Back to Basics: Why Keyword Research is Still Fundamental in Any SEO Strategy
Last updated on Tuesday, October 9, 2018
My name is Micky Weis, and I’m the proud guest blogger at the AccuRanker blog today. I’m proud to be an AccuRanker ambassador and happy to get the pleasure to steal 10-20 minutes of your time, and hopefully provide you with some useful tips. If you want to know more about me, go to the author section in the bottom of this post.
There are a lot of areas within SEO, such as voice search, RankBrain and user experience searches, that are beneficial to look deeper into.
However, keyword research is still a cornerstone for SEO Professionals and consultants. From my perspective, a lot of companies still struggle to work appropriately with this.
In my opinion, you have to create a long term SEO strategy in order to get down to the basics of SEO.
My framework is doing the basics first.
Basically, it is the same thing as building a house.
We start with the foundation, which is the technical part. Since you’re reading the AccuRanker blog, I assume that you’re into the tech part of SEO, so let’s recap some of the most important metrics that we work with.
- Mobile capability (Mobile first index)
- Speed optimization
- Security on domain level (https)
- Menu structure & navigation
- Meta title tag & descriptions
Furthermore, I assume that you are familiar with Search Console. In my opinion, it is a good idea to start with this basic tool. You can always upgrade with other tools such as Screaming Frog to obtain a deeper insight in the technical part. However, I believe that each area deserve their own blog post, so I leave it here for now.
Now to the next part of my framework: the inside of the house. This part is heavily connected to inbound marketing, or content marketing, depending on which term you use.
This is the “place” where you build the content marketing strategy and include your keyword research, which we’re going to talk about today.
Terms connected to the inside of the house could be:
- Content marketing
- LSI (semantic keyword)
- Keyword research
- User experience (your content and the user journey is often correlated to a higher conversion rate)*
I don’t see SEO as one metric solution. It’s a part of a broader picture. It doesn’t matter that the most genius person writes your content if the user experience of the blog post is built without the basis from a UI in mind.
The last part of my framework involves everything that happens outside of your domain (or house, if we use this metaphor once again). Here, we talk about areas such as:
- Social shares
Once again, this area deserves its own blog post, but now you understand my framework. And you might think: Micky, isn’t that a bit too basic? However, I believe that you shouldn’t start with advanced strategies as these might be too difficult to execute, and then you might never get started because it is too overwhelming.
I would rather focus on the basics: It’s like Kobe Bryant – he states that his results came from doing the basics a million times and doing it much more than anyone else would.
So let’s go on with the basics.
Today I’m going to touch upon how to find keywords, optimizing the CTR and how to combine this with AccuRanker.
Google Keyword Planner
I still believe that Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is a good source to find solid information. However, I think that you should look further than GKP.
The problem is that the keywords Google suggests are based on search terms in relation to the word that you enter. However, the user might think differently about the subject in question.
If you and I were to engage in a conversation, and we were saying random words to each other, we might think of different things depending on the first word.
If I say Real Madrid, you might think of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Zidane and Galacticos. It even depends on when you were born. Humans tend to have their own point of reference, and GKP does not take this fact into consideration.
If I search for Real Madrid on GKP, I get these terms:
None of these terms come to my mind, when I think of Real Madrid, and this is how most software tools work, as they group things into volume words and not human related – I suggest that you use GKP to aim for keyword with “top bids”.
*I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use GKP to get these high volume search terms, but if you’re trying to drive sales there are better ways to optimize.
Top Bidding on Keyword Planner
Look for top bid for page as it underlines the commercial intent. If enough companies are bidding for a keyword, it often shows that these keywords are converting.
You can sort on both terms (low range vs. high range).
I suggest that you use filters. For instance, you can sort on amount of volume (monthly searches), and you can also look for a high commercial intent with the bidding perspective.
As you can see on the Real Madrid example, some of the high volume keywords are showing again, but we do also get some new and more commercial intended keywords: Of course, I would sort these even more, but you get my point.
