How To Use SEMRush for Keyword Research – Easily Find High-Value Keywords


Are you overwhelmed by the volume of keywords for a specific topic? Or not sure which keywords to use that will give you the best results?

I used to struggle with this problem and I know many people have the same issue, especially new bloggers.

Well, I’m here to tell you that this is no longer a problem for me using the methodology I refined over the years.

This method allows me to quickly find low-competitive high-value keywords within minutes.

Today, I will teach you the exact steps that I use for keyword research.

I called this method Cone-Focus Formula.

The tool that I used with this method is SEMRush but you can use any keyword research tools that have similar functions.

If you don’t any keyword tool, click here to try SEMRush’s free trial.

Before we can dive into the step-by-step tutorial of keyword research, there are a few concepts you need to understand in order to maximize the efficiency of keyword research.

These are:

Keyword Value

Keyword Intent

Long-Tail Keyword


Why Is Keyword Value Important


Keyword value is important because it has to fit with your business or goal.

The keyword needs to closely tie to the purpose of your website and your ability to add value to those who used that keyword to search for answers.

Let’s say you are a painter that trying to sell your services.

The keyword phrase “best paintbrush for painters” is not a good keyword to use.


Because this keyword doesn’t align with your business purpose.

Teaching someone how to pick the best paintbrush for painters doesn’t add any value to your goal.
Those searching for that keyword probably wanted to start painting themselves instead of hiring a painter.

A better keyword phrase would be:

How much does an oil painting portrait cost

Can you see the value in this?

That’s right. People searching for this keyword is already consider hiring a painter to do an oil painting portrait. The problem for them now is the cost.

By targeting this keyword and providing answers to their questions, this brings value to them and to you.

This opens up the opportunity for you to educate the readers and explain why you are the best choice for this service.

Understanding the keyword value is important before you invest time and effort into producing quality content.

To determine the value of the keyword, you can simply ask yourself:

Does the keyword match my business goal?

Can I provide enough value to the keyword?

If the answer is “Yes” for the questions above, then the keyword value is a good fit for you.


What is Keyword Intent?


Just like Keyword Value, Keyword Intent also needs to be aligned with your business goals.

Keyword Intent is the purpose of the keyword search.

In other words, what are the users looking for or what problems do they have by searching this keyword.

The key point is to understand if the searcher’s intent is the same as what you perceived as the keyword intent. The two need to match to be considered a good keyword.

For example, if someone searches for “keyword”, what do you think is the “intent”?

It is not clear, right? “Keyword” could mean a lot of things.

Are they looking for how to do keyword research? Are they looking for a keyword research tool?

In this case, the word is too generic and you won’t be able to understand what’s the intent of this search.

What if the keyword is “keyword research tool”?

Now you have a clearer picture of the keyword intent. The person is looking for information related to the keyword research tools.

But even then, the intent is not specific enough.

What do they want to do with the “keyword research tool”?

Is the intention to find the best keyword research tool? Or looking for a comparison of different tools?

Sometimes people might not even know their own intent when they search a keyword that’s why they started with a generic keyword.

Maybe ultimately what they want to know is the “best keyword research tool” and refine the search to that specific keyword intent after seeing a few search results.

But you do not want to tackle a keyword unless you are sure that the intent of the searcher is the same as your perceive keyword intent.

The best way to verify an intent is to search for that keyword yourself and see the search engine result page or commonly known as SERPs.

Let’s take a look at the SERPs for “keyword research tool”.

keyword research tool SERPs

We can look at the blog posts that this keyword returns for a better understanding of keyword intent, so we will ignore the keyword tool provider’s home pages.

Based on the results, we can see the common theme for the “keyword research tool” is that the top blog posts are recommending multiple keyword tools.

The SERPs tell us a bit more about the keyword intent. These posts are ranked high because people do end up clicking and reading the content.

Hence, the results indicate the search intent is most likely that people are looking for the “best” keyword research tool.

Notice the title or the meta description of these results also have the keyword “best” in them. That means the intent of the “keyword research tool” is likely to close to the intent of the “best keyword research tool”.

