There’s been a lot of discussion about how keyword research for SEO is not as important as it used to be. That’s largely due to these two factors:
- Improvements in Google’s algorithm that make it much better at recognizing search intent and the overall meaning and suitability of a text for a certain query, regardless of how often some arbitrary keyword appears in the text
- Doubt about how the big keyword tools like ahrefs, KWFinder, UberSuggest and SEMrush aren’t really that accurate and aren’t a good measure of how much traffic you’d actually get from being on page 1 for a given keyword (especially with how cluttered Google’s results pages are now with featured snippets, ads, questions and so on)
As such, there are now a significant number of people, including well-established internet marketers such as the guys at Income School, for example, who say that you should forget about using keyword research tools and instead find topics to write about based on Google’s autocomplete feature. Others also say you should think about what people in your niche want and write about it, focusing on creating the best and most useful content possible without specifically trying to rank for any given keyword (see Why You Shouldn’t Do Keyword Research for Your Blog Posts).
Personally, I still do keyword research to get at least some idea of whether anyone is searching for the topics I intend to cover here. But if I’m honest, it’d be hard for me to say with any authority whether that time is well spent, as search traffic I’ve got in the past is usually from a huge mix of relatively long-tail keywords, not any specific keyword I was trying to rank for.
To help answer the question of how important keyword research still is in 2020, I put out this request:
There’s been a lot of talk about how keyword research and tools like ahrefs are no longer really that accurate or useful, and search volumes they give are a poor indication of how much traffic you’ll actually get from ranking on page 1 for a given keyword. What’s your opinion – is keyword research still worth doing, and do you think the main keyword research tools are still useful?
There were a ton of responses to this query, with almost every single one saying that yes, keyword research is still important – it’s just changed. Below are all the reasonable responses I received. You do not need to read more than a few of these as there’s a lot of repetition, though there’s some useful advice. Personally, I think the most valuable comment is from Mark of Authority Hacker (EDITORS NOTE: see our compilation of Authority Hacker reviews here) who mentions focusing on click-throughs (if your keyword research tool has that metric), rather than search volume.
Keyword research is by no means dead, but it has evolved over the years. Using a single tool or metric for any aspect of SEO is no longer enough. Every business should be using a variety of techniques and tools to find the keywords it needs to include in its content in order to rank and reach its target audience.
--Hannah Stevenson, UK Linkology
I believe that keyword research is still very important. It gives you an indication of the intent of your target audience. It shows you what types of questions they are asking which in-turn provides you with content generation ideas. The whole purpose of SEO is to provide users with the best possible result for their search query. That means answering their questions as well as possible and you can only do that when you understand what it is they want to know.
I do agree that the specific data given by keyword research tools should be taken with a pinch of salt. I would recommend using several keyword tools to get a general idea of which keywords are popular within your niche but I wouldn't take the figures as gospel, more of a guide and base to work from.
--Stuart Cooke, Levity Digital
Keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMRUSH, Ahrefs, and MOZ are still useful, especially if you’re in a very competitive niche as they can help you find the low hanging fruits that you might not think about on your own. However, in most niches it’s best to focus on creating awesome content that solves your ideal reader’s problems because Google and other search engines are smart enough these days to know what’s good and what isn’t. Not to mention that around 20% of all searches are new so no keyword research tool would be able to help you with that, however search engines are smart enough to pick the best content even in those cases.
--Miguel Cairo, bloggingpals.com
What's important in 2020 is that your content is of a high quality and relevant to your audience. If your content answers people's specific queries, you will rank higher in SERPS.
Keyword research isn't dead in 2020. It's just less important than it used to be, so I wouldn't spend hours on this. Instead, I would establish a quick list of keywords to add to my content, to complement it and increase chances for my article to be found online. Keyword research shouldn't be your main SEO activity like it used to be in the past. You should use keyword research to steer your content towards the right direction, a bit like a compass, but these keywords shouldn't take over your content and make it sound unnatural.
It's much more important to write interesting content that sounds natural, even if that means leaving out some of these keywords.
--Gregory Golinski, YourParkingSpace
In my opinion keyword research is not completely useless, but it's not as important as it was. Google is getting smarter and smarter about using synonyms and search intent. So the specific words you use aren't as relevant. It's much more important to write content your audience finds highly relevant and use a smart internal linking strategy (content clusters for example). If you write about your subject from all angles, your technical SEO is on point and you have enough backlinks, than the actual keywords don't matter as much as they used to.
--Michiel Koers, Topic
Keyword Research is definitely not dead and is as important as it was ever before. However, it’s no longer a straight-forward process. You cannot just put up a query in keywords research tools and pick the high volume and low competition keywords to rank well.
The tools like Ahref, SEMRush are not 100 accurate when it comes to judging the volume as well as competition. However, they do give you a basic idea about what people are searching on the internet.
You then have to use your experience to judge the kind of traffic you can expect for a set of keywords and optimize your page for the once which are worth it. Once you starting for a few of these keywords, you get a much more reliable keyword data from Google Search Console which you can use to further optimize the page to rank better.
--Aquif Shaikh, bloggingocean.com
Keyword research is still useful. Although its right that tools like ahrefs don't show accurate search tool. I don't think any tool can give. But its can show what topics people are searching for and difficult it is rank by looking at serp.
And yes, search volume are poor indication of how much the traffic you can get if you write an article on keyword. Because an article can rank for thousand of keywords and its not depend on one single primary keyword. Its better to look the serp and see how much traffic the top article are getting. You can get this data in ahrefs.
Is keyword research dead in 2020?: Any tool can't be 100% accurate. In order to get totally accurate results you need the data that would be updated in real time. But the thing is we don't need such accuracy in SEO. It's crucial to have basic data to understand our potential users - what they're looking for in search engines. In this way we can understand what to give them.
Additional metrics in keyword research tools are given for comparison of keywords. So we can prioritize them in our efforts. But they don't need to be precise.
--Daria Khmelnitskaya, SE Ranking
Keyword research is definitely not dead in 2020, we use ahrefs multiple times per day when researching new topics to cover on MoneyCheck. While the quoted figures might not be an accurate representation of actual search traffic they can offer an idea of what to expect from a post.
We combine ahrefs with other tools like Google Auto-complete and google trends to get a more accurate picture.
We also use our knowledge of the industry when creating content strategies and have found that search terms which show under 10 searches per month on ahrefs actually can send many thousands per month.
So, to sum up - yes, they are helpful still but dont rely on their numbers as gospel.
--Oliver Dale, MoneyCheck.com
Keyword research isn't dead. It's an important part of planning your SEO and content strategy.
Keyword research is a form of market reaearch that gives an excellent insight into search behaviour.
Data provided by keyword research tools should be used as a guide. While data may differ depending on the tool used, it still gives a good overview of search volumes and competitiveness scores.
A business should follow up with monthly SEO reports using data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These reports help the business identify any gaps and trends in their SEO and content strategy.
No, keyword research isn't dead and will continue to be relevant so long as people continue using search engines.
--Nat Alleblas, natalleblas.com
Keyword Research is Alive and Vital: Keyword research tools give you specific targets to directly reach customers.
Keyword research tools give you specific targets to directly reach customers. If your content does not match what customers are looking for they will never see your website. Clients often ask me why their site gets low organic search traffic. Technical issues and useless content are the top reasons. Often they have produced content I call thought or vanity pieces. This is content the site owner wants to say and is often opinion, not an answer to a real question. Keyword tools tell you what your customers are seeking answers to. If you know what they want you can create matching content and earn more top of the funnel traffic.
--Chris Love, Love2Dev
That's true that the common free keyword research tools are not working as they used to anymore. They provide generalized data and, if we take Google, for instance, they glue up keywords providing irrelevant data sometimes.
But that doesn't mean that these tools are useless and you shouldn't rely on them anymore. The thing is their data has never been the absolute truth. It's always been an estimated forecast that gives you an idea of the traffic you might've received.
It's very important to understand that it's a tool and not an ultimate solution, and it's always been like that. What you should do is use the data you get from these tools and combine it with manual research or with other automated tools. Keyword research is so much more than just the data pulled from some automated tools.
I've a close contact with our customers and I can say that the basic Search Volume data that we pull from Keyword Planner is a good foundation to start their SEO campaign. And it doesn't stop there. It's just the first step, then you take this data and go on with your research.
But I can't deny the fact that as the SEO tool we had to adapt to the changes. We've added designed more free and paid keyword research tools and features, added more data sources, etc. That allows our clients to compare and manage their data, and it provides a wider picture.
To sum it up, I believe that keyword research gives you a good start, but you shouldn't rely solely on it. Automated tools work best only when they are combined with a good old manual research.
--Alexandra Vasileva, Topvisor
If your content doesn’t match any search terms that real people use, you won’t get any traffic from search engines.
For this reason, keyword research is still crucial in SEO.
When Google ranks websites in the search results, it uses simple logic: the best answers come first.
As a result, it places the websites with the content that is most relevant to a particular search query to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Here are the key 5 summaries
Stay focused on satisfying the user’s search intent – Analyze what your users are looking for and instead of just focusing on individual keywords look into the intent behind searches.
Create content around closely related groups of keywords rather than exact-match keywords, and provide an in-depth view on the topics that are of greater interest to your audience;
Don’t skip keyword research as you risk targeting keywords with zero search volume or an unapproachable competition level;
Keyword-related ranking signals are not officially confirmed to impact rankings, however, multiple studies prove that there is a correlation – whether this equals causation or not, it’s an important indicator of relevance;
Keyword research allows you to better understand the general market demand, which is ever-changing and requires constant monitoring.
--Kenny Trinh, Netbooknews
SEO tools: I think that these tools still hold a lot of value but few users of the software know how to fully utilize them. There is information overload and they are really not designed to measure traffic. It is those who can sort through the clutter of data and find the insights that really do matter, that find maximum value of these tools. In my experience, most people do not use the data properly, I think that is the problem with them.
--Perry Toone, Thexyz
Keyword research is nowhere near dead in 2020, and I don't foresee the practice really ever going away. Even if you're not using specific tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush, it's crucial to understand what searchers' problems are and how your product or service can be that solution. The key to that is understanding the language your target audience is using when they search.
It's also critical to understand how Google interprets queries and what the resulting SERP landscape looks like. If Google shows a local result in search and you're trying to rank an infographic or an article, you're already at a disadvantage. If the search result has a rich snippet followed by top news stories and YouTube videos, then it's time to reassess your approach to fit within what Google thinks searchers are looking for with specific queries.
