Advanced Keyword Research Tips

Now that you’re at a point in your digital journey that you understand the SEO basics, it’s time to learn some advanced keyword research techniques.

There are always ways to improve upon your research that expand from the highly technical procedures to the easy-to-miss tricks.

Use these tips to write great articles with strong content that is exactly what your audience is looking for.

1. Go Beyond Google

The first step in virtually every keyword research guide is to utilize Google Adwords and Google Keyword Planner. This is great advice, but it’s very limited because everyone is doing it. This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of competitiveness among certain keywords.

Yes, it’s good data, but to really set yourself apart from the pack, you need to do more, use different tools, and think in innovative ways.

2. Finding Keywords That Work

Using tools only tells part of the story. Another way of researching difficulty is to determine the age of the pages ranking for the keywords you would like to rank for.

Younger sites that rank show which terms may be easier to attain, especially if the sites are not high authority. You can find when the site was founded using Whois.com.

On a similar note, you can find which keywords are optimal targets for lower authority sites by looking at rankings for recently posted pages. This is most relevant for pages that are approximately 3-10 weeks old. Any younger, and you’d have to account for the freshness peak that occurs with new posts.

15 Advanced Keyword Research Tactics: Rank Higher-keywords

3. Secondary Trend & Niche Topic Keywords

After you brainstorm what you would like to rank for and do your initial research, you may think that you have created a comprehensive list of possible keywords, but Google AdWords can only take you so far.

You can use popular websites, such as Wikipedia and Reddit, that aggregate information or allow for mass-discussions to take place to research similar topics and secondary trends to find potential keywords that you haven’t considered.

4. Use Advanced Search Operators to Find Smaller Blogs

Reddit is great, but it’s general.

To find topic-specific blogs that allow for commenting – and more opportunities for unique views and keyword possibilities – try putting the search term you are looking to expand upon along with a phrase that will specify sites that allow for these discussions, such as:

  • “Cajun cuisine” + “Powered by Disqus” or
  • “Vegetarian recipes” + “Powered by vbulletin”

5. Next-level Competitive Analysis

One advanced keyword research method that cannot be overlooked is a thorough competitive analysis. This might seem obvious, but it is easy to miss true competitors in lieu of websites that seem to be your direct competitors.

For example, if you run an online shop, you probably are not directly competing with the Amazons and Walmarts of the world. It’s always good to aim high, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by implementing techniques that only work for well-established, multi-billion dollar brands.

To determine your direct competitors, research some long tail keywords that you are already ranking for, even if they are multiple pages in. Then, search these keywords and see which websites are ahead of yours and pick out the ones that are near your website’s authority.

The final step is to put these websites into a research tool, such as the excellent ahrefs Site Explorer, to find out what other keywords that rank for. Since you are looking at websites that are similar to your own, the resulting keywords should be ones that you can realistically target.

15 Advanced Keyword Research Tactics: Rank Higher- analysis6. Intelligent Internal Links

Interlinking is important to consider in the structure of your website, but the anchor text is equally important. Long gone are the days of spamming every link to a page with the same anchor text to signal which keyword you’d like to rank for – but that doesn’t mean that there are not ways of utilizing your anchor text.

The anchor text leading into a page from different parts of your website should be representative of how the initial page flows into the destination. With that in mind, you’ll find a multitude of keywords that work for your anchor text. After brainstorming how one page naturally flows into the next, continue to researching for more optimal keywords.

Anchor text can improve user engagement by providing a clear message of what the link is and why it is important to the main article, so be sure to use keywords that fit contextually and not just ones that are highly searched.

7. Expanding on What Works

Continuing from smart use of internal linking, there are other ways to reinforce and improve what you already have on your website. If you already have a page that is ranking well, you can research similar keywords that are either not ranking as well on the page or related topics that warrant further exploration and create additional pages from that research.

Remember: Content is key. Using good anchor text to lead from an established page into an expansion on the topic can add substance and freshness to your website.

8. Exact vs. Total Daily Searches

Many tools provide a number of times a keyword is searched. This number generally refers to the number of times that exact keyword is searched, but if you want to see the bigger picture, there are tools that can help.

