The right way to do Key phrase Analysis for search engine marketing

Before we dive into the intricacies of keyword research and how to find the best keywords for your business, it is a good idea to understand the basics.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the words and phrases that people type in search engines. They are also called search queries or "SEO Keywords."

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research understands the language your target customers are using when searching for your products, services, and content. Then the best keyword opportunities for your website are analyzed, compared and prioritized.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is the only way to find out what people are typing in search engines. You need to know this to avoid creating content about things no one is looking for. According to our study, many website owners make this mistake, and it's probably a big part of the reason 90.63% of their pages don't get traffic from Google.

01 90 percent of the pages do not receive any organic search traffic from Google 1 2

Keyword research can also help you answer questions like:

  • How hard will it be to rank for this keyword?
  • How much traffic will I likely get if I rank for this keyword?
  • What type of content should I create to rank on this keyword?
  • People who search for this keyword are likely to become my customers?

Finding the right answers to these questions will help you choose your battles wisely.

Keyword research begins by considering how potential customers might search for your business or website. You can then use keyword research tools to expand on those ideas and find even more keywords.

It's a simple process, but two things must be true to do it well:

  1. You must have good industry knowledge.
  2. You need to understand how keyword research tools work and how to get the most out of them.

This chapter introduces some actionable ways to improve your knowledge in both areas while identifying potentially successful keywords for your website.

  1. Brainstorm Keywords for "seeds"
  2. See which keywords your competitors are ranking for
  3. Use keyword research tools
  4. Study your niche

1. Brainstorming Keywords for "Seed"

Seed keywords form the basis for the keyword research process. They define your niche and help you identify your competitors. Every keyword research tool asks for a starting keyword, which is used to create a huge list of keyword ideas (more on that in a moment).

If you already have a product or business that you want to promote online, finding startup keywords is easy. Just think about what people are typing into Google to find out what you're offering.

For example, if you sell coffee machines and equipment, the following keywords could be used:

  • coffee
  • espresso
  • cappuccino
  • french press

Note that it is not necessarily worth targeting seed keywords on pages of your website yourself. As the name suggests, you will be using them as "seeds" for the next few steps in this process. So don't worry too much about your startup keywords. It should only take a few minutes to find them. Once you have a handful of comprehensive ideas on the topic of your website, move on to the next step.

2. See which keywords your competitors are ranking for

Looking at what keywords are already sending traffic to your competitors is usually the best way to start your keyword research. But first you need to identify these competitors. This is where your brainstorming list of keywords comes in handy. Just search Google for one of your startup keywords and see who's on the homepage.

Cappuccino Serp 1

If none of the top sites for your startup keywords match your site (or where you'd like to use them), look for relevant "autosuggest" requests instead.

Autosuggest 1

Google's "autosuggest" requests are displayed as you enter your request.

For example, if you sell coffee makers, you might find more actual competitors in the search results for "Cappuccino Maker" than for "Cappuccino". This is because they are mostly ecommerce stores like your ranking for the former and blogs ranking for the latter.

In either case, you must use your best knowledge and belief in determining competing websites. If you see big brands like Amazon or the New York Times ranking for your seed keyword, don't necessarily treat them as competitors. Always look for websites that are similar to your own – or where you want to include them.

Once you've found some websites that match the bill, you can slice those websites one by one into a competitive intelligence tool like Ahrefs' Site Explorer and then review them Top sites Report. They will then see their popular pages based on the estimated monthly search traffic. The report also shows the "top keyword" for each page. This is the one that sends the most organic traffic.

Here are some interesting keywords we discovered for our hypothetical cafe by analyzing a competing website using Site Explorer:

  • how to use a french press
  • Turkish coffee
  • Moka pot
  • how to make coffee
  • Neapolitan coffee maker

As you can see, even if you are familiar with your industry, you can come up with a lot of unique keyword ideas by researching your competitors that you probably wouldn't have found brainstorming alone.

If you've checked all of your competitors in the search results but still want more keywords, you can find more competitors in the Competing domains Report in Site Explorer. Just join any of your well-known competitors and other similar websites will be suggested based on the number of overlapping keywords they rate for Google.

You can repeat the above process over and over for nearly unlimited keyword ideas.

Do you see a lot of topics that you have already covered?

