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How to Use Google Keyword Planner in 2023

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How to Use Google Keyword Planner in 2023

Google Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool for advertisers. But you can also use it to find keywords for SEO. It can even show you the keywords your competitors are targeting.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to get some serious SEO value from Keyword Planner. 

Step 1. Get access to Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is free. All you need is a Google Ads account to use it. 

To set one up, go to ads.google.com, click “Start now,” and sign in to your Google account.

Next, click the small blue “Switch to Expert Mode” link.

"Switch to Expert mode" link

Then click the small “Set up an account only” link.

"Set up account only" link

On the next screen, enter your billing country, time zone, and currency, then click “Submit.”

Confirming business information

On the success screen that follows, click “Explore your account.” 

Congratulations message

On the menu bar, click “Tools and settings” > “Planning” > “Keyword Planner.”

Keyword Planner in menu

Step 2. Discover new keywords

If you want to see search volumes and metrics for an existing list of keywords, click “Get search volume and forecasts.” Otherwise, click “Discover new keywords” to find new keyword ideas.

Keyword Planner has two options: discover new keywords, or get search volume and forecasts

There are two ways to discover new keywords:

  1. Start with ideas – Enter up to 10 words or phrases related to your business. 
  2. Start with a website or webpage – Enter a URL and choose whether you want keyword suggestions based on the whole site or just that page. 

For example, if we enter a few keywords related to SEO, we get 2,934 keyword ideas.

Number of keyword ideas from SEO "seed" keywords in Google Keyword Planner = 2,934

This is pretty low compared to the number of keyword ideas you get from a third-party keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Number of keyword ideas from SEO "seed" keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer = 4.5 million

But the neat thing about Keyword Planner is that it generates related ideas that don’t contain the terms you entered. 

For example, here are some ideas we get if we enter “SEO” as our seed idea:

Keyword ideas in Google Keyword Planner from the seed keyword "SEO"

Typically, you’d need to enter more seed ideas to find keyword ideas like this in conventional keyword research tools.

Step 3. Look for the best keyword ideas

There’s no point in trying to rank for irrelevant keywords, so the best starting point is to filter out keywords that don’t make sense to target.

For example, say that you’re looking for keyword ideas related to T-shirts for an online clothing store. 

If you enter “tshirt” as your seed idea, you’ll see a lot of brand-related keywords:

Keyword ideas in Google Keyword Planner from the seed keyword "tshirt"

This is fine if you sell T-shirts from these brands. Otherwise, they’re a distraction.

Luckily, Keyword Planner makes it super easy to refine ideas. Just click “Refine keywords” in the upper right to quickly include or exclude keywords by attributes like brand, color, and style.

Refining keywords in Keyword Planner

For example, you can easily filter out keywords that mention brands you don’t sell. 

Refining keywords by brand in Keyword Planner

Sidenote.

This feature doesn’t work if you started keyword research with a website or URL.

If you still see many irrelevant keywords after this, use the “does not contain” keyword filter to exclude them. 

Refining keyword ideas by "does not contain" in Keyword Planner

From here, it’s just a case of looking through the ideas for keywords that make sense. 

Here are a few ideas and ways to do this:

Find low-competition long-tails

Long-tail keywords are keywords that get a few monthly searches. Because of this, they tend to be easier to rank for than popular keywords.

Keyword Planner doesn’t show the exact number of monthly searches for keywords, but it does show the average monthly range. So you can easily find long-tail keywords by sorting the ideas by average monthly searches from low to high.

For example, if we do this for the seed keyword “ebike,” we see many ideas with 10–100 monthly searches, including “power e bike” and “genze e222b electric bike.”

Keyword ideas from the seed keyword "ebike" in Keyword Planner

However, not all of these are necessarily easy to rank for.

Unfortunately, Keyword Planner can’t help you figure that out because its “competition” metric has nothing to do with organic search competition. It’s the competition level in Google Ads. As such, you should pay absolutely no attention to it.

Instead, we recommend plugging keyword ideas into a third-party tool like our free Keyword Difficulty (KD) checker. This estimates the difficulty of ranking on the first page of Google on a scale from 0 to 100.

If we do this for “power e bike,” we see that it has quite a high KD score.

The Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty (KD) score for "power e bike" is high

On the other hand, “genze e222b electric bike” has a very low KD score.

The Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty (KD) score for "genze e222b electric bike" is low

Another consideration when choosing keyword ideas is their traffic potential. The easiest method for this is to plug the top-ranking page for the keyword into our free traffic checker

If we do this for the top-ranking page for “genze e222b electric bike,” we see it gets an estimated 394 monthly search visits. So it clearly has traffic potential.

Estimated traffic potential for the top-ranking page for "genze e222b electric bike," via Ahrefs' free keyword generator

Find trending keywords

Keyword Planner has a YoY change metric. This shows the change in search trends between the latest month and the same month from the previous year.

You can find breakout topics if you sort keyword ideas by this column from highest to lowest.

For example, if we enter “e bike” as our seed keyword, we see that “gazelle arroyo” has a +900% YoY increase.

Keyword Planner shows a +900% YoY increase for "gazelle arroyo" thanks to the company reintroducing them in the U.S. this year

This is likely because Gazelle announced a reintroduction of its Arroyo electric bikes in the U.S. earlier this year. 

If you run an affiliate website, this is an excellent way to find products worth reviewing. 

Find seasonal keywords

Keyword Planner also has a “three month change” metric. This shows the change in search trends between the latest month and the two months prior.

You can find seasonal topics if you sort keyword ideas by this column from highest to lowest.

For example, if we use “e bike” as our seed once again, we see that “ebike black friday” has a +900% three-month increase.

Keyword Planner shows a +900% three-month increase for "e bike" thanks to Black Friday

This is because Black Friday is just around the corner (at the time of writing).

Let’s enter “sweater” as our seed. We see many terms related to ugly Christmas sweaters seeing a recent increase in searches. Again, this makes sense given the time of year (once more, at the time of writing).

Keyword Planner shows big three-month increases for sweater-related keywords in the run-up to Christmas

Find lucrative keywords

Keyword Planner has a column for “top of page bid (high range).” As Google notes, this shows the “higher range of what advertisers have historically paid for a keyword’s top of page bid.” 

Now, advertisers have nothing to do with SEO. But it’s logical to assume that if they’re willing to pay a lot for clicks from a keyword, it must have commercial value. In which case, it’s worth trying to rank organically. 

For example, if we sort our ebike keyword ideas by “top of page bid” from high to low, one of the keywords that advertisers pay big bucks for clicks from is “zooz ebike.”

The estimated "top of page bid (high range)" for "zooz ebike" is high at $21.45

This is hardly surprising given that these bikes cost $2K–$3K.

Bonus: Google Keyword Planner tips & tricks

Now you know the basics of using Keyword Planner, let’s look at a few tricks and tips that most SEOs aren’t aware of.

1. Unlock exact search volumes

Google’s reluctance to show exact search volumes is one of the most frustrating things about Keyword Planner. It’s why many SEOs no longer use the tool.

For example, both of these keywords have a search volume range of 1K–10K:

Keyword Planner shows the same search volume range for "off page seo" and "seo specialist"

But if we check these two keywords in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, we see that one of these keywords gets more than twice as many searches as the other. 

Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer shows specific and different search volumes for "off page seo" and "seo specialist"

Luckily, there’s a trick to unlock more precise (but not perfect) search volumes in Keyword Planner.

Here’s the process:

  1. Go to the Forecast tab
  2. Click to add keywords
  3. Enter your keywords in square brackets (this specifies exact match)
  4. Click Save
  5. Choose the maximum CPC on the graph
Adjusting daily budget for ads to get a better estimate search volume

Now pay attention to the “Impressions” column. This tells you the estimated number of impressions your ad would get over the next month if you were to run it for the selected keywords. 

Impressions estimate for "seo specialist" with a maxed out ad budget

Because you set the bid value so high, these impressions should be close to the monthly search volume for that keyword. 

Let’s use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to check how close these numbers are.

Estimated monthly search volume for "seo specialist" via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

It looks like it was pretty much dead on in this case.

IMPORTANT

Having played around with this trick for a while, it seems to be most accurate when investigating keywords with commercial intent. This is likely because Google is less likely to show ads for informational queries, so impression data is off. Keep in mind that third-party tools like Keywords Explorer tend to be more reliable.

2. See local search volumes 

Most keyword research tools don’t tell you how many people search for a term in specific states or cities. They only show search volumes for the entire country, which could be better for local SEO

In Google Keyword Planner, however, you can simply change your location to a different country, state, or city to see local volume ranges. 

