We’ve Spent 3 Years & Over 5K Hours Perfecting Our Keyword Research Strategy. Here’s The Ultimate 13-Step Guide To Defining Your Keywords & Ranking #1 On The SERPs!
If you’re running a Shopify store, then you know that SEO is key to your success. You also know that keywords are the backbone of on-page SEO.
But do you know how to properly do keyword research for Shopify?
In this ultimate guide to Shopify keyword research, we’ll show you how to find the right keywords for your store, rank higher on Google, and increase your CVR (conversion rate).
So whether you’re just staring out or you’re looking to improve your existing strategy, read on for the best tips on getting tremendous results and leveling up your entire SEO strategy!
- What is keyword research & why is it important?
- The basics of keyword research for Shopify
- How to find the right keywords for your store: The ultimate 13-step strategy to follow
What is keyword research & why is it important?
Keyword research is the process of finding relevant keywords to target.
A key aspect of keyword research is understanding the way your potential customers search for products or services like yours online and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly.
Essentially, this means that you should:
- Understand search demand.
- Define specific terms and queries your target customers type in Google Search (and other relevant search engines).
- Include them in your keyword list and incorporate them into your SEO strategy (including your content and marketing efforts).
Keyword research is one of the foundational SEO tactics and an integral part of the majority of SEO campaigns.
This is why it’s essential you do proper keyword research. Read on for the best way to get started!
The basics of keyword research for Shopify
Before you dive into the process of defining your keywords, you must make sure you know what the entire process entails - from the initial brainstorming of keyword ideas to the ongoing keyword list refinement sessions.
All this starts with understanding what each of the following terms means:
A keyword is a single word or phrase. The target keyword of a web page summarizes the content of the page (or, in some cases, the entire website).
As part of the web pages' metadata, keywords help search engines understand the different pages of a website better and match them to appropriate search queries.
For optimal results, it’s essential that each keyword is mapped to the proper search intent type and the according stage of the sales funnel.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that contain more than three words. They are important because they drive highly targeted traffic, hence, they lead to higher conversion rates.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are either short-tail or long-tail keywords that are semantically relevant to your target keywords.
For example, if a page’s primary target keyword is “purse,” then “fashion,” “bag,” “clutch,” “fall/winter trends”, etc. would be LSI keywords.
LSI keywords are important because they give Google more context and help it understand your website better, resulting in an increase in ranking and, subsequently, more sales.
Each keyword can be mapped to a specific type of search intent, and each type of search intent can be mapped to a different stage of the sales funnel.
Respectively, mapping your keywords to the right type of search intent, will help you address your target customers’ needs better, wherever they are at their buyer journey.
There are four types of search intent:
- Informational (refers to the top of the sales funnel)
- Navigational (refers to the top and the middle of the sales funnel)
- Commercial (refers to the middle and the bottom of the sales funnel)
- Transactional (refers to the bottom of the sales funnel)
Ideally, you’re looking for keywords that show clear buying intent (such as commercial and transactional keywords) and are relevant to your products, services, brand, business, or industry.
However, since an online store is more than product pages, and your customers don’t go straight from desire to purchase*, you’ll need to target informational and navigational keywords as well.
* Remember that the buyer journey isn’t linear - it starts with a need or a desire for a product, but before the customer gets to the moment of purchase, they go through different stages of research and comparison. And, sometimes, this process happens multiple times before they make a final decision. You need to keep this in mind and provide your customers with value at every touchpoint.
Search volume is a term used to describe the number of average monthly searches for each keyword or keyword phrase.
Ideally, you’d be targeting the keywords with the highest volume (because they’ll bring more visitors to your store).
However, there are some caveats here and some factors to consider - usually, keywords with higher search volumes are more competitive, meaning they are more difficult to rank for.
Also, keywords with higher volumes are usually broader and more vague, meaning that, even if you manage to rank for them, the traffic they’ll drive to your store won’t necessarily result in conversions.
So it is definitely worth considering targeting niche (and hyper-niche) keywords as well - their search volume is lower, however, since they’re highly relevant to the search queries they appeared for, they’ll generate more targeted traffic, which will result in more qualified leads and more sales.
