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Keyword Research for Small Businesses in 3 Simple Steps (With 2 Free Tools)

I’ve recently come across this video by Neil Patel “How to Write Content That Ranks in 2022’s Crazy SEO Landscape”.

That’s when it struck me.

Isn’t there a simple yet workable way of getting it done somewhere?

….

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Russian Yandex, Chinese Baidu, Korean Naver, DuckDuckGo that does not collect or share personal information, Amazon, dabbed World’s Largest E-commerce Search Engine

… the other day there was a post by Myroslav Panchyshyn about how there are still lots of great search engines other than Google (and others listed above) detailing 8 niche search engines that specialize in books, science, and other smart information…

…searching for “all search engines in the world” gets the count to 50 and up and makes it clear there are more of them…

Even though Google dominates the market, there are a lot of search engines. They use search intent to deliver answers to their users’ queries.

Social media also rely on keywords. YouTube, the second largest search engine after Google,  works similarly to search engines like Google and Yahoo. 

Pinterest, which falls under the social media label in marketing job descriptions, actually works like a visual search engine where people do over 2 billion searches a month searching for ideas, information, and inspiration. 

Both search engines and some of the social media use keywords/search intent to interact with their visitors.

All this makes your keywords incredibly important. You need to research and choose the right ones, since they literary may make or break your success.

It is the cornerstone if you want to gain business, aka generate leads and orders, via SEO and the search engines.

Well, the keywords themselves are just tools. What you really need is to match your visitor’s search intent.

Want me to write an in depth article or blog post for you or your company? Send me a message here.

Search Intent

According to Backlinko, satisfying Search Intent is ultimately Google’s #1 goal

The search intent is the goal a person has when they type their query into a search engine. Google puts a lot of effort into deciphering this intent and delivering the most fitting answer back to the user. 

In my query for “all search engines in the world”, Google did a good job giving me Wikipedia’s page listing these same search engines among the results.   

Here is when it goes back to keywords. You can usually figure out the search intent by looking at the keywords used.  

Let’s return to the question at the beginning of this post. Isn’t there a simple yet workable way to do SEO keyword research, for free?

Keyword Research for Small Businesses in 3 Simple Steps

Free Tools for Keyword Research

The services I am going to talk about are free Keyword Generator by Ahrefs and answersocrates.com

These two are easy-to-use, free keyword research tools that don’t need registration and have no limit on how many times you can use them per day.

Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator will show a list of keywords and how many searches on average there were for them in a month. The answersocrates.com will show actual questions people ask about the topic. 

Of course, there are other free keyword research tools – like KWFinder, keywordtool.io, Ubersuggest by Neil Patel, Keyword Surfer Chrome extension by Surfer SEO, the Reddit keyword research tool, questiondb.io – and of course, they are all great tools too. Some are completely free, some give basic functions for free. Overall, they each can more or less accomplish the same things as the two I’ve chosen.  

In case you are curious or do not feel right with Ahrefs ‘ Keyword Generator or answersocrates.com, go ahead and give them a try.

However, if you just want to get it done and over with, stick with me for a bit longer – we’ve (finally) arrived at the first of the three steps that will help you get a list of effective queries for your business.

Step 1. Create a List of Seed Keywords

Create a list of topics you are going to talk about in your article or on your blog – the so-called “seed keywords”. For example, if you sell bikes, your blog – and your list – could have topics like “mountain bikes“, “city bikes“, “bikes for children“, “bikes for men“, “bikes for women”, and others. 

These queries are too “high level” and there is a lot of competition going, so optimizing your content around them is not going to be a good idea. They are just here to serve as a foundation for the next two steps. 

Step 2. Find Long-tail Keywords

The next step is to turn “seed keywords” into long-tail keywords, and the convenient way to do that is to use a free tool like Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator. 

Make sure to choose the correct country and Google as a search engine while using it.

It will give you a list of words and phrases, some of which you can actually use for your content. But to truly crack it all down, you need to filter them with the third step.

Step 3. Choose Low-competition Keywords

How can you determine which keywords you should create content for when performing research?

This step is the answer to that. 

Go through the list you made in the previous step. Your goal is to find keywords that:

  1. Get a lot of searches.
  2. Have low competition. 

You get the number of searches with the Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator, but there are also Chrome extensions like TubeBuddy and VidIQ that can help with it.

The colorful column titled “KD” can give an idea about the strength of competition – the KD here stands for a parameter called “keyword difficulty”. 

This parameter of Ahrefs evaluates how hard it is to get into a top 10 in search results for that given query. Generally, the lower it is, the easier the job is. 

For keywords that lack information on KD in the Keyword Generator, Ahrefs has another free tool called Keyword Difficulty Checker. Put a query in and it will return the difficulty level along with websites that rank for it.

As the screenshot above shows, “mountain bikes” is a difficult query to rank for. A “rocky mountain bikes” however is one you could totally make a shot at.

What comes next is filtering out keywords that have a combination of a lot of monthly searches in Keyword Generator and “Low” or “Medium” difficulty in Difficulty Checker. 

These types of queries are in the sweet spot in terms of efforts and returns.

Step 4 – Optional: Supplement Your Keywords With Questions By Answer Socrates

This is an optional step, but it will make finding topics to write about easier and also will help you find overlooked keyword ideas. 

Head over to answersocrates.com and enter your chosen queries one by one. Make sure to choose the right country and language – otherwise, you might see little to no suggestions, or they’ll be different from what is relevant for your target country.

Check out how the result changes, even though the keyword is the same.

Answersocrates.com is the best keyword research tool when you need keyword ideas, topic ideas, ideas for content for different countries, and you want all of these in one place and for free. 

Wrapping Up

Doing keyword research does not guarantee the ranking or the leads.

And of course, there is a lot more to content marketing and keyword research than this post covers.

At the same time, the keyword list that you made with these 3+ steps did not take too much time nor did it use expensive fancy tools, but it can help your content rank better and your business – get more deals. 

By Natalie Voloshchuk

Natalie Voloshchuk is a freelance content writer & marketer who’s been writing since 2010, creating blog posts, articles & long-form content.

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