Welcome to our free beginner guide to SEO course.
In this SEO beginner tutorial course, I will assume you know nothing about SEO.
The aim is to give you a clear understanding of search engines, SEO optimization, and how it works.
Now let’s take a look into our free SEO course plan.
It consists of 5 different stages:
I will teach all SEO processes in a logical order from the basic SEO, keyword research, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and SEO maintenance.
I will host exclusive Q/A sessions and webinars with our community to further help and solve all your SEO doubts, so make sure to join us.
Also, I will upload all the free SEO videos I create to my YouTube channel so make sure to subscribe to get notified on new videos. https://www.youtube.com/c/AlstonAntony/
But, do remember SEO takes time to learn and there is no “Secret Pill” for instant ranking so you need to put in effort into learning and practicing all the things which I will teach.
Feedback From SEO Students
Here are some of the feedback from students who are learning SEO step by step for this guide. You can more feedback in our private Facebook community group here.
SEO Basics in 2022 – Full Video Course
SEO Keyword Research in 2022 – Full Video Course
SEO Basics Course in 2022
What is a Search Engine & How it Works?
If you ask “what is a search engine?” you will see so many different answers.
The goal of this lesson is to give you a clear understanding of search engine, how it works, top search engines in the market, and how search engine add new websites to its database.
Search Engine Definition
This is how I will define search engine.
It is a platform where you can search for something you want to learn more about, and it will present you with relevant information it has from its database.
That sounds simple, right? Just like a directory.
However, web search engines are complicated because their database is the Internet (World Wide Web) and they need to figure how to show accurate and the best search results to a query.
Let’s look at some facts to understand the complexity:
- More than 1.1 billion websites exist on the internet and you can just imagine the total number of web pages! (NetCraft, 2021)
- Search engines contain at least 5.55 billion indexed pages (WorldWideWebSize, 2021)
- Google alone processes over 40,000 search queries per second, and that’s almost 3.5 billion a day. (InternetLiveStats, 2021)
Here are some potential problems search engines face due to this:
- How do we find all the webpages on the Internet?
- How do we store all web page information in our database?
- How do we find and retrieve data from our database for a search query?
- In what order should we display the results?
- How to present the results for a great user experience?
- What’s the best way to manage all users simultaneously?
A search engine has to find a way to answer all the above questions to be effective.
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Now let’s quickly take a look at how search engine works when you type a search query.
- A user goes to the search engine
- User searches for something
- The search engine scans its database
- With the help of machine and human guidelines, it finds the best search results
- The user is presented with an accurate set of results to his/her search query
Let’s find out why all search engines are not the same.
First, we will take a look into the search engine market share.
The below market share data is as of Feb, 2021 (StatCounter)
- Google: 91.86%
- Bing: 2.71%
- Yahoo: 1.46%
- Baidu: 1.13%
- Yandex: 0.087%
- DuckDuckGo: 0.66%
From the above percentages, it’s clear that Google is the king of search engines.
It is because they have provided the best answers for all the problems search engines and users faced.
The Google search engine received 88.36 billion visits this year (Similarweb, 2019).
Google’s index or database contains hundreds of billions of web pages. (Google, Unknown)
Since Google is the market leader, it makes sense to concentrate most of our SEO efforts to it.
So, in this free SEO course I will primarily focus on Google SEO optimization.
However, as a secondary option, you can also optimize for Bing & Yahoo since they share databases and all the Microsoft devices, and the operating system’s default search engine is Bing.
How Do Search Engines Add Websites?
Let’s quickly see how search engine identify and add websites to its database.
The process includes three main stages:
In this process, search engines use automated apps that continually search for all webpages on the internet (World Wide Web).
These automated programs are called search crawlers or web-spiders.
There are several ways search engines gather information about web pages, but the most common way is by following links from web-pages already known to them.
In this stage, the search engine visits the pages it crawled before.
Content on every web page, including the text, images, video, PDF, and more, will be analyzed to determine the page’s topic and catalog it so these can be easily retrieved when needed.
All the information will be stored (cached) in their database (Search index).
Serving Search Results
It happens when a person searches for something on a search engine.
Search engines will display the most relevant & best set of search results from its database (Search Index).
The “Best” search results will be determined by several factors, including searcher location, language, device, search engine algorithms (search rules & guidelines), user intent, SEO competition, and more.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
We learned in our previous lesson that search engine delivers the most relevant results for each search query.
Search engines use something called ranking factors to decide the best search results for a query.
These ranking factors describe the internal rules and guidelines that each search engine uses to determine the best results for the users.
FACT: Google never discloses their ranking factors in full, but experts estimate that there are over 200 ranking factors.
Search Engine Optimization Definition
Now, let me define Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your web pages according to ranking factors for your targeted search queries in search engines to rank at the top positions in organic (non-paid) search results.
There are so many ways to refer SEO and here are some common ones:
- Website ranking
- SERP ranking
- Website SEO promotion
- Search engine submission
- Search engine placement
- Search engine positioning
- And more.
SEO Process Steps
The search engine optimization process can be divided into several logical sub-processes:
It will help us to keep focused and have planned SEO process when doing SEO for our website.
The steps are:
Analyzing your market to finding relevant, right user intent, and profitable search queries for your web pages.
On-Page SEO Optimization
Optimizing the contextual & logical search engine ranking factors within your website.
Technical SEO Optimization
Optimizing the technical or code-level search ranking factors within your website.
Off-Page SEO Optimization
Optimizing ranking factors that are outside of your website and this step is also known as the link building or backlink process.
SERP Tracking & Maintenance
Monitoring, maintaining, and re-optimizing your SEO by analyzing existing data, new industry updates, and adjusting our content/process accordingly.
Why is SEO Important? Advantages & Disadvantages
Since there are so many digital marketing methods available, let’s see why SEO is one of the best.
For you to realize why SEO is important first we need to learn the pros and cons of search engine optimization.
It will help you to understand the importance of SEO and whether this is the right digital marketing strategy for you.
SEO Advantages & Disadvantages
Now let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of SEO.
Advantages of SEO
First we going to learn the advantages.
Google alone processes more than 40,000 searches per second – that’s over 3.5 billion a day. (InternetLiveStats, 2021)
Which simply mean that there are alot of users who are using search engines daily.
The demand also keeps on growing every day, which alone shows the potential market reach through search engines.
Brings Quality Traffic
Unlike other marketing techniques where you reach out to the customers.
For example: Showing ads to users on social media or printing leaflets for your business promotion.
In search engine users come to you in search of solutions or necessary information for their needs.
So you are not going after users or customers but they are coming to you for help.
As a result, if you rank at the top positions in search results then users will find you and you can offer your solution/information to them.
Free Targeted Traffic
In most digital and in local marketing methods you will need to pay either to display or for every click you receive.
For example: Pay-per-click advertisements in search engines or monthly ad subscriptions for blogs.
But search engine organic traffic is a channel where you don’t have to pay either for clicks or to display.
The traffic you receive is free and also targeted where they already have interest in your solution or info that’s why they are searching for it.
Less Work Once Ranked
After you rank on the top positions for your targeted search queries.
It will become easier for you to maintain your top positions.
This is because when search engine ranks a website at top positions that is indicator which shows the trust search engine have on that website.
So it will be easier for you to maintain your top-ranking positions compared to a new website which looking to earn the top rankings for the first time.
More Opportunities Once Ranked
When you rank high in search engines, it is a sign that search engines trust you and your website has higher SEO power.
Then you can easily rank for other low to medium competition-related keywords without a lot of SEO effort or no SEO effort at all.
