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Search Engine Optimization – Ranking

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for online marketing success. And in 2022, most businesses, especially those that sell B2B, need to understand SEO and how to take advantage of it.

In this article, we will walk through the process of ranking for a keyword using our favorite tools, and in future articles, we will go deeper.


What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO is the process of improving the ranking of a website on search engines. The higher the ranking, the more likely people find the website.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a word or phrase that people type into a search engine when looking for something.

What is a long-tail keyword?

A long-tail keyword is a keyword that is more specific and less common than a short-tail keyword.

Our SEO Tools

We use several tools in our efforts:

  • ahrefs for helping with keyword research and determining the difficulty of ranking for specific words/phrases.

  • Surfer SEO for content planning, ranking suggestions, and additional keyword research. Additionally, for analysis of content as we write it.

Try ahrefs

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Try Surfer SEO

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Keyword Ideas

Our website has a clear focus, so coming up with keyword ideas is not difficult.

Today, we wanted to write an article to rank for SEO and began by looking in ahrefs to determine if it would be easier to rank for SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

So, in ahrefs, we used the Keywords Explorer tool, entered both terms, and ran the search.

The results show tremendous opportunity, with 23K and 100K per month search volumes. That’s excellent monthly search volume.

And shows a keyword difficulty (KD) of 96 and 97, meaning I have no right ever to expect to rank for those keywords.

Note: KD is a scale from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning no competition and 100 meaning everyone has an article about it and it will take a miracle to rank. But, this article is to teach, and with Google’s EAT algorithm approach, maybe we will have a slight chance.

Grabbing an anchor keyword related to our primary term

We know we have no right to rank for either of these terms, so we also look for an easy keyword to rank for in hopes of driving some traffic to our page. From there, we can build authority and slowly rank upwards.

So, let’s go back to Keyword Explorer in ahrefs and again search for Search Engine Optimization.

We see the results, and under Terms Match, we set a filter value of KD less than or equal to 3 (essentially meaning a no-competition keyword we should be able to rank for in no time)

Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research in ahrefs

And scanning the results of this filter points out this keyword: “search engine optimization secrets.” We will include this in our content as keyword difficulty scores below three will quickly drive us traffic.

This long-tail keyword is searched for on Google roughly ten times a month, so it’s not going to bring us much, but it’s a start and, for this article, an example of a low-difficult search term.

Content Planning

To have any shot of ranking for this term, we need to do a fair amount of keyword research, build up enough content to show Google we understand the topic and pray it will all work out.

We could spend days in tools like Google Keyword planner, of course, or have Surfer SEO run the keyword research process for us — this is a keyword research tool we can get into.

In Surfer, we go to the Content Planner, type in the keyword we want to research, and create content to rank for and click on Create Content Planner.

Researching keywords takes a few minutes, even for SEO Tools like Surfer, but you have a list of keyword clusters when it is done, see below.


What is a keyword cluster?

A keyword cluster is a group of related keywords that you can target with a single piece of content.

Why are keyword clusters significant?

Keyword clusters are essential because they help you rank for multiple keywords with a single piece of content. This is especially helpful if you are targeting long-tail keywords.

Picking our keyword cluster

In general, we would take each cluster and do a bit more keyword research in ahrefs, at least to determine the difficulty.

However, Surfer provides us with KD for each cluster, and monthly search volume (MSV) is also displayed.

For this article, we will simply choose the “keyword research in SEO” cluster. It has a reasonably low difficulty, reasonable search volume, and fits the article we wanted to write (this one).

Surfer SEO will create a new Content Editor for you to start your writing if you are on the icon in the lower right corner of the collection.

As you start writing, check out the right side of the window.

Surfer is doing a few things to help you:

  • Acting as a keyword research tool, spotlighting the words and phrases you should include in your content.

  • Showing you a score for your content (25 in the above), with a higher score have a much better chance of ranking for a given keyword.

  • Pointing out to us when you use enough of these targeted keywords, or even if you over-optimize by using the phrase too many times. See the down-arrow below telling me that I have over-used that keyword.

In addition, Surfer points out the improvements necessary to make to the entire structure, including headings, number of images, paragraphs, and word count, to compete with the pages currently ranking at the top of the google search results.

Fleshing out your content further

At this point in the article, before cleaning it up, the Surfer SEO keyword tool gives me a score of 56, not too bad, but nothing SEO experts would be impressed with.

Based on our current domain authority, we will need to include additional keywords related to this topic to improve our rankings and drive more search volume.

Don’t forget Surfer

We began this exercise by having Surfer give us a content strategy, using its keyword research advice to identify relevant collections. Now, let’s make sure we use its recommendations for the best keywords to use in this blog post.

Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research in Surfer

Surfer tells us the best keywords to use and how often, to rank this blog post in google search.

We have a roadmap to follow if we want to capture search traffic, either through organic search results or google ads.

Use it.

Go back to ahrefs

We always return to ahrefs to identify any other low-competition keywords and keyword variations that we may be able to include.

Back in the Keyword Planner that we referred to above, do a broad search, dig into relevant search terms with a KD of less than 3-5, ideally with global search volumes above 100, and see if you can include those specific keywords in your content.

Please don’t force it.

Double-check where you Over-Optimized

We pointed out earlier that Surfer alerts you about using keywords too often. Look for those on the right-hand panel of Surfer, and clean that up. Use alternative phrases, ideally those the tool has suggested, and get as many of the keywords showing green as possible.

Use Grammarly to fix spelling, grammar, and tone

We always use Grammarly, and the Chrome extension works excellent inside of Surfer.

We open it up and run through every suggestion.

We never shoot for perfection in Grammarly, but do work to fix the obvious issues while maintaining our own personalities.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the purpose behind why someone enters a particular query into a search engine. There are four main types of search intent:

  • Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website or page. For example, they may enter “Facebook” into the search bar.

  • Informational: The user is looking for information on a particular topic. For example, they may enter “What is SEO?” into the search bar.

  • Transactional: The user is looking to buy something. For example, they may enter “buy Nike sneakers” into the search bar.

  • Commercial Investigation: The user is comparison shopping or looking for information to help them make a purchase decision. For example, they may enter “Nike vs Adidas” into the search bar.

Ranking on Other Search Engines

Google is the king of search — but YouTube is right there too.

While YouTube SEO is beyond the scope of this article, it is vital (and we will explore it further in the future).

In addition, search engines like Bing, while nowhere near as popular as Google, can be worth considering.

We will write more on these other search platforms in the future.

Ranking Locally

If you run a business with a physical location, you also want to rank for local search results.

For example, if I wanted Trust Enablement to be found for searches like “sales enablement in Boston”, we would want to insert appropriate location keywords like Boston, Massachusetts, and any others that would speak to the fact that we serve a local area.

Ranking Globally

This matters for any business trying to do business globally.


If you are in the US and run a Google search, you see what’s ranking in the US. If you run that same Google Search in India, you may see very different results.

ahrefs and Surfer both provide value for businesses seeking to rank globally.

Our SEO strategy has focused on the US, and our results, which we see in ahrefs, show that.

If we want to improve our country-specific rankings, we can simply return back to Surfer.

Each of the major tools in Surfer supports country and local level analysis. See this screen from Content Planner as an example.

We are beginning an experiment to determine if we can increase our rankings in India — wish us luck.

If it works, we will share our approach.

Final thoughts

We know that we did not cover every possible aspect of keyword research in this article. Our goal was to cover the process we use for SEO keyword research on Trust Enablement.

We hope that our process, and the sharing of the keyword research tools we use, benefit you in your journey.

Try ahrefs

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Try Surfer SEO

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