Guide to Keyword Research: a modern and effective approach
Focusing only on search volumes (more accurately, from estimates provided by various tools), fishing from “offline” words, focusing on word count or keyword density in content creation, and, in a broader sense, thinking in quantitative terms. Even today, in 2023 more than late, for many people and – unfortunately – many professionals or self-styled professionals, doing keyword research means all of the above, which usually entails two direct and somewhat inevitable consequences: the web pages created in this way are not competitive and do not rank, or they rank but get unqualified traffic.
The basic problem is that this approach still focuses on an old way of doing “keyword research” and does not take into account the evolutions of Google and users, and above all it does not consider the more modern aspects of keyword analysis, search intent identification and entity study, for example, which today are instead among the elements that must guide our strategy. So let’s try to see together what can be a modern, efficient and functional approach to SEO-oriented keyword research today, and then how to do keyword research carefully and specifically to maximize results.
What is a keyword research
Keyword research is the process of researching and analyzing the terms and queries that people enter into search engines such as Google when they are interested in finding information about products, services, or anything else. Essentially, it is an ever-evolving activity to adapt to new trends and search engine algorithms, which allows us to find out what people are searching for online, but also how they are doing the searches, with what terms and in what ways, to see which keywords actually have organic search volume.
In this way, we get an extensive, but qualitatively selected list of keywords that may be relevant to our site, in line with products and services we offer and in tune with the demands of target users, so that we can then proceed with appropriate content production that follows the dictates of SEO copywriting to actually prove useful to people.
In fact, keyword research data have a specific purpose, which is frequently precisely the appropriate use for the creation of content geared toward organic SEO visibility or even in broader general marketing strategies. In fact, keyword research allows one to discover the queries to be targeted, the popularity of these queries, their ranking difficulty, and other insights that are fundamental to trying to be competitive. In other words, a proper keyword research strategy helps us identify how a particular market is evolving and generate content, products or services based on the needs of users who are already using a specific search query to find solutions to their problem.
The meaning of keyword research
But in its most current meaning, keyword research means even more, going beyond the old (and simplistic) concept of “keyword research”: in fact, it also implies the categorization of search queries in the different stages of a user journey, the understanding of people’s needs through the identification of the type of intent to which the word relates, but also the study of competitors and the possible semantic declinations of terms.
The underlying assumption is that not all traffic is equal and our pages cannot compete for *all* keywords: with this activity we can select the most relevant and qualitatively valuable keywords, considering whether working on a specific cluster of terms will potentially provide the desired feedback in the aspect of organic ranking and visits, leads or conversions.
At the same time, it is good to remember that there is no universal and always working approach for “word searchers,” because everything depends on a number of factors: first, we need to know how to evaluate our site (from the point of view of authority, quality of content, niche, and so on), and then identify the goals and targets we set for ourselves (which can be brand strengthening, increased traffic, visibility, increased sales), consider budgets, resources and timeframes, and, last but not least, examine the production segment and competitive scenarios. Not least because, as we shall see, casting an eye over competitor strategies is often a good way to find ideas and insights for launching or relaunching an online project.
The importance of keyword research for SEO
Keywords are (still) the basis of SEO, although it is not enough to just put keywords within a text to hope to achieve visibility and get results; in any case, it remains true that if no one is searching for what we write in the way we present it, it is difficult if not impossible to get traffic from Google, no matter how hard we try.
Ultimately, a search engine continues to be an information retrieval system built around the queries a user enters to find an answer or information relevant to the need that moved his or her action-the search intent. As we often reiterate, Google’s mission is to connect a user with the page that its algorithmic systems believe provides the best answer to his or her query so that the user is satisfied and has a positive experience.
Although SEO today is a much broader discipline than in the early days of the industry and is segmented into many vertical areas, it continues to be focused on finding online opportunities and gaining relevant traffic to a Web site through search engine visibility.
Keyword research is at the heart of this SEO strategy because it is the basis of how a brand can connect with its potential customers and audiences, and mastering the art of keyword research is critical to SEO success-especially since, on the contrary, the costs of making a strategic mistake are definitely very high, because choosing the wrong keywords means wasting a lot of time and resources.
