5 Keyword Research Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google

5 Keyword Research Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • Over 65% of queries that display answer boxes contain between 3-5 words

How important is keyword research to SEO and how you rank on Google? Very important! Some people have discounted the importance of “keywords” because Google looks at so many more factors than just keywords when analyzing pages to rank. But all searches start with a word/phrase – even voice search!

It’s true that you no longer can rank high on Google by just stuffing your page with keywords, but if you research and find the right keywords you can attain high rankings – especially locally. Here are some tips to help you research the best keywords.

1. Know Your Customers

Before you create a list of keywords to target, you must know who your customers are and what they’re looking for when searching online for your products or services. If you haven’t created buyer personas for your customers, now is the time to create at least two buyer personas for your main target audience.

After you’ve identified the personal traits of your ideal customers, think about the different ways that they are searching for what you offer. Map out their research process and buying decision and make sure that you have something to offer them at every stage of their buying process.

Pay attention to keywords that are have commercial or buyer intent. Think of words in your niche that are “act-now” keywords. An example would be “features of sony camera w710.” If a person is searching for features of a specific camera model, you know that they’re close to buying. These are the types of research keywords you should be targeting.

Think about YOUR products or services and brainstorm the keywords that buyers are using to find what you offer.

2. Analyze the Keywords You’re Targeting

Once you have a clear idea of exactly who your customers are, it’s time to do keyword research and find keyword phrases that will be of interest to searchers. There are many SEO tools that can help with your keyword research.

Google even shows you the most frequently searched terms when you start typing in search keywords in the query box:

Google Shows You Search Terms

Google Shows You Search Terms

No matter which tool you use, chances are the tool has a way for you to not only find keyword ideas and variations to target but also allow you to analyze the competitiveness of the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Your goal is to identify keywords that have a relatively high search volume but are less competitive.

Google Planner makes it easy to see whether a keyword you’re evaluating has a lot of competition (High) or if it’s going to be a little easier for you to rank for because the competition is less (Medium and Low).

Google Keyword Planner Shows Competitiveness

Google Keyword Planner Shows Competitiveness

Search volume is also a crucial piece of data to look at when selecting keywords. Sure. You could rank on page one of Google for a keyword, but if only 10 people search for that keyword each month, you probably won’t have much success. Instead, look for search volumes that are at least high enough to make the keyword optimization effort worth it.

Your job is to go through the keywords on your list, and select the ones that have a decent monthly search volume and a big Cost Per Click (CPC) value.

Also, when selecting keywords, think “semantically.” Google’s Rank Brain learning technology is smart enough to recognize synonyms and other ways of saying certain words or phrases. This makes it easier for you to write using variations of the keywords you’re targeting and avoid the need to repeat the main keywords over and over on a page. (NOTE: You typically only want to use your targeted keyword two or three times on a page.)

Long-tail keywords (e.g. “tips for small business blog topic ideas”) are sometimes better to use than broad keywords (e.g. “blog topics”). However, long-tail keywords can sometimes be too long. According to Google, compared to shorter keywords (those with two to four words), keywords that contain five words or more drive less than half the volume of clicks and impressions on average.

3. Analyze Your Competitor’s Winning Keywords

The whole point of SEO is to outrank your competitors on search engine results. But before you can create a plan to outrank your competition, you need to find out who your competitors are and how they rank for the keywords you’re targeting.

With SEMrush’s Position Tracker, you can enter your competitors’ URLs and SEMrush will analyze your rankings for particular keywords vs. your competition.

SEMrush Competition Ranking Feature

SEMrush Competition Ranking Feature

Many tools will show you not only organic keyword results but also the Google AdWords ads themselves, so you can see which keywords are working in your competitors’ ads, too.

Competitor Information

Competitor Information

Pick your top four competitors and analyze what they’re doing on-site and off-site to rank high. Take a look at their title and description tags. What sites are linking back to them? Look at the schema code they have on their page. How is their site navigation and pages structured? Often you can reverse engineer a competitor’s success by looking at these factors.

