Keyword research is an integral part of any SEO strategy.
For most SEO professionals it is the first step of the SEO process that will set the stage for the coming 6, 8, and 12 months and beyond.
Contrary to popular opinion (noise), advanced keyword research is about keeping things simple yet complete and utterly flawless execution and analysis.
It’s not about the keyword research tool.
Advanced keyword research requires the highest level of proficiency with one keyword research tool, as long as it provides sufficient data. Ahrefs or Semrush is all you need (either or, not both).
There are only two circumstances that you could find yourself in where a second or third keyword research tool is not necessary but you could benefit from:
- Content has been added to your website and sufficient time has passed, then and only then can you add Google Search Console as your second research tool
- You are organizing thousands (or tens of thousands) of keywords after thoroughly exhausting keyword filters, in this case, you can leverage a keyword clustering tool
There are absolutely no other circumstances that require any other keyword research tools.
Let’s begin the advanced keyword research process.
Step 1: Create a keyword wireframe
It’s important that you fully understand the opportunity footprint before diving headfirst into a keyword research tool.
Research the industry until you fully understand it, and make sure you have a solid grasp of their:
- products, services or solutions
- location or service areas
- industries they service (more so for b2b & enterprise)
- features (more so for software/SaaS)
- features (for SaaS)
- Glossary (industry terminology)
List all of the terms for each of the bullet points and organize them into a hierarchical structure.
This document will be used in the next steps.
Step 2: Get feedback and revise
Send your document to coworkers, clients, and experts to review and provide feedback.
- Does everything make sense?
- Are you missing something?
- Is there something that you listed that the client does not want to focus on?
- What are the client’s biggest priorities?
The feedback & revision process will save you so much time and confusion in the future.
Step 3: Introduce a Keyword Research Tool
After you get feedback from the client on your visual mind map you can finally start your keyword research.
At this point, I recommend taking an 80/20 approach to your keyword research:
- Only use one keyword database for now (I use Ahrefs or SEMRush, but you can use whatever you want)
- Add/Remove clusters as needed (depending on search demand)
- Include search volume and CPC data
Think of this as the barebones wireframe or skeleton, you will have a good starting point of Tofu/Mofu/BoFu keywords for each cluster that you identified if your visual mind map.
This is enough information for the client to really get a sense of the search demand for their business’s products or services.
Present your keyword research thus far and be sure to get their approval, encourage them to push back and disapprove keywords, trust me on this.
Step 4: Conduct A Keyword Analysis
Now that the client has approved your keyword research presentation thus far, it’s for you to do your in-depth keyword research and analysis.
You don’t have to get as thorough as I do, I have an advanced keyword research strategy that involves exhausting multiple keyword databases, analyzing search intent, mapping keywords to the buyer’s journey, keyword difficulty analysis, monetization analysis and keyword prioritization just to name a few of the steps involved (this is more so for b2b and enterprise SEO, you may or may not want to go this in-depth for local keyword research).
Here is what I like to include when presenting keyword research to a client:
- Seed Keywords
- Longtail keywords
- All keyword synonyms, modifiers, and variations
- Monthly search volume
- Cost per click (CPC) data
- keyword difficulty
- The ranking potential for each keyword (a more comprehensive keyword difficulty analysis)
- Competitor Analysis
- Keywords mapped to the buyer’s journey
- The type of content you are going to target each keyword with
- A keyword & content map with suggested SEO optimizations
- Priority keywords (I have created a proprietary tool to analyze this, you can get access to it in my guide)
I’ll be honest, my keyword research can be a little bit overkill at times…
Don’t get bogged down by presenting your keyword research to a client, forget about the fancy slides and presentations, and let your research speak for itself.
Encourage your client to disapprove of low-priority or unnecessary keywords, remember, keyword research should be an iterative process between the SEO and the client.
Last but not least, do a good job, leaving no stone unturned, the client should have a clear understanding of what keywords to target, how to target them, how difficult they are, the monetization potential, which keywords to prioritize and exactly how to target the keywords.
If you are interested in levelling up your keyword research & analysis, as well as understanding how to properly present keyword research to clients.