Finding the keywords that your target audience browses the web with is a huge step in any search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. If executed properly, this process can help you rise to the first page of Google’s search results. This can boost your organic traffic dramatically because the top three Google search results get around 52% of all clicks. It’s no wonder keyword research is a top priority for marketers.
In this guide, we’ll explore 6 advanced keyword research tactics for attracting an engaged audience. We’ll also go over how to increase your conversion rate with minimal effort.
Let’s get started!
Why keyword research is important for SEO
Today, comprehensive keyword research can help you understand the user intent behind Google queries in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). With the new Helpful Content Update launched by Google, people-oriented content has become even more significant. You can get a better handle on what to offer your customers by pinpointing the keywords and keyword clusters that people are interested in.
There are many keyword research tools on the market, with Google Keyword Planner being one of the most widely used ones. You must activate a Google Ads account to use this free tool, and it, unfortunately, has some issues. Some high-volume opportunities don’t appear when looking for search queries, and the calculation of the average monthly search volume doesn’t always appear either.
These limitations push marketers to look for more advanced solutions like SE Ranking’s Keyword Suggestion Tool. Getting deeper insights into keyword lists is easier with tools like this one because it gives you more accurate search volume (and difficulty) scores and keyword trend data. It also gives you more ideas for finding the keywords most relevant to you.
We’ll use this tool for illustration purposes later on in the article.
Top 6 tips & techniques for effective keyword research
Let’s get straight to keyword research tips. Here, you’ll learn how to make use of keywords to improve your whole content marketing strategy.
1. Research your SERP competitors
To find new ideas for your keyword clusters, analyse not only your direct but also indirect SERP competitors. Top-performing positions can oftentimes be taken by websites that aren’t even competing with you for sales. For instance, if you run an e-commerce store selling home decor, you might be in competition not only with similar stores but also with blogs providing tips on do-it-yourself home decorations.
Also, SERP analysis is great for determining the difficulty score of specific keyword phrases. They give you a better impression of your chances of competing with websites sitting at the top of SERP. If your search results analysis reveals that the top positions are being occupied by highly authoritative platforms with high domain trust scores (and they’ve existed for over two to three years), you’re unlikely to get positive results with your content. This holds especially true if your website is brand new.
Instead of focusing on highly competitive sites, set your sights on younger competitors who rank high for popular and intent-focused queries. By “borrowing“ their keyword ideas and combining these with the ones you already have, you’ll stand a much greater chance of climbing up the SERP ladder.
Once you’ve identified these competitors, take a closer look at the factors helping them to succeed in SERPs. Observe:
- Where competitors include their target keywords (title, description, headings, URL, homepage)
- Content structure and word count
- Keyword intent
- Keywords that trigger knowledge panels, local map packs, video carousels, and image packs
- Keywords not worth optimising because of their high difficulty score
Finally, combine similar and relevant queries into groups based on their SERP similarities. Use whole groups instead of separate keywords for site optimisation. Grouping queries by their user intent is best, but you can add additional information like search volume, competition rate, or any other criteria you want.
2. Target zero search volume keywords
Zero search volume queries are typically long-tail keywords. Analytics tools provide little to no data on their search history, and they have low search potential, but queries of this nature are useful for your business because of their high conversion rates.
In fact, users can phrase different versions of the same question when looking for something on the web. If you just consider these queries separately, they have almost no organic traffic-driving potential, but these keywords have considerable search volume when combined.
For instance, someone who wants to buy leggings online can phrase their search query in a variety of ways. These include: “high-waisted leggings with pockets” or “studded pocket high-waisted leggings.“ Maybe each keyphrase has little to no search volume, but using them together can draw in more people to your website.
You can use SE Ranking’s tool here to identify low-hanging fruits and their associated metrics. These metrics include search volume, difficulty score, and more. By filtering these keywords by their difficulty score, word count, and search volume, you’ll find long-tail keywords with low competition that are also relevant to your website.