You may not use tools due to their lack of accuracy or cost, but at the very foundational level keyword research should still be a part of your baseline routine to understand these very basic elements of search.
--Carolyn Lyden, Search Hermit
Keyword research still plays a fundamental role when it comes to search engine optimization. It is therefore worth doing, for it enables you choose the right keywords, hence giving you positive results when it comes to ranking your pages by search engines.
Not doing keyword research at all will certainly leave you with wrong keywords, which your pages may never rank for. This will mean that your pages will get very little, or no traffic at all, thus no revenue.
Keyword research tools like ahrefs and others may no longer be giving accurate information regarding keywords. However, the results they give can still provide hints on the right keywords to use on your pages. Ignoring them altogether will therefore mean that your SEO is based on trial and error, and this may take forever to give any positive results.
Keyword research is indeed the backbone of SEO, and should therefore not be abandoned or neglected by anyone thinking of running a successful blog or website.
--Wycliffe Ouko, myessaydoc.com
For me, keyword research the central point of an SEOs career. With each and every website that is built, you should be looking for a single keyword to target with each page. But to find the best keywords to target, keyword research should be the first port of call!
Ahrefs has a metric that the measures how many people, out of all of them that have searched for your keyword, will click a result of a SERP. This tracks the paid search and organic clicks too. It's common knowledge that these aren't always going to be accurate, these tools are designed to give us insight into the kinds of keywords that we should be looking at and help us develop a strategy around that.
If we didn't do any keyword research, SEOs would just end up targeting unachievable rankings or we would rank a page for a certain keyword but the website wouldn't get any traffic from it. We work is a results-based industry and clients don't care about the finite details. They want to know that they are getting leads and that their bottom line increases. They only way to make sure that we achieve this is to perform keyword research and target the right terms.
--Charlie Worrall, Imaginaire
Keyword research is not dead. However, the metrics have changed. You now need to look at the number of organic clicks a search term gets.
Google has rolled out a number of features, which continue to push organic results further down the search results.
There is no point ranking organically for a search term if nobody clicks on your website.
Use a tool like Ahrefs to get the number of clicks for a keyword. This is the metric which ensures keyword research results in a target worth ranking for.
--Jason Schulz, 5tales.com.au
The people who claim that keyword research is dead in 2020 are people who relied too much on keyword research in the first place. If you’ve been trying to do SEO for a while, you probably know that a lot of times, the data from any app can be inaccurate and that even the best piece of content on a given keyword may not give you the traffic or the conversions you want.
In other words - use the keyword research data as only one of your guidelines when creating great content. If you rely on the data from keyword research only, you may end up very disappointed in your results several months after starting your campaigns.
--Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals
Yes, It is still working.
*Why do I believe So?*
I am running an eCommerce business on the website magecomp.com where we are selling Magento Extensions (Bunch of code) to our customers worldwide. So basically I do have our own eCommerce website,
When we (being Marketing team), we always do competitor research first, Yes we don't use keyword planner anymore, we are using lot of paid tools including SEMRush and Ahref.
Once we finalize that we want to develop this extension, we do keyword research on it. We use various tools for it like 1. Ahref 2. keywordtool.io 3. kwfinder.com
We gather all the related keywords, finalize the main keyword and make a plan which keywords to use where like in meta or product description. Believe me, its actually helping us still.
Also important note, we do check it possibly in 6 months once, so if in case it needs any update, we do. As we know google needs fresh content on the internet.
Back to the point, yes tools are having limited data sometimes but that is enough to create idea how and what we can use.
--Gaurav Jain, MageComp
Is keyword research dead in 2020?: The simple answer is *NO*. Keyword research is not dead in 2020, in fact, it is much more important than before as there is much more *competition* in the space of SEO and businesses compete a lot on the same old keywords. This arises the need for businesses to find out new keywords to reach their potential customers and therefore, *keyword research* comes into play.
Keyword tools are not always accurate, that is a well-known fact in the space of SEO. The trick here is to conduct keyword research on multiple keyword research tools and mash all the data together. This will help you get much accurate assumptions that just trying out one research tool.
This shows us that keyword research is still the *heartbeat *of an effective SEO campaign.
--Anjana Wickramaratne, Active Digi Solutions
I completely disagree with the fact that keyword research is dead. I believe that keyword research should be used only for finding high volume keywords with a low keyword difficulty. If you're trying to estimate potential traffic from tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, then you're not using the tools correctly. The main keyword research tool we use is Google Keyword Planner, since the historical data collected from Google Ads displays an accurate representation of monthly search volumes. The tools gets more accurate over time.
--Alfredo Bernal, CosmoDoggo
While I do think keyword research has changed over the years, I still think it is an important SEO skill. When I came into the field, the right keywords could bolster your performance easily. Now, I think it is more important to be an authority on those search terms. So, for example, if SEO is a search term, then the content you create around it needs to have depth and weight. So keyword research is important, but how you use the research is far more important.
--Joe Karasin, POSH Detroit
Is keyword research dead in 2020 - no: Although the search volumes provided by tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush might not be entirely accurate, from our experience they're accurate enough to warrant using them as a guidelines for keyword research. We find that the search volume and traffic estimates given by Ahrefs match up pretty accurately with what we see coming into our site via Google Search Console. Also, keyword research is not just about finding keywords which have search volume right now - we use Ahrefs to find keywords that are up and coming, and to brainstorm new content ideas. In this case, it's less about looking at the search volume and more about finding keywords we wouldn't have otherwise thought about.
--Sam Williamson, CBDiablo
I think keyword research is definitely worth doing and that the main keyword research tools are still useful. However, I also agree that they can offer a pretty poor indication of how much traffic you will receive from top positions. Therefore, I recommend using these tools as a starting point before moving on to better sources as you update and maintain your content.
As an example, I mainly use Ahrefs to find new keywords for new articles. I will base the content entirely around the keywords it suggests for my first version. After a few weeks, I will check to see its progress within Google Analytics. However, rather than using Ahrefs, I will then use the Google Analytics data to perform updates to the content. I feel that this is a much better way as the data in Analytics is much more reliable than Ahrefs, as it is directly from Google.
Another keyword research tip that has worked well for me is to use Google Trends. Unlike other tools, this indicates when a keyword will be popular. You can then use it to target keywords at specific times of the year to maximize traffic intake. A good example is during important holidays or events. I wrote blog posts targeting Black Friday keywords, publishing a few weeks in advance, and I received a nice influx of users because of it.
--Adam Lumb, Cashcow Ltd
I don't feel that keyword research is dead. I don't think it will be till we have technology which can track all internet and give us a recommendation which keywords we have to target. It will be there soon but still its quite far ahead.
Current tools like Moz and Ahrefs give you statistical data over the keywords and domain you are targeting. Their statistical information, if not 100% accurate still presents us with an outstanding result. You can analyze what your competitors are targeting, whether they are benefitting from it or not. They give you search volume per month basis over which you can estimate how many users are interested in your topic.
Tools like Google Analytics are far more accurate and real if you want to track how many actual visitors you are getting. They give you near 100% data and you can follow from which source do they came and map organic keywords with their visit.
So, as for now, keyword research is not at all dead. The way the internet is growing and people are gaining more knowledge of SEO and its importance, it becomes even more critical for you to do the keyword research properly and target your audience.
--Abhiraj Tulsyan, Stockarea
I think BERT, autocomplete, suggestions, Local, and NLP are all changing how we gauge clients Kws. We've all gone through these changes over and over throughout the years.I think tools like AHREFs provide a valuable baseline or starting point. In the end, once a site has been indexed well, I tend to shift attention to search console - queries and impressions and adjust from there.
Trying to avoid cannibalization with poor site structure planning still play a very important role. These tools can still help you with that decision making process early on. There are numerous studies that break down positional share when it comes to SERPs. I've never found one of these studies to be more accurate than others.
Long tailed, variations, and everything else you can get out of search console is much more reliable in my opinion especially when you can pair that data with avg positional data for an indicator on what to expect.Adjust from there accordingly, in the end there are specific pages Google prefers over others, even if you on-paged each page correctly to a T. You have to be willing to adjust quickly these days versus say two or three years ago.
--Ryan Birdsell, On Top Texas
In my opinion, keyword research isn't dead but it has evolved. At CueBlocks, our process for keyword research focuses on identifying topics. By optimizing content for topics with decent search volume, we are able to:
i) answer all queries a user may have. ii) improve content depth which helps us in ranking better and increasing our keyword spread i.e the amount of keywords a page ranks for.
We have seen traffic improve by 300% by following this process so I definitely believe keyword research is worth it.
While keyword research tools don't always provide an accurate estimate for search volume, the likes of SEMRush and Ahrefs do a good job for the initial discovery of keywords & their search volumes. It is important to analyze Google Search Console for the impressions a keyword receives to have a better idea about the actual search volume.
--Gurbir Singh, CueBlocks
Keyword research is absolutely still worth doing, but you have to do it the right way. Start by determining what your goals are -- are you aiming to rank higher? Are you in need of more clientele? Do you want to show up for a specific product?
By determining your end goal, you can work backwards to determine what keywords should be used to be successful. Data doesn't lie -- it tells you the truth. Look into the keywords you are currently ranking for and those you want to rank for.
Additionally, look for words your site visitors are searching for on your site itself. Are they using industry terms or general public-knowledge terms? An example would be: emergency kit (industry term) to emergency supplies or first aid supplies (general public-knowledge terms). Listen to your clients, look at what they are searching for, determine your end goal, and go from there.
--Ashley Sterling, The Loop Marketing
While admittedly tools such as Moz and Ahrefs may not be 100% accurate, keywords are still the essential foundations on which Google Search is built. And if you’re riding your bike in the dark, a light, while not illuminating the entire road or environment around you, is still essential to see where you’re going. Keyword research is the light you simply need.
Unless you’re banking on the vast bulk of your traffic coming from social, which in 2020, with all that is being monetised, is becoming increasingly difficult, you’d be putting yourself at a huge disadvantage not doing keyword research and looking at volume. These tools, even if they are off base at times, are still vastly superior at understanding and knowing what people are searching for than your hunches and best guesses.
To do it effectively in 2020, ideally you want to use two or more services. Yes, admittedly this is very time consuming, but different tools excel in different areas. SEMRush’s on-page optimisation is brilliant, but their keyword volume is not as effective as, say, Ahrefs. Don’t rely on one, instead try a few (they all have free or small fee trials) and get a feel for what they do well and what you can get better elsewhere.
