Have you ever spent hours writing a great piece of content, only to get disappointed later on when noticing that it only accumulated a couple of hits?
If this is you, don’t worry―you’re not alone. Getting noticed one of the most common challenges new bloggers face simply because of how crowded the internet is nowadays.
However, there’s a solution.
If you know anything about SEO, you know that keyword research is arguably the most critical and important part of the whole process.
Most new bloggers resort exclusively to the Google Keyword Planner tool for all their keyword research purposes, which is fine except for one important detail…
By doing so, you are finding the same keywords as everybody else. The result?
More competition for the top rankings and less traffic for you.
In this guide, you will learn how to look past the Google Keyword Planner tool and find targeted long-tail keywords that are much easier to rank for.
Let’s get started!
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?Long-tail keywords are simply keywords that consist of four or more words. In other words, they are longer and more precise keywords.
The majority of search engine queries consist of these keywords. In fact, searches with five or more words account for almost 70% of all impressions.
These findings can be explained by considering the user’s intent behind the search.
Think about it – someone who searches the keyword “running shoes” is still researching and in most cases isn’t ready to make a purchase.
However, someone searching for “red Nike men’s running shoes size 11” knows what they are searching for and therefore are much more likely to buy right away.
Long-tail keywords target people who are later in the buying cycle and therefore more likely to get you a conversion.
It’s important to create content that directly reflects the long tail keywords you are targeting to provide a good user experience.
Google is continually optimizing its ranking algorithms to provide it’s users with a better experience by offering more accurate search results.
To remain one-step ahead of your competitors, you must strive for:
- High click-through rates
- Low bounce rates
- Long time on-site
By examining the user intent behind the keywords you’re targeting and adapting your content in parallel to that, your user satisfaction will go through the roof.
User satisfaction is now one of the most important factors for SEO and therefore needs to be the primary focus for content-creators.
To rank well, you need to write great content that corresponds perfectly to the keywords you are targeting.
Step 1: Brainstorming KeywordsFirst off, create a Google Sheet where we will be tracking all of our keywords. Start by copying the template shown below as a guideline.
We’re going to use this sheet to gather all the potential keywords we can find, and then thin out our list by analyzing the volume and competition.
Save your template on Google Sheet and keep the link. Every time you need to perform keyword research, you can come back to that link and create a new copy of the document.
To get started, you need to write down all the keyword ideas you can think of and put them down.
For example, if you wrote an article on how to start an online store, your brainstorming would look something like this:
- How to start an online store
- Step-by-step guide to starting an online store
- Starting an online store
- How do you start an online store
- Creating an online store
Remember that SEO is no longer about creating content with the right keywords anymore – it’s about creating content that answers the questions implied by those keywords.
Spend a couple of minutes thinking about which keywords people would use to find your content. The more relevant your content is to the keywords, the better rankings you will achieve.
Step 2: Expanding Your List With UberSuggestUberSuggest is a great free tool to help you find more keywords. It works by scraping the search engine suggestions for a particular keyword.
Start by typing a broad keyword from your list and hitting suggest. Try with a couple of different keywords until you have a big list of keyword suggestions.
Only pick the keywords that could make sense in a sentence, so that you can insert it throughout your article without it looking out of place.
Then, switch over to the “Keywords Selected” and copy them over to your Google sheet.
Continuing with the example above, here’re more keywords variations I would try:
- start online store
- how to online store
- how to eCommerce
- start online shop
- make online shop
Find as many good keywords as you can with UberSuggest and copy them over to your Google Sheet.
Step 3: Generating Even More Keywords with KeywordShitterDespite its name, KeywordShitter is a great tool.
When used correctly, it enables you to generate an infinite amount of surprisingly good keywords.
To get started, just copy your list of keywords from the sheet into the main box of the program.
Once you press “Shit Keywords!”, it’ll go crazy and generate a ton of long-tail keyword variations.
Of course, all of these aren’t great―as you can see below, a lot of these are irrelevant, but there’s also a surprising amount of original long-tail keywords that can make the cut.
You would be surprised at how effective this is―KeywordShitter can usually find keywords you would never think of on your own.
Once we’re done making our list, we will gradually thin it out to find our winning keyword.
Step 4: Seeing Which Keywords Are Performing Well For Your CompetitorsAnother great way to find possible keywords is by spying on your competitors.
There’s more than one way to do this, but I’m going to show you a free way using the Google Keyword Planner tool.
Finding your competitors is easy: they are the websites currently ranking on the front page of Google for your main keywords. For example, for the “How to start an online store” niche, one of my competitors would be this site.
To begin spying on them, head to the keyword tool and press “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.
Just copy their URL over to the Keyword Planner and press ‘Get ideas’.
Then, click on the “Keyword Suggestions” tab and voila!
The first few keywords Google gives back are mostly useless as they are too hard to rank for, and we’re specifically looking for long-tail keywords with little competition.
However, as you go through the pages, you will find tons of useable suggestions (799 using just the website above).
Do this with a couple of your main competitors and you will surely find some good, high-quality keywords.
Copy over all the keywords you find back to your sheet.
There are more advanced tools out there that can find your competitors best-performing keywords very efficiently, but they are quite costly.