Competition refers to the level of difficulty of ranking for a specific keyword. It is an essential factor to consider when defining your target keywords, because some keywords are simply impossible to rank for.
The most common reason for this is that in some cases you won’t be able to outrank the bigger fish in the e-commerce sea, such as Amazon and eBay.
It’s best to skip such keywords, because there’s no point in investing time and resources into trying to rank for keywords that you could never rank for.
Ultimately, the best case scenario is to target keywords that:
- Are highly relevant to your products, services, brand, or business
- Show clear buying intent
- Have high search volume
- Have low competition
However, such keywords are borderline impossible to find, unless you’re an e-commerce giant with an already established brand name and online presence.
But don’t give up on keyword research just yet!
Read on, because in the next section of the guide, we’ll help you discover your own golden nugget keywords that will bring a ton of quality traffic to your Shopify store.
How to find the right keywords for your store: The ultimate 13-step strategy to follow
Let’s start with an overview of the 13-step keyword research process:
- Step 1: Brainstorm to identify your main target keywords.
- Step 2: Use Amazon to understand search patterns and generate keyword ideas.
- Step 3: Use Google to understand search intent better and generate keyword ideas.
- Step 4: Choose the right keyword research tool.
- Step 5: Define your main/top target keywords.
- Step 6: Identify long-tail keywords.
- Step 7: Identify LSI keywords.
- Step 8: Identify niche (and hyper-niche) keywords.
- Step 9: Identify your branded keywords.
- Step 10: Run a competitive keyword analysis.
- Step 11: Create a detailed keyword list.
- Step 12: Create a negative keywords list.
- Step 13: Review, refine, and iterate.
Next, let’s review each step in more detail!
Step 1: Brainstorm to identify your main target keywords.
Just sit down and write down all words that describe your products, services, brand, business, and industry. Don’t filter anything out.
Here are some other factors to consider as you brainstorm relevant keywords:
- What’s the searcher’s intent? For example, when a customer types this query in Google, what do they want to achieve? Are they doing research or do they intend to buy something? Consider which state of the buyer journey the keyword refers to - this will help you define its intent and target it better.
- Is the keyword relevant to your products or services? Is it relevant to your brand or business? Is it a high-volume keyword, relevant to your industry? How niche is it? Answering these questions will help set clear expectations for the type of traffic the keyword will bring and the kind of ROI you can expect.
- Consider the volume-competition ratio. What’s the volume of the keyword? What is its competition? How difficult would it be to rank for it? Is it worth the indexing effort?
Once you have written down all your keyword ideas, review your list, organize the different words into topic clusters, and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Use Amazon to understand search patterns and generate keyword ideas.
While it’s true that you won’t be able to outrank Amazon when it comes to targeting the same keywords, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t use it to your advantage.
More specifically, you can (and absolutely should!) use it to define your target customers’ search patterns and identify keyword opportunities - Amazon is a treasure trove for keywords, especially long-tail and LSI keywords.
How does this work?
As the biggest online marketplace, more often than not, Amazon is the place where we all start our research when we want to buy something online.
As a result, you can use it to gain an incredible insight into what people want to buy and, more importantly, understand exactly how your ideal buyers search for products like yours online.
To define your target audience search patterns (and the specific keywords and phrases they use), you just need to use Amazon’s autocomplete feature.
For example, let’s say you sell sports & outdoor gear. Just select the Sports & Outdoors category and type a broad but relevant search term in the search box, such as “boots.”
Immediately, you’ll see a list of suggestions, containing relevant keyword recommendations (both short and long-tail), such as “boots for men,” “soccer boots,” “women boots,” “columbia boots,” “football boots,” and more.
Write all relevant suggestions down.
Repeat the process for all category pages in your store and all product pages (if possible).
Keep in mind that you’ll come across many amazing product-focused keywords. However, some of them will be too general and won’t show clear buying intent (such as “women boots”). This means that their search volume and competition will probably be higher.
To increase your chances of success, create a list of these keywords and go through them one by one. Come up with more specific keywords for each term. For example, for “women boots,” you can write the following alternatives down: “women’s sports boots,” “women’s hiking boots,” “women’s trekking boots,” “women’s sports shoes,” etc.
The process will give you a ton of keyword ideas and the best part is that you can explore everything in incredible detail. So, I highly recommend that you give it a chance and see what keyword suggestions you come up with.
