This article has been contributed by guest author, Tom Welbourne.
Ranking for lucrative keywords is a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy. If a website contains excellent content that is well written, well researched and provides the answer to a searcher’s query, then it stands a good chance of ranking well in search engine results.
If the content is optimised with a particular keyword or phrase in mind, then it stands an even better chance of ranking well in a search. This leads to more eyes on the content and more visits to the website.
It all sounds pretty straightforward, right?
In theory, it is, but ranking high for lucrative keywords is a process that requires thorough research, time and patience. In this article, we’ll outline the best strategies you can implement to help your content rank for lucrative keywords.
The Groundwork: A Strong Website
Before you begin your keyword research, you need to make sure you have a solid foundation to build upon. This foundation starts with a strong website.
No matter what service or product you’re offering or what industry you are in, a professional website is a must. Your website should showcase your expertise and contain valuable information about your field that will help to educate people who visit your site. Doing this successfully helps to build customer trust and will help turn would-be buyers into customers.
Whether you’re starting a new website or looking to upgrade an old one, it’s vital to your long-term success that you don’t overlook the importance of having an easy to use, professional website.
Once you’re happy with how your website is looking, you can start thinking about what kind of content you want to create.
The type of content you create may depend on the kind of industry you’re in and what people are searching for in your particular industry. For the purpose of this article, we’ll presume that you want to start creating high-quality blog posts and articles that not only showcase your expertise but help to educate your audience about your industry or product.
Now that you’re ready to begin creating your content, you can start to think about keyword research. Keyword research is the practice that SEO professionals use to investigate search terms that people are entering into search engines when looking for a specific subject or answer to a particular question.
For example, let’s say you want to book a holiday to Thailand, but you have no idea where to start your trip. If you were to search ‘best places to stay in Thailand,’ Google will rank the web pages that best help to answer your search query. The highest-ranking pages in the search results will most likely be optimised with these keywords.
Keyword research helps you discover what your audience is searching for, how many people are searching for it and how much other content on the web already provides that information. Proper keyword research will ensure that you create content on topics your audience wants.
You may already have some ideas of the kind of topics you want to create content for, but by conducting thorough keyword research, you can make sure that your content is relevant to the customers that you want to attract.
Tools of the Trade
So, by now, your website should be in place, you have an idea about the type of content you want to start creating and you understand the basics of what keyword research entails. Congrats! You’re now ready to begin carrying out your keyword research.
The next step is finding out which tool you want to carry out your keyword research on. If you Google ‘keyword research tools,’ you’ll be inundated with a tonne of different keyword research tools to choose from and the choice can be a little overwhelming.
The two tools we’d recommend are SEMrush and ahrefs; (see a SEMResh vs ahrefs comparison) both will give you a comprehensive insight into what people in your target market are searching for and what keywords you want to base your content around.
The best way to become familiar with both tools is to try them out. You can start a free trial with SEMRush, or you can begin a low-cost trial with ahrefs, so you can become familiar with both platforms when you’re just starting out.
The ‘Key’ to Keyword Research
The sweet spot for any type of keyword research is finding low competition, high-volume keywords.
Low competition/high-volume keywords are where you’ll find keywords or phrases that lots of people are searching for, but that are not being targeted by many websites or pieces of content.
Keep in mind, nearly every website creating content is also looking for high-volume keywords to base their content around, so coming across popular search terms with low competition can be trickier than it sounds.
Knowing this, you don’t want to automatically go for the keyword with the highest search volume, as you’ll likely not rank very highly, particularly if you’re battling against more established competitors in your field.
For example, let’s say you’re starting a blog based on the best restaurants in your hometown. If you’re looking to create a new piece of content, but you choose to base your content around the keyword ‘restaurants,’ then chances are your content isn’t going to rank very high, no matter how well written or informative your piece of content is.
The competition for the keyword ‘restaurants’ is going to be very high and unless you’ve got a large digital marketing budget, you’re likely not going to rank well for this keyword. Whereas if your piece of content is based around the more specific, lower competition longtail keyword, ‘the top 5 restaurants in (insert town’), then your piece of content will have a much higher chance of appearing as one of the top results when someone enters that particular query into a search engine.
Starting out with low competition keywords is a better strategy than trying to battle larger websites and competitors for more popular keywords when you’re starting a new website.
SEMrush is an excellent tool for finding out how competitive the keyword you’re trying to rank for is. The tool contains two ways of being able to filter out keywords that are too competitive. The first is keyword difficulty; this gives you an estimation of how difficult it would be for you to outrank the current websites in top spots in search results for a particular keyword.
The keyword difficulty feature in SEMRush ranks the difficulty of a keyword from 1-100%; the higher the percentage, the more competition for the keyword and the more effort will be needed to rank highly for this keyword.
