How to find good SEO keywords
SEO is one of the best marketing strategies to get sustainable leads without spending a penny on advertising. Keyword research is the first step in developing a successful SEO strategy. Below you will learn how to find and choose the best SEO keywords for your business. We will cover:
Why keyword research is so important
What are keywords?
Keywords are the things people type into search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo..) to find information. They can be words, phrases or even questions.
For example, someone who wants to hire a golf coach can type in “golf coach”, “golf coach for weekends” or “how much does a golf coach cost” – all these are SEO keywords for golf coaches.
Keyword research is about finding the terms (words, phrases and questions) that your ideal clients use when searching.
As simple as it may sound, finding the right keywords requires you to know your ideal clients and assess the market.
Why you need to do keyword research
Perhaps you are in one of these situations:
- You have ideas for your niche but are not sure if it is a profitable market
- You want to create valuable content, but you don’t know what to write about
- You create great content, but few people find your work unless you actively promote it on social media
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, keyword research should become your new best friend. Although most people associate keywords with SEO, keyword research is basically modern market research.
- It helps you estimate the market size of your niche.
- It helps you plan and create content based on topics that people are interested in.
- It helps you ensure that your content reaches the people who are searching for that exact topic without you having to advertise.
Keyword research is the foundation of SEO.
If you do SEO without having the right keywords, you will get minimal results or a lot of traffic but no conversions.
Maybe you choose a topic that very few people are searching for. Or you might choose a popular topic for which there is already a lot of content. In this case, your work will get lost among all the other websites.
By researching keywords, you can ensure that your content has high value and reaches the right target groups.
The process of keyword search
Step 1: Brainstorm an initial list of keyword ideas
Simply start by thinking of words, phrases and questions that you think are relevant to your business and your ideal customers. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customers. What might they be looking for?
Here are some ideas that will spark your creativity:
- Keywords that describe your services
List all the terms that can be used to describe your services. For example, if you are a golf trainer, you could also list personal trainer, spiritual trainer, lifestyle counselling, self-esteem therapy, personal development, etc.
- Keywords that describe your niche
We all want to work with people who understand and/or are similar to us. Your ideal clients might self-identify with terms like life trainer/coach for young mothers, business coach/trainer for artists, fitness trainer/coach for busy professionals, etc.
If your business is local, you can also add terms that relate to your location (e.g. golf trainer in California).
- Keywords related to your skills, techniques or certifications
Your ideal clients may be looking for a specialty, e.g. stress management, hypnotherapy, law of attraction, etc.
Pro-tip: Search engines know which terms often go together, even if they are not synonyms. Even if you don’t target these keywords, it’s still helpful to write them down and include them in your website content to improve your ranking.
- Keywords that relate to challenges, problems and issues
The majority of people searching online are not ready to buy anything. If you only focus on the tiny percentage who are ready to buy, you’ll miss out on a lot of potential future sales.
Ideally, you create content for your ideal customers at an early stage so they think of you when they are ready to buy.
At this stage, they might be looking for specific problems. For example, they might search for terms like: How can I stop eating when I’m stressed, can’t sleep well, how do I find my passions, should I quit my job…?
- Keywords related to desired outcomes
Similar to challenges, your ideal clients may be looking for ways to achieve a goal. Here are some examples: lose weight fast, become self-confident, earn more money, become a golf trainer…
Step 2: Use keyword research tools
After the first step, you may have a list of 10-15 keywords. There are many free and paid tools you can use to expand this list. The tools listed below are the most user-friendly and you can use them even if you are not tech-savvy.
✧ Google suggestions and related searches
Go to Google and type in one of the keywords from your start list. As soon as you start typing, Google will show auto-complete to save you time typing. The suggestions are based on the search results of many other users. This is the first source that will give you more ideas for keywords.
