Step 2: Keyword Discovery
Once you have established a few pillar topic areas for your content writing strategy, you can progress with keyword discovery. The Google Ads Keyword Planner is, probably, the most widely used keyword tool out there, but it's critical you don't just rely on one source. We use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and Moz’s Keyword Explorer are all fantastic tools to help you expand, and refine, your initial search. What’s more, they provide you with heaps of data on keywords, such as average monthly searches, search intent, SEO difficulty, paid advertisement difficulty and cost per click, to ensure that you are on the right lines.
The key metrics to consider when doing keyword research for content writing are:
- Search Volume - This shows you how many times people search for this specific keyword. If your brand is well-known and your site already has solid SEO foundations and a high volume of traffic, you’re better positioned to rank for keywords with a higher search volume per month. If you’re in the stages of developing more traffic to your site, choosing ‘low hanging fruit’ keywords with a lower search volume, such as 10, 20, 30 or 40 average monthly searches, can make ranking for these keywords easier. This is because these terms are generally less competitive. When looking at search volume data, make sure you have selected the country you will be writing your content for in order to get the most country-relevant metrics for your keyword research.
- Keyword Difficulty - This measures how hard it will be to rank for this keyword on the first page of Google. It is measured on a scale of 0-100. The higher the number, the harder it will be to rank. Many keyword research tools measure keyword difficulty by looking at the top ten pages that rank for this keyword and calculating how many websites (domains) link to these pages. Other ways they are measured for keyword difficulty include calculating the number of internal links, content length and relevancy.
Utilise the keyword variations and suggestions in your keyword research for content writing and begin compiling a spreadsheet of all the terms that appear from your search.
It’s always a good idea to have a selection of:
- Short tail keywords – keywords/phrases consisting of one to two words.
- Long tail keywords – keywords/phrases consisting of three words or more.
It can be helpful to delve deeper into keywords that appear multiple times and have a high search volume. Researching keywords for your content writing that are more specific, and gathering the variations and suggestions of these terms, can help you find more specific longtail keywords that have a lower difficulty score and may, ultimately, be easier to rank for.
Top Tip: Take a look at what your competitors are doing. Which keywords is their content ranking for? What content are they providing, and in what format? Think about how you can make your content better. As a rule of thumb, content should seek to be 10x better than your direct competitors. Useful, quality, well-targeted content will help you outrank your competitors
by providing your target audience with the best content on the market.
Step 3: Analyse Your Keywords
Analyse your full list of keywords and start narrowing them down to a list of no more than 100. You can begin by eliminating the obvious ones that are not relevant to your topic.
It’s important to make sure the keywords you are selecting are highly relevant to your topic area and can strengthen your website’s authority on a particular subject.
Top Tip: A great way to fine-tune your content writing keyword research is to individually research what SERP features
they pull up on Google as well as who is already ranking for this term.
The SERP features will help you understand what content format people are searching for and the intention of the query. Keyword intent refers to what the user wanted to get out of their search. This can either be informational, transactional, commercial or navigational.
For example, when conducting blog keyword research, you want to focus on keywords with informational intent. These could be questions like “how do I structure a blog”, “what is content marketing” or phrases like “content keyword research” and “SEO for beginners”.
SERP features can be the key to understanding the intent of the query. Many video results or image packs may signify that, for this particular keyword, searchers are looking for visual aids instead of white papers or blogs. Likewise, if there is a featured snippet and a ‘people also asked’ panel, searchers may look for quick, bite-sized answers to their questions.
Step 4: Pick Your Focus Keywords
Make your final choices based on the research you gathered from your keyword shortlist. Find keywords that offer that sweet spot – relevant to your site, a good search volume, a low difficulty score, and minimal competition.
It can also be helpful to select primary and secondary keywords for your content.
- A primary keyword will best represent the content you will create and can be included in your blog title and first paragraph, plus distributed among your blog (without keyword stuffing, of course) – this will help Google recognise your content’s relevancy for this topic.
- A secondary keyword supports your primary terms – they still hold relevancy but may have a lower search volume and be slightly more niche.
Now that you have your target keywords for your content, go ahead and write the best content you can! Just remember to keep in mind that high-quality content for SEO always puts the user at the forefront. Content should be helpful and give the user what they’re searching for in the best way, with optimal keyword use supporting and enhancing that goal.