1: Good content starts with keyword research

In this guide

It’s simple: People have questions; Google has answers. And if you want to write content that ranks well, you must create the kind of content people are actually searching for.

That’s the essence of keyword research: discovering what people are searching for and creating content that satisfies their needs. In order to do that, you have to understand search intent.

Let’s use the keyword “bone broth” as an example. What might the searcher be looking for?

  • Product reviews for buying bone broth?

  • A recipe for making bone broth?

  • A resource about the health benefits of bone broth?

We know they’re interested in bone broth, but beyond that, the intent isn’t so clear.

Once you learn how to choose the right topic and understand the searcher’s intent, you’ll be well-positioned to create relevant content that has a fighting chance of competing in the search results.

This approach to keyword research is a modern day take on how to create the type of content that search engines and users want.

Answer 3 Questions to Nail Your Target Keywords

Keyword research is arguably the most important step in your SEO content strategy. You can write the most engaging and helpful article in the world, but if you’re not pairing your keywords with search intent, your potential to rank will be extremely limited.

Like Goldilocks from the beloved fairy tale, you want to pick keywords that strike the right balance between high search volume and clear search intent.

When you start brainstorming keyword ideas for your content, remember that the keyword you choose should meet the following criteria.

The right keyword for your content:

  1. Has an audience

  2. Is focused

  3. Can be “serviced” by a piece of written content

After answering the following three questions you’ll know exactly how to choose the right keywords for your content strategy.

Question 1: Is There an Audience?

The last thing you want to do is go after a topic nobody is searching for.

Think of a few short phrases people might be searching for around your topic (Note: Don’t use the title or headline of your article). It’s ok to start with a broad topic so you can evaluate how big of an audience there is for your topic as a whole, then quickly narrow it down to something more focused.

For example: If you wanted to write a post about bone broth, you might start with the keyword “bone broth” to discover what the most popular searches are. From there you can evaluate keyword opportunities that are more relevant to your specific topic: bone broth recipe.

Once you have your keyword idea, navigate to the ‘Keyword Discovery feature in Clearscope, and type it in.

Click “Go” and you’ll see a page that looks something like this:

Keyword Discovery is the best way to narrow down your target keyword.

This Keyword Discovery view shows you the search volume data for popular variations of your starting keyword idea.

Here’s what you need to know about each column:

  • Keyword—Your keyword will appear highlighted in yellow, along with popular search variations pulled directly from Google.

  • Monthly Searches—This is the approximate number of times the keyword is searched on Google every month.

  • Competition and CPC—These two numbers represent the approximate competitiveness and cost-per-click in Google for paid advertising campaigns (we won’t be using these during the keyword research phase).

Keyword Discovery uses Google's own 'predications' feature to explore keywords.

At first glance it’s clear that “bone broth” has the most search volume on the list with 74,000 monthly searches, which is great because that means there is a ton of interest in the topic.

But basing your keyword strategy on search volume alone isn’t enough...

In order to understand whether or not “bone broth” is the right keyword for you to target, you need to understand the searcher’s intent.

Question 2: Is the Keyword Focused?

Now that we know bone broth has an audience, let’s determine if the keyword is focused enough to tell us what to write about.

Type your keyword into Google and look at what’s ranking on the front page. Inspecting the results for “bone broth,” you’ll notice there are at least 3 different kinds of articles appearing in the results.

A search for "Bone broth" gives us a variety of intents, which is an indicator that the keyword is too broad.

What does this tell us?

Notice the different “intents” that show up:

  1. What is bone broth?

  2. Benefits of bone broth

  3. How do I make bone broth?

Since there are several different angles showing up for “bone broth”, we can infer that going after the target keyword “bone broth”is too broad.

Rather than create a generic piece of content and not fully understanding what the searcher is looking for, we’re better off choosing a keyword with a clear search intent.

Let’s return to Clearscope’s Keyword Discovery feature and use the suggested keyword to further hone your target keyword for “bone broth”.

Looking through the list, targeting intent around the “benefits of bone broth” looks like a great option because:

  1. There is adequate search volume (33,100 monthly searches).

  2. There is a grouping of keywords reflecting a shared intent (health benefits of bone broth).

It’s important to note that different topics will have varying degrees of adequate search volumes and it’s okay to target a keyword with a smaller search volume if the topic is more niche (eg. B2B related keywords).

Google understands that people search for information in different ways. As you can see in the search results above, one popular intent (there may be several) that stands out is the desire to learn about the health benefits of bone broth.

Now let’s return to Google with the focused keyword “bone broth benefits” to double-check search intent and make sure that written content plays a main role in each of the search results.

A search for "Bone broth benefits" gives us more focused results.

Question 3: Is the Topic Best “Serviced” with Written Content?

Repeat the same process from the previous section — this time using your new focused keyword.

While scanning the results in Google, first check to see that the majority of the headlines share a similar angle. Next, click a few of the top results to make sure written content is a featured component of each page. This is rare, but if the top results are all videos, for example, and not written content, it’s best to try a different keyword.

For example, the search engine results page for “how to surf” has a video featured snippet which indicates that users are likely finding video content the most helpful.

A query for "how to surf" is well-served by video content.

We can confirm that “bone broth benefits” is a winning keyword because we’ve validated the search intent in Google, and we can see that written content is a common theme across each of the search results.

The results for your keyword may not always be purely long-form in nature, but you want to make sure there’s at least a written component to the page.

The Bottom-Line on Using Clearscope for Keyword Research

The road to success in modern-day SEO is paved with relevant content. That means not only choosing the right keywords to seed your content with, but ensuring your content matches the underlying search intent as well.

In summary, the right target keyword should satisfy these three criteria:

  1. Has an audience (adequate search volume)

  2. Is focused (has a clear search intent)

  3. Can be “serviced” by a piece of written content

Once you’ve picked the right keyword for your content, head over to the report page in Clearscope, type in your keyword, and click “Create report.”

In the next guide, we will walk you through how you can use Clearscope reports to create content outlines.

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