What are keywords?
Google Search Console – Performance Report
One of the best places to start keyword research is your Google Search Console ‘Performance’ report.
- Open Google Search Console
- Open your Performance Report
- View the Queries section
- See all the keywords under ‘Query’
- Sort by ‘Clicks’ to see what keywords are driving the most clicks
- Sort by ‘Impressions’ to see what keywords drive the most impressions
- Filters at the top will help you analyze on a granular level. You can filter by:
- Search Appearance
Don’t feel overwhelmed. One of the simplest ways to perform Keyword Research is to look at your Clicks and Impressions. There’s a lot you can learn!
What are Clicks and Impressions?
Impressions = your page was seen on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) when a user searched for that keyword.
Clicks = somebody clicked your page after the impression was made
Very low clicks + very high impressions = your page is being seen but it’s not being clicked.
You’ve compared your content Week over Week (WoW) and see that your clicks have dropped but the impressions have stayed the same. This could mean a couple of things:
- Your blog has dropped in ranking for the keyword but it’s still on the same SERP page
- Your blog has not dropped in ranking for the keyword but fewer people are clicking on it
This data could tell a deeper story, but for the sake of this example make sure you know: understanding what keywords lead to clicks on your blog is useful, and important.
Why do keywords matter?
Simply put: keywords are the words or phrases people type into Google. You use keywords all the time! They matter because they’re opportunities to reach people and offer them help.
Think of something you searched for lately. That’s a keyword.
Consider 2 types of keywords when creating blog content:
- Keywords you already rank for (blog refinement opportunities)
- Keywords you don’t already rank for (blog content opportunities)
Find Content Refinement Opportunities
Your page is ranking for a great keyword but it’s not performing well. This is a great content refinement opportunity.
Take note of the keyword you want to go after – we will analyze what we need to do in the next step (SERP Analysis).
Find New Content Opportunities
You want to create new content for your website to attract visitors and potential customers. You want the right content for the right people. It’s time to do keyword research.
How do I find new keywords?
Keyword Research tools like Ahrefs, Moz, STAT are excellent, but there are also free options as listed by Ahrefs.
Alternatively, you could also review Google Search Console. Sometimes, you’ll note a page ranking poorly for a keyword that could instead serve as a blog topic – this is a form of keyword research as well.
Free Option: Try using Google Trends to see the popularity of a given keyword you’ve seen in your Google Search Console Performance report. Google Trends is a free tool that will show you how keywords trend over time. Look at this Trend report for Winter Hat and Summer Hat
Paid Keyword Research Tools
Paid tools like Ahrefs and STAT might seem extraneous for your needs, but they provide a world of details to make sure you’re not wasting your time on a keyword (too difficult, low volume, etc). Free tools are helpful, but may not provide the same data. Consider a free trial of a paid tool to see what you think.
How do I Choose the Right Keyword
“The search intent is the reason behind a searcher’s query on search engines. It represents the objective the searcher is trying to accomplish. For example, someone might want to learn about something, find something, or buy something.”Alexa
Understanding intent is the key to choosing the right keyword. It’s not worth fighting for a keyword if the intent is poorly matched; the ROI will be slim to none.
Example of Intent
Keyword: Rock Drum Set Cheap
This person intends to buy a product. Depending on the searcher ‘cheap’ can mean $25 or $2500. So don’t get bogged down trying to imagine their finances – the intent is clear.
The Sales Funnel
Always consider where the searcher is at in their ‘buyer’s journey’. These various intents can be matched with stages in the sales funnel. Here is an example of a common sales funnel with a keyword example for each stage.
- Awareness (Drum Sets)
- Interest (Best Drum Sets for Rock)
- Desire, or Decision (Cheap Rock Drum Sets)
- Action (Buy Drum Sets Near Me)
Keyword intent will inform the type of article you write. There’s a big difference between “the history of fan belts”, “how to install a fan belt” and “cheap fan belts near me.”
Don’t ignore the intent.
Trying to fool your audience, or Google, is a fruitless effort. When people are looking for instructions they do not want a history lesson. When people are looking for basic information on a subject, they’re probably not going to become a customer today. The intent is necessary for determining the type of blog you will create because your blog must suit the needs of your reader. Your blog needs to be helpful!
Want to know how to match a keyword’s intent? Get ready to learn about SERP (Search Engine Result Page) Analysis.
The difficulty of a keyword comes down to the competition and how authoritative that competition seems to be. Google and other search engines measure authority with a few different metrics. You will be competing with your competitors’: Domain Authority and Page Authority.
Use tools like Ahrefs to compare your Page Authority and Domain authority with that of your competitors. Ahrefs has a free browser toolbar for this purpose. A well-structured blog (page) can outrank higher authority pages but it will be a challenge depending on the difference.
To put it simply — don’t be “David vs. Goliath.” Be “David vs. a slightly stronger David.”
One of the easiest ways to understand a keyword’s difficulty without any tools is to analyze the SERP.
- Are there a lot of ads at the top? None? Ads are a sign of keywords in competition.
- Are the top results highly authoritative websites like Wikipedia? Sorry – choose a different keyword or a long-tail version of your keyword.
- Are the top results mostly blogs and smaller websites? Looks like an opportunity!
People Also Ask
While there are helpful paid tools to track and explore these questions – you can easily find them for free.
Example for PAA results for the keyword “Cast Iron Pan Tips”:
“Cast Iron Pan Tips” is our main keyword – but these will make great sections!
Think about it: Google is literally telling us, “People who search for this keyword also ask about these things.” What does that tell us? The most helpful blog will answer all of these questions!
Always take the opportunity to find ‘people also ask’ results to flush out your blog – it’s a game-changer.
Analyze the answers to determine if the questions are relevant to you. There’s little point in forcing content into your blog, and the process can actually have adverse effects on ranking.
Choose your Keywords
Track all of your potential keywords in a spreadsheet so you can reduce the many to a few. We will take our list forward into the next step: SERP Analysis. You don’t need to follow these steps perfectly! You will definitely go back and forth between the steps in your process. Content creation and SEO optimization are skills that require agility. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, learn, and do better the next time.