Seed keywords (the words you think people will use to search your product or service) are merely a starting point for keyword research for organic and pay-per-click (PPC) traffic. There’s a lot more that needs to go into the effort. Even the most basic keyword research has a focus on what’s being searched – using estimated or “actual” traffic data. But what else should it look like?

Intentional and competitive

Great keyword research starts with a refined process. It should be intentional in methodology and keep in mind the search intent of those querying the search engines. Maybe you don’t fit the results of the keyword you think you want.

A competitive analysis should be conducted in creating a universe of keywords to narrow down from. Competitors don’t just mean the people that offer the same product or service, but that show up in the same search results you’re in or want to occupy. These competitors include things like substitute products or services, encyclopedia-type information, internet directories, and do-it-yourself guides.

Buy or know focused

People that search online are either looking to know something or buy something. The content you create should come from one of these two imperatives. While searchers looking to buy need a clear path to purchase with features, specs, and benefits, they also may need to know other things too. Maybe this is their first time buying in this category, online, or with you.

Sourced from multiple places

Every seasoned SEO expert has their favorite places to draw from for their keyword universe. You’ll discover that many of the best professionals source from numerous locations. Importing and exporting from these sources takes the form of everything from copy-and-paste lists, .csv files, and even API access. Two of our favorites at LeadPlan Marketing include Google AdWords Keyword Planner and SpyFu. Gather from your favorite sources, and be sure to do your own evaluation of them.

Factor price to advertise, and organic ranking difficulty

When you tie your keywords to an estimated cost per click (CPC), it opens the possibility of tying organic keyword ranking efforts to a dollar value. Several resources online provide some form of an organic ranking difficulty. This is helpful to decide if your keyword is low-hanging fruit, a much tougher concerted effort is required, or if paid traffic is the way to go.

Sorted and/or prioritized

This is where the intentional rubber meets the road. Great keyword research should prioritize in a way that it answers questions about why one keyword is a higher priority than another for on-page and content efforts – or PPC efforts for that matter. When you tie factors like CPC, search traffic, ranking difficulty, etc., you’ve got numerical justification – and a method of sorting. Good sorting will prioritize based on one of these numerical categories; great sorting will account for multiple factors, and even weigh some more heavily. You can give priority to the keywords ranking them for traffic, search opportunity, or even advertising opportunity.

Create content that serves the user, even answering a specific question

Great keyword research will take the simple keywords and search intent, and create content that genuinely helps the user. Sophisticated algorithms will reward you for making the effort of truly serving value. There are some great ways to get “long tail” keywords that hone in on what people want to know.

When you start typing in a search box on places like Google, Amazon, and YouTube, predictive text starts to complete your sentence. This autocomplete is a nice starting place to find out what other people are searching. Ask a question in Google, and you’ll get “people also asked…” options. Click on them, and you will see even more appear. At the bottom of the page, you’ll also find “searches related to…” your current query.

(As a side-note, there’s an entertaining game called Google Feud created by Justin Hook that operates like Family Feud, populated by these autocompletes. Just be warned, it’s highly addictive)

Laser-focus round: you want to answer a specific question. This is your chance to get into the coveted “featured snippets” results of Google – the industry-dubbed “position zero.” That’s a great goal, especially because that’s the one result you’ll get if you use a voice search to ask Google, Alexa, Siri, or Cortana. It requires some specific formatting, but it all starts with great keyword research. To find the possible questions, try using a resource like Answer The Public.

Pro tip: when you use a browser plugin like Keywords Everywhere, you can gather search volume information from many of these sources.

Featured Snippet of Roasted Sweet Potato Emoji - annotated to highlight snippet and Keywords Everywhere tool