For example, there are an estimated 100K–1M monthly searches for “plumber” in the U.S.:

Estimated U.S. search volume for "plumber" via Keywords Explorer

But if we change the location to Birmingham, Alabama, the range changes to just 100–1K:

Estimated search volume for "plumber" in Birmingham, Alabama, via Keywords Explorer

You can also combine this with the exact volume trick above to get more precise volume estimations for local areas. 

For example, suppose we were to max out our bid for “plumber” in Birmingham, Alabama. In that case, we’d get an estimated 636 monthly impressions on our ad. 

Estimated impressions for "plumber" with a maxed out bid in Birmingham, Alabama, via Keywords Explorer

3. See popular search locations

Keyword Planner can also show you the most popular search locations for any term. Just scroll to the bottom of the Forecasts tab for your keywords.

For example, 54% of impressions for “superbowl” come from the U.S. 

Top countries by impressions in Keyword Planner

But you can go even deeper. Knowing that most searches come from the U.S., you can set the U.S. as the location in the location filter. Now the Locations box will show the top states.

Top states by impressions in Keyword Planner

Going even deeper and setting the location to a state will show you the top cities. 

Top cities by impressions in Keyword Planner

In fact, if you set your location to a city, it’ll even tell you the most popular ZIP/postal codes. 

Top postal codes by impressions in Keyword Planner

important

This is based on impressions forecasts for ads—so take the results with a pinch of salt. If you’re just looking for a country-level breakdown of search volumes, Keywords Explorer has you covered with more precise data. 

Keyword data for "superbowl," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

4. See what devices searchers are using

It’s always best practice to ensure your content is optimized for mobile, as mobile-friendliness has been a ranking factor on mobile for years. But it’s still more important for some topics than others. 

After all, if few people are searching for your topic on mobile, then you don’t need to stress too much about perfectly optimizing your content for mobile users.

For example, suppose we add the keyword “free keyword research tool” to our keyword plan and check the “Forecasts” tab. We see that 81% of impressions happen on computers, not mobile phones or tablets. 

Computer impressions for "free keyword research tool" in Keyword Planner

Given this information, it’s probably not worth stressing too much about making screenshots in the post easier to read on mobile—especially not if doing so detracts from the desktop user experience.

Example of a screenshot that's not particularly well optimized for mobile

However, for some keywords, it will be the other way around. 

For example, 92.3% of impressions for “best restaurant near me” happen on mobile phones. 

Mobile impressions for "best restaurant near me" in Keyword Planner

This makes sense. People Googling this are most likely just looking for a good restaurant for lunch while out and about. So if you’re a local restaurant looking to rank for this and related keywords, optimizing your content for mobile is a top priority. 

Final thoughts

Google Keyword Planner is a powerful tool worth incorporating into your keyword research workflow. It’s packed with valuable insights you can’t get from other tools. 

But it does have its limitations—the lack of accurate search volumes being a big one.

If that’s what you’re looking for, investing in a professional keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer is the way to go. This shows exact search volumes for all keywords and other useful metrics like Keyword Difficulty (KD) and Traffic Potential (TP).

Keyword data in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

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Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

Want to meet other people interested in SEO offline? Give an SEO meetup a go.

In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to meet like-minded people and provides a more relaxed, informal setting than a bustling SEO conference. Who knows—you could make new friends at a meetup or even land new SEO clients.

But with so many events worldwide, it’s impossible to mention them all. So, here are some of the most talked-about SEO meet-ups I think you should have on your radar.

Okay—so I may be a little biased, but I wanted to start by sharing our Ahrefs’ SEO Events. We’ve run five Beer and Snacks Meetups in Singapore. We’ve also hosted an SEO Workshop and Networking meetup the day before BrightonSEO, and we just launched our London Meetup.

Tickets to the London Meetup sold out in a day and a half—it was our fastest-selling ticketed event ever.

Tim Soulo, Joshua Hardwick, and Ryan Law will speak at our inaugural event, covering topics such as improving your rankings, competitor research, and content marketing. To stay informed about our next event, follow our events page.

Sidenote.

Missed our meetups but still want to catch up with the Ahrefs team and a host of world-class speakers? Get Ahrefs Evolve tickets ✨

London SEO XL MeetupLondon SEO XL Meetup

The LondonSEO Meetup hosts an evening of networking with industry peers and leading experts featuring SEO speakers like Itamar Blauer, Steph Hugman, Reina Hanada, and many more.