When you do keyword research for an established website in your industry, you may find that you have already covered most of your competitors' keywords. In this case, you can use our content gap tool. It finds keywords that one or more competitors are ranked for but you don't. To use it, add some competing domains to the top, add your site to the box below, and hit "Show Keywords."

Content gap 2 1

Ahrefs' Content Gap tool gives you a list of keywords that competitors are ranked for but not on our website.

Here are just a few of the thousands of keywords that Homegrounds and Roasty Coffee stand for but yourcoffeestore.com does not:

  • Moka pot
  • manual coffee grinder
  • Coffee oils
  • espresso

For more information on how to perform a content gap analysis, see this video.

3. Use keyword research tools

Competitors can be a great source of keyword ideas. However, there are still tons of keywords that your competitors are not targeting and you can find them using keyword research tools.

Keyword research tools all work the same way. They insert a startup keyword and they pull keyword ideas from their database based on that keyword.

Google Keyword Planner is perhaps the most popular keyword tool out there. It's free, and while it's primarily intended for advertisers, you can also use it to find keywords for SEO.

Let's put in some of our startup keywords and see what comes out of that:

Screenshot 2020 11 11 at 23:31:26 2

  • Barista
  • Macchiato
  • Irish coffee
  • Americano
  • flat white
  • cold brew
  • coffee machine
  • Turkish coffee
  • Arabica
  • k cups
  • Frappuccino

You will find that Google Keyword Planner is smart enough to show you relevant keyword ideas, even if they don't include your starting keywords. For example, take "k cups". Unless you're a hardcore coffee connoisseur, you probably don't know this is coffee-related.

Side note.

The "competition" metric in Google Keyword Planner has nothing to do with this SEO. It shows how many advertisers are willing to pay money to serve ads in search results for that keyword. You shouldn't pay attention if you want to rank organically.

In addition to the Keyword Planner, there are several other free keyword research tools available. These are great if you are on a budget, but you will quickly find that their data and functionality are all very limited as the goal is to turn you into a paying customer.

If you are serious about keyword research, you can also skip the free tier and start using a professional tool like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer right away.

Enter some of our startup keywords and see how many ideas are generated from them.

Phrase match 2

The Phrase Match report in Keywords Explorer delivers nearly four million keyword ideas from just four starting keywords.

3.7 million ideas. And that's just from the Phrase Match report. Other keyword idea reports match keyword ideas in different ways.

Here's how the reports in Keywords Explorer match the keyword ideas:

  • Phrase match: Keyword ideas that contain the keyword "seed" unchanged. For example, if your startup keyword is "Computer Chair", "Black Computer Chair" is a match. However, "black chair for computers" would not do so, although it does include both words.
  • Have the same terms: Keyword ideas that contain all the individual terms from the keyword "seed" in any order. For example, if your startup keyword is "Computer Chair", this report will show "Black Chair for Computer".
  • Ask: Keyword ideas that contain every term from the keyword "start value" in any order, as well as a "question word" such as "how", "what", "where", "when" or "why". For example, if your Seed keyword is Computer Chair, it says “What is the Best Chair for Computer Work” here.

That seems like an overwhelming amount of ideas, and it is. But do not worry. You can find out how to narrow it down in the tool in the next section.

Side note.

The Keywords Explorer contains millions of keywords for other search engines as well. Bing, YouTube, Amazon and Baidu are just a few of them.

4. Study your niche

Everything we've discussed so far is enough to generate an almost unlimited number of keyword ideas. At the same time, the process keeps you up to date. It is limited by your startup keywords, as well as the size and freshness of the database of the keyword tool you selected. Because of this, you will almost certainly be missing some great ideas.

You can solve this by taking a closer look at your niche. A good place to start is by searching industry forums, groups, and Q.&A website. That way, you can find more things your prospects are struggling with that weren't showing up in keyword tools and that none of your competitors addressed.

For example, here's just one popular thread from the / r / Coffee subreddit:

reddit 1

This person asks a question about a coffee maker called an Aeropress. If we include this topic in the Keywords Explorer, 61,000 search queries are displayed per month US, on average.

Search volume 3

We may not have found this using tools as none of our startup keywords are included.

Here are some other interesting topics from this subreddit that might be worth covering:

  • pour over the hario filter
  • how to make a carajillo
  • Growing coffee at home
  • Ethiopian coffee
  • Coffee subscriptions

If you see trends in these keyword ideas, you can use them as new starting keywords in the Keywords Explorer to find more ideas. For example, if we used "aeropress" as a startup keyword and checked the "Phrase Match" report, it would come up with thousands of keyword ideas.