Once you have entered a specific keyword, scroll to the bottom of the page to get even more suggestions. You can repeat this process several times. For example, if you search for “golf trainer in london”, you will get a suggestion for “golf lessons in london”. If you click on this option, you can scroll to the bottom of the page again to find more suggestions.
✧ Youtube and Pinterest suggestions
Level of difficulty: Easy
Price: Free of charge
More and more people are looking for tutorials on Youtube instead of Google. Similar to Google, Youtube displays a list of suggestions as soon as you start typing. Pinterest is also becoming more popular with visual learners. There are a lot of great ideas for keywords here, especially if you prefer to create visual content rather than write.
Unlike other social media, Pinterest is a search engine and keyword suggestions are based on other users’ searches. Go to Pinterest and sign up for an account to start searching. Just like other search engines, Pinterest will show you suggestions in the search bar before you press enter. Once you’ve selected a keyword, you’ll find more suggestions just below the search bar. Selecting one of them will give you even more options.
✧ Google Search Console
Price: Free of charge
Many people start creating new content for SEO right away. However, if you have an existing website, chances are you already rank for certain keywords. The fact that you are already ranking high means that Google sees your website as a good fit for those keywords. It is easier to improve your ranking for these keywords than to create new content.
Check your existing website analytics to see which keywords you already rank for. To do this, go to Google Search Console and click on Performance in the menu on the left. Scroll down and you will see a list of keywords under queries.
✧ Other tools
Answerthepublic is a pretty cool tool. It uses search engine data and gives you ideas for keywords in a visual format. With the free basic version, you can do three searches a day. You don’t even have to set up an account. Just go to the website and enter a general search term to get started.
Another free option is Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
The Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a great tool because you can both generate and evaluate keyword ideas here.
Step 3: Evaluate and select the best keywords
By now you have probably realised that there are quite a few keywords you can target. How will you choose the right ones for your business?
A good SEO keyword must have three characteristics:
- High search volume
- Low competitiveness
- Relevant to your business
What happens if your selected keyword has none of these characteristics?
- Low search volume → You do not receive constant traffic.
- High competitiveness → It takes more time and effort to get to the first page of search results.
- Not relevant to your business → You get traffic, but it does not convert into subscribers or customers.
So how can you check search volume and competitiveness?
Go back to your results in the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You may have noticed that there are 2 columns next to the keywords:
- Average Monthly Searches: here you can see how many people search for this keyword each month. Aim for 100 – 1,000. If your niche is small, multiple keywords with 10-100 searches per month may also work.
- Competition: This tells you how hard it would be for you to rank high for this keyword. Aim low. If you really want a particular keyword, even a medium value is acceptable.
The third criterion is to make sure that the keywords are relevant to your business.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
The problem is that keywords are often short phrases, so searchers’ intent can easily be misinterpreted.
For example, the question “What does a golf trainer do?” sounds like a question from your potential clients, but it probably also came from someone interested in golf training as a profession.
Simply changing the keyword to “what a golf trainer can do for you” is a much better option because it is clearly coming from someone who is considering whether they need a golf trainer.
Another consideration is at what stage of a client’s journey a person is looking for that keyword. For example, “best golf trainer”, “golf trainer near me” or “prices for golf trainer” indicate an intention to buy. In contrast, search terms such as “what is a golf trainer” are likely to come from people who do not yet know much about golf training and may never be interested in buying.
If you don’t plan on creating a lot of content, but still want to get quality traffic through SEO, you should focus on keywords that are closer to purchase intent. This will give you a much higher chance of conversion.
In short, choose keywords that are:
- High search volume.
- Low competition
- Likely to come from your ideal customers
- The bonus point is that they are likely to come from ideal customers who are ready to buy
a) Keyword research is beneficial for coaches and solopreneurs in many ways. You cannot achieve SEO results without proper keyword research.
b) Start keyword research by creating a list of keywords based on what you know about your ideal clients, and then use online tools to expand that list.
c) Make sure that each keyword you select meets three criteria: high search volume, low competition and relevance to your business.