Keyword research is one of the most effective search engine optimization practices. It can open the door to compelling content marketing ideas and link building.
The so-called “niche down” method of keyword research starts with a single broad search term — for example, “men’s shoes” — and works its way down to niche keywords to target.
This is typically done with filters in a keyword research tool. Along the way, consider how much search volume a given keyword generates and how difficult it may be for your site to rank for it.
In the end, you should have a list of niche keywords for content ideas — product descriptions, blog posts, and other forms of customer-attracting content.
Let’s walk through an example.
Start with Seed Keywords
For our seed keyword phrase, we’ll use the aforementioned “men’s shoes.” It is a good retail example.
We will take our seed phrase to a keyword examination tool. There are many good choices, including Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and others. But for these examples, I will use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer.
The tool returned basic data about our seed keyword and four categories of keyword ideas, which are:
- “Having some terms,” which is what it sounds like;
- “Search suggestions,” which are derived from a search engine’s autocomplete feature;
- “Newly discovered” keywords that are a phrase match for our seed keyword and which have been recently added to the Ahrefs database; and
- “Also rank for” keywords, which are phrases that the top 10 sites for “men’s shoes” also rank for.
Search Volume, Clicks
Let’s start our “niche down” research with the 862 search suggestions Ahrefs recommended. Again, these are the phrases that search engine autocomplete tools recommend when someone starts a search for our seed keyword phrase, “men’s shoes.”
There are some good ideas here, such as “mens casual shoes.” So how do we decide which phrases to add to our list? Start with the search volume.
In the case of Ahrefs, the volume metric describes how often a given keyword phrase is queried per month for a given country.
A closely related measurement is “clicks.” While search volume considers the number of searches, the clicks metric estimates how many clicks from a search engine results page to a website happen as a result of those searches. It is worth mentioning that it is possible to have more clicks in a given month than there are searches.
Let’s use a filter to consider only keyword phrases with at least 1,000 searches a month on average. After all, if we’re going to use this list of “niche down” keywords to develop content ideas, we want to make certain we have the opportunity to generate a reasonable amount of traffic.
From the list of results, we might choose phrases such as:
- “Mens casual shoes,”
- “Mens shoes on sale,”
- “Wide mens shoes,”
- “Under Armour mens shoes.”
With a handful of potential keyword phrases garnered from Ahrefs’ search suggestions, let’s go back to its Keyword Explorer for our seed phrase and look at the “having same terms” keyword ideas. There are a lot more of these, some 148,011 for “men’s shoes.”
We will filter for search volume, only considering keyword phrases with more than 1,000 average monthly searches. Then we will also filter for keyword difficulty of 30 or less on a 100-point scale. This score is Ahrefs’ estimate of how difficult it will be for us to rank in the top 10 on a Google SERP for the given keyword phrase.
Each keyword research tool will estimate difficulty differently. In this case, a keyword difficulty score of 30 means that a top 10 site will have about 36 referring domains linking to the target page. So, if we want to rank in the top 10 we can assume that we’re going to need to build more than 36 inbound links.
With the list filtered for search volume and keyword difficulty, there are some 156 suggestions, including phrases like:
- “Mens dress shoes,”
- “Mens running shoes,”
- “Mens slip on shoes,”
- “Mens basketball shoes,”
- “Mens walking shoes,”
- “Mens boat shoes,”
- “Mens golf shoes,”
- “Most comfortable mens shoes,”
- “Most comfortable mens dress shoes,”
- “Best shoes for standing all day mens.”
Convert Keywords into Content
Following the pattern described in the previous sections — starting with a seed keyword phrase and filtering for volume and keyword difficulty — it is possible to generate long lists of target keyword phrases.
Your list, however, doesn’t do your business any good until you begin to optimize your site for those phrases, converting keywords into content.
To demonstrate, we will use the keyword phrase “best shoes for standing all day mens.” According to Ahrefs, that phrase receives about 1,900 searches each month in the United States, resulting in some 2,092 clicks on average. The phrase also has a low keyword difficulty score of 5. Thus, it may be easy for us to rank for the phrase.
Start by solving the problem. Potential customers who search for “best shoes for standing all day mens” are really asking a question about which shoes will keep their feet from hurting. So do a bit of research and learn what makes a shoe comfortable to stand in. If possible, ask suppliers, podiatrists, and occupational therapists.
Once you have identified the characteristics that make for a comfortable standing shoe, look at your products and identify shoes that match these characteristics. Then add a short paragraph to each product’s description explaining that it is “one of the best shoes for standing all day.”
Next, create blog content around this keyword phrase. This could include posts, such as:
- “20 Best Men’s Shoes for Standing All Day, 2018 Edition”;
- “On Your Feet All Day? Learn What Features Make Shoes Comfortable to Stand in All Day.”
Link to these articles from your product detail pages, and include links back to your products in each post. These articles should also fuel an SEO link building campaign.
With that, you’ve done it. You used a keyword research tool to move from a seed phrase to a few niche phrases, generating content ideas along the way.