Phrase match keywords 2

Thousands of keyword ideas in the Phrase Match report in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Beyond searching forums, your customers can also be a fantastic source of keyword ideas. Remember, these are the people you already do business with. You want to attract more people like this to your website.

Here are some ways to gain insights from clients or customers:

  • Chat with them face to face
  • Search past emails
  • Browse customer inquiries
  • Try to remember frequently asked questions that came up in previous conversations

Pay attention to the language they are using. It is often different from the language you may be using. For example, if you sell coffee machines online, your customers may be looking for comparisons of specific machines.

Advanced learning

There are tons of keyword ideas that are all well and good. But how do you know which ones are best? After all, it would be nearly impossible to go through them all by hand.

The solution is simple: use SEO Metrics to help isolate and separate the wheat from the chaff before adding it to your content calendar.

Let's examine six keyword metrics that you can use to do this.

Search volume

The search volume indicates how often a keyword is searched on average per month. For example, "Moka Pot" has a monthly search volume of 40,000 in the US alone.

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There are three important things to note about this number:

  1. This is the number of searches, not the number of people who searched. There are cases where someone searches for a keyword several times a month (for example, "Singapore weather"). These searches add to the search volume even though the same person performs them.
  2. It doesn't tell you how much traffic you're getting by ranking. Even if you manage to get number one, your traffic from a keyword will rarely exceed 30% of that number. And that's if you're lucky.
  3. It's an annual average. If 120,000 searches were performed for a keyword in December and none in the remaining eleven months of the year, the monthly search volume would be 10,000 (120,000 / 12 months).

In the Keyword Explorer, you will see a search volume filter on every keyword idea report.

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This filter is useful for two important things:

  1. Filtering out keywords with very high volume. If your website is new, you probably don't want to crawl pages with keywords with more than 100,000 monthly searches as they are likely to be competitive.
  2. Filter specifically for keywords with lower volume. You might want to find uncompetitive, low volume keywords that are easy to suck up traffic with short articles. These are known as long-tail keywords.

Did you know that most of the keywords are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are terms with a low search volume. They get their name because they land there on the so-called "search demand curve":

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As you can see, at the beginning of the curve we have a very small number of incredibly popular searches such as:

  • Youtube – 181M
  • Facebook – 168M
  • Weather – 52M
  • google translate – 42m
  • Craigslist – 30m

SEOs refer to these as "fat-head" keywords.

And the long tail of that curve is made up of hundreds of millions of very low search volume keywords. Examples include:

  • best fonts for a resume – 150
  • four pillars of a man's heart – 150
  • Definition of Deuteronomy – 100
  • 5 times 5 means military – 100
  • How much is my Overwatch account worth – 50
  • Angel eating cake without pan – 50
  • funny Christmas cards for singles – 50th

If you want to learn more about dealing with different types of long-tail keywords, check out our complete guide.

When you need to show search volumes for any country other than that US171 countries are available in the Keywords Explorer. You can also view global search volumes (the sum of search volumes from all countries). Both options are useful if you are doing business internationally for two reasons:

  1. You shouldn't limit yourself to one country. If you sell products worldwide, this is it US may only be a small segment of your market. If people are looking for what you have elsewhere, they need to know about it.
  2. You should consider the purchasing power of countries with search volume. You might see a promising keyword with 100,000 searches per month, but 90% of that is from a country with low searches GDP. In that case, the keyword might not be a good target as the searcher's purchasing power is likely to be quite low.

For example, look at the keyword "backlink generator". It has a global search volume of 13,000, but over 70% of those searches come from countries with a low search volume GDP per capita like India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. While ranking for this keyword could likely generate a lot of traffic, the "business value" of this traffic would likely be quite low compared to a keyword that gets over 70% of its searches from the website US.

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Another important point about search volumes is that they vary from tool to tool. This is because each tool calculates and updates this metric in a different way. Read more about the intricacies of estimating search volume and why even Google's data here and here is not really "accurate".

Pay attention to keyword trends

Since search volume is an annual average, it is often helpful to check the trend charts in the Keywords Explorer for keywords that you are considering. If keywords are seasonal, rising, or falling in popularity, search volume may not be the best predictor of monthly traffic.

Christmas searches are a good example. They all go up in December before dropping to zero in February, but the search volume doesn't reflect that.

