Dido Grigorov shares his advanced tactics for keyword research
Keyword research is essential to SEO, there ain’t no ifs or buts about it. However keyword research can feel like falling down the rabbit hole, blindly stumbling about, confused by the data and ending up choosing a random phrase out of sheer exhaustion.
Most of us know the basics. But what about the advanced techniques that the pros use?
Today I’m talking to Dido Grigorov on becoming advanced keyword research superstars. He’s going to show us how to find exactly what we need and how to avoid the rabbit hole..
Tune in to learn:
- When detailed research is most important
- Dido’s process for determining synonyms and related phrases
- How find find what keywords to target in a competitive market
- Do free keyword tools really compete with paid tools?
- Ranking for keywords on site with high competition
- How do you balance catchy headlines with practical keywords?
- Using primary and secondary keywords in titles
- Using worldwide keyword data
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And big thanks to SandyTaylorx for her lovely review.
Dido is a 30 year old SEO specialist and lives in and is a native of Varna, Bulgaria, but with regular business trips to London, England – one of his favorite cities in Europe. He has 14 years of experience in SEO, with over 200 successful projects from different countries in the world – England, Germany, Switzerland, France, USA, Canada, Italy and others. He focuses on almost all aspects of SEO – technical, on-page / on-site optimization, but mostly on Semantic optimization, content marketing, analysis and improvement of link profiles of websites through a variety of creative practices.
Dido is a regular participant of SEMrush webinars from the Live Site Audits series, with one single and several webinars behind him. He is also a lecturer at numerous local conferences in Bulgaria devoted to online marketing, b2b marketing and OA Conference – one of the largest in the Balkans for search engine optimization and digital marketing.
Connect with Dido
Kate Toon: Today, I’m talking with Dido Grigorov, and he is going to share with us exactly how we can research keywords without losing our minds. Hello, my name is Kate Toon, and I’m the head chef here at the Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things search engine optimization, and I love SEO. Today, I’m with Dido. Hello, Dido, how are you?
Dido Grigorov: Hello Kate, thanks for having me. Thank you for the invitation. Glad to be here. My name is Dido Grigorov, and I live in Varna, Bulgaria. I work for [Serpact 00:02:24], and I have 15 years in SEO, with my main, strong focus, I would say, in semantic SEO, technical SEO, and [inaudible 00:02:35] improvement, but I must confess that my [inaudible 00:02:42] in SEO is the semantic SEO, and of course, the content strategies and the good and well-detailed keyword researches. I have run successful projects in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, even, Switzerland, Germany, but let’s talk about the keyword researches. It’s important role in the SEO, because this is the full and the foundation of the great SEO strategy, in my opinion, and not only, of course, maybe most of the experts on the planet think in the following way.
Kate Toon: Great. You just saved me a job. I was going to read out your bio, but I don’t need to, because you’ve done it yourself, so that’s great. Dido is also a regular participant on SEMrush webinars, on live SEO audits, he’s done lots of bits and bobs for those, and yes, based in Bulgaria, and it’s very early in the morning there, whereas in Australia, we’re having huge thunderstorms, so I hope you can’t hear that in the background.
Kate Toon: Dido very kindly came into my Digital Masterchefs group and did some online training for my team on how to do keyword research, but today, we’re going to do more of a Q&A. We’ve got a lot of random questions about different areas of keyword research. I’m just going to hurl them at you, Dido, and you’re just going to have to do your best.
Kate Toon: The first one is from [Jasmine Andrews 00:04:00]. She asks, “When is detailed keyword research most important, when you have no posts online, or when you have heaps of blog posts already?” I guess this issue is like … for lots of people who are working on SEO for themselves, either they have nothing at all, they’ve never published a blog post, brand new site, or they’ve got lots of content that’s already there, and they’re now worried that maybe they didn’t focus it on the right keywords. I guess both are important. What do you think?
Dido Grigorov: Yes, both are important. I would say always start with the [inaudible 00:04:38] keyword research. There is no magic recipe for keyword research. It’s up to you, it’s up to your business, it’s up to your interests, and your users, of course. They’re the most important, in the end of the day. Pay attention to them. Do your best to analyse them. Even before starting making the research, go and read some discussions on the web. Today, we’re very lucky people, because we have a lot of platforms for discussions, for starting new topics, and communicating and engaging with people. During that communication, we can observe the phrases they use. Keep in mind that Google also knows about them, so it’s a very good idea to implement these phrases.
