How to do Keyword Research Just Using Google
It’s true. I’m the employee that did not know how to do keyword research. I mean, tons of articles exist about SEO and optimization, but few of them illustrate the step-by-step process involved with keyword research alone. This tedious process is a big contributor to why articles rank and should not be overlooked or treated like a trivial step in a larger process. A seasoned marketing whiz might utilize a more streamlined process, or might employ online tools for further assistance. However, I, a beginner marketer dipping my toes in the waters of SEO, start at the very beginning with non other than Google.
How to Figure Out Starting Words or Phrases
All keyword research must start from somewhere. Content marketers might know the topic of their next article, but don’t have an angle yet. That subject could be a starting keyword. Salespeople might receive a lot of the same questions over the phone without online content to support answers. These questions could provide subject matter for content creation, and therefore, kick start keyword research.
How to Do Keyword Research
- Type your keyword into Google (or YouTube if trying to optimize a video). For this example I’m going to use “data migration.” At LSC Digital we get inquiries about our suite of data services, and it might be beneficial to our sales team to provide more online resources about data maintenance.
- Look at drop down suggestions or “searches related to…” section at the very bottom of the first page’s results. Make note of the suggestions that best align with your message. Try putting those queries into Google until you’re sure that the word or phrase you want to add to your list. For this example, I’m drawn to “data migration plan.” It sets the framework for a “how to” style article.
- Once you narrow down some keywords, check the competitiveness of each. In Google, the most competitive words will have ads and well-known websites in the top spots. While you don’t want to compete with heavy hitters, you don’t want to rank for low-volume words. Remember the goal: low competition, high volume, highly relevant. According to this Google search for “data migration plan,” there are no ads (which is good in terms of competition) but there are top results with “data migration” in the title and URL, meaning these results optimized for those terms.
- At this point, you should have keywords that are highly relevant with low competition. What about volume? Google Trends can help analyze the volume of these searches over time, and can help anticipate future trends. Google Trends uses a 100 point system to assess popularity, with peaks and valleys indicating search volume.
- This is a “wash, rinse, repeat” process in which your final keyword should be highly relevant with high search volume and low competition. If your first keyword lacks one of those three qualities, try your next keyword until you find the perfect match.
What About Google Keyword Planner?
You could be saying, “Marcella, what about Google keyword planner? Isn’t that the OBVIOUS starting point for keyword research in Google?” Well, imaginary inquirer, no.
If you’re familiar with Google Ads then maybe you’ve used Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords for your PPC campaigns. While this tool may not be readily available to everyone (only individuals with Google Ads accounts have access) it can be a quick tool for conducting keyword research. Be careful: if you are actively running PPC campaigns, be sure not to add unwanted keywords to campaigns.
Other Tools for Keyword Research
Now, I would be foolish not to include other tools for keyword research. While Google is a great tool for the marketer on a budget or the beginner SEO, there are paid (and free) tools that can streamline the process and provide additional insights and tools for your search engine optimization needs.
- Moz – Moz Pro offers keyword suggestions and SEO resources for marketers. While Moz Pro is a paid resource, Moz offers useful articles written by industry experts that can help solve marketing problems.
- Answer the Public – similar to Moz, Answer the Public will suggest keywords based on your starting keyword.
- Keywords Everywhere – this browser plug-in is always on, suggesting keywords during every search engine search. This tool also works on YouTube, showing videos with keywords in the title and numbers for competing videos.
As a keyword research novice take my word for it: be patient and trust the process. While it can feel tedious and useless, finding the best keyword can help get that content in front of the right people. For more tips on writing SEO content, read this.