Typically, keyword research involves searching for a single keyword to include in an article, one that has relatively low competition and relatively high traffic.
However, this isn’t the only effective approach.
An alternative way to do keyword research is by using a method that targets keyword concepts.
This approach can sometimes be more time consuming, but ultimately, it tends to be more effective.
This is particularly important as search engines continue to get more intelligent, making effective approaches more important than ever.
Indeed, Google is increasingly emphasizing the importance of websites being related to the needs of the audience.
Because of this, factors like the quality and relevance of content has become highly important.
Using a single keyword can still be a good approach for ranking and getting traffic.
However, often websites are finding that they are outranked by other sites that have a large number of contextual and related keywords, but do not have the exact keyword at all.
Additionally, when you only look at a single keyword, you risk ending up with the same keywords as much of your competition.
Contextual Keywords and Concepts
Search engines no longer just look at keywords.
Instead, they are paying much more attention to what the site has to offer as a whole - and whether the site and its content are actually related to your keyword.
In fact, if you produce a high-quality article around 70% of the keywords you rank for will not even be ones that you targeted.
Many of the keywords you rank for will be LSI (which stands for Latent Semantic Indexing) and contextual keywords.
This isn’t really too surprising.
Any given keyword will have a large number of other words and concepts that are related to it.
If you can tap into these keywords, then you can write content that is more likely to rank and is more relevant to your reader overall.
The more recent updates to Google suggest that as a whole, concepts have become more important for ranking than individual keywords.
With the increased focus on context and on relevance, it has become very important for websites to focus on the overall message that they are sending and the words that they use.
This doesn’t mean that keywords have become irrelevant. Instead, it means that individual keywords a valuable as a starting point. In theory, you should take those keywords and make them relevant to your site and to your content.
After all, nowadays online content needs to be about something, it needs to solve a need.
Your job is to do this and to do it in a way that Google understands what is going on.
An important component of search engine algorithms is LSI keywords.
The term itself stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and it refers to similar words and synonyms.
LSI words are important for Google because it helps the search engine to determine what a page is about, which plays a role in how it ranks.
For example, there are many different potential meanings of the abbreviation PS. Yet, if you were to search this phrase in Google:
You would find that the vast majority of results were related to the PlayStation, including all of the first page results.
In fact, Google even bolds the term PlayStation in the search results, meaning that it is considering PlayStation to mean the same thing.
LSI is one of the key ways that Google is able to do this.
This process basically means that Google takes the specific phrase that the user is searching for and tries to figure out what they are actually looking for.
It’s a process that most people don’t even notice, except on the few occasions that Google gets it wrong.
Another example of this is if you searched for this:
In which case, Google assumes that PS means plus size, and brings up results associated with that.
Yet, if I simply add GB at the end (for gigabyte), the answers mostly go back to being about the PlayStation, because the search term could refer to PlayStation hard drive size (which was actually what I meant with the search).
What Google does with LSIs is to look for words that it considers to be relevant to the topic.
So, if you have a page about paintings and you use words like picture, painting, image, artist and the link, Google would assume that the page was about paintings.
However, if most of your words were ones like software, JPEG, size and pixels, Google would assume that you were talking about images on the computer, and might also associate your page with the program Paint.
Understanding LSIs is a really important component of ranking.
If you can tap into what words Google is expecting from your web page, you can then work to meet this expectation and improve your ranking in the process.
There are a few different ways of finding out the LSI keywords for your particular keyword phrase or topic.
Finding LSI Keywords
A basic Google search does offer some information about LSI keywords.
The first thing that you can look at is what other words Google has in bold.
In some cases, there might not be any at all, but in other cases, you may find a word or two that is interesting.
You can also use Google Instant to figure out some LSI keywords.
For example, the keyword losing weight has these four phrases associated:
By looking at the results in Google Instant, you can see what words Google things is related to your keyword or topic and also what phrases are commonly searched.
However, you do need to be careful with this approach, as the outcomes may not all be related to your niche.
For example, if I searched where to find coffee beans, the outcomes are these:
All of these results are related to specific games, so they wouldn’t be relevant if you were working on a site about coffee.
At the bottom of the search results for any Google search, there is an area for related searches.
This contains a number of different searches that are similar to the keyword you used, with the additional words added in bold.
Those bold words are important LSI keywords.
Once more though, you need to be careful that you pick keywords that are related to your niche – otherwise, you will be sending Google entirely the wrong message.
Google Keyword Planner also offers indications of LSI keywords.
Developing a Keyword Theme
When it comes to developing a keyword theme the best place to start is simply with the keyword.
All the normal tools and approaches for keyword research can be relevant here such as using tools like Jaaxy and Google’s Keyword Planner.
Regardless of what tools you prefer, it’s always best to use more than one.
Every keyword research tool out there uses slightly different approaches and metrics. This results in slightly different outcomes and can lead to different decisions.
If you are using multiple tools, then you can get a better understanding of your keywords and of the searching and competition that surrounds them.
