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Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide

January 20, 2020
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James Oliver

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How to do keyword research in 2020 and the future. {Echo: Future…future…fuuuutuurre}

In this comprehensive guide I’ll cover:

  • What are keywords?
  • The new Keyword Research
  • Topical Research
  • Free Keyword Research Tools
  • Search Intent
  • Advanced Keyword Research
  • Reverse Engineer Keywords
  • And lots more

Want higher Google rankings with a massive increase in FREE traffic? Then you’ll love this guide.

Let’s dive in.


Chapter 1:

KEYWORD RESEARCH FUNDAMENTALS

In the starting chapter, I’ll cover the basics of keywords.

The reason keyword research is the most critical factor in the success of a website.

Higher-income blogs and websites target keywords (they will rank for) compared to low-income sites THAT DON’T.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are words in the search queries in Google. 

As an example:

I search in Google “Keyword Research” then this article has the chance of coming up. 

The keywords are search terms that can relate to your blog, website, eCommerce store, etc. 

Some are more difficult than others and worth more money. 

We will go over that later.

Keywords Stuffing

Back before Google got smart, there was keyword stuffing which entailed one keyword for one article and resulted in spammy repeated phases of the same keyword. Shoutout to the OG’s

Keyword-Stuffing-Example

Then Google came out with page rank and said there’s more than one factor in ranking a page, rather than keyword stuffing.

Now it’s better to write for humans (thank god), and afterwards, check if it’s optimised for search engines. One of the ways to do this is to use plugins.

Before WP SEO was the plugin of choice, it’s changed to Yoast and Rankmath (Which are great plugins). I’ve just switched to Rankmath and can’t rate it enough. Sorry Yoast, you’re still great.

They’re both not perfect and don’t follow them exactly, always take them with a grain of salt. However, it’s an easy way to check if you are keyword stuffing.

This is debatable but aim for the target keyword density to be in around 3 to 6 percent of the content. The best way is to write your article naturally then if you find it’s not mentioned enough or too much to do. Fix it in your editing.

The method above is the traditional method still taught by SEO gurus and experts. But as mentioned these plugins and techniques optimise for one keyword.

Yet, the content that does rank on the first page has the potential to rank for 1000’s of keywords.

Take the example below; It’s a blog post by Ahrefs titled “Free Keyword Research Tools”

And the post ranks for 2,214 KEYWORDS!!!

Ahrefs keyword research

How can you conduct keyword research for 1000’s of keywords?

Using a secret method.

I’m going to hand you on a silver platter.

This method will put you lightyears ahead of everyone else and get you ranking faster.

On average only 6% of content ranks on page 1 in year 1.

This method works even if:

  • You have a new website ( It beefs up your posts with relevancy)
  • You can’t write page one content ( I struggle sometimes that’s why I’m writing this keyword guide for future James.)
  • You have never done keyword research 
  • You’re a lazy git

Chapter 2:

TOPICAL RESEARCH

Basics covered… ready to get into the meat and potatoes?

Content ranks for more than one keyword. Proven. It’s a fact!

The new keyword research is topical research, which is covering the entire topic and solving the problem for the person.

Let me explain…

THE NEW KEYWORD RESEARCH​

With topical research, you start with a keyword, that will be in your heading (H1) and URL.  The main keyword structures the article, then you expand the topic, as an example:

If I did a blog post on Instagram marketing, one thing I’d wonder is not just how to market on Instagram, but what are the best times to post? How to gain more followers? What type of posts performs the best? Is it better to market on Instagram or Facebook?

Granted, this is a broad topic but covering the whole problem is excellent for search engines and user experience.

The best way to do topical research is to use your expertise on the subject. Think about things you struggled with when you got started and create the guide you wish you had.

Pro tip: When you’re writing about a subject you know, or you’re an expert, keep track of things in the notes app of your phone ( I do this, so I have access to it anywhere).

Here are a few thought exercises that I like to go through:

  • What is one thing I wish I knew when I was getting started?
  • What’s one mistake that cost me a lot of time and/or money?
  • What’s one thing beginners focus on that’s a total distraction or waste of time?

