What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the process of understanding what words and phrases your target audience is typing into search engines. If you want to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) you need to write website content that is based around the phrases people are searching for. It is the first and most important part of any search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy and often forms the basis for your content strategy.
You need to find the most popular searched keywords that match your products, services or industry and match your content to them. Keywords that you choose to use should be those that your target audience is searching for. Frequently, two similar keywords have different search volumes. Choosing a more relevant, higher volume keyword could give you better results compared to its other related keywords.
How to do keyword research
There are many ways to conduct keyword research, both manually and using a keyword research tool. We have outlined the following steps to help you with the process:
1. Brainstorm seed words
You need to ascertain the seed words for your area of business. These are the basic words that describe what you do. All keyword research tools ask for seed words and then supply versions of keywords based on those.
For example, if you sell shoes, your seed words would include:
You won’t necessarily target this seed words, they are just the basis for finding other keywords and phrases.
2. Research your niche area of business
Try to put yourself in your customers shoes and work out what they would search for. Talk to your customers about it, ask them what they would look for, they may use different language to you.
Brainstorm with colleagues or friends. Visit discussion forums to see what is being talked about. This will help you find things that your prospective customer is struggling with.
3. See what keywords your competitors rank for
Looking at which keywords already send traffic to your competitors is usually the best way to start keyword research. But first, you need to identify those competitors. That’s where your brainstormed list of seed words comes in handy. Just search Google for one of your seed keywords and see who ranks on the first page.
If the websites listed are not like yours try searching one of the google autosuggest results, which are the suggestions google lists when you type a word into the search box. For example, if you sell coffee equipment, you might find more actual competitors in the search results for “cappuccino maker” than “cappuccino.” That’s because it’s mostly ecommerce stores like yours ranking for the former, and blogs ranking for the latter.
Once you find a few websites that match yours, you can put them into a competitive intelligence tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, then check the Top Pages report. You’ll then see their popular pages by estimated monthly search traffic. The report also shows each page’s “Top keyword.” That’s the one sending it the most organic traffic.
4. Use a keyword research tool
Using a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner or Ubbersuggest will help you refine your list of keywords and give you further ideas and suggestions. They show the monthly search volumes for each keyword and phrase. All you need to do is type in the topic (or seed keyword) into the search box and it will give you a list of alternative keywords, including those that contain prepositions and questions.
5. Look for the search intent
It used to be straight-forward to include keywords in your content and then rank for them. But it isn’t as simple as that anymore. Google’s algorithms now focus on search intent which is the reason behind why people search for a specific term. Why are they searching? Do they have a specific problem that needs solving? Understanding search intent will help you refine your keywords in order to write content that solves visitors’ problems. Getting a list of high-volume keywords related to your brand or topic is great. But finding keywords that directly match your target audience’s search intent is even better.
6. Identify long-tail keywords
Ranking for the most searched for keywords can be a big challenge as so many others are trying to do the same. So instead it is easier to rank for longer, more specific phrases known as long-tail keywords. These may not have the same level of traffic but they are more likely to bring you customers that convert to sales. Keywords with very high search volumes may indicate ambiguous intent, which, if you target these terms, could draw visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content your website provides.
Long tail keywords with lower search volume often convert better, because searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches. For example, a person searching for “trainers” is probably just browsing. On the other hand, someone searching for “cheapest blue women’s size 7 trainers” clearly has more intent to buy.
Keyword research is an important part of an SEO strategy, so if you want your website to feature in SERPs it is something you have to do on a regular basis in order to keep up to date. These are the basic steps to take in order to work out the keywords to factor into your website content. For help with your SEO strategy call us on 01202 650 333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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