--Dale Johnson, Nomad Paradise
No. Keyword research is not dead but it has evolved radically from what it used to be in the past. Thanks to AI and voice search getting popular these days, people are using different keywords to search over the internet. So consider using natural language processing instead of technical jargons when optimising your site. For example, you might want to be called a veterinary but people are most like to search for the best 'vet' in their locality.
*Bottom Line:* Keyword research is not dead but it has evolved radically
--William Taylor, VelvetJobs
Yes, I believe that keyword research is still well worth doing. We know that an effective content marketing strategy is a long-term tactic for many brands.
I believe that by doing proper, in-depth keyword research in the context of a 12 - 24-month content strategy is where you will see the biggest gains in organic traffic. Ranking on page one for many smaller businesses is not an overnight feat, it’s one that needs a consistent long-term strategy to gain that coveted first-page ranking.
I do believe that many of the popular keyword research tools still hold a lot of value in helping direct and guide those content marketing strategies. I certainly use them extensively.
--Emma-Jane Shaw, Uku Inbound
Keyword research is not dead in 2020. The importance of choosing high-traffic keywords is still there. When deciding what to write about for your site, you may waste valuable time and effort on a keyword that has no traffic at all if you do zero research. The accuracy of the search engine tools are always in question, but if the volume for one word is a large number, there is undoubtedly a flow of traffic to that word. Neglecting to do any research can lead you to writing around a word that has no traffic on these sites, and thus return a similar number of page views. I believe a vital point to remember is that those numbers are not exact, but they can help guide you to make the right decision. Keyword research is still very important.
--Will Cartwright, SMPNutra
Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO campaign. I can't say that keyword research is dead but the method to perform keyword research is changed. The problem with search volume started after Google decided to go with range for volume in Adwords rather than exact figures. We used to see keywords everywhere chrome extension where it used to give an approximate value of search volume,
Though it wasn't perfect, but gave an idea about search volume but like any other tool, it goes horribly wrong in a few keywords. This isn't limited to one tool, it includes all the tools in the market. So we still need to do keyword but need to rely on long-tail keywords & other stuff rather than just volume & the only way we can know the volume is to rank the site at #1.
To be precise, we still need to do keyword research & rely on tools but not completely over-dependent on that, rather go for a manual search like finding the traffic for the site that is ranking at #1 & then finalize an approx range of volume.
--Pranay Anumula, Keka HR
After the hummingbird update in 2013, Google does not rely on exact match keywords to rank the content. So instead of 'keywords', we should find the search terms that users are searching for. Basically, we should do keyword research to understand the user's searching behaviour.
About traffic prediction for keywords, every tool gives different numbers. Even Google Keyword Planner gives 'average' search volume. But tools are useful to find the relevant search terms, ranking difficulty and competition for the same.
We should consider search volume given by tools not to predict the traffic but to prioritize the usage of keywords in important tags and content to fulfil the context of the topic and to enhance the user's reading experience.
--Minal Lohar, SRV Media
Keywords still matter - only if there is relevance!
We are an e-commerce fashion company that deals in leather jackets and other clothing items. I write content and optimize my pages with relevant keywords but I don't focus on high volume keywords. Tools like SEMrush really helps me sort out the right keyword for my page that targets the relevant audience. You really don't have to use exact match keywords to rank on the first page. Break the keywords and use the words separately in meta tags and page content. Means using LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) because the Search Engine will eventually combine each word into keywords.
SEMrush is still one of the best tools for keyword research and every E-commerce should utilize it.
--Syed Ali, FIlm Jackets
Keyword research is not dead, in fact it is more important than ever. Being able to find topics and related keywords to fill out your page is what will make successful content pages in 2020. Ahrefs, SEMrush and the others are all still valuable and have a great number of topic researching tools that help companies choose topics and themes to write about.
--Tom Brodbeck, Found Search Marketing
*Is keyword research dead in 2020?*
Keyword research is the essential core of SEO, it will never die. keyword research is the key to identify your search intent, what people search, monthly search volume, keyword competition etc... if you are doing SEO without keyword search, you will never succeed to get traffic and leads for your business.
The painful thing for SEOs about the keyword research tools is every tool gives you different ideas and search volume.
Yes, the main keyword research tools are still useful because you can find relevant keywords and ideas.
--Laxman Prajapati, Elsner Technologies
No keyword research isn't dead and I'm not sure if it will ever be dead. To me, SEO is answering peoples queries the best you can. Search volumes have always been controversial because they are rounded up or down and are an average number that Google shows. I suggest using Google's keyword planner and the forecast section. It's mento to be used for PPC estimates, how much clicks you would get if you used PPC. It shows the no of impressions for a keyword based on historic keyword data. If you put like a 20$ CPC you should see how many impressions you will get for that keyword in the upcoming month. The numbers aren't rounded up or down there.
Search console is the best keyword research tool with somewhat accurate numbers. It should be noted that some keyword variations with low impressions there are made up as Google is being decorative about showing exact queries all the time.
--Filip Silobod, Honest Marketing
Keyword research isn't dead; it's still worth doing. We do it for every project, in every step of the way - from building the website structure to writing the on-page metadata. It's still the core of SEO, and it will be, you have to use those keywords naturally, and wrap them around the right content. I would say that a lot of keyword tools are still useful. But, you have to understand how they work and what is keyword research in the first place. Keyword research is a process of discovering words and phrases that users type (or say) in search engines. Only search engines have the exact data; tools like Ahrefs can only simulate it as the amount of data they process isn't the same. Using multiple tools like Ahrefs can give you a better view of how your SEO activities are performing. I wouldn't ever say that the tools became useless. They can't be 100% accurate, but they are 100% useful. The data they provide can help you create valuable content, show backlinks and point you to do outreach. When you understand how it works, and the fact that the quality of content is the ultimate goal, every tool is useful
--Tihana Drumev, bestresponsemedia.co.uk
Today, we are witnessing a change. People are lazy and they want to swim more into this laziness. We see that searching is evolving visibly in a more hands-free mode. Even so, people will still use keywords (verbally) to do their search. The teams that develop and maintain tools like Ubersuggest, Ahrefs or SemRush are still doing industriously their research and dig for data daily. They create statistics and measurements and these actions cost lots of time and money. It’s a lack of respect to consider that these tend not to be accurate. That’s why I consider that keyword research it’s still worth doing more than ever and we should be thankful for having access to such a great contrast of tools.
So long search engines such as Google will exist, people will keep searching for things. Everything has a name and people will continue using these names in their search. Keywords are like units of measure in SEO and avoiding to study and know them it’s a great mistake.
--Dima Midon, TrafficBox
Keyword research has changed during the years and it’s easy to assume that it’s dead, when in fact it evolved to topic research and search relevancy. But this still means popular keywords are useful for building organic traffic on your website since they help searchers find your content. How else would you bring people to your content from Google if not by optimizing for the search terms they are using?
Everything Google and Ahrefs provide in their keyword tools as search volumes are estimates. But Ahrefs is more accurate, at least from what we’ve seen in our keywords, by combining the data of these two tools and the number of impressions each keyword has in our Google Search Console. This does not mean I fully trust Ahrefs but I do think it provides more insights since it doesn’t group keywords as the Google Keyword Planner does.
How I see it, you should start with a topic cluster and break it down into sub-topics that resonate to what people want to learn about it. Only then can you look into keywords but always check for the intent behind the search. If you’re optimizing for broad terms, chances are the search intention will change more often than if you’ve have been optimizing for long-tail keywords.
As for traffic indication from a given search volume of a keyword, it’s not enough to reach the top of page 1 and waiting for the traffic to pour in right away. If your meta copy is bad, your CTR will suffer. But nowadays, the majority of professionals and businesses want feature snippets that can help leverage the click-through-rate. So, it’s also important how you write and format to content to make it more appealing for searchers to click as well.
Therefore, keyword research is not that dead as some would believe. If you want results, especially if you’re a business, you’ll need those search volume estimations for your keywords - otherwise, you’ll just create great content that no one will click on from Google. And that’s just sad.
Take it from someone who looks into Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console. I wouldn’t rely on one single tool, but on multiple tools that help me get a better picture of how much notoriety a search terms has.
In conclusion, keyword research is not dead and you should use several tools before deciding what keywords to use in your content strategy.
--Olivian-Claudiu Stoica, 123FormBuilder
I'm doing search optimization since 2014 and never thought that a search volume number is an accurate amount of visitors from the keyword or so. For me, it's a comparative indicator for more or less valuable keywords. Of course, when you gain some experience you can detect them without any tools but there are no reasons to avoid keywords research starting a new project. It's easier to plan and evaluate the optimization when you have a detailed list of keywords.
Talking about SEO tools, I believe most of them are useful but commonly overpriced, especially Ahrefs. I don't want to pay so much while I can replace it with some free Google tools. But for agencies and web studios working on many projects, they are very useful and even necessary.
--Artem Bezvesilnyi, UKAD
Regarding does keyword research still important for SEO: Absolutely. Keyword research is the single most important process in doing SEO. Without targeting the right keywords from the start, you could be wasting a good 3-6 months of your time trying to rank for something that may not bring you results.
True, the data from the keyword research tools such as the search volume are not accurate, but you don't really need accurate data in the first place to really succeed in SEO. These keyword metrics are just needed to:
1. Find the keywords that will bring you the highest ROI and making sure that you won't be targeting any vague keywords for your business and,
2. Prioritize the keywords as to which one to go after first, second, etc.
So at the end of the day, even if the actual search volume of the keyword SEO for beginners has 5,000 searches/month and the tool gives you 2,000 searches/month, you still get the idea as to how important it is, as compared to other keywords in your list, which should definitely be lesser than this, taking into the consideration that it's a valuable keyword, based on various metrics such as search volume, etc.
In a nutshell, just an estimate data is needed from these keyword research tools. Even If some of the keywords may have 0 searches per month, you can still go after them if they make sense. So your own sense and the tool's data combined are all you need to succeed in doing keyword research in SEO.
--Jackie Owen, Techjackie
Is keyword research dead in 2020?: No. That's the simplest answer. Keyword research is not dead because tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest, and others never were meant to give you the exact search volume. If they could correctly predict exactly how much traffic you'd get from a given keyword, they would be charging a lot more money.
First, they can't give you an exact number or predicted visitors from a single keyword because their data only tells them what happened in the past. Much like a weatherman, they can only tell you what they think could happen based on historical data. The next difficulty is that so often if you rank #1 for one keyword you likely rank and are pulling traffic from others. You should look at the predicted volume from those kinds of tools as relative to other keywords within the same tool.