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Check out our Google Trends guide for more actionable tips on finding trending keywords.

Clicks

Lots of people might search Google for something, but that doesn't mean they'll all click search results and visit the top pages. The click metric in the Keywords Explorer is ideal here. It shows you the average number of monthly clicks on search results for a keyword.

Just look at a question about how much caffeine is in coffee.

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Monthly search volume and clicks for "How much caffeine in coffee" via Ahrefs' keyword explorer.

Despite a monthly search volume of 48,000, only 8,600 clicks are achieved.

It does this because Google answers the question right in the search results. You don't have to click to find the information you're looking for.

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Google gives answers in the search results for more and more queries. For this reason, the click filter in Keywords Explorer is invaluable. You can use it to weed out keyword ideas with lousy search traffic potential.

You should also be careful with keywords that have paid ads “stealing” a lot of clicks. For example, 32% of clicks for "Braun Coffee Maker" are from paid ads, so that keyword might be a better target PPC.

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32% of all clicks from "Braun Coffee Maker" go to paid ads. Data from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Traffic potential

Let's say you are considering a keyword like "coffee side effects". According to Keywords Explorer, there are an estimated 1,000 searches and ~ 800 clicks per month.

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US and global search volume for "side effects of coffee". Data from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Note, however, that if you rank for that keyword, your page will likely also rank for all kinds of related keywords and synonyms, such as:

  • What happens if you drink too much coffee? 450 monthly searches
  • Effects of Drinking Too Much Coffee – 200 monthly searches
  • too many coffee side effects – 200 monthly searches
  • Side Effects of Too Much Coffee – 100 Monthly Searches

Since all of these searches mean roughly the same thing, it is a mistake to estimate your potential search traffic from a single search query. It is better to see how much traffic the current top pages are getting right now, which is very easy in Keywords Explorer.

Here we see that the top Coffee Side Effects page is receiving an estimated ~ 3,500 visits per month and includes over 930 keywords:

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Estimated monthly US organic search traffic on the top page for "side effects of coffee". Data from Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

Ranking for more than one keyword like this is quite the norm. We examined three million searches and found that the average top page was in the top 10 for nearly 1,000 other keywords.

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The moral of the story? Don't judge keywords based on search volume (or clicks) alone. See the top results to gauge the topic's overall search traffic potential. In most cases, the search volume of a keyword actually correlates with the general "traffic potential" of the topic. However, paying attention to this detail can help you prioritize your keywords and find keyword opportunities that your competitors have overlooked.

Keyword Difficulty

SEO Professionals usually measure the ranking difficulty of a keyword manually. That is, by searching for their target keyword on the top pages. You take into account many different factors to gauge how difficult or easy it will be to achieve a rank:

  • Number (and quality) of backlinks;
  • Domain Rating (DR);
  • Content length, relevance, freshness;
  • Use of target keyword, synonyms, entities;
  • Search intent;
  • Branding;
  • Etc.

This process differs from person to person as there is no consensus on what exactly is important here and what is not. One person could believe that DR is important, and someone else might think that relevance is more of a factor. This lack of consensus makes life a little difficult for keyword research tool developers as they each attempt to reduce the ranking difficulty of keywords to a single actionable score.

After talking to many professional SEOs about the signals a reliable keyword difficulty level should consider, we found that everyone agreed on at least one thing: backlinks are critical to ranking. In the end we decided to reduce our keyword difficulty (KD) Score on the number of unique websites linking to the top 10 ranking pages.

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As you can see in the picture above, each KD The score refers to an approximate number of websites that should link to your page in order to get to the top 10 search results.

Side note.

Please don't miss the "Top 10" reference in the statement above. Ahrefs KD The score doesn't tell you what it takes to rank first for any particular keyword. It just advises you on what it takes to get into the top 10.

Know how KD works, a lot of people abuse the score by setting the filter from 0 to 30 and focusing solely on the "low hanging" opportunities. They never bother dealing with high KD keywords on their websites, and that's a big mistake for two reasons:

  1. You should look for high KD keywords sooner, not later. Since you need a lot of backlinks for ranking, it is worth building your page and promoting it asap. The longer you are late, the greater the head start you will give your competitors – making it harder to outperform them in the future.
  2. You should see high KD keywords as link opportunities. The fact that the top pages have a lot of backlinks is a sign of a "link worthy" topic. In other words, if you get to the heart of this topic, it can attract a lot of backlinks for you.