Even if in modern meaning the keyword does not exist (to quote a provocation of our Ivano Di Biasi), the term “keyword” or in plural “keywords” still remains one of the most widely used in the sphere of online strategies, because after all it refers to the ultimate goal of optimization activities, that is, to find keywords, those “special” (and almost magical) formulas that allow the ranking of a page on search engines, because they respond to the word or set of words that users use in the search bar to obtain information or consult the sites of their interest.
Typing keywords on Google brings up over half a billion results, so it is obvious that the topic is central, and similar interest is shown by queries on how to find keywords et similia, which generate millions of pages in Italian alone.
What this activity is good for a site for
The meaning of keyword research should be familiar to everyone who operates online, because it represents the fundamental process of discovering and determining which keywords are used on search engines (including those of specific platforms, such as YouTube or Amazon) by users or potential customers.
Conditionalities are a must, because according to our SEOZoom estimates today in Italy 29 million websites make less than 10 visits per day and 13 million Italian websites do not even have a keyword on the first page on Google (“real” sites, which have pages placed on pages from the second onwards). Quite “chilling” numbers that highlight a number of elements: in many people do not understand what it means to undertake an online activity, ending up off track is really easy and, beyond structural errors, often the difficulties in communicating with the search engine arise from content that is not useful and readable for users, that is out of focus, poorly written, does not follow a proper study, is poorly optimized or on the contrary over-optimized, has chosen wrong keywords and not corresponding to the search intent.
In short, problems often arise from mistakes with keyword research.
SEO keyword research is needed for online strategy
It follows that doing keyword research effectively and appropriately allows us to connect more easily with our potential users and audience, and thus to set up a good SEO strategy.
In fact, a business strategy should start with understanding the audience and their needs, defining what their goals are, what their needs are, what their problems are, and what possible concrete answers we can provide them. Keyword research is an extension of understanding the audience, considering first their needs and then the phrases, keywords, or queries they use to find solutions.
The next step is precisely to clarify which search terms are relevant for our target users and for our type of business: in this way, we keep away from the risk we have just described, that is, losing potential customers due to a mismatch between the words used in an article or on the site and the real search intent of the online audience, understood both as the most searched keywords for that content and topic and as the ultimate goal of what users want to know or buy.
In this approach, which we can call inbound, we do not create content around what we want to tell people, but we produce content around what people want to find out. In other words, we try to attract and bring our audience to our pages, and it all starts with keyword research.
Briefly, recall that we used to identify four specific types of intent, namely informational searches (informational), transactional searches (transactional), commercial searches (commercial), and navigational searches (navigational).
It should be easy to understand that it makes no sense to optimize content for words that people do not use or for services that do not match those provided by the site, just as it is strategic to know the intention and interest that moves your customers in order to respond to them efficiently. For example, if people are essentially interested in buying a product, there is no need (and it is difficult) to position ourselves in SERPs with content that offers information instead, and vice versa.
By identifying the correct keyword cluster, we can be in focus with the topic that Google has decided is relevant to interested users, and we then have a compass to steer our content toward so that it is truly useful. With good keyword research, in fact, we can present ourselves to people to help them with what they need, and for example:
- Those who want to make a purchase will find the appropriate product page.
- Someone who is looking for “how-to” guides may find a page that explains a process in depth.
- Those who wish to get information about a person or brand can delve into that entity.
Clearly, all of this has an effect on SEO because it gives us a glimpse of where the potentially most profitable opportunities lie based on knowledge of what the target audience is looking for, so that we can possibly identify new investment opportunities and prioritize where to focus attention and resources.
In addition, keyword research and subsequent keyword analysis also allow us to calculate what the return on this effort might be from a KPI perspective, because for example we can budget the relevant traffic targets that we have a chance of converting into the final target, the estimate of that traffic, and the value of each visitor to our business.
How to choose the right keywords?
Always reasoning theoretically, a keyword research should then start by putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes, trying to identify words and phrases they might use to find solutions to their problems, to be analyzed later with a keyword research tool.
The task seems easy on the surface, and indeed the process can become natural, but it cannot preclude from a good knowledge of our industry and niche (which also means proper awareness of the size of our site and those of our competitors) and the use of appropriate tools.
