Master the Art of SEO Keyword Analysis and Selection

In my last SEO article, we explored my favorite tools sources for building up a robust keyword universe and got some excellent keyword research tips. In today’s article, I’ll walk through evaluating these keywords for usage within your website or blog, or, in other words, we’ll learn how to do keyword analysis. 

We’ll also review how to easily locate Google search volumes, we’ll learn what search intent is and why it matters, and then I’ll provide some additional insights into narrowing this list for the best keyword opportunities to win in search and convert these searches into revenue.

Creating a Solid Keyword Strategy by Pulling Search Volumes for Your Keyword List

The last time we were together I gave readers all my favorite tools for finding keyword ideas and options, then I had tasked readers with the process of researching keyword phrases. 

Now that you have your list of keyword ideas, it is time to pull data on the phrases so you can decide which keywords would be best to use on your website or blog. 

We can’t target everything, so we need to pick and choose wisely. I like to use data for this phase of the planning process. Data helps guide me down the right path and it helps me stay away from futile pursuits of unrealistic keyword options.

For this task, I love using KW Finder for the purpose of keyword analysis. Actually, it’s the only SEO tool I’ll use for pulling data on keyword volumes, trends, and trends.

Using KW Finder for Keyword Analysis and Selection

  • Start by going to https://app.kwfinder.com/.
  • Locate the Import option in the top navigation bar.
  • Once there you can drag your file over from your hard drive, copy and paste keywords straight into the tool, or use the Choose a file button to import a file.
creating keyword strategy with kw finder
  • In this example, I used copy and paste, when set my location to the United States.
  • Next, I simply click on the green Process Keywords button.
  • Once the import occurs, I’ll see a fresh screen that shows all my keywords with search data specific to the United States.
keyword analysis
  • I can sort the columns by their headers to start viewing my keywords ranked by criteria like monthly search volumes, PPC ad costs, or keyword competition.
  • I can also click on any keyword row to see ranking data and trends on the right side of the page. This will help you see if a keyword is moving up or down with popularity and if you’d have easy or hard competitors. In the below example, SEO consulting has been trending down. My agency page (Web Savvy) is in position six on Google and it has some stiff competition from websites like Clutch.co and OutspokenMedia.com. Both have solid domain authority and backlinks. 
keyword selection and evaluation
  • I can view this data online and easily export my SEO keyword analysis to Excel. To do so, I simply click the check all box and then Export. I’ve highlighted both in red below.
exporting keyword research to Excel
  • The next step is to review the data offline. This export will look like the following once I eliminate the columns I do not want.

This data will help me evaluate keyword phrases to decide if they are something I would like to focus on as I move forward with keyword mapping and creating an editorial plan.

Understanding Search Intent is Key when it Comes to Keyword Analysis

 Before we start finalizing keywords, we need to take a step back and think about search intent. This will keep us from going down a path of inaccurate phrases that don’t align with our target market and offering.

Search intent sounds scary, but you don’t have to let it be intimidated. The concept isn’t that hard to understand if you try and think like Google.

Search intent simply refers to a human’s intentions when performing a search. For example, when a user searches in Google for “hot dog” did he mean a dog that is hot from the sun or did he really want results that pertained to the food hot dog? 

what is search intent in keywords

Understanding what the user expected to receive for a given search phrase is search intent. You might be surprised to know Google is pretty darn good at figuring this out these days.

The Different Types of Search Intent

There are four main types of search intent and they are:

  1. Navigational – Navigational searches are performed with the intent of surfing directly to a specific website. These are direct searches for a brand, company, website, or a person.
  2. Informational – This is the largest category and typically represents people looking for quick answers like recipes, sports scores, local weather, the cure to their current ailment or illness.
  3. Commercial – Investigational searches (leading up to purchaseс) that help a buyer find information. These could be consumer or business-related.
  4. Transactional – These searches are largely for purchases or completing a task such as signing up for a service.

In my above list of keywords, the phrase “what is digital marketing” is an informational search. The user is searching for information and not yet ready to purchase. In this search term results we’ll see a mix of Google’s Knowledge Graph data that includes a Knowledge Panel, People Also Ask, Videos, Top Stories, Business Industries, and Creative Hobbies.

search intent in seo

The search term “SEO consultant” would be more commercial or transactional, because it indicates that the searchers are now looking for someone to help do digital marketing for them. Google knows this phrase is for a person to do SEO, so it places the local map results at the top of the search engine results screen.

different types of search intent

Takeaway: A key takeaway here is the search intent matters to both national and local searches. Google My Business uses search intent to determine what phrases to associate to map-based results.

Does Search Intent Really Matter to Website Owners?

Many years ago, we used to be able to manipulate search results because search intent was not as important as it is in today’s search environment. By “manipulate” I mean I could reach for phrases that are outside my core focus area.

In today’s world of SEO, it is much more difficult to stretch for keywords and phrases that don’t directly relate to your content. The reason for this is Google is smart and Google understands what the user wants and will make sure the results match up closely to this want.

Don’t stray from search intent or you will find yourself frustrated and sitting on page 20 of the search engines results page!

Narrowing Your Keyword List Based on Relevance

You will not rank on every keyword phrase you want, so you have to pick your battles. I like to start with a large list as I brainstorm ideas, then I reduce those down to a manageable level.

As you go through your keyword list to make your selection, you always have to stay focused on your target market and what they need. This is why we started our articles series spending so much time on website personas and your target markets’ pain points!