SEO is Trust-able than PPC
PPC means pay-per-click advertising.
In search engines, it’s offered as a way to advertise your website & pay for every click you receive on the search results page for target search queries.
These ads are displayed on the top, bottom, and right side of the search results page.
The optimization and management of PPC in search engines are known as search engine marketing.
Due to this, you might think you can invest alot in PPC and get all the organic traffic without any SEO efforts.
It is true sometimes but studies show that only about 15% of people click on advertisements.
There may be several reasons for this, but common reasons include human instincts to avoid advertisements and ad-blockers.
So with good SEO, you can have more visibility and trustability for your websites in search results.
Builds Brand Awareness
Being able to rank on top positions is like an additional trust metric that demonstrates you’re one of the industry’s leading players.
Most people know that search engines won’t rank a site high until it’s trustworthy.
So when more people see your brand it will create a lot of indirect marketing benefits.
For example: Others might link to your website from their articles, potential stakeholders can reach out to you and more.
Growth is Track-able
Most of the time it’s hard to measure growth in marketing strategies.
However SEO is one of the most straightforward strategy to measure your progress.
There many tools which you can use to track and monitor your SEO progress such as:
The SERP tracker which helps you see your ranking growth.
Analytics & search consoles are freely provided by the search engine to monitor your site’s SEO data.
You can also use third-party free or paid software to track alot more SEO data such as backlinks, keywords, on-page SEO optimization, technical SEO, and more.
In overall, SEO can be easily tracked and you can monitor the growth too.
Disadvantages of SEO
Now lets took a look into some major cons of SEO.
Results Are Not Instant
It one of the most important factors you need to understand.
When you want to rank for a particular search query remember that it’s already ranked by dozens or hundreds of competitors who could have been doing SEO or search engine trust their website for a long time.
So you can’t expect to just start SEO today and get ranked tomorrow or in a couple of days.
It will take consistent SEO efforts and resources to get your desired top rankings and to maintain it.
Many marketers are aware of SEO’s value and profit it can generate if it’s used effectively.
Due to this, SEO competition is at an all-time high, and almost every SEO expert knows that ranking on the first page of search results isn’t easy.
It’s increasingly difficult to rank for keywords even if you’re doing everything right.
This means you will need to be patient and continue to work on SEO smartly.
For Example: Rather than targeting highly competitive keywords, you could go for low-competition keywords within your industry.
Search Penalty & Algorithm Updates
These are the actions or guidelines that taken or set by search engines if you misuse SEO or use bad SEO practices.
Search engines can penalize you by removing your site from its index or push your site to lower-ranking from the top positions.
So this shows how much careful you need to be when taking any SEO decisions because it can either have a positive or negative effect.
Most of the time these negative effects will be hard to recover.
There is No Secret Technique
SEO is not difficult when you know what you’re doing.
However, keep in mind that SEO success will require hard work, creativity, time, and money.
It’s especially true if you’re in a very competitive industry.
80% Users Never Go Past First Page
You should always aim for the top 3 results in search engine rankings because this is where the majority of your users go.
The tail-end of the search results page receives very little traffic and anything past the second page rarely gets any traffic at all.
So it’s vital that you have first-page rankings to receive organic traffic and if you can’t make it to the first page then it will not bring any organic traffic to your website.
SEO Benefit Proof
SEO has many pros and cons; I only listed the most significant ones.
Personally, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and I received thousands of visitors to my websites to prove that point.
The above screenshot shows the traffic I received for SaaSPirate which is a deals platform.
The chart from Google Search Console shows that I received over 76.5K visitors from free search traffic for 1 year.
Depending on your situation & the mentioned factors above, you can decide whether to SEO your website.
And if your answer is “YES” then I will see you on the next lesson.
What is The Difference Between SEO and SEM?
In previous lessons, we discussed SEO’s importance along with its advantages and disadvantages.
In this lesson we are going learn the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) vs. Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEO vs SEM
Now that we have a good understanding of SEO, let’s see the differences between SEO and SEM and how to choose right one for you?
SEM and SEO is not the same thing.
SEO is the process of improving your site’s position in search engine’s organic or unpaid results.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to the optimization of the paid advertisement on search engines, also known as PPC advertising which is displaying ads on SERP pages.
Bing and Google are the two most popular search engines that offer ads for their users.
Advantages of Using SEO over SEM
You don’t need to pay for clicks since search traffic is free but in SEM you need topay for every click you receive even if they leave your website as soon as they clicked or didn’t make any interactions within your website.
Many people block search engines and other websites’ advertisements with their ad blockers. According to the report (Statista, 2021) in the United States alone, 27% of users block ads using adblocking tech.
Reports show that ads have a lower click-through rate than organic listing. There can many reasons for this factor from psychology to tech.
Even though SEO is slower compared to SEM but SEO has a higher chance of huge profits & ROI in the long run.
Advantages of Using SEM over SEO
In SEO you can’t expect results within a short time frame but with SEM you can expect it because as soon as you set up an AD campaign and when it’s published then your ad will be shown to all your target audience in SERP results.
You can target many keywords at once: PPC ads cost will range according to industry and number of advertisers bidding for the keywords. It can range anywhere from 0.10$ to 500$ or more for every click so when you have enough budget then you can instantly target as many keywords as you want.
You don’t need to worry about SEO: SEM is not about SEO optimization where you don’t need on-page optimization, backlinks, and SEO power. It’s all about spending money on ads and managing your ads effectively. So if you decide to choose SEM then you don’t need to worry about SEO factors.
SEM is very responsive and flexible: Since you can expect to see results fast with SEM you can immediately check whether the choosen keyword(s) or niche is profitable or it requires any changes in your end then you easily adjust accordingly and restart the process. This makes your workflow very flexible and fast and due to this SEM can be profitable in the short run.
Which to Choose? SEO or SEM
Both SEO and SEM are great digital marketing strategies.
Both have various pros and cons as we seen in this lesson and there is no right or wrong strategy instead you choose whichever strategy you want to focus on most according to your requirement.
Sometimes you don’t even have to choose because you can start working on both simultaneously where you get results in short term through SEM (Since SEO takes time) and get higher ROI in long term through SEO (Since you don’t need to pay for every click).
That should clarify the differences between search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
In this lesson, we are going to learn what is search engine results page, main elements in it and how you can use it effectively.
What is SERP?
SERP stands for search engine result page which is the list of results you get back once you press the search button in the search engine.
Now let’s take a look at all the main elements which you can find within SERP pages.
We will mainly focus on Google for SEO optimization due to its popularity as we saw in our previous lesson, So in this guide, I will use Google as an example to explain SERP page elements.
Google auto-suggest – This hidden element inside the search results page where when typing something in Google’s search bar it will try to suggest you related keywords according to its database and other searchers’ past history.
There are different tabs in search results page which organize the content using logical groups. These include:
- All – This is the default which shows all the results
- Images – Displaying image results.
- News – Displaying news results.
- Maps – Displaying location & navigational results.
- Books – Displaying books & educational results.
- Shopping – Displaying products & shopping results.
- Videos – Displaying video results.
“Tools” filter lets you view web results based on specific time frames such as past hour, past day, past week, past month, past year, and more.
“Setting” filter includes various settings which can customize the search results page such as the number of results you want to see per page, language settings, view search history, and more.
The number you see below the search bar is known as search index count for that specific search query.
This shows how many relevant results Google has for that specific search query.
These are Google Adwords listings that you pay for each click you receive and it will be displayed on various positions in the SERP pages including top, bottom and sidebar.
