SEO Habits: Don’t waste time doing SEO badly – Part 2

In case you missed part 1, it is available for you here.

In part 2, we will focus mainly on keyword research using the Google search engine as a tool.

  • We will dive into the concepts of short- versus long-tailed keywords.
  • We will learn how to be inspired with ideas for content on your website.

This blog is rather long, but it provides a lot of information to get you started, so hang in there and dive in.

This post may be sponsored or contain Affiliate Links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my promise and full disclosure here.

Keyword Research

Keywords are the bread and butter of your long term SEO. Proper keyword research upfront will help you stay on track with your subject. It will inspire you for relevant content. It will set you up with a list of current and future topics that provide value.

Short-tail Versus Long-tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords are those keywords for which everybody wants to rank. They are short sentences that have about three or fewer words. It is tough to rank for these keywords because there is a lot of competition. The only way you will ever rank on short-tail keywords is when Google recognises you as an authority in the field. So it goes without saying that those keywords will only start working in the very long run. We are talking years rather than months here.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are long sentences, particular to your content. Since they consist of more words, there are a lot more combinations possible, and that means that there will be fewer people competing for those keywords. Less competition will mean better ranking on those specific keywords. But at the same time, it also means that fewer people will be searching for those particular topics.

Finding Relevant Keywords

The trick will be to find long keyword sentences that do have a chance of being searched. Luckily there are some tools available that we can use. Some are free, and some tools require payment. When starting with a low budget, you really can stick to the free tools. They work just as well, and it may only take up a little bit more of your time to get all the keywords you need.

Google Search Is Your Friend

The first tool to use I would suggest is always the good old Google search. It almost sounds like stating the obvious, but I am not joking. The Google search engine will be able to give you a tremendous amount of information.

Start by opening a browser in incognito mode. That is to make sure that your search history does not play tricks on your keyword research.

Brainstorm Your Niche

Start typing a word in the input box. You will see that Google tries to guess what you want to search for by showing you suggestions. These suggestions are not random; they are based on what people are searching and are therefore extremely interesting and relevant.

Now you can start to experiment by typing a new word, you will see the suggestions change. Take note of suggestions that you like, things that would inspire you to write content about and put them in a list somewhere so you can research more in-depth into those keywords later.

Concrete Example Of Keyword Research

Preliminary Research: Use Suggestions As You Type

I will use my website as an example to show you the methods. Since my website is all about moving your business forward while using your available time as efficient as possible, I would start by typing in the word ‘time’.

Google search with the word 'time' filled in. It is showing suggestions like: timer, times of India, time in London, etc...

Adjust What You Type Based On Suggestions

None of the suggestions presented is relevant to my field, so I add the word ‘business’ to see other ideas.

Google search with the words 'time' and 'business' filled in. It is showing suggestions like: time warner business, time clocks for small business, time management in Business, etc...

Slowly but surely we are getting somewhere. Some of those suggestions are a little bit more to the point. I add ‘time for business’, ‘time management in business’ and ‘time management importance in business’ to my list of potential keywords.

Keep Experimenting And Add Words That Relate To Your Niche

I don’t want to stop there, though. Maybe I should try adding a little bit more detail to my entry. Let’s add the word ‘saving’ to the equation since I am all about saving time.

Google search with the words 'time', 'saving' and 'business' filled in. It is showing suggestions like: time saving business ideas, time saving tips for business owners, saving businesses time and money, etc...

Things again got a little bit more interesting with at least three more keywords to consider: ‘time saving business ideas’, ‘time saving tips for business owners’, ‘saving businesses time and money’.

Preliminary Research: Conclusion

I think the gist of this initial research is clear right?

Type words around your niche that pop up in your head and see what Google suggests back to you. Let those suggestions inspire you. The words in the proposals that are in bold are words that you could add to your search terms and see how the suggestions change because of it.

In this quick example, we found six keywords that are worthy of further investigation:

  • time for business
  • time management in business
  • time management importance in business
  • time saving business ideas
  • time saving tips for business owners
  • saving businesses time and money

For each of those keywords, we will now dig a little deeper.
In this example, I will focus on ‘time saving business ideas’ because I think each of those concrete ideas could be the subject of a new blog post, but that should not stop you from giving all the other keywords from the list the same attention.

