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The issue with keywords


There’s a handful of search terms that come into your head the moment you think of your business and your website.

If you could only somehow rank at the top of Google’s search results for these keywords – your revenue and visitor count would multiply overnight.

The problem: Your competition has known about these keywords for a long time and is far ahead of you in many of the rankings.
What you need right now is not a deep wallet, but a smart solution – better keyword research.

Certainly, the terms that immediately spring to mind for you and your competitors are likely to be productive. But, when it comes to search engines like Google, there is a better and more affordable way to generate far more of them, and above all, to attract significantly more relevant visitors for your topic.

 

Jan Becker-Fochler
My name is Jan Becker-Fochler. I have been an online marketer for more than 15 years and founded the Textbroker content marketplace as an internationally successful company just by utilising SEO and SEM traffic. To date, we have delivered nearly 10 million search-engine-optimised texts to our customers worldwide. That’s why we know the ingredients required for first-class content. Having relevant keywords is definitely one of them, and good keyword research is still necessary to get more readers, more satisfied customers, and a better-performing, more successful website.

Looking ahead

In this article, I will share with you what we at Textbroker have learned in the past 10 years.

I’ll show you all the insider tips, best practices, the best free and paid tools, and some little-known tricks to help you conduct efficient keyword research and keyword analysis.

If you …

  1. Want to know how to find the perfect keywords that will bring you a big boost in traffic
  2. Are a shop owner, blogger or webmaster looking for a tutorial that will show you how to optimise your online presence for users and search engines
  3. Want to learn about the 100 most important keyword tools
  4. Want to know about the biggest mistakes in keyword research
  5. Are searching for an answer to the most urgent questions about keyword research…

…then this article is just what you need. Learn the best way to optimise your keywords, use our infographics for your keyword research, and consult our comprehensive software overview to decide which keyword tools are right for you.

With this information, we’re not only bringing you up to speed on keyword research, keyword optimisation, and keyword monitoring, we’re also providing you with the right tools to take your site to the top of the Google rankings.

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

 
Looking for content writers? Use Textbroker to craft your perfect keyword oriented content

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Chapter 1: The Popular View on Keywords

“Keywords are totally overrated! Nobody needs keyword research anymore! Quite frankly, keywords are dead!”

It’s now common to hear that keywords are unimportant and no longer relevant. Google is now “smart” enough, so the optimisation of a website for certain search terms has become unnecessary. This new strategy suggests you should just create premium content and Google will do the rest. But is that really true?

Are Keywords dead?

The initial response clearly has to be yes and no. So, let’s look at the facts.

 

What’s certain is:
Search engines have become more intelligent. Today, Google is drawing upon many more factors and deploying more sophisticated processes to categorise a website than a few years ago. With animal helpers such as Panda and Penguin and intelligent mechanisms such as RankBrain, Google’s algorithm can determine the content and the quality of a page with great precision. Content creation, and notably to the researching and optimal editing of content, have become more complex. Thus, the message “topics rather than keywords” has some real substance.

SearchEngine Journal shares a helpful overview of the most important ranking factors.

But:
Search engines still require language-specific expressions to define the content of a website.

And even more importantly:
User search queries provide incredibly important clues about their needs and intentions. Without keyword research, you know as much about your users as a snail knows about dry feet.

If you neglect keyword research, you are throwing away huge potential.

 

How does this sound: more readers, more satisfied customers, a more successful website and faster growth? Proper keyword research makes all this possible. Keywords are the gateway to the minds of your readers and to the wallets of your customers.

At Textbroker, we have been developing good content for 12 years, and during that time we have learned a lot about keyword research. After hundreds of thousands of texts, we can safely say that it is, and remains, enormously important.

A thorough analysis is worth the effort: It can make the web more appealing and more profitable for your readers, for search engines, and ultimately for yourself.

If you want to know how to find perfect keywords for your content and multiply your traffic potential, you should always start by optimising your keyword research to support your content with a strong keyword foundation.

Why keyword analysis is so important


Keyword research should be part of your standard repertoire. As long as users have to verbalise (i.e. put into words) their search terms in some way, they should remain absolutely essential to your content production.

Why focus on keywords?

1. Google (still) decides which search queries a page addresses primarily on the basis of its text content.

Larry Page describes this process very clearly in an old video.

Even if exact keywords are becoming increasingly less important today and research is changing in some ways to reflect this, there is still a clear link between the right search terms and a good position in the SERPs.

Online marketing expert Sam Nemzer illustrated this a while age in a Moz blog, and even the most recent Searchmetrics study on ranking factors still found clear indications of a correlation between keywords and rankings.

Content is King

2. Users employ the Internet and its search engines to meet specific needs:

Information, guidance, purchasing, etc. Through their search queries, your site visitors share their precise goals and intentions with you. Using these search inputs, you can deduce not only what your customers want, but also how they think, how their decision-making process functions, and what problems they have that you can help them solve. Thus, search queries provide valuable and detailed information that will help you produce useful and interesting content for your target audience.

Meet the User's Needs

 

Without keywords, none of this is possible.

 

Keyword searches have two primary objectives:

  1. They reveal the topics and terms that offer you great potential for traffic, customers, readers and/or revenue.
  2. They help you to understand what your users really want and give you the opportunity to respond to their wishes.

Good content is always underpinned by in-depth research. However, what you should focus on in regard to matching keywords has changed somewhat over the years.

 
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Chapter 2: What do good keywords look like?


For today’s keyword research and keyword optimisation, you have to be prepared to put in a little more effort. Simply finding the search term with the largest search volume and then inserting it in the page text so often the reader will want to name their child after it no longer works. Research means work, but we’ll make it easy for you: Step by step, we’ll show you the best methods, the best tools, and the insider tricks guaranteed to propel your keywords so far ahead of the competition it will make their heads spin. In a nutshell, this work offers fantastic value and is a great investment for your business.

