One of the most important aspects of SEO (and some would argue the most important) is keyword research. Keywords are the key search terms that search engine users enter into the Google search bar when they’re trying to find an answer, product, etc.
After your website is live, Google’s “crawler” will go through every main page on your website and identify some of the primary and secondary keywords that each page appears to be optimized for. This will allow it to properly index the page within the Google database, allowing the algorithm to provide more accurate, more relevant results to Google searchers.
If you’re just now creating a new website, then you should always start by performing your keyword research before you start creating website content. This will give all of your pages the best chance to rank higher in search engine results.
However, many webmasters aren’t thinking about SEO when they first create their websites. In fact, they may even create multiple pieces of main content and smaller posts before they even consider SEO or know what it is.
So, whether you're a webmaster trying to implement your newly-learned SEO tactics in your site or you’re an SEO specialist helping an existing site optimize their pages, this is the article you need to read.
Below, we’ll show you how to properly research keywords, how to analyze your existing pages for keywords, and how to improve your keyword optimization on existing pages.
It’s time to get your site ranked!
The first things you should nail down when it comes to your keyword research are the primary keywords and niche that you’re trying to get your site to rank for.
For example, if you have an online pet supplies store, then your main pages might rank for primary keywords like “pet supplies” or “high-quality pet products.” Then, you might have individual pages and products that rank for secondary keywords, such as “aquariums” or “leashes.”
It’s important to identify the niche of your website before your start doing your keyword research. Otherwise, it’ll be like taking a shot in the dark. If your keywords are too scrambled and are unrelated to each other, then it can trigger the Google algorithm to down-rank your pages.
Using too many unrelated keywords on your pages can make your site appear to be less authoritative and less trustworthy, violating the algorithm’s E‑A‑T ranking protocol (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).
Once you’ve narrowed down your site’s niche, it’s time to start doing your keyword research. You’ll want to start by using tools like Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner and its ‘Forecast’ feature. This will show you a long list of primary and secondary keywords that you can include in your content.
The Keyword Planner will allow you to see key data, such as:
The level of competition the keyword has.
The average monthly searches of the keyword.
The average click-through rate of each keyword.
Once you have some good keyword ideas that can help your site rank for its niche, you can start to create a strategy to build new pages (main pages, blog posts, parent pages) that will rank for your chosen keywords.
If you have pre-existing pages that you’re trying to keyword optimize, you’ll need to take a few extra steps. To begin with, you’re going to start by performing the same keyword research that we outlined above. Use a keyword planning tool to find high-value, low-competition keywords that will bring your site more traffic.
However, you’ll also want to perform an analysis on your pages to see what (if any) keywords that they’re already ranking for. You never know, you might already have a great keyword that you just need to optimize the page for!
The best way to analyze an existing page is to use Google’s Search Console. You can link your site to the Search Console and it will show you some of the main keywords that your site is already ranking for.
If you see some gems, take note of them. You may want to use some of the old keywords your page is ranking for along with the new keywords you’ve researched during your SEO efforts.
During your research, you’ll want to keep track of your keywords. Whether you identify old keywords your site is already ranking for or find promising new keywords, make sure that you make a list of them using a program like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
In addition to just listing the keywords, include some of the key data you found in your Keyword Planner, such as the keywords’ cost-per-click, average monthly search volume, level of competition. Etc.
It can also be helpful to color-code the keywords on the list to differentiate between primary keywords, secondary keywords, and supporting keywords.
If you’re trying to optimize an existing web page, then the first step is to identify the primary and secondary keywords that are already being used on the site. You want to get the most accurate picture of how the existing pages are performing before you start changing things around.
For all you know, the page could already be ranking! However, it might be ranking for an unexpected or unplanned keyword.
If you start messing with the keyword structure of a page before you’ve analyzed it, then you’ll run the risk of upsetting the balance of the page. You could overuse or underuse certain keywords that could negatively affect your ranking. You could also introduce a new, unrelated keyword that could cause the algorithm to red-flag your page.
To start with, you’ll need to compile the list of existing web page URLs that you’re going to be analyzing. If the pages have already been embedded with Google Analytics, then start by opening your Google Analytics dashboard.
If not, then you’ll need to embed the pages with Google Analytics and wait for 3-4 weeks to allow the program to compile data on the pages. Google has an excellent guide for accomplishing this that you can view here.
Once Analytics has had some time to gather data on the page or the website, your dashboard will show you all of the keywords that your page has been ranking for. It will also show you some other key SEO metrics that will give you an accurate picture of how your page is performing.
Now that you can see which keywords your page is ranking for, it’s time to research those keywords using Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner tool. This will allow you to get valuable data on those keywords, such as:
How competitive they are.
Their monthly search volume.
Their CTR (click-through rate).
Once you have all of the data on the existing keywords the page is ranking for, add these to your keyword tracking sheet that you created in Excel or Google Sheets.
Now, it’s time to see how your page has been ranking on Google SERPs results…
To do this, open up the Google Search Console tool and link it to your web page (if you haven’t done so already). This will give you an accurate picture of how your page has increased or decreased in ranking over time.
If it’s been steadily decreasing, then you may need to completely reevaluate and change your old keywords. If it’s been increasing but at a slower rate than you’d like, then you may need to focus on optimizing your page for the existing keyword and add some high-quality secondary keywords to the page as well.
Google Analytics can provide you with some great metrics about your site, however it can’t tell you everything. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive view of your website’s SEO metrics and if you want to see some of the top keywords that it’s ranking for, then our Web Audit tool can help paint an even clearer picture.
Plus, you’ll just need to use this one piece of software, instead of having to use Google Analytics AND Google Search Console. This allows you to do your research significantly faster and producing better results.
As you begin to optimize your existing web pages, you’ll also need to create a strategy for building new web pages and optimizing them for some of your site’s primary and secondary keywords.
Ultimately, the more fully optimized pages that you have on your site, the better. As long as they’re all optimized for keywords that relate to your site’s primary keywords, then you’ll be in a good position to up-rank your site in no time.
Since we’re on the topic, it’s worth mentioning that you should do your best to avoid using non-related keywords in your page content.
For example, if you’re trying to rank a local landscaping service, you don’t want to have a bunch of random articles about home construction or electrical work. It’ll just confuse Google’s ranking algorithm and cause your site to get down-ranked due to a lack of relevancy.
This is where that keyword list that you made earlier will come in handy…
Go through your list and try to pick a handful of keywords (3 to 5 primary and secondary keywords should be enough) that you’re going to use to create a new piece of content. Sticking with our example of the landscaping service site, this could mean writing an article about different types of grass and how to care for them. For example, this page could rank for:
Landscaping services - primary keyword.
Bermuda grass care - secondary keyword.
Centipede grass care - secondary keyword.
Best fertilizer for zoysia grass - secondary keyword.
This is just one example of how you could go about creating keyword-optimized content for a new web page. You could apply this same principle to other niche sites, such as e-commerce stores, local services, and even brick-and-mortar retail shops!
If you’re still having some trouble coming up with relevant keywords for your site, our keyword finder tool is an excellent resource! It works by tracking all of the latest keyword data and can provide you with highly relevant and related keywords that you can use in your site’s daily content.
After using the keyword tool to identify some good possible keywords, insert your keywords into our SERP Checker tool to get all of the latest tracking data on these words. This will allow you to see the competition level on each keyword, how many monthly searches it gets, and whether or not it’s a good keyword choice for your site.
As you’re using the Keyword Finder tool and the SERP Checker to decide which keywords are best for your site, you also need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. You should understand where your customers are coming from and what they’re looking for in a site.
Ask yourself questions, such as:
Are customers coming to my site to get information?
Are customers visiting my site to buy something?
Do I have an information site or an e-commerce store?