Wordpot is a tool that shows both exact daily searches as well as total daily searches. Total daily searches include all searches that have the keyword in it. For example, if the term is “new music,” the exact search will be the number of searches for just that keyword, but the total will include a summation of that along with searches such as “new music releases” or “2019 new music”.

Why is this important? It helps to clarify if there are viable long tail keywords that can amplify your effort.

9. Use Google Correlate

Another way to find related topics is to use Google Correlate. This undervalued tool reveals what keywords are searched during the same session. This can help you to find patterns and trends that you may not have thought of.

It also has a seasonality function that can show how keyword usage changes over time. A good example of how this is useful is to determine if a keyword is used for general knowledge or if it is a purpose based search.

Below is a comparative image of the searches for “motorcycle” compared to “used motorcycle”. Both terms peak in the spring and fall during fall, but the base term “motorcycle” is much steadier whereas “used motorcycle” has much more drastic changes.

This is because when people search for a used motorcycle, particularly during the spring when the weather is getting nicer, they most likely are looking to buy one, but the search term motorcycle can have many intentions.

15 Advanced Keyword Research Tactics: Rank Higher Google Correlate Example10. Track Internal Site Search

There are many ways to gain insight into what your audience wants, but few are as easy or comprehensive as simply analyzing what they are searching for on your site.

To state the obvious, the information you gain from your internal site search is going to be the most directly applicable to your site compared to researching general trends. Both have their place, but by analyzing the searches that the users of your site make, you are able to find what they think is missing, what they search for the most, and even what is difficult to find on your site.

In Google Analytics, go to standard reports, click on “Admin” in the top right, and go to the profile settings. In “Site Search Settings,” click “Do Track site Search” and add your search query parameter, which can be found by doing a site search and checking the URL, often s, search, q, or query followed by an equal sign (“=”).

Now you need to find out how your site identifies internal search terms. Your site uses what’s called a query parameter for this. We need to make sure Google Analytics knows to look for the same query parameter and identify them as internal search terms.

11. Research Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are keywords that often show up with the keywords that you are aiming for, but ones that you do not want. This tip is often PPC focused because you don’t want to waste money on ads that aren’t going to convert, but it’s always important to clarify your purpose for web crawlers.

One example would be if you are in fitness, you may want to exclude “free” from “exercise plan” from your keyword lists to ensure you are only targeting the right audience.

12. Determine Purpose

Who do you want to see your website and why? Become an actor for a moment and create the ideal website user. Get to know them as an individual. What else are they searching? What do they need answered? What do they waste their time with while browsing online?

Start to ask questions like these and use the answers as seeds to do more in-depth keyword research that gets to the core of your website’s purpose. Google is getting more and more intuitive, so by being able to provide more for your users and understanding the way that they act online strengthens your website as a whole.

13. Diversify Long- and Short-Tail Intelligently

Nothing in SEO is singular anymore. Even when researching keywords, you have to keep in mind the bigger picture. By having a slew of long- and short-tail keywords that you would like to target, you can map out your online structure as well as plan ahead a good content calendar.

How? Start short and go longer with, once again, well-planned interlinking strategies to have general overview pages flow into more specific sub-pages that target those more specific long-tail keywords.

14. Don’t Make Assumptions

Let’s say you do business in multiple areas and would like to target them separately- smart! You might do research on Chicago and find out that the most highly searched keywords searched in Chicago include the term “Chicago,” so you go with it.

That doesn’t mean that that can be used everywhere. Maybe in LA they are more likely to go with zip codes, because who wouldn’t love to remind themselves that they get to use “90210” in real life?

Then, there are hip places like Portland, Boston, and NYC that might use boroughs more often that city names in their searches. Assuming that every place or every type of person searches the same way is a shortcut, which can be fine, but doing deep research can give you an edge.

15 Advanced Keyword Research Tactics: Rank Higher-question everything

15. Question Everything

My final tip is one that is obvious, but easy to overlook during the hustle and bustle of maintaining your online presence: test. Is what you are doing working? Check in every month or quarter and see if there has been any progress.

Are you ranking better? Worse? Even declines can teach you something.

You could have been aiming for keywords that were too competitive or creating content that contained keywords but didn’t interest your audience. Figure out what’s working and tweak what’s not.

Try something weird every once in a while just to see what happens. Keyword research is a process and you’ll find out more from figuring out what works for your website that you ever could from raw data alone.


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