Dido Grigorov: In both situations, it doesn’t matter if your brand is already popular or if your website is [inaudible 00:05:36] nobody knows about you or [inaudible 00:05:39] the good keyword research is always a good idea. It’s a never-ending process, actually.
Dido Grigorov: I would like to say, because sometimes people think that if they have a keyword research, they think they have everything in the world. This is not real, actually. The keyword research never stops. You have to start at any moment, you have to implement the phrases you need to target, but after a period of time, you need to refresh it, you need to update it and have a look again on the phrases. Some phrases are seasonal, they are trendy, so you have to get back in, check again, and see, for example, if all their searches or another one is coming up and becoming important for your business and so on.
Kate Toon: Great. The next question is from [Cath Fowler 00:06:37]. She says, “Most keyword tools are good at helping you determine what to target for the focus keyword or the main keyword, but I’d be interested to know what process you use for synonyms and related phrases. What I mean by this is, if I put tennis into SEMrush, I will get all the tennis-related phrases, but I also want to filter in related terms like grand slam, ace, serve, set, match, etc. Is there a logical way to do this, or do you just brainstorm a bit?”
Dido Grigorov: So, Cath … I hope this is the right pronunciation of that name. I do it in both ways, actually. Usually, when I start my keyword research, I will start with the brainstorming list of seed keywords, the so-called seed keywords.
Kate Toon: Seed keywords, yeah.
Dido Grigorov: I don’t use a computer for that. I will just open the website of the business and start thinking about what people … what they should type on the search engine to find it. Intentionally, I don’t open any tool. I start and explore the website, maybe think about some potential ideas they can implement on their pages, but at the same time, after I have the seed keywords, I will put them in a tool. Before that, I will do my best to make them as detailed as possible. I will put them in the tool and, just like you, will go to the related phrases, but after that, usually, I will use the filters of SEMrush [inaudible 00:08:11] and go and use my spreadsheet. Of course, this is my best friend. We will start to group them around some specific classifiers or any specific criteria like user intent. User intent is very important today.
Kate Toon: Something you talked about a lot on the call … Just to reiterate that, you pull them all down, and then you try and group them around intent. We talked a lot about that on our call. We talked about buying intent, informational intent, navigational intent, so we’re trying to lump them into little groups, yeah? [crosstalk 00:08:45] spreadsheet to do that.
Dido Grigorov: Even the intent could be sometimes very interesting and unique, I would say. Sometimes people would like to see [inaudible 00:08:55] they would like to see, for example, let’s say, the best types of products and services and so on, or the best companies in any specific industry. This is important, and you should usually align the type of content you need with the user intent. Keep your eye on the [SERP 00:09:17], the search pages, the results, of course, and the types of results you see. Don’t spend so much time on these related phrases. Yes, they are important, but most important is to align your pages and content formats to the user intent.
Kate Toon: That makes perfect sense. The next question is from [Krystala 00:09:37], and she says, “I’m in a very competitive market, ladies’ fashion, and I’ve found it difficult to work out any keywords to go for. I do rank for specific brands, but search traffic is very low. Broad terms are too hard to get. Where do I find the middle ground with what to rank for?”
Dido Grigorov: You need to start with the process how I started it last time. Forget about the tools on the web for keyword research. Open your business website and start thinking about the different types of products you have, types, subtypes, categories and subcategories. Write down your keywords and think about them like they are topics and subtopics. Around these subtopics, write the subtopics of your subtopics, and then start putting them into the keyword research tools.
Dido Grigorov: Don’t use just one or two keyword research tools. Use as many as you want, especially if they’re, for example, free. Everybody loves free things. You can go into use them, for example, you can use [Ubersuggest 00:10:55], you can use the free version of [keyword.io 00:11:02], which is … if you don’t need a keyword searches or keyword difficulty and so on, you can use it for free just to collect some ideas. You can get them and you can further analyse these phrases in SEMrush, for example.
