Keyword Research Technique To Rank Your Site

By azfar on December 9, 2015

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Keyword Research Techniques

2015 is almost out and 2016 is just around the corner. If you are wondering what’s changed in SEO world, the answer is A LOT! Things like RankBrain, Schema Markup as well as long contents are among the things that’s going to be big in 2016.

But what about keyword research? How much have it changed? Considering that keyword research is arguably the most important part of SEO that’s going to dictate how the rest of the campaign will go, it’s quite an important question to answer.

Besides some tools going in and out of popularity (and also existence), keyword research have remain mostly the same. That is fine and all if you intend to stay at the same spot. But in order to rise up in the ranks we will need some new strategies of doing keyword research in 2016.

The Four Step
Keyword Research Tracker

  • Access various keyword research tools from one convenient page
  • Improves search intent discovery and keyword expansion process
  • Real keyword research example to guide you along the process

Besides the usual things like keyword volume, the use of short tail versus long tail keywords and competitor research, there are more questions that we should also ponder – Questions like how profitable the keywords are or what sort of products or services you can offer in relation to a particular set of keywords.

So let’s look at the 4 steps of doing keyword research that’s going to give you the competitive edge in 2016:

Step 1: Basic Research

Obviously you’ll need to start with picking a main keyword that you’re going to aim to rank for. This can be pretty straightforward as it describes the main activity of your business. For example, SEOPressor obviously will aim for “search engine optimization” as our main keyword.

The next step will be to go deeper into the nature of your main keyword. You can do this by analyzing the Google Search Engine Results Page itself:

  • Related Search – Found at the very bottom of the Google SERP, Related Search can give clues on what are the demands as well as search intents user have for the keyword.

    Google generate the related search suggestions based on popular queries made by users.

    Google generate the related search suggestions based on popular queries made by users.

  • Google Autocomplete – Google autocomplete your query as you type and give suggestions based on popular queries often made. These are great tools to utilize to discover what Google relates to a given keyword.

    The autocomplete function of Google search also have similar benefit to the related search feature.

    The autocomplete function of Google search also have similar benefit to the related search feature.

  • Shopping Results – This often overlooked tab on Google is actually quite valuable to give insights to gauge the profitability of a keyword. You can discover new and existing products to be used as guidance for your own offerings.

    Shopping results can give insights on the marketability of any keywords.

    Shopping results can give insights on the marketability of any keywords.

  • Google AdWords – If a keyword yields Google AdWords or paid results, you know that the keyword valuable enough for people to spend money on. It can also mean that the keyword is quite competitive.

    Having paid ads means that a keyword is both valuable and competitive.

    Having paid ads means that a keyword is both valuable and competitive.

  • Competing Sites – Observing the top ranking websites at a glance can also give you useful information on whether it’s within your capability to compete against them. Consider how authoritative they are in the subject and the quality of their contents when making decision.

    Even more insights can be gained from analyzing top ranking results. For example, the difficulty of ranking for it.

    Even more insights can be gained from analyzing top ranking results. For example, the difficulty of ranking for it.

Just by looking at the SERP you can already gather tons of information related to your keyword. But that’s not all you can do. There are also a lot of other websites you can use to gather more intel:

  • Wikipedia – The table of contents of the Wikipedia page for your main keyword can be very valuable to provide you with the list of additional sub-topics.

    Items listed in the table of contents of Wikipedia articles can give you more ideas on topics revolving your keyword.

    Items listed in the table of contents of Wikipedia articles can give you more ideas on topics revolving your keyword.

  • Query-based Websites – Sites like Quora or Yahoo answers are where you should look to find common questions people ask revolving around your target keyword.

    By analyzing questions on query-based sites, you know what kind of information people are actually looking.

    By analyzing questions on query-based sites, you know what kind of information people are actually looking.

  • How-to Websites – Sites like Wikihow or LifeHacker often features how-to topics covering just about any topics you can think of. You can get ideas on what to write from them.

    How-to articles are usually highly demanded and you can discover ideas for such topics on websites like Wikihow.

    How-to articles are usually highly demanded and you can discover ideas for such topics on websites like Wikihow.

By doing the following you’ll get the key information of things you need for Google to recognize your site as relevant to the target keyword and rank it better.

Step 2: Results Analysis

After learning about the keyword itself, it’s time to dig deeper into the ranked results on the SERP itself. There can be literally millions of results for a certain query but the only ones worth analyzing are the top 10 results.

We analyze the top results for a number of reasons:

  • Learn exactly how they do their optimization
  • Understand what Google needs to rank a website on a high position
  • Know how difficult/easy it is to rank in said keyword
  • Replicate and improve the same formula to rank better ourselves
Analyze how top-ranking results include the target keywords in their Title, URL and metadata.

Analyze how top-ranking results include the target keywords in their Title, URL and metadata.

There are two aspects to consider when doing an analysis of the top-ranking results:

On-Page Factors

  • Usage of keywords in title, URL, heading tag and metadata
  • Internal linking structure of the site
  • Keywords used in anchor text that links both internally and externally
  • Length of the content
  • Keyword theme of the site – Does the whole site revolves around the keyword or is it more general?