Lastly, keyword research is not dead because it helps you find low-hanging fruit opportunities. You can find terms that have a good amount of volume (relatively) and have relatively low competition. It's a bonus if you already rank for that term in the top 25 or so. From there, you can create a keyword cluster, filled with great LSI (Late Semantic Indexing) keywords that can help you flesh out your content to be very thorough. Keyword shines as a way of figuring out what people care about and how to make sure your content fits the needs, and even the wants of the user, and still does a little more extra as well.
--Justin Lewis, Kiki Photography
Keyword research is surely not dead in 2020. In fact, SEO and content marketing will be (most likely) what most marketers double-down on due to the current situation. Regarding tools such as Ahrefs, I believe these are far from being dead as well. That's because even if their estimates are not spot-on, these are still the closest you'll get to the actual numbers produced in Google search. Plus, software like Ahrefs comes with much more than simple keyword research. It also helps you with monitoring your rankings, analyzing on-site and off-site SEO, and getting through other websites' links database.
What's more, due to the current situation and cost-cutting that most companies will decide on, marketers will have to look for on-budget solutions when it comes to generating traffic and promoting the business. Here, SEO and content marketing are obvious winners as everyone can do it without spending big sums.
--Jakub Kliszczak, Channels
I want to first address how some people confuse keyword research for SEO. Keyword research is a very tiny but essential part of an SEO strategy and defines the user funnel. If there were no keyword research, identifying user intent and serving their needs would be like wandering around with no final destination.
The tools, especially Ahrefs, are very complex. However, if used to their full potential, I do not see why your content would not rank.
When I say full potential, i mean structuring the content so flawlessly that your are able to serve the user's intent, optimize your keywords and fill the content gaps all at once. All the information you need to do that, SEO tools provide you that data.
As far as the traffic is concerned, every keyword has a different nature. One may be seasonal, whereas, one may be constant. However, then there is content marketing, where you promote your content piece to drive traffic to. That one content piece may surge the search volume of a certain keyword, but only the pioneer will get most of the traffic.
To conclude: Keyword research is NOT dead, the way we do keyword research has, because now we do not just account for the search volume of a keyword but the user intent as well. On the opposing thought, one could say keyword research has given birth to Intent Research.
--Shayan Fatani, PureVPN
Keyword research is absolutely an important part of a search marketing strategy. In order to understand your audience's behavior and determine how they think so you can meet their demands, you need to understand the actual words they're using to search for solutions to their problems.
However, keyword research tools aren't fool-proof. They're based on approximate historic data, which may not be applicable. For example, the pandemic has drastically impacted search trends in a way that couldn't have been predicted with data about what people were searching for in March 2019. There just wasn't that much volume for remote work resources, at-home exercise videos, or hand-washing guidelines then!
Years ago, you could adequately predict the traffic you'd get from a certain search term based on volume. Show up #1? You get 30-40% of the traffic. However, search results pages have gotten more complex, with the addition of featured snippets, YouTube videos, people also ask and other features, not to mention the placement of Google Ads -- so it's much harder to accurately predict a click-through rate, even to top-ranked articles, because of the number of options available on the results page.
--Meg Casebolt, Loveatfirstsearch.com
Keyword research is more important than ever for a successful online marketing campaign, whether it be organic SEO or paid advertising. From an SEO perspective, selecting the right keywords is the primary factor that impacts the success or failure of search optimization. Keyword selection varies from client to client based upon the goals for their website and how successfully their website can compete. A competitive analysis is needed in conjunction with keyword research because, for example, it makes no sense to try to rank for a term where the client's website and backlink profile will not allow them achieve page one rankings. The goal of keyword research is to find terms with the correct user intent and the appropriate level of competition that would allow a client to rank well in a reasonable period of time. In essence, keyword research is the most important step toward maximizing the client's return-on-investment.
--John Vargo, Webolutions
We've been following this topic for some time now and there's no doubt about the fact that traditional keyword research methods just don't cut it anymore.
That said, that doesn't mean Keyword Research as a concept is dead - in fact, it's still an integral part of our strategy, however, over the past 6-12 months we have changes our strategy significantly to focus on clicks rather than volume. Many keyword research tools have updated their tools to include this metric and so far it has appeared to be very accurate.
Click throughs are far more important as they generally take into account Google's snippets and rich content results and allow you to actually see what the landscape looks like. We'll then also apply an additional step of looking at what the SERPs really look like - if there's a gigantic video, a snippet and an also asked section, we'll avoid it, however, there are still tons of keywords where this isn't the case and may possibly never be the case - for that reason, I don't believe keyword research is dead, it has simply just evolved!
There is no denying that Google is less reliant on keywords then on the topic itself. But I still believe keyword research is not dead. Keyword research allows to create context around a topic, with the relevant context the bloody smart algorithm allows the search engine to decide page ranking.
You will still need keywords to decide the plan and structure of your content. With keywords it also allows to think of different angles people are searching and helps in answering all of those questions in order to create content around any topic. Tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Keywords Planner are still relevant, if not accurate but they still give approximate data to pave the way ahead. Therefore keyword research is not dead but yes it has taken a new form.
--Muhammad Farasat Khan, IsItWP.com
I don’t think SEO keyword research is “dead” – however, third-party traffic tools tend to fudge the numbers with how many people are *actually *searching on a given term. Similarly, Facebook is under the same scrutiny in a recent lawsuit
It is still fair to say using tools, such as the Google Ad Keyword Planner, to help build your inbound marketing strategy is an effective use of your time (plus it’s free). It helps give insight on what terms or longtail keywords your audience is using to find the products or services you provide.
For example, in my industry, we often plug: [Online focus groups]. However, the Keyword Planner showed that people also phrase this keyword as [Remote focus groups] or [Video focus groups]. Now knowing that we have built out content plugging these new keywords, which allows us to reach an untapped audience we were not previously privy to.
--Emily Carroll, Drive Research
As a content strategist who looks at keyword reports every day, I can say first-hand that keyword research isn't dead. It's true that it's not the end-all-be-all of SEO, but it's still a pretty important aspect of what digital marketers.
Search engines are becoming more and more advanced. As they improve, they're able to crawl and interpret content more like a user would, rather than a bot. So, while specific keywords might not be as important as they used to be, writing on a topic that's relevant to your business' services and your audience's pain points is. And keyword research gives you the context you need to make sure you're putting out content that addresses both of those needs.
To answer your question directly, yes, keyword research is still worth doing, and keyword research tools like Infinite Suggest are still useful. The only difference is that how you use that research effectively is changing. Instead of developing content and websites that focus with singular intent on one keyword, SEOs and digital marketers should be using keyword research to identify the topics that are most important to their readers, and write content that fully explains that topic and answers any potential questions.
--Mackenzie Deater, Evenbound
Claims that tools like ahrefs suffer from inaccuracy are perfectly valid particularly in regards to search queries with relatively low volumes. This has likely always been the case because the methods employed to arrive at these search volumes lead to estimates, and estimates are less accurate when there is less data, and low volume by definition means a smaller amount of data available.
To extend these claims to suggest that keyword research is dead is more than just throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In-depth keyword research is still absolutely fundamental to any SEO campaign. It’s just not the monolithic ingredient in the recipe it once was.
It’s not as simple as identifying keywords and writing a page including that keyword many times. A far more holistic approach is now required in competitive spaces. Your entire site plays a part in how a page ranks for any particular query. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to assume that words on the page matching words in the query is still, and will be in the future, one of the stronger signals Google looks for when deciding if your page matches the intent of a given search.
Furthermore, depending on the search term and the user making the search, the SERP can be a very different landscape, and this becomes more and more true by the day as Google rolls out new features. This adds additional strain (inaccuracy potential) on making a prediction as to how much traffic a site can expect from a particular ranking. Basic CTR models are now going to involve significantly more inaccuracy in predicting traffic value as a consequence. All of this is before we even consider that there are many orders of magnitude more possible queries than third-party tools actually track and estimate.
Third-party tools provide strong indicators that are better than going in blind, but it's important to be aware of the degree to which their estimates can be wrong. This is something I feel they should make more clear to their users.
--James Stone, Evoluted
As far as keyword research we use a number of tools to come up with topic ideas including ahrefs, google suggest tool, related queries on the bottom of Google and more.
These tools help when it comes to content creation ideas and even though the data won't ever be 100% accurate it is a great compass to point us in the right direction of what your audience is looking for.
In some ways you can't even trust Google's data like their Keyword Planner. The focus on this tool is for commercial keywords so if we're researching queries for users who are in the research phase we would not consider this tool. Instead we would use tools like ahrefs.com's questions section and answerthepublic.com. Longer content is still king and being useful to the reader requires keyword research. If you come to your content with the primary focus being how do I help my reader first and what are the keywords second you will have a great website that Google will be happy with.
--Joe Ferrara, Giant Sports International
Keyword research is alive and well and more important than ever in 2020. In fact, without adequate keyword research, it would be much more difficult to put together a well-optimized page that ranks well in the search results. The issue with inaccurate volume is negligible when you take into consideration the fact that your site will rank for similar terms once you're on the first page. The most important part of keyword research is making sure the search terms you rank for are a good match for driving relevant traffic to your website.
Keyword research is the new market research. The old method of keyword research was less involved than it is today and you could get away with choosing a keyword-based on volume, CPC and the level of difficulty. The way search engines rank websites today make it necessary to dig deeper to identify true search intent.
Keyword research requires a detailed SERP analysis in order for you to create content that satisfies the search intent. This means identifying what users are looking for when they type specific keywords.
A full understanding of how Google is ranking for a keyword means finding what other keywords your competitors are ranking for and what SERP features Google is displaying (PAA boxes, Featured snippets, Videos, etc). These subtopics and related questions are all an important part of establishing a solution to rank for a specific keyword.
Tools like Ahrefs make this process much easier by having a lot of information available at your fingertips. The organic click-through rate, access to your competitions backlinks, and alternative keyword suggestions are all invaluable pieces of information that are included in your keyword research.
--Christian Carere, Digital Ducats Inc.
Traditional keyword research is not dead but exclusive research of this kind is dead. With every algorithm update, Google is moving closer and closer towards a siri/alexa-esque question and response style. You only need look at how SERPS have changed to see this. They are full of features. Features which endeavour to answer the user's query as efficiently as possible, ideally without even requiring a click through to the content at all.
With this in mind, my favoured keyword research style is manual SERP analysis. Use Google's automatic prediction to find what people are searching for, what questions they're asking. I take a topic - say B2B branding - then hunt for organic, natural long tail keywords around it.
[What] does B2B Branding [a], [b], [c]...
[How] does B2B Branding [a], [b], [c]...