In cases like this, always try to rank for the keyword phrase “best keyword research tool” and you are likely to rank for both.

Protip: In addition, these results have another commonality of using a number in its title. Although this might not contribute to the keyword intent, having a number in the title can increase click-through-rate.

Thus, it contributed to the reasons why those posts rank higher. Don’t forget to pay close attention to details like that.

Once you have a good understanding of keyword value and keyword intent, choosing the best keywords will be like second nature.


Select Lower Volume Long Tail Keyword


In my opinion, keywords fall into two main groups.

#1 Generic or Broad Keyword

These keywords might have a similar value as your business goal but it usually lacks specific intent.

Examples are:

🔎 Skinny Jeans

🔎 Party Shoes

🔎 Travel Camera

The problem with these keywords is that we are still not sure what exactly are people looking for or there still many choices for interpretation.

These keywords usually do have higher volume searches since there are more explorational keywords.

People simply trying to see what’s out there when using these keywords because they are broad.

#2 Long Tail Keyword

Long-tail keywords are by far my favorite keywords because they usually have better intent and lower volume.

Why do low volume keywords better?

The high volume keywords are appealing due to the tremendous amount of traffic they can bring to the website if ranked correctly.

However, those keywords tend to be highly competitive and it won’t be easy to rank, especially for a new site.

Ideally, going for the low volume and low competitive keywords would be more reasonable.

In the long run, going after multiple low volumes and low competitive keywords will drive sufficient traffic to your website with less effort.

Those qualities of keywords are usually associated with long-tail keywords.

Many people get confused with defining “long-tail keyword”.

A long-tail keyword is not defined by the length but instead the volume.

Take a look at this keyword:

🔎 Jeans

keyword search - jeans

The organic search volume for the 5 letter keyword “Jeans” is 135K.

Take a look at the longer length keyword “Jeans for women” with a volume of 60.5K.

keyword search - jeans for women

In this case, the keyword “Jeans for women” is longer in length and lower in volume so it is a long-tail form of “Jeans”

Now, consider the keyword “Ladies jeans“.

keyword search - ladies jeans

Even though the length of this keyword is less than “Jeans for women“, the keyword for “Ladies jeans” is a long-tail form of both of the keywords above due to lower volume.

With that in mind, we have to consider the keyword value and keyword intent discussed earlier to determine if this long-tail keyword will work for you.

For example, both keywords of “jeans for women” and “ladies jeans” would be good keywords to use only if you’re selling jeans for females.

From there, there could be better long-tail keywords such types of jeans like “skinny” or “straight”.

Now that we evaluated the important concepts of keyword value, keyword intent, and long-tail keyword.

Let’s dive in the easy methodology of using SEMrush for keyword research.


Cone-Focus Formula Keyword Research

The Cone-Focus Formula is consists of 5-simple steps.

  1. General Seed Keyword
  2. Filter by criteria
  3. Targeting subgroups
  4. Refine Search
  5. Identify Latent Semantic Indexing keywords


Step 1: Start with the most general and generic seed keyword

Starting with a general keyword with high volume has advantages even though you won’t be using this keyword.

For starter, a generic seed keyword yields a higher number of suggestion keywords with SEMrush.

keyword search - jeans suggestion

The keyword suggestion volume for “Jeans” is about 1.6M compared to a long-tail keyword that might only have about a few thousand.

This will allow us to find more variations related to the seed keyword and a lot more long-tail keyword options.

Let’s say we’re a landscaping company and we wanted to write posts related to landscaping and promote our services.

Assuming we are not sure where to start or what type of landscaping to write about.

First, head to SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.

Dashboard > Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic Tool

SEMrush keyword magic tool

We will start with the keyword “landscaping“.

landscaping search volume

Notice the keyword “landscaping” returns over 700K+ related keyword.

This gave us way too many keywords that we can’t process individually.

This brings us to the next step.

Reducing the keyword numbers using the filter feature.


Step 2: Reduce the number of keywords using the filter

This step is straight forward.

We simply reduce the number of keywords using SEMrush’s amazing filtering tool.

SEmMrush keyword filtering

My favorite way to use the filtering is to use the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter.

