This post is for anyone looking to start a DIY SEO campaign the right way, with proper keyword research that will yield results.
Doing keyword research is fun for an SEO like me, this is the part where everything is possible and we are opening a new door that can lead to many adventures. Of course this is not the issue for everyone, most DIY moms and dads running their websites and blogs find SEO to be hard and instead of ROI keywords that will bring them real traffic and conversions they go for trophy (MDK ) keywords.
So let's pick a product to use as an example in this article, I am a pet owner so the first thing that came to my mind are dog collars, let's see:
8 results have "dog collars" in their URL and all 10 in title, sounds competitive, just what we need.
So we have a keyword we want to use; now the fun part begins.
For basic research we can use several tools to find out the search volume, competition and probability of success for that keyword. First rule is don't trust one source, use several keyword tools to determine if the keyword has potential.
On this image you can see two different results for the same keyword, the first results are for broad match and the second results are for exact match. Now broad match can give you a general idea of how many other keyword variations you can have, so the more the better and exact match gives you a better idea of the real search volume for that exact keyword. As you can see the competition is really stiff, so we can go for it, but our ultimate goal will be to find related keywords that we can use with lower competition, later about that with keyword variations and long tail. Let's see what other tools have to say.
Although Google trends don't give us exact numbers, we can use them to see how the search volumes are going and where this particular search is headed. So if we see a steady decline on the graph that may not be a good sign, in our case the graph is steady, so there are always people searching for dog collars online.
Word tracker is a great keyword tool, if you have a premium account. If not, it can give you a few hints of the value of the keyword but it would do you much good in the long run, especially when we drill down with long tail.
You can also use Google insights, but they are more valuable to find more keywords. You can also use Blogscape - great tool to see how many posts are published on the topic each day, the frequency of posting, shows competition and interest. Twitter search can help you see the real time results for the keyword and interest or you can also use Twitscoop.
And one place you shouldn't miss is the greatest keyword tool every built, but rarely used, Thesaurus. Yup, synonyms are our friends, and we need them.
Dog comes up with the following synonyms we can use to form LSI keywords and boost our relevance: Bitch, bowwow, cur, doggy, fido, flea bag, hound, man's best friend, mongrel, mutt, pooch, pup, puppy, stray, tail-wagger, tyke
For collar we have: Eton, Vandyke, choker, dicky, fichu, fraise, frill, jabot, neckband, ruff, torque
The point of basic research was to check the keyword volumes, competition, interest, trends, basically will the keyword be profitable to follow up.
Keyword Variations And Long Tail
The first place we go to see some possible keywords we can relate to our main keyword is Google search.
As you can see we already have some ideas of what is searched around this keyword, these are popular searches, so we should put them in our keyword spreadsheet. Our goal is to find as much keywords as possible we can use to get some ranks and some traffic that will convert, and ultimately to push up our main keyword, in this case we will do it through relevance and partial match keywords, like above "dog collars for big dogs". This is the most important part for DIY keyword research as you want some results, and this part will get them for you.
Besides Google search we can use Adwords Keyword tool to find a great number of related keywords we can use. Google Insights will also give us a taste of what is popular and what is on the rise.
So in this part we create a list of keywords that have a search volume of 500+ a month and have low or medium competition. In our case looking at the Google Adwords keyword tool data and cross checking with Google Insight and Keyword Difficulty Tool from SEOmoz (Adwords data is not that accurate, is more for guidelines, so difficulty tool helps us assess the competition and we found out that Dog Collars is not as hard as it looks from Google data) we came up with these keyword variations:
Note that we included several keywords with lower search volume than 500 per month on exact search and that no keyword included here has a keyword difficulty over 60% as that may be too hard for novices to handle. We came up with a total of 42 keywords, these are keyword variations from which we will gather long tail keywords. We probably won't use all of them, as you can see from the image some are just worded differently and they should be treated as one keyword for our immediate purposes.
The principle for finding long tail keywords is the same, we go keyword by keyword and find useful long tail keywords that will be easy to rank for, will drive immediate traffic and help us boost our main keyword through the ranks and bring overall authority and relevance to our website.
If we wa't we can go even deeper, so for "custom dog collars and leashes" we can try "custom leather dog collars and leashes", the choice is up to you, the deeper you go the easier will be for you to rank and get traffic. And don't be distracted by the low search volumes, long tail builds authority for your main keywords, from the example we can hope to improve rank for the following keywords:
- Dog Collars
- Custom dog collars
- Collars and leashes
- Dog collars and leashes
- Custom collars
- and so on and so on
This is how you do keyword research, you will end up with 100+ keywords you can use and it won't take you long, if you do it slowly it may take a few hours. But these are just numbers and a few insights, that gives us an idea, but not the whole picture, so we don't actually know if all of these keywords will benefit us.
Once we have a list we need go over timing for the keywords, so we use Google trends, Google news trends as well as social searches we use for each of these keywords and determine if the keyword is used, what are the trends and what is the real competition. Based on that data we can choose our keywords from the big list we created.
Bonus Tip For Maximizing Traffic
One thing I like to do for all my keywords is make sure I don't miss anything that can get me traffic for those keywords, I am talking about vertical search. So that means optimizing geographically, optimizing images and videos, product pages, and even for news search. All of these can greatly increase your traffic for just one keyword, so don't neglect them.
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