Finding Keywords and Topics Using Ahrefs
Ahrefs has a number of fantastic ways of finding good target keywords that you can then incorporate into your site structure and content.
The Keywords Explorer Tool.
This allows you to put in ‘seed’ words and surfaces all the top phrases which include those words. My favourite approach with this is to use the most pared back set of words to start with, then filter on the ‘Having same terms’ report.
This highlights all phrases that include that combination of words, in any order:
Another interesting thing you can gain from this report is in the ‘Parent topic’ column. This tells you the topic Ahrefs perceives this phrase to be part of. Click it and it will lead you to another treasure trove of keyword options to add to your list.
You can then take these new phrases and feed them back into the ‘Having same terms’ report and rinse and repeat.
Doing this process on its own can leave you with more than enough information to make an excellent go of the keyword research process and develop a site into a really strong position.
But if you’re the kind of person who just won’t quit, then you’re going to want to have a sniff around some competitors too.
The Site Explorer Tool
If we search for ‘best places to go in March’ the top result currently is CN Traveller. I can take that URL and put it into the Site Explorer and then view the ‘Organic Keywords’ section:
This page alone ranks for more than 1,000 phrases in Google.com. And Ahrefs is estimating it gets nearly 11,000 visits/month! Remember what I was saying about the longtail…
The main thing you can take from this report at page level is that if this page ranks for one of the big competitive phrases, it will probably rank for a lot of the longtail variations too. So all you have to do is sift through the list and add those phrases to your list.
You can also do this for lots of people on page 1 for your target phrases, which will only increase the pool of phrases you have even further.
The example above is doing this at page level, but you can also do this for an entire site to see where your competitors are getting the most traffic and which phrases that traffic is coming through.
You can do this with the ‘Organic Keywords’ report shown above for an entire domain, but I also like using the ‘Top Pages’ report, which shows the pages on the domain which Ahrefs estimates are getting the most traffic from search:
You can then click through to each one for the more specific breakdown of each page and the phrases it is ranking for.
As you can see, we’ve chosen a nice easy set of initial target pages to go after with the case study 😉
How to Judge Keyword Difficulty
Many people will ask how hard it is to rank for certain phrases or how long it will take to reach page 1.
The honest answer is you will never know for sure. The keyword tools can give you an estimate, but I don’t really trust these figures. You see small sites ranking on page 1 for phrases with high difficulty scores and then phrases with low difficulty scores that appear almost impossible to break when you look at who’s on page 1.
My advice is always that if the topic is relevant for you, you should create great content for it that matches up to the people ranking on page 1, and ideally is even better. If you do that consistently you will start to see success with some of those posts and your traffic will grow through longtail phrases.
Here’s what happened with our client Roma Experience when we started putting this approach into practice:
And I’ve only done this in a minor way with the SEO Travel site, but we’ve still seen solid growth as a result: