Keyword & Competitor Research Guide

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It goes without saying that keyword research is the most fundamental part of any SEO campaign. The results of it should be taken into consideration from deciding the structure of your website to your Alt text and everything in between. In this guide, we’re going to run through how to find out exactly what keywords your target market is typing into the web & how to analyse the websites already ranking for that term.

 

  • The tools we use
  • The metrics & what they mean
  • Starting with your seed keywords
  • Seeing what your competitors rank for
  • Traffic potential & keyword difficulty
  • Keyword groups

SEO METRICS & THEIR MEANING

Search Volume
The number of times a keyword is searched for online (often displayed p/m).

Rankings
The position of the website in the organic results.

Organic Traffic
How many visitors a site receives per month from search engines.

Backlinks
Links from other websites. Read our backlink guide here.

Referring Domains
The number of websites that link to a site.

Page Authority
A Moz metric that uses inbound links to a page to determine the strength (and likely ranking probability) of that web page.

Domain Authority
A Moz metric that uses total links to a domain to determine its authority (and likely ranking probability).

URL Rating
A metric from Ahrefs that measures the strength of a web page and the likelihood that webpage will rank.

Domain Rating
Domain Rating is a metric from Ahrefs that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile.

Trust Flow
A metric from Majestic that predicts how trustworthy a page is judging by how many topically related websites are also linking to it.

Citation Flow
Citation flow is a metric from Majestic that predicts how influential a webpage might be based on the links going to it.

STARTING YOUR KEYWORD RESEARCH

Now that we have familiarity with the SEO tools and their respective metrics, the next step is actually looking at the keywords we want to rank for. To begin, we start with our ‘seed keywords’. These will be the foundation of your keyword research – they broadly define the niche and competition. From there we look for ‘child’ and ‘longtail’ keywords which are also being searched for.

 

As an example, if we were looking to sell face cream online, we would first create a table that looks like the one below:

 

Seed Keyword Child Keyword Longtail Keyword Search Volume Google Position 1 Google Position 2 Google Position 3
Face cream 21 000 Competitor A Competitor B Competitor C
Best face cream 8 000 Competitor C Competitor A Competitor B
Best face cream for wrinkles 900 Competitor A Competitor C Competitor B
Best face cream for men 780 Competitor A Competitor B Competitor C
Buy face cream 1 100 Competitor A Competitor B Competitor C
Buy face cream online 450 Competitor C Competitor A Competitor B
Anti-aging cream 17 500 Competitor C Competitor E Competitor B
Best anti-aging cream 8 200 Competitor D Competitor B Competitor D
Best anti-aging cream over 50 940 Competitor A Competitor D Competitor C

FINDING NEW KEYWORD OPPORTUNITIES

Once you have your seed keywords, there are multiple tools and methods to assist you in finding the child and long tail keywords that you can optimise for.

GOOGLE AND BING

You can use the search engines themselves to find keywords and phrases that people are typing in when looking for your product or service. Simply start with your seed keyword, scroll down to the bottom of the page and make a note of the related searches. Then look at the related searches of the related searches and so forth, until you have found as many as applicable.

 

GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER

Google provides a keyword planner for their AdWords customers which we can use for SEO purposes. Simply create an AdWords account if you don’t have one already. Once logged in, the keyword planner is available under the ‘planning’ subheading in the toolbar.

 

From here you will need to select the ‘find new keywords’ option. Enter in the keywords on your list that you found through the Google related searches and save the new keywords that Google suggests. Be sure to then run all these keywords through the ‘metrics and forecasts’ tool also found in the Google Keyword Planner as get their monthly search volumes. Ideally, you will also want to do a Google search of each of the keywords and make a note of the top 3-5 ranking URLs – we will be using them later.

GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS

If your website is already established, then chances are you are already ranking deep in the index for loads of long tail keywords that your content isn’t properly optimised for. With a few minor tweaks you could see a big jump in your rankings and traffic.

ANSWER THE PUBLIC

Answer the Public is a great tool that generates questions based around your root keyword. Great for finding new keywords opportunities which you can also put into Google and look at the related searches for.

AHREFS & SEMRUSH

Use Ahrefs and Semrush to find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for. Simply input the URL of their ranking page into the organic research section and add any new keywords to your spreadsheet.

COMPETITOR RESEARCH

Now that we have together a comprehensive list of keywords that we need to optimise for, the next step is doing competitor research. During keyword compilation, we will have put together the top ranking web pages for each of our keywords. We now want to put together a second, separate table for our competitors that looks like so:

Competitor Domain Rating URL Rating URL Trust Flow Links to page Top 3 rankings Words on the page

Once we have populated the list above with our competitors, we’re then able to make good judgement calls on what is required from a content and SEO perspective going forward. Obviously the higher the numbers that you place in the table above, the more that is going to be required to rank for those keywords.

KEYWORD GROUPS

After carefully looking at the layout, content and site structure of your competitors, as well as having your full keyword list – it is time to group your keywords together to plan your content pieces. Be sure to group them by their parent topic and ensure plenty of LSI keywords are together to stop cannibalization. Furthermore, you want to ensure that ‘intent’ focused keywords such as ‘buy’ and ‘cheap’ are grouped together as much as possible.

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