You can successfully optimise page text by covering your chosen topic in depth and in a user-friendly fashion, utilising suitable keywords to signpost the purpose and topic of that page. However, as Google employee John Mueller has recently confirmed, keyword stuffing – the artificial overloading of a page with keywords – is (still) bad practice:

Nevertheless, readers and search engines must be able to find the most significant and important terms on your pages. To find suitable keywords, the following factors should be given particular consideration:

Topic and page relevance

In essence, each keyword must be relevant to the theme of the website. Search engines will check your pages – and if your desired keyword does not match the page content, the page will not appear in the SERPs. An article about kittens will never be effectively ranked for the search term camera, even if that topic is featured heavily within the text.

The context of your overall online presence is equally important. Just think about it logically: Using the keyword puppies, a photography website would find it much more difficult than a pet shop to break into the top 10 rankings.

User needs

Always keep the user’s perspective in mind when choosing your keywords. Search for your keywords with the appropriate mindset: Is the searcher more likely to be looking for information, or does he perhaps want to buy something? And what problems did he encounter on your site? All this can be deduced from the search queries.

When researching, one of the first steps is to analyse the keywords that have led users to our page. That also enables you to check out the user’s search intention: Is the search query information-oriented (how?), navigation-oriented (where?), or transaction-oriented (buy-now mode)? For instance, with the keyword phrase purchase shoes, you can perhaps safely assume a transactional need. However, running shoes could indicate the user has either a transactional intention or a need for information. That’s why, for each keyword or group of keywords, you should define the type of content the searcher might be expecting.

Quick tips:

Google itself can also show you the intention behind a user’s search query. Enter the desired keyword on Google, and if you see just shops and sales pages in the initial rankings, you can conclude that Google is assuming this keyword has a purchase focus. But if, on the other hand, you find guides and information pages such as Wikipedia, then the keyword is rated as more information-oriented. So, design your content for the respective topic area accordingly.

Voice Search now offers some exciting possibilities. An increasing number of common questions can now be found among the search queries – so use this great info resource to understand what your readers want.


Purna Virji has offered some interesting thoughts about Voice Search in a Moz Blog. And the online marketing experts Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel have also dealt with the subject in depth. They all believe Voice Search will become very important in the future.

Conversion Relevance

Details can make a lot of difference, so be sure to choose keywords that have a conversion relevance for your topic. Often, there can be linguistic variants, and these too are reflected in the search queries. Many terms are too general; others can be too precise. Car hire generates many more search queries than vehicle hire, while Vauxhall hire is much more specific.

Conversion Relevance

The distinction between Short-Head, Mid-Tail and Long-Tail keywords plays an important role here. Search volumes and competition are both influenced by how many words and phrases a search query contains, as well as how specific these terms are. Shorter search terms offer greater search volumes, but the competition is also much fiercer and conversion rates are usually lower. Each keyword form has its advantages and disadvantages, but it’s often better to focus on Long-Tail queries, especially where you face stiff competition.

Relevance for target audiences

Keywords should be directed toward the reader. Take care to consider not just the needs of your users, but also their current circumstances. The following points are particularly important:


  • A local reference:
    The issue of locality is important, and not just because mobile search queries now outnumber queries from desktop computers. Consider whether local keywords are relevant for your topic and your users. So if, for instance, you have a coffee shop in Chelmsford, Essex, then let your customers know by orienting your website accordingly. Don’t ever make the mistake of underestimating local SEO.

  • A time-related reference:
    When will your keywords be searched for? Be sure to reflect current conditions and seasonal fluctuations by using appropriate search terms. For example, different keywords will often apply in winter and spring.

  • Tonality:
    Depending on who your users are, they may well use different language forms. Whether it’s local expressions (e.g. in different parts of the United Kingdom, bread rolls are known as ‘baps’ or ‘cobs’) or different terms (flu or influenza) in accordance with your target audience, be careful to match your keyword selection to the tonality that your audience will expect.


Quick tip:

Get an accurate picture of your customers and their customer journey. You should present them with appropriate content at each phase. This can be illustrated with a Customer Journey Map.

Semantic relationship

Google is getting much better at delivering the right search results, even if you use synonyms or word variations on your webpage. In addition, its representatives tirelessly explain that texts should be written as naturally as possible, so you should never have to worry about synonyms and variations in word order. Nevertheless, it’s useful to take them into account in keyword research.


  • Synonyms:
    It’s only when you have researched the synonyms of your keywords that you will really know which keywords offer the greatest potential. A pleasant side effect of this is you can then use synonyms in your content, making it much more appealing to your readers and to search engines. Tools like OpenThesaurus can help you find the right terms.

  • Variations:
    Keywords no longer have to be presented in a text in the same rigid order. So, there is usually no particular preference or stipulation whether you are buying or writing texts for the Internet. Search engines seldom make decisions based on the exact wording in individual instances. Even so, variations do add variety and improve the flow for the reader.


Quick tip:
Occasionally, the exact word order of a keyword phrase can bring an advantage. Therefore, it’s worth checking which keyword variants promise the greatest success and take this into account in your keyword research. We explain how to do this in the next section How to approach keyword research.

The keywordtool.io offers a free, if somewhat limited, option to help you find keyword variations.



  • Semantically related terms:
    If your information-oriented content is to be successful, you should present a topic broadly and use the most important related terms and expressions. This is the way to fully inform the reader and also flag up high-quality content to search engines. An article on Boris Becker would struggle to succeed without tennis and sport – but may do even better if it includes the terms Djokovic and Lilly. Technical tools such as WDF*IDF analysis or Latent Semantic Optimisation can help you find the right terms.

    Though offering somewhat limited scope and query options, the free WDF-IDF-Tool provides a useful insight into WDF*IDF-analysis.

