Think you know keyword research? Discover 5 advanced tactics to help you take your SEO strategy to the next level with our step by step guide.
Keyword research is one of the fundamentals of SEO and one of the first things we talk about first on our SEO courses. However this guide is really intended to take you beyond the basics and begin to think about some advanced keyword research tactics. We’ll consider how you can look beyond commercial keywords also look at ideas for finding low competition, high converting keywords and strategies on how to get the most benefit from your research.
The strategies we will be investigating are:
- Question based search terms
- Keyword research for ecommerce
- Keyword research for commercial intent
- Latent Semantic Indexing
- Low competition keywords
So, make yourself a nice cup of tea (or your favourite hot or cold beverage of choice) and let’s dive into the wonderful world of finding out what people type into search engines!
Question Based Search Terms
People love asking Google questions; how much is this thing? What’s the current strength of the pound? What is hair pomade, best winter jersey for my Schnauzer…?
Question-based search is so prominent that Google has even included an Answer Box (known officially as featured snippets) for certain search terms in the current SERP landscape:
Why target question based search?
Standard keyword research tends to focus on core commercial terms but understanding which questions your audience is asking can be a great way to develop informational content.
Let’s consider the question above – ‘what is hair pomade?’
, In this case, it’s unlikely that somebody searching for this phrase is looking to buy pomade – at least not right now. Targeting this term may not be appropriate for a commercial landing page, however, it would lend itself to a blog post or a deeper page within a pomade hub on a hair products site.
Targeting informational search in this way can be a great way to build brand awareness and to establish your site as a voice of authority within your niche. If ‘inform, don’t sell’ is the mantra of content marketing then answering the questions you know users are asking is a great way to achieve this.
How to discover which questions your audience are asking
Jellyfish Training recommends three free tools that will help identify some great question-based keywords. These tools are:
- Google Ads Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- And a nifty question based keyword tool called Answer the Public
These three tools are all you really need to find some great search terms for yourself or your clients. There are many other free and premium keyword tools that you can use, some of these are:
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Long Tail Pro
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- Ubersuggest (this tool scrapes Google’s suggested terms and can be useful + it’s free!)
Let’s say we are purveyors of hair pomade and would like to write articles on our blog answering questions that people are asking Google about pomade. First, let’s take a look at Google trends to see how popular our product is currently, this will give us good insight into whether there might be a need for answer-style blog content.
Bingo! We can see using Google Trends that interest in hair pomade in the UK has been climbing steadily since 2011 and it doesn’t look like it will be declining anytime soon. This gives us confidence that our pomade may have a market that is looking for information regarding our product type.
When we look at related searches above, we see that the top search query is ‘best pomade’ and ‘what is pomade’ is also included, both these queries may be considered question-based. We’re off to a good start as there is definitely interest in our product and questions being asked about it. Let’s shoot over to Anwer the Public and hunt for some more search terms.
Above is the homepage of Answer the Public. We input ‘pomade’ in the search box and clicked ‘Get Questions’
Above is a screenshot of the results. Answer the Public has found 105 question based search queries, displayed in a fancy flow-graph. Other than the 105 question based keyword results, Answer the Public also gives us a useful list of prepositions and an alphabetical list of related search queries.
Now that we have our lists of 105 questions, 115 prepositions and 305 alphabetical search queries we can now deep-dive into each list and choose search terms that we think would make great blog post topics for helping people learn more about pomade.
After much curation, we have our list of question-based keywords that we have cut and paste into a text file. Save your text file somewhere safe. Next, we will make use of the Google Ads Keyword Planner to further flesh out our question-based keyword research and look at the average monthly trend for our selected list.
In the screenshot above we can see an average trend of all our question-based keywords combined, with an average monthly search volume of just under 12,000.
Note: we have set the Keyword Planner to give us data from all locations.
The top 10 search queries relevant to average monthly traffic volume.
Although these tools offer some great insight into what questions people are searching in Google, they are never as sharp as the human brain; add questions to your keyword list that you think people would be likely to be asking.
Once you have a list that you’re happy with, it’s time to create some content that will rank in Google based on the research you’ve completed.
- Check Google Trends to ensure that your product or service has a potential market
- Use Answer the Public to generate lots of question based keyword ideas
- Upload your curated list of question based keywords to Google Ads Keyword Planner to get a good idea of the average monthly search volume and keyword trend
Keyword research for ecommerce
Carrying on our pomade theme, we now have the task of optimising the products in the online store. Let’s call our e-commerce site PomadeEmporium.com.
