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SEO Starts with “Keyword Research”. You cannot and should not start an SEO process without knowing what you are targeting.

Even when you are tempted to write a blog without searching for keywords, do not do it unless you want to end up with a blog which might have the most competitive keywords to target and only you as the “loyal” readership :).

Keyword research in layman language is the process of finding the right keyword for your website/blog or web page using different methods. Unfortunately, it is also the most ignored or overlooked step while doing SEO.

SEO professionals are more busy building backlinks. They do not want to spend time doing keyword research and analysis to make their website stand out for selected keywords.

Since fundamentals of what is keyword research and analysis are not implemented, the SEO professionals end up selecting the wrong keywords which most of the times lead to wrong endless SEO campaigns. It is imperative to start keyword research before your launch a website because:

  1. Keyword research helps you identify a set of keywords you are targeting
  2. Keyword research also helps you analyze your competitor
  3. You have a clear picture of the traffic you can analyze and you can target keywords to hit the top of rankings
  4. You can build a well thought out plan detailing the amount of time, resources you will need to allocate to reach the top of rankings

One of the reasons for wrong keyword selection (a prominent one) is the usage of wrong or limited tools for researching the keywords. I know, when I use the word “tools” the ones who do not have SEO as a full-time professional are scared.

For them “tools” mean some complicated tool that churning out hundreds of keywords with complex data that does not make sense to them. I understand their apprehensions.

For years, I stayed away from keyword research leaving it to professional until I realized “Hey! It’s not as complicated as they say it is.” And then – I learned keyword research. Today, I use a variety of tools ranging from simple ones to complicated ones (don’t get a panic attack ?) to do keyword research.

How to Do Keyword Research in SEO?

The first answer I hear from all SEO professionals to this question is “Let’s start with google keyword planner”. Most of the SEO Professionals I know rely a lot on google keyword planner for Keyword research.

Since the keyword planner is free from Google, the popularity is quite understandable. Keyword Planner is definitely the first tool you should use when you start with keyword research. But then like all free tools, it has its limitations. One of which is no clear indication of keyword difficulty – An important factor that explains the competition keyword has.

As a matter of fact, it does not have any parameter explaining how much should you slog to get to the top of rankings. Google keyword planner gives you excellent parameters like average monthly searches but for me, it misses a trick by not telling me how difficult it is to get the keyword on top of rankings.

I will be doing a review of Google Keyword planner in another blog that clearly elaborates how to use google keyword planner for keyword research. In this blog, I will be talking more in terms of using simple fundamentals of how to find SEO keywords for a website using google search features like auto fill, related keywords, etc.

The blog is the first chapter of keyword research and to keep it simple, I will not use any keyword research tools. To start with, let’s take an example to demonstrate the initial steps to do keyword research. I am going to be using the example of my start and entrepreneurship blog for keyword research. Think of Keyword Research as the first step to reaching your goal.

The question you should answer before you get down to keyword research is “What exactly are your planning to achieve from the page you are researching the keyword for?”

Identify the goal of creating the page: For the sake of better explanation, let’s assume – I am writing a blog which helps entrepreneurs “write a business plan”. My aim is to reach all internet users who are looking for articles to help them, write a business plan.

Think of keywords related to the aim/goal/purpose of the web page:

Now, this is a crucial step. You will be using the step to identify an initial list of keywords. To start with, think like an end user and then brainstorm the set of keywords you want to target. Since I am targeting “Write a business plan”, the first set of keywords that come to my mind, when I think of writing a business plan are:

  • How to write a business plan
  • Writing a business plan
  • Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  • Business plan for startups
  • Simple business plan
  • Sample business plans

How about I expand the list by using a useful yet ignored feature of google search called as “Google related search”?