The only thing you need to keep in mind when targeting these queries is user intent. If you optimise for at least one variation of a user’s intended question, you’ll probably rank for others in SERPs as well. That’s because Google’s new advanced algorithms can intuit the user intent behind each query, thanks to BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and MUM (Multitask Unified Model) techniques.
Launched in 2019, BERT helped Google enhance its understanding of the natural language used by Internet users. When generating search results, search algorithms began considering the meaning behind prepositions like “for” and “to.” This especially matters for zero-search-volume keywords. These queries often have no search data precisely because they don’t include very many prepositions like these. Before this update, the Google results you’d get after typing in “career change from banking to psychology” would include psychologists shifting careers to banking. Now that BERT understands the context of the words in this query, you’ll instead get information about a banking employee becoming a psychologist, not vice versa.
In 2021, Google introduced an AI model called MUM that is 1,000 times more powerful than its predecessors. Unlike the BERT-style model, MUM has a more comprehensive understanding of information and different forms of media. It can also process up to 75 languages and overcome language barriers when providing answers to questions. So from now on, when asking a specific question, you’re more likely to find all answers to questions you currently have—all in one place.
3. Use Google Analytics to create new pages based on user searches
In digital marketing, you can conduct personalised SEO keyword research by investigating what people are looking for when they are on your website. To do this, enter Google Analytics > Behaviour > Site Search > Search Terms (in Google Analytics 4, go to Reports > Engagement > Events > “view_search_results“ event > Search Term).
This is how to find a list of the most common queries people are looking for on your site. This is also useful for finding the number of times each of the queries has been searched for. If users search for pages that do not exist yet, this gives great insight into new keywords your existing and potential customers are using that you’re missing on your site.
After collecting these queries, download them into a spreadsheet. Then, add their search volume to estimate each keyword’s overall traffic potential. This should eventually become your content to-do list because it’s based on the real interests of your audience. By creating new content around these keywords and updating already published texts that contain related searches, you’ll get plenty of new traffic with ample conversion potential.
4. Consider seasonal SEO keywords
Seasonal queries include important dates for a business, like Black Friday; major events like the Super Bowl; or celebrations like Christmas or Halloween. To optimise websites having seasonal products or services, figure out what people are looking for and when.
Google Trends and BuzzSumo are the best sources to locate this data because they can be used to filter information by time ranges and location. For instance, people are more likely to start looking online for warm clothes in autumn. You can use Google Trends to check the exact period when your product became more popular on the market, then optimise for related keywords in advance to get the lion’s share of traffic.
To get the most accurate results, apply filters related to the country of search, date range, categories, and the type of search you’re interested in (image search, news search, Google shopping, or Youtube search).
Consider using BuzzSumo to generate topic ideas, create top-performing content, track your performance, and determine niche-specific influencers based on these queries.
You can also identify seasonal queries (and set up a schedule to target them) by analysing the recently published articles of your direct competitors. This should help you estimate the type of traffic they’re pulling in and the best keywords attracting this traffic. Try to focus on content over three weeks old to stay on top of the latest trends in your niche and to identify seasonal keywords with the potential to drive even more traffic to your website.
Today, it’s almost impossible to succeed in SEO without Google Search Console (GSC), especially because its keyword research functionality can be of great help. With this tool, for instance, you can figure out which traffic-driven queries don’t fit well on one webpage but still work on others.
To do this, access Google Search Console (Performance Report>Queries) and type in your keyword to find top queries leading to the discovery of your website in SERPs. Then, look at queries with lots of impressions but few clicks.
Let’s say you have a review website, and on it is a page about Coursera. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll notice there are tons of impressions for the query “Coursera Plus” but almost no clicks. By analysing the SERP, you’ll find many review articles based solely on Coursera Plus but not the whole platform. Instead of creating a huge webpage containing 5,000 words about all of Coursera’s features, focus instead on creating a separate page targeting only this keyword cluster. With this approach, you’ll attract search traffic with relevant content tailored specifically to your users’ requests.