The bottom line is: KD ist nicht dazu da, Sie davon abzuhalten, auf bestimmte Keywords abzuzielen. Es hilft Ihnen zu verstehen, was für ein Ranking für eine bestimmte Abfrage und die Linkwürdigkeit des Themas erforderlich ist.

Sie müssen nur wissen, dass Sie Keywords immer manuell bewerten sollten, bevor Sie sie bearbeiten, und sich nicht ausschließlich auf den Keyword-Schwierigkeitsgrad eines Tools verlassen, um Ihre endgültige Entscheidung zu treffen. Kein Keyword-Schwierigkeitsgrad kann die Komplexität des Google-Ranking-Algorithmus in eine einzige Zahl umwandeln. Seien Sie vorsichtig bei Werkzeugherstellern, die etwas anderes vorschlagen.

Wenn Sie mehr über die Keyword-Schwierigkeit erfahren möchten, lesen Sie unseren Leitfaden zur Keyword-Schwierigkeit.

Kosten pro Klick (CPC)

Kosten pro Klick (CPC) zeigt an, wie viel Werbetreibende bereit sind, für jeden Anzeigenklick eines Keywords zu zahlen. Es ist eher eine Metrik für Werbetreibende als für SEOs, kann jedoch als nützlicher Proxy für den Wert eines Keywords dienen.

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Monday.com zahlt für Klicks mit dem Schlüsselwort „Projektmanagement-Software. Es kostet sie jedes Mal Geld, wenn jemand darauf klickt.

Beispielsweise hat das Schlüsselwort „Bürokaffee“ einen relativ hohen Wert CPC von 12 $. Dies liegt daran, dass die meisten Suchenden Kaffeemaschinen für ihr Büro kaufen möchten, was Hunderte oder Tausende von Dollar kosten kann. Aber es ist die entgegengesetzte Geschichte für "wie man guten Espresso macht". Dies liegt daran, dass die meisten Suchenden nichts kaufen möchten. Sie suchen nach Informationen zum Brauen von Espresso.

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Geschätzt CPC für "Bürokaffee" und "Wie man guten Espresso macht" im Keyword-Explorer von Ahrefs.

Eine wichtige Sache zu wissen CPC ist, dass es viel volatiler ist als das Suchvolumen. Während die Suchnachfrage nach den meisten Keywords von Monat zu Monat ungefähr gleich bleibt, ist es CPC kann sich jede Minute ändern. Das heißt, dass die CPC Werte, die Sie in Keyword-Tools von Drittanbietern sehen, sind Momentaufnahmen. Wenn Sie Echtzeitdaten wünschen, müssen Sie AdWords verwenden.

Fortgeschrittenes Lernen

Für jedes Keyword in Ihrer Liste müssen Sie die richtige Art von Seite und Inhalt erstellen, um es zu adressieren. Das Verständnis dafür ist ein entscheidender Schritt im Keyword-Rechercheprozess. Zum Glück können Sie dies in zwei einfachen Schritten tun.

  1. Identifizieren Sie das übergeordnete Thema
  2. Suchabsicht identifizieren

1. Identifizieren Sie das übergeordnete Thema

Angenommen, Sie haben die folgenden Keywords auf Ihrer Liste:

  • wie man geschlagenen Kaffee macht
  • Was ist geschlagener Kaffee
  • Rezept für geschlagenen Kaffee
  • wie man geschlagenen Kaffee ohne Instant macht
  • geschlagener Kaffee ohne Zucker

Sie fragen sich vielleicht, ob Sie für jedes Keyword eine andere Seite erstellen oder alle auf eine einzelne Seite ausrichten sollten.

Die Antwort hängt weitgehend davon ab, wie Google diese Keywords sieht. Betrachtet es sie als Teil desselben Themas (d. H. Wie man geschlagenen Kaffee macht)? Oder sieht es sie alle als einzelne Themen? Sie können sich ein Bild davon machen, indem Sie sich die Google-Ergebnisse ansehen.

Zum Beispiel sehen wir einige der gleichen Seiten, die für "wie man geschlagenen Kaffee macht" und "was geschlagener Kaffee ist" rangieren.

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That seems to indicate that Google views both of these keywords as part of the same topic.

We also see that most of the results for both searches are posts about making a whipped coffee. That tells us that “what is whipped coffee” is a subtopic of the broader topic of how to make a whipped coffee.