PomadeEmporium.com stocks a wide variety of the world’s best hair pomade. It has a great blog that attracts traffic from Google because of its informative articles answering many pomade based questions and a few video reviews on specific pomades and advice on how to style hair with specific kinds of product.
The shop section of the store is not getting enough traffic and the traffic it does get is not converting to sales. One of the problems is that the store has not been optimised for search engines.
Our first step to optimising the online shop is, you guessed it, in-depth keyword research!
What products do we sell?
Ecommerce sites are all about products, therefore our keyword research needs to be product based. Let’s see what brands we have for sale in our online store and also gauge which of these brands will drive traffic to our product pages.
- American Crew
- Mr Natty
Other than researching brand-related product keywords, we should also look into the types of products available.
Types of pomade:
- Water-based pomade
- Wax pomade
- Grease pomade
- Oil-based pomade
- Strong hold pomade
- Medium hold pomade
- High shine pomade
- Matte pomade
- Organic pomade
Once we have looked into these two ‘seed’ keyword lists we can start generating long-tail keywords that will be easier for us to rank for.
For example we could construct a long-tail keyword like: Reuzel water-based hair pomade for men or Badger organic hair pomade.
Next we will use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to get some more ideas for long-tail product keywords.
Creating long-tail keyword ideas
Go to our ever-trusted tool, Google Ads Keyword Planner, and enter one of our brand seed keywords into the Search for new keywords using phrase, website or category – Your product or service field and click Get ideas.
Below we see the results. The results can be downloaded as a CSV and then curated in Excel.
Another great way to find brand and product-related long-tail keywords is to simply use Google search itself! Google tries to recommend related searches as a way to make searching more intuitive, we can use these recommendations to our advantage.
Let’s use Reuzel high sheen pomade as our example product keyword for this part of the guide. Time to head back to Keyword Planner. This time we’ll be inputting our chosen long-tail product keyword into the Get search volume and trends field.
Our result shows that Reuzel high sheen pomade gets on average 110 searches a month. Keyword Planner is not perfectly accurate, so these figures could be higher, but we use it to gain a general sense of the traffic volume.
Now that we have chosen a keyword to optimise our product page around, here are a few tips on on-page optimisation using our keyword (this keyword fits Reuzel’s Red pomade):
- Use the keyword in the product page title: Reuzel Red High Sheen Pomade – PomadeEmporium.com
- Use the keyword in the page description: Reuzel Red High Sheen Pomade is the number one selling pomade currently on the market. With its water-based formula Reuzel Red will give that slick back, shiny look but still washes out easily.
- Use the keyword in the URL slug: /reuzel-red-high-sheen-pomade/
- Use the keyword once in the product description.
Note: the product description is a very important element for optimising product pages, spend time on your product description, make it informative and use semantic mark-up to enhance product features such as price, availability, rating etc.
- Make a list of brands and product types available in the online store
- Create a seed list by playing with combinations of brand and product type keywords
- Research these seed keyword using keyword Planner and Google related search (or any of your favourite keyword research tools – see recommended tools on page…)
- Optimise product pages based upon your chosen long-tail product keyword
- Top pomade brands
- Hair pomade reviews
- Pomade reviews
- Best hair pomade for thick hair
- Think of “buyer mind set” keyword combination; use modifiers such as: reviews, best, top, etc.
- Use Ubersuggest to get plenty of keyword combination ideas. Use one of your modifier keywords as a “seed”
- Export the results from Ubersuggest and import into your favourite keyword research tool to gain insight
- Lightening McQueen
- Animated movie
- Hot wheels
- Hawksmoor Seven Dials (an actual place which meets our intent nicely)
- Location (related to the word place in our query)
- Cheeseburger (related to the phrase best burger in our query)
- Restaurant (related to the phrase burger place in our query)
- Use Keyword Planner (or your preferred keyword research tool) to look up low volume (anywhere from 20 – 500 searches per month)
- Choose low volume keywords that will make great article topics, check the allintitle competition (anything under 500 is very low competition)
- Write helpful and informative articles about your chosen topic, include images and videos where possible and include you keyword in the page title, page description, URL slug and H1 tag.
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- Long Tail Pro
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner (Free)
- Keyword Optimizer Pro (Free – scrapes Google’s related searches results)
- Ubersuggest (Free)
- Keyword Tool (Free – scrapes keywords for YouTube and Amazon)
- Do keyword rankings even matter anymore?
- Moz’s Keyword Research Beginners Guide
- Query classes by AJ Kohn
- Aggregating Intent by AJ Kohn
- Google Patents Context Vectors to Improve Search by Bill Slawski
Keyword research for commercial intent
Commercial intent or “buyer keywords” are search queries specific to the searcher's frame of mind. The intention of the searcher is to seek out information about a product or service. The searcher often knows about the product or service and is doing more research before making the buying decision.