The crucial point, however, is not so much to identify the right keywords, the right clusters or topics to serve with pages and content, but rather to identify the intent behind that keyword and to see whether or not the content meets that intent. Essentially, keyword research tells us what topics people are interested in and, assuming we are using the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are in our target audience: it is no longer working on single words with which to optimize individual content, but targeting content on the most profitable, profitable, interesting, and relevant topics with a chosen set of keywords as the target audience.
The practical applications of keyword research activity
But we should not think of keyword research as a static, one-time activity: the Web and search engines are constantly evolving and offering answers in many different formats (just look at Google’s SERP Feature to get an idea), and so our research must be adaptive and changing. By approaching keyword research in a fluid way-and starting with identifying the problem that originates the users’ search, and the solution our site can offer-we can use this data for different purposes and forms: data collection for content creation, of course (in the broadest sense, declining into text articles, images, infographics, videos, podcasts, and so on), but also site structure for a new launch or a more strategic reorganization, development of an effective editorial plan, with correlated calendar, optimization of resources and content already published, research of new ideas and identification of trends to anticipate.
The benefits of choosing the right terms
In a broader sense, doing good keyword research – repeating the operation at different times, for different purposes and with different seasonality phases – helps us to optimize the resources we have to grow our website, because it also allows us to avoid crawl budget problems, improve the work of copywriters, create quality resources that respond to Search Intent, foster site usability and user navigation, avoid cannibalization problems, and structure internal links upstream, making defined clusters to intercept the right users.
With an organized site, we know how and where to intervene and avoid wasting energy and resources on unnecessary branches.
Delving into some of the benefits of this activity, we can mention:
- More efficient content planning – identifying relevant keywords and topics, identifying the relevant focus for users and Google (so as not to go off-track), creating the best answer to the user’s primary need through knowledge of the topic, studying the SERP and competitors, analyzing topics and relevance, and being timely in intercepting trends before others.
- SEO Copywriting Optimization. Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process, but more generally it is an essential part of any SEO strategy, as well as any project that intends to “survive” on the Web. Before writing content of any kind for our site, in fact, one should think about what kind of “intent” of users one can respond to, trying to get into people’s headsto find out what they expect from the search, and then try to intercept them thanks to the content provided and achieve the goal of ranking.
- Overview of marketing trends – Information on current marketing trends to discover relevant and interesting topics and keywords for the target audience.
- Audience knowledge – Knowing the audience helps us improve performance. Understanding what our target audience and potential customers want and need allows us to plan our strategy in advance, choose more targeted keywords, write more effective content because it is more useful. And this clearly can benefit SEO, because – taking it to extremes and simplifying – if we offer content that responds to search intent, if we use the right words, we increase our chances of ranking high in search engine results and thus attracting traffic to the site.
- Customer acquisition – closely related to the previous point, once we have identified a target audience and understand what they are looking for, it should be easier to meet the needs of that sectorized audience by providing content and calls to action that will lead them to the end of the famous marketing funnel, moving from the awareness stage to the point of purchase.
The evolution of Google and the basics of keyword research
Even with Google’s constant changes and updates, performing effective keyword research is the first step in planning the strategy for our project, and understanding how Google Search works serves us to know how to provide useful and potentially more competitive content through our web pages.
To summarize, Google’s algorithm evolves to identify high quality content that is also useful and relevant to users’ search intentions, we have said this many times; from a technical point of view, ranking systems try to categorize each article by comparing it to related ones, and since we cannot know all the algorithm’s criteria (the famous 200 ranking factors), we can only try to hit the rewarded focus and stay in the track of what the search engine likes at that moment.
And this is where search intent comes in, which represents the reason and goal for which a user performed an online search, what the person expects to find in the results pages. Again simplifying, all online searches are aimed at satisfying a real need, which may be related to the need to find information about current events or a specific topic, request services, purchase products, or simply view a specific website. Positioning a piece of content therefore also involves the ability to understand what people are looking for, how they search for it, and what language (and keywords) they use.
What does it mean to do keyword research today
So far we have said that, despite the changes, keyword research remains a crucial element of Search Engine Optimization, provided that we enter a different order of ideas and adopt a modern approach to make this activity effective, making it more than just keyword research.
Aspects to be evaluated include, among others:
- Search intent. Paying special attention to the user’s search intent has become a priority in modern keyword research; in practice, we need to identify in advance whether the intent behind a keyword is informational, commercial, transactional, or navigational and tailor the content accordingly to better meet the user’s needs.