This sounds insanely basic.

Because it is, and it’s the starting point. Once you have a substantial list of topical sections based on our own experience, you can start expanding the research.

The main goal with topical research is to build the whole picture and the keyword you’re trying to target, not just trying to rank for one keyword.

How do you expand on your research?

In 9 simple ways to build topical research…

  1. Quora
  2. Answer the public
  3. Youtube
  4. Google
  5. Amazon books
  6. Forums
  7. Wikipedia
  8. Udemy
  9. Semrush (Paid)

FREE KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOLS

1. Quora

I love Quora. The go-to place to find questions people are asking, which is perfect for this sort of stuff. If people are asking it on Quora, they’re Googling it. I promise.

If we use the example of building links to an eCommerce website which is trying to sell an insulated water bottle by building middle man posts then linking to the product. The blog post is about “the benefits of drinking cold water”

Step one, go to Quora and type in the search a phrase that matches your topic.

Quora search intent

Then I head over to the questions tab on the left hand side.

quora questions research

Gold. Questions with plenty of people actively following them.

Quora for keyword research

Add the relevant questions into your topical research for your blog post.

Spice up your blog post by adding Quora questions. Then answer them on Quora with a link back to your blog for sneaky traffic boost.

2. Answer the Public

Go to answerthepublic.com and type in your topic. Below, I typed in “drink cold water”

Answer The Public uses Google’s and Bing’s autofill features to pull in different questions with phrases like – what, why, when, how, will, are, which, where, can.

Answer the public research questions

102 questions that people are asking about drinking cold water.

When constructing a post to cover a topic, this free tool has beneficial information because now I know that people want to learn:

  • Is cold water good for you?
  • What happens when you drink cold water?
  • Why drink cold water in the winter?

That’s incredible insight. It helps you really address the whole topic when building an article and puts you on track for ranking for 1000’s of keywords. 

Get the whole topic!

3. Youtube

Love it or hate it. Youtube has a lot of information in video format, even negating the clickbait titles.

With the algorithm, if the viewers don’t watch over 50% of the video then continue to another video afterwards, that video will die (leaving the best content with the most views. Most of the time). This means when you search for something; those videos have excellent retention.

Now, it’s just a matter of watching them and seeing what main points they cover in them to inform your research.

For another pro tip… so many pro tips here, add a relevant Youtube video to your content. It breaks up the post with video format and increases dwell time which is one of Google's ranking factors. 

Plus, if you didn’t know Google owns Youtube.

Adding Youtube videos to your content increases relevance, dwell time, and user experience... All good for SEO

Youtube doesn’t just have great content to watch (until hours pass and you end up thinking how did i start watching this?) it’s the world's second most used search engine.

Type in your topic and find relevant subheading for your post.

Youtube keyword research

4. Google

Yes, good old Google itself. Type your topic into the search engine, and see what Google suggests for you.

Google search research

Then you have a list of terms Google Suggests for you.

Google for keyword research

People are searching Google for these terms.

Supply & demand. 

Although, don’t stop with Google Suggest. 

When you search a topic in Google you also get the “Searches Related to” section at the bottom of Google’s search results.

To find this section, type in your key phrase and scroll to the bottom of the page. 

You will then come across this.

Like Google Suggest, these keywords come from Google. There’s no need to guess if they’re popular. Google is showing you: “People hunt for these keywords.”

Click through the “searches related to” on a topic that matches your content.

Then, scroll to the bottom of the new results. This will give you a new list of related keywords. Rinse and repeat.

5. Amazon Books

The hidden gem… Go to Amazon and search for the keyword that describes your blog post.

Amazon searches

Then head over to books

Amazon keyword research using books

Go through the books and pick one with good reviews.

amazon research

Once on the page, click the look inside box above the book.

Amazon Look inside

Then scroll to the table of contents section for a detailed view of what’s in the book. 

Amazon table of contents

Now, rinse and repeat. Check out all the books and find more topics and tips on how to structure your posts.

