is keyword research still relevant in 2023?
Yes, keyword research is still relevant in 2023 and remains an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. With search engines like Google constantly evolving and refining their algorithms, understanding how users search for information and optimizing your content with relevant keywords can help increase your website’s visibility and drive targeted traffic to your site. Additionally, keyword research can also help you identify new trends and opportunities to create content that resonates with your target audience.
Like everything else content, it has developed and evolved since the 2010s, but keyword research is still important because it keeps you from wasting time creating content that no one wants, and no one will likely see.
If you already know how to write high-quality content, combine that with robust keyword research, and you can expect at least 50% of your pages to rank and subsequently convert your readers to customers.
Now, you can always roll the dice by creating content that “creates keywords”, but the truth to this strategy is that it’s only as effective as your knowledge of your customer’s problems.
Even if you’re aware of your customer’s pain points through industry experience, without keyword research you are fighting your competitors with one arm tied behind your back when researching topics to write about.
Things to know before starting keyword research
1. Cover your keywords don’t stuff them. This should go without saying, but once you’ve got an actionable list of keywords/queries, create content that covers them in-depth and detail.
DO NOT create whatever you were going to create anyway and then just randomly litter keywords within the content. Good keyword coverage i.e., content that is actually relevant and adds value incline Google to rank you and establish you as an expert in your space.
Keyword stuffing will just get you penalized.
2. Leverage keywords to help you understand your customers better instead of creating exact match topics and titles. Keyword research reveals what your customers are talking about in the context of your business.
So, if you have an LTK that reads “best gear fall camping”, your title should not be exactly that. Instead, it should be something that actually makes sense like, “10 Essential Items for Camping This Fall”
3. Keyword clusters reveal more than single keywords. Anyone who has done keyword research before knows that a lot of keywords, especially LTKs with similar intent will repeat themselves in different phrases. Clustering these similar intent keywords will help you better understand your customers issues from most to least popular.
The following keyword-research strategy is actually a keyword-research + clustering strategy. In fact, this is the exact same method that I use on my own website.
Step 1 – Create a Master List
Start by collecting as many keywords as possible. This master list is going to be a compilation of all the relevant keywords from you can find.
Some sources that I use are:
- SEO suites (SEMrush, Ahrefs, Answerthepublic, etc.)
- Pre-existing keywords (GSC)
- Competitor keywords
- Creating your own little mental list of keywords and get their kw data
- Google kw planner
- People also ask, google autocomplete, related searches on the SERPs
- Wikipedia, reddit, industry forums and blogs
The keyword data you pull from the SEO suite will fill the majority of the master list, and that’s fine. Just make sure you have enough queries, so that you don’t need to go back and repeat this step again.
Often times, I will collect over 60,000 queries in the master list.
Once you’ve got your list of raw queries, remove the duplicates. You can use an excel/google sheets formula like RemoveDupeWords2 to take care of this.
Once you do this, we’ll move on to the next step.
Step 2 – Analyze the words and phrases
All right, follow along very carefully here because this is where it gets confusing.
After removing the duplicates, you will separate each query into the individual words that comprise the whole query to determine which words are appearing most frequently.
For example, you will separate “best fall hiking gear” into “best”, “fall”, “hiking”, and “gear”.
The purpose to doing this is to reveal which individual words are repeating themselves most frequently, so we can ascertain their popularity.
Doing this is for your entire list is not difficult.
Just copy your all your queries and insert them in a word frequency counter like WriteWords frequency counter.
That will tell you something like:
- Fall is appearing 400 times
- Hiking 521
- Outdoor 355
- Bottle 250
- Chair 143
Copy all these word occurrences in a google sheet.
Now individual words alone will not reveal much. Just knowing that “outdoor” and “chair” appear 355 times and 143 times individually doesn’t exactly give you a topic to write about.
So, your next step is to run a similar analysis for phrases.
To do this, select the phrase frequency counter in WriteWords. You’re going use it to pull phrases with 2, 3, and 4 words in length.
This will help you see actual topics.
For example, in my phrase analysis “outdoor” and “chair” appear together 53 times as the phrase “outdoor chair”.
Once you’ve run your words through the phrase frequency counter, copy all the returned phrases and their frequencies into a google sheet.
Step 3 – Assign values to your phrases (Optional)
If you’ve got limited industry knowledge, do this. Otherwise, you can skip straight to step 4.
Once you have copied all your phrases and their frequencies into a google sheet, assign them a word count in a separate word count column. For example, “outdoor chair” will have 2 words in its word count column.
Use the COUNTA function: =COUNTA(SPLIT(B2,” “)) to automate this. It will count the number of words in a cell. I have assumed you have pasted your phrases in column “B” here.
Once you’ve got your list of phrases with their word counts, the next step is to assign each a phrase a value to inform its importance.
The longer a phrase is, the more niche the topic, and the higher the likelihood that you can rank and convert readers if you write about it, so, you want to give more importance to phrases with more words even if they have fewer occurrences. To do this, you’re going to take the number of words in a phrase, raise it to a power and multiply that figure by the number of occurrences that phrase has.
For example, “Outdoor chair” has 2 words, occurs 53 times, and we’re raising our list to a power of 2
So, it’s value is 2^2 X53 = 212
You can use a simple math formula in google sheets for this. Take the cells in your word count column, raise them to a power and then multiply them against their occurrences.
You can mess around with a few different powers to raise your phrases to, so you’re getting a good mix of query lengths. You don’t want to raise the power so high that you only get very long phrases. Neither do you want it so low that the occurrences are outweighing the query length.
This will give you a quantitative measure of the importance of each phrase, which you can then use to generate word stems.
Step 4 – Generate word stems
Refer to the phrase occurrence list and word occurrence list to note 30 frequently occurring words and phrases you think are vitally important topics for your business.
For example, “hiking”, “gear”, “how should”, “best”, “fall” etc. are important for me so I will note them down. “For”, “if”, “when”, etc. are not, so I will leave them out.
The important words you list will now be known as word stems.
Now, we’re going to use these word stems to actually create keyword clusters.
To do this:
- Go back to your master list. Copy just the keywords and their search volumes and paste them into rows in a new sheet.
- Then take the word stems, and paste them into columns, not rows.
Now, your first two columns A and B should be the keywords (A) and their search volumes (B), and subsequent columns should be your word stems.
You’re going to choose one of your word stems and run the following function in Google Sheets.
This will reveal which of the keywords from the list include your word stem word. You’ll need to run this formula individually for every word stem, and it will keep revealing YESes and NOs to you.
Once you’ve run the formula for every stem, use “Find and replace” to remove all of the NOs.
Step 5 – Group your keywords
After you’ve got your columns of YESes, you can basically copy the YES keywords in each column into another sheet, and then narrow them down for search intent by manually sub-categorizing them or running another RegEx function for a phrase or word.
This will give you about 150 – 200 different search intents to target in your niche, which should keep you going for a while.
With that your keyword research and clustering is complete.
Since 90% of your competition is not going this far with their keyword research, this instantly gives you an edge over your competitors.
In conclusion, conducting keyword research is a critical step for any online content creator or business looking to improve their online visibility and reach their target audience effectively. The process may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a manageable and even enjoyable task. By using the tips and methods outlined in this guide, you can stay ahead of the curve and ensure your content is optimized for search engines, allowing you to connect with your audience and achieve your business goals. So, get started today and see the benefits of keyword research for yourself!