Note that up until now we did not yet actually search for anything. I mean we never pressed enter to see the results.
That is the next step in our research, though. See what google returns when we do in fact search.

Keyword Refining

Unquoted Search

Start by searching the keyword as follows:

search of the keyword 'time saving business ideas' without quotes.

There are two things to notice here:

  1. there are about 790 000 000 results (lots of competition)
  2. The top result gives you 50 Time Saving Tips

The first point could seem discouraging because how can you compete against 790 million results? I will show you in a moment how you can get a more accurate number for the exact keyword.

The second point is exciting because it provides some content ideas for blogs. Each tip could be the subject of a blog and therefore, another keyword to research.
For instance ‘break down large tasks’ could be an excellent subject for a blog. To keep the connection with your niche, you would handle it as a keyword: ‘How to save time in your business by breaking down large tasks’.
That is pretty long-winded, but remember, a longer keyword is easier to rank.

Anyway, we are moving on to more things to notice on that search page.

People Also Ask

First have a look at the section with the title: ‘People also ask’.

'People also ask' section of a Search Engine Results Page.

You can imagine that this section will often give you more ideas on keywords and topics to explore.

In this case, however, I don’t think there is anything constructive. Although I could mould some of those into something that fits my niche, for instance ‘save time and choose the right type of business from the start’. It does fit the bill, and I might add that to my list after all.

Related Searches

The final section on the SERP is the ‘related searches’ section.

'Related searches' section on a google search engine results page.

This section shows us even more ideas for keywords that we could use. I would add the ‘time saving techniques’ and ‘time saving tips for work’ keywords for sure.

Quoted Search

Next, I would search for the ‘time saving business ideas’ keyword again, but this time, I will quote the sentence like this:

search of the keyword 'time saving business ideas' this time with quotes.

Only nine results! A search for the literal sentence only yields nine results!

As far as competition goes, there is not much and it should be easy to beat or at least rank on the first page.

Check For Omitted Results

At the bottom of the SERP though you will find a notice that Google omitted some results for very similar keywords.

Image displaying the text: 'In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 10 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.'

To further gauge the competition on this literal keyword, click the link to repeat the search with the omitted results included.

search of the keyword 'time saving business ideas' this time with quotes and omitted results included.

Now the search yields about 1520 results. That is still a very low competition rate.

What Is An Acceptable Number Of Results?

As a rule of thumb, I tend to see the number of results up to 30 000 as acceptable.

Your site will have some that are lower and some that are higher, but it will balance out once your authority rating gets a bit higher.

Don’t let a higher number stop you from writing about something you really want to write about though! If it is a subject that is close to your heart, then go for it.

The value you add by writing about things that you are passionate about will in the end trump any competition! Your other blog posts with more accessible keywords will drive traffic in any case for one. And on the other hand, great content will be straightforward to negotiate for back-linking!!

How Can You Reduce The Number Of Results?

You could add some more detail to the keyword to make the sentence a bit longer and lower the competition that way. But make sure that the keyword is still relevant and legible.

Build Your Keyword List

The best place for your keyword list is in a spreadsheet with four columns to start with:

  • Keyword column
  • Unquoted Number Of Results
  • Quoted Number Of Results Without Omitted Results
  • Quoted Number Of Results With Omitted Results
Example of excel for a preliminary keyword research.

Try to get as many different keyword sentences as possible. The more, the better. I usually think anything between 50 to 150 is a must. They should relate around the same niche but preferably touch on a particular subject within that field. Enough so that you have enough different ideas for exciting content like blog posts or articles.

The numbers will help you discover which subjects are the low hanging fruits with regards to ranking. If you focus on those keywords fist, your site will start driving traffic faster. This, in turn, will help to grow your Domain Authority rating.

Further steps

There are still more ways to flesh out your keyword statistics. For instance, you can figure out how often people are searching for your keywords.

That will be the subject in part 3 of this series. Keep an eye on my website to get the scoop first!

When will you build your list with exciting keywords?

Do you want to learn all there is to learn about SEO?

My blogs will teach you a lot, but they can only take you so far. Do you want to learn all about how to market your business the proper way, from A to Z? If you do, these free workshops are available for you.

You will learn meticulously and step by step all there is to know about creating and sustaining a business you’ll love!

Tom Van Schoor – SEO Habits: Don’t waste time doing SEO badly – Top of page

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