What are some ways that I can provide value (with information, services, or products) that will build trust with the customer?
This will allow you to select the most accurate keywords and will result in the biggest difference in your overall conversion rate. Once you know what your customers want, you can figure out the best way to create customer-oriented content and use keywords that generate results.
So, with that being said, here are some of the few key intents that you should be thinking of when selecting your keywords.
One of the most basic consumer intents is information seeking. Whenever you have a question, what do you do? Chances are, if you don’t have an expert on hand to ask directly, you pull up Google and type your question in.
No matter what type of website you have, you should try to at least have some basic informational content on there. Use the Keyword Finder to see what type fo
Another key intent that customers have when searching on Google is trying to research a specific brand or product. Perhaps they have a need that needs to be filled or maybe they heard about a product or brand and are looking for a second opinion.
This is a great opportunity for you to create review-based content. Use our Keyword Checker to find some common research queries that internet users are searching for. They could be something along the lines of:
[x brand] review
Is [x product] any good?
[x product] vs [y product].
You get the idea… If you can help answer these questions with clear, concise, and unbiased web content, then you’ll go a long way to building trust with your customers.
The final intent that customers have when visiting pages is that they’re actually ready to buy something. By this time, they usually have a few key products in mind (or maybe just one great product) and they’re looking for the best place to buy it.
Here, you would want to use specialized keywords for customers ready to buy, such as:
Buy [x product] online.
Best [x service] provider.
Online [x type of product] shop.
Before you start implementing all of your keyword research and use it to create new content, you need to gather some final data. The best way to do this is to analyze your competitors’ pages. This will be a good indicator of whether or not you’re on the right track.
So, here’s the best process to analyze your competitors and check how rough the competition is for a given niche.
Take a look at your primary keywords and some of your top choices for secondary keywords. Then, search for them on Google. Who are the top 3 results on the first page results? Do those 3 results rank across multiple, similar keywords; or do they only rank for specific keywords?
If the top-performing brands and sites on Google are able to rank in the top 3 spots for multiple related keywords, then it will be a lot harder to knock them out of their position. However, if they’re only ranking for one or two related keywords, then it’ll be easier to take their position.
You should also analyze how many direct competitors you have for the keywords. For high-competition niches, the entire first few pages of SERPs results may contain competitors. On the other hand, for lower competition niches, you may only have a few real competitors who are offering similar products or services.
By using our Web Audit tool you can check the link velocity of your own site. This will show you how many other sites are backlinking to your site. The more quickly you’re able to build backlinks to your site, the quicker your site will up-rank in Google SERPs results. If your site isn’t building links quickly (or at all), you need to implement a strategy to build links faster.
When you Google your primary and secondary keywords, what type of content shows up? Is it mostly business listings, YouTube video content, informational articles, or are their rich results that use FAQ format? If you want to rank for these keywords you either need to implement the same strategies as your competitors or do something totally new to blow them out of the water.
If you want to help your existing pages rank better, the best thing you can do is to start with an audit. Then, do some niche-related keyword research to double-check if your pages are ranking for top keywords in the niche. If not, then these will need to be fixed.
Once you’ve come up with a plan to optimize existing pages, you’ll need to create new supporting pages to rank for primary, secondary, and supporting keywords in your niche. These will help drive more traffic to your main target pages, assist with linking, and help the site you’re working on become a page-one ranker.
After you’ve finished performing all of your keyword research using the Keyword Finder tool, analyzed the page’s or site’s performance with the Web Audit tool, and found the most relevant keywords by cross-referencing keywords with the SERP Checker tool, you’ll have lots of good data to go on.
You’ll be able to compile this data into a great presentation for your clients that will convince them that you, as an SEO expert, know what you’re doing. If you want them to pay you for your services, you need to present them with a solid, reliable action plan for how their page or site is going to rank.
This data needs to be backed up by statistical analysis data and competitor research if you want it to have any true validity. This is where Ranktracker’s advanced SEO tools can help give you an edge over the competition!