Once you’re done, review your Amazon keyword list, organize your keywords in topic clusters (preferably, they should be the same clusters you used in step 1) and combine all keyword suggestions you’ve generated so far.
Then, move on to the next step of leveraging Amazon’s power - explore its category and product pages, because they’re both a goldmine for highly relevant long-tail and LSI keywords.
Also, you can use Amazon’s category pages to inform your own website strategy and see if there is a better way to name your categories and subcategories, organize your filtering options, improve your product names, enrich your product descriptions with better and highly relevant keywords, and much more.
And you can use Amazon’s product pages to gain an insight into what kind of information people need when they purchase products like yours and, subsequently, discover better ways to describe your products’ features and benefits.
Once again, write all relevant keyword suggestions down, review your list, and, once it’s finalized, merge it with the list you have already created.
This is how you can use Amazon to find relevant keywords and inform your entire SEO and content strategy.
The general rule of thumb here is to keep an open-mind and be prepared to put in the work and time required to successfully create a detailed list of relevant keywords.
Also, keep in mind that you can take this approach, make some adjustments (if needed), and apply it to different marketplaces or other relevant large e-commerce websites and online platforms.
Step 3: Use Google to understand search intent better and generate keyword ideas.
The approach here is pretty much the same.
Similar to Amazon, Google has an autocomplete feature that can help you find relevant keywords and map them to the right type of search intent.
For example, when I type “women’s hiking boots” in Google search, I immediately get a ton of keyword suggestions, such as: “women’s hiking boots sale,” “women’s hiking boots uk,” “women’s hiking boots best,” “women’s hiking boots solomon,” “women’s hiking boots north face,” “women’s hiking boots canada,” “women’s hiking boots australia,” etc.
Now, not all of these suggestions would be relevant.
For example, if you don't offer delivery to the UK, Canada or Australia, you should filter out these keyword suggestions.
Also, if you don’t offer boots by Solomon or the North Face, you shouldn’t add these suggestions to your list as well.
But you should absolutely write down some of the suggestions, such as “women’s hiking boots sale” and “women’s hiking boots best.”
Also, remember that the process doesn’t end here.
For example, if you just add a space after your query, you will immediately get more relevant queries, such as “women’s hiking boots waterproof,” “women’s hiking boots with wide toe,” “women’s hiking boots reviews,” and “women’s hiking boots with ankle support.”
Moreover, you can repeat the process for “women’s hiking shoes” which would generate even more keyword suggestions.
Then, to find more targeted keywords (that will drive more qualified leads and more conversions), you should repeat the process again and again for each relevant keyword suggestion.
And you can do this as many times as you need to discover your golden nugget keywords.
Remember to write them all down and, when you’re done, review your list, organize your keywords in topic clusters and merge them with the other keywords you have discovered so far (during your initial brainstorming session and with the help of Amazon).
And if you want to achieve even better results, you can use Übersuggest - a free tool that scrapes Google for keyword suggestions and then gives you a detailed list of relevant keywords and data (such as search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and more).
Keep in mind that Amazon is an online marketplace which means that it will suggest queries that show a certain level of buying intent.
However, Google is a search engine that will generate keyword suggestions that show all types of search intent. So it’s important to proceed with caution and map the right keywords to the right search intent.
Aside from the Google Search Autocomplete feature, there are more ways to use Google and the SERPs to find relevant keywords for your Shopify store. For example, you can:
- Type a specific keyword and explore the organic results on the SERPs
- Explore the Google snippets
- Go through the “People also ask” box and the “Searches related to…” section
All this will help you find relevant long-tail and LSI keywords. It will also help you define specific ways to provide Google with context and help it understand your Shopify store better.
You can repeat the same process with as many keywords as you need. You can also repeat it with other search engines.
Once again, remember to write all relevant keyword suggestions down, organize them into clusters, and merge them with the suggestions you have generated so far.
Once you do this, you will have a cohesive list of keyword suggestions. The next step is to check exactly which keywords you should target. You’ll need a keyword tool to do this.
Next, we’ll give you a list of the best keyword research tools out there.
Step 4: Choose the right keyword research tool.
There are a number of keyword research tools you can use, depending on your business needs and budget.