- Semantic search and related keywords. Google’s algorithm has become smarter in understanding natural language and relationships between words and concepts, so it is important to broaden the horizon of keyword research to include the semantic relationship between keywords and context, analyzing the entities involved and trying to create relationships between these entities.
- Competitor analysis. One of the most important aspects of a modern approach to keyword research is to analyze competitors and identify the keywords for which they are positioning and the type of content they offer.
- Trend and trend monitoring. Keeping up with current trends in your industry and monitoring growing keywords through tools such as Google Trends can help you identify opportunities to create relevant content in real time and get ahead of the market.
- Focus on long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, or more specific, long-tail keywords, generally have lower search volume but a higher likelihood of conversion and less competition. Not neglecting these keywords is one of the basic tips for reaching the audience most interested in our product or service.
- Beyond text. In light of changing user behaviors and the evolution of search engines, it is important to consider multimedia content (videos, images, podcasts) in keyword research and SEO optimization.
- Using advanced research tools. Modern keyword research tools can help us find relevant keywords, analyze search volume, and evaluate competition. We will shortly see how to use SEOZoom in practice!
And so, a modern SEO keyword research essentially consists of a process that follows this flow:
- Definition of project goals and target audience.
- Identification of search intent and relevant primary keywords.
- Use of advanced search tools to find relevant and long-tail keywords.
- Analysis of competitors and their content.
- Creation of a content strategy based on the data collected.
- Constant monitoring of results to adjust strategy based on performance analysis.
Taking a modern approach to keyword research SEO therefore means paying attention to search intent, focusing on long-tail keywords, analyzing competitors, and taking advantage of trends and opportunities in our industry. Even more precisely, it means studying contexts, building relationships (including between entities), defining intent and finding opportunities in SERPs, without letting evolutions scare us too much.
Not least because it is precisely evolutions, such as features appearing in Google SERPs, that provide us with new ways to collect data, know more precisely what people are looking for, and find answers to the user’s problem: By analyzing the layout of the results page, in fact, we can get a glimpse of what kind of content facilitates the user to solve the problem, how competitors give an answer to the problem, what can help define the authority of a site, what related problems we could solve (the thematic set we get, for example, from the study of questions related to user intent that appear in the “People also ask” box).
So it may no longer be enough to search for keywords based on their popularity, search volume, and general intent, or to evaluate the other factors that define the goodness of a keyword such as keyword difficulty, the number of results placed in SERPs for that keyword, and its seasonality, because we need to go beyond that and try to address the questions that most people within our target audience want answers to, and act accordingly to propose our content as an appropriate problem solver.
Using advanced tools and constantly monitoring performance will help us in this work, potentially making it easier to achieve the goals of increased visibility on Google and satisfying business targets.
The focus should increasingly be on search intent
We still dwell on what should be a basic concept: you need to search intent, not just keywords. We have been beating this drum for some time now, talking about SEO trends and keyword research activity from a modern perspective, reiterated frequently by even the most influential public voices in the field. Just to recall a case in point, at the end of 2019 (so already almost four years ago now!) Bing’s Frédéric Dubut pointed out this factor as one of the main areas on which to focus site optimization work.
Speaking as a speaker at an SMX event, Dubut gave a short video interview in which he highlights some SEO trends in 2020, calling it “the year when SEO professionals will have to work to refine their intent research practices, to keep up with the latest developments in deep learning and natural language processing.”
In his experience, the search engines themselves were (and are) shifting primarily to intent, to search intent: as of 2018 there has been continuous progress in the field of deep learning and natural language processing, some fruits of which we see today, such as the integration of the BERT language model into Google’s search results, the new Search Generative Experience mode based on Artificial Intelligence, or Bing‘s solutions for its queries.
I SEO must change their keyword research practices to follow the evolution of search engines
This means that search engines are shifting from the mere reading of keywords to the actual interpretation of user intents at a more and more fast pace. The trend is destined to continue, so to allow search engines to better understand “what documents mean and perform better matchings” with users’ researches.
Dubut, Program Manager of Bing’s core search team, then offers his advice to the SEO community: “some of the current practices around keyword research are probably going to become obsolete and you will need to switch to intent research as a practice“.
