How to do SEO keyword research the non-traditional way

3 min read

sumodash keyword research

We all know Google changes their SEO algorithms quite frequently. It used to be that you should stuff your entire article with just one specific keyword and you can wake up the next day with your article on page 1 of the search engine, but those days are over. Google and other search engines are smarter now and it takes more effort to rank well.

One of the most common questions that I receive when it comes to content marketing is whether you should focus on just one keyword or multiple keywords within an article.

The truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. There are many factors to consider and your overall strategy/goal of the article.

My typical process

Initially, I choose to focus on one ideal keyword first. Then, once it’s ranking, I’ll log into Google Search Console and look for other keywords on that page for which I’m ranking, but that I’m not yet on page one for. I’ll then layer those keywords to increase their rankings.

Google search console makes this easy once they’ve collected enough data about your site. This is why it’s crucial that have all the foundation of content marketing set up as early as possible for long term growth.

Most of the time when you write stellar content, you shouldn’t think too much about the keyword, but more about the topic in general.

Ask yourself, how can you benefit the reader and audience? What can they learn from the article?

Understanding that just by writing on a single topic you’re going to naturally include keywords that relate to it. After that, I will wait a month or two, see what I’m getting searched for, and then go back to optimize the post to focus on one or more keywords.

I like to think of this as more of a “write and wait” approach. It might be “slower”, but the results are more accurate for long term content planning.

Here’s a sample step by step process for me:

  • Step 1: Write great content around a single topic (do your research first on the topic)
  • Step 2: Wait 2-3 weeks for search engine to crawl and analyze
  • Step 3: Look to see what people are also searching for that you’re ranking for
  • Step 4: Find additional keywords
  • Step 5: Update your post regularly. (use tricks)
  • Step 6: Watch your traffic grow over time.

The importance of quality content

Low quality content isn’t going to rank well for you or your blog, therefore don’t waste time on it. Instead, focus on producing high-quality content even if that means spending more time on the research process and writing those additional 1,000 words to make it perfect. Good revision and editing is also key.

So what’s considered high-quality?

According to research by Brian Dean of Backlinko, “The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.” If I’m not hitting that mark, there had better be a pretty good reason (such as a micro-topic that can be covered completely in fewer words).

Then it all goes back to your research process on the topic itself. Part of the research process is knowing what your competitors are doing. Do a quick search on the topic and take a look at what other articles are ranking well. Then ask yourself, how can you do better.

Including strong research back up with links to sources will make the quality of your content that much better as well.

Again, remember that you can focus on one keyword here or just write to a specific topic. Test both to see which process works best for your unique business, industry and keywords.

Leveraging Google Search Console some more

Google search console is one of my favorite tools for many reasons but try this. In Google Search Console, enter the specific URL of your blog post and use the Search Appearance tab within the Performance report to see where your article is currently ranking.

If you optimize your blog post for a particular keyword, check its performance using Search Console. If you didn’t, take a look at the keywords you did wind up ranking for (if any), and determine whether or not they’re appropriate for your blog. If they are, increase your presence for these keywords using what the results are within Google Search Console.

If your post isn’t ranking at all, it may be worthwhile to wait a little longer and focus on promotion more before you go further with this process. According to Ahrefs, it can take Google anywhere from two to six months to solidify a URL’s position in the SERPs. If it never winds up ranking, decide whether you want to keep investing in the post – or whether you’re ready to repeat the process with a new blog post.

Importance of updating your articles regularly

What’s the point of having quality content that was written like 15 years ago? Take a quick look at some of the best ranking and performing articles on any topic and most of them are updated to 2019 (at the time of this writing).

With my process that I mentioned above, you can figure out which keywords will be most valuable for your business or which topics they most want to hear from you on. You can control the quality of the content you produce. And you can invest in promotion to give your individual blog posts the best possible chances of ranking.

At the end of the day, quality content is nothing without good content marketing and promotion.

Now gather all the information that you’ve collected from Search console and go back to your older articles. Change your article’s headings, body copy, image ALT tags, and other key areas.

Rinse and repeat the process after for all content.

With time and continual investment, you’ll be able to determine which optimization strategy is most appropriate for your blog.

Hope this helps folks.

If you’re looking for custom content marketing that works, then get in touch with us and we’ll make sure to help you grow your content!

  • wilson@sumodash.com

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