Some of the best options out there are Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush.
If you need a more cost-effective alternative, you can consider Übersuggest and KeywordTool.io.
And if you’re looking for a free option, then Google’s Keyword Planner is your best bet.
It is a powerful tool that will help you discover keywords ideas, as well as get search volume and forecasts. You can also see which keywords your competitors rank for.
You should also consider using WordStream and Answer The Public (which is a treasure trove for long-tail keywords and relevant questions).
Step 5: Define your main/top target keywords.
Go through your keyword list and check each keyword’s volume and competition using the keyword tool you chose.
Select your top target keywords.
Check the tool’s related keywords suggestions and, if you come across any relevant keywords or keyword phrases, add them to your list.
Again, keep everything organized into topic clusters. This way, you will be able to stay on top of your keyword list and SEO strategy.
Step 6: Identify the most relevant long-tail keywords.
Next, head over to Answer The Public and run a search for each of your topic clusters and top target keywords.
Write down all relevant long-tail keywords and questions the tool generates. To keep things more organized, consider creating a separate sheet.
Defining your long-tail keywords and questions will help you create more in-depth content, provide search engines with more context, and can also inform your entire content marketing strategy.
For example, each question can become the topic of a separate article and you can combine articles that describe different aspects of the same topic in the same topic cluster (or pillar page).
This will enable you to create a powerful interlinking structure. It will also build your authority and help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
If you wish to achieve even better results (i.e., create a more engaging content strategy that covers more relevant topics), consider checking online courses related to your industry - see their curriculum and pay attention to how the topics are divided into different sections.
Step 7: Identify LSI keywords.
As I mentioned, LSI keywords are keywords that are semantically relevant to your top target keywords and your main topic clusters.
As such, they provide Google with more relevant contextual information about your store, products and services.
As a result, targeting relevant LSI keywords will improve your ranking and CTR. It will also drive more targeted traffic to your store, which will result in more sales.
Discovering such keywords will require some brain power and focus on your end.
The best way to approach the process is to sit down and have a look at each of your top keywords and main topic clusters.
Then, write down all synonym words and relevant words and phrases that come to mind.
For example, if you sell basketball shoes, then, some LSI keywords worth targeting are “basketball hat,” “basketball ball,” “NBA,” “best basketball players,” “Chicago Bulls,” “Los Angeles Lakers,” “LeBron James,” etc.
Repeat this process for all your top keywords and main cluster topics. You should go on until there are no more words and phrases that come to mind.
Step 8: Identify niche (and hyper-niche) keywords.
The process here is pretty much the same as the one described above - just sit down, have a close look at each of your keywords and topics, and write down all relevant niche (and hyper-niche) keywords that come to mind. The more specific they are, the more relevant traffic they’ll drive to your store.
But how do you find such keywords? Let’s illustrate with an example!
Say, you sell dog food. Instead of simply targeting the broader and more competitive keyword “dog food,” consider niche keywords, such as “raw dog food near me,” “raw dog food with salmon protein,” “quality food for adult dogs,” “dog food for bone and joint health,” “HGQ food for dogs,” and more.
To drive even more targeted traffic, consider targeting hyper-niche keywords, such as “raw dog food with salmon protein in Sofia,” “German shepherd food for adult dogs,” “highest quality raw BARF food in Berlin,” “HGQ and organic food for older dogs,” and more.
Repeat the process for all your keywords and cluster topics. Write down as many keywords as you can think of.
Step 9: Identify your branded keywords.
Branded keywords are important because they’ll drive extremely targeted traffic to your store, which will result in higher engagement and more conversions.
This is because the people whose searches include your branded keywords aren't simply looking for products like yours online, they’re looking exactly for them.
To identify your branded keywords, just type the name of your brand in the keyword tool you use.
Then, write down all relevant keyword suggestions.
Repeat the process with your business name, the names of your category pages, as well as the names of your best selling products.
Once you’re done, organize your branded keywords into separate categories.
Then, sit down and come up with even more suggestions on your own. The keywords you come up with may not have high volume at the moment (or any volume for that matter), but this doesn’t mean that this won’t change as your business scales and the popularity of your brand grows.
Step 10: Run a competitive keyword analysis.
