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Being there is all that counts: The 3-minute keyword research

Yea, yea: Google’s Keyword Planner only provides inaccurate information for the keyword research. But do we really need these data? Or aren’t there other facts that are much more important?

Let’s take a look at how an ideal keyword research for a new article looks like. And we’ll get started right away since we don’t have much time:

740x400-200x200-KeywordRecherche-02 TF*IDF Keywords keyword research

Step by step guide for the keyword research

1. Reality check: Reviewing the initial presumption

Our experience in the field we are writing about often makes it easy for us to make valid presumptions. However, this is only true in cases where the author does not wish to be cleverer than Google. This means: If Google gets the idea that you want to optimize your new article for the keyword "beard care", "solar panel", or "Lamzac instruction", you definitely have to do one thing: Perform a Google search of your keyword candidates.

beard_care_-_Google_Search TF*IDF Keywords keyword research

Figure 1: If you want to write an article about "beard care", you need to be familiar with the search results.

And this provides you with a lot of key information:

  • The search results show that this is a lucrative topic with numerous advertisements.

  • The results are quite mixed up. There are several online shops, an affiliate page, a men’s health editorial portal, L’Oreals content marketing page, etc. – a casual mixture of information and commerce.

  • A blog article or a product category text would be okay in this case. But this is not always so. For example, it is almost impossible to be ranked in the top positions with a guide post for the keyword “solar panel (awnings)”. Google expects shops for such a transactional keyword. Similarly, a keyword combination like “Lamzac instruction (guide)” makes it hard for an online shop since in this case, Google expects videos or text guides.

  • Which page is your text meant for? Do you feel that your article fits right between L’Oreal and Men’s Health? Answer this question as honestly as possible. In our example, it would be wiser for a new blog or product page of a general hair care store to look for other competitors.

  • Further down the search results is a small row of photos. Take a closer look at these photos. Photos seem to attract a high number of clicks in this case. So put an effort in this regard…

Different keywords lead to different findings. The important thing is to ensure that you take a close look at the search results and ask yourself why Google has ranked the different pages at the top, and whether or not yours belong there.

2. Content research: What you must consider

If you now have the feeling that you are well placed in this search environment, go ahead and scroll further:

Bildschirmfoto-2016-09-26-um-09.59.35 TF*IDF Keywords keyword research

Figure 2: How have users refined their searches? What does this tell me?

Below the search results, you will find the "searches related" to the search term you entered on Google. In the example with the search term "beard care", the related searches should hint to you that your search was rather too general and you should specify what you want some more.

This means being more detailed and more focused. If you are writing an article for a shop, terms like "beard care products", "beard care set", or "beard care guide" should do just fine. On the other hand, if you are writing a blog, it would be wiser to use terms like "beard care tips", or "beard care guide". You must not cover all aspects. But if you wish to write something totally different ("The history of beard grooming in Orient"), you should take a closer look and see if this is really the right search result for you.

Note: It is always advisable to click through some of the related searches. Each of these has its own search results (see 1) and "related searches". This gives you useful tips on the article you are writing about.

Because one thing is certain: If users first search for "beard care" and then "beard care set", it is a clear sign that these products are quite lucrative in this field. On the other hand, if you are writing a guide article, you should definitely include a few "tips" for "full beard", etc. in your text and view the "related searches" as content recommendations.

3. Keyword analysis: Main and secondary keywords

These additional terms ("full beard", "guidebook", etc.) are great "secondary keywords", i.e. terms that should also be found within the text. Because if you look at Searchmetrics’s latest study on ranking factors, you will see that the frequency of the main keywords in your text (in this case "beard care") does not correlate strongly with good search results as the "relevant terms" – i.e. words associated with the field of the search term. And in our example, these "related searches" include "full beard", "set", "guidebook", etc. These are terms that describe our subject field.

Of course there are other, much more common ways of researching and identifying secondary keywords or proof keywords: The TF*IDF analysis.

Content_Report_fur_Dein_Keyword__b-eard_care___OnPage_org_WDF-IDF__ TF*IDF Keywords keyword research

Figure 3: See: "beardbrand" is very important for "beard care". And it is best applied using a "wax" and "trimmer". At least that’s what the TF*IDF analysis on OnPage.org is telling us.

So how does this work? OnPage.org checks the top 15 search results for the entered keyword and analyses these based on the related words and their frequency. Here, less common terms are generally given a higher rating in such an evaluation. The result is thus more like a text DNA of the top ranked pages (i.e. pages that already have Google’s trust) – which is one good reason why you should adopt a tip or two from these top results and try using similar words.

We therefore have two types of secondary keywords for our main keyword, for which we want to rank in the top positions:

  • demand-oriented terms from the related searches or W-question tools

  • provider-oriented terms from the top-ranked search results.

Note: You should also include these terms in your text. But, does this mean you are all set to start writing? Not quite...

