If you’ve read through our guides here and here, then you should have a pretty good list of keywords to start building your content around. But how do you know exactly what keywords you should be targeting? Well, that’s where keyword analysis comes in. IN this guide, we’ll be going over the process of analysing keywords.
For analysing keywords, there are a lot of different tools out there to choose form. If you’re on the fence about which one to use, we have a guide here that compares a few of the better ones. For this guide, we’re going to be using KWFinder by Mangools.
Most professional tools for analysing keywords have the same general metrics, although they may calculate them a little differently depending on the tool. The metrics are as follows:
- The keyword’s search intent
- The keyword’s search volume
- The difficulty of the keyword
All three of these metrics are equally important when analyzing keywords. If you don’t pick keywords that are relevant to your content and match a user’s search intent, Google won’t rank your site for those keywords. If you fail to target keywords with adequate search volume, your site won’t get any traffic. And if you don’t take keyword difficulty into account, then your competitors will outrank you.
Keyword relevance and search intent
Search intent can be a little tricky to understand at times. It’s best described with an example: Say you have an online store where you sell cast-iron skillets, and you want to push traffic to your product page. You’ve done some research and you’ve found the long-tail keyword "best cast-iron skillet for cooking steak". It’s got good search volume and and low difficulty. Perfect!
Not so fast.
If you take look at the top search results for this keyword, you’ll see that the results are product reviews and comparisons. These results fall into the "commercial" search intent category, whereas your product page falls into the "transactional" category. With search intent, there are four basic categories:
- Navigational: The user is searching for a particular website
- Informational: The user is looking for general information
- Transactional: The user wants to purchase a product online
- Commercial: The user wants to do product research
While the keyword you chose is relevant to your website, the search intent is not, so Google won’t rank you on the first page of the SERP, or "search engine results page". So your options now are to pick a different keyword or build content specific to that keyword. Given this example, consider creating content around the informational search intent. Giving your visitors quality content may not entice them to buy a product right then and there, but they’ll remember your site as an authority and may buy from you in the future.
Search volume represents the popularity of a keyword. In other words, it’s a calculation of how many people are searching for it per month. There are two main sources for this sort of data:
- Google data
- Clickstream data
Google’s data is search volume calculated and stored in its Keyword Planner database. Clickstream data is information on user behaviour that’s collected by browser plugins, website scripts, and the like.
These data sources are collected and processed in different ways depending on which keyword tool you’re using, so it’s important to keep a measure of skepticism in mind when researching these numbers. Take them as hints, not facts. As an example, well-written content is very likely to rank for many other keywords, which will result in a much higher total search volume.
An important metric to keep in mind when looking at search volumes is search trends over time. You can search for trends over long periods of time to see if a keyword is going to be worth investing resource in over the long haul. In KWFinder, you can see a preview of the 12-month search trend in the results page, as well as a much more detailed trend graph in the top right pane when selected a specific keyword.
Another important metric to consider when looking at search volume is the click-through rate (CTR). There are a few things that influence the CTR, most especially the position of your site on the SERP. A few other things include:
- Google Ads
- Featured snippets
- Answer boxes
If you’re running a Google Ads campaign, the CTR of organic results will be much lower.
There are tools that calculate the impact of rich snippets on the organic results, which you can factor into your estimations when considering visits you get from a keyword.
The lower the keyword difficulty, the easier it will be to rank.
Keyword difficulty is a metric calculated by professional SEO tools to give you an idea of how difficult it’ll be to rank for a given keyword. The higher the difficulty is for a keyword, the harder it will be to rank for that keyword. There are a few metrics that are used to calculate this difficulty, the most important of which is page authority and domain authority.
Page authority and domain authority are calculated by taking into account the number of backlinks a page has and the quality of those backlinks. KWPlanner, for example, calculates this on a scale of 1 to 100. The lower the keyword difficulty, the easier it will be to rank. A keyword difficulty of 25 would be considered relatively easy, while a keyword difficulty of 75 is going to be extremely difficult to rank for.
Of course, even when factoring in keyword difficulty, it’s important to consider objective factors as well, such as your own website’s authority ranking, your own SEO abilities, and–most importantly–the relevance of your content. A good way to help negate these subjective factors is to find competitors with a similar site authority as yours, check out the keywords they’re targeting, and then create better content than what they have.
Finally, there are a couple more things you can check for to help determine difficulty. One is to check on the age of the domain. A site with a domain that’s only a few months old but in the first SERP could be easy to outrank.
Another one is to keep in mind that, if there isn’t any highly-relevant content for the keyword you’re analysing, then Google simply shows content that’s only partially relevant on sites with high authority. Since keyword difficulty is calculated based on page and domain authority, it could display high, but if you have a highly-niched keyword, you could still outrank them with really great content.
Keyword analysis can be a tricky art. It takes a lot of know-how and trial and error to really get it down, but more importantly, it takes great tools. If you haven’t tried out any of the professional tools, you can test out a free trial of KWFinder here. It comes with Mangools’ full suite of SEO tools as well.