So you’ve built a website and now you want to start ranking for keywords. Where should you start? The right answer is keyword research.
It’s vital to know both the monthly search volume and competition of the keywords you’re targeting. The keywords you target, especially as a new webmaster, should have decent volume but should also be achievable.
For example, if you have a website about digital marketing, you shouldn’t target the keyword ‘marketing’, but instead, try to go for a long-tail keyword such as ‘SEO digital marketing Melbourne’. This keyword will still have volume, but it will be much easier to rank for (still very competitive though!).
How to do basic keyword research in 3 steps
To do keyword research effectively you will first need a keyword research tool. Keyword research tools pull through estimated values, but there’s one tool that has first-hand data – and that’s Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This tool is available for free once you sign up for a Google Ads account.
1. Create a Google Ads account and opening the keyword planner
When you first create your Google Ads account, you’ll be prompted to create an ad campaign. You could either follow the prompts to create a campaign or find the option to skip creating a campaign hidden in tiny texts (click “Switch to expert mode” and then “Create an account without a campaign”). Either way, you won’t be charged. Continue until you can see the dashboard, then you’ll see the Google Ads keyword planner under the “tools” dropdown on the menu bar.
Using this tool, it’s really easy to find keyword volume and competition for your particular set of keywords. The tool will even give you related keywords, which will give you a plethora of new ideas to work with. Choose the ones that make sense for your particular business. (Note: the statistics will be more detailed for paying Google Ads customers)
Keywords that don’t appear in Keyword Planner
Not all keywords appear in Keyword Planner. You need to be aware of this when doing keyword research. For example, if you’re researching particular keywords, for example, those with ‘kids’ in them – e.g. you are selling kids’ toys, and want to know the volume and competition for ‘kids’ bikes’, you may not get a result.
There are many reasons for this. In this particular example, this likely triggers a legal clause where advertisers are prohibited from targeting children. And as such, Google does not provide keyword data for this set of keywords.
Backup keyword research tool – Ahrefs
Ahrefs is probably the most well-known SEO tool. The Keyword Explorer tool and the Ahrefs suite can provide volume and competition data just like the Keyword Planner tool. This data is not first-hand data, but instead an estimation. Therefore, don’t be surprised if there is a 2-3x difference between Ahrefs data and Google data.
Despite this, Ahrefs is very useful in gaining insights into data from keywords that Google doesn’t disclose. Ahrefs will also provide a ton of data for who is ranking for the keyword both now and historically as well as authority metrics for their websites – which will help you understand how much work it will take to get to the first page of Google.
While Ahrefs isn’t free (and not cheap either), they provide a free keyword research tool for us to play with.
2. Use Google Search to verify search intent
The Keyword Planner tool is usually pretty good at making relevant suggestions. Just make sure that the region is set correctly. Sometimes searcher intent can also be ambiguous, so make sure to check Google results for the particular keyword before you commit a substantial amount of time.
For example, if you’re selling a flying fox set, you may find that the keyword ‘flying fox’ actually gives results for the flying fox animal. Therefore, you may not actually be able to rank for this keyword with a product page, as Google is not looking for a product for this query. We encourage you to look more into search intent, as we were often asked to rank for keywords that they don’t have the right content for.
3. Understand historical data surrounding search queries with Google Trends
Although the Keyword Planner provides some historical data, it’s hard to determine the overall direction of keyword volume from the limited data points. If it’s important for you to determine trending topics, and whether a product is gaining traction or going out of fashion, then you should use Google Trends.
Google Trends is another Google tool that can show you data for keywords all the way back from the inception of Google as a search engine. This can give you great data. For example, you can see if the product is seasonal. If it is, you will see spikes in search at consistent intervals throughout each year.
Google Trends also allows you to visualize search volume in a particular country through a color-coded map. This can give you a perspective into where most of the search volume is happening, which can allow you to target these regions with a higher budget using PPC ads such as Google Ads and Facebook ads.
Sometimes Google Trends is also used by financial institutions for keyword research. The data gained from this tool can help these institutions arrive at conclusions surrounding various assets. For example, Google Trends data can help give insight into the market sentiment and interest for a particular asset or financial instrument.
Keyword research is an essential part of any SEO strategy. You can first use Google Ads Keyword Planner to get an idea of the search volume and competition for a particular keyword and its related search terms. Then, try to understand the search intent for particular keywords so you can create content that better meets the needs of your audience. Additionally, using a variety of tools such as Google Trends and Ahrefs can give you insights into how popular a keyword is and who is ranking for it.
If you have any more questions, feel free to inquire about our Hong Kong SEO service.