These are local results which is coming from your local geographical area.
The data comes from “Google My Business” listings and typically will show businesses and services operate in your location.
I will teach more details on this on my free local SEO course.
People also ask section shows relevant questions which gets asked on industry related to your search query.
When you click on the question it will reveal the answer and link back to the source.
These are Google shopping results & shopping-based ads from PPC. It’s usually displayed at top of the search results, sidebar and footer for targeted commercial keywords.
Featured Snippet is also known as zero search place snippet where google curates an answer, link, and picture from the most suitable sources and displays them as a single answer at top of organic search results when it makes sense.
Video results snippet will show relevant videos from video sites (Primarily from YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo) related to your search query.
Images results will show relevant images Google found from it’s indexed websites for your search query.
Social content snippet shows social messages from popular networks such as Twitter related to your search query.
Related searches show related search queries to your search based on search engine database, AI & past searchers history.
Page navigation provides a way to navigate search results for your search query.
What Are The Different Types of SEO?
Based on our previous lessons, we know what search engine optimization is.
Let’s see the definition again.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your web pages according to ranking factors for your targeted search queries in search engines in order to rank at top positions in organic (non-paid) search results.
The SEO process is the same for any type of SEO, but workflow and metrics will differ according to some specific requirements due to specialized SEO types.
Once the introductory free SEO course is completed, I will create separate free SEO courses for each of these SEO types.
Now let’s take a look at major types of SEO which you can do.
It is the most common SEO process of ranking our pages in higher positions in search results pages that target the worldwide audience.
In this type of SEO, you aim to boost your ranking in specific geographic areas by focusing your efforts on a particular country, state, city, or neighborhood.
You can use local SEO for:
- Your business website
- Google or Bing business listing
- Promotional video for your business on YouTube
- and more.
This SEO type is ideal for small businesses who are looking sell products or offer services in one particular geographical area.
Now let’s take a look at some facts (Hubspot, Unkown) that shows the importance of local SEO to business owners:
- 72% of buyers did a local search and visited stores within five miles.
- More than 97% of people get their information about local companies online.
- 88% of mobile searches for local businesses result in either a call or visit within 24 hours.
- 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.
- “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. Eg: “best digital marketing agency near me”
It is the process of optimizing your videos to rank higher on YouTube search results and making it appear frequently on suggested and related videos.
Here are some main reasons to SEO for YouTube (YouTube Press, Unkown):
- More than 2 billion people use YouTube.
- YouTube is localized in over 100 countries and is accessible in 80 languages.
- 1 billion hours of video are viewed every day.
- Youtube videos can be monetized, and over the past 5 years, they’ve paid more than $2 bn to partners.
It is the process of optimizing your YouTube videos to rank higher in search engine search results page.
Few important reasons on why you should optimize your videos for search engines include:
- Google owns YouTube, so search results will show YouTube videos prominently.
- Unlike new websites where you need to earn trust from Google but when you create a YouTube video, it is hosted on YouTube, where the website is already trusted so it will speed up the ranking process.
- Videos are more captivating compared to texts, and people watch videos for longer periods compared to reading.
Image SEO means optimizing your website’s images to rank higher in image search results or image snippets in SERP pages.
The reason for optimizing your images for search engines include:
- Report shows that 33% of whole searches in search engines return an image snippet. (MozCast, 2021)
- Search engines have dedicated sections for image search.
- Lots of people use Google Images when they are expecting to find only image results.
Search engines show different sets of SERP results for the same query from desktop and mobile devices.
The increasing level of mobile users makes it one of the most important factors of SEO.
Therefore, search engines have specific set of guidelines to have your website optimized for mobiles, or you won’t rank well in mobile search results.
So definition for Mobile SEO is:
It is a process of SEO optimizing your website for mobile devices, focusing on mobile user experience to gain higher rankings in mobile search engine results pages (SERPs).
Below are some of major reasons why Mobile SEO is beneficial:
- 52.2% of all worldwide website traffic comes from mobile phones. (Statista, 2019)
- There are more searches on mobile devices than desktop. (ThinkWithGoogle, 2016)
- 87% of smartphone users use search engines at least once a day. (Yahoo, Unknown)
- 40% of mobile website visitors will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. (ThinkWithGoogle, 2016)
eCommerce is the process of selling products or services over the Internet.
We perform SEO differently for eCommerce store websites than we do for regular websites or blogs.
So my definition of eCommerce SEO is
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your store website and product pages to rank higher in the SERP results for commercial intent search queries.
Some facts to help you understand the importance of eCommerce SEO include:
- By the year 2040, it’s estimated that 95% of all purchases will be through eCommerce. (Nasdaq, 2017)
- 44% of people start their online shopping with a Google search. (nChannel, 2015)
WordPress is a free web software known as a content management system (CMS) that helps you create and manage a website or blog without web technical knowledge or advanced HTML.
It’s one of the best and easiest ways to create dynamic websites.
There are at least 500+ new WordPress sites created every day and WordPress CMS powers around 40% of websites on the whole Internet (W3Techs, 2021).
We even use WordPress at Digital Marketing Mind.
In addition to being a popular CMS for sites and blogs, WordPress can also be used to convert your website to an eCommerce store with a free WordPress plugin called wooCommerce.
So WordPress SEO is the process of SEO optimizing your WordPress blogs to gain higher SERP rankings in search engines.
Other Types of SEO
That’s not all types, and there are more types such as:
- App Store SEO: Process of SEO optimizing app in PlayStore’s search engine.
- Blogger SEO: Process of SEO optimizing Google Blogger blogs.
- Wix SEO: Process of SEO optimizing of Wix CMS blogs.
- Voice SEO: Process of SEO optimizing your audio content to rank for voice search.
- News SEO: Process of SEO optimizing your news content to get indexed fast and rank higher in the search engine’s news section.
What is Google Algorithm Updates & Penalty?
We know that Google works to deliver relevant search results for a user’s search query.
To provide more accurate results, Google uses algorithms, ranking factors, and guidelines.
Google will be adding, updating and removing its rules & guidelines over the time.
We call this “Algorithm updates.”
How to Track Latest Google Algorithm Updates?
The latest Google algorithm update will consistently be changing because they release it frequently.
Google doesn’t typically announce all the updates, but if they are significant and cause many changes in SERP then they will.
The algorithm updates are also monitored daily through search results fluctuations by third-party tools such as MozCast, Semrush & more where you find about search updates even without an official announcement from Google.
There also various SEO authority blogs and news channel which you could follow to keep updated on SEO updates and these include:
What Are the Main Google Algorithm Updates & Changes in the Past?
As I said, in the beginning, there are a lot of search algorithm updates and some are not even officially announced so now let’s see some of the biggest updates in the past.
TIP: When Google does not announce an update but if we find it as a major update then we call these core updates.
If you do not understand some of the terms which I am going to mention then don’t worry, as I will explain them in-detail on our free SEO technical and on-page optimization course.
The purpose was to check the content quality of web-pages.
It checks for duplicate content, plagiarism (copied), thin content (empty pages) & spam.
The focus was to find low quality or spammy backlinks.
It checks for spammy linked websites, buying backlinks, public blog network, irrelevant links, over-optimized anchor texts & more.
The focus was on logical content analysis & optimization.
It checks user intent, analyzes search queries, and identifies keyword stuffing and low-quality content.
The focus was to make sure websites are mobile-optimized due to the growth of mobile search users.
It checks for the responsiveness of websites for mobile and also checks mobile user experience.
Mobile responsive website is no longer an optional choice but a mandatory requirement for Google search engine.
