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How to do keyword research
How to do keyword research
Updated over a week ago

This guide is for researchers taking part in KWR projects.

What is ASV?

ASV stands for Average Search Volume. This refers to the ‘Volume’ data in SEMrush, which is the monthly average of how many times a given keyword is used in a search query over the course of a year.

Is it okay to repeat two versions of the same thing (“white sheets double bed” and “double bed sheets white”)?

No. Aim for more diversity. Choose whichever makes more grammatical sense/has the higher ASV, and move on. Remember, the purpose of keyword research is to inform copywriters what they should be talking about in their description, as well as trying to capture as many people as possible who are searching for something. Variety is important.

If the keyword is misspelled (e.g. missing accents, missing apostrophes), should we leave it as is?

No, please correct it. Google will read the keyword either way, and we want our copywriters to produce grammatically correct content. This also applies to any spelling mistakes you might come across – please correct them when you enter them into the sheet.

What approach do I take for categories like ‘New Arrivals’ or ‘Best sellers’?

For these types of categories, the first thing to keep in mind is that the products on those pages will change - therefore, you never want to select keywords that are about a specific product that is being featured at the moment. You also don’t want to compete with/duplicate keywords from other big categories like ‘all products’.

The best approach for each of these categories is as follows:

  • New arrivals: focus on keywords related to ‘new’ and ‘new season’, and see what you can find. Also, in the semantically related keywords section, you can include [brand name] new arrivals IF it comes up as a popular keyword

  • Bestsellers: focus on keywords around ‘popular’, ‘good’ etc. Avoid keywords like ‘best running shoes’ because even though it seems to fit well, the search intent for the keyword is wrong – people will most likely be looking for a list or guide on running shoes, and not a product page

What are long-tail search queries?

This is referring to a phrase keyword, rather than just one word: e.g. “Bahamas” might rank at the top with 40.5k monthly searches, but it isn’t a useful keyword selection as it will be included in the copy anyway. “Bahamas all inclusive holidays” (ASV 720) is an example of a compound keyword (better than just a simple one or two words), with a clear user intent and detail that is relevant to the content. Even better (for clear user intent) is the long-tail search query, which is a keyword (often phrased like a question) where the searcher is clearly looking for an answer, such as “where to stay in the Bahamas” (ASV 210).

Can we use keywords that include "banned" words in the client brief? E.g. some clients ban the word ‘cheap’ etc.

No, always prioritise the client’s tone of voice above everything else. If you include keywords with banned words, it just means the copywriters won’t be able to use them, and your hard work for the keyword research will be pointless.

For a category such as “jackets & vests” should we search using 1 seed term or both? If only 1, I'm assuming we should go for the one that "dominates" the category. Please confirm.

Yes, always base your seed word around the dominant product in the category. However, it is always a good idea to do another search with the secondary seed word to check there isn’t a highly relevant keyword out there for that (in which case you should select a mixture of keywords: some with the dominant seed word, and some with the secondary one).

All the really relevant & specific keywords have quite low ASV - should I rather pick more popular, high ASV keywords even if they are not really applicable to the URL, in order to drive more organic traffic?

No! The priority for selecting keywords is always first and foremost how relevant they are to the given topic/product. If you choose to use unsuitable but high ASV keywords, (1) the page might not rank anyway because so many people are competing for that keyword and (2) even if lots of traffic comes to the site it will probably bounce right off, because they can’t find what they want. The more relevant and specific the keywords are, the more qualified traffic you will get. This traffic is then more likely to convert.

Read this short article for more information on choosing the right keywords

What is search intent?

Following on from the previous question, something else to consider when choosing the right keywords is search intent. In other words: why did the user enter that particular keyword? Are they looking to buy something? Are they looking for guidance? Are they simply looking up something for information? Are they looking for a bargain or wanting to splurge?

E.g. ‘best designer handbags’

This keyword might seem a great option to include on a handbags category for a luxury client, because we of course want to draw attention to the quality of the handbags. However, the search intent behind that keyword is someone looking for a guide, a list, a youtube video which reviews and provides opinions on a variety of designer handbags. No one putting that keyword into a search engine is likely to click on a product page of a certain luxury designer – therefore the keyword is wasted. If you’re ever in doubt, put yourself in the searcher’s shoes and think what you would want to see on a results page. Then, search for the keyword yourself and see whether you were right.

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