Dido Grigorov: People usually forget to use, also, the Google Search Console. It’s a very good source of keywords if you have a website which is, let’s say, up to six months old. You will get a lot of information, a lot of phrases there, and a lot of ideas where Google is likely to rank your website.
Kate Toon: I guess the thing is, at the end of the day, no matter what process you use or what tools you use, she’s going to come down to the point where she wants to rank for summer dresses, because that’s the keyword that has traffic or whatever. She could narrow it down by going summer dresses Australia, or buy summer dresses online Australia, but at the end of the day, the keyword’s got to be relevant. She’s selling summer dresses, she has to go after summer dresses, and the competition for that is out of this world. There does come a point where all the research in the world isn’t going to help you, you have to go for a keyword, and then you have to try and build your site’s authority up a little bit, I guess.
Dido Grigorov: Two more tips. Be careful with the structure of your website, very careful, and start with the, I would say, very long tail. If you have some questions in your keyword research, if it has some very long phrases, you can target with the creative [inaudible 00:12:38] let’s say, or it could be [inaudible 00:12:43] it could be a presentation, it could be a podcast, maybe, or if you can start something like that. If you have any question, you can provide very good and very valuable answer to your users. Don’t worry if these questions have low search volume. Use them, and start as a foundation from there.
Kate Toon: Start long-tail, and then build up towards the shorter and shorter phrases?
Dido Grigorov: Absolutely.
Kate Toon: Don’t go after dresses straight off, start on something a bit more long-tail? Okay.
Dido Grigorov: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kate Toon: The next question is from [Donna Wiebeck 00:13:17]. She says, “Can free keyword search tools really compare to the paid tools?” We don’t need to pitch for anybody here, but my point on this would be, you get what you pay for. Yes, the free keyword tools will give you, I think, quite a lot of good information, they’re great for brainstorming, but I think when you really want to dig into the data, it’s often about the size of the database that the tool has and the quality of the algorithm that they use to pull the data together. That’s why people talk about the big ones, the SEMrushes. If you’ve got a low budget, I think things like [Keysearch 00:13:52] is okay. What are some of your favourite free ones and favourite paid ones, Dido?
Dido Grigorov: Actually, I have used SEMrush for a very long time. Ubersuggest, for example, I like a lot. I like [KWFinder 00:14:08], the free version, and I think that it’s also good you can use, even in a restricted way, [HRS 00:14:20]. HRS is also very good. Google Search Console, as I said is a very big friend for ideas. I would say just use the free tools for reference. Don’t rely so much on them. In most cases, they collect information from the Google Keyword Planner. They don’t have their indexes or any index systems or databases and so on, because it costs money. You all know about that. You can use them just for generating some ideas.
Dido Grigorov: I will admit that I very often use the Ubersuggest. I think it’s under the management of Neil Patel at the moment, maybe, because it’s … yes, I think so, too, because it’s on his website, but it’s a very good tool, actually, because you can collect a wall of ideas there. You can use [inaudible 00:15:22] to get some ideas for questions, you can use also [AnswerThePublic 00:15:26] you can get a lot of ideas for phrases, for questions, and so on, but you always use the paid tools just to see if there is any point, if it makes sense to target these keywords, phrases, questions and so on for your business.
Kate Toon: I think the free ones are good for getting initial ideas. Another good one is the Keywords Everywhere Chrome- [crosstalk 00:15:51] Just to give you some pointers, I’ll include links to all of these in the blog post before this episode so you can go and check them out.
Dido Grigorov: To be honest, I don’t have any favourite free tools. I use them just to generate ideas. Again, to be honest, I will use Google, my very best friend, to find some tools just to generate some ideas and put them into my spreadsheet, but I don’t have any specific favourite free tools. Sometimes, some of them will work for my client or specific niche I would like to target, but in another moment, they won’t work. They just don’t pull [inaudible 00:16:30] information for me, so I have to close them and go to another tool. I usually want tools that will never stop working for me, for any industry. The best one-
Kate Toon: SEMrush?
Dido Grigorov: Yes, the best one is SEMrush for me.
The next question is from Alexander Motz. It’s quite a general one, but I’d like to hear what you say. She says, “Should you try to rank for main keywords for sites with very high competition? You go in, you find this wonderful keyword with heaps of traffic, but it just has so much competition. Is it worth going for that, or should we move further down the list to the less competitive keywords?”