The focus was on user experience and understanding the user intent.
Using the advancements of machine learning, they try to determine the meaning or intent behind search queries and delivers the best-matching search results.
The focus was on medical, law, and educational websites which provides life altering information.
The reason for this because there are so many spams or shady websites which started offering various solutions without a proper background check, authenticity & expert knowledge.
So in order to make the information is fully ethical and trust-able, Google introduced this search update.
It validates the quality of medical, law, and educational websites by implementing E-A-T metrics, which stands for expertise, authority, and trust signals.
The focus was on optimizing content and establishing authority.
The content is checked using natural language processing to understand search queries better, identify entities and relationships between entities in order to improve the accuracy of related search results.
What is a Google Search Penalty?
This is an important action you need to understand in SEO.
When a website does not meet Google quality standards according to its algorithm & guidelines, Google will take one of 2 steps for this:
The search engine finds your site is not following their rules without any human involvement using automated search algorithms and negatively affect the website’s ranking in SERP pages.
It will lower your site’s SERP ranking, and to get your ranking back, you have to identify the errors you made, fix them, and continue to do SEO.
Eventually, search engine will reverse the penalty.
A person from the search engine web-spam team visits your website and checks whether you have abused SEO in any way and places a manual penalty if they find any proof.
It is hard to recover from this since this is the worst-case scenario where you have to fix everything mentioned and send a request to a search engine so they can manually re-evaluate your site.
It is possible but will take a lot of time and effort to get back on track compared to the automatic penalty.
It would be best if you kept in mind that any SEO work you do can positively or negatively affect your website.
However, even if your website is correctly optimized for all the current SEO algorithms, that does not mean it’s protected from future algorithms.
Importance of Setting Realistic SEO Expectations
SEO is long term process so you need to understand realities & how to set SEO expectations.
This lesson teaches you what’s possible and not possible in SEO.
Normally this type of lesson is most often ignored in SEO basics.
However having a clear understanding of achievable SEO goals, expectations and myths is important for SEO success.
Why Understanding SEO Realities is Important?
Let’s take a look at why understanding SEO realities are important:
For Your-self: When you are learning SEO for yourself, setting realistic SEO goals will help you to stay on course, keep you motivated and plan your resources effectively.
When Hiring: Sometimes just to get your order someone might make fake promises but when you have a clear understanding of SEO realities then you know whether it is true and achievable.
When Selling: If you are planning to offer SEO services for your clients then you can educate your clients on achievable SEO goals and not mislead them unknowingly.
Realities of SEO
Now let’s take a look at some of the major SEO realities which every SEO marketer should know.
It’s Not Easy to Rank in Top SERP Positions
It’s most often misunderstood or misused in the SEO industry.
Most of the time ranking on top SERP positions takes significant time, effort and resources.
When you build a new website or optimize a webpage for SEO for the first time, there are already dozens or hundreds of websites that have been doing SEO for years and search engines trust them to keep them at top SERP positions.
Therefore, you have to perform better SEO than all of them to convince search engines to rank your website higher than them where the process is not going to be easy.
TIP: Ranking time varies based on multiple factors such as keyword competition, industry websites SEO, your site SEO stats, and more.
Realistic Time Frame for Ranking
Here’s an estimate from my experiences regarding time frame for ranking when you do SEO effectively:
Low Competition Search Queries
If your SEO competition is really low where your competitors do not do SEO at all or do a very poor job then you may be able to rank in the search engine top spots within 1-3 months.
Medium Competition Queries
If your target search queries have moderate SEO competition where some competitors perform good SEO, but most do not then you might be able to achieve higher rankings in 3-6 months.
Hard Competition Queries
If your targeted search query has high SEO competition and most of your competitors are doing solid SEO & some are doing good enough SEO; then search engine rankings can be expected within 6-12 months.
Highest Difficulty Search Queries
If all your competitors are actively doing excellent SEO for years then you expect SEO ranking in no less than 12 months.
Again, these are not fixed, and any number of factors can alter the time frame, but these are reasonable estimates to keep in mind.
Additionally, you can shorten the time frame of ranking by investing more resources like time and money.
However, remember that if you want to appear natural, you need to maintain the growth; otherwise, it will appear unnatural, and search engines may negatively affect your website.
SEO is Not a One-time Process
SEO process is not a series of one-time steps.
SEO is a continuous process that involves optimization of on-site website factors & outside ranking factors.
You have to continually perform SEO to ensure that your competitors don’t overtake you and you retain your top rankings.
There are valid reason why some people might assume it’s a one-time process:
- If there is very little SEO competition, then you can rank with just on-page SEO optimization.
- OR If you have an extremely high SEO-powered website, you are more likely to rank for low to medium competition search queries with little or no SEO effort.
Therefore, you need to understand that SEO requires continuous effort to achieve and maintain SERP rankings.
On-page SEO is Not Enough for Competitive Keywords
As we discussed in our search engine optimization chapter, SEO is a 4 step process.
It consists of Keyword research, On-page SEO optimization, Off-page SEO optimization & SERP Maintenance.
You can only get away with good keyword research and on-page SEO when your target market is not competitive.
Generally to get better rankings, solid SEO work will be needed on the four major areas of search engine optimization.
SEO Can Cost You
SEO optimization can be done for free, but it has many limitations
Now let’s see the reasons on how SEO can cost you:
For example, when we do keyword research, paid tools will get us data faster & accurate, whereas free SEO tools will provide limited data, and will require more manual research.
Whether it’s for keyword research or off-page SEO, relying solely on free solutions will not provide complete data for SEO and sometimes it’s not possible at all.
Popular industries tend to have highly difficult SEO competiton since all your competitors know the return on investment for top ranking so they invest lot of time, money, and premium SEO resources, so you won’t be able to compete or beat them by just using free resources in a short amount of time or without investing a lot of resources.
Inaccurate Data Will Lead to Failure
Optimizing an SEO campaign using insufficient or inaccurate data can lead to a lot of mistakes.
For example: choosing the wrong target keywords will make the entire SEO process useless.
This does not mean any data from free SEO tools is wrong but with a limited database or features set it might mislead you.
Outreach Can Be Expensive
There so many outreach techniques and you need to work on them smartly since your SEO competitors will also outreach a lot.
There will always be some expense involved when you are doing link building, outreach, and partnerships.
For example: Sponsoring an event or paying for press release submissions or paying for software to outreach, and more.
This does mean in order to outreach you need to pay instead most time there will some kind of cost directly or indirectly.
More Traffic Does Not Mean More Profits
When it comes to SEO, search intent and targeted traffic are more important than search volume.
I mentioned this in my SEO trends video too, and I will discuss this in my free keyword research course too in detail.
You will get fewer conversions from search traffic that is not targeted compared to traffic that is targeted even if the search volume is lower.
Therefore, do not mistake more search traffic for greater profits instead focus on intent and understanding your target audience’s mindset.
Search Engine Optimization is Not Risk-free
It would be impossible for search engines to evaluate each site using humans, so they rely on their automated search algorithms, use AI & cutting-edge tech.
It aims to identify websites that misuse SEO or use spammy practices and negatively affect them on search rankings as we learned in our search algorithm & penalty lesson.
So don’t forget that any process you do for SEO has a risk and if do something wrong then it can negatively impact your website.
White Hat vs. Black Hat vs. Gray Hat SEO: What’s the Difference?
In SEO, there are no fixed set of methods for ranking.
SEO strategies can range from ethical tactics to unethical practices.
As a result, SEO strategies are classified into three categories.