Example of commercial keywords:
Targeting these kinds of keywords is a great way to drive traffic to review based content; giving site visitors helpful information so that they may make an informed decision on purchases.
These types of keywords are also great for optimising YouTube review style videos.
Fun fact: YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, the first of course being Google, the third is Amazon.
For this keyword research task we’re going to use a different kind of keyword tool: Ubersuggest.
Head over to ubersuggest.io and input pomade reviews into the search field:
Ubersuggest will spit out tons of keyword variations for you to sift through:
Click Download all to download a CSV that you can then format and upload to Keyword Planner to get some monthly search volume and trend statistics to help you decide which keyword to use for your content, YouTube videos and/or social media articles.
Top Tip: Play around with different commercial intent keyword formats and review style titles such as Ruezel pomade vs Layrite pomade or Water-based pomade vs Wax pomade. Don’t forget to use keyword Planner’s ideas feature to define even more commercial keywords. Always think about how your keyword research can help people to find the best products or services possible as easy as possible.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Don’t run away! This fancy name just means helping Google define the context of a webpage’s topic by using related terms.
Let’s say we have an article on our website about Cars (yes, it’s sad we can’t roll with the pomade theme in this section, but we’ll get back to that!), how will Google know which Cars we’re talking about? Is it an article about vroom-vroom cars or Cars the movie?
Google uses something called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to decide which is which.
For example, if I was ranting on about how cool Cars the movie is then there would be related terms and phrases such as:
If I was on about how awesome vintage cars are then there would be related terms and phrases such as:
One of the best ways to find related words to include in your content is by doing a Google search for a query that you would like to rank for and look to see which related words and phrases Google is picking up in the top results.
For a more real-world example let’s search for the best burger places in London:
Looking at the search results above, we can see that Google has picked up several related words/phrases to our query best burger places in London, the ones that stand out are:
It makes perfect sense to include the above words/phrases when we’re writing about the topic of best burgers in London.
We can use LSI to help reduce keyword stuffing and give Google a definite idea what our articles are about.
Let’s slick back to the pomade theme and dig into another very useful, but often disregarded keyword strategy; optimising for low competition keywords.
Low competition keywords
One of the biggest hurdles with gaining visibility for any client is that of competition. Our little online pomade business cannot compete with the big pomade brands and mega e-commerce sites like Amazon. Just look at the current first-page landscape!
Although the top two sites in the current organic landscape for pomade are not brands or mega e-commerce stores, they would be hard to beat with any short to medium term keyword strategy. So we want to hunt down very low competition keywords that will be easy to rank for. The problem with low competition keywords is that the search volume is low. This is where keyword stacking may be the right strategy to use.
Is targeting low competition keywords worth the effort?
We can use low competition keywords to our advantage to add a bit extra oomph to our pomade review articles and blog posts. The idea is that Keyword Planner is not accurate by any means and it would not be wise to disregard any potential source of laser-targeted traffic. If the search query is being searched for monthly then it is worth considering using these keywords for content development.
Let’s hunt down some long-tail, low competition keywords for a blog post for PomadeEmporium.com
Firstly we’ll head over to Keyword Planner and type in ‘best pomade’ to get some ideas.
From these results we will hunt down potential keywords that may make for some informative blog posts.
From the results we have highlighted three really good topics for blog articles. We can now use these keywords as our post/article titles and we will be able to rank these articles easily using just on-page optimisation.
How do we know we can rank easily for these keywords?
We will now check the competition for these long-tail keywords. If the competition is low then we are more likely to be successful with our efforts.
We will not be using the competition score provided by keyword Planner as this score is only for pay-per-click competition. The competition we want to check is the organic search competition; that is how many other web pages are using the specific keywords that we are targeting.
Checking competition for long-tail keywords is quick and easy using Google itself. Just check the number of allintitle results:
Highlighted in green above is the number of pages that have our long-tail keyword in their title. For our example the keyword hairstyles using pomade has only 29 results, anything under 500 results is very low competition.
We now have our article title and we are ready to write an amazing, informative and useful article about the different hairstyles that you can create using pomade.
Top Keyword Research Resources
Below is a list of resources and keyword research software recommendations
Keyword Research Software:
More useful reading on keyword research:
You might also want to check out our free keyword research template to help organise and store your keyword targets.
If you're in South Africa and want to hear more words of wisdom from Tyron, he can be found leading our SEO courses in both Durban and Johannesburg