4. Can You Rank for Special Features?

Google has added some fun and helpful features to the top of their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Instant answers/answer box, featured snippets, reviews and videos often show up at the top of search pages on Google.

Google Instant Answer/Answer Box

Google Instant Answer/Answer Box

The Answer Box is a unique SERP result that is powered by Google’s knowledge graph or scraped from a site that provides an answer to a question. (Wikipedia often dominates the answer boxes.) The answer box is typically displayed at the top of the results page, right below the ads. Typically, these instant answers are a box with a text answer and a source URL. Over 65% of queries that display answer boxes contain between 3-5 words.

Getting a page listed in Google’s answer box should be a main goal of your SEO and keyword efforts.

If you are doing Local SEO, make some room in your budget, because you HAVE TO GET IT!!! BrightLocal is the best

Matthew Rubin Mount Pleasant, SC

5. Put Keywords in the Right Places

Your keywords, including phrases, must be placed the meta titles, descriptions, headings on your page and used in the written content of a web page. When using keywords, try to put them towards the front of the copy.

Every page on your website is an optimization opportunity. Don’t just optimize your home page.

Optimize each page of your site for search. Typically, you want to target 2-3 specific keywords for each page. This means you must methodically plan out on which pages you will put specific keyword phrases.

Writing content around your keywords is an art. Carefully think about what words and how you use the words on your page for maximum readability – and searchability!

What Tips Do You Have For Selecting Keywords?

What keyword research tips do you have? What are your favorite keyword research tools? We’d love to know!


Share this article

15 thoughts on “5 Keyword Research Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google”

  1. Apart form using tools for keyword research there are a few techniques that tell you which keywords to go with.

    1) Pull keywords from your competitors’ websites. If you can’t beat them, join them.

    2) Use Google’s ‘Related Searches’ at bottom of Search Results page

    3) Use Google Suggest. Start typing with your keyword in the search Engine and Google will suggest you the most searched related keywords.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  2. SEMrush is definitely my go-to tool for keyword research. It’s all about reverse engineering your top 5 competition. If you know what they rank for, then it’s pretty easy to find keywords in your market.

    However, the competition bar in Google Planner isn’t that accurate when it comes to checking the REAL competition of your organic competitors. That’s more related to ads.

    1. Hi Hredanth, thanks for your suggestion! We’ll definitely look into producing something like that in the future.



  3. The keyword search technique may take days to build and easier set of words also will be there which can be easily implemented. The more experienced the professional is, the more will be the efficiency of your website and the more traffic you will get through the keyword search.

  4. One search I like to do is the one you can do working on the Google searching box.
    One has to write the word or words we are working on, and then add a * at the end, or at the beginning, and just check the usual searches users do.
    One can also do this, but leave a blank after the last word and then type a letter A and see what options Google shows for searches done for that letter, then advance to the letter B, and so on.
    For example, in English (I work mainly in Spanish), one could type “how to rent a motorhome a” and see what options appear with words that begin with the letter A.

    Usually you get some pretty ideas, mainly consisting of geographical places (so you can see where in the country/city/world your product/service/interest has more demand).

    The problem is that it is a process which takes a little while. Also you have to literally write down what you get. And you have to be very intuitive. But it is free and it is the task that people do when using Google.


  5. This is a common misconception for people, yes. Google AdWords Planner is built for AdWords not organic search results which are very different. There’s not a complete match between the difficulty rating in competition vs the difficulty of ranking in the organic search results. They aren’t even linked.

    I use it as a general rule but I only make of it mentally rather than base my entire strategy around the competition rating from AdWords. It’s misleading at best for somebody new to the SEM/SEO game.

  6. High competition in Google keyword planner is based on Factors like click through rate and number of advertisers bidding on the keyword. If a keyword has buyer intent behind it then advertisers will spend lots of money to bid on it and it will have high competition regardless how many sites are targeting it organically.

    People have been teaching to go for keywords that AdWords says are med to low comp for over 10 years. It’s getting to where nobody goes after the high comp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.