They are called white hat SEO, black hat SEO, and grey hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO refers to the practice of using unethical methods to trick search engines into improve SERP ranking.
This is completely against Google search engine’s guidelines and most of its search algorithm updates’ goal is to prevent this.
People still use this because it works in the short term and likely to fail in the long run.
Some of the techniques include:
- Hacking websites for links
- Hidden link injection for links
- Keyword stuffing
- Cloaking pages to show different pages to search engines & users
- Hidden & doorway pages
- Duplicate & copy others’ content
- Blog comment spam
- and more
A few examples where Black Hat SEO is commonly used include casinos, adult industry, sneakers, and loans niche, where even ranking for short time could mean a lot of profits.
Although not every black hat SEO method is illegal, some of these methods are illegal under the law could cause serious harm to your business and reputation.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO refers to the practice of using ethical methods to improve SERP rankings.
In this strategy you mainly focus on user experience and this is what Google encourage you to do.
Some of the white hat SEO methods are:
- Schema & structured data optimization
- Relevant SEO marketing outreach
- On-page SEO optimization
- Content optimization & SEO copywriting
- Brand awareness building
- User intent focused keyword research
- and more
This is the most safest SEO approach which protects your website in the long run too.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey hat SEO refers to the practice of using semi-ethical methods to improve SERP rankings.
It’s like a hybrid between Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO.
Different people will have various definitions and strategies which they consider has grey hat SEO.
Some of the Grey Hat SEO techniques include:
- Buying high-power expired domains
- Paid links outreach
- Automated backlinks creation
These grey hat strategies still haven’t been announced as bad practices yet by search engines, but we know that it’s not entirely ethical too.
What SEO Technique Should You Choose?
SEO strategies will keep on changing along with their SEO type classification.
A grey hat SEO method can easily change into Black Hat SEO method tomorrow.
So don’t spend too much time worrying about classification.
I advise you to focus on ethical strategies if you want to do safe SEO and protect your website or web properties in the future from SEO algorithm updates.
SEO Quiz for Beginners – Test Your SEO Basics
I have created this quiz for you to test your SEO basics knowledge you got in this free course.
It will help you to check what you have learned.
Getting “PASS” means you have a good SEO foundation and ready for the keyword research course.
In case you receive “FAIL”, try to go through our SEO basics course again.
Good luck!SEO Quiz for Beginners – Test Your SEO Basics
Beginner SEO Tutorial Conclusion
Awesome you have completed this free SEO basics course.
However you have just begun your SEO learning journey.
My goal for this course was to quickly teach you all the basics of SEO so that you have clear understanding of the fundamentals.
We will now move on to “Keyword Research” SEO course.
It is the most important and critical stage of the SEO process since picking the wrong keywords can make your entire SEO useless.
SEO Keyword Research Course in 2022
What is keyword?
Keyword in the SEO industry stands for a specific word or phrase that people type into search engines to find the content they are looking for.
What’s keywords for searcher
A keyword is a word or a phrase that a person uses to search for a product or any information on the web.
A keyword can be a single word, phrase, incomplete sentence, complete sentence, and so forth.
For example, if you want to buy some new clothes, you type “clothes” or “best t-shirts for the winter season” in the search engine, then it’s a keyword.
What’s keywords for website’s owner
As a website owner or content creator, you need to choose the right keywords for your product, blog post, article, or page.
Then they can use identified keywords to SEO your website and get the content on top of search engine results.
Because by choosing the right keyword for your product, you will be able to bring potential targeted visitors to your website.
What’s keywords for search engine
A search engine uses keywords to understand the content of a web page and rank it accordingly based on SEO factors.
Now we know what keywords are and now let’s see what types of keywords are there.
This contextual grouping to classify keywords based on common criteria to have a better understanding.
Most of the time definition for these keyword types will vary from person to person.
SEO Keywords: Keywords for SERP ranking
SEO Keywords are terms which created from SEO lingo; basically, it represents organic or SERP keyword.
Seed keywords are words or phrases that are considered a starting point for their industry.
For example, if I write a blog post on “Best Practices in SEO 2021: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization Principles & Tips“, then “SEO” is my seed keyword.
The primary keyword in SEO is your target or popular phrase or a word that you want to rank high for in search engines.
For example, if I am writing a blog post on “Best Practices in SEO 2021: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization Principles & Tips”, then “Best Practices in SEO” is my primary keyword.
Secondary (Related) keyword
Secondary keywords or related keywords are the additional keywords that are related to your primary keyword.
These keywords help broaden the web page’s reach in SERP and add more content for people searching for these keywords.
For example, if I am writing a blog post on “Best Practices in SEO 2021: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization Principles & Tips”, then one of my secondary keywords is “best places to buy the domain name”.
The first important thing is that there is no such thing as “LSI keywords”; it’s an improper term we use.
The acronym “LSI” stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.
It is a natural-language processing technique created in the 1980s.
LSI is a method of assigning meaning to words by extracting the semantic relationships between them.
Since Google does not use the LSI NLP model and they have confirmed it too.
Instead, what they do is they have created their algorithms based on semantic words & entities to learn the meaning of the web pages.
For example, words such as “phone” and “apple” might have two different meaning, but when we put together, then it points to “Apple brand phone.”
It’s an advanced SEO keyword strategy used by search engines to find & rank webpages even if the keyword is not mentioned on the webpage but still relevant for users.
You don’t need to complicate this.
- You can use general knowledge or common to figure out semantic keywords.
- You use synonyms.
- You can use the search engine’s auto-complete; people also ask for snippets and related keywords.
- Use keyword research tools that can identify all these keywords, and it’s usually called “NLP data.”
- and more
For example, suppose I am writing a blog post on “Best Practices in SEO 2021: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization Principles & Tips”. In that case, one of my LSI keywords is “Namecheap,” which is one of the domain registrars I recommended in that article.
Time-Based Keywords: Timespan based keyword research
Timespan-based keywords will be in demand only during a particular time frame.
Short-term fresh keyword
Short-term fresh keywords have been recently created, and it has a large amount of traffic and is still growing.
The fresh keyword will have explosive search traffic but a harsh fall when the hype is over.
For example, This includes movie name or incident.
Long-term evergreen keyword
Long-term evergreen keywords have been around for a while and have the potential to bring in consistent traffic over a long period of time.
For example, ‘Learn SEO for free’ is a long-term evergreen keyword because it has been searched for decades and will be in the future too.
Seasonal keywords are those that have a certain time frame in which they are relevant.
For example, ‘Christmas gifts’ is a seasonal keyword as it would be relevant for the time period from November to December.
A dying keyword is a keyword that has lost its value in search engine results.
The term “dying keywords” is often used to refer to keywords that are no longer relevant to the results of a search query or the industry is slowing shutting down.
For example, a product from a company that closed down recently or people is moving away from an industry like “Film-roll camera to digital.”
Keywords by length: Words length and intent
Length-based keywords are keywords that are based on the total length of the keyword phrase.
Short or single word keyword
Short or single word keyword in SEO is the keywords which have only one word or short phrases.
For example, a Single-word keyword “SEO” is a short “search engine optimization” keyword.
Usually, these keywords will be very hard to rank for in search engines because the SERP results page will be full web pages with a lot of SEO power.
Regular or mid-tail keyword
Regular or mid-tail keywords are the keyword phrases that have between 2 and 6 words.
These are the common keywords you will find the most while doing keyword research.
Usually, these keywords will be medium to hard SEO competitive keywords.
Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that typically have between 6 and 20 words.