Using Google related search to get more keywords: I will add a few more keywords to the list by using google search and related searches at the bottom of the page. I will access google and type “how to write a business plan”. The related searches throw up few random results: keyword research Here are the keywords I selected and discarded from the list based on the goal/purpose/aim of the article I am planning to write:

  • how to write a business plan step by step
  • example of a business plan
  • simple business plan
  • simple business plan example
  • business plan template

The above Keywords are the ones, I selected from the list as they are perfectly in line with what I am planning to write. For ex, the keyword “how to write a business plan step by step” is a keyword that helps me in identifying the structure of my blog. i.e, web users are looking for a blog which helps them write a business plan in a step by step manner. Since I am writing a blog on “how to write a business plan”, keywords: simple business plan, simple business plan example, business plan template, example of a business plan qualify themselves by virtue of the value addition they bring to the blog.

  • free business plan software
  • business plan definition
  • how to write a business plan pdf

I will discard the above three keywords as they do not go with the theme of my blog. To start with, I am not selling a software or giving a pdf. I am also not looking to provide a definition of a business plan. Although it would not hurt to provide one, to help users better understand the blog. As of now, I will stay away from the keyword “definition of a business plan”. My updated list now includes:

  • How to write a business plan
  • Writing a business plan
  • Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  • Business plan for startups
  • Simple business plan
  • Sample business plans
  • how to write a business plan step by step
  • example of a business plan
  • simple business plan
  • simple business plan example
  • business plan template

I have around 11 keywords with me. I usually try to have at least a list of 20 keywords before I go to the next step of filtering the keywords. I need to add few more keywords to the list and to do the same, i will use another feature of google called as Google AutoComplete. Again, a powerful feature of google to help us get more keyword research ideas. Using Google Autocomplete to get more keyword ideas: When I type “business plan” in google search bar. I get the following result: keyword research new I will add the keyword business plan sample to my list. I will expand my list further by using more keywords I researched earlier in the google search and to get more auto-complete results. Let’s see what “Google” has in store for me. I will be using keywords “write a business plan, business plan explained, sample business plan” to get more results. When I type, “write a business plan” the results I get are: keyword research new I select “write a business plan for a startup, write a business plan template” from above auto fill suggestions. keyword research_ “Business plan sections explained” from the above autofill search result. keyword research_updated “Sample business plan for startup” from the above google autofill search result is also added to my list. Wait! I can see a trend here. All the keywords I enter into google search bar come back with results where “startup” is a common word in all autocomplete suggestions. Looks like, the keyword “startup” is quite popular in combination with “business plan”. How about we do another search using the two keywords and see what google shows as results in related search. I searched for business plan | startup and Autocomplete gives the following results: keyword research_googleautofill I will select keywords “business plan startup template, business plan startup example” to my list. Related keywords section gives me the following result: Here are few observations I can make from the related search results:

  1. I should use “new business” along with “business plan” to extend my search. The logic for selecting this combination is that most of the internet users looking for business plan are startup and new business owners.
  2. Another noticeable observation is the usage of words like “pdf, doc, excel” with our root keyword. You know what do these keywords signify?

Just kidding! Newton died long before internet was discovered. The blog was getting veeeery length. I thought of adding some humour. I hope you are not offended. Even if you are. “I deeply apple-ogize,” (at least I get Newton’s apple in “I apple-ogize like Donald trump”)

So where was I?

Hummm….I was telling you what did words “pdf, doc, excel” signify in related search for us.

Simple! They tell us that the users looking for business plan want business plans in pdf, doc, excel format so they can quickly fill in the information in predefined formats and get a ready to use business plan in the shortest time possible.

I think I should add them to my list of keywords. But wait! If I recall correctly, I discarded a keyword “how to write a business plan pdf” from my initial list.

Yes, I did. But then we still have not finalized our initial keyword list. We are still brainstorming and are looking for more ideas to get as many keywords as possible to our initial list.

Let’s take a break and list down all the keywords we have identified till now: The last list of 11 keywords we came up with had the following keywords:

  1. How to write a business plan
  2. Writing a business plan
  3. Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  4. Business plan for startups
  5. Simple business plan
  6. Sample business plans
  7. how to write a business plan step by step
  8. example of a business plan
  9. simple business plan
  10. simple business plan example
  11. business plan template

And then we added business plan sample, business plan for a startup, write a business plan template, Business plan sections explained, Sample business plan for startup, business plan startup template, business plan startup, business plan samples for new business to the list.