In many cases, you may find yourself relying largely on Google’s Keyword Planner, simply because it has access to more of Google’s data than a third party tool.
The idea here is to have a look at the different keywords that fall in and around your niche as well as the competition in traffic for those keywords.
The approaches discussed for finding LSI keywords are also highly relevant here.
This approach does end up with a lot of keywords and I’m not suggesting that you use them all.
Instead, finding a large number of keywords helps you to understand your topic and figure out what keywords are likely to be effective.
Often, simply reading and researching this information without even recording it can be enough to give people ideas about how to approach content.
You can also record the keywords you are particularly interested in and use this information while you are writing content.
In general, an effective approach to making use of the keywords that you find is to look for general trends.
What words and phrases are most common in and around your niche? Which ones are associated with things that your audience is likely to need?
Keyword data can offer much of this information, and the rest of it comes from getting inside the head of your audience.
Taking the time to figure out what your audience is looking for and how to meet their needs can provide you with a lot of information and give you an indication of what should be contained in your content.
Here’s the thing…
If ranking on specific keywords is your entire strategy, then you are never going to get anywhere.
Many of the things that people search are never going to have an exact keyword match because people don’t search in a grammatically correct way.
For example, if I was looking for new applications for Android, I might search something like this:
It would be incredibly difficult for any website to exactly match that phrase and even if they did, it would sound really bad in the content.
The SERPs reflect that, and the majority of pages that show up don’t use the exact phrase anywhere in their article.
Additionally, many of the searches in Google have never been used before.
After all, there is a huge range of different potential topics for searches, and people tend to combine words and phrases in search engines in unusual ways.
It isn’t really possible to intentionally rank for keywords like that, and even if you did, you wouldn’t get much traffic at all.
An important aspect of any website is developing pillar articles (sometimes known as power articles).
These are articles that are inherently more complex and provide considerably more information.
Often these articles may serve as an introduction to a given field or as a single source of information on a given topic (especially one that is somewhat complex).
For example, a website on the Paleo diet might have a power article that discusses what Paleo is, why people use it and the theory behind it.
Alternatively, the same type of site might have power article on what to expect when you are doing a Paleo diet.
Power articles are particularly important for new sites, as they have the potential to rank very well and also help the site to stand out from its competition.
Because power articles tend to be longer than normal content they have the potential to contain many more contextual keywords – which is why they often rank higher than more traditional articles.
For example, a single power article might end up ranking for dozens (or even hundreds) of different keyword variations.
Power articles also act as link bait.
This means that the articles attract a large number of backlinks and are also frequently commented on and shared.
This happens because a good power article acts as comprehensive and authoritative information on the topic that it is about.
In comparison, readers would need to look in three or four different places to find all of the information that a single power piece contains.
There are a number of advantages to having long articles.
As I mentioned before, they tend to contain more keywords overall.
Additionally, longer articles contain more information, which tends to mean that they get shared more often.
One example of this is a post from Authority Nutrition that focuses on nutrition lies.
The post is around 2,000 words, which is relatively short for a power article, but relatively long for an article in this niche.
However, the important point is that the article has a huge number of views and ranks well in a range of different keywords, like these two:
Even though the article ranked highly for the phrases “nutrition lies” and “nutrition misconceptions”, neither of those phrases were ever actually used in the article.
Instead, the article ranked on the basis of keywords that the author didn’t specifically target and on the basis of LSI keywords.
It is very possible to target multiple different keywords within a single article, particularly if those keywords are related.
However, the more keywords you look at, the more research you have to do and the more work you have to put into it.
Attempting to focus on too many keywords would also make your writing seem very unnatural
Instead, you can use the information you gather from LSI and contextual keywords to work out what area to focus on and the general direction to take content.
Additionally, you want to take the time to understand your readers and their needs.
This lets you take steps to meet the needs of your audience within your article and also rank in Google at the same time.
It also means that you can build credibility with your audience, creating content that is actually relevant to them and useful.
Sites that are already established have an advantage in keyword research because they can use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics offers a chance to see what keywords visitors are using to come to your website, many of which won’t be keywords you specifically targeted.
The reports from Google Analytics can be a great help, particularly as you can look at what keywords and what groups of keywords had the highest responses and use this to plan content and keywords.
Additionally, established sites can take cues from their audience about what content to develop and what keywords to use.
This can also help the site to rank because it results in the content being more strongly aligned with what people are searching for.
It’s also worth noting that as a site develops the authors can go after more competitive keywords because over time the quality of the site increases.
Also, highly competitive keywords can take longer to rank for, but ranking for them is still very feasible in the long-term.
Keyword research is a critical component of getting a site ranking, but it can also seem pretty confusing , especially at first.
If you're stuck on keyword research at all, a good place to turn is Wealthy Affiliate. Wealthy Affiliate is an online training site and teaches people how to build successful websites.
Part of the training at Wealthy Affiliate focuses on keyword research, so it can be a great place to learn the concepts or to brush up your skills. In fact, the site even offers its own free keyword research tool.