Defining which keywords your competitors rank for is one of the most important steps of your keyword strategy.
In fact, it is one of the fundamental aspects of having a successful e-commerce SEO strategy altogether.
To identify the keywords your competitors target and rank for, you need to do a competitive keyword analysis. Then, you need to use these insights to inform and improve your own keyword strategy.
The goal here is to uncover potential opportunities to generate more relevant traffic (based on what your target customers already search for online).
Competitive keyword analysis will also help you learn more about your target audience, understand their search intent better, define their pain points more accurately, and find more effective ways to address them.
Additionally, it will help you define content gaps, i.e., potential topic ideas you can discuss on your blog, in your newsletters, or on social media. This will level up your content strategy, your email marketing strategy, and your social media strategy.
Competitor keyword analysis can be done manually by reverse-engineering your competitors’ websites.
- First, you need to create a list of your top SERPs competitors and your top direct competitors.
- Then, you need to analyze each competitor’s website in terms of page structure, content, and keyword usage (including keyword types and keyword density).
- The final step is to write down all relevant competitor keywords you define and organize them into topic clusters.
Or, if you prefer a more automated approach, you can use a keyword research tool, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or Semrush.
Step 11: Create a detailed keyword list.
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to put the pieces of the puzzle together and create a cohesive keyword list - a detailed list of all the keywords you have discovered so far.
This step requires you to put all your keywords in the same file and make sure each keyword falls under the right category (or topic cluster).
Then, you need to prioritize them based on their type, intent, relevance, search volume, and competition.
This step is essential, because it is the foundation of creating a topical content strategy and a well-optimized website with a high authority and SEO weight.
Step 12: Create a negative keywords list.
Negative keywords are keywords you don’t want to rank for.
Defining your negative keywords is just as essential as defining your top target keywords, long-tail keywords, and LSI keywords. Especially when it comes to running paid search campaigns.
Creating and refining your negative keywords list is a complex process that requires high levels of SEO expertise. We’ll discuss it in more detail in our next article.
For now, you can check the following resource for more information: Google Ads Help, About negative keywords
Step 13: Review, refine, and iterate.
By now, you must have a long keyword list, composed of different keyword types (short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords, and LSI keywords) that show different types of search intent and can be mapped to different stages of the sales funnel.
You’ve done an amazing job so far!
But there’s one more thing you need to do… and to say “it’s important” would be an understatement. “Important” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
You need to go through each word on your list one more time.
Explore each word in detail.
Consider all factors. Evaluate each keyword’s type, intent, volume, and competition.
Think about how niche it is. Think about its relevance and the type of traffic it will bring to your Shopify store and whether you need it.
Consider whether the search volume is high enough to compensate for the indexing effort.
And if the keyword’s volume or competition is too high, ask yourself whether you’ll be able to rank for it. After all, there is no point in targeting keywords you could never rank for.
Then, for each keyword, define if it’s a good fit for you. If the answer is “Yes,” then, leave it on the list and move on to the next word. If the answer is “No,” then remove it.
And remember that SEO isn’t a one-time task. It requires continuous efforts and dedication. This means that it won’t be enough to review and refine your list once.
You need to iterate - if you want to achieve SEO success, you must constantly review and refine your keyword list.
Just like SEO, keyword research is an ongoing process. And your keyword list is like a live creature that needs to be constantly tended to. That’s the only way to ensure your SEO strategy will be successful and that your business will thrive.
So there you have it, keyword research is essential to your success:
- As the foundation of on-page SEO, it will help you understand search intent and define the best keywords to optimize your store for. This will maximize your exposure on Google and drive more targeted traffic to your Shopify store, which will result in more conversions.
- It will help you understand your customers and their needs better, which is a key component of the customer-centric business approach. It is also important for defining the best ways to convey your marketing messages and improving your entire social media strategy, email marketing strategy, and content strategy.
By following the 13 steps we outlined in this guide, you will be able to create a detailed list of relevant keywords. Also, you’ll be able to prioritize your keywords and define the best way to move forward with your SEO strategy.
And although it might seem like a lot of work at first, once you get into the habit of doing it regularly, it will become second nature.
If you liked this article, make sure to follow us for more SEO advice.
And if you need any help with your keyword strategy, don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with us!