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Keyword Research Today: An Advanced Guide

Keyword Research Today: An Advanced Guide

We have read a lot about what, why, and how of keyword usage in the content. Well, sorry to disappoint you but for many years now, search engines have minimized the use of keywords.

It is no longer mandatory to put keywords in heading tags (H1, H2, H3). Also, using the exact keyword phrases within the text is no longer required.

But does that mean we should no longer put our efforts in keyword research while content creation? Eh, no! Keyword research is still important. It is just that the way we have been practicing that is obsolete now.

For instance, the importance of skillfully using the words is still important.getting-the-right-keyword-cartoon (1)

What will you learn from this blog?

By the end of this blog, you will learn to do keyword research in an appropriate manner that is in sync with the working of search engines today.


1. Defining your objectives

2. Types of Keywords

3. Phrases that help you make money

4. Keyword strategy for ad impressions

5. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI): Should we care about it?

6. Synonym keywords – a rescue?

7. User intent keywords

8. Keyword popularity

9. Google Trends

Let’s get started…

Defining your objectives: What you wish to achieve with search traffic?

The biggest sin that search marketers make is to define success as more traffic. No! More traffic should never be the objective. Instead, increasing sales should be the one.

While developing a keyword strategy for an e-commerce website, defining the sales problem that the business wishes to solve should be the first step. Once you have defined your keyword goals, it is important to develop keyword categories in order to address those objectives, and start categorizing the keywords to build a marketing strategy.

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Types of Keywords

Most of the people divide the keywords into three major categories and they are:keywords

1. Head Keywords

Head keywords are usually single-word keywords having immense search volume and competition. For instance, ‘insurance’. This is because the searcher intent is all over the place. Here, someone searching for insurance might be looking for a car insurance or health insurance.

Head keywords usually don’t convert very well.

2. Body Keywords

With decent search volume i.e at least 2,000 searches in a month, the body keywords are 2-3 word phrases. They are more specific than head keywords. For instance, ‘life insurance’ is body keyword. The competition in these keywords is comparatively lower but still are very competitive in general.

3. Long tail keywords

As the name suggests, they are long phrases with 4 or more words that are often very specific. For instance, a long tail keyword would be ‘affordable life insurance for older people’. They don’t get a lot of search volume individually, however, when added together, they make a lot of searches online.longtail-jhfiuhfjhfiufhuif-1024x662

Phrases that get you money (Money phrases)

The focus of the sales category is on ‘Money Phrases’. These are the keyword phrases which are related with a high level of sales. For instance, money phrases are ‘cheap wall clocks’ and ‘where to buy wall clocks’.

Needless to say, money phrases are essential and competitive. This is because they result in a sale. These phrases are also important to ad-supported sites as the site visitor is more likely to make a purchase. Therefore, there is a higher cost per click with advertising associated with money phrases.

Difficulties with Money Phrases

Since money phrases convert into sales (most of the times). Therefore, money phrases are highly difficult to rank for and have immense competition. Did you know that pay per click ads skim off traffic that has a strong intent to make a purchase while the rest of the traffic distributed to the organic results?

Structure of money phrases

Apart from the common phrases containing words like ‘buy’, there are a lot of other keyword phrases that show a user intent to make an immediate purchase. They are ‘long tail money phrases’.

Let’s see what are these longtail money phrases:

1. Searches for sales

2. Coupon code searches

3. Product reviews and ratings

4. Discount price searches

5. Competitor comparison

Money phrase ranking strategy

The probability of visitors converting from an authoritative site through non-money search queries is high. The secret to ranking for money phrases is money-phrase ranking and sales, links, referrals, word of mouth, building goodwill, and cultivating awareness.

Therefore, rather than focusing on the money phrases, it is important to focus on the authority building long tail phrases. This is the reason, comprehensive sites are likely to rank for the best phrases.

Important insight: There has been diminishing returns on focusing exclusively on keyword relevance for last 10 years.

Things you need to focus for building a ranking for money phrases are:

  • Depth of content
  • Expertise
  • Authority

Keyword strategies for ad impressions and awareness

If you wish to rank well for the two-word, high traffic phrases then you must be authoritative for the 3, 4, and 5-word phrases. Generally, a site which is authoritative for a high traffic money phrase is only authoritative as they are comprehensive on a mediocre level. Once the content at the granular level is in place, the links attracted to the granular topics build topical relevance for the whole site.

Should you care about Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)?

Developed about 20 years ago with a purpose to strengthen the ability of a search engine to identify the correct context of a word, LSI is an old technology now.

Often there are words with more than one meaning, therefore, a phrase or word appearing on a page doesn’t guarantee the results relevant to a search phrase. To overcome this issue, LSI technology was used and thereby, helps a text-based search to identify the context of a web page and then match a search query.

In the year 2003, Google acquired Circa, an important context analysis technology. Because of the science of information retrieval since 2003, the role of LSI technology has diminished and therefore it plays an insignificant role in search ranking.