Google Analytics + Google Search Console
I still see a lot of analytics accounts that lack the connection of Google Analytics and Google Search Console. However, this is a very simple step to get your data even more aligned.
Optimize your CTR’s from Search Console
I believe that it is underrated to work with your CTR from Google to your site. Luckily enough, Search Console gives us all the information that we need.
What I do from Search Console is to extract top 100 keywords and open it in a Google Sheet. Then I mark that sheet as “month name” – after that, I change the title-tag & meta-description on 10 of these*, then I go back and mark those 10 in the excel doc with a yellow color. I set a calendar note to check these pages the next 2-3 months (depending on numbers of impression to get enough data to make the test valid).
Then I make a lookup formula to see if the number has improved. Of course have in mind that search volume can go up / down depending on the seasons etc.
This strategy helps me; not only does it help me to rank better (due to higher user intent), but also to convert more on existing positions.
*Of course, you can edit more, it’s just to make it simple to explain.
Get rid of the non-provided with Keyword Hero
When I started in the SEO industry 10 years ago, I was fortunate enough to experience all keywords in Google Analytics. Then the famous non-provided keywords came along.
Even though you can still get some ideas by combining tools such as Search Console, SEMrush and Searchmetrics, it was better days back then when all keywords got featured in the overview in GA.
Those days are gone.
Since then, I have tried a lot of tools, but then I came across Keyword Hero. It basically adds another view in your GA, which makes it possible to see the keywords that your domain ranks on SEO wise.
I don’t get any affiliate commission: But the system works. I’ve tested it on several platforms, and it works perfectly. You can even combine it with your landing pages and revenue, and then you get some optimization to do. Once again, you can use the trick where you export your landing pages, optimize them, and then analyze the results after some months.
Something I’ve learned from listening to podcasts of Neil Patel and Brian Dean, is to use forums even more than I did before. People’s questions often reveal new trends. I often go to places such as Quora, Reddit and other of these larger community sites.
Let’s start with Google.
I go to Google and search for “online marketing + forums” – I want to know the latest questions in my own industry to get some ideas about the new blog posts I’m working on at the moment.
That led me to the website, WarriorForum
And as you can see, I already got some ideas about what people talk about in the online industry at the moment.
I do read all of the famous blogs such as Jon Loomer, Search Engine Land etc. However, these blogs are not rooted in the question of “ordinary people”, so you don’t get their honest questions. In the world of online marketing this might not be critical, but in high commercial e-commerce industries finding new trends can bring in millions in revenue.
Often I also look into the Google Webmaster Central due to the high quality questions (or advanced question as you say). I educate people in online marketing, and understanding the questions before the students ask them is making my preparation even better.
I assume that you’re familiar with Quora, Reddit and other of these multi-question forums. There could be some in other areas in the world that I’m not aware of, so make sure you dig into these in your industry and build your content around those subjects.
Build some in-depth content and combine it with content such as podcast, videos, audio, and animations – keep the users on your site, and give them your knowledge. That’s how you rank, and in my philosophy, this will never change. As long as you provide value, I cannot believe that Google will change your position. Even though the competition is getting harder and harder, there will always be room for value.
I also believe the next platform to use keyword research for will be Amazon – which of course is more based on sales, but I still believe keyword research will be important to dive into on the platform as Amazon improves the platform overall. I’ve been working with Amazon marketing for two years, and in my opinion, the whole backend of the platform still has some ways to go.
Combine it all with AccuRanker
Use all the information above to build your own keyword strategy and combine it with your AccuRanker structure. You can use the tags to divide the keywords into categories.
- High volume
- High commercial intent
- High competition
- Test keywords
All of the strategies I’ve mentioned here are developed over time and from test to test. Build your own, steal my ideas, dumb them again, take pieces from them.
You know what to do from here. Be like Kobe: Do the basics and remember all good things take time.
Micky has been in the digital marketing industry for 9 years, starting as a SEO consultant and worked with larger brand such as Hummel, Thornico, Matas and DK company.