Keyword research has changed a lot in the past few years. Instead of targeting a single keyword string, we are now creating reader-centric content that answers search queries.
However, understanding how people search remains important. Knowing what to write in the search box and how often can help understand their needs.
But it is not easy.
Google states that 15% of daily searches are “new” – queries you haven’t encountered before. And then people search in different and often unexpected ways, using hundreds or thousands of word combinations for the same thing.
As a result, keyword lists are often cluttered and seem endless. Understanding those lists – which contain the same or slightly altered phrases – is quite a challenge.
Keyword grouping can help.
Keyword combinations are nothing new. It is a technique of grouping keywords by a common modifier, or a word or phrase that expands the base term.
For example, if “ecommerce platform” is the initial keyword, “best” can be a mod that produces the next set of keywords.
- Best wholesale e-commerce platform
- Best Customizable E-Commerce Platform
- Best e-commerce platform for handmade items
- The best e-commerce platform in the US
- Best multi-store e-commerce platform
- How to choose the best e-commerce platform
- Best Multilingual E-Commerce Platform
Clustering remains useful as it helps discover low-volume keywords, which are easy to overlook but potentially important to shoppers.
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There are several ways to group your keywords.
A free method is to use the conditioning format feature in a spreadsheet to color keywords that share the same modifier. The most popular modifiers can easily be found by selecting the repeating colors. While this process is useful, it risks color overlapping when one keyword contains two or more common modifiers.
Semrush offers a better way. It identifies the most popular modifiers and shows groups of keywords and the subgroups they contain. Launch Semrush’s “Keyword Magic Tool” and click on Modifiers in the right panel. Each group will open more groups and show the number of keywords included in them.
Clicking on the modifier will open the list to the right of the keywords it contains. For example, the combination in the screenshot below contains “Free” and “Software”. Fifty-four keywords include “free”.
Keyword Magic Tool is included with every Semrush plan, starting at $119 per month.
The tool is useful in understanding all kinds of search patterns for your target audience. But it’s missing many phrases with the same intent but with slightly different modifiers.
For example, a page targeting Easy Image Editing Software might benefit from knowing how people express their need in the search box, including closely related terms, such as:
- easier photo editing software
- photo editing software For beginners
- basic photo editing software
And this is where keyword grouping based on search intent makes sense.
SE Ranking offers a keyword aggregation feature within its keyword suggestion tool that aggregates keywords based on the number of rankings of these terms’ nested URLs in Google. Set the number of overlaps from two to nine. The more URLs for two separate queries overlap, the closer these search queries are to each other.
The SE classification uses this signal to identify groups of keywords, i.e. closely related keywords that should be included in one group. Keyword groupers are included in all plans, starting at $40 per month, but are charged separately at $0.004 per keyword.
There is no single strategy for using keyword combinations in search engine optimization. All keyword combinations must be manually reviewed and handled differently.
- Content ideas. A group might include keywords for useful content ideas, where each keyword within the group is used to create a separate page, like the example of “best ecommerce platform.” All pages within this topic group are interconnected, with the main pillar page referring to each of them in that group. In the example above, the homepage could be titled Best Ecommerce Platforms, with each subpage targeting a keyword (and search target) within that group.
- One page optimization. Another set of keywords can improve a single page. When the search objective is practically the same, there is no need to create multiple pages targeting each keyword. Instead, create one page that mentions the other rates. For example, a single page could target “easy photo editing software” and other keyword options, such as “for beginners”.
- Better insights. Finally, some groups are just there to understand how people search, such as knowing how people query free photo editors. Semrush allows excluding certain groups from keyword search lists to remove clutter. Here’s another way to use groups: arrange lists to more easily select important keyword phrases and modifiers.