The bigger XL event has even hosted prolific search engine news chronicler Barry Schwartz in 2023.

Search London Meetup PhotoSearch London Meetup Photo

With over 2,800 members, Search London is a popular meetup that has been around for over a decade.

Events are organized every 8-12 weeks, and members are from a mixture of agency, client-side, and start-up businesses.

The meet-up is open to anyone in SEO, PPC, or social media—and offers marketing professionals and first-time speakers a safe, supportive space to share their industry knowledge and experiences.

Search 'n Stuff Meetup PhotoSearch 'n Stuff Meetup Photo

Search ‘n Stuff meetups are an energetic and all-embracing community tailored to empower digital marketers, startups, in-house teams, and professionals. Expect sharings centered on strategies, campaigns, and other relevant SEO topics.

Neurodivergents In SEO Meetup PhotoNeurodivergents In SEO Meetup Photo

Neurodivergents in SEO provide a safe space for neurodivergent SEOs to network and learn.

The group holds in-person meetups at BrightonSEO, both in the UK and the US, and monthly pub quizzes with great prizes.

If you’re an SEO or marketer and identify as neurodivergent, you’re more than welcome to join the community. You can do so by signing up here.

Search Norwich PhotoSearch Norwich Photo

Search Norwich launched in 2018 as a free marketing meetup event. It often features top industry speakers who share their knowledge, tips, and advice with the search marketing community. At Search Norwich there are no sales agendas, fluff, or pitches—just valuable insights.

SEOFOMO Meetup PhotoSEOFOMO Meetup Photo

The SEOFOMO meetups are run by SEO superstar Aleyda Solis, who is a well-known SEO speaker and founder of SEO consultancy Orainti. She’ll also be the headline speaker for our first Ahrefs Evolve Conference.

SEOFOMO is a laid-back, free event perfect for learning, connecting, and sharing with other SEOs.

SEO Mastermind PhotoSEO Mastermind Photo

SEO Mastermind is a supportive, free, and friendly SEO community where you can grow your skills, meet like-minded people, and get answers to all your organic marketing questions.

SEO Mastermind meets around eight times a year, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium—but they also occasionally have meetups in other locations, for instance, at Brighton SEO and ISS Barcelona.

Organizer Jeroen Stikkelorum told me that SEO Mastermind is on a mission to build the most valuable Dutch-spoken SEO and organic marketing community in The Netherlands and Belgium. So if you’re local, give it a go.

SEO Lager Fest Meetup PhotoSEO Lager Fest Meetup Photo

SEO Lager Fest is a fun SEO meetup that (apart from drinking) enables you to network with like-minded folks in the SEO industry. They hold an SEO quiz, run case study competitions, do AMAs, and even do SEO charades.

SEOnerd Switzerland Meetup PhotoSEOnerd Switzerland Meetup Photo

SEOnerdSwitzerland is a volunteer-run association that organizes events for SEOs in Switzerland and beyond.

Dedicated to fair opportunities and diversity, they provide training and coaching for people wanting to break through as a public speaker in the SEO industry.

SEOnerdSwitzerland also offers training and coaching for speakers, aiming for a diverse and inclusive panel.

WebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, AustriaWebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, Austria

WebSchrona is a free monthly meetup for SEO and online marketing professionals in Salzburg, Austria. They meet every second Thursday at 6 p.m.

There’s no fixed agenda, so discussions are often unplanned and spontaneous and often involve a drink of some description.

Organizer Alexander Außermayr tells me that everyone is welcome to join their SEO meetups. The aim is to provide a regular, uncomplicated meetup in an open space—often a beer garden, if the weather is good.

SEO Benelux Meetup PhotoSEO Benelux Meetup Photo

SEO Benelux started in 2018 as a Facebook community for Dutch and Belgian SEO specialists. The meetup grew into the largest in the Benelux region, with more than 3,000 members.

There are four meetups each year, two in Belgium (Ghent and Antwerp) and one in the Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam). Each meetup attracts 70–90 people and features three speakers.

If you don’t live in a big city, it may be difficult to find a good meetup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any in your local area.

Here are my tips to help you find new meetups near you.

Tip 1 – Use Google’s advanced search operators to uncover new meetups

As new meetups pop up all the time and often without notice, it’s worth doing some digging to see what’s out there.

