Yes, Google eliminated its free keyword tool. And yes, Google encrypted all searches, meaning you can no longer see which keyword terms work best at converting visitors to your site. But there are plenty of other ways to conduct keyword research. And it’s a good thing since — contrary to what you may have heard — keyword research is still the basic building block of search engine optimization.
That said, another recent Google development has changed the way you should be thinking about keywords. I’m talking about the Hummingbird algorithm, which gave Google’s virtual brain power a very big boost. As a result, it’s time for you to think bigger too — beyond individual keyword terms, to groups of keywords organized into concepts.
The Basics of Keyword Research
1) Identify your core keyword terms.
What is your target audience looking for from a business like yours? What do they want to know about your topic, product, or service? How does this break down into individual keyword terms?
Start with whatever terms come to mind. Look also, of course, to whatever literature you already have created for your business, be it a brochure, catalog, or website. Then take a look at your competitors. What core keyword terms are they targeting? Add these to your list.
Once you have some core keyword term ideas, it’s time to start running the numbers.
There are a few places to do your keyword research, but Google Adwords Keyword Planner is probably the best place to start. Some other options include:
- Google Trends
- Google Display Planner
- Keywords cloud tools
As you’re deciding on a core keyword term, make sure:
- It gets enough traffic
- It’s not too broad
- It’s not too competitive
- You can likely create higher quality content for that term than the competitor pages already ranking hightest for it
Note, in the process of this keyword research, you will no doubt discover other terms that may turn out to be top contenders for core keywords, as well as related keyword terms.
2) Identify related keyword terms.
Gone are the days when you needed to worry incessantly about keyword repetition. Yes, you need to include your core keywords in your content, but Google is now smart enough to deduce your page topic based on the relevance of other keywords used on the page. So instead of repeating your core keyword over and over again, you can (and should) use synonyms, as well as keywords commonly associated with the core keyword.
One of the best ways to identify related keywords is via Google’s “Related searches” that come up when you conduct a search of your core keyword term.
3) Group keyword terms together into themed concepts.
Once you have identified your core keywords and related keyword terms, group them into themed concepts. This simply means identifying groups of keywords that lend themselves to easy association to make the writing of your content as natural and user-friendly as possible.
4) Create quality content around your themed concepts.
Devote a page of your website to each of your themed concepts. Just remember when writing the content, you are trying to rank for a topic, not a single keyword phrase. Let your core keyword appear naturally throughout the content, supported by the related keywords that will boost each page’s topical relevance.
Just one more thing before you get started.
Be ever-mindful of Google’s goal — helping users find the content most likely to answer their questions. The better you know your target audience, the better you can anticipate, and answer, what those questions may be. Make sure this informs not only your keyword research and themed concepts, but also the depth of your website content.