[Why] does B2B Branding [a], [b], [c]...
Yes it's time consuming, but you're letting Google tell you exactly what's being searched for - straight from the horses mouth.
All in all, it's not to say that traditional keyword research is dead, far from it. We use MOZ, Google ads tool and ahrefs to find simple keywords to optimise into our pages the traditional way. We get some great results from it too! But this has to be supplemented by giving Google what it really wants, a great answer to a question people are actually searching for.
--Jack Hawkins, Workshop Marketing
From our standpoint, keyword research is still an essential part of content creation. Keywords are the basis that drives us to create a useful piece of content, which will drive traffic to our website. People around the world are still typing queries in the search bar, and as long they’re typing them - keywords will be the most essential part of content.
As for our agency, we’re not taking the results from various keyword tools as our prime source of information. We use them to get a grasp of what queries people type in the search bar and to get some nifty ideas for our future content. Till now, Ahrefs keyword research tool has proven as the most useful for us.
Also, I think to track search demand for your brand keywords is not an optional but fundamental activity and a true reflection of your market position. If queries interest increases steadily every month, your marketing activities are heading in the right direction. After all, people are looking to inform themselves only about things they consider relevant.
To conclude: our opinion is that keyword research is worth doing but in a smart way. While doing the research, always ask yourself why would people type a certain query? To get information, to buy something, to solve a specific problem or just to read something useful.
--Jovan Miljevic, Nifty
Keyword research is dead is a common misconception. Keyword research is like SEO and it will continue to transform as algorithm changes happen and search engines get smarter. Since there is a massive increase in people making transactions online and people researching companies online, keyword research becomes essential to businesses that are aiming to boost their presence with hopes of attracting more potential customers.
Keyword research is not dead, however, it is become more advanced on how you look at keywords. has become one part of an overall SEO strategy that puts our readers at the forefront of our content strategy.
Keyword research is definitely not the same as it was a few years ago and how you do your research and strategy that ranks well by the search engines begins to change, but this is to make sure the end-user gets the highest quality content.
Keyword research tools are probably more helpful now than they ever have been. Keyword research tools like Ahrefs allow you to now see keywords ranking difficulty, average monthly search traffic, and what sites are currently ranking for those terms. This becomes helpful because once you identify the term you want to rank for you can now do research on people who are ranking on the first page for it. What terms are they using, how did they write their content, do they have backlinks and who those backlinks are, etc. The tools within the last 1-2 years have become so sophisticated on how you do keyword research that it is also changing the way people write and publish articles.
--Eric Siemek, Youtech
1. Yes, keyword research is still worth doing. In my experience, keyword volume doesn't always accurately reflect how much traffic you'll get when ranking number one.
However, search volume and similar metrics allow you to compare the relative strength of keywords. When doing keyword research for an article or video, I like to research at least half a dozen similarly phrased keywords. I typically go with the one with the highest search volume, as it's still a decent projection for the strength of a keyword.
Another important part of the keyword research process is examining the competition. Keyword research allows you to see how many other websites are competing for the same keyword. If one specific keyword is oversaturated, I'll look for something slightly different in an effort to stand out from the competition.
2. Yes, some of the main keyword research tools are still very useful. However, it's important to keep in mind that these are just tools. They don't guarantee SEO success. It's what you do with the data which will make or break your website's success.
The tools I use on a daily basis are Soovle, Jaaxy, and SEMrush. I've found the SEMrush Keyword Analytics and SEO Content Template tools to be particularly useful when writing new articles.
--David Lynch, Payette Forward, Inc.
On top of ahrefs, I also use Keywords everywhere and keyword research tool on google, to backup whatever ahref shows. I don't just rely on strictly ahrefs. I like how ahrefs shows the keyword, but then it shows you the questions to those keywords and even shows newer keywords that might work that don't even rank yet. This is super helpful if you want to be ahead of the game.
So then when I find the keyword I want, I type that into google to see what google saids. This way I can see what people are typing and looking for and tweak it that way.
I think keyword research is super important especially with meta titles and meta descriptions because you have a couple of seconds to get the customer's attention. And you can only do that by picking good keywords!
--Crystal Diaz, catoncommercial.com
Clients questioning the value of keyword research is nothing new. They worry: Are the keyword average monthly search volumes accurate? Would a different tool give them the numbers they were expecting? And of course, how much traffic will they actually get from these keywords?
The truth is that *keyword research is still a vital element of the SEO process*. It allows us to gain a greater understanding of our customers and prospective customers. It helps us to uncover the intent behind their searches and offer them solutions and products that answer their queries.
The main keyword research tools ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush alongside supplementary tools such as AlsoAsked remain highly relevant and useful. However, *these are just tools and what you get out of them is entirely dependent on what you put in.*
Don't forget to look at your Google Search Console data, talk to your clients and use your common sense to ensure you have a strong set of seed keywords to kick off your research.
When you have your keyword list and your numbers, remember to interpret the intent behind these searches and group them by their search intent prior to taking any action.
In terms of the average monthly search volumes shown in SEO tools, these should be used as indicative rather than absolute. While you can and should use several tools in the research phase you should *only take numbers from one source*. Use these numbers to understand the comparative popularity of a given keyword or keyword set and prioritise you content around this.
--Cliodhna O'Reilly, Dachshund Digital
Keyword research is still a critical part of SEO in 2020. And yes, the main keyword research tools are still useful. However, if you're using keyword research tools the same way you were 10 years ago, you've got bigger issues..
The volume and CPC estimates within keyword research tools are great for understanding what search engine users are seeking. They're generally accurate, but not the most precise - and that's ok! It's important to keep in mind that these tools do not and cannot track certain user queries that are never-before-seen variations of a popular keyword - even Google Search Console won't pick up on something that's fairly unique. That makes it even more difficult to project click-through rates for each keyword and position.
Is there a solution for new searcher queries and lack of precision in keyword research tools? Optimize your page around a topic using a comprehensive group of keywords. For example, if you're optimizing for a keyword like payroll software, you've got to include synonyms like payroll programs, and target market qualifiers like for small business. Include details about pricing, cost, and benefits.
Keyword research tools are like digital clocks, while the reality of search engines is analog. Digital clocks are precise enough for you to measure time, but there is a LOT that happens between the increment of each minute.
--Tony Mastri, MARION Integrated Marketing
Well, I would say each & every tool gives an overview of the website and helps to analyze other metrics like competitor's backlinks, SEO audit of the website and many other helpful insights. So, yes tools are necessary as per the SEO perspective. While in the case of the keywords, keyword research is still useful but not impactful if not use properly in the content and in the backlinks. Though Google’s AI is more powerful and focusing on the search query intent, still keywords are playing a vital role in SEO.
In my opinion, if you are doing any website’s SEO then content plays a major role in it and within it in a natural way you can use the keywords and make the content very useful for the readers where you can give more information about the topic, about niche targeted audience, about solving general readers queries, etc. so that you can successfully gain trust from the users and help to assign internal linking through the content within the website.
So, yes keywords research is still useful and it is more important that how you can use it in your SEO project.
--Tarun Gurang, iFour Technolab
Keyword research is not dead - and never will never die.
My team has studied traffic and results for top positions across various clients compared to keyword search volume results, and conclude that the tools are useful for pointing towards keywords to target. Especially long-tail keywords with less volume that are easier to rank for.
Just because a keyword has a volume of 14,000 monthly doesn't mean you're going to get 14,000 visitors to that page. You may rank for a keyword on a specific page due to a strong SEO across your website, but if that page has weak copy in the SERP, a user will click something else.
This is why the copy for the title tags and meta descriptions in SERPs is as vital as targeting a specific keyword for a page. This is also a reason why strong title tags and custom meta descriptions are VITAL to strong click-throughs (though you must also follow with equally strong on-page content or your bounce rate will go through the proverbial roof).
So in short - yes, keyword research is still worth doing. It's tougher than ever now with voice search, so that's another consideration with keyword research and targeting longer-tail keywords that people would naturally ask via SIRI or Alexa.
The tools may not be 100% accurate, but they provide proper information to guide SEOs towards the correct keyword or phrases to target for a specific page. But that's only 20 percent of the battle - the other 80 percent is how the title tags and meta descriptions are written. These two elements are as vital as the page content itself, so make sure proper energy is put into them.
--Ron Lieback, ContentMender
As someone who regularly uses AHREFS, I still believe AHREFS is great for keyword research and content planning.
AHREFS is great for showing you how many keywords and what keywords a URL is ranking for, but when it comes to the number of visitors, it is always wrong.
The best way I’ve found to estimate the traffic for a keyword is to use the Google Ads search planner. Simply enter a keyword into the estimator, set the max bid to as high as it will go, and it will give you Google’s forecast for the number of impressions. This data is direct from Google, which means it’s a lot more accurate and trustworthy than AHREFS, which uses clickstream data.
Overall, I still think AHREFS is great for keyword research, but always take the number of monthly searches with pinch of salt and use other methods / tools to confirm the numbers.
--Beth Noll, GiftObserver.com
I think the best approach is to think about the intent behind the search query, instead of just focusing on the search volume. I have an example of this.
We managed to get our website ranking on 1st position for a highly competitive keyword in online casino space. We quickly noticed that the CTR and the conversions didn't increase drastically. In all honesty, the metrics were terrible.
We made the fundamental mistake - we went after the high volume, instead of focusing on the more commercial keywords.
Should you solely rely on keyword research when crafting your content strategy? Absolutely not. Use Google Trends and answer the public to spot trends.
--Antti Alatalo, CASHCOW LTD
It's true that keyword-research tools are not perfectly accurate but it doesn't mean keyword-research is dead.
Tools like Ahrefs are a great way of identifying problems before offering the perfect solution. Used as a way of better understanding one's audience, keyword-research tools tell us what people struggle with and what content they expect to find.
Using keyword-research tools is like having a conversation with your prospects. It won't give you all the answers but it will give you precious information that will make your marketing a lot more effective.
