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Keyword Research: How to Find Keywords for Your Website

Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that people are searching for in search engines. The general process of keyword research can be divided into two macro steps, namely:

  1. Generate keyword ideas
  2. Validate whether those keywords are worth going after

How to generate keyword ideas

To generate keyword ideas for your website, you need a keyword research tool. Keyword research tools show you information on keywords like their search volume, keyword difficulty scores, and other SEO metrics.

First, they should help you discover potential topics worth going after. There are a lot of tools out there, and you are free to use whichever you want to. Some people might as well not be able to purchase an SEO software at their current level. If you are in this category, don’t worry, as there are a lot of free tools, e.g., Google Search Console, SEMRush, Ahrefs keyword generator, seobility, Ubersuggest, and so on, which is an excellent place to start.

So let’s say the website we are going to be doing keyword research for is a hockey blog, and the way this blog generates revenue is through affiliate commissions meaning they promote other people’s products, and when someone clicks on one of the links and makes a purchase, you are compensated with a commission.

The first step is to come up with a seed keyword. A seed keyword is simply a broad keyword related to your niche. Your seed keyword might be hockey ball, hockey stick, or hockey bag for the hockey blog.

So, next, I will go to the Ahrefs keyword generator tool and add one of the seed keywords for a hockey blog, in this case, hockey ball and click on find keywords. Next, I will go to the phrase match report, which will show us keywords that include our exact keyword or keyword phrase in various orders.

Ahrefs keyword generator result for the keyword hockey ball on how to find keywords
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Just like that, we have around 642 keyword ideas with search volumes and keyword difficulty, which are helpful metrics to help us get good keyword ideas. Before we continue, I would like you to remember these 5 points whenever you want to choose keywords:

  1. We want keywords that have search demand
  2. We want keywords with traffic potential
  3. We want keywords with business potential
  4. We need to be able to match search intent
  5. We want to know how hard it will be to rank at the top of Google for that keyword.

So when generating keyword ideas, you should be able to check out these 5 points. Alright, let’s look back at our list of keyword ideas and start checking off some of these boxes.

So first, we need to find keywords that have search demand. If you have an Ahrefs account, you can set a search volume filter to show keywords with a minimum volume of at least 300 monthly searches. Because search demand is not all that a reliable metric, and looking at the search volume we have above coupled with the fact that we can’t add any filter since we are using the keyword generator tool, we will move to the next point.

Secondly, we have to see if these keywords have traffic potential. Again traffic potential is a more reliable metric than search volume because not all searches result in clicks. And at the end of the day, we want traffic, not searches. To check the traffic potential of a topic, you need to look at the top-ranking pages and see how much traffic they are getting. To do that, we will use the Ahrefs SERP checker tool. So simply copy the keyword idea or phrase you want to see the traffic potential from the list that you have on from your generator tool. Paste it into the Ahrefs SERP checker tool. So if we do that for the query “field hockey ball,” you will see that the top page gets around 605 monthly search visits.

Ahrefs SERP checker result for the keyword field hockey ball on how to find keywords
Image two

The third point is business potential. Business potential is simply the value a keyword has to your business. Because 605 monthly search visits seem great, let’s move over to the next point.

The fourth point on the checklist is to ask yourself if you can match search intent. As you can see, the top-ranking pages are ecommerce category pages. So searchers are probably in shopping mode. But we have a hockey affiliate blog, so the site probably isn’t selling hockey balls. Meaning we can’t create an e-commerce category page, and therefore we won’t be able to march search intent. So seeing as this query doesn’t fulfill the point on our checklist, we wouldn’t go after this keyword.

Looking further down the list, you will see the query “what is a field hockey ball made of.” Although its search volume Is not very high, copy the keyword idea or phrase and paste it into the Ahrefs SERP checker tool, you will see that the traffic potential is around 503 monthly visits from the US. That is pretty good.