4. Counter check: Write a new article or update the existing one?

Before you embark on writing a new article based on our keyword collection, you should first ask yourself if you really want to write a new article. This is because if let’s say you had already posted a very successful article on "beard care" a few months ago, your new article would have to compete with this article as well – a pure waste of resources.

Therefore: Starting by checking if you already have a successful article for this keyword.

This brings us to the "site" search operator. If you work for Men’s Health and type in "site:menshealth.de beard care" in the Google search slot, Google displays all pages on your domain that can be ranked for the term "beard care" – arranged based on their relevance. The first page would therefore be your best page for the keyword:

site_menshealth_com_beard_care_-_Google-Suche TF*IDF Keywords keyword research

Figure 4: Your sub-pages arranged based on your keyword: the site: command

If you already have a current post with great beard grooming tips, it would be much faster and easier to republish it than rewrite a new post. If you really want to write a new article, you should therefore also change your keyword (and hence the content) a little – to avoid both articles from competing against each other unnecessarily as this would result in both articles being ranked lower than a single article would. Maybe it would be wiser to concentrate on beard trimming instead? Or... – well, you know better.

Either way: You know what you have already published for the respective keyword. You could even note down these URLs found since you might need this later...

5. Fine-tuning: search volume and other details

We are almost done. Almost! So far, we have just "estimated" some decisions. And a lot more concepts and questions on this digital notepad still need to be clarified. These could be:

  • Should I use singular or plural form?

  • Are there any self-imposing synonyms? Here, we are not talking about the strict synonyms in a grammatical sense. We are referring to phrases that are similar i.e. partial synonyms (“Tea from Asia” vs. “Asian tea”) or different regional/field-based terms (“rolls”, “buns”, etc.)

  • Or is your keyword a homonym? This is a term that could have many meanings (e.g., “nut” – threaded fastener used with bolts or a hard-shelled fruit)

This is where the Keyword Planner in AdWords – or a similar tool – comes into play. But why? Hadn’t we already ensured high-volume keywords? True if SEO is the only reason for your website i.e., when it’s all about winning over more users on your website. Since you have specific products to sell, wish to explain your readers the world, or would like to present yourself in good light: SEO should not be the reason for your website but rather a means to publish your content to the largest audience possible.

In other words: At first, you have the keyword and then the traffic volume. This therefore means the following for the three points above:

  • In most cases, singular and plural do not always lead to the same results (since you want your users to “buy screws” and not “buy a screw”, right?). However, if this is not a problem in your case (shown by similar search results for both terms) – it is advisable to lean towards the term that is searched more often.

  • The same applies to synonyms. Here, it is advisable to analyze the regional distribution using Google Trends. And only if these regional or thematic differences do not play a role. Checking the traffic volume associated with each term also pays off.

  • When it comes to homonyms, the details are a bit different. Here, you should have already looked at the results that suit your offer best as described under our 1st point. This is because if you sell “nuts” for fastening using screws, “nut” will probably NOT be the ideal keyword to use. You have a much better chance if you use the plural form. All in all, reviewing the search volume of other possible interpretations (“nut” = “fastener used with bolts” vs. “hard-shelled fruit”) is highly recommended for a rough overview.

And what about the competition? Doesn’t it play a role too? Frankly rarely. Because the Keyword Planner, just like all the other tools, displays the competing AdWords advertisements. And this is often very different from the competition in the organic search results.

However: The keyword tools also give you additional ideas for good terms for which you could write a post. But, this is a different topic for another article.

Bonus tip

Since under the 4th point you already noted down the pages that are relevant to Google regarding the keyword (or related terms), you now know the pages that can be successful in the rankings through smart internal links.

This means: Once you have published the new article, you should make sure to link it with these pages using the keyword ("beard care").

How to do this

The greatest disadvantage of keyword tools is that all they do is a basic comparison of letters. However, this is not how language works. When writing texts, we use the words we use because they make sense in the sentence and not because of the letters they contain. And Google also knows this. The search engine therefore uses artificial intelligence to try and identify the sense and meaning of the web content. And this is what the so-called keyword research is based on: It is all about the actual meaning of the respective page. And the tool you are using rather ensures that you are oriented to the majority and not a minority opinion.

With the optimal content, you will have a well-functioning page that can be ranked for many (similar) keywords. And you can view this later in the Search Console.

Bottom line: Be very careful when it comes to the sense and meaning of your text – and rather easy going with how you formulate your text.


So, how much effort does this mean? Many authors are always complaining about being responsible for SEO as well, "which is so much work". But with a little practice, appropriate procedure and right tools, the keyword research just takes 3 minutes. And taking into account the content research, these three minutes will not just be extremely valuable for your SEO but also for the content of your article as well.

So: Why not give it a try!

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Published on Sep 26, 2016 by Eric Kubitz