    More tools for analysing synonyms and related search queries can be found in this Tool Comparison.


SEA or SEO

What is the aim of your keyword search? It’s important to distinguish between those search terms you wish to deploy for SEA and the ones that are more suitable for SEO. Even though many keywords are predestined for advertising, organic search results can still provide a good response for most search queries.

 
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Chapter 3: How to approach keyword research


1

Collect Data

First of all, collect as many keywords and keyword ideas as possible. Later, you can sort and cluster them. There are a variety of data-collection procedures:

1. Think for yourself

Start with your own natural resources: Your brain should be your first port of call when it comes to finding the right keywords. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do my users want?
  • What problems and needs do they have?
  • What are their search intentions?

Write down the key points and extract your first keywords.
Let’s run through the entire process using a shop portal for backpacking as our sample context:

User Intent

2. Take a look at your analysis tools

The data from Phase 1 above can be optimised by using appropriate analysis tools to evaluate the keywords that led the users to your webpages. This can be achieved with SEO tools like ahrefs or Searchmetrics, but works especially well with Google Search Console (which is free). You will find almost all the keywords that have brought users to you in this search analysis.

You can gather some important things from this data, which you can then use as the basis for your research. For example:

  • What exactly do users enter in the search box as a search query?
  • What were they thinking? What prompted them?
  • What problem do they want you to solve?

But Search Console’s keyword data also contains some important information about your product or company. For example:

  • Have users already heard of your website/ product? Or are they first-time visitors? Are there an appropriate number of brand-related search queries?
  • What problems do they encounter with your product? Can you overcome these via appropriate content?

3. Talk to those who should know about this

Your customer support and sales teams are comprised of employees who deal with the problems and needs of your users on a daily basis. Even though they may not necessarily be online marketing experts, their opinion is worth its weight in gold. So, ask them about their views and assessments, and create a list of requirements and issues from that information. Subsequently, you can break this down into a list of keywords.

The customer support and sales teams might have other points of contact with users and thus can potentially enhance your view of user needs.

User Needs

Have you already created Personas for company purposes? If so, then you can also draw upon these for further keyword inspiration. Look closely at your identified target groups and consider what specific needs each of these customer categories may have.

4. Web research

The Internet contains an immense volume of information. Take a good look at what users are sharing about your topic, what questions they ask, and what they are discussing. Note down everything and extract keywords from it.

The following are useful locations for conducting an initial search for topics and keywords:

Web Research


  • Wikis:
    Wikipedia and Co. is a good first starting point for research. Look at articles about the keywords you first selected, and check each table of contents and article links to get new keyword ideas. Unfortunately, the wikimindmap tool is only available as a free download version, so provided you are not daunted by the task of installation, you can use it to produce a clear visual representation of data from a Wikipedia article.

  • Forums:
    There are (freely-accessible) user forums in which users exchange information covering almost any topic. Here, you will find extremely helpful data that can be used to generate search queries.

  • Question & Answer Pages:
    Platforms such as answerthepublic.com or Quora are real gold mines for collecting keyword ideas. Just enter your specific topic and read what the users are exchanging.

Make a note of what you find and break it down into topic keywords.

You can use the data gathered by tools such as wikimindmap or forum pages to create an overview of user issues and the corresponding keywords.

5. Study your rivals

You certainly know who your competitors are, so take a look at their webpages and their data. Notice which keywords they rank successfully for, as well as any keywords you may not have thought about.

You can use a variety of tools, such as ahrefs, to get an overview of your rival’s ranking keywords, and you can also discover the keyword focus of each website.

There are hardly any free alternatives here, although some providers like SEMrush will allow a limited number of queries. If that quota has been exhausted, you can often find what you need by looking at your competitor’s meta keywords – many pages include this data in hopes of positively influencing search engine ranking. If available, the most important keywords will be found within the HTML code.

You can also analyse a website text to filter the most frequently used words. Seorch, Seitenreport or SEOlytics are tools that can help you here – simply enter the desired URL to display a list of the most common keywords.

If you don’t know who your competitors are for a desired keyword, good-ole Google can help again. After a short Google search, simply display the Top 20 webpages for that search term and get inspired. Check the keywords on these webpages and include them in your list.

6. Write down your information

Based on the data you’ve collected, you can now create your first set of keywords. Put all the matching search queries together in one document.


2

Use tools to expand the keyword set

You can now use software tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to develop your keywords and keyword combinations and add in other related search terms. Thus, your existing ideas can be multiplied and your present keyword set expanded.

Keyword Planner

The Keyword Planner generates keyword ideas via the menu command “Discover new keywords”. Enter your desired keywords, and the tool will then display some compatible search terms.
 

Google Keyword Planner

Other Tools

If you don’t have a Google Ads account, you can use an alternative such as Ubersuggest, or keywordtool.io instead, or simply fall back on Google’s Related Keywords. Ubersuggest mainly offers keyword variations and Long-Tails, whilst Related Keywords is limited in scope but can still help you find new keywords associated with your keyword input.

Together, these tools provide an excellent, free alternative resource for conducting keyword research.

Related Searches

Extend your existing list by entering the keywords you have found, but use your head to pre-sort your accumulating search terms because there will often be some keywords that simply do not make sense. Also, pay careful attention to the fact that you’re not just generating Short-Head keywords; on many topics, you can also create much more meaningful Mid- or Long-Tail expressions.


3

Analyse and select your keywords

Collecting the keywords was the easy part. You should now have a long, and probably convoluted, list of search terms. The entries in this mountain of keywords are all candidates for your website content – now, let’s see which of these terms will be the best choice, which is all based on your analysis and selection.