6. Forums

One of the benefits of forums is they are active 24 hours a day 7 days a week with people interested in the topic, keeping you with up-to-date questions and answers.

The easiest way to use forums where your audience hangs out is by using the search string in Google:

  • “keyword forum”
  • “keyword” + “forum”
  • “keyword” + “forums”
  • “keyword” + “board”
Forum keyword research

Pick a forum from the results. Note the sections of the forum, then dive in.

Click through the topics to dive deep into the forum and to find hidden gems.

Forum research deep dive

In about 15 seconds, I found two different topics I could add to a golf post.

  • Club length for short golfers
  • Putting drills
  • Improve your golf swing

Just because I'm emphasising making a complete blog post on a topic. You can still use the keywords found to build out a full website structure.

7. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of the biggest websites in the world and is an often-overlooked goldmine of niche research.

Wikipedia has a ton of topical research that covers every aspect of every topic in the world… all organised in natural categories.

How do you use Wikipedia for keyword ideas?

First, head over to Wikipedia and type in a broad keyword: Paintball

Wikipedia search

That will take you to the Wikipedia entry for the broad topic.

wikipedia keyword research

Then scroll down to find the table of contents, this shows all the subtopics on the page.

wikipedia contents

And some of the subtopics listed here.

Wikipedia table of contents copy

Like before, you can click on the internal links to check out the contents of other, closely related sections.

Example: Near the leagues subheading there is a link to “List of paintball leagues.”

When you click on that link, you will notice there’s more information on this page to add to your topical keyword research. (Note, this click-through was a bad example… but you get the idea.)

wikipedia deeper dive

8. Udemy

There are no better keywords to add to your content than what people have paid to learn.

You can search for courses by category or by keyword.

And there is a course on nearly every topic.

Below, is how you search for a keyword.

Udemy search research

Or you can choose by category.

Udemy catogeories

Whichever option you choose you’ll find content people are paying to access.

For this example let’s say you’re looking for more information on press releases.

Hover over marketing and find PR.

Udemy cat

Straight away you have lists of topic ideas or you can scroll down and enter filters to find a narrower approach on topic.

Topic ideas:

  • How to get press coverage
  • How to write feature article 
  • PR for branding

Like with all the other research you can deep  dive into the course and check out the description.

But even on a relatively obscure topic there is a course on the subject… cool. Right?

9. Semrush (Paid)

All the other topical research has been entirely free, but sometimes paid tools can do the job faster and better.

I’ll let you decide.

Semrush is one of my favourite tools on the market. There’s plenty of functionality, but one of the best uses is the “Topic Research” tab on the side.

Semrush topic research

Then type your topic, we will jump back into instagram marketing.

Semrush topic ideas

Then go onto overview, and you have the top headlines and questions people are asking on the subject.

Semrush topic overview

Scroll down a bit further and you have a list of subtopics. Below that you have the top 10 related searches.

Semrush subtopics

You can do the whole Alice in wonderland tactic and keep going down the rabbit hole into each section. 

After overview check out the cards tab.

Then you have every subtopic under the sun. 

Scroll through these and pick the sections that will be great to add to your blog post. 

You can try Semrush for free for 14 days by clicking here.

Do you really need 9 different methods (as well as your expertise) to build the complete picture of your topical research? Probably not. But having more tools in your Swiss army knife never hurt.

We’re going for overkill!

Build a blog post not just targeting one keyword (have that as the primary goal) but attack the whole subject, answer peoples questions, expand on subtopics, then like magic you’ll be dominating the search engines.

SEARCH INTENT

Search intent is the reason behind a search.

To put it another way, why did the user do this search?

Is it to learn something? To make a purchase? Or to find a particular web page or app?

Let’s do an example…

If you type “CAR” into Google, it’s a broad term and I could mean anything. Are you looking to buy a car? Do you want to know about different car models?

However, if somebody searches used cars in London.

You have intent behind the search, and that’s something we can work with.

If you type this search into Google and check all of the 1st-page results, you will find its all transactional intent, meaning the results are for people looking to buy a used car.