Dido Grigorov: I would suggest start with the less competitive keywords. I would say low to middle level competition, the moderate level, and just try and do your best to [inaudible 00:18:29] these types of keywords. Try to achieve the best positions there, the best visibility around these related phrases. After that, the highly competitive phrase will come to you. Even sometimes you want … You will be very surprised when you see that in a specific point of time, you already cover them.
Kate Toon: You kind of build it up. Start with the low competition, and over time, you’ll build up to the higher ones. Don’t go diving into the higher ones straight away.
Dido Grigorov: Yes, and always keep in mind that your structure is very important on the website. Spend a lot of time there to make a great website structure. Start with your navigation and continue with the architecture of the content of your website. That’s very important.
Kate Toon: The next question is from [Jenny de Lacey 00:19:28], and she says, “I always like the fun ideas for titles, such as, ‘How to make your videos as fresh as clean socks,’ but ain’t no-one going to be typing that into Google. How do I strike a balance between using fun headers and titles and actual likely search strings to get eyeballs on the content?”
Kate Toon: I’m going to take this one first and say that obviously, when you’re writing blog posts, the title becomes the URL, almost becomes the title tag and almost the key search phrase that you’re going for. These days, of course, question-based keywords are very likely to be typed in, how, when, what, why, if, all those kind of things. They’re more likely to get you featured snippets, as well, which is fantastic-
Dido Grigorov: [crosstalk 00:20:12] Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kate Toon: … you can get into that position zero spot. I would never compromise a great headline just to squeeze a keyword into it. I think it’s super-important to make headlines for blog posts compelling and engaging and get humans to click through and read them. I always take the focus of humans first and Google second. I don’t think it’s so hard to combine the two. “How to make your videos fresh,” that’s a perfectly valid phrase that someone might type into Google. Fresh as clean socks, yeah, maybe not so much, that’s the quirky, funny edge, but I do think it’s possible to mix SEO-friendly titles with quirk and engagement as well. What do you think, Dido?
Dido Grigorov: I will be short here. Do whatever your users want. This is what is important. You have to satisfy the user. If they want to see a funny title with a funny blog post, a kind of funny but informative blog post, this is what you have to do. Do it, and promote it.
Kate Toon: I also would say, not every piece of content you write needs to be completely written with SEO in mind, but also-
Dido Grigorov: [crosstalk 00:21:27] Absolutely.
Kate Toon: … trying to build brands, have conversations, talk about things, and sharing that content. The major traffic to that content might not be from Google, it might be from Facebook, from Instagram, from Twitter, or other social media channels. Not everything we’re writing needs to have some crazy SEO focus. We can sometimes write things just for fun and just to engage our audience and achieve different goals.
Dido Grigorov: [crosstalk 00:21:54] I would add here that when you create a content strategy for your website, sometimes just forget that you have Google. Just forget it. Yes, we all write for the search engine, that’s absolutely true, but our users will be very happy if we just forgot it for a while … not a very long while, and write something down for them, just dedicated to their pain points and even their feelings, so the situation they have already [inaudible 00:22:30]
Kate Toon: I so agree. I think that’s going to be the [inaudible 00:22:34] for the show. Sometimes, just forget Google. I wish we all could, sometimes.
Kate Toon: The next question is from [Luda Fedovoric 00:22:42]. She says, “I’m interested in your thinking on how to use keywords in title tags.” When we’re … the common understanding is that if you’ve got a focus phrase or a primary phrase, that maybe you pop that at the front end of your title tag, and then maybe have a little pipe, and you either have your branding or a secondary phrase or a beneficial phrase. We’ve only got about 60 or so characters, including spaces, to play with. How would you structure a title tag? Her example is, “Florist Newtown | Flowers Newtown.” That’s what she’s thinking of going for. What would you do with that title? Would you think that was a good title tag?
Dido Grigorov: [inaudible 00:23:25] actually, I spend a lot of time there [inaudible 00:23:29] so you can include your phrase in the title. That’s a good practise, and will continue to be that way. You can also add any related phrase, you can also phrase [inaudible 00:23:45] for your audience, that’s good, for sure, because Google is, let’s say, smart enough to understand the title, and your result, your page will be shown even for related phrases, not for the target phrases only. Do you a favour, and write the best title for your audience according to the keyword research you did for your website. That’s very important.