First, throw out all duplicate keywords that are the result of overlaps created by using different tools in parallel. The next step is a numbers game that involves sorting out the matching keywords using analysis tools. A popular program for this task is the Google Keyword Planner.

Keyword analysis with the Google Keyword Planner

Even though the variety of keyword and SEO tools available is huge, Google basically provides its own tools that you can use for search engine optimisation. Whether the data produced is more reliable, more comprehensive or superior to that of other tools is controversial.
Some time ago, online marketing expert Russ Jones wrote an interesting article about Keyword Planner’s dirty secrets.

Google’s Keyword Planner is still one of the most frequently used tools for keyword research. Although it was actually created for SEA purposes, plenty of important data can also be collected for organic search engine optimisation. However, in many instances, Google restricts the amount of data that is made available.
After analysing the search volumes, impressions and clicks, and exporting all the keyword lists, you can then sort the list if necessary. This simplifies the subsequent analysis and reduces the effort involved.

Keyword Analysis with Google

To do this, remove all the superfluous information from the list. The columns Keyword, Average Monthly Searches, Competition and Estimated Impressions are particularly important, but Estimated Clicks and Estimated CTR can also be helpful.

Sort the list according to monthly search requests or impressions, and then check the keywords that have no search volume/ impressions. These are now superfluous keywords, which you can delete.

More keyword-research options and tool alternatives. Of course, you can always use ahrefs, Searchmetrics, or another keyword search tool instead of Keyword Planner. Check out our tool overview, which explains what’s available and the strengths and weaknesses of each tool.


4

Clustering and prioritising

After this step, you should have the search volume or impressions for each of your keywords and a rough idea of the competition for your search terms. Next comes the clustering and sorting:

1. Check for relevance

As always, never accept data provided by your tools without thinking. Reflect, scrutinise and adapt the output to suit your content, checking to ensure all keywords meet your search requirements. To remind you, here again are the characteristics of good keywords:

  • Topic relevance:
    The keyword MUST be relevant to your website or the topic of your planned content.

  • Conversion relevance:
    Conceptual accuracy and high-level detail for Short-Head, Mid-Tail, or Long-Tail: Be sure to choose keywords that are relevant to your topic.

  • Needs Orientation:
    Is the search term aligned with the needs of your users? A user tells you what information he needs via his search queries.

  • Target group relevance:
    Check whether the keywords have a local and/or time-related reference and whether the tonality matches your target group.

  • Related terms:
    Remember that you should keep variations, synonyms and thematically related terms that are close to the main keyword. You should also take keywords that are very similar – like buying text on the Internet and on the Internet buying text. We can sort that one out later.

Remove all superfluous keywords according to these criteria. After that, you will be left with keywords, variations and synonyms that match your target group as well as your webpage and fulfil the needs of your users.

2. Summarise

Review your subcategories and group all the keywords and keyword combinations that are very similar. Think about which keywords cover a common topic area. When you’ve finished, each keyword group ideally should have variations, synonyms and different Short-Head, Mid- and Long-Tail queries all covering the same keywords or topics.

3. Sort double keywords via Google

The next step is to check your keywords for uniqueness. This will allow you to focus on the more important keywords when writing.

Use Google to test keywords that are very similar from each group. If the search engine returns two very different search results, you should consider both keywords in your content. However, if the results are very similar, then you can focus on the keyword with the better search/impression values because Google obviously sees these two search terms as synonymous. Select the appropriate keyword, but leave the weaker one in your list just to keep it in mind.

Google SERP: Backpack Hiking
Google SERP: Hiking Backpack

4. Check the competition via Google

Now, let’s look again at the exact competition for each separate keyword. You cannot rely on the competition data from Keyword Planner: It serves the competition analysis requirements for SEA, but at best it gives only a weak indication of how competitive a keyword will be in the organic SERPs. So, please enter the search terms in Google instead. Yes, this is a lot of work – but it is worth doing. The results show you exactly how strong the competition is for a keyword, and you can directly see how the topic was developed.

Which pages were ranked? Are they forum posts or websites with thin content, which are usually easier to beat? Or will you find well-researched, informative articles with a lot of social signals and backlinks? Are you trying to go up against an online store for a product keyword? This would be a challenge.

Look at the top 10 for each keyword and check in the search results:

  • How exactly does the content of the individual pages affect user needs? Does it answer all the questions? Does it help solve the problem expressed in the query?
  • How comprehensively is the content dealt with on the individual pages in terms of the word count, keywords and multimedia use? The word count and keywords can be determined with the WDF*IDF tool or manually in Word.
  • How many backlinks do the individual URLs have? And how many social signals do they have? This data can easily be determined using tools like BuzzSumo.
  • What page and domain authority have the results in the top 10? How many backlinks? Use the MozBar, for example, to display such values. The stronger the competition here, the harder it will be for you.
  • What does the design look like? Is it a high-quality article? Is it well structured?

Finally, ask yourself these questions: Can I do better? Can I offer my users more interesting, more useful and more appropriate content? How difficult will it be to get into the top 10 for this keyword?

Based on this assessment, assign a rating for each keyword: three points when it would be easy, down to one point when it would be almost impossible to produce better content.

Caution with Google’s Knowledge Graph

Remember, when researching the competition, you should also think about Google’s Knowledge Graph. For terms that Google already covers with its extended search results, it becomes all the more difficult to storm the SERPs. That’s because Google tries to answer the search query directly in the SERP and thus selects appropriate and carefully targeted content. And even when you rank, users may still not show up on your page, but they may already have left the SERPs having got what they wanted.

