Keyword research – 5 questions you need to ask yourself

We build a website because we have knowledge to share and something to say. But to reach an audience you need to start with solid keyword research.

Why spend time and effort on creating great content if it will never be found? 

This does not mean that you should write about anything that is popular.

What it does mean is that you need to learn how people find their way to the solutions and information you publish.

What is a keyword or keyword phrase?

When we use the terms “keyword” or “keyword phrase” we refer to the exact terms and phrases used to search for information in the search engines.

When we know how people ask for information we can tailor our articles to meet the needs, wants and expectations of the people searching for information.

This is powerful as it is not enough to put the information out there. You need to understand how to make it possible and easy for the search engines to index and rank your content correctly.

Here we will look at 5 questions you should ask yourself before you start creating content for your website.

Let’s dive in and look at how we identify good keywords and create content that will have a chance to rank well in the search engines.

1. Only select keywords that are relevant to your niche

Stay relevant and keep within your chosen niche. When you do your website becomes a content hub and authority in your niche.

After all, your visitors and search engines need to understand what you are all about. 

For example, here on my website every single post and article will help the reader in their quest to build a website the right way.

I do not start sharing recipes or linking out to my other websites. Why not? Because it is not relevant to the reader who visits Gameplanfi.com. 

2. Are people searching for your keyword?

To put in harshly, why bother writing an article if nobody will be able to find it?

I am not saying that everyone builds a website to get visitors and make money. I am however saying that everyone who builds a website wants an audience. Or else we would all be writing diaries and keeping them at home.

Let’s back up a bit. You have found your niche. Hopefully it is a topic right where your passion and expertise intersect. You are in other words passionate about the subject and you have knowledge to share.

Now you need to look at the information you are publishing and make sure that:

  1. people are actually looking for the information
  2. you find out how they look for the information you are publishing

Chances are that people are interested in what you have to say. And when you find out how they search you will also know what type of article to produce.

Should it be a list post or maybe a tutorial? Or maybe the visitors are looking for examples via a case study? 

To understand how your content is searched for is crucial.

There are several good solutions that will provide information about keywords and search volumes.

There are a few free services like Wordtracker where you get limited functionality until you subscribe. 

The best service that everyone wants to use is AHREF. They do have a 7 day trial for 7 dollars if you want to try it out. But the monthly cost may be a bit steep if you are just starting out. 

My recommendation is to start with Wordtrackers free version. Wordtracker will help you get into the correct way of thinking and although the free version is slightly limited it will be more than enough to get you started.

3. Can you rank for the keywords you have chosen?

We all need to be realistic. And when we are realistic it may be wise to avoid keywords where established authority websites are dominating the search engine results pages (SERPS)

If you look at the SERPS and they are full of national newspapers, media hubs and Fortune 500 companies it may be safe to assume that your newly started blog will have a hard time to rank in Google.

To evaluate the strength of another website’s article is not an exact science. But common sense will get you a part of the way and then there are tools you can use to give you an even better idea.

If you want to be more scientific you can use AHREF (pay) or the Mozbar Chrome extension from Moz (free option). 

Both these services have an indicator that shows the level of authority of any given website. AHREF uses Domain Rating (DR) and Moz uses Domain Authority (DA).

ServiceIndicatorScaleType
AHREFDRDomain Rating (1-100)Pay
MOZDADomain Authority (1-100)Free option
Mozbar Domain authority (DA) and keyword research
Google.com with a perfect DA 100 on Mozbar from Moz.com

There is no hard rule to say when you can compete with a website that has a higher DR or DA than your website. But when you are starting out your DA/DR will be 0. I recommend to avoid competing for keywords with websites with a DR or DA above 30 and – of course – the lower the better.

4. Bring your own flavor to the mix and make your content unique

There is a lot of information on the Internet and chances are that someone has already addressed the topics you intend to write about.

So do you give up? Of course not.

There is definitely room for you and your website as long as you bring your own flavors and make your content unique.

And when I say unique I mean the way you write, the way you present solutions or the way you make sure to always cover every angle.

Only you know what you bring that is unique. But make sure it shines through and do dare to be great and different.

5. Can you make money?

You may not be building your website to create a business or a full time career.

But when you start out you should at least have a goal to cover your costs.

And to make money you need to choose keywords or keyword phrases that indicate transactional intent.

Compare the keywords “WPX hosting” and “Should I choose Bluehost or WPX hosting”.

If someone is searching for “WPX hosting” they know what they are looking for and chances are that they are not looking for an article or post. They want the company behind WPX hosting. And even if they do have a question, how could we possibly know what they are looking for?

It would however be a different scenario if they were searching for  “Should I choose Bluehost or WPX hosting”. Then chances are that the post how the webhosting needs at wants differ over the life of a website could be of interest to the person searching.

Now, in a way the above link is a good example of what not to do. The whole web hosting area is really competitive and I cannot yet rank for those type of keyword phrases.

But my explanation (read excuse) is that I intend to create the necessary content first. A visitor to my website should find enough information to be able to build a website. And when these articles are written – I will start being more strategic in my writing.

So there you have it, the five questions you need to ask yourself before you start producing content.

And remember, the correct mindset will make or break you

And then there is of course the little detail of being in the correct mindset. 

Trying to rank in the search engines is a long game. 

It can be extremely frustrating and there is really no guarantee as to “when” or even “if”. All you can do is to have faith in yourself and the content you produce and stay the course. 

And believe me that it can be extremely hard to stay patient when there is no indication of progress. There could be months of no visibility and no movement for your pages in the SERPS.

You may start to consider shortcuts and cutting corners.

Don’t.

Shortcuts do not work in the long run and the penalties for breaking the rules of the search engines are severe.

Please take comfort in the fact that you can only be successful if you are willing to stay the course and be patient. And since it is hard a lot of your otherwise competitors will quit or be thrown out of the game.

But I stay because I believe it will pay off.

I hope you stay in it with me. 

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.