Keyword research is the first step of the SEO process and will form a strong foundation for your SEO strategy.
The following overview of how to do keyword research for SEO will equip you with the basic tools and knowledge you need to be able to conduct keyword research.
Check out our video guide below.
Keyword research is the process of finding out what your customers type into search engines such as Google to come across your products or services.
A keyword is the word or phrase you type into Google. In order to rank your webpage in a search engine, you need to identify which keywords are relevant to your business and incorporate these words into your content.
Gecko Top Tip: We don’t recommend free keyword research software when you’re learning how to do keyword research for SEO. It’s vital that you have access to the comprehensive data that paid software offers.
Here are two of the easiest and most effective ways to get started with your keyword research.
Imagine you are a potential customer. What would you type into Google to find your services? For example, if you are an accountant in London, potential customers might search for ‘accountant London’ to find you.
Thinking like this is a great way to identify the keywords you want to rank for. You can then input your keyword ideas into the search function on your software.
In this case, we used Ahrefs to search for ‘accountant London’.
You can see that at time we wrote this blog, ‘accountant London’ gets 300 searches (volume) per month.
‘Phrase Match’ is a useful tool that allows you to expand your keyword list with similar searches.
‘Search Suggestions’ will show related keywords, for example, accounting services London or accountant North London that may also be relevant for your business.
Both Phrase Match and Search Suggestions features are great starting points to help build a strong shortlist of keywords for your SEO strategy
Specialist keyword research software will also show you a breakdown of all the keywords your competitors are ranking for. This is a great way to find relevant keywords and potentially outrank your competitors.
Simply copy and paste your competitor’s domain into Site Explorer on Ahrefs or the equivalent feature in your software.
The aim of a search engine like Google is to find and rank the most relevant information for a search query or keyword. It wants to show its users the best, most relevant results – the more people easily find the information they need, the more they will use Google.
As a result, your website must match search intent for your chosen keywords.
For example, we hold the number 1 spot on Google for ‘SEO Company Leeds.’ This drives a large amount of organic traffic to our SEO service page each month, which is a great source of leads for our core service.
However, if we were to rank for ‘graphic design company Leeds’, it wouldn’t match user’s search intent as we don’t offer graphic design as a service.
Gecko Top Tip: Only rank for relevant keywords that are of value to your users, such as your core services and products.
SEO software usually shows search volume as a monthly figure. It is vital that you assess your keywords on their search volume, otherwise you might be ranking in that sweet top 3 spot but no one will be looking for you.
Unfortunately, if you rank number 1 on Google for a low volume keyword, you’re not going to get any clicks.
A low volume keyword (no matter how well it fits your business!) is not worth your time or resources and is a common error we see in businesses new to SEO.
Gecko Top Tip: Generally, the lower the cost of the product or service, the higher the search volume will be for it.
Good search volume differs from industry to industry. For accounting in London, 300 searches per month is excellent. However, if your business was an ecommerce site selling t shirts, 300 monthly searches is unlikely to generate any meaningful sales.
300 searches per month may sound low for ‘accountant London’. Nevertheless, if you take 10% of that figure, it is around 3 customers a month making a sale or buying a product. This number can add up to significantly increase revenue and boost sales with numerous keywords on the first page of Google.
Great, you’ve found a keyword with a good search volume and it is relevant to your core service or product. But can you actually rank for it?
Each keyword has a rating between 0-100, often known as KD (Keyword Difficulty). Your SEO software will provide this crucial figure to help you assess whether or not you can actually rank for your keyword.
For example, the search term ‘accountant London’ has a KD of 50, which is ‘hard’ to rank for. This figure tells us that it’s a competitive keyword that many websites are trying to rank for.
So, should you – or can you – rank for a keyword with a high difficulty?
It depends on your website’s authority, which is a score between 0-100. Each website has a Domain Rating (DR) that indicates how authoritative it is.
Gecko Top Tip: To find out your site’s DR, pop your site URL into Site Explorer in Ahrefs or SEMrush.
There are many factors that affect your Domain Rating (also known as DA, Domain Authority).
For example, older sites may naturally gain quality references (backlinks) and gain authority in your industry. On the other hand, brand new websites have less authority and need to target easier keywords. An easy way to build your authority is to target smaller, less competitive keywords and your Domain Rating should start to naturally increase.
Finally, the last keyword metric to consider is Cost Per Click.
Cost Per Click (CPC) is a good indication of commercial intent and whether a keyword is worth ranking for.
For example, the keyword ‘accountant London’ has a CPC of $8 (around £6.50). This is the amount you would have to spend for a Google Pay Per Click ad.
The fact that other websites are willing to pay that amount is a good indication that the keyword will generate meaningful traffic.
We hope we’ve helped you to gain a basic understanding of how to do keyword research for SEO.
Our simple strategies and keyword metrics will help you make the most out of your research, which is hugely beneficial to your business, whether you’re looking for an SEO company or a looking to boost your business’s visibility.