Key takeaways:

  1. Keyword research is about finding out what people want to know so that you can provide them with the best possible information.
  2. Anyone can do it!
  3. You should do keyword research periodically – it is not a set-and-forget task.
  4. Keyword research should lead you towards effective content marketing. That is, to provide comprehensive coverage to your audience for each of the products, categories or services that are relevant to your business.
  5. With comprehensive coverage, your site can begin to gain topical authority. Topical authority correlates well with rankings.
  6. Don’t overthink the task – people find new ways to search for things every single day.

What is keyword research?

In order to give users the best results, search engines pull in a lot of information. They do this by crawling the Internet and adding webpages to its index.

When users of search engines want to find something, they need to give the search engine something to look for.

This ‘something’ is what we call keywords and the process of keyword research is to identify what people are searching for so that we can produce useful information to serve that particular need.

Keyword research is the first step towards effective content marketing.

Why is keyword research important?

Knowing what people are searching for will allow you to produce content on your website.

Keyword research should produce a set of questions that your audience has when they’re first looking for a solution as well as post-sales support.

For example, I was recently looking for an induction cooktop. This is how my search evolved:

  • I first started with “induction vs electric cooktop”. I wanted to know the benefits and drawbacks of having an induction cooktop vs an electric one.
  • I then searched for “best induction cooktops”. I did this because I wanted to get a shortlist of suitable products to consider.
  • This gave me a list of different brands to which I then searched for:
    • “Bosch induction review”
    • “Ikea induction review”
    • “Electrolux induction review”
  • Upon reading real user reviews, I then searched for the individual models to find the lowest price.

What’s interesting about my search experience was that I had to jump from one website to another. There was no single website that provided me with all the information I wanted. Therefore, by the time I knew what model of induction cooktop I wanted, I went with the lowest price vendor.

This scenario is not what you want. Instead, you want people to arrive at your site at various stages of their buying journey and stick around.

Keyword research will help you minimise coverage gaps on your website so that you can convert organic traffic into sales.

What tools can help make keyword research easier?

  • Google Keyword Planner via Google Ads
  • Google Trends search
  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • Keyword Surfer
  • Keywords Everywhere

How often should keyword research be done?

The way people search changes every day. Different problems arise as do the triggers that produce these problems. As such, people are finding new ways to search for solutions to their problems all the time.

It is not possible to come up with all the keywords in a single sitting – nor should you try to.

Therefore, keyword research is not something you do once. It is something you should do periodically per topic, with the goal of getting more granular with each attempt.

What should (good) keyword research look like?

Some people like spreadsheets. Some people prefer mind maps.

It doesn’t matter what shape or form it takes, as long as the keyword research is clear to understand and actionable.

This an example of poor keyword research:

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Poor keyword research will be overwhelming – often with thousands of keywords.

Poor keyword research lacks direction – it is simply a data dump.

Poor keyword research tries to achieve too much – keep it simple!

So what does good keyword research look like?

In one word: purposeful.

The objective of keyword research is to identify how people search for things that are relevant to your business.

Useful keyword research will tell you what type of content you need to create or improve on your website.

Productive keyword research should save you time. It will give you a list of topics and subtopics to research and author. And good keyword research sets the strong foundation of your SEO.

Here is an example of what good keyword research looks like:

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How to use keyword research to generate a topical map

At the end of keyword research, you will end up with a list of words and phrases that are relevant to your business. The next step is to pair these keywords with search intent.

I call this process topical mapping.

What is a topical map?

A map shows you how to get from A to B. A topical map shows you what topics your website needs to have in order to achieve comprehensive coverage.

You may come across the terms ‘topic cluster’, ‘content silo’, ‘hub and spoke model’ and ‘content pillars’.

These all refer to the same thing.

A topical map will help you schedule resources to research and author content that your audience will consume. Doing this across time will help your website achieve topical authority and topical authority can allow your site to rank without relying on links.

This is what a topical map looks like:

<graphic>

Putting it all together.

Keyword research allows you to develop a topical map. This in turn will fuel your content ideation and content production on your website. With this, you can interlink related pages to each other so that your audience can find the solution to their next question or problem.

Over time, the content you have created will strengthen topical coverage and search engines will see your website as a trustworthy source of information.

Let’s get started with keyword research.

>> How to do keyword research in under 10 minutes without any tools

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