Many business owners and marketing execs run for cover when they hear the phrase search engine marketing and keyword research.
Fear not! Keyword research can be fun. It’ll tell you more about your customers and maybe give you some food for thought on new products/services that your business could be providing to fulfil customer demand.
So stop hiding, add these tools to your keyword research arsenal and you’ll be filling your world with beautiful keywords that CONVERT to customers!
Understanding the different types of keyword
Keywords can be grouped into three broad categories to help you structure your research, they are:
- Generic (high funnel) keywords
- Long-tail (mid-low funnel) keywords
- Branded keywords
Generic (high funnel) keywords – usually receive the lions share of search volume (typically 1,000s of searches per month). They are typically used by people who are at the start of their buying journey, hence the name “high funnel” keywords.
For example, if you were looking to buy yourself a new laptop, you’d most likely search the following in Google:
- New laptops
- Mac laptops
- Windows laptops
For each generic keyword above, there will be hundreds if not thousands of items that could be sub-categorised into each keyword. While generic keywords do generate a lot of volume as the search term is very broad, buyers are usually at the start of their buying journey and such keywords convert at a low rate. We’ll come back to this “low conversion rate” shortly.
Long-tail (mid-low funnel) keywords – always consist of at least two words and are often searched in much lower volumes due to the wide spread of potential phrases. Continuing the theme of somebody looking to buy a laptop, a long-tail keyword might look like:
- Laptops on sale (mid funnel)
- Lenovo Yoga 900 (mid – lower funnel)
- HP Pavilion 15.66
- Best Dell laptops
- ASUS ZenBook UX303
- Buy cheap asus zenbook ux303 (low funnel)
Many so called long-tail (low funnel) searches will be for actual product names and/or model numbers. The people who are using such phrases are pretty much ready to buy (often they’re looking for the best price/service/delivery timelines before taking action). Long-tail keywords receive a lot less search volume per month compared to generic keywords but they convert to customers at a much higher rate.
- Nike Sport
- Just Do It
It should take very little effort to rank for branded keywords both from an organic and paid search perspective. If you’re not ranking for your brand terms then either you have a brand that’s likely to be associated with a commonly used word and/or you may have a bigger issue that needs investigating. This is in contrast to generic and long-tail keywords that are likely to require some work and research.
To carry out your research effectively, you’ll need to have a brain the size of a small planet if you plan to do it without help. If like me your brain isn’t so big, you’ll need a keyword research toolkit.
With so many online tools to choose from, I’ve listed my 5 personal favourites that are easy to use and highly effective.
1. Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner (formerly known as Google Keyword Tool – nice name change hey!?) is free to use and a must in any search engine marketing (SEM) toolkit. You simply enter the keywords that you would like to target and it reveals how many average monthly searches it receives and other relevant keywords you may want to target:
In the image above you can see an example of a generic and long-tail keyword and their respective search volume per month within Australia. You’ll also notice that in the search bar we’ve entered just two keywords, which Keyword Planner has reported on followed by a secondary box below where Keyword Planner has found lots of other related keywords for us to examine. These related keywords can be an absolute goldmine of information when planning your search campaigns.
Google Keyword Planner allows you to segment keywords by country, city, device or volume as shown in the screen grab below.
SEMrush is the perfect online tool to conduct competitor keyword research. As well as getting data on your own website, SEMrush will provide you with a list of your top competitors, keywords they rank for and the amount of organic search traffic they receive. Unlike Google Keyword Planner it’s not free but its monthly fee is rather modest when you consider the insight it can help unearth.
Check out the search we performed for Coles.com.au using SEMrush, as you can see in the grab below it instantly revealed the top keywords for Coles along with their biggest competitors:
If you’re unsure on the best way to research your competitors’ websites and keywords, SEMrush does all the hard work for you.
Despite its name it has nothing to do with a handheld taxi booking service, rather it’s a keyword honeypot that will set your world on fire.
Übersuggest is 100% free. It’s specifically focused on helping you to research keywords for long-tail phrases. You enter any generic keyword relating to your business and Übersuggest will return all relevant long-tail keywords searched on Google in alphabetical order:
Übersuggest does not report on search volume for each long-tail phrase that it suggests, to get this information you will need to cross-check them using Google Keyword Tool Planner.
Pro-tip: instead of wasting your time cross-checking long-tail keywords for search frequency, outsource it to a freelancer as it can sometimes takes hours if you’re checking hundreds of keywords.
BuzzSumo is a content marketing search engine that lists articles in order of most social media shares. You search for topics by entering in keywords and it lists articles that received the most social media buzz for a given topic:
To rank your keywords on Google you’ll need to write content – this applies whether you’re paying for the traffic or relying on the organic prominence of your website to pull in the traffic. If you’re not sure what to write or what content will go viral, BuzzSumo is the perfect tool to conduct article research.
BuzzSumo provides limited functionality for free members. They do have a number of monthly and yearly pricing plans.
5. Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool
All keywords weren’t born equal.
The Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool helps you to identify keywords your business can and cannot rank for. Don’t expect your business to rank on the first page of Google for every keyword you wish to target, some will be impossible without spending $100,000s in search engine optimisation and paid search.
However, there will be plenty of keywords that you will be able to rank for easily. The Moz Keyword Difficultly Tool analyses keywords on your behalf and assigns them a difficulty score based how easy it will be to target that that keyword:
Of all the tools I’ve talked about, this is one of the most advanced and it can seem fairly complex. It’s worth getting to grips with it if you’re serious about upping your keyword research game.
Moz offers a 30-day free trial and month-to-month pricing plans once the trial is over.
To give your business a strong search presence you will want to use all of these tools. The average business will have thousands of potential keywords to target but only a small proportion of these will be profitable or easy to rank for.
Don’t fall victim to your own limiting beliefs – keyword research tools will open your mind to the way different people think and behave when researching online.