For that reason, it would probably make more sense to target both of these keywords on a single page than to create two separate pages.

However, if we look at the results for “whipped coffee without sugar,” we see the opposite:

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Almost all of the results are specifically about making a sugar-free, healthy whipped coffee, not just any old whipped coffee. That tells us that “whipped coffee without sugar” isn’t part of a broader topic of making a whipped coffee (even though a whipped coffee without sugar is, in fact, still a whipped coffee). So we’d probably need to write a separate guide to rank for this keyword.

The problem with this approach is that it’s very manual and slow, so if you have many keywords to analyze, it can take quite some time.

In Keywords Explorer, our solution to this problem is to show a “Parent Topic” for each keyword. It tells you whether we think you can rank for your target keyword while targeting a broader topic instead.

To identify the “Parent Topic,” we take the top-ranking page for each keyword and find the keyword that sends the most traffic to the page.

Let’s plug our keywords from earlier into Keywords Explorer and check their “Parent Topics.”

What we see here mirrors what we saw in the search results. Most of our keywords fall under the same broad topic. The exception is “whipped coffee without sugar,” so that would need to be a page of its own.

2. Identify search intent

Let’s say that you have these keywords on your list:

  • coffee grinder
  • latte vs cappuccino
  • single cup coffee maker
  • arabica coffee
  • how to brew cold brew coffee
  • manual burr coffee grinder

If you run an online store with a blog, you need to understand which to target with blog posts vs. product pages.

For some keywords, this is obvious. You wouldn’t create a product page for “how to brew cold brew coffee” because that doesn’t make sense. Searchers want to know how to make cold brew coffee, not buy brewing equipment.

But what about a keyword like “manual burr coffee grinder?” Should you target this with a blog post about the best burr coffee grinders or an ecommerce category page showing all the burr coffee grinders you sell?

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Example of an ecommerce category page.

Given that your goal is probably to sell more coffee grinders, your instinct is likely to create a category page with all the grinders you have for sale. That would be the wrong move because that kind of content doesn’t align with what searchers want to see—otherwise known as search intent.

Woher wissen wir? If you look at the top-ranking pages for this keyword in Google, they’re all blog posts about the best burr coffee grinders.

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Google understands intent better than anyone, so the top results for a keyword are often a good proxy for search intent. If you want to stand the best chance of ranking, you should create the same type of content as you already see ranking on the first page.

You can view the top results for your country in Keywords Explorer. Just hit the “SERP” caret.

From here, you can analyze what we like to call the three C’s of search intent to learn how best to target the keyword:

  1. Content type
  2. Content format
  3. Content angle

1. Content type

Content types usually fall into one of five buckets: blog posts, product, category, landing pages, or videos.

2. Content format

Content format applies mostly to ‘informational’ content. Typical examples are how-tos, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, and reviews.

3. Content angle

Content angle is the main selling point of the content. For example, people searching for “how to make latte” seem to want to know how to do it without a machine or any special equipment.

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Just know that while it’s important to align your content with what searchers expect, you don’t necessarily want to follow the herd and keep searchers in the bubble of their expectations. If you’re confident that you can get searchers’ attention with a different content type, format, or angle, give it a shot.

Keyword prioritization isn’t exactly the final step in the keyword research process. It’s more something that you should do as you go through the steps above. As you’re looking for keywords, analyzing their metrics, and grouping them, ask yourself:

  • What is the estimated traffic potential of this keyword?
  • How tough is the competition? What would it take to rank for it?
  • Do you already have content about this topic? If not, what will it take to create and promote a competitive page?
  • Do you already rank for this keyword? Could you boost traffic by improving your rank by a few positions?
  • Is the traffic likely to convert into leads and sales, or will it only bring brand awareness?

That last point is a particularly important one. While search volume, traffic potential, difficulty, and search intent are all important considerations, you also need to consider what traffic from that keyword will be worth to your business.

How to gauge the “business potential” of your keyword ideas

Many content marketers and SEOs judge the ‘value’ of keywords by mapping them to the buyer’s journey. That’s the process people go through before making a purchase. Conventional wisdom says that the earlier people are in their journey, the less likely they are to buy.

How do people do this? The most popular method is to group keyword ideas into three buckets: TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU.

