Ever google a broad topic and wonder why those search engine results pages (SERPs) are the ones you’re seeing? It can only be one thing: magic. Right? Well, in a way. Results from major search engines like Google and Bing operate through an algorithm determined by a ton of factors including site authority, traffic, and relevance.
Now, these companies aren’t going to divulge their full algorithm for SERPs; otherwise, ranking #1 on search pages would come down to whoever could manipulate the algorithm the best. Not to surprise you, but it kinda already does. So, how do you choose the right keywords for SEO? One proven way: keyword research.
What is keyword research? While more users than you’d think chalk up keyword usage to adding the same words to website copy and waiting for the clicks to start piling up, effective keyword research requires a bit more time and effort. That’s why we here at Slam Media Lab developed this FREE keyword research tool to help you optimize your website for search as fast and efficiently as possible. Our 7-step resource features comprehensive video tutorials walking you through every part of the process, such as:
- Creating your initial spreadsheet.
- Setting up your sitemap and brainstorming keywords
- Researching the competition (and outperforming them)
- Exploring keywords through a keyword research tool
- Clustering keywords
- Transferring your keyword clusters to your original spreadsheet
Wait, that’s only six steps. What is step #7? You’ll have to follow our keyword research guide to the end to find out (or, you could just jump to step 7, but where’s the discovery in that?). Start optimizing your website today with our complete—and FREE—keyword research tool.
How to Choose the Best Keywords for SEO Through Effective Keyword Research
Choosing the right keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) is more than plugging your brand, services, or niche interests, no matter how unique they may be. Serving the best hazelnut latte in the country? You and a thousand other coffee shops. Selling movie-themed birdhouses? Give us your card, please, but also (no, really) you’re not alone.
Choosing the best keywords for SEO based on the way people actually search is a major step in being found in the hypercompetitive world of SERPs. Where to start in your keyword research, then? Let’s get organized with some (hold for applause) spreadsheets!
Step 1: Create a Keyword Research Spreadsheet
Okay, maybe not the most exciting Step 1, but choosing the best keywords for SEO for your website copy starts with organizing potential keywords into a functional space. Not looking to spend a couple hours formatting documents? We hear you. That’s why we give you a head start with two time-saving sub-steps:
- Copy this template.
- Watch the tutorial video below.
As you can see in the video, each column of this spreadsheet represents a service, page, or topic you want your site to be known for. Below each category should be tentative keywords, or sub-categories, for that topic that are later going to be analyzed using keyword explorer tools. This will determine which terms are the most beneficial when picking final keywords for SEO.
Step 2: Set Up Your Sitemap
If you are working from a fully developed site and optimizing for SEO, congrats: most of the legwork is already done! Rather than starting from scratch, you can flesh out your sitemap using the website as a guide (as outlined in the video below). Next step: examine the existing copy to choose the best potential keywords for each section of your sitemap.
But, if you’re creating a site from scratch or redesigning the structure of your site altogether, instead of tackling this process page by page, we would do so topic by topic. Although this takes a bit more time and effort, thoroughly researching and establishing which topics you want your site to be known for will ensure your website will be fully optimized from day one. Once you’ve chosen the best keywords for SEO, and your sitemap is agreed upon between you and your team, you’re ready to move on to processing potential keywords.
Step 3: Research Competitors (and Identify What They Rank For)
Now that you know what potential keywords you’re choosing for SEO, it’s time to scope out the competition. Ranking on Google and other major search engines inherently means other web designers are trying their damnedest to keep your web page in the lower SERPs. Discovering how these sites are handling (or mishandling) their SEO is valuable in your own keyword research. We detail how in the video below.
Step 4: Explore Keywords on ahrefs
Like scoring the cheat codes, keyword research software is where the excitement begins. Plenty of options are available to help you pick the best keywords for SEO, but we here at Slam swear by ahrefs. Why? Not only do you get in-depth and easily organizable keyword data, ahrefs also offers invaluable tools like:
- Site Explorer
- Rank Tracker
- Site Audit
- Content Explorer
Step 5: Cluster Keywords with Keyword Insights
Like we said: easily organizable keyword data. That’s what clustering keywords offers, and Keyword Insights is here to turn an hours-long process into five clicks and a spreadsheet export. Pairing ahrefs with Keyword Insights not only saves you time, it covers all the keyword research bases, guaranteeing you choose the best keywords for SEO based on the way users actually search.
Step 6: Transfer Keywords From Keyword Insights to the Spreadsheet
You’re almost to the finish line! While Keyword Insights does most of the work for you, you’ll still want to transfer your newly discovered keywords and keyword variations to that handy spreadsheet we provided. Once you have all the data you need, it’s time to start choosing the right keywords for SEO and begin optimizing your website. The best part? All of our products and resources are designed with customizability in mind, meaning you can create layouts like ours in the video tutorials, or adjust to match your workflow. Just one last step…
Step 7: Start Ranking on SERPs!
Now that you’ve followed through with our comprehensive keyword research tool (and definitely didn’t skip to this step to find out what it was, right?), you are ready to (drum roll, please) start ranking for search on all major search engines! Put your keyword clusters to good use, optimize existing copy, and don’t forget to abide by our core tenet here at Slam: build cool shit!
Still Have Questions? Slam is Here to Help
Want to upgrade your website build to a whole new level? Check out all of our FREE products and resources, and guarantee your site is ready for SEO success from launch!