Off-Site Factors

  • Number of backlinks – Considering that backlinks are still one of the most impactful ranking factors, it’s an important figure to know. You can use tools like Majestic or MonitorBacklinks to check a website’s backlink profile.

    majestic

  • Domain/Page Authority – Basically tells the potential of a website/webpage to rank based on its link metric. You can check these using Moz’s Open Site Explorer.

    Moz calculates Domain Authority and Page Authority based on a combination of different metrics.

    Moz calculates Domain Authority and Page Authority based on a combination of different metrics.

  • Social Signal – A lot of websites includes a social share tracker on their articles. You can use them to measure how well their contents are received by social media communities.

    social signals

  • Domain Age – The age of a domain also matters when it comes to ranking. Some queries might prefer older domains while some prefers newer ones. There’s a lot of tools to do this such as Domain Age Tool and Domain Age Checker

  • Comments – The comments section can tell you how engaging a website’s contents is and whether they spark discussion among readers. You can also tell whether a website have an established fan base by recognizing regular commenters.

    comments

Once you’ve done with analyzing the top 10 ranking results for a keyword, you’ll know exactly what elements are needed in your own websites to rank well.

Step 3: Keyword Expansion

Other than the main keyword, we can also find new related keywords we can try to rank for. The way I do it is by using Google Keyword Planner. Pretty straightforward – Just use the “Search for new keywords” option and look at the “Ad group ideas” to see how Google is grouping keywords together. Finding good categories that can be used for your own site shouldn’t be too difficult.

Things you might want to look for:

  • High average monthly searches
  • Low competition
  • Type of user intent (Check through results in Ad Preview)
  • Average to high Cost Per Click

By targeting multiple related keywords, it’s easier to diversify your topics and contents.

As you get additional keywords to accompany your main keywords, you can expand each of them by using LSI keywords. Simply put, LSI keywords are complementary keywords often found used alongside a particular keyword.

For example, websites that talks about “hoops”, “spalding” and “lebron” might get ranked for the word “basketball”.

LSI keywords can also give the right context for an ambiguous keyword. For example, “fruit salad”, “healthy” and “sweet” can tell Google that “apple” means the fruit. While “ipad”, “macbook” and “ios” can tell Google that it means the tech company instead.

Using the right LSI keywords associated with your main keywords can further strengthen the signals you give Google when ranking your website. There are lots of ways to get LSI keywords.

One way of doing it is by analyzing the top 10 results of a particular keyword simultaneously:

  1. Visit each of the top 10 results
  2. Copy and paste the contents into a document
  3. Go to TagCrowd and paste your top 10 content compilation
  4. It will then generate a word cloud made out of the most often used keywords
  5. Tick the “Show frequencies” option to see how often the keywords are used
LSI keywords for the term "keyword research"

LSI keywords for the term “keyword research”

Using this technique will let you know the most popular LSI keywords found in all the top 10 results ranking for that particular keyword. But the drawback is that it only gives you single keywords.

Another alternative is by using the Keyword Analyzer tool by Web SEO Analytics. You can only analyze one URL at a time but it also provide you with most often used two to five word phrases instead of just single keywords.

Key phrases that can be found in top ranking sites  often make good LSI keywords.

Key phrases that can be found in top ranking sites often make good LSI keywords.

Yet another even simpler tool is by using LSIGraph. You simply key in your target keyword and it will generate a list of LSI keywords to complement it. With this tool you don’t even need to analyze your competitors when it comes to getting LSI keyword suggestions!

LSIGraph is a free and easy to use tool to get LSI keyword suggestions.

LSIGraph is a free and easy to use tool to get LSI keyword suggestions.

Step 4: Optimize

At this point you’ve already gathered the essential information that can get your own website a good ranking. To recap, here’s what we have gathered so far:

  • Main keyword
  • The basics of your keyword (related search, products sold, how-to topics etc)
  • On-page and off-page optimization of top ranking sites
  • Additional related keywords
  • LSI keywords

What’s left is to incorporate all of these factors into your own website and contents. Some points worth noting is most of the time, you might notice that not all top ranking sites have everything in place (keywords in title, headers, URL). In this case you know you’ll stand a chance to rank by combining what some results miss that others include.

Our latest SEOPressor Connect’s improved on-page optimization lets you optimize your contents easily. The plugin also allows you to score and track your SEO status to give you an idea on how well the optimization is done.

Once you’re done with optimizing the on-page factors what’s left is to catch up with the off-page factors and you can roughly determine when it is achievable by comparing the amount of backlinks the top-ranking results have and your own backlink growth.

Conclusion

Keyword research is the first step to take that often determines the success or failure of an SEO campaign. With the ever-changing nature of search engines as well as the industry that revolves around it, it’s important to keep a lookout for new methods and tools to do keyword research in order to not only keep up, but also trump the competition!

The Four Step
Keyword Research Tracker

  • Access various keyword research tools from one convenient page
  • Improves search intent discovery and keyword expansion process
  • Real keyword research example to guide you along the process

Updated: 21 July 2017

Azfar Hisham

About Azfar Hisham

A copywriter with previous experience developing computer simulations, managing websites and being the social media guy. Interested in Google Patents, Knowledge Graph and questioning everything.

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