Google Knowledge Graph – Big Ben

 

5. Evaluate & prioritise keywords

After all the analysis, you can finally evaluate your keywords based on the data you have gathered by setting up a rating system that integrates with your Excel spreadsheet. Go through your keyword list step by step and assign a value for each of your chosen criteria. Use a three-point scale where three is good, two is average and one is poor. Assess the following features:

  • Search volume or impressions
  • Competition data from Google Ads (even if they only provide information about adverts, you can still see how competitive a keyword is) and from your competition analysis
  • Values from your uniqueness analysis
  • If necessary, the clicks

Sort the search terms within each group according to the points awarded. The result will give you a keyword ranking within each group where you can now determine which keywords you should use in your content and which are less important. You can use the keywords with the highest scores as your main keywords.

A word of caution
Be aware of possible cannibalisation effects with keywords or pages that already exist. If you already rank for some of your keywords, it may be better to expand or rework the existing content.

When, and how many, points do I award?

In regards to search volume, impressions or clicks, etc., which keywords you want to consider or how you should rate them is dependent on various factors. For example, the business sector and the popularity of your topic as well as the length of the keyword – Long-Tail keywords, for instance, usually have low search volumes, but also weaker competition. Ultimately, you need to develop a sense of what search volume for a particular keyword is high and what is low.

The point system presented here is intended to compensate for differences between the high search volume and the length of the keyword – though in principle, of course, the higher the search volume, the better. In my example, I gave 3 points for a value of 1,000 impressions, 1,000 search requests, 200 clicks, and a value below 0.3 in the Google Ads competition.

6. Prioritise keyword groups

Finally, you have to prioritise individual keyword groups to determine which keywords to use first in high-quality content addressing the respective user requirements.

First, sort the groups according to the total search volume the keywords generate (simply calculate) and the competition that awaits you. Then, carefully reflect on which keyword groups meet the most urgent needs of your users:

  • Which is the priority content for you? What content do you or your customers need?
  • What is the traffic potential of this keyword group?
  • How strong is the competition for this keyword group?
  • How much effort is required, and what would be the outcome?
  • What kind of ROI do I have to promise for this keyword group? What kind of profit will it bring?

The individual keyword groups can now form the basis of your content. From now on, we can start to focus on content creation.


5

Building topic environments

Develop your keywords into inspired, multimedia-enhanced content that is of suitable length and tailored to the user’s requirements. Consider whether you will create transactional, informational (profound, or more superficial) or navigational content, and begin to think about appropriate topics.

Google Trends will give you a clue as to whether you’ve backed the right horse for your topic or keyword. Enter the keyword to see if the topic is following an upward trend or whether user interest is already diminishing.

Which content types are the best?


Basically, there is informational, transactional and navigational content, which are all employed to respond to these respective types of search queries. Therefore, you should provide whichever type of content matches the user’s needs.

  • Informational content can be broken down into deep information that maps a whole, comprehensive world of topics, and more superficial, smaller content units that rapidly answer a user’s questions.
  • Transactional content attempts to provide the user with a product or service. It’s persuasively designed to illustrate how such items can speak to a user’s needs.
  • Navigational conten, in turn, helps a user get their bearings in terms of navigating the web.

Among other things, Google describes what good, SEO-relevant content should look like in its Webmaster Guidelines.

Keyword Research: Tedious but effective


Good keyword research is the basis for content that both your users and search engines will find convincing. Even if the pathway to the right keywords is cumbersome, a detailed analysis is nevertheless essential. Keywords are not dead or useless, they are an excellent source of data about the wishes of your users. With the steps described here, you can create the foundations for perfectly balanced content.

If you want to analyse your own keywords right now, you should read a bit more (I know it’s quite a bit of work). However, it’s certainly worth it: In the following, we will not only show you the perfect tools for your keyword research, but also tell you which mistakes you should avoid, how to keyword-optimise your page and how you can monitor the success of your search terms. We also answer the most important questions about keyword research. Stay tuned a little longer and improve your keyword skills.

 
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Chapter 4: The 12 keyword analysis mistakes you should never make

 


Did you create your keyword set? It was probably a hard task, but the detailed results show just how important a good analysis can be. In such a complex, multi-layered process, mistakes can easily creep in. That’s why we also want to take a look at what you should avoid in your keyword research.

 

1

Neglecting the keyword search:

Completely omitting keyword research is probably the biggest mistake you can make. I hope that much is clear. Also, taking a half-hearted approach to the job can end up doing more harm than good –you set up the wrong keywords out of carelessness, for example. It’s better to get your analysis right – which will also save you time and money.

 

2

Forget the user; just write for the machine:

We do not research for Google; we research for the user. Identify keywords according to the different needs of your users along their Customer Journey. And if they like to Google blue bananas, create appropriate content for them that relates to blue bananas.

 

3

Looking at unsuitable keywords with too great a search volume:

Search volumes are always a great attraction. Time and again, one can be tempted by a large number of monthly search requests. However, such keywords rarely have a real chance of achieving a good ranking – either because the competition is simply overpowering or because your own page lacks relevance for the topic. Asking yourself (and also checking) whether there is any ranking potential for a desired keyword is, therefore, one of the routine controls that you should set up. Where there is doubt, it’s better to abandon the keyword or choose the Long-Tail route to avoid something that may seem too contrived.

 

4

Misjudging the competition:

But then, there’s the alternative scenario. A look at the competition on Google makes you shudder, yet the competition shown for your desired keyword is not really that strong, and the ranking may be achieved just because it touches on the topic area or because there is nothing better. Forensic discussions, in particular, can often be displaced by informative pages. So, look carefully!

 

5

Rigorous observance of keyword density:

Forget all about keyword densities of 100%. Instead, just write content that is 2 or 3 times better than your rivals and make sure 1,000 of your 1,000 words totally fulfil your users’ expectations.

 

6

Ignoring keyword variations:

Each page of detailed and informative content should include keyword variants, synonyms and related terms. Not only singular, plural and inflections of the keyword, but also paraphrases and Long-Tail or thematically matching terms are essential in long-form content. This not only increases the opportunities for Long-Tail keywords, it also signals to Google that you’re dealing with a topic comprehensively and thus offering the user variety and plenty of information.