Review each phrase in your list and think through what phrases would appeal most to your audience. And then think through how these phrases align to what you offer. If a phrase doesn’t match up to your target market and your offering you need to eliminate it.

A Few Tips to Keep You Sane and Successful

1. Know That with Keyword Zero Isn’t Really Zero

The search volumes you see will present blank values at times and this blank indicates a zero search volume. That said, zero isn’t really zero and I have actual Google data to support this theory.

As part of my seed list development process, I will pull phrases from Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These phrases were used by a real human to reach my website or that of my client. Thus, I know there is a search volume for these phrases.

When I plug these phrases into KW Finder, I receive zero search activity. How can that be since KW Finder pulls its data from Google’s API? After all, there is search volume and Google Search Console told me so.

It is a mystery and the only answer I can come up with is that Google doesn’t consider the phrase pay per click-worthy, so it fails to show volume.

This is frustrating to me and it will be frustrating to you. So just remember zero may mean zero or it could just be that Google won’t provide data.

2. Review PPC Bids 

Let me state that I am not suggesting PPC and the payment for ads. I’m an SEO girl through and through. That won’t change anytime soon.

That said, I do like to look at PPD bid amounts because I think this data point can be an indication of high converting search terms. We want high converting search terms, so always review PPC amounts to see if you’d like to grab organic search for those terms.

3. Prioritize Your Keywords

Now that we have our list of keywords and search volumes, we can begin reviewing these in detail. I like to do this using a scoring methodology. 

I give a simple rank of 1-High, 2-Medium, 3-Low, and 4-None to phrases as I review them. The numbers will allow us to quickly sort the spreadsheet by ranking. 

As you rank your keyword phrases you are ranking them in order based on how closely they align to your target market, their pain points, and what you do to solve those pain points. I’m repeating myself here and this is because you need to stay mindful of this idea as it is the core of successful keyword research and selection.

In my above examples, I pulled searches for PPC and SEO terms. I only really do SEO and Google knows this, because it knows who I am and what I do. It would be a waste of my time to target PPC terms since I won’t sell anything PPC related. I’m better off staying close to what I do and targeting those phrases. Thus I would eliminate any PPC related phrases as they will be a waste of my time and effort.

Vet Your Keyword Phrases in Search

Before you fully sign off on your targeted keyword list, I want you to review them in Google’s search results. This is an easy task, but an important one!

Here are the steps:

  1. Grab your list of targeted keywords. 
  2. Open up a fresh browser window with no history or signed in accounts to Google. I typically use Chrome for all my normal activity and use an alternate browser like Firefox for searches because I have it set to store zero history.
  3. Take your first focused keyword phrase and search for it on Google. Then take a moment to review the results. 
  4. Ask yourself some questions:
  • Do the search results align to my target market?
  • Do the search results align to what I offer?
  • Do the search results include national, local, or a mix of results?
  • How good is the content presented? Is it old and dated or short and incomplete?
  • Can you create better content?

Finally, remove anything that scares you or just doesn’t seem like a fit.

Finalize Your Keyword List

Now that you’ve gone through keyword prioritization and vetting your terms in search, you should have a solid list of phrases to use in keyword mapping.

Before we move onto that, I want to answer one question I am always asked: How many keywords do I need to finalize? 

There is no firm answer because it varies greatly by the type of website or blog, industry, geographic focus, etc.

Just select an amount that feels like it will help provide you with a solid plan for moving forward with SEO. If you have enough keywords to bring in the traffic you want, then you should be good to go. At least for now. I tend to do keyword research every six months and once you start, you’ll probably want to too.

Coming Up Next!

We’ve come a long way together in these first three articles and we’ll continue our SEO journey next with keyword mapping and content planning. 

Once we wrap up our keyword mapping you’ll have a solid plan and strategy for SEO efforts!

Rebecca Gill

Web Savvy Marketing Founder

Rebecca Gill has a well-rounded business background and over twenty years of experience in sales and online marketing. She is the founder of Web Savvy Marketing and an SEO consultant. In addition to running the day to day activities of Web Savvy Marketing, Rebecca also provides one-on-one SEO coaching, publishes online digital marketing courses, and hosts an SEO podcast.

Comments ( 6 )

Digby Green

May 15, 2020

Very interesting. Discussing the different sorts of search But what if Google starts censoring some keywords like "Politics" and "American" and puts me on page 2 one day and page 6 the next day. Every other search engine has me on the top of page 1. So I can't be bothered wasting my time on Googles search tools

Reply

Ernest Tomkiewicz CPA

May 22, 2020

There is no "if" about it, Google is already doing this. I use several research platforms and search KW's across SE's to get the best overall list of KWs

Reply

Laura Hofman

May 22, 2020

Google is approximately 85% of the world's search engine traffic, so ok if you wish to ignore their search tools but personally I like getting a slice of that 85% share of traffic. That said, there are a lot of holes in Google's keyword tools and a paid tool like Ahrefs is much more comprehensive and robust. It does cost, though.

Reply

SabbTech Digital

May 26, 2020

It is always useful to consider search intent before keyword research. Good explanation of intent

Reply

Ethimaart

Jun 04, 2020

Being a fashion business start up and just starting to use all these digital marketing tools, I wasn't aware of keyword zero isn't actually zero. Just few hours back, when I was analyzing keywords, I ignored all those keywords that came up as zero. But Thank you for providing such important information, especially to new starters like us.

Reply

James Barnes

Jun 28, 2020

Thanks again, Rebecca. The data analysis makes a lot of sense.

Reply

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