Will the use of keyword synonyms help?

Earlier, the synonyms were used to combat keyword spamming. Google was never entirely immune to keyword spamming, although it was never a keyword based search engine.

With the introduction of the Hummingbird update as well as the increased ability for natural language processing, the search marketing industry reverted by using synonyms so as to rank better. Well, the strategy is a “back of the napkin” solution to a highly complex problem. This means it was created casually with little research and knowledge.

Although using synonyms is a simple approach to become topic relevant, it is clear that using synonyms in a web page is a blunder and will not suffice the purpose.

Keywords for user intentKeywordResearch

Since phrases and words have various user intent. The SERPs are ordered to satisfy the user intent of the most people. Therefore, if you choose the user intent which is less popular, you will never rank at the top of Google’s search results. This is ok and there is nothing that you could do.

As discussed in this article, the best use of words is crucial. The understanding of the user intent of a keyword phrase is crucial as it will guide the objective of a page. Every page is judged according to how it satisfies a site visitor’s goals. The best pages ‘fully satisfies the user intent’ of the search query.

There exists a rating category known as Fully Meets which applies to situations where the user intent is clear especially for e-commerce phrases. This is because the intent to buy is unambiguous. Therefore, Fully Meets is a gold standard for satisfying the user intent and becoming number one for an unambiguous query.

Even in the case of ambiguous queries, it should be your goal to satisfy the user intent. For that matter, you need to identify all the possible user intents and then select which user intent you are going to satisfy.

Definition of a site that ‘Fully Meets’ user intent

1. The user need and the query must be unambiguous, clear, and specific.

2. A minimal amount of effort for users should be required to immediately get or use what they want and the result must be fully satisfying for mobile users.

3. Users issuing that query don’t need additional results to fully satisfy the user intent. All or almost all users would be completely satisfied by the result.

What should I do to become a fully meeting web page?

To become a page that ‘Fully Meets’, the results should be complete and are a perfect answer to the queries of the user so that no other results are required to satisfy their intent.

The top ranked sites rank at the first pages as their web pages satisfy the most popular user intent for that keyword phrase.

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Popularity of the keyword

To have a direction to your content creation strategy, it is important to understand the user intent of a phrase. But how to deal with something that has ambiguous user intent and where a keyword phrase has more than 2 meanings?

In this case, it is important to make a list of all the different user intents. Searching on search engines will help you differentiate various user intents. It is likely that the most popular variation will be ranked the highest.

Take a note: For most of the search queries, the top ranked sites are not at the top because they have more links to their pages nor they have all the keywords. The top ranked sites are on the top as their web pages satisfy the most popular user intent for that keyword phrase.

For instance, if there are three user intents for a search query, the most popular one will appear on the top of the search results and not the one with the most keyword anchor text.

For example, if the user intent is divided in more users who are researching for academic purposes and users who wants to purchase something, Google will rank web pages that are informational rather than the transactional ones. Doesn’t matter if you have lots of links to your page, if the user intent of your page is not so popular, it will not be at the top five of any search engine.

The time has changed and therefore, the ranking for keyword phrases is no longer about the web pages with external or internal linking but the pages that fully satisfy the most popular user intent. This means the user intents of keyword phrases is extremely important or paramount.

Use Google Trends

Keywords are crucial as it informs what a user wants and the intent of the user. With Google Trends, you can identify the changes in how keywords are being used. The Google trends tool will help you see how phrases are trending in a cyclical pattern, trending down, trending up, and identify regional patterns.

Important insight: If you are able to under the regional and cyclical patterns, you will be able to know when to roll out certain kinds of content and also understand to focus your link building in certain areas for certain phrases as those phrases will be popular in that particular region.

Let’s look at an example to understand the use of Google Trends tools for deciding the

1. The below example shows that the phrase ‘Uber’ is more popular compared even to the generic phrase ‘taxi’. The trend line also shows that the research for phrase taxi is going downward, in recent times the search inventory was as low as it was in 2004.

2. The comparison of keywords with brand names is extremely useful. For instance, the keyword trends for ‘digital cameras’ shows a fall over the years. This is due to the introduction of the iPhone.

This data is crucial in the understanding of the correlation of consumer spending habits.

How to use the Google Trends tool?

You need to compare the keyword phrases against the keywords whose search volumes you are familiar with (doesn’t matter if the keyword phrase is unrelated. This helps in analyzing the search trends for an unfamiliar keyword phrase easier as you now have a baseline to compare.

Concludingly, as discussed, keywords are still important however, they are being used in a different manner nowadays.

Which Keyword strategy you think you should discard now? Are you already incorporating any of the above-discussed strategy for keyword research? 

Image Credits: backlinko, search engine journal, linkbird, jobmob, workfromhometoolsz

Sakshi is a content marketer during the day and a reader by night. She writes content sprinkled with a twisted imagination. She has done her graduation in psychology from Delhi University and has an insane love for history.

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