SEO is still one of the most cost-effective and underutilized marketing channels available to indie and micro businesses. It's one of the absolute best forms of leverage for early-stage businesses to reach highly relevant audiences--at precisely the right moment.
Of course, for that to happen, you need to be deliberate about your keyword research; whether you store it Notion or elsewhere, a keyword research template can help make that process far more efficient. It's rarely enough to do a quick Google search for the big umbrella terms in your industry (say, 'How to start an online business'); instead, you need to think about second order searches, longtail keyword and high intent phrases that also have low competition...
I don't want to go too deep into the jargon for this post. Instead, I want to take you straight to this simple keyword research template I've created in Notion. The goal of the template is to simply help you accurately research, store and track the status of your keywords and you go out and scour the web, write your content and gather new ideas.
The template database is straightforward enough. It includes:
- A table to list your keywords;
- A column to track keyword volume;
- A column to track keyword competitiveness;
- Content topic;
- Ranking opportunity;
- Priority; and
- Search intent.
You can easily add new columns or delete the ones you don't need. I recommend you keep it as simple as possible when you're first starting out. Keyword research can easily become overwhelming if you try and track too many metrics at once. Pick two or three that are most important to you and focus on those. The rest can come later.
To get started, all you need to do is clone the template (linked below) and start filling in your keywords. I've included a few to get you started, but delete those and add your own.
How to do your keyword research
Again, I won't go into too much detail for the moment. What I will do, however, is highly recommend the tool 'Keywords Everywhere'. I'm in no way affiliated to this product, I'm just a fan and personally use it as my primary source for keyword volume and competition data.
Once you've added the extension to your browser, whenever you search, you'll be able to quickly gather all the keyword data you need to fill out the table.
In the leftmost column, you can jot down the keyword itself. List the precise keyword that you intend to rank for here--not the parent topic, not the title of your blog post: the keyword itself.
If there are multiple related keywords with slight variations, add them all to the table. This can be helpful for then summing the potential volume for an article which has multiple keywords with decent traffic volume.
Tracking keyword volume
Keyword volume refers to the expected number of monthly searches which include that precise phrase. You can keep track of this in the 'volume' column.
The volume data is useful for understanding potential traffic but also for comparison with other related keywords. Typically, if your site has low authority, you'll want to look for keywords with lower volumes, below 1,000/mo even (unless you really stumble upon a hidden gem in your niche that no one has written on!).
The 'competition' column is where you track how difficult it will be to rank for that keyword. This metric can be a little tricky because it's not an exact science and there are different schools of thought on what makes up 'high competition'.
The general rule of thumb is that anything below 20 is very low competition, 20-50 is medium, 50-70 is high and anything over 70 is very hard to rank for.
Cost per click
'Cost per click' (CPC) is the amount you can expect to pay for each click on an advert placed against that keyword. CPC isn't always relevant, but if you're planning on running ads as part of your traffic strategy (which I don't necessarily recommend if you're putting in the trouble to rank organically!), it's a good metric to track. You can find out CPC data in Google Adwords, but it also shows directly from the Keywords Everywhere tool with every search.
This column is where you can keep track of parent topics, categories or clusters of keywords. This can be helpful if you'd like to stay focused on a particular topic for a period; or, if you'd like to ensuring you have a good spread across the main topics you and your audience care about.
The opportunity column is where you can select the type of opportunity that best suits this particular keyword.
Say you're just starting out with your site and you find a high keyword volume, high competition keyword. Chances are, you're not going to rank for it organically anytime soon. But it might be so relevant to you that you consider using it in a paid ads campaign.
The ranking opportunities listed are:
- Organic Rank: Which means you have a chance of ranking, relatively quickly, without paid search. Typically best for low competition, lower volume keywords;
- Long-term Organic Rank: This can be larger 'pillar' style keywords that are critical to your niche, but realistically may take a year or two to rank for;
- Paid Search: For highly competitive, high purchase intent keywords, sometimes they can present as a good opportunity for Paid Search.
Search intent is one of the most important elements of keyword research. Volume and competition aside--it really pays to understand what a user is looking to do when they search for a particular keyword.
Are they searching to learn something? Are they looking to buy something? Are they just bored on a Sunday afternoon, wondering who the original James Bond was?
The types of search intent included in this template are:
Navigational: The searcher knows what they want and is typing in the name of a website or brand (e.g. Google)
Informational: The searcher wants to learn something (e.g. How do I make a website?)
Transactional: The searcher wants to buy something (e.g. Best digital cameras under $500)
Every system needs some room for discretion. While it's possible to deliver formulas that automatically sort and rank keywords based on various weightings across the inputted values... sometimes it's best to simply give it a ranking 'all things considered'.
To do so, you can use the Priority column. Rank your keywords from 'HP' (Highest Priority) through P1 -> P5, in order of lowest relevance or urgency.
Get started with our Notion Keyword Research Template below.
If you're serious about ranking in Google, keyword research is essential. But it doesn't have to be complicated. Our simple keyword research template in Notion can help you sort, rank and track your keywords so you can focus on creating content that ranks.
And if you're interested in doing more of your SEO content planning inside Notion, check out our free SEO Starter Kit template, here.