--Benjamin Houy, Grow With Less
*You're decisions can only be as good as the data you are using to make them. No data is perfect. Apps like Moz and Ahrefs are third party tools that do their best to interpret Google's vast index of sites and links, but they are by no means perfect in the data they provide. Google itself is not perfect in providing accurate data. Recent admitted glitches in Google Search Console and Google Analytics have lead many advertisers to wonder what is actually true when it comes to their keyword data. *
*Does that lack of fully-accurate data mean we stop keyword research altogether? Does it mean keyword research is dead? If not, what data can we trust? How do we know we are making good decisions? Ultimately, the stakes and potential ROI are too high to completely ignore keyword research and SEO as a viable channel for conversions and sales. That's one of the reasons we combine tools like Moz, Ahrefs, Spyfu and others to try to more fully and accurately understand how we and our clients are stacking up against competitors. We have to use the data we have, even if it's not 100% accurate. In doing so, we just need to take its truth with a big grain of organic salt! *
--Nate Nead, SEO.co
People look for different things and different purposes by typing keywords. However, with the help of artificial intelligence, voice search is gaining traction. According to the recent research, 50% of searches will be voice searches by the end of 2020. When voice searching, people prefer complete questions or sentences. When voice searching, people prefer the complete questions or sentences, use the W-questions - “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When”. and search engines might get to the sites that are optimized with casual and chatty keywords. That’s why it’s imperative to use conversational phrases and questions throughout the content so that your target audiences find the answers, products, and services they need via voice search.
--Alexandra Zelenko, DDI Development
Keyword research will always be worth doing. We need data to base our strategies on the conclusions we get from it. I personally love both SEMRush and Ahrefs, but it is true that they provide very different search volumes for the same keywords, which is confusing. However, I consider search volume especially useful for prioritising keywords, together with other factors like click rate, keyword difficulty, etc. So, to me, search volume is useful to know how much a given keyword is searched against the rest.
Also, keyword research is super useful for topic ideas, to find content gaps and to analyse your competitors’ content.
--Mira Cirera, Novos
Keyword research is absolutely NOT dead. Keyword research is still one of the first things I do with any new client I bring on. It helps to form the basis of our content and link building strategies. Im not as concerned about the actual traffic numbers that a tool says a certain keyword main get, but I am concerned about buyer intent and crafting a content strategy that will deliver a strong ROI for my clients. I do believe that keyword research is still worth doing and if you can afford it, yes the main tools (like SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc...) are still worth using, but there are enough decent free tools that can get you by if needed as well.
--Sam Bretzmann, 5 Minute SEO
While I’ve seen people saying that ahref isn’t that accurate, that keywords are less important these days, and the whole ‘SEO is dead’ idea, I’ve seen no evidence that it is true.
While the traffic estimates aren’t spot on, that doesn’t matter too much, as it still tells you which are the best, and which are a waste of time. I’ve never trusted their search volume data, personally, but do use it as a rough guide.
There are so many factors that influence the amount of traffic you actually get, assuming absolute on estimates that aren’t based on your specific content seems counter productive. For instance a catchy title in position 2 can out perform a bland title in the first position in the SERPS.
We still use ahref, and we aren’t planning to stop anytime soon.
Of course if you want to do keyword research properly you also need to learn the argot of the niche. What words are niche specific and show a connection to the audience. Even then there’s a huge difference between a keyword that ranks highly but is purely a curiosity search, or a buyer keyword. We’ll take a lower volume buyer keyword any day of the week.
So yes we plan to keep using the same tools, but you have to also use the one between your ears or the data is meaningless no matter how it’s gathered.
--Morgan Taylor, LetMeBank
Keyword research is definitely not dead. The problem is that search engines are still centered around keywords.
Now, the largest search engine, Google, has shifted their algorithm so that they are trying to answer what they deem to be a searcher’s intent. Yet what they have to go on in determining that is largely based on keywords.
You could argue Google’s intent-based result system still needs work. Yes, you’ll get queries that do not reflect your intent, because this whole concept is still in its infancy, relatively speaking – but knowing Google, they will keep evolving it until it is scary-accurate. At some basic level, however, keywords will always be involved in the mix.
All the tools are still important and do many, many things besides just keyword research. For instance, SEMRush shows the health of your website, how your traffic and ranking is doing over time, how you rank against your competitors, what your competitors’ paid SEM campaigns are, and even tracks your social media. It gives you an overall picture of how you’re doing.
One thing people may forget is that, just because there is traffic for a keyword, it doesn’t mean it’s relevant. Perhaps someone is doing a research paper on the term, or they are searching for something different but included a keyword that triggered your result, or it’s your competitors doing keyword research themselves, a part of which is to search the term in Google to see what crops up. You can see this happening when you launch a search engine campaign. A period of time must be spent weeding out the junk via negative keywords.
Another critical point is that all that traffic isn’t clicking on all 15 or so results that appear on the first page. Some may only click on a result in the middle of the page, as something in the description catches their attention or answers their query better, and some click nothing and refine their search instead, while still others may click on paid ads only.
People are unpredictable creatures, aren’t they?
So, yes, when you get right down to it, there is no way to know how much traffic you’ll get, no matter how highly you rank. However, by boosting your ranking you increase your chances of getting more traffic. The answer is not to throw keyword research out with the bathwater.
--Carol Archebelle, Foundations Wellness Center
Keyword research is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Conducting extensive keyword research is important for on-site optimization, internal linking strategy, and hashtag use and can increase client ROI exponentially. Any experienced organic search professional knows that you can’t just guess which search terms people are using, you need data to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies. While no keyword analytics or research tool is perfect, using more than one can give you a better idea of which terms are the highest volume.
But keyword research isn’t just about finding the highest volume terms; you should also find and develop a plan for keyword modifiers indicating purchase intent or users who are further down the conversion funnel.
Take the term transmission repair, for example. If you add “cost” to make it “transmission repair cost”, you have a low volume term with high conversion intent that is just as valuable (if not more) than the root term.
--Jennifer Long, Shero Marketing
Keyword research is still very relevant. When working on any marketing strategy, knowing what your consumer audience wants and needs is critical. SEO is no different! By putting the focus on what potential consumers are looking for, you not only make the client feel prioritized and start to build that relationship; you also boost your visibility. The average person is not going to dig through pages and pages of a search engine when they can find a relevant resource on page 1; especially when Google itself prioritizes quality and trustworthy content. Ultimately, keyword research tools will always be useful; because, regardless of where the focus may shift in the future, knowing your demographic will *always* be a priority.
--Dakota Brown, Social Eyes Marketing
Keyword research has become more critical in 2020 than before. The voice search is also going up. However, the way of putting a query in the engine is different in both text and voice. In a voice search, users are more likely to ask a detailed query. No matter if it is a voice search or text, the query in the search bar will be called as a keyword. But, now the difference is you have to write keywords to answer the user’s intent. So, brainstorm the ideas of how your user will ask the query. Coming up with the exact query is highly beneficial for the featured snippet. Make those keywords your headings and answer the user intent precisely in 40-60 words. By doing so, you could come to the featured snippet and attract way more traffic. The main tools are still useful as Ahrefs gives the idea of more or less the same search volume. Moreover, you could filter out all the keywords which are ranking websites in the featured snippet. By doing so, you do not have to check each one of them manually. The results could help you generate more headings based on the keyword ideas. These tools give reasonable estimates and are time savers to analyze the progress afterward.
--Jessica Chase, Premier Title Loans
Keyword research is still very much an important aspect of SEO. I think that it's evolved quite a bit overtime, and will continue to evolve, but will never be dead. It's important to do keyword research to understand what sort of search terms and questions users have around the industry you are in. Once you can understand what's most commonly searched, you can create content around those specific queries. We all know the large role that content plays in SEO, so you should be creating content with purpose through keyword research.
In terms of tools, they have always been considered an estimate on traffic, and should be taken with a grain of salt. The best tool you can use for keyword research is Google's keyword planner. Any other tool can simply provide you with further traffic estimates, but nothing concrete.
As with Google, there is no secret button to push to rank. Any tool that gives you insight on how hard it will be to rank for a certain term doesn't take into account all of the different factors that come into play. If it were as simple as just putting a number on it, then we'd all be able to manipulate Google and rank for terms we want. We know that Google's algorithm is complex. Each website is unique, and each have their own individual factors to consider when it comes to determining if they can rank. So when it comes to tools providing ranking difficulty, I would agree that they are wrong. They don't have enough information to be able to tell you, based on your situation and your website, if you can rank or not.
--Tonya Davis, ThoughtLab
In my experience, the tools used for keyword rankings and keyword research are not accurate. All anyone has to do to prove this is a self-audit on their own domain. When most companies compare traffic and rankings on these tools (to their known reality), they get a clear picture of how bad the data is. However, I still think keyword research is very much alive in 2020. It may ways SEO's have had to evolve past these tools to look harder at competitor content, PPC success, and semantic language ideas to provide better keyword insights.
As long as content is king, we will always have some form of keyword research to make sure writers and webmasters are doing the best job they possibly can. Tools like ahrefs, spyfu, and SEMrush still serve a purpose today because they do provide some guardrails and ideas to become better. Experts who use these tools as onboarding points have better SEO success vs. the one who start and stop with just the tools. For example, I think keyword research from actual data sources (PPC Impressions, Search Console query data, Analytics landing pages, etc.) will ultimately provide better insights and a SWOT analysis measured against keyword goals.
--Kevin Pike, Rank Fuse Interactive
No, keyword research is not dead. In fact, we believe that keyword research is more important than ever in 2020. Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO/SEM marketing strategy. Tools like Ahrefs, Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer are especially helpful to understand what keywords a consumer is searching, as it relates to our clients' products and services. While estimated search volumes are directionally accurate from these tools, they should not be used as gospel. These tools are great at helping digital marketers determine the consumer's true intent behind their search. The most value these tools provide are the additional, contextual keywords consumers may also be searching in addition to the primary keyword. This gives a complete picture of what topics/product trends/questions/etc. a consumer has when researching products and companies-allowing a business owner or agency to craft an content marketing, SEO, and paid search strategy that engages with users along each step of the buyer's journey.
--Brandon Doyle, Blue Corona
Keyword research is not dead. Far from it.
In truth, the traffic estimates in the major SEO tools have never been very accurate, but that does not mean they're not useful.
The best SEO people I know use keyword research in combination with interviews, surveys, and other methods to identify content ideas your audience would love to read about.
Keyword research simply gives us a way to find the most common terms and phrases people use when talking about those subjects. That signals to Google what topic this page is about.
Six months later, most of the traffic coming to that page will be from long-tail searches, not from that head keyword. And that's perfectly fine. It does not mean you shouldn't do your keyword research. It just means you need to reset your expectations for what you're looking at when you review those traffic estimates.
--Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva
Working with clients, often I see pages that simply could get more by targeting better keywords. Even though tools are not perfect, they can help a lot if you know how to use them. There are more things to consider than simply search volume. There are also keyword difficulty (not just as a metric, but real difficulty to rank for the term, as metric might give you a wrong perspective if you don't understand what it really represents), the looks of your results in google (meta tags, rich snippets), are there ads, featured snippet, people also ask for box, local pack, etc. Those are all things to consider. Only by having all those things in mind, people can create a good keyword targeting strategy.