None of the less, these deserve a mention as they are great tools:
Step 5: Searching Quora For Possible KeywordsThe reason Quora is such a great tool for marketers is that it provides insight on the exact words our target audience uses to get answers to their questions.
Not only is it a great tool for finding keywords, but it can also be a great tool to help generate ideas for future content.
Think about it: why would someone ask a question on Quora?
Because they probably couldn’t find the answer with a simple Google search.
Ranking for the keywords in that question would then be easy since the websites currently ranked for them were unable to respond to the question correctly and therefore must have low user satisfaction.
If this is the case, you have the opportunity to out-do them and take their spot on the front page.
Here’s how to go about finding keywords with Quora:
Type your niche into the search bar at the top and find a corresponding topic section.
You want to pick the topic that best matches your niche―in my case; this would be “E-Commerce Websites”.
Then, browse through the questions and look for possible keywords that you could use.
Quora can have some unique keywords if you look well enough. Here’s an example of a keyword from Quora:
Another great way to find more long-tail keywords with Quora is by using the search section instead of browsing a topic.
To do so, just type in your keyword and press the “Search” option under all the topics.
Just with that single keyword, I was able to find two new keywords on the first page.
Run a couple of different searches with your core keywords and you should be able to rack up a good amount of keywords from Quora.
Once you’re satisfied, copy them over to your Google sheet.
Step 6: Narrowing Down Our List With Keyword AnalysisDepending on how in-depth you went with your keyword research, you should have quite a few keywords copied down on your sheet by now.
Here comes the fun part: narrowing it down to only the best ones, and picking a winner.
To do this, we are going to use the Google Keyword Planner tool once again since it provides the most accurate keyword data.
Copy all of the keywords from your Google sheet over to the Keyword Planner in the “Get search volume and trends” tab and hit ‘Get search volume’.
Doing this lets you see the average monthly searches, competition and the suggested bid for your keywords.
You’ll want to export this data to CSV so you can copy it back to your Google Sheet. Copy all the keywords that have search data for it and replace the original list of keywords.
You’ll also want to copy the volume (monthly searches) and competition over to the Google Sheet.
This is what my Sheet looks like now:
At this point, you want to narrow it down to only the best long-tail keywords that you found. I usually recommend aiming for keywords with monthly searches anywhere between 40 to 300.
You should also consider how well a particular keyword will integrate within your content. For example – “how to build an online store” is a much easier keyword to use in an article than “starting online store essential checklist”.
Unsurprisingly, the competition for keywords related to starting an online store is quite high – that’s because it is a very lucrative niche which a lot of established competitors.
Keep in mind that the competition score that Google gives you isn’t all that relevant to SEO.
In fact, it’s solely calculated based on the number of people who are bidding for this keyword on AdWords.
While this can give you an idea of how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword, you shouldn’t totally disregard a keyword just because of its competition score.
Keep in mind that user satisfaction has become a primary focus in SEO – if Google sees that users are reacting well to your content, your website will naturally start ranking for other similar long-tail keywords.
For example, if I manage to rank for the “how to build an online store” keyword and my content is good enough, Google might start ranking my website for other keywords such as:
- How to establish an online store
- How to launch an online store
- Creating an online store
In other words, if you focus the user intent behind a keyword and create outstanding content accordingly, you will see a dramatic increase in your search traffic.
Step 7: Analyzing The SERP Of Your Winning KeywordsAs you may know, SERP stands for “Search Engine Results Page”. It is the page that you see whenever searching for something on Google or any other search engine.
From an SEO point of view, this page carries a lot of value – it allows us to get insight into how hard it would be to rank your content for any given keyword.
To do this, I use SEOquake – a free plugin that you can get for most modern browsers that allow you quickly to see all the critical SEO data about the search engine results.
Install the plugin and search Google for your keyword like you normally would.
The first thing I notice on the SERP for the keyword “How to build an online store” is the number of ads at the top of the page.
Having a lot of paid ads means that it’s a very profitable keyword, but also that there’s a lot of competition.
Scrolling down to the organic search results, this is where you can find all the SEOquake insight into the pages that are currently ranking for your keyword.
As you can see, the SEOquake plugin provides us with a lot of information to give you an idea of where your competitors stand.
Since user satisfaction is the key to SEO, you can also see how your content compares to your competitors’ by simply going to their page and reading it.
Does your content provide more value than theirs?
If the answer is yes, then you and Google are on the same side, and the ranking will inevitably shift in your favor.
Analyze the search engine result page for your all your keywords, and then pick the one that has the highest potential for generating organic traffic.
Some factors to consider are:
- How hard it would be to rank near the top of the page
- How many monthly searches the keyword has (I recommend at least 40-50)
- How hard it would be to out-do your competitors in user satisfaction by creating better content
Once you pick out the best keyword, your research is complete!
All that’s left to do is optimize your content for that keyword and work on getting onto the front page. Congratulations!
ConclusionOptimizing your content for the right long-tail keywords is a surefire way to increase your blog traffic gradually.
Follow this step-by-step guide whenever you are creating new content to make sure you nail the keyword research, allowing the rest of the campaign to follow smoothly.
If you enjoyed this content, please consider sharing it with your following and letting me know what you think!
Do you have any tips for finding good long-tail keywords?
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