You can just do a regular ol’ Google search, but we’re SEOs—so let’s use some advanced search operators and spice it up a bit.

In this example, I searched for the phrase “meetup” in the title, plus my location and my favorite SEO tool, and it managed to uncover Tim’s tweet on our London Meetup.

Advanced Google Search Operators ExampleAdvanced Google Search Operators Example

This is just a very basic example, and you could use any website or location, but it shows how you can uncover information about new meetups with a little research.

Tip 2 – Trigger the Events SERP feature

By searching for events or events near me, you can trigger the Events SERP feature. In the example below, I found a few SEO-related events by prepending “SEO” to the search.

Triggering the Events SERP Feature ExampleTriggering the Events SERP Feature Example

Once you’ve triggered the feature, scroll down until you find an SEO meetup that catches your eye.

Tip 3 – Use Meetup to find an SEO meetup

If you can’t find anything on Google then it’s a good idea to run a quick check on a specialist community platform.

One of the most popular platforms is Meetup. It allows you to find events near your location on any topic.

Meetup.com screenshotMeetup.com screenshot

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of smaller meetups through this website, and they have always been interesting and a place to make new connections.

Tip 4 – No SEO meetup in your area? Start your own!

I started my own mini-meetup in 2018 on WhatsApp with some former colleagues, imaginatively titled #seodrinks.

#SEOdrinks meetup logo#SEOdrinks meetup logo

It started from humble beginnings in a room in a small pub in London, and it’s still in a room in a small pub—somewhere in London. (If you want an invite, let me know on LinkedIn.)

We only have semi-regular meetups in London and a small group, but every meetup has to start somewhere.

If you want to start your own SEO meetup, platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram are the best free places to start, but if you want a more specialized paid option, you could try Meetup or another similar platform.

Final thoughts

You don’t always have to attend a big SEO conference to meet other amazing people in the industry. Some of the smaller meetups I’ve been to have resulted in making more contacts than the bigger conferences.

As such, SEO meet-ups are one of my favorite ways to meet people who are just as interested in SEO and marketing as much as you are.

Did I miss an SEO meetup? Add your SEO meetup here, or let me know on LinkedIn.



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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

SEO and content marketing are different marketing channels. But you don’t have to choose between them. They’re complementary.

In fact, you should combine them for greater effectiveness in your marketing.

Two main reasons:

1. Content marketing and SEO are like peanut butter and jelly—they work well together

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.

Here’s how SEO helps content marketing:

The web's largest traffic referrersThe web's largest traffic referrers

SEO is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines to get more traffic.

Here’s how content marketing helps SEO:

  • It helps you get more search traffic — If you want more search traffic, you need to rank for more keywords, which requires you to make more content.
  • It makes SEO more effective — Thought leadership content acquires backlinks, gated content generates leads, and sales enablement converts traffic into sales.

2. The same amount of investment in effort, money, and time can generate results for both content marketing and SEO

We’re the perfect example. Our content ranks high on Google and generates hundreds of thousands of monthly search visitors:

Ahrefs blog trafficAhrefs blog traffic

It also attracts links and shares on social media because we make sure each piece is unique and not just regurgitation or “AI content”.

LinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of viewLinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of view

Finally, each piece of content introduces visitors to our product and educates them on how to use it to solve their problems. (Keep on reading and you’ll see it in action too!)

Example of how we introduce our product in our contentExample of how we introduce our product in our content

It hits all content marketing and SEO goals at once:

  • Acquires search traffic ✅
  • Builds thought leadership ✅
  • Attracts links ✅
  • Generates sales (over the long-term) ✅

How do we do what we do? Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness. Here’s one line that summarizes our entire SEO content marketing strategy:

We create and maintain high-quality, product-led, search-focused content about topics with business potential and search traffic potential.

Let me break down how we combine SEO and content marketing:

If you want to acquire search traffic, you need to target topics that your potential customers are searching for.

The easiest way to find these keywords is to use a keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few broad keywords related to your site or niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Filter for keywords with traffic potential (TP)
Matching terms report in Keywords ExplorerMatching terms report in Keywords Explorer

Sidenote.

Traffic Potential is the estimated monthly organic search traffic to the top-ranking page for a keyword. Since pages tend to rank for many keywords, Traffic Potential is a more reliable estimate than search volume.