If the keyword you’re looking at is ranked 80% or above, then it’s going to be very hard to rank for this keyword and the competition is fierce. Ranking for a keyword with this level of competition is difficult to do; it’s not impossible if your website is already highly established, but it’s virtually impossible if you’re starting a new website.
If the keyword you’re looking to rank for is sitting around 60-80%, then it will still be challenging to rank for, but certainly not impossible. With a comprehensive SEO strategy and utilising high-quality content and relevant backlinks, then it’s certainly possible to outrank your competition.
A keyword with a rating of less than 60% will be considerably easier to rank for, but these are more difficult to find.
The second metric to look at within SEMrush is competition level; this gives you an indication of the density of advertisers using a particular search phrase for their ads.
Although the competition level metric is used for paid searches, it gives you a good indication of organic search competition as well.
Understanding LSI Keywords
Hopefully, by now, you have an understanding of how keyword research works and why it’s an important part of your content creation process. To gain a deep understanding of how search engines, particularly Google, decide how to rank content, it’s time to take a deeper dive into some other methods you can use to optimize the content you are creating for SEO. One of these methods is using latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords within your content.
As SEO has developed over time, search engines have become smarter in how they rank content. LSI was integrated into the Google Algorithm back in 2004 to enable Google to deliver more relevant results to users’ searches.
The simplest explanation of LSI keywords is that they are keywords directly related to a main keyword, and do not necessarily contain the actual main keyword or any variations of it. For example, let’s say you have a webpage targeting the keyword ‘cars’. While Google may know you’re writing an article about cars (vehicles), it may think your writing about Cars the Disney Movie if your content doesn’t contain LSI keywords too.
LSI keywords related to cars could be: used, repair, dealers, motors. You can use these keywords within your content itself, or you can use them in your title tags, description tags, or the URL of your content. There are also plenty of tools available online where you can find LSI keywords if you are looking for examples to use.
Leverage Your Competitors’ Content
An effective way to get an idea of the quality of the content you’ll need to create to rank highly is to measure your site’s competitive power. What this means is taking a look at what your competitors are doing so you can see what others in your industry are doing.
One way of doing this is by performing a keyword analysis of your competitors’ websites. Doing so will allow you to see how well other sites are performing. It will also allow you to identify keyword opportunities that your competition may have missed and will allow you to uncover future SEO opportunities that you can use in your content.
Another good practice is to see what type of articles or content your competitors are publishing. By doing this, you’ll be able to get an idea of how long your content should be, the type of content you want to produce, whether it’s video, audio, or word-based and what topics are being covered.
If you’re unsure of who your online content competitors are, using a tool like SEMrush will allow you to find out. You can run an Organic Research Competitors report from within SEMrush to see all of the websites that frequently compete with your site for web traffic from organic searches.
Once you know who your content competitors are, you’ll be able to see what users are searching for to find their sites. This will give you another way of seeing what content you’ll need to produce so your website can be found.
Another point to remember is that just because one of your competitors has covered a topic doesn’t mean it can’t be covered again. Carefully browse and analyse their content and take note of a few things:
- How long are the pieces of content?
- How well is the content written?
- Is the content optimised with any other form of media? E.g. video
These are just some of the points you can think about when you’re looking at competitors’ content. Doing so will allow you to come up with ideas for your own content strategy and you may well come across topics that have been covered, but that can be improved upon.
Backlink Analysis Using ahrefs
After you have an idea of the type of keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can begin to see what kind of websites are linking to their content. Link building has evolved from the years of ‘black hat’ mass-purchasing backlinks, and the quality of your backlinks is more important than ever before.
A simple strategy to implement is to look at your competitor’s backlink profiles; a great tool to carry this out on is ahrefs. In the ahrefs main dashboard, you can enter the domain of your competitor into the search box and go to the ‘backlink profile’ tab. Once you’ve clicked this, you’ll want to pay close attention to the number and quality of referring web pages and domains.
If a site has numerous high-quality backlinks, then the chances are they’re ranking highly for the type of content they are producing. Once you have an understanding of the type of website that is linking to your competitor’s content, then you’ll have a good idea of who you can reach out to increase the number of backlinks on your site.
Keyword research is just one part of building a successful SEO strategy and this guide should have given you an excellent place to start for your own keyword research endeavors. The great thing is there are plenty of resources that can help you make your keyword research a success. In-depth, user-friendly tools like SEMrush and ahrefs give vast levels of insights into what your audience is searching for and what they desire.
By following the steps laid out in this article, you should be able to uncover lucrative keywords that can help improve your site rankings and drive organic traffic to your site.
Remember, start off with low competition keywords and build from there. Once you have an idea of how keyword research is carried out, it’s much easier to begin experimenting with finding higher traffic keywords. Getting the essentials right will make the whole process much easier, moving forward.
About the author: Tom Welbourne is the founder of The Good Marketer – a Digital Marketing Agency in the heart of London that specialises in helping small business owners with their digital marketing.