Long-tail keywords aren’t searched very often but will have low SERP competition compared to other keywords.
Questions keywords or sentence keywords also make for good long-tail keywords.
These terms are also called “low-hanging fruit” because they are easier to rank and will likely have less competition with great conversions since the intent is very focused.
Business or customer-centric keywords: Identifying customers
These keywords refer to a word, phrase, or idea geared towards identifying the business’s stakeholders.
A well-defined business or customer-centric keyword is clearly defined and focused on the target customer’s needs or identify the customer.
Market segment keyword
Market segment keywords are the words, phrases, and topics related to a specific market or industry.
For example, the keyword “SEO” is a market segment keyword because it is associated with the Search Engine Optimization industry.
While not all keywords are associated with a specific industry, some broad and general terms may be considered market segment keywords.
Customer defining keyword
A customer-centric keywords are words and phrases focused on your target customers.
A customer-defining keyword has been derived from customer-focused research and is based on the needs and wants of the target audience.
For example, a customer-oriented keyword might be “best web hosting for small business owners” This keyword is derived from research on niche and target audience.
Product defining keywords
Product and service keywords are words or phrases that describe a product or service.
For example, a product or service keyword might be “WordPress hosting.”
Brand keywords are words that are associated with a particular brand.
For example, Google is known for its search engine, while Apple is known for its products.
A competitor keyword is a keyword that is related to your competitor’s company or product or keywords targeted by competitors.
The term “competitor” is usually synonymous with “competing business,” The tactic includes using their name or brand in a relevant and contextual way on your SEO process or going after keywords that your competitors use.
For example, for Bing, a competitor keyword might be “Google search engine” or “Best search engine” if Google is targeting that keyword.
GEO targeted/Local keyword
A GEO targeted/local keyword is a keyword that is relevant to a particular region, city, or language.
This type of keyword is very important for local businesses that want to target only their local market.
For example, if you are a digital agency in Colombo, Sri Lanka, you might use the keyword “Colombo” when marketing your services to customers in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Misspelled or industry lingo keyword
Industry lingo keywords are specialized words or phrases used in a particular industry.
Misspelled keywords are when someone makes a mistake in typing the keyword that they want to rank for.
For example, someone might type “drink” as “drik,” and search engine optimization is known as “SEO.”
Buyer keywords: Understanding the intent
Buyer keywords means the keywords which you can use to find your potential buyer.
Keyword intent means what searchers want to achieve by typing your keyword into the search engine.
For buyer keywords, keyword intent is important because you can identify in which buying stage cycle your audience is in.
The major buyer keywords are Informational, Navigational & Transactional.
Informational keywords are words used by people who want to find out more information about a topic or topic they know little about to learn something new and useful from it.
For example, creating a blog post about “SEO guide,” will be an informational keyword because it can help people learn about SEO.
Navigational keywords are going to keywords used by people who want to find the way to achieve a goal or considering finding solutions to buy.
For example, if you create a page about “Semrush keyword tool,” this will be a navigational keyword because searcher know what they want to know more.
Transactional/commercial keywords are words people use to buy something or have an immediate commercial intent behind a search query.
For example, creating a blog post about “Semrush review” or “Semrush discount” then will be a transactional keyword because they understand the problem, know the solution, and pick a specific product for them.
Keyword research guide
The next step is to learn about keyword research.
The process of finding the right keywords for our content is called keyword research.
Keyword research is very important in SEO because it’s foundation step for whole process.
How to choose keywords for SEO: Keyword validation
Researching keywords start with knowing the main factors that determine the value of your keywords are.
Next, we will take a look at factors that can be used when valuing keywords.
Search volume and value
Search volume is a vital keyword research metric used to determine how many people search for a particular term or phrase on search engines.
You can use it to calculate a keyword’s popularity since it is highly variable depending on the keywords in question.
The volume will vary with keyword type, industry, environment, search engine algorithm updates, etc.
However, you should focus not only on high-volume keywords but also on the search value.
A search value measures the perceived value that it brings your business or website.
For example, even fifty searches for a particular keyword such as “best accident lawyer in New York” can be worth thousands for a client.
To do keyword research for specific GEO locations such as your city, you should use localized search volume data and not national or international search volume.
Most keyword research tools will provide you with this data along with advanced location options.
Keyword difficulty in SERPs
You should always keep this in mind when you do keyword research.
Keyword’s difficulty in the SERPs is important for SEO because the higher the difficulty factor, the more difficult it is to rank for those keywords.
SEO keyword difficulty score is determined by factors including the search intent, on-page, off-site SEO power.
- Intent: What does the searcher want from their typed keyword.
- On-page SEO: How well the site and the page are optimized for SEO using on-page SEO methods such as content and more.
- Off-site SEO: How well the ranked sites and web pages are SEO optimized using off-page SEO principles such as backlinks and more.
Because of the lack of official data, there is no way to assign an exact keyword competition level from search engines such as Google.
Hence, we estimate this data by using SEO keyword research tools and third-party data.
Cost per click (CPC)
A cost per click is the cost of getting a single click on your ad in a search engine, such as Google AdWords.
The cost-per-click, or CPC, is important in analyzing keyword SEO competition. It indicates how much money advertisers in search engines are willing to pay when users click on their advertisements.
Usually, when CPC is higher for a particular keyword, there is more competition in SERPs and the ad market.
For example, the keyword “digital marketing online course” in Google AdWords has very high completion for that keyword, and advertisers are willing to pay around 26$ for every link.
On the other hand, a low CPC value indicates a lack of competition in the AD market, which may also mean low completion in organic search results.
Organic click-through rate
Organic CTR refers to the percentage of organic clicks you are likely to receive by ranking in the top 1 position in an organic listing.
SERP pages are unique, so the CTR also depends on the page and its elements.
For example, you might receive more organic clicks if you rank on a SERP page with no ads than a SERP page with ten ads.
Some keywords do not require a click or navigation to a ranking website to satisfy the intent.
For example, if someone searches “what’s the football score” in Google, the score will appear in a widget at the top, so they do not need to click on ads or visit any sites.
Search trends & seasonal demand
Search Trends play a crucial role in keyword difficulty because we have to be aware of how & when people are searching for information.
The change in seasonal demand affects the popularity of search terms as well.
Using this information, marketers can prioritize their SEO strategy around a given term based on how often people are searching for that term during that time.
For example, people use “winter clothing” more during the winter months and “spring clothing” more during the spring months.
Keyword suitability for you
Every keyword is not suitable for everyone.
A keyword may be perfect for another person but might not be suitable for you.
There can be many factors that can affect your choice, such as your ranking cost, product offerings, geographical location, ethical issues, etc.
Google is the most popular search engine.
To ensure better results and a better search experience, Google updates its algorithm regularly.
Therefore, it is vital to stay up-to-date with Google updates & rules about keyword research.
During the years, keywords-related algorithms have undergone several changes.
- Google Panda: Keyword stuffing, which is just adding all keywords in the text without any context or logic.
- Google Penguin: Over-optimized anchor texts.
- Google Hummingbird: Understanding the meaning and user intent behind search queries
- Google Pigeon: Bringing better local results
- RankBrain: Better search intent understanding and machine learning
- Google Possum: Better results based upon the searcher’s location and address of the business
- BERT Update: Improvements to the deep-learning method based on natural language processing
- Passage Ranking Update: Identifying key passages on a web page for relevancy
- Product Reviews Update: Rewarding sites which have more insightful reviews
As you can see, I haven’t covered the above SERP updates in detail in this guide. However, I will when I complete my core keyword research class.