--Milos Mudric, SEO Brainiac
Is keyword research dead in 2020?
No, I believe not.
However, I see the reasons to why people think it is and I can understand, there are so many tools out there ranging from different monthly prices, some costing £50.00 per month, some £300.00 per month which is a massive expense even for some large companies.
The reason why I can relate to some people stating that they are not all that accurate is that they are not, in my opinion, you take the figures that you're getting with a pinch of salt. These figures from the monthly search volume may not be 100% accurate but they at least provide you with enough evidence whether that keyword is worth pursuing.
Now as I mentioned previously there are a huge amount of SEO tools out there which records all sorts of SEO analytics and I am no expert on these by any means, I have used free tools such as https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/>https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest, not too expensive tools such as jaaxy.com which cost £50.00 per month and I’m now using Ahrefs which costs £300.00 per month, and I do notice similarities but these tools are not just for keyword research, if your paying £300.00 per month for a high-end tool and just using it for keyword research then you are not getting the most of them what so ever.
These tools can be used for:
- Keyword ideas to create content,
- See directly who your competitors are in the SERP’s and go direct to there site and analyse what you can do better (convenient),
- Provides you with CPC’s (cost per clicks costs) for Google ads,
- Provides you with a breakdown with what age range the searchers are,
- Provides you with a site audit so you can make your on-page SEO better and more friendly for the user,
- Provides you with a brief backlink profile so you can see you domain score and your competitors, how many backlinks, how many referring domains, and your anchor text for these, and so much more.
All this that I’ve listed above is just from uber suggest and that’s free. Imagine the depth that you can go into using Ahrefs or Semrush.
I am a big fan of these tools, I work for an SEO agency I rely on them daily. When a client rings we have to provide an SEO proposal, we need to know what keywords are worth pursuing over the next few months, if we didn’t have these tools it would make our jobs a lot harder.
So yes, I do agree they may not be 100% accurate and I understand how important keyword research is, and how frustrating it can be spending all that time writing content for a specific keyword, and 6 - 9 months later your still not getting any traffic from it, but, this could be due to other on-page or off-page SEO factors as well?
Keyword research on some of these tools is 20% of what these tools can do to help your business, look at what else they can do and I’m sure you will start to see improvements.
--Adam Green, Currantweb
*Yes, I think keyword research is still definitely worth doing.*
*Keyword research gives us a good AVERAGE idea of what's going on and what people search for.*
*However, I wouldn't let keyword research be the end-all be-all of your SEO. This is not only because you'll rank for multiple keywords with one page, but also because it isn't entirely accurate.*
*So in a nutshell, don't waste a ton of time on it.*
*I like to use it as a general bird's eye view of what sort of volume a keyword gets.*
*If a keyword gets enough volume, I then go and MANUALLY look at the SERPs, and see if it's worth competing for.*
*But like I said, it's more of a General idea as opposed to an exact data number.*
*I think keyword research tools are still definitely useful, but not as vital as we learn more about how Google actually works.*
--Toni JV, JVT Media
Keyword research always was, and always will be useful, if not essential. To back this up, let's clear up a misconception – no SEO tool built to date offers exact search volumes, only approximations. That alone is a useful feature to have. Additionally, it helps to get a rough idea of what keywords offer the best time/usefulness ratio. Tools like Ahrefs cut out a giant part of the guessing game attached to SEO. Want to rank on a certain keyword – open Ahrefs, you'll be able to know what you'll get for your effort, and how many backlinks you need to get to the first page.
Despite the lack of exact numbers, Ahrefs, and its contemporaries are definitely not going anywhere.
--Domantas Gudeliauskas, Zyro
I would never say keyword research is dead, but I agree it needs to evolve. While tools like the Google Ads keyword planner and Ahrefs are a great start, I like to dig into the Google Search Console data. Once you're on page one for a phrase, the GSC impression data gives you a much better picture of what monthly demand for a keyword phrase looks like. It's nice not to see the numbers rounded to the nearest 10 or 100. I find it's always good practice to compare your numbers between different tools like this.
--Eagan Heath, Get Found Madison
We believe keyword research is still a vital part of a successful SEO campaign. We need data from tools such as SEMRush to help benchmark performance. This is applicable to all marketing activities, not just SEO. Although some tools may have issues with accuracy, the problem lies more with marketers shooting in the dark in terms of keywords. Instead, they need to see exactly what a website is ranking for and make strategic updates.
The best approach is to capitalise on where performance is strongest - what keywords will yield the biggest increase in clicks if they were to move up in the rankings. From there, marketers can either build on current performance or broaden their scope.
--Alex Chenery-Howes, Yellowball
SEO has drastically changed since its inception, particularly in the last few years. This is due, in part, to increasingly intelligent search algorithms. Just a year ago only 2 out of 5 people were using voice search once per day for getting the information they needed. According to Comscore, 50% of all queries will be voice-based by 2020.
Thus, I think that by optimizing a website for the voice search one could get a chance to get ahead of their competition and gobble up that traffic before the market shifts into using voice completely. But for this, one needs to do a keyword research.
So, I believe that keyword research still worth doing. Moreover, I think that it won’t go anywhere soon. For example, to optimize your site for voice search, one of the steps would be creating voice-optimized SEO content by using question keyword phrases and FAQ rich snippets. Many tools come in handy when searching for the relevant question keyword phrases. Personally, I really like to use Answer the Public tool for this purpose.
--Oksana Chyketa, BreathTheWeb.com
Keyword research is still alive and well in 2020. However, the approach to finding a low competition and high search volume keyword has changed. The search volume and keyword difficulty scores provided by keyword research tools such as Ahrefs are subpar when used exclusively for finding a keyword. Instead of trusting the latest keyword research tool for absolutely everything, you need to use it as a basis for finding an initial set of potential keywords. From there, use Google's autocomplete to find similar long-tail keywords that show up. This ensures the keyword has at least some potential search volume even if the keyword research tool says otherwise. Finally, you should analyze the top 10 results to see how competitive a keyword is and whether it's worth pursuing.
--David Sandy, David Sandy Official
After 11 years in the SEO industry as a self-starter, I always use keyword research tools like AHREFS and SEMRUSH before I design my SEO strategies.
It is true that the metrics of these SEO Tools are not accurate and have large discrepancies from one another.
*This is why I always use (and recommend) these tools in order to:*
- Access comparative data i.e for the top 10 webpages that rank on the top page of Google organically for a specific keyword, to understand how competitive an SEO target is and draw conclusions.
- Access the competition's best links, best content pieces, top pages, and top keywords and draw more conclusions.
- Discover new powerful link building opportunities.
- Discover new content creation ideas from the content explorers these tools have.
- Combine the information I gathered with the search terms Google suggests as more popular from users for my seed SEO target keyword.
*After I use these tools, I always go to Google and do the following:*
1. Type my relevant seed SEO target keyword to see what type of keyword suggestions Google displays in the dropdown suggested searches box (before I hit enter to see the top 10 organic results).
2. After I hit enter to see the top 10 pages, I go to the bottom of the search results page and note down the relevant searches to my keyword as well.
By combining all the aforementioned data, I always conduct successful SEO campaigns with the help of link acquisition and social signals.
Keyword research is absolutely still worth doing and it is not going to die anytime soon.
My advice is to simply not fully rely on the data but use them in conjunction with what Google suggests as popular relevant searches that users mostly type in for a specific keyword target.
--Joanna Vaiou, JoannaVaiou.com
Keyword research is vital: Keyword research is absolutely still a vital component of SEO. Search volume numbers across all keyword tools aren't too reliable in terms of specific volume per keyword but they can be useful as a guide to know which phrases get searched for more than others. The most valuable reason to do keyword research is to find related terms and synonyms You can gain a lot more organic traffic from long tail phrases by spending time doing keyword research before optimizing a page.
Recently, we performed keyword research for a 2 month old blog post of ours. We found an additional 29 phrases to include in the optimization of this page. One week after the changes, this page ranks in the top 30 for 8 of those phrases. Soon, we will have more organic traffic that we wouldn't have had if we just decided to ignore keyword research.
--Boyd Norwood, Nozzle
As an SEO expert, I still consider keyword research as essential. In the old days, once you stuff your site with the right keyword, you're sure to rank in search engines. Things are a bit different now, and it has evolved. Keyword research is not the only thing you have to do, you need to do other things as well. But without doing keyword research, you'll never rank. That's why it's still important because it's the basis of it all.
Content is tops now in search engines. You need to have high-quality content to rank in search engines. But you still base all your materials on the outcome of your keyword research. The keyword that you'll find will serve as your theme. Once you find the right theme, then you can start building on your content. The more articles you create based on the subject, the better you will rank.
--Jeremy Harrison, Hustle Life Media Inc.
Keyword research is evolving and getting hard day by day but it still remains the most important and initial step while performing SEO activities. The search engines still determine what your webpage is all about by analyzing the keywords present on the web page.
Ahrefs is considered one of the best tools available on the market and is the most accurate tool after Google as per my experience. But you can’t blindly trust keyword’s search volume for estimating traffic. The search volume on a keyword doesn’t indicate how much traffic you actually get from ranking 1st for that given keyword.
According to the Advanced web ranking CTR study
Nowadays Google is stealing clicks from the search engine results page. Google focuses on giving the best user experience, which means, answering searchers’ questions right away without needing to click on any website.
--Boni Satani, Zestard Technologies
Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable activities in marketing. It is the process of discovering the words people use to search and using that data to create your marketing strategies. Consider keyword research as a component of market research that gives insights into the needs of our target markets and what terms they use to find what they need.
The goal of keyword research is to find suitable keyword phrases that align with your business offerings. You need to understand the user intent of the search and then provide optimized content so it ranks for those terms. Understanding what questions are being asked by your target prospects can also provide ideas for your blog posts and other content.
The tools we use are still valuable to the research process. Whether it's Google's Keyword Planner, Keywords Everywhere, Answer the Public or SEO Powersuite, getting the terms and their relative importance is valuable data. As far as the search volumes, we use those as a relative guide for whether they are the focus of our content or are secondary terms to be used in content but not the focus of the content itself.
--Debra Murphy, Masterful Marketing
This is a question that comes up regularly but, in general, there is no getting away from keywords! For all its deficiencies, keyword research is still an important part of our research processes both internally and for our clients. Lionbridge localizes websites into 350+ languages, so we actually have to do this research on some level for each translation.