At the time, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land asked for John Mueller’s opinion during last English Google Webmaster Central office-hours, trying to get which is Mountain View’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst (and, at large, the search engine) stand on this matter. Mueller was quite cautious and more realistic than Dubut and reminded us that “providing keywords to users is still the easier thing to do“.
Specifically, Mueller started off by ammitting he did not actually see Debut’s video nor read about his thought; but anyway, he believes that “there will always be at least some little room for the old keyword research, because you still have to practically supply users with these words“. Even if search engines are trying to understand more than mere words, “showing people specific terms can make a bit easier for them to figure out your page’s topic and, in some cases, can lead the whole process of conversion”.
Therefore, John Mueller thinks that the process of keyword research “will never completely go away”, but at the same time he is sure that search engines will constantly improve themselves in order to understand more than the sole words in a page, to then interpret the offered content in a more comprehensive way.
Keyword research tools to understand search intent
The dynamic nature of the SEO industry therefore requires the ability to plan and implement adaptable strategies, but above all to keep our eyes open to intercept changes, trying to keep up with the times also in terms of continuous learning, so that we get concrete feedback for the online projects we follow. Everything is evolving, as we said before: there are innovations in the way users search, with the increasing impact of mobile, voice commands or Artificial Intelligence, to which we also tie algorithm updates from Google, to finally get to people’s behavior changes, the needle of the scale of this process. The summary is that, at the moment, understanding search intent is a key factor in trying to rank our content on search engines, because any SEO strategy that aspires to success can only start with a valid and effective understanding of user intent.
We have focused on the differences between the various types of queries before, classifying the four macro-variables of search intent into informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional; similarly, it should also be obvious by now that an analysis of the SERP allows us to find out what the search engines reward with ranking, i.e., how Google interprets the keyword we are interested in and what type of intent it prioritizes. This enables prior reconnaissance that avoids a classic mistake: namely, attempting to rank a product page for sale in a query dominated by in-depth guides and resources, or conversely, getting a merely informative article into a commercial SERP.
Beyond the keyword research: competitor analysis and SERP study
This means that Google already makes basic decisions about search intent, showing the results that best meet the most common needs of the searcher, and so attempting to “force the hand” is likely to be futile, as well as detrimental to one’s project. On the contrary, we need this information to understand how best to structure and optimize one’s page to help users get what they had in mind when they typed the query. Studying SERPs and analyzing competitors also allows us to find out what level of quality has been achieved by other content, and therefore also gives us the benchmark to reach for when trying to position our own pages
Search engines reward content closer to the search intent
Search engine optimization should start with optimizing for users’ search intent: SEOZoom provides a number of keyword research tools that cover all the needs of this activity, facilitating both in the creation of targeted searches and then in the actual writing of content. Underlying this is the belief that search engines are becoming more sophisticated and precise in measuring how effectively a page matches search intent, and it is inferred that pages that rank well are (should be) those that best answer the question posed by users, providing useful answers.
Indeed, it happens to find content-rich sites that are, however, poorly strategic, because they are produced without prior and adequate SEO keyword research; therefore, simply intervening with on-page optimizations and text improvements that can correct the bias with a relatively simple effort in terms of work. The starting point is always the same: when you have to write an article you should know exactly what you can achieve. That is, we should know how users might search for the information toward which the article tends, know whether there are closely related topics that might lead to our content, and know exactly what is the “catchment area” that can be intercepted with the article.
At the same time, in the design of a content we must already know whether we intend to provide an answer to navigational, informational or transactional needs, because the search results chosen by Google are different depending on the type of search intent it assumes, and the search engine expects content with a different “slant” on the same topic based on the analysis of the user’s searches. Articles that are too general on a topic actually run the risk of not answering anything, so it is good to predetermine which users we want to reach, nor is it possible to keep producing specific pages for each individual search keyword, as it used to work.
How to do keyword research with SEOZoom
Coming to the practical side, our suite offers a manifold set of tools with which to do keyword research, to perform strategic keyword research and always find the right words for our content and online activities.
Again, the idea is that in order to be competitive and build winning content that is in line with readers’ needs, it is no longer enough to start with a large-volume keyword or a group of related keywords: you need to investigate the industry, analyze users’ search intentions, check seasonality and semantic variations. You need, in short, a strategy.