Here are some examples of TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU keywords for Ahrefs:

  • Top of the Funnel (TOFU): online marketing, what is SEO, how to grow website traffic.
  • Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): how to do keyword research, how to build links, how to do website audit.
  • Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): ahrefs vs moz, ahrefs reviews, ahrefs discount.

Allgemein gesagt, TOFU keywords have the highest traffic potential, but visitors aren’t looking to buy anything just yet. And MOFU and BOFU keywords will bring you less traffic, but those people are closer to becoming your customers.

At Ahrefs, we think that this concept is limiting and perhaps even misleading.

Here are three reasons why:

Zuerst, it doesn’t take into account that you can take someone from the top of the funnel who’s searching for some general thing like “online marketing” and walk them through all stages of the buyer’s journey on one page. That is what direct response copywriters are known for. They don’t create their ads based on TOFU/.MOFU/.BOFU. They create one ad that takes the reader from barely understanding their problem to buying your solution.

Second, it’s quite challenging to assign each keyword a definitive TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU label because things aren’t always that clear cut. For example, “link building tool” could be a MOFU or BOFU keyword for us. It depends on how you look at it.

Dritte, some marketers broaden their definition of TOFU to such a degree that they end up covering unrelated topics. Case in point, Hubspot:

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Top Pages report for HubSpot’s blog in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Given that they sell marketing software, how do you think they’re going to convert people coming to their articles about:

  • berühmte Zitate
  • free email accounts
  • resignation letter
  • best website designs

To combat this issue, we’ve created a simple and more objective “business score” to determine a keyword’s value. And this is based mainly on how well we can pitch our product in our content.

Here are the scoring criteria we use for blog topics:

Score What is means Example
3 Our product is an irreplaceable solution to the problem. “how to rank higher on google” — because it’s hard to do that without a toolset like Ahrefs.
2 Our product helps quite a bit, but it isn’t essential to solving the problem. SEO tips” — because some tips aren’t possible without our product, but others are.
1 Our product can only be mentioned fleetingly. “marketing ideas” — because SEO is one of many marketing ideas, and Ahrefs helps with that.
0 There’s absolutely no way to mention our product. “social media marketing” — because that isn’t something Ahrefs helps with.

By pairing this score with the estimated search traffic potential of a topic, we can get a good idea of the most valuable topics for our business. You’ll notice that we barely have any posts on our blog with a business score of zero where there are no mentions of our product.

Finally, when going through this process, remember that you’re not only looking for “easy to rank for” keywords. You’re looking for those with the highest return on investment.

Focusing only on low-difficulty keywords is a mistake that a lot of website owners make. You should always have short, medium, and long-term ranking goals. If you only focus on short-term goals, you’ll never rank for the most lucrative keywords. If you only focus on medium and long-term goals, it’ll take years to get any traffic.

Think of it like this: picking low-hanging fruit is easy, but those at the top of the tree are often juicier. Does that mean it’s not worth picking the ones at the bottom? No. You should still pick them. But you should also plan ahead and buy a ladder for the ones at the top now.

Before we wrap everything up, let’s look at a few popular keyword research tools that will help you do everything discussed above.

Google Keyword Planner (Free)

For its unique keyword suggestions and up-to-date CPC values.

Google Trends (Free)

For trend comparisons and researching the geography of trends.

Google Search Console (Free)

For checking the top 1,000 keywords you already rank for and how much traffic those keywords send you.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (Free)

For checking alles the keywords you currently rank for, along with their estimated search volumes, Keyword Difficulty scores, traffic potential, and other useful SEO metrics.

Keyword Generator (Free)

For generating hundreds of free keyword ideas from a seed keyword.

Keyword Difficulty Checker (Free)

For checking the ranking difficulty of a keyword, as per Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty (KD) score.

Keyword Rank Checker (Free)

For checking where you rank for any keyword in any country.

Keywords Explorer

For when you’re truly serious about finding the best keywords for your website. Find tens of thousands of keyword ideas in seconds, filter the keyword ideas reports for keywords that matter to you, and assess their traffic potential and ranking difficulty with ease.

Advanced learning

Let’s wrap this up

Everything above should be enough to understand the basic concepts of keyword research and plan your content strategy.

If you want to learn more and dig deeper into keyword research, check our links to further reading scattered throughout the guide. These will give you a much deeper understanding of the metrics and tools available and how to use them.

You might also want to watch this video, where we walk you through the entire process from start-to-finish.

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