To make the whole keyword research process more convenient, export this data by hitting the “Export” button in the upper right corner. Then, insert the data you downloaded into a spreadsheet and expand it with two more fields. In this case, we’re looking at the search volume and difficulty score.
From here on out, you’ll need to use a keyword research tool to identify the search volume and difficulty score of each query in the spreadsheet. After determining these metrics for all terms, give priority to keywords with low difficulty and high search volume. These are great keywords. Make a list of them so you have a collection of keywords with high potential to boost your overall keyword strategy.
This keyword research process can be time-consuming and resource-intensive but gives you plenty of content ideas for both your blog and social media channels.
6. Find keywords for featured snippet results and rich snippets
First things first, let’s clarify the difference between featured snippet results and rich snippets. Rich snippets can be defined as enhanced organic results that help searchers recognise whether a specific website is relevant to their query. These elements can be displayed in different formats, including products, reviews, events, recipes, or articles.
Featured snippets, on the other hand, showcase individual pieces of content from a relevant webpage in a highlighted box at the top of Google’s organic results. The main goal of this SERP element is to provide a clear answer to the user’s query. Featured snippets free users from having to waste their time browsing dozens of websites.
Despite providing a variety of keyword suggestions-related benefits, Google Search Console and Keyword Planner don’t provide valuable information about featured snippets. Use SE Ranking to explore and get the most out of them.
With the help of SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool, you can identify SERP features your direct rivals are optimising for. For instance, take a look at the screenshot below.
By applying these filters, you can identify competitors’ keywords that own featured snippets. When going through the full list of these terms, you can sort them by higher search volume and low keyword difficulty score. Eventually, you’ll amass a list of keywords to optimise your pages for.
Consider adding these keywords to the content that already ranks amongst the top 10 of Google’s search results. This will increase your chances of occupying “position zero” at the very top of the SERP. But don’t expect to get featured snippets overnight. This process takes time, so make sure you check the results (in terms of impressions, rankings, and CTR in GSC) every seven days.
Still, only Google can decide whether your page is a good fit for a featured snippet. It bases this decision on many machine learning algorithms outside of your control but there are some rules you can follow to increase your chances of being displayed as a featured snippet:
- Write content with search intent in mind
- Make sure the content is structured well
- Include queries with low difficulty levels and high audience relevance
- In addition to textual content, including statistical data, images, videos, and infographics
- Write people-oriented content in simple words
- Back up your content with evidence-based facts and credible citations
Answer search queries better than your competitors
The foundation of successful SEO is smart keyword research. That means being intentional about it. Inserting terms with high monthly search volume and hoping for the best won’t get you far, even against the low competition in your niche. Here are some effective practices for taking your SEO to the next level:
- Research your SERP competitors. Do this to identify keyword ideas. You’ll find keywords that drive lots of traffic to others. “Borrow“ some of these queries to boost your own traffic potential
- Target zero search volume queries. When combined, zero search volume keywords can eventually turn into valuable keyword opportunities for your business
- Use Google Analytics to create new pages based on user queries. Identify the most popular queries among your target audience. Then, create a new traffic-driven content strategy around them
- Consider seasonal SEO queries. Pages optimised for seasonal keywords at the right time can get the biggest slice of the cake in terms of traffic
- Use Google Search Console to find hidden gems. Use GSC to find keywords with low difficulty scores and high search volume. These can drive loads of organic traffic to your site in the future
- Find keywords for featured snippet results and rich snippets. When optimised for relevant keywords (and according to the main SEO rules), both rich and featured snippets can increase your overall organic CTR (click-through rates)
Finding the right keywords might look easy at first sight, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than just finding keywords. Still, we hope the information we provided to you in this article helped you close in on the most useful SEO keyword tools and the best practices out there.
Now it’s time to put these practices to use, rank higher on Google and generate more traffic to your website!