 

Creating a separate page for each keyword:

In the old days, when search engines were less intelligent than they are today, it was possible to devote a page to each keyword or keyword variation and rank individually for each one, even with inferior or copied content. Nowadays, this is neither necessary nor clever – nor will it work. Combine keywords that are meaningful and clearly related to each other on one page. This strengthens the often-quoted (allegedly) holistic effect of a text.

 

No second opinion:

No matter what tool you use, data is rarely 100% reliable. So wherever possible, use different tools to give you the benefit of a second opinion. In any event, remember that engaging the brain is always a non-negotiable requirement for keyword research.

 

Ignoring your own keywords:

Double is even better? Not always: Too often, keywords are included in a keyword search when they already appear in the existing keyword set, or on a page that’s already ranking well. This is annoying for at least two reasons: First, it means double work. Second, in a worst-case scenario, Google may find two sites for the same keyword, and then quite understandably won’t include either of them in the SERPs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to regularly check your own content inventory and, if necessary, rework and update existing pages.

 

10

Neglecting Universal Search:

Google’s Universal Search and Knowledge Graph steal both space and attention. Google searches for an increasing number of search terms directly on search results pages, making it difficult for everyone else to appear there and be clicked in the SERPs. So, check your keyword search directly to determine if there are already some “universal answers.” The best way to do this is by using the appropriate tools (for example, Searchmetrics) or a simple Google search (be careful here because you may often get different search results).

 

11

Just relying on the data:

If you only use tools in your keyword research, you could be making problems for yourself. Analysis tools are often inaccurate or produce data that is at least open to interpretation. Above all, if you don’t also give the matter some thought, you risk missing some keywords that would be of interest to your users.

 

12

Not relying on the data:

In other words, it works the other way too: If you create everything using just your gut feeling with no data to inform your plans, you may end up well off target.

Chapter 5: Keyword optimisation of your website


Have you gathered all your keywords together? And have you avoided all the mistakes? Next, we’ll bring you up to speed on keyword optimisation for your website.

Not only has keyword research changed, search engine optimisation is changing too: SEO is not dead, but it is different.

The 2 golden rules of keyword optimization

Tactics that once used to work have now lost their effect, and today search engine optimisation seems to be more holistic and differentiated. The implication is that you must now consider SEO as part of a broader strategy that demands all elements be strictly focused on the respective project. As a result, keyword optimisation has long since gone beyond relentless spamming and keyword densities.

The applicable SEO approach depends on the industry, company, website or product concerned. In their recent Ranking Factor Study, SEO experts from Searchmetrics gave clear indications of two of the key issues for SEO in 2017:

1. It all depends!
2. Pay attention to the user’s needs!

But what exactly does that mean?

We have described the role your extensively researched keywords should play in modern SEO. The following table will show you where your keywords can be placed, and what the effect will be.

Direct Effect on SERPs RankingBenefit for the ReaderExplanation
URL Domain namelowfairly lowExact Match Domains have become less relevant since a 2012 Google update.
URL Subfolderfairly lowmedium
Titlefairly highhighThe page title is usually the first thing a user notices in the SERPs; the corresponding keywords can be used here to attract attention.
Meta Descriptionlowfairly high
H1fairly highfairly high
H2 to HnmediummediumThe subheadings after the main heading cover different aspects of the topic, so keyword combinations and Long-tails are suitable here.
Image File Namefairly HighlowThe matching keywords are especially relevant for image searches.
Image Alt-Tagsfairly highlowThe matching keywords are especially relevant for image searches; the benefit for the reader is usually limited only by browser malfunctions or users’ visual impairment.
Image Title-Tagsfairly highmedium
Around Imagesmediumlow
Inside Imagesfairly lowfairly highImages attract a lot of attention – if used well, the right keyword can persuade the reader to click.
Meta-KeywordsN/AN/A
Beginning of the Textfairly highfairly highIf the reader does not find the right keywords at the beginning, they can lose interest in the text and bale out.
Middle of the Textmediumlow
End of the Textfairly highfairly highSome readers scroll directly to the conclusion – a keyword can be useful here.
Internal Link-Titlehighfairly highLink titles are useful to the reader when they indicate what the reader can expect after a click – a keyword can be useful here. For the search engine, internal link texts can be a very valuable guide to the structure of the site.
External Link-Titlefairly highmediumLink titles are useful to the reader when they indicate what the reader can expect after a click – a keyword can be useful here.

 
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Chapter 6: Keyword Monitoring: How to monitor the success of your keywords

 


So all your hard work proves worthwhile, you should keep a watchful eye on your content and keywords after publication. As difficult as it can be to climb up the SERPs listings, conditions can also change very quickly and bring your content crashing down again.

So, what should you pay attention to?

 

1. Monitor how successfully your keywords are ranking

Check the SERPs! If your pages are not listed for your desired keywords after several weeks, something may have gone wrong. Look in your chosen tools and on your pages to find out what it could be. Likewise, you should also act if previously popular pages suddenly start slipping.

With the appropriate SEO tools, you can keep track of each of your important keywords. Many tools also give you tips on what to optimise on your website to make your chosen keyword rank even better. But be careful; use your head and always think of the user.

Helpful Tools: Use Google Search Console to get important performance data.

Quick Tip:
A short-term leap into the top 10 followed by subsequent slipping is a good indicator of effective content and the right keywords. Google very often seems to promote individual pages to page 1 to check how satisfied users are with the content. If you notice that your content makes a big leap forward only to vanish from the top 10 after a short time, you might want to optimise it again.