Therefore, the “Keyword Research” section groups a number of features that offer different approaches to the study, analysis and evaluation of keywords, meeting different needs and personal preferences to enable everyone to do keyword research in the most congenial way.
Specifically, there are:
- Keyword Infinity, our ever-expanding database, capable of autonomously discovering new related keywords that might be useful for our strategies, thanks to a learning engine that does not overlook even the smallest market niches, showing search intent and key information.
- Question Explorer, the world’s first question search tool, which analyzes all the questions users have in mind and search for on Google when they need to solve a real problem, thus giving us insights to make each piece of content really useful and know precisely what our target users are looking for and what are all the relevant keywords related to questions according to Google.
- Topic Explorer, which finds all keywords that have the same search intention, showing terms related to the specific need that prompted the user to do a Google search, and in particular identifies related topics and high search volume long tails.
- Interest Finder, which serves us to capture specific aspects of a core topic on which the greatest user interest is focused, offering a qualitative study of long tails, grouped by similar topic, providing insights to create landing pages and targeted campaigns.
- Discover Keyword, to never run out of data and ideas thanks to an increasingly detailed list even in very specific niches, with the possibility of extending the analysis to more languages and markets.
- Site Builder, designed to support the creation of a workmanlike, functional and effective site structure, immediately discovering the potential traffic of categories and pages.
- Niche Investigation, which delves into each market segment and, starting with a reference domain, shows new keywords with high profitability.
- Your Keyword Researches, a management tool for organizing data for each client or professional project, which represents the history of our activities and allows us to save lists of keywords to use when writing articles with the platform’s other tools.
SEOZoom’s Keyword Infinity, an expanding database
An important assistant on how to search for keywords is Keyword Infinity, which we can call a real database that is constantly being updated and, moreover, can be further enriched by each individual user.
In fact, if the keyword we intend to observe does not appear in the database, we can enter it manually and wait approximately 10 minutes to discover the results of the work of the specific engine dedicated to this operation, which will expand and display new related keywords.
On the practical side, this function has an immediately understandable interface: entering the keyword in the top bar starts the search, which offers as results groups of queries within which we will find the desired keyword declined in all possible variants, with a series of values such as search volume, potential volume, any SERP Feature activating, Competition, average CPC and a graph indicating the seasonal search trend.
The scan highlights the type of search intent, which we can delve into in the Informational Keywords and Transactional Keywords tabs: in the first, the tool groups all keywords inherent to an informational intent, which therefore require content that meets the informational needs of the user making a query on the search engine. The second section, on the other hand, shows the list of keywords that specifically refer to a transactional intent, and thus to a user interested in buying a product or service, or otherwise ready to take an action (transaction) on a web page.
The tool is completed with the Keyword Graph, a graphical or tabular representation that reports information on the average query volumes used by users with respect to key queries, and the Knowledge Search, which allows users to search for recognized semantic web entities for the keyword entered (and which similarly appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph).
SEOZoom’s keyword tools
SEOZoom’s “word finder” is called “Discover keywords,” which is the tool that precisely allows us to get innovative results on keywords to use in our website, perhaps adding terms we had not thought of. The analysis starts with the manual entry of a keyword, which the system will investigate for a short time: the answer is a cell chart containing all the branches of that word, with long tail keywords and related keywords to the main one that can be further “navigated” and explored to get other results.
To go even deeper with analysis and respond to more specific needs, we can take advantage of two other tools: the first is Interest Finder, which makes us discover groups of keywords of interest to our project and capture the specific aspects of a central topic on which users’ greatest interest is focused.
Again, a cell visualization appears, with which SEOZoom proposes groups of long-tail keywords grouped by similar topic, showing the monthly search volumes of individual keywords and the overall volume related to the analyzed keyword group.
Niche Investigation, on the other hand, is the function for unearthing new high-profit keywords from a reference domain for a given niche; this means that we can intercept keywords of a stronger competitor that have interesting volumes, again with indications of the difficulty values, Average CPC, monthly search volume, number of results present in the search indexes and number of listings in SERPs, which serve to fine-tune our strategy in a judicious and more targeted manner.