Dido Grigorov: You can include the call to action in the title, you can include any click-attracting keywords like super, best, top, for example, something like that, or any number … you can include your target phrase, as I said, you can include your related phrase or sub-related phrase. Whatever you want to use … People today usually target a whole question, for example, or they will add the brand and so on. Just write it for your users, and don’t forget to include your brand, this is also important, both for Google and for your users, because they will recognise that they’re on the subpage.
Kate Toon: My advice there with that particular example is I wouldn’t go with, “Florist Newtown | Flowers Newtown.” I’d pick one phrase, and then I’d use the rest of my title tag to either mention my brand, or some kind of sales benefit. Are your flowers the most precious, most affordable flowers in Sydney? Remember that title tag is pulled through into the search engine results, and you are vying with 10 other results to get the click. Not only does that copy have to please Google, it also has to entice the customer to get the click. It’s super important that we consider the clickthrough rate with our title tags, as well, not just the keyword saturation.
Dido Grigorov: Absolutely. The user wants to see the phrase … he looks for information, but of course, the brand is also important. You can put it in the end of the title, or if you’re a very good, very popular brand, you can even put it in the beginning of the title. This is actually something that people are very confused by when it comes to writing the titles. If you’re a known brand, put the brand in the beginning, because the brand is a place … a very big draw for your business. If you are still not so popular, you are working on your reputation, you can put it in the end and start working on the phrases. This is what is important. They would like to see the phrase, and people associate you with these phrases. After that, you will put the brand in the beginning. This doesn’t mean that you have to come back after five years [inaudible 00:26:23] just start that way, and after a period of time, when your brand becomes popular in your location or something like that, you can start writing titles in the second phrase.
Kate Toon: Last question for today is from [Joanna Kohler 00:26:40]. She says, “If you sell services and products worldwide, do you still only search in your home country, so use the data search for your home country, or leave it worldwide to get worldwide keyword data?”
Dido Grigorov: I will start with selecting my target countries, not only my home country. If you target your home country, that’s okay, but if you have any other countries you want to target, then to get the traction of your users there, you want to get organic traffic. I will make a list, and I will start researching these countries one by one. That’s why the paid tools here are important, because you have a lot of databases, you can change the database for any particular country, and you can go and research just there without mixing the keywords from different countries. This is very important.
Dido Grigorov: I strongly recommend you make different sheets, totally different sheets for your countries, even different folders if you use Google Drive or if you use a computer, make a main folder, make subfolders for all countries, and put the materials for keyword research, the content, and the structure of your website just in these subfolders. Your users will be very thankful to you.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Thank you so much. That was lots of great questions, some quite tricky to answer, because obviously, so specific to the individual sites. Thank you so much for your time, Dido, coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
Dido Grigorov: Thank you, too, for having me, and for your invitation again. I am very honoured to be here.
Kate Toon: That’s lovely. I’ll include links to all Dido’s websites and resources so you can go and check him out after the show.
Kate Toon: That’s the end of this week’s show. If you have any questions about advanced keyword research, please feel free to head to my I Love SEO group on Facebook, and as you know, I like to end the show with a shoutout to one of my lovely listeners, this week from [Sandy Taylor 00:28:46]. “Kate has done a great job of making this podcast easy on the ear, full of relevant, practical content for anybody who wants to know more about SEO. I’ve worked my way back through all the episodes now, and look forward to each new one coming out, like a seagull looks forward to a tourist season at a beachfront café. I don’t subscribe to many podcasts, and I’m not sorry I subscribed to this one.” Thank you very much, Sandy, and thanks to you for listening.
Kate Toon: If you like the show, please don’t forget to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you heard it. Your review will help others find the show and learn more about the lovely world of search engine optimization. If you’d like to check out the show notes for this episode, head to www.therecipeforseosuccess.com, where you can learn more about Dido, check out the useful links, and leave a comment about the show. Finally, don’t forget to listen to my other podcast, the Hot Copy podcast, a podcast for copywriters, and The Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur. Until next time, happy SEOing.