So, you have your website ready and you know that it will appear on Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). But, you notice that you are ranked on page number 5, and you start thinking “Will anyone even be able to find my business at page 5?” Certainly, the ideal situation is to be ranked number one on page one of the SERP. Being ranked on top means that you are easily accessible and very visible to the users. As a result, you would achieve much higher traffic flow, and increase your chances of procuring leads and securing sales.
To achieve optimal results from your website, keyword research should be the cornerstone of your SEO strategy. A lot of thought and work needs to go into creating the content and choosing the right words to use. This is where the foundation of your keyword research work is closely tied to the success of your website. So let’s get started!
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the words or phrases that people use to search for information with regards to their topics of interest. In an ideal setting, the words you use to describe the topics that you are writing about online will coincide with the exact same words that people are using to search for more information on that topic. Therefore, you can consider these keywords as effectively linking your content to your target audience.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of identifying popular search terms that people input into search engines so as to discern which words to rank for. More than just checking for the highest search volume of a particular keyword, it is also about analysing the many different ways that people use language to find out more information about a particular idea or subject topic. Thus, conducting proper keyword research is a major component of SEO and content marketing as a whole.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Researching keywords provides us with a better understanding of the demand for a particular keyword and the level of competition in the organic search results for those same keywords. The insights gathered can help offer some useful direction in your optimization efforts while also helping your further refine your overall marketing strategy. Conducting keyword research also serves various other purposes such as finding ideas for your upcoming blog articles, understanding the behaviours and needs of your users, and also keeping abreast of the trendy lingo of the ever-changing search landscape. At the end of the day, the objective of keyword research is to create targeted content so that you can drive the right traffic to your site in order to bring about meaningful conversions.
When conducting keyword research, you should always have these questions in mind:
- What are people searching for?
- What words are they using to search for the information?
- How many people are searching for it?
- In what format do they want that information?
Pro tip: You might wanna consider why are they searching? Basically, try to understand the user’s intention behind the search.
When To Conduct Keyword Research?
Perhaps the biggest fallacy about keyword research is that it is a one-off task conducted at the beginning of the creation of the website. This is absolutely inaccurate! It is precisely due to the fact that your website is built on the foundation of keywords that constant keyword audit, or checks needs to be conducted. Your keywords usage needs to be frequently re-evaluated to ensure updated maintenance. This is because the search language is dynamic and constantly changing. New keywords are being introduced all the time. Thus, the frequency of your keyword research should be conducted every time you are creating new website content, which includes instances such as :
- Starting a new website
- Creating a new blog post
- Promoting a new product / service
- Restructuring of existing site
- Consolidating content
When conducting keyword research, you should always be mindful to satisfy the needs of the user. Regularly assess how people search for things and determine which keywords goes into the more popular searches as well as the types of niche content that users are looking for also.
What is the Keyword Research Process?
Keywords can take on many different meanings depending on the user intent. It is important to be able to address the problem that the searcher is looking to solve rather than simply inserting the keyword term into your homepage, blog article or website. Thus, it is important to not be too hasty in making assumptions as to the interpretation of the keywords used. For example, let’s say you are researching the keyword “how to sell online” for an article you want to create. The user’s intention behind the key word used is very important in guiding the direction that your article will take on. The content of your article should align to the search intent of the user.
Some questions you may consider are:
- Does the user want to learn how to transition from a brick and mortar shop to an online shop?
- Does the user want to know how to start setting up an online business from scratch?
So, how do you find out the search intent of the user? The easiest and fastest way would be to input the specific keyword term into the search engine and analyse the results that come up on top. These should provide you with the direction in which your blog content should be in.
Additionally, we have also laid out a comprehensive keyword research process that you can follow, using Google Ads. This will help you to implement a robust keyword strategy that puts you in the top of the search results page.