User search intent example

So making a blog post (informational) titled used cars in London will NEVER rank because the results are transactional.

Now type in “tips on buying used cars in London” all the results are informational. So your blog post has a chance on ranking on the 1st page.

Search intent example

I will expand on the different search intent categories and how to tell if your content will rank for a keyword later.

But first, the reason why it’s so important. 

Google is the dominant search engine today because it mastered this concept and provided the best relevant search results. Leading to better user experience.

Plus,

Satisfying search intent ultimately is what a search engine is designed to do…

… Checking search intent is a critical element in any keyword research and content marketing strategy.

Not to beat a dead horse but here’s Google report explaining the topic called: “How Search Intent Is Redefining the Marketing Funnel“

Googles brand message

Types of Search Intent

Informational

When the searcher is looking for information. This could be to answer a question like “how does search intent work?”. Or even a short answer like “what is today’s date.” (Informational searches don’t have to be questions)

  • Strategies for SEO
  • How to manage my social media
  • Best marketing blogs

Navigational 

The searcher is looking for a specific website or webpage. The searcher already knows where they want to go, and it’s quicker and easier to type the phrase into Google than the entire URL into the address bar. (They also might not know the exact URL)

  • Facebook
  • Evolved Toaster Contact
  • Instagram Login

Commercial

The searcher is in the buyer’s cycle but has yet to make a final decision on which solution is right for them. This is generally people looking for reviews, comparisons, usually looking at the options before purchasing.

  • Best water bottles
  • Mattress reviews
  • Top restaurant in London

Transactional

The searcher is looking to make a purchase. The person has their wallet in hand, already knows what they want to buy and is looking for a place to buy it from.

  • Travel insurance quotes
  • Flights from London
  • Buy MacBook pro
types of search intent

Always do a Google search to check the search intent; this should influence the type of content you create.

If the keyword has informational intent, write a blog post. If it has transactional intent, create a product page.

You get the idea.

Chapter 4:

ADVANCED KEYWORD RESEARCH

Search intent is the reason behind a search.

To put it another way, why did the user do this search?

Is it to learn something? To make a purchase? Or to find a particular web page or app?

Let’s do an example…

REVERSE ENGINEER KEYWORDS

Here's the idea,

Type your keyword or keywords into Google.

Pick a URL on the first page of Google…

… Search engines love these pages. 

Input the page URL into your SEO tool of choice.

Find ‘HIDDEN’ keywords that the URL is ranking for.

Simple.

Before I show you techniques on how to reverse engineer keywords. 

Let me introduce Ryan Stewart, he is always at the forefront of SEO and the video below was created in 2016. Yet has more information and technical knowledge (that’s still relevant) than any other current SEO guru. 

Ryan (the most organised SEO… Ever) comes up with new and unique ways to rank websites I highly recommend following him and looking at his Blueprint training.

Transcription Part 1

Transcription Part 2

Although you want your own identity, it's never a bad thing to see how your competition dominates.

Ahrefs Reverse Keyword Research

We kind of touched on this earlier in the post… when I showed you how many keywords the Ahrefs post was ranking.

But let’s do it from scratch.

Let’s say our keyword research is a post about affiliate marketing.

Go too Ahrefs. Type in your competitor or a specific post URL.

Ahrefs reverse engineer keywords

We are looking at the whole domain. So let’s dive into the “Top pages.”

Ahrefs top pages

Then click the keywords tab.

Ahrefs Keywords

Which will expand to show all the 511 keywords that “best affiliate networks” is ranking.

Ahrefs list of keywords

Then you have 500 potential keywords to add to your article.

PS. Check out Matt Diggity’s website. He always stays up-to-date with the latest Google algorithms and is the go-to place for affiliate SEO.

The End

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

I hope this keyword guide will get you results in 2020.

I would love to know what you thought in the comments below.

What is your favourite tip from this post? And which are you going to try first?

Let me know by leaving a comment below, right now.

Ps. Share, Bookmark and link to this post for further use. It would mean the world.



James Oliver

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