The other tools for online keyword research
What we have written applies both to newer projects, which therefore have to undertake an activity from scratch “taking cues” also from competitors, and to those who have been online for longer and are perhaps already leaders in their niche market. Coming out of SEOZoom, then, and wanting to use other tools, one is spoiled for choice, starting with the Google Keyword Planner, the keyword planning tool from Ads that allows one to have support for building one’s campaigns and “stay up to date on keyword trends to refine campaigns in the search network and make sure content stays relevant,” as Brad Beiter, Vice President of Performance Content, Performics, puts it.
In fact, this feature was born from the “ashes” of two previous BigG products, namely Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimation Tool, which have been merged to create a free keyword research tool that allows you to identify and analyze keywords and find out the possible performance of a keyword list, as well as several additional features.
Also not to be overlooked is Google Trends, a database of searches are being made in the world at that given time and also reports the most notable trends, or what is probably the easiest means of searching for new keywords, which is the automatic search completion that you get through the search bar of the world’s most famous and widely used engine.
How to do keyword research today: one possible approach
Based on all that has been written, then, we can try to define a possible effective workflow for approaching keyword research today.
- Start with Google. Let’s try to do a search for the keyword or phrase of interest on Google, checking for the possible presence of are sponsored ads within the SERPs, which could be an indicator of the high profitable potential of the term and topic.
- Don’t stop at the main keyword. Aiming for the maximum – the main keyword, the one with the highest potential – might seem the most obvious choice, but it is often not the best one: investigation of all keywords, including related ones, those inherent to the search intent and long-tail ones, can help us not only to optimize a page in the right way, but also to possibly find more profitable and easier angles to attack for our content.
- Use keyword analysis tools. To be competitive we need data and information, and SEOZoom’s tools help us get a complete picture of the opportunities and also the difficulties with respect to the topic we are working on. Having obtained the insights, it is our expertise and experience that will make us decide whether or not to target a particular keyword or perhaps try another route to target a less competitive SERP.
More generally, SEO keyword research can be a two-stage activity, which is done alongside a single keyword optimization strategy: in the first stage, we study all the information about the best keys on which to focus attention and the creation of quality content, checking, for example, the potential volume of the keyword, the difficulty of ranking, and so on. In this, SEOZoom allows you to have this data immediately at your fingertips, thanks, for example, to the Keyword Opportunity (a number from 0 to 100 that indicates the opportunity to rank with a keyword) and Keyword Difficulty (which instead represents the difficulty of ranking for a given keyword) values. In both cases, the suite looks at various factors to produce the answers, specifically the trust of competitors in SERPs, the degree of optimization of their pages, and the level of competition present within the search engine results.
The second step may be next, which is the “after-the-fact” intervention that serves both to monitor the actual performance of the content created and to strategically optimize the page. Here, too, SEOZoom supports us with easy-to-use and very effective tools, such as content gap analysis (which highlights potential keywords and topics that we have not worked on and that are instead productive for better competitors) or the search for related keywords, which can be added in a targeted way. Sometimes, in fact, analyzing the page returns on SEOZoom reveals that Google has positioned us for keywords that we did not contemplate at the initial stage and even did not use in the text, but that nevertheless the search engine has “intercepted” and that may actually be useful and relevant: to cleverly and optimally exploit this “luck,” all we need to do is make small changes to the content, inserting these new keys into the text, while respecting the quality and precepts of SEO, for example by adding specific headings and developing new paragraphs in which to delve into these keywords.
Dynamic and flexible work
We have said it almost to the point of boredom: today, keyword research is no longer just literally the search for keywords to insert in a text to tempt fate and hope for a good ranking on Google, but a strategic activity that analyzes contexts, entities, people, needs and solutions.
We could call it Problem research, as proposed by our trainer Elisa Contessotto: that is, when we approach tools, we should try to find the problems (of people) that our website and our content can solve, providing the most useful answer.
In fact, every search on Google stems from a problem or need, even those of an informational nature, and if the search engine is evolving into an answer engine, we cannot fail to keep up with this change if we still want to gain organic visibility.
Ultimately, then, keyword research should be a fluid, dynamic, flexible and adaptable process: the key is not the keyword, because the key is to adapt to the context, to be able to grasp the user intent in a changing environment like Google’s. We need to embrace change and have tools that can capture it, and SEOZoom is definitely our winning ally.