The difference between now and ten years ago is that before keyword research was everything; now it is part of an overall strategy, which goes beyond keywords to intent and to understanding what's important to the audience you are targeting in the markets you are interested in -- then using that knowledge to generate content useful to that audience in that market.
A research tool can tell you that a keyword was used 100 times in search last month, but also that a synonym of that keyword was used 100k times. Accuracy is a problem with some tools, but that knowledge of relative performance is still critical when creating or optimizing content, whether it's 100% accurate or not.
Tools too have improved over the last decade. Lionbridge uses SEMrush for research and tracking performance. It covers topic research, keyword research, and questions research. We use all those functionalities and back them up with a research methodology that we can repeated in each new language or international market. We also use all the information we can from Google, forums, social media, and local publications to gain an understanding of audience interests and to generate content useful to them. Internally, we also use AI tool MarketMuse to analyse our topic coverage, to improve current content, and to help ideate new content topics.
All the tools we use have keywords as their core. While the statistics they provide may not be entirely accurate, they are consistent and allow us to measure our performance over time and relative to competitors.
--Brendan Walsh, Lionbridge
"Without keyword research, you're flying blind and hoping for the best.": *Keyword research is far from dead.*
I agree that judging the viability of a 'keyword' by its search volume is probably well past its use by date. We all know that search volume is lagged data and that just because a particular query has over 1,000 monthly searches does not make it a conversion-driven target. And remember, the goal of SEO is not just to increase organic traffic or improve visibility in the SERPS, it needs to deliver a return in real monetary terms.
Going beyond semantics, keyword research embodies competitive analysis and should be done with the business model in mind. Think of it as due diligence where the goal of the process is to determine opportunities within the market. For mature industries, this is far easier than disruptors (because no one can search for something they are not aware of).
I will still use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush to give me indicative data. From those, I will draw my own insights and conclusions and explain why certain phrases/words should be targeted to get buy-in from various stakeholders.
Without keyword research, you're flying blind and hoping for the best.
--Daniel K Cheung, danielkcheung.com
*It's true, the keyword tools are not 100% accurate. But it doesn't mean that keyword research is a waste of time. In fact, it** has never been possible to 100% predict traffic you'll get for any keyword, so nothing has substantially changed here. *
*Use keyword research as a way to discover what your potential clients are searching for. It will guide your content strategy as well as help to properly optimize each page. Keywords are ideas, and creating content without them in mind is like shooting in the dark. *
--Kristina Azarenko, MarketingSyrup
There's a lot more that needs to be considered during Keyword Research, which makes it harder for the average person to use. Once you understand the factors that influence click through rate, the base number of monthly searches still holds value.
Most keyword research tools have evolved to include a list of all the SERP features that are displayed for a particular query. SERP features are designed to help the person searching (or advertise to them), but in terms of keyword research they can be thought of as distractions. You can get a good idea of the number of clicks you'll receive by taking into account the number of distractions for a user, along with the monthly searches. Distractions include local listings, search ads, shopping ads, featured snippets, and anything else that appears on the page other than the organic results. These distractions are incredibly important on mobile, as a search results page with a lot of distractions won't show organic results until you scroll.
This means that Keyword Research is no longer looking just for monthly searches and keyword difficulty. It now means finding opportunities to take position 0 and finding high volume keywords that don't have too many SERP features.
There are a few CTR studies in the works to test how many clicks you lose because of SERP features, but the results have varied a good amount to this point.
--Brady Balhorn, Checkerboard
Keyword research is alive and well in 2020: SEO without keyword research isn’t SEO. While it’s true that volume estimates are never 100% accurate, and even vary from tool to tool, they do still give very helpful indications of keywords that will drive traffic.
Of course there will be the occasional anomaly, we’ve encountered terms that we’ve ranked #1 for and they’ve only brought in a fraction of the traffic we expected, but these incidents are few and far between.
We like both SEMrush and ahrefs, but our personal favourite is SEMrush, as we feel it’s a superior overall tool.
But overall, keyword research tools do give you a fairly accurate picture of what keywords are going to bring you success. And if you’re trying to target keywords without any research, you’re just taking shots in the dark. You might get lucky a couple of times, but you’re infinitely more likely to be wasting time on terms that aren’t ever going to convert.
--Sam Orchard, Edge of the Web
Keyword research is alive and well in 2020 and the tools that we use are doing a great job. The problem is, most people pay attention to just two metrics - search volume and keyword difficulty. Once we started paying attention to clicks too, things changed dramatically. Sometimes, a keyword can get 10,000 monthly searches but half of them are without a click, meaning that they won’t drive any traffic to your website. So, make sure to check this metric too.
Moreover, many SEOs and marketing managers focus too much on getting the holy grail - keywords with low difficulty and high traffic. We found that it’s much better to go after long tail keywords with low volume and very low difficulty. The traffic from these keywords builds up very quickly and you’ll get better results in the long run.
--Malte Scholz, Airfocus
Answering the question of how accurate Research tools are is obviously a difficult task. I'm going to first go through where they get their data, potential issues that would cause inaccuracy, and then determine how accurate they are and if they are still useful.
For starters, Ahrefs and other tools uses information from Google Keyword Planner, and combines it with information they gather from other tracking apps in order to estimate keyword volume. Since they utilize alot of data that comes straight from Google, it's a good sign that they're estimates will be fairly accurate regarding Google search traffic.
However, by no means does this mean that they'll always be accurate. Ahrefs has even put out articles saying that they are often wrong. Some of the challenges of accurately predicting volume are:
-Even within Google's tools there are often different estimates for the same keyword -Accounting for seasonal keywords like Christmas is difficult when only yearly numbers are available (which is how Google reports volume). - Google's tools combine similar keywords into a single volume amount, and don't show differences in volume between different variations of keywords
So, we now know why search estimates might not be accurate. But at the end of the day, how accurate are they actually?
Unfortunately, this is impossible to know. The only way to study this would be to look at keywords your website currently ranks for, and compare actual numbers to the numbers Ahrefs says on their site.
However, even this doesn't help for OVERALL keyword volume. It would just help determine if Ahref's prediction of YOUR volume for the keyword is correct, based on your rank.
Despite all the negativity, I'm comfortable assuming that Ahrefs is more accurate than the average person in terms of predicting keyword research. They use real data to arrive at their conclusions, which is definitely better than blindly guessing.
Even if not perfectly accurate, using Ahrefs allows you to get organized and start attacking keywords without going in blind. Ahrefs can usually predict which keywords are most popular in a specific niche (even if the actual volume numbers may be off, the ORDER of which keywords have the most volume should be more accurate).
In short: Ahrefs likely isn't perfectly accurate, but should be accurate enough to help you research effectively.
--Max Kimmel, One Shot Finance
Having been in the digital marketing and SEO industry for over 10 years now, I can say with certainty that I’ve never dealt with more accurate data, or seen so many useful tools in my career.
If I think back to the first (and for many the quintessential) tool for analyzing traffic, Google Keyword Tool comes to mind. It was quite inaccurate 7 years ago. It’s now known as the Google Keyword Planner and is fully integrated into the Google Ads interface.
Back in the day, I was working for one SEO company where we brought up a client’s site into the Top 5 for the “hosting” keyword. The keyword, according to Google Keyword Tool, saw thousands of searches a month. These searches gave us 40 visitors a day despite sky-high competition.
Today, tools like Ahrefs tackle this problem by purchasing clickstream data from ISPs and showing us accurate clicks.
While this data is still not always 100% accurate, it’s better than nothing. Even if data is on the lower side, it’s still better than we’ve ever seen. Besides, it's always difficult to track the exact number of long-tail keywords utilized - particularly if there's many of them.
With the help of tools such as SEMRush and Ahrefs, it’s never been easier to gather core keywords with all the matching synonyms, root words, and phrases. Language algorithms perform this automatically, at times suggesting ideas that you would never have thought of.
Let’s face it: Google interfaces leave a lot to be desired, always have. Geeks for geeks, right?
This cannot be said about the above mentioned tools. In the fight for the customer, they try to raise the bar with truly striking and intuitive interfaces. Google, being a monopoly, is seemingly immune to such market forces.
--Anna Korolekh, OroCommerce
Keyword research will never die. The right choice of keywords and the creation of semantic core didn’t lose their importance today.
Even though SEO tools show inaccurate data, it’s still the only way you can draw conclusions about topics’ priority and their potential organic traffic. Tools like Ahrefs never argued that their data is not 100% accurate for that matter. They give you their best educated guess based on the third-party data and that’s it.
Of course, the most reliable tool now is Google Search Console. (So, if you are going to create another site in your niche, it should be your No.1 source of keyword ideas). In all other cases, SEO tools stay as relevant as ever.
--Lidia Bondarenko, HelpCrunch
Keyword research tools have long been inaccurate. That said, they still provide some value. You can gain a general idea of how popular a keyword is based on the search volume.
Because often a large percentage of your traffic will come from keywords outside of your main keyword (aka the long tail), you can still acquire decent traffic even if you don't rank on the first page for the main keyword.
I'd still use keyword research tools, but focus on writing better content than what currently ranks in the top positions. By doing so, you'll not only potentially rank well for a lot of different keywords, you also may get people to link and share on social media which provides another level of traffic to your page.
--Ryan Whiteside, twowheelsmarketing.com
Changes in the search landscape and user behaviors have made keyword research more important but tools such as Ahrefs a bit more subjective. In the end, a tool needs someone with some level of skill and expertise behind it. Monthly search volume as your leading principle behind keyword research is flawed unless your goal is simply traffic generation. If your intent is to inform, educate, brand, and transact, then each intent could have different keyword phrases. These should match a user's needs better and should have content that supports those targets. Searches and user intent on the macro scale do not necessarily match up, so users are scanning for the right result, using featured snippets to answer their query or rephrasing their search. This can explain the large discrepancies for search volumes and CTRs being all over the place depending on intent. For most of us in the digital marketing space we have a two-fold responsibility: to generate traffic and to generate leads. Managing a client's expectation on going after ego-based or head phrases that have a lot of traffic but limited transactional value is important - finding that balance between traffic generation and lead generation is key. The current market is seeing overall traffic decreasing but a focus on transactional terms that may not generate very much traffic but are more qualified or profitable leads that can go a long way to help a business survive these difficult times.
--John Varghese, TopSpot Internet Marketing
Editors note: See Esabi for help with keyword research. If you’re looking to use keyword research as part of your strategy to run better Google Ads, I also recommend having a read through this list of 9 elements of a good Google Ad with examples.
Latest posts by Katie Holmes (see all)
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