- Create a list of important and relevant topics or ideas for your business
- Identify keywords relevant to each topic
- Conduct research of the related search terms
- Include a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords for each topic
- Check how your competitors are ranking for these keywords
- Use Keyword Tools to Identify Important Keywords
- Include Negative Keywords
Step 1: Create a list of important and relevant topics or ideas for your business
Write up a list of 5-10 generic subject topics that are important to your business. These subject topics will be used to generate more specific keywords later on. The topics could simply be the existing categories on your website.For example, if you are a company selling traditional baked goods, you might want to have generic subject topics such as:
- Gluten-Free Cake
Step 2: Identify keywords relevant to each topic
These are the keywords that are related and relevant to the subject topics that you have come up with in the first step. For example, let’s use the first subject topic “Cake”. Some keyword phrases that might be related and relevant are :
- Wedding cake
- Birthday cake
- Moist chocolate cake
- How to bake chocolate cake
- Simple chocolate cake recipe
- How to bake chocolate cake with kids
- Healthy cake options
This list can be as long as you want, as it is not the final keyword list. It is just a way for you to brainstorm and pen down all your keyword ideas into one place. Make sure that the keywords are relevant to your business. If you do not handle wedding cakes, do not add that keyword in your list. Repeat this process for all the topic subjects that you have. We will narrow down the list later and help you select the important keywords to focus on.
Step 3: Conduct research of the related search terms
This is a way to further stretch out your keyword list for the different subject topics, especially if you are facing difficulties in thinking of keywords on your own. Look at your list and start searching each keyword one by one. There are 2 ways for you to do this:
3.1 Use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
This is where the search engine provides you with the other related words based on the keyword that you have provided. For example, if you input the keyword “birthday cake” but did not hit Enter. Google would have provided you with several different context for which people might be searching for the keyword.
3.2 Use of Related Search terms
Another way is to simply scroll to the bottom of the results page, and you will find some search phrases that are related to your topic. For example, keywords related to the topic of “birthday cake” are:
Step 4: Include a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords for each topic
These are keyword phrases that are usually 1-2 word phrases and are more generic, eg “birthday cake”. These types of keywords usually have high search volume and frequency, but are more competitive and more difficult to rank for in the SERP. Although higher search volume means that the particular keyword possesses greater potential to send you traffic, this comes at a cost. The intention of the search is unclear and there is a great possibility that the searcher is looking for something that is unrelated to your business.
These are longer keyword phrases consisting of 3 words and more and tend to be more specific, eg “How to bake simple birthday cake”. These types of keywords have lower search volume and frequency, but are less competitive and easier for you to rank higher in the SERP. Despite the low search volume, the traffic you are receiving from these searches are of greater quality. This is because the more specific the search, the easier it is to determine the search intent, and so the better content that you are able to provide to the user. It is essential that you have a good mix of both short-tail and long-tail keywords as this will ensure that you have a well-balanced keyword strategy. The long-tail keywords will most likely provide you with some quick wins, but the short-tail keywords will ensure that you remain competitive in the long run as your rankings increase.
Step 5: Check how your competitors are ranking for these keywords
Use your incognito browser mode to determine which position your competitor lies in comparison to you for each keyword. Understanding what keywords your competitors rank for is good way for you to re-evaluate your keyword list. Take note of the keywords that are in both your list and the competitor’s list, and start working on improving your ranking for those. However, do not overlook the keywords that you have but your competitors seem to have ignored. These keywords can be a great opportunity for you to gain market share. The objective remains to have a balanced mix of keywords that ensure quick wins, but are also useful in helping you move towards overcoming more challenging and powerful SEO goals.
Step 6: Use Keyword Tools to Identify Important Keywords
After you have compiled a good mix of short tail and long tail keywords, and long term and short term goal-oriented keywords, it is time to narrow down your keyword list. Google Adwords offers the free Keyword Planner Tool to help you out with this. This tool provides you with information such as search volume and traffic estimates for keywords that you are reviewing. Simply input the selected keywords in and let it generate the relevant data for you. You can use this tool to check for keywords that have too little or too much search volume as they do not help you to sustain a well-balanced keyword strategy.
For example, for keyword “birthday cake” and “birthday cake with name”, the search results are: generated as such:
You might want to focus on those keywords with high average monthly searches but medium to low competition. This way, you know that people are searching for your keyword, but you are not facing too much competition with it. This means that there is a higher likelihood of ranking higher using these types of keywords.
Now you have a list of useful quality keywords that will steer you in the right direction as you plan for your content strategy. Remember to also make time to review your keywords regularly to assess their effectiveness to your SEO objective. Try to conduct your keyword audits every quarter of the year. As you slowly start asserting your brand authority in the SERP, you will find that may want to refine your keyword list with some keyword matching options, and other more advanced keyword research techniques.
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