2. Monitor which content performs better

Google loves fresh content! Conduct regular research to stay current on developments and any new keywords for your existing content. If you don’t do this for all your content, at least try to keep an eye on your most important elements. Things often change, and you may need to expand or update your information. A quick search for new keywords never does any harm.

Helpful Tools: Google Alerts keeps you up-to-date on any topic and responds to any new developments with customised content.

3. Monitor new topics which may need fresh content

Watch your users: Has their behaviour changed? Are they looking for other things related to your product or your site? Do they need information they currently don’t have? If so, it could be time for some new content.

Also, pay careful attention to current developments. Are there any changes in your topic area? If there are any new features, sometimes just reworking your old content is not enough, and you may need to produce new content instead. And (hopefully) you now know what forms the cornerstone of this process – a thorough keyword search.

Helpful Tools: Again, different SEO tools can help. Google Search Console can supply important information about the click behaviour of your users, while Google Analytics can show you how long they engage with your content.

Always try to stay up-to-date in your field. This allows you to react early to the changing needs of your users and to provide them with added-value content.

Chapter 7: FAQ: The most important questions about keyword research


Finally, I would like to leave you with an overview of the most important questions about keywords – and of course the appropriate answers. Have a look through them; they may contain just the information you’re looking for. And if you have any further questions, I would be glad to hear from you.

How many keywords should I use for my website? How many different keywords should I optimise a page for?

Generally speaking, the primary requirement is that a website should have a clear topic focus appropriately supported by a main keyword and many related keywords. At the same time, this means the website should also rank for some different topic-relevant keywords. A page packed with many key topics, and thus many keywords that have little or nothing to do with each other, is rarely helpful to the user and won’t help your search engine optimisation either.

What is a Long-Tail keyword?

Long-Tail keywords are detailed search queries. Users employ Long-Tail keywords to request more detailed information in a topic area. As a rule, these search terms consist of longer word combinations of three or more words that are more specific and relate to particular aspects of a topic. Purchase black leather sandals cheap is an example of this specific type of search query.

Long-Tail keywords get their name because they’re found at the long end of the search-query spectrum. This means Long-Tail keywords are less frequently searched for, but due to the great variety of possible word combinations, they can constitute a large number of search queries. As a rule, there is less competition for Long-Tail keywords, and they result in better conversions because the user’s needs are more specific.

How do you get your own website on to page 1 of Google’s search results?

There is no patent solution for reaching Google’s first page. Hundreds of factors have an impact on the search results, but Google chooses to keep most of them secret or just makes woolly statements about them. In addition, website placement is highly dependent on the competitiveness of the keyword on which your ranking is based.

In principle, a website should be technically sound just to have any chance at all. That essentially means Google should be able to find and then crawl it. Furthermore, factors such as short loading times, mobile optimisation and a good internal link structure all increase the likelihood of a better placement. However, the page content also has a significant influence on where the page appears in the SERPs listings. It should provide the best possible answer to the user’s request, be of consistent high quality and be as unique as possible. In addition to this, the right backlinks, i.e. recommendations from other high-quality pages, further increase the chance that a page may occupy the top placements.

How long does it take until I rank?

Depending on how old, how well-known and how large the domain is on which your website is published, the time it takes Google to crawl the URL and it to subsequently become visible in the SERPs rankings may vary. Google has a specific automatic crawl budget available for each site. Once this is exhausted, it can take a while before the crawler comes around again. Therefore, it may be useful to exclude unimportant pages from the crawl or take them offline. The ranking is then determined by Google’s ranking factors. There can be different reasons why a page does not show up or does not appear in the search results for a particular keyword (see below). Submitting a current sitemap, or manually retrieving the site from Google Search Console, can help to make a page appear faster in the index.

Why can’t Google find my website? Why are my keywords not tracked?

For new websites, it may take some time before Google finds the page, crawls it, and displays it in the search results. And even if a page is definitely included in Google’s index, that does not automatically mean that it will appear in a leading position or in the first few pages of the search results. There are some important preconditions that must be met before a page is included in the index and achieves a successful ranking with the desired keywords.

There can be different reasons why Google may not have included a website in its index. Among the most common are:


  • A false no-index mark:
    Marking a page as no-index prohibits search engines from indexing a page. To verify that a page actually appears in the index, you can use a site query: Simply type in Google “site:” followed by the desired domain/ site. For example, site: textbroker.co.uk.

  • Penalty:
    In the case of an intentional or unintended violation of Google’s policies, Google may remove a site from the index. Webmasters typically receive notification of such violations via Google Search Console.

  • Too few links:
    Google itself stipulates that a site with too few links to other pages may not be included in the index.

  • Error message on the page:
    If a website is not accessible due to an error message, there is a high probability that it may not be included in the index.

And when a website does not appear in the SERPs listings for the desired keywords, this too can have different causes. These often include:


  • Technical flaws:
    Whenever a search engine cannot access page content, it is likely that the search algorithm will then prevent the normal process and display function. Webmasters often (accidentally) block the crawling of a page via robots.txt yet still allow the page to be indexed. As a result, a search engine cannot recognise the content, so instead, it issues an error.

  • Lack of optimisation:
    A non-optimised, or poorly optimised, website is another common reason why Google may not rank a certain site for the desired keyword. Google has its own guidelines Google has its own guidelines defining which features will contribute to a positive evaluation as well as outlining features and practices that website operators should avoid.

Google search index listings can generally be accelerated, or at least simplified, by submitting a sitemap or individual website via Google Search Console.

Where should keywords be put? (Meta Keywords, Meta Title, Title, Description, Alt Tags, Title Tags)

Using keywords will always be helpful. However, you should think carefully about the quantity and position of the appropriate search terms. Keyword stuffing is bad practice, and a fixed keyword density of ‘x’ per cent is just nonsense. Instead, copywriters should focus on placing keywords to enhance the reader’s experience.

