Keyword research to improve your website’s ranking

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If you want to focus on improving your ranking on search engines, you need to focus on the keywords that you are using on your blog posts. Performing keyword research can hugely improve your website ranking. This blog post goes through an introduction of what keyword are, what are the best (free) tools for keyword research and how to perform keyword research.

What are keywords?

When a user goes to a search engine like Google to search for something to help resolve a problem or to find some information, the user enters a few words or a phrase. Those words that a user enters into a search engine are called Keywords. When you write an article or a blog post, you need to think about what keywords users are likely to enter in a search engine when looking for the type of information that you are providing in the article. Then you need to include those keywords across your article or blog post selectively. This will help you rank higher on search engines when the selected keyword is entered by a user.

Why you need to do keyword planning.

Internet users are more likely to click on those results that come up on top in search results. Smart Insights data indicates that 31.52% of the people that run a search on a desktop (24.05% on mobile) clicked on the first link in 2018. Higher ranking on search results means more free traffic to your content, and more traffic means more potential customers for your products.

So improving your ranking on search engines will help you attract more traffic and ultimately, more potential customers.


Why you need to target long tail keywords.

You have probably seen the terms “short-tail” and “long-tail” keywords. Short-tail keywords are typically 1-3 words, while long-term keywords are longer. Short-tail keywords are much more generic than long-tail keywords. The most significant advantage of short term keywords is that they usually drive a lot more traffic than longer keywords. However, there are a lot of benefits of using long tail keywords.

To go into more detail about the advantages of long-term keywords, let’s look at an example: imagine you have a blog about “how to become a virtual assistant”; you could target the short keyword “virtual assistant” or the longer keyword “how to become a virtual assistant.”

Let’s take a look at what KWFinder can tell us about both keywords:

KWFinderresults for “How to become a virtual assistant:”



KWFinderresults for “virtual assistant:”


Let’s analyse the data provided:

1 – Number of searches

The average number of searches per month for  “virtual assistant” is 60.5k, while the number of searches for “how to become a virtual assistant” is  3k. This means that if you target the short-tail keyword, you will probably attract more traffic. However, someone typing “virtual assistant” in a search engine may be looking for a virtual assistant service instead of looking to learn to become a virtual assistant. This means that you can be attracting a lot of traffic, but a high percentage of that traffic has no interest in your products and hence has no value for you. You need to look at attracting the right type of traffic that has interest in your products and is likely to drive conversions. You can make sure that you draw the right traffic if you use the long-tail keyword.

2 – Ranking difficulty

The difficulty to rank for “virtual assistant” is 48/100 while the difficulty of ranking for the longer keyword is 39/100. So it’s going to take you less effort ranking for the long-tail keyword.

Let’s take a look at a quick chart to summarise the pros and cons of short and long-tail keywords:


In summary, the key reasons why you need to focus on long-tail keywords are:

1 – It is easier to rank higher with long tail keywords

Short term keywords drive a lot of traffic but are very competitive. There are a lot of well-established websites already ranking for them, making it quite challenging to get a high rank for short term keywords. Long tail keywords are less competitive, which means that it is easier to get a higher ranking, so you are more likely to see good results with less effort if you target long tail keywords.

2 – Long tail keywords attract the right visitors to drive conversions.

Short tail keywords are very generic, so they are going to attract visitors that are interested in your services but also a lot of visitors that aren’t. Using a more focused keyword is going to attract the right traffic and lead to more conversions

Keyword research tools

There are many keyword research tools. Some of the tools with free options for new bloggers are:

1 – Google Keyword Planner

This is Google’s free keyword planner, so initially, it would seem like “the place to go” to get your search-related data. However, although Google Keyword Planner is an excellent tool to do keyword research, the interface is not straight forward to use, and it doesn’t really provide the level of detail needed to perform proper keyword research.

The main screen provides you with some information about the search keyword: volume of data searches (100-1k), competition level (Medium) and list of related keywords with their search volumes and competition levels.



I find the ranges provided by Google Keyword planner too broad to provide enough detail for any detailed keyword analysis. The tool is intended to be used to provide data for Google Adwords campaigns, so this is not it’s intended use after all. You can read a more detailed review of Google Keyword Planner here.


2 – KWFinder


KWFinder is really easy to use. You type the keyword that you are interested in and the tool provides you with all the data you need: number of searches per month, ranking difficulty, related keywords and the pages with the highest ranking for that keyword. You need to register to use the tool, but there is a free version available.

3 –Ubbersuggest

Ubbersuggestis a free tool that provides similar information to KWFinder. It provides you with a search volume, ranking difficulty and list of suggested keywords. There is an option to get the top ranking pages, but it has not worked for the few keywords I’ve tried. The tool also tends to load quite slowly at times, but overall is a good option to do some free keyword research.



There are many other tools that you can try: Serpstat , semrush and Ahrefs are some of them.

If you are just starting working on your SEO, and are looking for an excellent free option to use, I would use KWFinder. Its interface is the best one I’ve seen, and you can quickly examine all the data on one screen. Ubbersuggest is also a good free option if you reach the limits of the free version of KWFinder.

Detailed steps to perform keyword research

If you are trying to work on your blog’s SEO, you should do some keyword research before you start writing a new blog post. To find the best keyword or keywords for your blog post, you need to think of one or several keywords that relate to your article and could be your focus keywords. Make a list or write a mindmap with a few ideas. If you are struggling with this, try Answerthepublic.comwhere you can enter a phrase or a keyword and get a list of related terms to try. The keyword research tools mentioned above do provide “related keywords” so you could start with those. Once you have one or several keywords to begin your research, you need to do some analysis on a keyword research tool and find out:

1 –  How popular is the keyword (the number of searches per month).

You don’t want to target a keyword that only has 10 searches a month. You need something that is going to bring you enough traffic to make money from it. This is going to depend on your niche and the conversion rate that you have, but targeting keywords with minimal search results (10, 200 etc) is likely to be a waste of effort. Try to target keywords with at least 1500 searches per month.

2 – How much competition is there for that keyword.

You need to find something that you can rank for. There are some keywords like “laptop” (with a difficulty of 91) that are very competitive and hence would be extremely difficult to rank for. Choose alternative keywords that are easier to rank for. For example, instead of “laptop”, you could try to rank for “laptops for sale”, which has a difficulty of 52.

3 – Focus on keywords that are relevant for your niche.

You want to make sure that you are getting the right type of traffic that is interested in your services and is more likely to lead to conversions, so look for long-term keywords that are related to your niche.

4 – Follow some of the highest ranking links.

Look at the type of content, how long is the content, the kind of questions that it’s answering etc. Get a feel for the type of information that you have to provide to rank high for the term and try to find out how easy it could be to try to provide better or more detailed content that could outrank the highest positions.

5 – Choose the best keywords to focus on.

Once you’ve run through a few keywords, choose a few long-tail keywords that are not difficult to rank for and are related to your niche. Start writing your article using any ideas you got from point 4 and remember to enter your keywords through your article selectively. Make sure your main keyword is part of the title (and as close to the start of the title as possible), and enter keywords also on some of the headings and maybe pic names. Make sure that it all sounds natural though. You don’t want to focus on your keywords and make your blog post sound strange.

6 – Write a great blog post, packed with relevant information that your visitors will love.

7 – Use Yoast SEO to improve your SEO ranking.

Yoast SEO is a free plugin that can easily help you improve your SEO. It gives you quick suggestions and action points to improve your ranking.

Check out this blog post for more ideas on how to improve your SEO ranking.

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