SEO consultants charge thousands of dollars optimizing your website so you get found on Google. For keyword discovery – identifying which keywords you should be using – they go through interviews with you and your team, and deep analysis of keyword search volume, keyword difficulty and much more.
It’s very time-consuming, and can be daunting if you try to do it yourself.
Luckily, there is a much easier way. It’s a keyword discovery tip I’ve been using for years for my clients. It saves a tremendous amount of time and accurately identifies the terms you should be pursuing.
The Best Keyword Discovery Secret
There’s a good chance that at least one of your competitors has figured out the best keywords for your niche. If you want a fast way to see what they’ve done, get a keyword research tool and do a site audit on your top 3 competitors to see the keywords they optimized and the estimated keyword search volume they get per term.
Then, overlay the keywords in a spreadsheet to find the “gap” between the keywords your site is optimized on compared to your competitors.
My favorite keyword research tool is SEMrush – use this affiliate link to double your free trial to 14 days (normally 7 days). I’ve used Ahrefs and Moz and while both are commendable, SEMrush makes the keyword discovery process very simple – even fun. I use SEMrush weekly and whole heartedly endorse it.
Here's an example of the top keywords for one of the sites that competes to some degree with MoreBusiness.com: Inc.com. At the time of this writing, 3 of their top 4 keywords relate to quotes. This is not something we have optimized for MoreBusiness.com - and based on the KD% numbers (I'll explain those in a moment), we wouldn't pursue writing articles about quotes.
While SEMrush's numbers aren't exact, they provide you with directionally accurate insight on your competitor's SEO footprint. This example indicates that over 3% of Inc.com's traffic comes from people typing the term interviewing questions into Google. It generates over 115,000 visits per month for them.
Rounding out the next 3 top search terms, you can see that they get another 170,000 visits from people looking for quotes. That's a lot of advertising impressions they are able to sell from inbound search traffic!
Finding Your Optimal Keyword Gaps
You want to find keywords that have 3 characteristics:
1. High monthly search volume
High is a relative term - it can be 50 or 100 searches if the term is a tight fit.
2. Low keyword difficulty (KD%)
This is a percentage score between 1–100 that keyword tools give you. Ideally, you want to find terms that rank 50 or below as those are the easiest (hence, fastest) to get ranked on. The higher the KD%, the harder it is to rank for the term.
3. High intent
You do want to get found for numerous terms, including those that aren’t “buying” terms, since thought leadership is key part of the game.
But what you really want is high intent terms. As far as keyword discovery goes, these terms suggest someone is looking to make a purchase.
Such keywords include words like consultant, company, service, or tool. When people search for words with those terms, they’re typically looking for a solution rather than being in the initial research stage.
High intent words are also industry-specific. Think of terms that relate to your line of business.
Examples: computer support company, seo consultant, email marketing tool, marketing service, computer repair, financial advisor.
Sort by Keyword Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty
Finding that sweet spot with all 3 characteristics is like sifting for gold. Many of the once best terms are no longer easy to get ranked on. Plus, a lot depends on your inbound link strategy as well (and many other factors like page load speed, in-page optimization, and more).
Since your competitors have likely done research before you, see what terms have a high volume and low keyword difficulty. There’s a good bet that you can rank close to them, if not higher.
SEMrush lets you create a filter like this easily:
In this example, I wanted to find keywords that have low to moderate keyword search volume, 101-1000 searches per month. I also wanted to find those that are easier to get ranked on so I selected KD less than 50.
Boom! Keyword Discovery Made Easy
Within a couple of seconds, I got a large list of potential terms that Inc.com is ranking on. This allows me to review their list to see if my team at MoreBusiness.com should produce content on specific topics. Here's a sampling of what I found:
In the long list of potential terms, a few could be a good fit, such as contract financing with a keyword difficulty of 49 and keyword search volume of 720. There's also business builder with a similar keyword difficulty and keyword search volume of 480. Not all terms your competitors rank on are worth going after. It's unlikely we would pursue a term like commercial fire alarm. Inc.com probably published a story or company profile on that topic which got well-ranked.
Also Read: Content Discovery - How to Generate Data-Driven Content Marketing Ideas
The beauty here is that your SEO-savvy competitors have already done the heavy lifting. By using this simple keyword discovery technique, you can find fitting keywords that are your best opportunity to drive organic search traffic to your website.
While there are several tools available for keyword discovery, my favorite continues to be SEMrush. It's like having GPS for navigation compared to using a printed map. If you'd like to take a crack at doing meaningful keyword research on your own, which as I described above isn't hard when you have the right tool, use our affiliate link below to get an extended 14-day free trial today:
Try SEMrush - Extended Free Trial →
Final note: be sure to build a complete marketing or sales funnel to convert your new-found website traffic into qualified leads and customers so you maximum your potential.
Author: Raj Khera, publisher of MoreBusiness.com