Keyword research should be the starting point for any SEO campaign.
Why? Because if you don’t know what people are actually searching for in your niche, you’ll be relying on luck—rather than data—to guide your decisions.
That’s no way to run your business.
Follow the solid keyword research tips below to get started
Make Sure You’re Targeting (and Optimizing for) the RIGHT Keyword
Most people make one of three mistakes when it comes to keyword targeting:
- They fail to optimize for any keyword(s) at all;
- They attempt to optimize for too many keywords;
- They optimize for irrelevant keywords.
You can solve those first two mistakes by remembering this: each page/post on your website should target one “main” keyword or topic.
It’s also important to try to avoid targeting the same keyword on multiple pages. This is because Google will usually only choose to rank one of these pages, and it may not be the one you want them to rank!
A good exercise for choosing the right keyword is simply to send your page to a friend and ask “what is this page all about?”
Their answer will usually give you the best keyword/topic ideas.
However, you should still always Google keywords before committing to them.
Why? Because it’ll help you to understand what—in Google’s eyes—is the best result for that particular keyword. If most of the results are vastly different to the content you’re trying to rank, it probably isn’t a great keyword to target.
Same goes for keywords with a lot of SERP features (e.g. featured snippets, Adwords ads, shopping results, etc).
These push the “10 blue links” (i.e. organic results) way down, which results in a lower CTR and less traffic.
Avoid “Keyword Unicorns” by Considering Search Intent
Sometimes you might spot a particularly juicy keyword when conducting your research. But just because a keyword has high volume, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a good one to rank for.
You have to consider what the “intent” was behind the search.
Example: “Google Analytics” might seem like a good keyword to try and rank for at first glance.
At 1 million US searches per month there’s certainly a LOT of volume there!
The vast majority of those searches are just going to be people looking to sign in to Google Analytics. They probably won’t even notice the site at position 2.
I probably search for Google Analytics half a dozen times a day at least (should really bookmark it…).
Now if we scroll down we find the keyword “how to use Google analytics.”
That gets 1,900 searches a month and is definitely going to be someone searching for a guide, meaning it’ll probably be a better keyword to go after.
But remember, it’s not all about traffic (unless you sell ads).
You’re ultimately looking to rank for keywords that will bring value to your business (i.e., those bringing traffic that will convert into leads and customers). You, therefore, have to target keywords with relevant intent.
Here are a few questions that will help to identify potential “keyword unicorns”:
- Are the people searching for this keyword likely to want to buy what you sell?
- Is there a clear way to convert traffic from this keyword into leads?
- Is there enough search volume to make targeting this keyword worthwhile from a business perspective?
- Does the search volume come from your target country? (i.e. where your customers are)
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you’ve most likely got a “keyword unicorn” on your hands!
Recommended reading: How To Determine Keyword Search Intent
New Website or Low Authority? Find Low Competition Keywords for the Best Shot at Ranking Quickly
Running a new website with low authority?
If so, you’ll find it harder to rank for competitive keywords.
Sure, it can be done, but it won’t be easy. You’ll need to go the extra mile and create something super awesome. Then promote it like crazy.
It, therefore, makes sense to first target less competitive keywords.
This is the quickest way grow your search traffic.
Fortunately, it’s easy to figure out how difficult a keyword is to rank for using our “keyword difficulty” (KD) score within Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.
Most keywords related to “search engine optimization” have very high difficulty scores.
But there’s one that has a low difficulty score and should be easier o rank for…
“What does SEO stand for”
You can find out how we calculate the difficulty score for a keyword here.
Find out Which Keywords Are Driving Your Competitor’s Search Traffic…Then Steal Them for Your Own Site!
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could find out exactly which keywords your competitors are ranking for AND how much search traffic those keywords are bringing in?
Yep, it would…and it is!
In fact, you can do it in seconds with Ahrefs Site Explorer.
Just enter your competitor’s domain and then go to the “Organic keywords” report.
Site Explorer > Enter competitor’s domain > Organic search > Organic keywords
You’ll get a list of all the major keywords that your competitors are currently ranking for.
*Top 20 positions with ‘Lite’ Ahrefs account. Top 50 positions available with Standard Account and top 100 with Advanced/Agency.
Set Up Alerts to Spy on Your Competitor’s New Keywords in Real Time
Keep tabs on your competitor’s content strategy by monitoring their new keywords.
Why? Because if your competitor targets a new keyword, you may also want to target it.
You can set up an alert in Ahrefs, which will send you an email summary of all new keywords we have discovered your competitor ranking for.
Alerts > New keywords > Add alert > enter competitor’s domain > set report frequency > Add