I will teach keyword research based on these updates while also ensuring it remains relevant in the future.
Keyword research mistakes to avoid
Since the early days of SEO, keyword research has evolved significantly.
It is now imperative that you do keyword research smartly and use data and tools to understand your keyword research better.
Keyword research can be one of the most time-consuming parts of your marketing campaign.
It can be costly if you do it wrong, and you may miss out on relevant search traffic, leading to a higher conversion rate.
Now let’s look at the most common mistakes in keyword research and avoid them to build a successful SEO keyword campaign.
Only target a few keywords
We used to only focus on a small number of keywords for web pages.
It’s not incorrect, but now it’s not about ranking for a couple of keywords on a webpage; instead, each webpage has the potential to rank for hundreds or even thousands of keywords.
The development of Google’s algorithm, technology, machine learning, and natural language processing capabilities have enabled the search engine to understand a web page much better and thus rank it at the top for a wide range of relevant search queries.
Your ranking should be in the top 20
The goal should be to achieve the highest ranking in the SERPs for your target keywords, not just appear in the top 10 or 20 positions.
Ideally, you should aim for keyword rankings within the top 3.
As Google keeps reducing the visibility of organic results, you should try to rank on top or as high as possible.
You aren’t even in the game if you rank below the first page since you will receive no significant traffic from SERP.
The most common mistake in keyword research is to stuff your content with keywords.
Your website’s content should not be filled with keywords blindly and without adding any value.
It is considered keyword stuffing and may get you penalized.
Using it used to be possible, but Google and other search engines have now created countermeasures to this.
Ignoring long-Tail keywords
Usually, long-tail keywords won’t have a lot of search volume.
You might be missing out on some great opportunities if you do not focus on them.
Even if the keywords don’t have a high search volume, they can still be valuable since the SERP competition is low.
Therefore, you can rank higher in the SERPs with fewer SEO efforts than with other keywords.
Ignoring no search keywords
When working on keyword research, another mistake is to ignore no search keywords.
Since search engines such as Google use semantic data, you must use all the relevant terms in your research and content to avoid missing out on opportunities.
Regardless of whether people search the term, it still has value and can contribute more to a rank for other related keywords.
Also, search volume is dynamic and can change over time, so take a quality viewpoint rather than a quantity viewpoint when choosing keywords.
Ignoring search intent
Researching keywords isn’t complete without taking into account the search intent of your audience.
It determines how and what users search for.
By misunderstanding search intent, you could miss out on some valuable keywords or pick the wrong ones.
Ignoring keyword difficulty factor
One of the essential factors in keyword research is keyword difficulty, determining how competitive a particular keyword is.
Keyword difficulty will determine how much effort and resources are required for SERP ranking.
The keyword “How do I get free piano lessons” has lower competition than “piano lessons,” which has more competition.
Expecting 100% search volume for your site if you are ranked first
To attain the top position in search engines requires a serious amount of effort.
Even if you rank in the first position, you will not receive 100% of the volume, but only a portion of it.
Click-through rates can be negatively affected by so many factors, including search ads, search engine features, images, and videos, your competitors, search intent.
Avoiding high competition keywords
Everyone tries to go after low competition keywords, which is a good move, but you don’t want to ignore high competition keywords.
Since these are your main keywords, you should start working on them as soon as possible to achieve ranking over time.
Although you won’t rank for the main keywords immediately, you can still rank for related or long-tail keywords through that content.
For example, if you want to win a hard-to-finish race, you need to participate in the race, and you will not move forward if you do not compete.
Not doing industry research before keyword research
Industry research is more important than keyword research because you will understand search terms, search pain points, and hidden opportunities.
You will understand industry-specific terms, their meaning, and their context.
After you understand what people are looking for, you can start keyword research.
What makes a good keyword?
There is no honest answer to this question since it depends.
As the definition of a good keyword is different for each of us.
In other words, you should choose the keyword that makes the most sense for you.
The chart below shows keyword ranges for keywords based on factors such as SEO competition, search volume, keyword intent and words count.
Keyword research planning
Watch keyword planning video
There is no set process for doing keyword research.
It can be done in a variety of ways.
In any case, I will let you know some steps to do good keyword research using several different strategies.
As part of this lesson, I will cover traditional keyword research, competitor analysis, existing keyword research, and predictive keyword research.
Keyword research process overview
Now let’s see the keyword research process overview.
First stage is studying your industry or niche, then keyword research method and finally keyword clustering.
Market research (Study your niche) – Brainstorm For Keyword Ideas
You should not just perform keyword research blindly or use keyword research tools without first learning the industry.
Learn about the industry and understand it.
The right steps vary from industry to industry, so there are no fixed instructions.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself at this stage and answer them.
- What are the pain points of your audience?
- What are the topics of discussion in this industry?
- What is the solution you are offering?
- Where does your audience go for information or spend time?
- Where is your target audience located?
- What is the demographic of your audience?
Now you need to create a list of seed keywords.
Seed keywords are used as a starting point for finding keyword ideas.
If you want to make seed keywords, you can start from anywhere, but some recommended places include:
- Market research tools
- Keyword research & SEO tools
- Content research & writing tools
- Online community and forums
- Questions & answer sites and people also ask section
- Social media networks
- Talking to your customers
- News and press releases
- Shopping and ecommerce sites
- Niche sites & blog
- Competitors and industry sites
- and more.
Keyword clustering – Group your keywords
Now, this exciting stage of keyword research I like to do.
This stage involves expanding our selected keywords and grouping them based on common factors.
I like to expand my selected keyword to find as many related and semantic keywords as I can.
Sometimes I add keywords to my list, even if they do not satisfy my keyword research factors to target them from my content.
By doing so, I increase the depth of my content, make my content authority in that field, and rank for related keywords.
After I have gathered new keywords, I will cluster them.
A keyword cluster refers to grouping keywords by a common theme.
This method has several names, including topic clusters, keyword groups, keyword variations, and semantic keyword groups.
Each cluster is composed of core topics related to the main topic, with each core topic containing subtopics.
The clusters can power our content page with sub-sections or create supporting content for our main content.
It is possible to cluster keywords manually or using a keyword research tool.
Keyword research methods
In this section we will learn about all the different keyword research methods.
In this section we will learn about all the different keyword research methods.
Traditional keyword research: You begin with nothing and work towards finding good keywords.
Competitor keyword research: You discover keywords that your competitors are ranking for.
Existing content keyword research: Find better keywords based on the content you already rank for in your niche.
Predictive keyword research: Predict which keywords will become popular for new “short-term fresh keywords”
Traditional keyword research
It is how keyword research is usually done.
You begin with nothing and work towards finding good keywords.
Let’s see how to do it.
Step 1 & 2: Use your seed list to find keywords
Having your seed keywords ready is now the next step.
The next step is to use one of your favorite keyword research programs and type in seed keywords.
The process can be done manually with limited options, but utilizing the software to help with the process is recommended.
By using software, you can do this faster and more efficiently.
To start, create a seed keyword, then input it into keyword research software to generate 100s of thousands of keywords based on it.
Step 3: Filter your bulk keywords list
Now that you have expanded your seed keywords, you need to filter your list.
According to the keywords you are looking for, you can filter your list through different options.
For example, if you only want long-tail keywords, you can ignore those under five words.
The factor will therefore depend on your requirements.
Some of the common factors used to filter bulk keywords include
- The average SEO competition score
- The number of words in the keyword
- Type of keyword
- Search volume
- Number of competing pages in Google (Eg: All-in-title)
- CPC (Cost Per Click) and advertisers
- Must include words and negative words
- and more
The purpose of this step is to filter your list and ensure that you are only getting relevant keywords for deeper analysis.
