A lot of people struggle with keyword research.
And that’s even true of marketing specialists—nevermind professionals in the financial markets, where SEO is just one of countless business development tasks, all of which require equal time and attention.
What stops people getting the results they want with keyword research is they either do it wrong, find it confusing, or give up before they’ve made any progress.
That’s why we’ve put together this simple, step-by-step keyword research guide, to help make the process clear, actionable, and easy to stick to.
Because the truth is this: half the battle of SEO is simply knowing what to do in the first place.
Once you know that, it’s just about staying consistent until the returns start to show.
So, if you’re ready to get your SEO done the right way, and lay the foundations to digitally dominate in your market: read on.
Step 1: Generate keyword ideas
The end goal of this process is to have a shortlist of quality keywords. Keywords that will steer your ideal customers to your website.
To do that, we’ll first generate a longlist of ideas, then whittle it down to the best keywords for your business to target.
(The number of keywords you should have in your final shortlist depends on a number of factors. Use this article from Portent to figure out what’s best for you.)
To generate your longlist, you’ll need an SEO tool.
We recommend Semrush (our tool of choice), but Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and even free tools like Google Search Console or Keywords Everywhere are worth a look too.
In your SEO tool, open the keyword ideas function (on Semrush, this is called “Keyword Magic Tool”) and type the core words related to your market or service offering in the search bar.
If you’re in fintech for example, those terms could be “blockchain”, “digital assets”, or “DeFi”.
This should give you a pretty long list of ideas, as you can see from this screenshot of our Semrush dashboard:
If you don’t have several thousand results, you’re being too specific. Go broader.
Step 2: Group your keywords by search intent
Web users search very similar terms for very different reasons.
If we type “blockchain” into Google for example, the search suggestions include:-
- blockchain technology
- blockchain meaning
- blockchain explorer
- blockchain jobs
While these terms all relate to blockchain, each one has a very different intent behind it.
The key to effective SEO is understanding the search intent of your ideal customers, and using that to deduce which terms they are likely to look up.
Once you know these terms, you can target them with your SEO content, and thus position your website as the source of answers to all their burning questions.
Broadly speaking, search intent can be put into one of 4 categories.
Category 1: They want information
The search query has been entered by someone on a fact-finding mission. They’re looking to educate themselves on a particular topic, and find out more about it.
These keywords are known as informational keywords.
Going back to our blockchain example, blockchain meaning would be an informational keyword.
Category 2: They want to go somewhere specific
The search query has been entered by someone with a specific page in mind.
It could be a page or a company they’re already aware of, but for whatever reason, they choose to find their way to it via Google, rather than typing in the URL directly.
These are known as navigational keywords.
Examples could be “digital assets company near me”, or simply Googling the name of a known digital assets specialist.
Category 3: They’re weighing up an investment
The search query has been entered by someone planning to purchase or invest in something.
They’re currently looking into their different options and comparing them, weighing up the pros and cons of each etc.
These keywords are known as commercial investigation keywords.
Examples could be best digital assets to invest in or best defi coins 2022.
Category 4: They’re ready to make an investment
The searcher know all they need to know, and is ready to buy.
These are also known as transactional keywords.
An example might be “how to purchase defi tokens”.
So, there you have it, four different groupings of search intent.
- Commercial investigation
We want to include keywords from each of these groupings in our finalized shortlist.
This allows us to cast our net wider, and target potential customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Each of these search intent categories comes with its own specific “modifiers”.
While informational keyword modifiers would be words like “what”, “why”, “ideas” and “tips”, commercial investigation keyword modifiers include “comparison”, “pricing” and “review”.
Here’s a fuller list of these modifiers below, compiled by Ahrefs:-
Now, we’re going to use keyword modifiers from each group to categorize our list of keywords by search intent.
The way to do this is by adding words from each list into the “include” box of your SEO tool.
Here’s what that looks like in Semrush…
(NOTE: make sure to tick “any keywords” here as we have, NOT “all keywords”.)
Step 3: Refining your keyword list
If your list is still too large here, you can further refine your results by adjusting the keyword difficulty.
You’ll have a dropdown menu which allows this in your SEO tool. Here’s what this looks like in Semrush:-
As the term implies, the lower the keyword difficulty, the less work it’s gonna take to get your content to rank for that particular keyword.
So adjust the keyword difficulty until your list is more manageable.
If you’re wondering what we mean by that, we mean until you’ve got a list that you’d be happy to go through manually, and assess the business potential of each keyword—because that’s exactly what we’re going to do next.
Step 4: Analyze the business potential of your keywords
If you’re wondering how you determine the business value of a particular keyword or phrase, it’s relatively straightforward.
When you look at each keyword in your list, ask yourself:-
1) If you wrote an article on this keyword, could you mention your products/services in the article, in a way that didn’t feel forced?
2) Is someone entering this search query likely to invest in your products and services?
If the answer to either question is yes, then it’s got some potential.
If the answer to both questions is no, take it off your list, and move onto the next one.
Step 5: Assess your ranking potential
The final step is for you to look at the keywords in your list and assess the likelihood of being able to rank for them.
First, look at the number of domains linking to the pages in the top 10 search results.
In your SEO tool, this should be displayed under a column entitled “Domains” or “Referring Domains”.
You also want to look at the “Domain Ranking” (aka “Domain Authority”) for each page.
This is a number that your SEO tool assigns to a website domain, to assess how likely a website is to appear in the SERPs compared to sites with similar content.
High domain ranking comes from having a strong profile of backlinks to the site—this could either be a high quantity of backlinks, or high quality of backlinks (i.e. from reputable sources), or a combination of both.
When it comes to assessing which keywords you think you could rank for, look which web pages currently hold pole position for them, and ask yourself:-
1) Does their host website have a similar domain ranking to mine?
2) Could I get more referring links to my page, than this page currently has?
If your answer to either of those is yes, then you’ve got yourself a keyword to target.
Repeat this process for each keyword, and there you have it—a finalized list of quality keywords for your business to target.
Keyword research made simple: takeaways
To sum up, these are the 5 steps to conducting keyword research for your financial markets business:-
1. Generate keyword ideas; type several core phrases related to your service into an SEO tool to generate a longlist of ideas
2. Group your keywords by search intent; use keyword modifiers to sort your keywords into informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional lists.
3. Refine these lists by keyword difficulty, until you’ve got a shortlist you can sift through manually.
4. Analyze the business potential of each keyword one by one.
5. Assess your ranking potential; assess the likelihood of ranking for each keyword by looking at domain ranking and backlink profile.
We’ve helped everyone from investment banks, to asset managers, to fintechs increase their web traffic and generate high-quality leads using SEO.
Find out more about how we could help you climb the Google rankings