Keyword Research is the foundation of SEO. So, it’s important to do keyword research the right way. And in this checklist, I’ll show you how to quickly find keywords that your customers search for.
1. Discover Long Tail Keywords With “Google Suggest”
This is one of the best ways to uncover long tail keywords.
Here’s how it works:
First, type a keyword into Google.
But don’t press enter…or the “Google Search” button. Instead, check out the keywords that Google shows you:
(These are known as “Google Suggest” keywords)
Because these keywords come straight from Google, you KNOW that people are searching for them.
Which means that they’re great keywords to optimize your site around.
Pro Tip: Check out Keywordtool.io. This tool scrapes Google Suggest keywords, which makes this process much easier to scale.
2. Find Solid Keywords in The Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is Google’s official keyword research tool.
It’s technically designed for Google Adwords. That said, it’s still VERY useful for SEO keyword research.
After all, the data comes straight from Google. So you know that it’s super accurate.
Here’s a guide on using The Google Keyword Planner for SEO.
3. Identify Low Competition Keywords with KW Finder
KW Finder is a freemium keyword research tool.
What makes KW Finder unique is that it gives you TONS of data on each keyword.
As you can see, when you type a keyword into KW Finder, you get information on:
- Search volume
- Keyword difficulty
- Estimated visits
That way, you can choose low-competition keywords that are easy to rank for.
5. Find “Question Keywords” With ATP
Question Keywords are PERFECT for blog posts and articles.
(For example: “How do you make cold brew coffee?”)
But how do you find them?
This free tool shows you questions that people search for online.
That way, you can answer these questions with your content.
On-Page SEO Checklist
Now it’s time to optimize your content using a handful of tested on-page SEO techniques.
1. Include Your Keyword in Your URL
Your URL helps Google understand what your page is all about.
That’s why you want to include your keyword in your URL.
For example, my target keyword for this page is “SEO checklist”.
So I made the URL for this page: https://backlinko.com/seo-checklist.
2. Use Short URLs
Keep your URLs as short as possible.
A recent analysis of 1 million Google search results found that short URLs rank best in Google.
3. Front-Load Your Keyword In Your Title Tag
It’s no secret that you should use your keyword in your title tag.
But not as many people know that WHERE you put your keyword matters.
Specifically, you want to put your keyword in the front of your title tag.
For example, my main keyword for this post is “SEO case study”.
As you can see, my title tag starts off with that keyword:
4. Embed Title Tag Modifiers
Title Tag Modifiers are words and phrases to add to your title tag.
When you do, your page will rank for lots of long tail keywords.
5. Use Your Keyword Once In The First 150 Words
Google puts more weight on the first 150 words of your page.
So make sure to use your keyword once here.
For example, for my SEO tools post, you can see that I use the term “SEO Tools” right off the bat:
6. Use Your Keyword in H1, H2 or H3 Tags
Make sure to include your keyword in H1, H2 or H3 tags.
You might have noticed that I included the term “SEO Checklist” in the first sub header on this page:
Well, that sub header is wrapped in an H2 tag. And including “SEO Checklist” in an H2 can help me rank higher for that keyword.
This tip won’t make a big dent in your Google rankings.
But when it comes to search engine optimization, every little bit helps.
7. Optimize Images
The images you use say a lot about your content.
Unfortunately, Google is really bad at reading images.
So to help them understand your images, you want to optimize your image alt tags and filenames.
(As a bonus: optimized images also help you rank in image search)
First, when you save the image, use a filename that briefly describes what that image is.
For example, let’s say you just took a picture of a spinach omelet with your iPhone.
Well, you’d want to name that image something like:
Then, when you add the image to your page, give it a descriptive alt tag.
I like to use lots of alt text so Google can fully understand what my image is:
That’s all there is to it.
8. Use Synonyms and LSI Keywords
Back in the day, it made sense to “keyword stuff” your page.
Today, Google is smart.
So instead of using the same keyword 1000 times, use synonyms and LSI keywords.
For example, let’s say you want to rank for “how to start a blog”.
Well, you’d want to mention that exact keyword a few times on your page… and synonyms like:
- How to launch a blog
- Starting a blog
- How to create a blog
- How to setup a blog on WordPress
You get the idea
Next, add some LSI Keywords.
LSI Keywords are terms that go along with your main keyword.
You can find a bunch of these using LSIGraph.com.
Then, just add a few of these LSI keywords to your page. And you’re set.
9. Use External Links
Make sure to link out to 5-8 authority sites in your article.
For example, in this list of SEO techniques, I link to trusted websites like Wikipedia and Google.com.
And those links show Google that my content is well-referenced and trustworthy.
10. Use Internal Links
This is super simple:
Whenever you publish a new piece of content, link to 2-5 other pages on your site