Step 4: In-depth Analysis
Once bulk filtering is complete, it is time to do an in-depth analysis.
This step will look through your filtered list and start analyzing each keyword based on all factors you identified during the keyword research.
Here are some of the advance checks we can do:
- What is the search intent?
- What is the click-through rate for the keyword?
- Analyzing competitors’ on-page SEO in-depth (e.g., meta tags and content)
- An in-depth look at the off-page SEO of competitors (e.g., backlinks)
- What are the sections available on the SERP results pages?
During this stage, we identify and value our primary and secondary keywords.
Upon completion of this stage, we will have primary keywords, secondary keywords, semantic keywords, and logical keyword groups.
Step 5 & 6: Organizing your keywords and prioritizing
Now is the time to organize and prioritize your keywords.
In my opinion, this is the most crucial stage.
Planning the logical steps to take when it comes to creating SEO content or running SEO campaigns is essential.
Once again, there are no set rules or plans; you have to organize based on your importance or potential value.
For example, one may choose to go after long-tail keywords first before regular keywords.
Traditional keyword conclusion
That’s how I would perform a traditional SEO keyword search.
I’ve shared all the steps here, but it is only a starting point. You can always add to or change your process based on your needs.
The following lesson will demonstrate how this process can be carried out with several different keyword tools.
Competitor keyword research
In competitor-based keyword research, you discover keywords that your competitors are ranking for.
This is a simple yet advanced technique of reverse engineering competitor keywords and competitor keyword analysis.
As opposed to using a traditional approach to find keywords, we find them using already ranked competitors.
We can do this process by using keyword research tools or manually.
If you do this manually, it will take a lot of time, and you might miss out on a lot of keyword data and the accuracy of the data.
Manual approach: We analyze competitor website content, meta tags, alt texts, and more to determine their keywords.
The automatic approach: Some SEO and keyword research tools automatically provide an option to pick up competition keyword data from a domain or page level. (Eg: Semrush, Semrush or SerpStat)
Steps for competitor based keyword research
Step 1: Find your competitors. You can do this by using SEO tools like SEMrush or by performing a regular search on Google.
Step 2: Click on the option that all you to view your competitor’s website data. It will display the data for that domain or page. Click “View Organic Keywords” or “View Ranking Keywords” or something similar and see what keywords they rank for. Clicking on a specific page will show their keyword rankings over time. The graph displays average positions and search volume in time.
Step 3, 4, 5 & 6: All these steps are same as traditional keyword research.
It is the best way to fast-track keyword research because we use all your competitor’s efforts.
It makes sense to use it to your advantage rather than reinvent the wheel.
However, the major drawback of this approach is that it requires proper SEO tools, and the keywords we find will depend on how good the databases of those tools are.
For best results, I recommend combining traditional and competitor keyword research.
Existing content keyword research
It is a specialized keyword research method.
The purpose of this keyword research strategy is to find better keywords based on the content you already rank for in your niche.
A brand new website can’t use this strategy.
The reason is that there is no historical data.
In the case of existing websites with written content, you can use search engine webmaster console apps to see what keywords you are ranking for and what keywords you are missing.
You can also use SEO tools to assist in this process if they have a feature to view organic ranking according to URLs.
I recommend using this strategy after your content has been published for a few months.
As an example, I can use Google search console to check my existing content to determine if any keywords are missing:
Steps for existing content keyword research
Step 1: Logging into Search Console (You should create an account and verified it a couple of months ago to see any data; otherwise, you will have to wait)
Step 2: Go to the performance tab and filter based on your needs.
Step 3: You will see all the missing or hidden keyword potential according to Google.
I will create a detailed demonstration in this course’s practical part.
Predictive keyword research
It is another advanced strategy for finding “short-term fresh keywords.”
We use this keyword research strategy to predict which keywords will become popular based on industry trends, past research with similar keywords, and audience mindset.
For example, When launching a new SaaS application, there will be no past data. Still, we will be able to predict the keywords it will generate based on other products in this niche or based on data from previous launches of apps.
Using keyword research tools or Google, I can generate suggestions based on other products in the industry.
Through my research, I can generate keywords to substitute the product name with the new name.
- [Product] review
- [Product] lifetime deal
- [Product] vs. [Competitor product]
- [Product] tutorial
- and more
Keyword research template
I have created an easy to use excel template where you can use to record all your keyword research data.
It contain 4 different tabs:
In this sheet you answer market research (industry research) questions to do generate seed keyword list.
Find seed keywords
In this sheet you find and add your seed keywords. It also contain list of 14 different potential sources for seed keywords with checkbox function to track progress.
In this sheet you add all your main keywords with keyword grouping. You can also use different colours to indicate the priority of the keyword clusters.
In this sheet you add all your found main keywords from your keyword research process. It also auto calculate feature to add the total search volume.
This keyword research template is free and it’s available in Excel format.
You can download it from this link: https://go.alstonantony.com/keyword-research-template
Keyword Research Software Tutorial Videos
How to Use Google Search Console For Keywords Research
Google Search Console is a powerful tool to help you understand the keywords people are using to find your website. In this video, I’ll walk you through how to use Google Search Console’s keyword research tools and show you some of the best ways to use.
How to Do Keyword Research with BrandOverflow
In this chapter of our keyword research course we will learn how to use BrandOverflow for keyword research. This is one of practical lesson on keyword research researching course.
TopicMojo Topic Research Tutorial & Walkthrough – SEO Topic Research
In this video, I will show how you can do topic research for SEO or how to brainstorm for keywords ideas using Topicmojo in a live example use-case.
SEO Tip Videos
Best Practices in SEO 2022: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization Principles & Tips
Best practices in SEO 2022: Evergreen Search Engine Optimization principles & tips is a must watch for anyone who wants to stay on top of the game.
The video will cover everything from keyword research, content marketing to linkbuilding!
The course is 100% free and focused on providing tips and tricks which can be used right now to get better results in search engines.
- Basically, it’s the blueprint stage
- Picking wrong keywords can lead to domino effect
- Understand the market before keywords (Eg: Restaurant)
- Search intent over search quantity
- Competition (short-term, growing, search updates, not exact data)
- Don’t ignore no search or low search keywords
- Also don’t ignore high competition keywords
- Don’t ignore secondary search engines
- Include localization in keywords
- Content is the centrepiece for SEO
- It’s no longer couple of keywords but 100s or 1000s
- Content is not just one-time job (user and seo)
- Don’t focus too much on percentage or count
- Make yourself remeberable or unique (Not for bad stuff!)
- Skyscraper vs laser focused
- Make the content look and feel good on all devices
- Schema is the present and future
- Social signals is your ally
- Don’t be a spammer there another person like you on the other end
- Don’t focus one time but make it recurring opportunity
- Connections open other opportunities (Eg: Doing a event or recommendation)
- DA, PA, backlinks count are secondary to relevancy
- Understand relevancy levels to prioritise
- Interlink and create network profile (Topical relevance)
- Be natural on velocity & remember quality wins quantity
What we will learn in upcoming lessons: Onepage SEO, Content Marketing and Link Building.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel here or join the newsletter below to stay updated when the next lesson is done.
Do you want to thank me?: Thank you for taking this course. Please share this course with anyone you think might find it useful, and if you can, please share a testimonial after taking it, and I will add it to the feedback page. Here is the feedback link: https://alston.dubb.com/v/basic-seo-feedback