Ahrefs SERP checker result for the query "what is a field hockey ball made of" on how to find keywords
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In terms of business potential, this keyword would have a value of 3 because our site makes money by reviewing and recommending products. So it would be super easy to organically recommend products in a “best of” post showing what the different hockey balls are made of or a “what is” post of some informational content. As for search intent, they are mostly blog posts, as you can see from the titles of the top-ranking pages.

The fifth point on the checklist is to know how hard it will be to rank at the top of Google for that keyword. To do that, you need to check the number of websites linking to the top-ranking pages; this is popularly known as referring domains. If a page has a lot of quality links pointing to it, then it would be more competitive to rank for. So you need to ask yourself, can I get more quality backlinks than the top-ranking pages? The next metric to look at is Website Authority also known as domain rating (DR), which represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile. You should be targeting keywords when your website’s domain rating is in a similar ballpark range as the top-ranking pages. Or, at the very least, one of the top-ranking pages should be in the same range as your website. The next metric to look at is the topical authority of the top-ranking websites. Google wants to rank pages from authoritative sources, and this goes beyond backlinks. So the question you need to ask yourself is this: Is my website equally or more topically authoritative than the top ranking websites? If the answer is yes, then that is a positive thing for you.

When a query checks all boxes and passes all the first four tests, you can add it to your keyword list and then check out your website and the fifth point on the checklist to know how hard it would be for you to rank at the top of Google for that keyword.

Now checking the SERP for all of these keywords would be pretty time-consuming, so there is a quick technique you can use to find relevant keywords, and that’s to use keyword modifiers. A keyword modifier is an add-on to a base keyword. For example, if our base keyword is hockey sticks, we can modify this keyword by adding best, top, or the current year.

Modifiers tell us a lot about search intent. For example, a word like best; tells us that a comparison needs to be made. So searchers are probably looking for a listicle blog post with different product recommendations. If a word like how or what is in the keyword, it tells us that the top pages will likely be blog posts or videos with step-by-step tutorials or other informational content. So with this knowledge, we can actually filter this keyword list down to:

  • Keywords that likely have business potential
  • Keywords where we can match searcher intent

For example, since we are doing keyword research for an affiliate site, modifiers like best, top, versus, and review would likely bring up topics where we can organically recommend products. So when you add these modifiers to your keywords, the results are most likely going to have high business potential. Plus, we know that 99% of the time, the results for any best type keyword will be listicle blog posts; and we also know that we can match searcher intent with our affiliate blog. Now, if we switch our modifiers to words like how, what, who, where, why, guide and tutorial, then we can apply the list to find informational topics that we write about on our blog. And pretty much all of these keywords could be fair game for a hypothetical hockey blog. Now, if you plan to use a list of modifiers, then it is worth noting that you should probably do it with much broader seeds. Doing keyword research with broader seeds enables you to have a lot more topics that you can potentially create content around. So if this is the method you want to try, then take note of this list of modifiers and feel free to use them in your keyword research.

One downside to using keyword research tools is that the list of keyword ideas will usually be limited to words and phrases that include your seeds. But there are other great keywords that won’t necessarily include your seeds, so how do you find them? Well, the best way to find these keywords is to look at pages that drive the most search traffic to your competitors’ sites. Because if your competitors are ranking for keywords that are sending them a ton of search traffic, then I am sure you would want to get in on the action. By competitor, I am not necessarily talking about your direct business competitors. I am referring to your organic search competitors, which are websites that rank for keywords that you would want to rank for. Go to these competitors’ websites and just scheme through their list. Look for potential topics, then go through those first four points in the checklist for keywords that are interesting to you, and add them to your keyword list. Once you have exhausted a websites’ top pages, repeat the same for other organic search competitors until you are satisfied with your list.

Bottom line, there should be no shortage of keyword ideas, and you should be able to use these two methods to build a solid list of topics to keep you busy for years. But here is the thing, after you have checked off the four boxes on the checklist, don’t forget the fifth one, which is to know how hard it’ll be to rank at the top of Google for that keyword; and everything you have done won’t matter if you don’t rank for your keywords.

Emeka Okorie

Emeka is a microbiologist, a content creator and an affiliate marketer. His marketing style centres around SEO traffic and list building.

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