Keyword Research: A Beginner’s Guide

Keyword Research
Updated:

When I decided to start a blog, I needed to make sure my content would get seen. 96% of content on the internet gets 0 traffic from Google. I didn’t want to be one of those sites. So I started taking online courses and reading books on SEO, and things became a lot simpler.

People like to overcomplicate the subject, so I wanted to write a straightforward article on the topic for beginners like I was. At the end, I’ll add some bonus 2024 pro tips since the latest updates from Google. Ready? Let’s go!

What is keyword research?

Let’s say you have a blog. You want to get traffic for your articles right? Well the best way to do that is through keyword research. Without it, you’re basically writing blind and hoping people discover your content.

By doing keyword research you’ll know what to write about so your stuff gets read. But what all goes into keyword research? There are 3 parts:

  1. Brainstorming keywords
  2. Deciding between keywords using a research tool like ahrefs
  3. Strategically using the keyword in your article

I’ll explain each part below.

Why You should do keyword Research

First, why do keyword research in the first place? Let’s say there are two blogs writing about the same topic. All else equal, the blog that does better keyword research gets more traffic.

The keyword optimized blog will be writing articles that users are searching for on Google. They’ll know topics are getting asked that aren’t getting answered. And they’ll be strategically placing their keywords in their article. That way Google will know clearly what the intent of the article is and rank them on their results page.

This is not to say you should only care about keywords. Google has gotten smart enough to know when an article is trying to hack it’s algorithm. Your best bet is to write the most helpful content for users, while also keeping it keyword optimized.

Now let’s get into how to do keyword research!

How to find keywords?

There a couple proven methods for finding good keywords. The easiest and most commonly used way is starting with a seed word and expanding from it using a tool.

For example let’s say our topic is SEO. Our seed word is “seo”. We can use ahref’s free keyword generator tool and enter “seo” into the text box.

Ahref will output 100 free keywords related to our initial word. Woohoo we’re done! Not quite, my young padawan.

Choosing between keywords

You have a list of keywords, but how do you choose between them? For that we need to understand some basic metrics:

Keyword Difficulty (KD) – this is how difficult it would be to rank on the first page of a search engine for this phrase. Based on a 0 – 100 scale. And it’s measured by the amount of links the article has (more links means more difficult).

Volume – how much the keyword is getting searched.

Both these factors ahrefs will give you. And consider both when choosing if it’s a good keyword. Assuming you have a new website, if the KD is too high, you’re not going to get any traffic for it. If there’s no search volume, then it’s not worth the effort to write it since no one cares for the topic.

A good rule of thumb for new websites, is volume of at least 100-200 and a KD below 30. These are the metrics a popular SEO course recommends that I’ve found works for myself.

How to use your keywords in your article strategically

You’ve found a group of perfect keywords you want to write about. Nice! Now make sure you mention your keyword in certain places in your article. This way you’ll be sure Google knows the intent of the article and will show it to searchers.

This might seem a bit technical, but most blogs like WordPress will do this for you.

We want to make sure we mention our keyword in these places:

1. Article title

For people that know HTML, this would be in the header <title> tag.

2. Article description

This would found in the <meta name="description" content="..."> HTML tag.

(this is an arguable point, as google has begun auto-generating these descriptions, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to include it)

3. Use “keyword adjacent” phrases throughout the article

Let’s say our keyword is “optimize blog for seo”. We’d be smart to include these similar phases throughout our article:

  • “how to optimize blog for seo”
  • “seo optimization”
  • “seo tips”
  • “how to blog”

Basically, adding phrases that would naturally come up in a conversation about your topic.

By following these 3 tips we can be sure Google knows exactly what our article is talking about.

We now have the basics for keyword research! You’re now ahead of 96% of the content on the internet. Happy writing!

Bonus: 2024 pro tips

Google’s algorithm is always evolving. And so there are some rules that have been written over the last couple of years to get your content ranked. These are some pro tips for writing content in 2024.

Write helpful content to people

Google’s Helpful Content update in Sept 2022 has caused a lot of articles to lose lots of traffic. The main reason is they’re websites are stuffed with content written for the algorithm, instead of for people. A lot of people were up in arms claiming SEO is dead and the algorithm is messed up. However a lot of websites, with a strong brand and written for people, have actually increased in traffic. In my opinion the updates are actually good for the internet. Low quality content traffic is going to shrivel up. Which will leave more traffic for high quality content that people actually enjoy reading.

Don’t cannibalize your keywords

That is, don’t write multiple articles about the same keyword. Google recognizes when a website does this, and punishes them for it. You’re not going to be able to hack the algorithm, and if you try you most likely will be worse off. Which all leads me to my final point:

Write for people!

People have complained over the years how different Google updates have ruined their websites. And the thing is, Google will continue to release updates that are all aimed at helping one group of people (besides themselves) – the user. All the updates are there to make the product better for users. It’s how they make sure they’re the most used engine. So when creating a website and writing content, write it for the user. Don’t write content for an algorithm, a company, or anyone else but the reader. That is truly the golden rule.

I hope all of the above was helpful. When I first started, SEO sounded very intimidating . But once I started digging into it, it really became simple. By learning the basics you will be better than the majority of websites on the internet.

What next?

In order to write great content you need to do more than keyword research – you need great content to write about. Check out our list of popular items being sold online to inspire you.

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