Go through the report and pick out the keywords that are relevant to your site. For example, if I were an ecommerce store selling coffee equipment, this could be a potential keyword to target:

The keyword "best coffee grinder"The keyword "best coffee grinder"

A keyword’s business potential is how easy it will be to pitch your product while covering a certain topic. It’s our ‘trade secret’—it’s why we can easily introduce our product and its features in every piece of content we create.

Here’s how to score a topic’s business potential:

Business potential scoring chartBusiness potential scoring chart

So, taking the above example, the topic “best coffee grinder” would score a “3” (provided we sell coffee grinders) whereas a topic like “does decaf coffee have caffeine” would score a “1” or even a “0”.

You should prioritize topics that score high on business potential, i.e. a “2” or a “3”.

What does all of the jargon mean? Let’s break it down.

Search-focused

Part one of being ‘search-focused’ is finding keywords that people are searching for. Part two is to figure out why they’re searching for those particular keywords. This ‘why’ is known as search intent.

Given that Google’s goal is to always rank the most relevant content, we can look at the search engine results (SERPs) to uncover search intent. Take your target keyword, enter it into Keywords Explorer, scroll down to SERP Overview, and click Identify intents:

Identify intents feature in Keywords ExplorerIdentify intents feature in Keywords Explorer

So, we can see that searchers looking for the keyword “best coffee grinders” want detailed reviews and expert recommendations on the best coffee grinders. Not only that, we can also see that searchers want a list that is fresh.

Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"

If we’re targeting this topic, making it search-focused means matching this search intent—we’ll need to create a list of the best coffee grinders for the current year.

Product-led

Product-led means ensuring you’re not just creating content for the sake of it; you’re also ‘selling’ your product. You want to be aware of which use case, feature, or service you want to weave into the narrative. Naturally, of course.

Scoring a topic’s business potential would have done 90% of the work here. If you’re creating content about a topic that scored a “3”, then your product pitch would be natural. For example, we could easily add links back to our coffee equipment store after covering the best coffee grinders. Or, if we make our coffee grinders, we could pitch them as one of the best. (That’s why I say the business potential score is our secret ingredient.)

The challenge comes when you’re covering topics that score a “1” or “0”. It’s not impossible, but you’ll need to be creative.

For example, I recently covered the topic “SEO specialist”. It had a business potential of “1” and was tough to include a product pitch. Fortunately, I noticed that some job listings asked for experience with different SEO toolsets (including us.) It was the perfect segue to introduce our product and certification course.

An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1

High-quality

This is subjective. Everyone’s standards are different. But here’s how we think of quality:

  • Accurate — No hype, no lying. Every statement we make should be as accurate as possible.
  • Clear — No fluff—delete all unnecessary words and sentences. Use jargon only when needed. When necessary, create illustrations to expand on ideas and concepts.
  • Helpful — Being product-led is important but the content should not just be aimed at pitching. The content should be focused primarily on helping visitors solve their problems, while creatively weaving our product into the context.
  • Unique — One way to make your content unique is to have skin in the game—conduct experiments, run data studies, and write from personal experience. If having skin is difficult, then interview practitioners. Focus on did, not could.

The deterioration of your content is inevitable:

  • Search-focused — Your rankings may drop because of competitors. Or you didn’t even rank the first time round. Or your target topic’s search intent changed (e.g., the word corona’s search intent changed during the void years of 2020-2022.)
  • Product-led — You may have new features, services, or use cases to introduce. Or your team has depreciated certain features or abandoned some services.
  • High-quality — Statements may become inaccurate over time. Or your unique idea was so successful that everyone else copied you (and outranked you.) Or you might have better ways to reword sentences and paragraphs. Or just simply the ideas, screenshots, and content has become outdated.

That’s why you don’t build a train track and disappear. You have to actively maintain it to keep it working. (I’m looking at you London tube.) Same goes for your content.

The way to maintain your content is to conduct regular content audits. We do this every quarter—Each writer on our blog team goes through their portfolio of articles and selects at least three pieces to update. Each writer may also choose a couple to do a full rewrite.

I highly recommend going through our content audit template so you can see what went wrong with your content and what to do with it next.

Final thoughts

SEO and content marketing may be different marketing types, but that doesn’t mean you need to do one to the exclusion of the other.

Both channels are highly compatible and as you see above, can be designed as an entire strategy that hits all important marketing objectives.



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