Google itself won’t provide clear information about how keyword placement affects rankings, which means the correct use of keywords is always a regular subject for discussion. How well a search term performs when placed in H1, Title or Description, therefore, is largely a matter of conjecture and assessment by SEO experts. In addition, the Google algorithm continues to evolve. And regarding the issue of placement of keywords for readers and search engines, changes over time (if they have benefited anyone) have tended to help the reader. For example, the recent Searchmetrics study found that a keyword in the title or in the H1 appears to be less important to the search engine, while in the Meta Description, keywords have been considered an ineffective means of improving ranking for quite some time. At the same time, the inclusion of keywords in the headline and the title or description can be enormously important to the reader and crucial for gaining clicks.

Our table (above) summarises the impact of the correct placement of keywords on rankings and how much benefit they bring to the reader.

How long should a text be?

Text length depends on the type of content and the ideas being conveyed. Long, detailed texts are good for diverse and complex topics that need plenty of explanation. However, short texts can also perform a useful function, like when certain information must be provided as quickly as possible, for example.

Should I optimise several articles/posts for one keyword?

Optimising multiple articles or websites for the same keyword rarely makes sense. If two pages are too similar in their content, cannibalisation effects can occur, and they may simply cancel each other out. If there are new developments for a topic (and its respective keyword) that has already been addressed, it’s often more helpful to add the new information by updating the existing page. Only where a second page would offer the user some different information (even concerning the same topic/ keyword), would it be useful to create a second page and optimise it for an appropriate secondary keyword. In an ideal situation, a whole thematic silo with many subpages could be built up in this way, which in turn – with appropriate internal links – would create an opportunity for a good ranking in the search results.

How should I write my keywords? (Stopwords, Long-Tail keywords, Inflections, Exact Matches)

The best keyword style is basically the one that allows the keyword to appear naturally in a text. So, whether stopwords or inflections should be used is primarily a matter of readability. Google is now quite good at correctly recognising similar search terms and inflections. However, the extent to which Google prefers an Exact Match keyword (without stopwords and/or inflections) is not clear – it may be that, in cases where there is doubt, an exact match may be a relevant determining factor. Nevertheless, readability should always take precedence. It can be helpful to Google the different variations (with and without stopwords and inflections), and if the search results are very similar for the different search requests, then an Exact Match can be ignored. An even better alternative may be to simply use all meaningful variations.

How can I find out how much a keyword brings in? Is there a tool to determine keyword gains?

Determining the exact profit a keyword achieves is often difficult. Moreover, ROI measurement via keywords can take different forms and approaches. From traffic to lead conversion to revenue, virtually everything can be measured for a given keyword, with some metrics being naturally more meaningful than others.

Depending on the defined target, various tools are available for measuring the results. Many programs, such as Google Search Console, provide an insight into where a keyword appears in the SERPs, how often it’s clicked and how many visitors it brings to a page. In addition to the placement of keywords and the (probable) traffic results to be expected, some tools, such as Searchmetrics, often show the (rough) cost of placing the same traffic via a commercial advert.

Detailed tracking is usually required to determine a keyword’s performance in areas such as lead or revenue generation. Many types of outcomes can be measured using tracking tools such as Google Analytics or Kissmetrics. Our comprehensive tool comparison explains the available software and the tasks for which each package is most suitable.

Where can I check my keywords and rankings? For which keywords is my subpage rated? What tools are available for keyword/ranking analysis?

There are a variety of useful tools to help you determine the ranking of certain keywords. From free services like Google Search Console to professional software such as ryte.com, most SEO tools can provide you with an overview of existing rankings. Our comprehensive tool overview includes a list of these programs.

What strategy should I use when choosing my keywords?

You can successfully optimise a page by covering a topic in appropriate depth and user-specific detail while also using appropriate keywords that signal the topic and purpose of your page. To actually select the relevant keywords, you should always bear in mind the following important aspects:

  • Topic and page relevance
  • User requirements
  • Conversion relevance
  • Relevance for target audience
  • Semantic relationship
  • SEA or SEO

What is a semantic keyword search (LSO/LSI)?

In semantic keyword research, often referred to as Latent Semantic Optimization (LSO) or Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), semantically related terms are included in the search for the main keyword. Using this method encourages Google to regard your text as having a higher degree of relevance.

Google’s algorithm now recognises an increasing number of semantic contexts, and it can classify texts accordingly and also positively reflect such enhancements in the rankings. For example, websites may appear in search results that do not include the actual keyword you’re looking for. Copywriters and webmasters can exploit this fact by searching for semantically related terms in their keyword research.

What is WDF*IDF analysis and text optimisation?

The WDF*IDF method is a special form of text analysis and optimisation. Similar to semantic keyword research, related terms are used to optimise a text (semantically) and thus make it more relevant.

In simple terms, the WDF*IDF method is used to analyse other web documents in accordance with a particular strategy and to filter out the most important terms (keywords) appearing in individual documents and respectively evaluate their frequency or relevance for each document. This analysis is then used to draw up a detailed plan which, among other things, details how often each keyword should appear in an individual document and how important it is for a written text. An author can then create a text based on this template.

Is Google’s Keyword Planner the best SEO research tool?

The Google Keyword Planner is a tool among many, and like other tools, it has advantages and disadvantages. For example, it is actually designed for SEA (search engine advertising) and not for SEO (search engine optimisation) and frequently insists upon an account with “active” campaigns. However, many marketers use Keyword Planner because it is free and its data is “provided directly by Google,” which should, therefore, make it more comprehensive and reliable.

Are keywords important or not?

Yes, keywords are still important. On the one hand, Google and Co. still depend on words to classify the content of a website. On the other hand, and more importantly, keywords show every website operator the precise needs of its users. Therefore, a thorough keyword search should be an essential part of any content strategy.

 
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