Many algorithm updates are rolled out, page ranking signals change, and SEO optimisation trends evolve, however, keyword research remains the first and most important part of an SEO strategy. Of course, matching keywords to search are not the only important ranking factor.
Why Keyword Research is Important
Before everything, an SEO strategy requires to identify suitable high-volume search terms. It impacts every other SEO task like finding content topics, link building, on-page SEO, email outreach, and content promotion.
In essence, keywords inform the direction of a content; it ensures that the content of a website is relevant and easily searchable on Google. Thus, keyword research is the activity of analysing search terms that will match with a business’ brand, product, or service to the keywords that the target audience uses. Following an adequate keyword research, a viable SEO strategy is crafted with a detailed plan of action to reach the specified goal.
Keyword research shows what people are looking for, what is popular, what is getting a high volume of searches over a particular period of time. It helps to determine which strategic keywords should be targeted in the website’s content, and how to mould that content so that it satisfies both users and search engines. The clear benefits being:
How Keyword Research is Done
Online business and brand presence grows through search engine optimization. The skilful use of keywords continues to be important, only it needs to be fine-tuned to the way SEO works today. The phase of discovering keywords is the initiation and there are many keyword research tools that can help in this stage of keyword planning.
What are Keyword Research Tools?
Tools make the keyword research process quite easier and structured too. Some of the highly recommended tools are, Google’s Keyword Planner, Exploding Topics, Keywords Everywhere, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, and Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
There will be seed keywords in mind pertaining to products, services, or other topics the website addresses. The keyword research tool can then discover average monthly search volume and similar keywords, common questions, and topics for the content. Based on search volume, tools also throw up high- and low-competition keywords. Prioritising keywords based on the advantage of competitiveness is another lesson learned through tools.
However, a well laid out action plan includes a lot of steps which when done right can achieve the desired rank in SERPs. Don’t cut corners and begin with asking questions that will guide the keyword research.
Learn your niche and define goals.
Learning more about the topic of business helps discover angles to marketing and SEO strategy. Getting involved in your niche’s online communities, like forums and social media networks can help you find out the terms used when describing your brand, company, product or service.
It also entails knowing the brand’s mission and goals. The keywords used should be aligned to them and form the basis of the framework of your top-level content and online marketing strategy.
Study your audience or user intent.
The effect of intent on keyword research is one of the most pivotal factors of ranking well on search engines like Google. Machine learning search algorithms now compare search terms with user queries to learn about search intent. Search intent means reason behind why people search for a specific term. Thus, knowing why your target audience is searching for something and what they intend to do after that is important. Studying your audience and then using keyword research to hone those insights will result in more successful campaigns than focusing on arbitrary keywords. Here, analysing keywords by region, season, etc. can also fine-tune optimising.
Therefore, as the intent behind the search decides your ranking potential, your interpretation of the keywords is crucial. Simple keyword stuffing isn’t the answer anymore. Targeted analysis of what Google rates higher can help you craft the type of content that you intend to create for a keyword.
Understand search volume
The higher the search volume for a given keyword or keyword phrase, achieving higher rankings gets more difficult. This is known as keyword difficulty where SERP features like featured snippets, knowledge graph, carousels, etc. are saturating a keyword’s result page. When it comes to new websites targeting low-competition terms at first is a tactical move because there will be lesser sites to compete with. Provided the content is of stellar quality, this can bring organic traffic earlier than the high volume and more competitive keywords.
However, a risk looms of going too low in search volume and receiving no traffic at all. This brings the next key point in keyword research, the advantage of targeting highly specific, lower competition search terms or long-tail keywords.
Hold the long tail
Longer keyword phrases with three or more words, may be low in search volume but are quite specific in intent. That’s a win, right there! Keywords with high search volumes generally indicate ambiguous intent. Thus, it might draw traffic whose goals don’t match your site or page content. It is easier to define and match the intent behind long tail keywords. They are more descriptive, better related to a brand’s sub-topics, attract more relevant audience, and deliver a higher conversion rate.
Check competitor rankings
It is good SEO sense to prioritise high-volume keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for and improve on the ones they are ranking good at. Whether you want to cash in on your competitor’s missed opportunities or go for aggressive strategizing of their best performance, understanding the balance of competition and realistic goals needs to be achieved. The goal is to shortlist keywords that provide a balance of quick wins but also gears you towards bigger, and more challenging SEO goals.
Learn the target of keywords—interest or intent
The success factor in SEO keyword research is to ace the targeting of keywords that represent different levels of interest and intent. Some search terms are used when people are decided about making purchases, while others are used when they are still in the research stage. Keywords with brand terms targets visitors familiar with your brand names, they make fewer page views but have the best conversion rate. Keywords with product terms are for people who are yet to make a purchase decision. In this way, the pool of impressions gets larger as the target of keywords becomes diverse to include complementary product terms to general interest audience terms.
The game is not about ‘easy to rank for’ keywords rather for those with the highest return on investment. If the focus is only on low-difficulty keywords, it is a common SEO mistake made by most website owners. There should be a healthy balance among short, medium, and long-term ranking goals. Focussing on short-term goals means the opportunity to rank for the most lucrative keywords may never come. On the other hand, sole focus on medium and long-term goals will take years to attract any traffic. This is an important lesson to keep in mind while looking for keywords, analysing their metrics, and grouping them.
Wrapping it up
So, here’s everything required to know and create a winning keyword strategy as a simple guide. These insights can aid in crafting a good content and SEO strategy, now that you have taken into account relevance, authority, and volume. Remember, all your content and marketing activities rely on a diligent keyword research so, always re-evaluate your keyword research periodically.
Take a look at the below related Chapters
Chapter 1: Top SEO Success Factors You Should Know
Chapter 4: All About Tracking Google Algorithm Updates
Chapter 7: How to Communicate Your SEO Strategy in 2021
Chapter 11: Things You Need to Know About Mobile SEO
Chapter 12: Top 8 KPIs to Track for SEO Success