I can further expand the list by adding doc/pdf/excel at the end of all the keywords, when I have a final list before taking the keywords and put them through our keyword processing plant (something I just discovered. Don’t make too much out of this. It simply means putting them through analysis). Our updated list now has

  1. How to write a business plan
  2. Writing a business plan
  3. Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  4. Business plan for startups
  5. Simple business plan
  6. Sample business plans
  7. how to write a business plan step by step
  8. example of a business plan
  9. simple business plan
  10. simple business plan example
  11. business plan template
  12. business plan sample
  13. business plan for a startup
  14. write a business plan template
  15. Business plan sections explained
  16. Sample business plan for startup
  17. business plan startup template
  18. business plan startup
  19. business plan samples for new business

8 new entries. I still need to do the keyword research using “business plan” + “new business” keywords. keyword research_relatedsearch As you can see, I get a list of keywords which I have more or less covered till now.

But since I have taken the pain to search using the keyword combination I just mentioned let me browse the list and see if I can dig out something useful.

Free business plan, business plan examples for students are two keywords I find quite interesting.

Free business plan because we are always looking for freebies on internet and I am actually writing a business plan which is free.

I will add the “free” keyword to my list.

Moving forward, I think I missed an important target segment “student” while doing keyword research.

Thank you, Google, for pointing me in the right direction. Students search for business plan for studies or for making business plan for the ventures they might start from their room.

The keyword “business plan examples for students” definitely deserves to be a part of my initial list.

In between, I think I might have missed a very important keyword which I am sure can give me a few more ideas for my initial list. The keyword is “small business”.

I can bet small business owners are always on a look out for business plans to organize their business or to get loans or raise funds through VC, Angel investors for their business. Let me try the keyword combination “small business” + “business plan” in google to get few more ideas. I get similar keywords to what I had researched earlier. The only difference being the word “startup/business” replaced with “small business”. The related search also does not give any new ideas. We have almost covered all of them. Our list now has a total of 21 keywords

  1. How to write a business plan
  2. Writing a business plan
  3. Business plan explained for entrepreneurs
  4. Business plan for startups
  5. Simple business plan
  6. Sample business plans
  7. how to write a business plan step by step
  8. example of a business plan
  9. simple business plan
  10. simple business plan example
  11. business plan template
  12. business plan sample
  13. business plan for a startup
  14. write a business plan template
  15. Business plan sections explained
  16. Sample business plan for startup
  17. business plan startup template
  18. business plan startup
  19. business plan samples for new business
  20. Free business plan
  21. business plan examples for students

and few extra keywords which will be formed by suffixing pdf/doc/excel to keywords where word business plan is used. For ex, free business plan will have 3 more keywords free business plan pdf, free business plan excel, free business plan doc derived from the root keyword free business plan.

Also, “business” and “startup” wherever they are used in the context of defining a business entity will be replaced with word “small business” to form a new set of keywords like “business plan for a small business”.

Before I end the blog, I want to do one more search and get a few more keywords using the search phrase free business plan. I get the above result when I do the search using the keyword free business plan. I can see few new keyword combinations like software, generator, etc but we don’t do any of those things.

I will stick to my original list but to make sure I am not missing any important keyword I will make it a point to prefix-free in front of business plan keyword wherever it is used.

This brings us to the end of our first tutorial. I hope the above blog helps you prepare an initial list of keywords without getting into the technicalities of the number of searches, difficulty level, competitor research, etc.

Again, please do not criticize me for not speaking about the complex stuff.

I have just set the foundation for you to learn. My next blog will focus on using google keyword planner for keyword research.

Jasmeet

Founder at The Sharp Brain
Jasmeet is one of the brains behind The Sharp Brain. Although, not the sharpest brain amongst the team he gets to lead the team because of the "founder" designation next to his surname.

He shares his startup experiences at http://lessonsatstartup.com
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