Set it from 1 to 60. Anything above 60 will be hard to rank for. ideally, the lower the KD, the better.

Limiting the KD to 60 will be a good starting point. Feel free to adjust that number based on the niche.

By filtering just the KD, we reduced the number of keywords from over 700K to just 8K!

Another good metric to filter for is the volume. For example, if the result still a high number after the KD filter, you can put the volume to at least 1,000 in the “From” box. This will only return all the keywords with at least 1,000 result volumes.

In this case, anything under 20K is a good number to move on to the next step.


Step 3: Targeting a sub-topic with SEMrush’s recommended keyword group

SEMrush has an amazing feature by categorizing all the similar keywords into groups.

This feature evaluates the frequencies of common words in all the available keywords.

It is not a perfect categorization but it provides a good starting point.

SEmMrush keyword by group

You can also see the number of keywords associated with that group before even clicking on it.

For example, I decided to go with the group “green” and I know that will filter the results further down to just 80 keywords.

Based on the 80 keyword result, now it is doable to go through this small list to find my main keyword or topic to tackle.

Taking in consideration of keyword value and keyword intent we learned in the prior section, I like this keyword “green landscaping”. (Assuming I do provide that service).

Now that I’m satisfied with this long-tail keyword as my new seed keyword.

Let’s move on to the next step.


Step 4: Refine the search with the new seed keyword

The simple but importance of this step is to refine the search with that new keyword that we found to find all the related keywords.

This is to make sure we don’t miss out on any good related keywords that related to our seed keyword.

SEmMrush keyword - green landscaping

The initial search results for “green landscaping” are 7K which is a higher volume of keywords that I would want to look through individually.

Using the techniques we previously learned, we can filter down the number of keywords.

You can either filter by KD, keyword volume or keyword group.

I opted for the keyword group related to “lawn” instead. Feel free to test the other filters to your liking.

I personally went with the keyword group method because I know the total results will be around 300, which I can deal with.

Also, by using 2 groups of “green” and “lawn”, these will give me a more unique list of long-tail keywords.

Now we have a list of 300 keywords, let’s move on the final and most important step.


Step 5: Extract all relevant keywords known as LSI keyword

What is LSI and why is it important?

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.

Some people define LSI keyword as the synonym of the seed keyword, but that’s not the true definition.

LSI keyword could include synonym words based on the word’s definition, however, it is more about how the context is related to your topic.

From Google’s point of view, LSI keywords help the search engine understand the big picture of the whole post or article instead of repeating the same keyword.

Dumbbell LSI

For example, the LSI keywords for the keyword “dumbbell” would be:

  • Dumbbell Set
  • Dumbbell Exercises
  • Adjustable Dumbbell
  • Iron Grip Dumbbell
  • Rubber Encased Dumbbell

The list goes on and on.

Obviously, although these are all LSI keywords, the keyword intent, and keyword value needs to align with the purpose of your content.

Using the correct LSI keywords in the post is one of the key factors in ranking.

If you haven’t, click here to get the free download of the on-page ranking factors checklist.

Continue with our keyword research.

Now it’s time to utilize everything we learned about keyword intent and keyword value and go through the list of 300 keywords we ended up with from the last step.

Green Landscaping LSI

After going through the list of remaining keywords. This is the final list of keywords I ended up selecting.

The topic is “Green Landscaping” with the focus on applying green landscaping to “Lawn”.

Seeing the LSI keyword “What is green landscaping” during keyword research makes this topic selection even better.

That means there are enough people searching for this exact keyword for it to show up in SEMrush‘s database.

Now the content creation becomes a lot easier by having a list of keywords to map out the post.

We can easily start by answering the question and sprinkle the LSI keywords throughout the post and promote our landscaping services within the post.


Final Thought

This wraps up the cone-focus method for keyword research.

With enough practice, finding good keywords will be second nature to you.

Make sure you fully understand Keyword Intent and Keyword Value.

Give it a shot and apply this method next time you do keyword research with SEMrush.

If you haven’t try SEMRush, click here to try the 7-day free trial.

SEMrush is a lot more than just a keyword search tool.

Click here to read my review

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