Today, keyword research holds a different value than it did years ago. Ever since the launch of Google algorithms Hummingbird and Rankbrain, the way people find information online are changing with the development of intuitive conversational search. This means search engines are becoming better at understanding the intent behind a search query instead of focusing only on words inputted.
How does the change affect keyword research? It changes the way we optimize our websites for search. Today, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is no longer just about rankings. SEO has evolved to become a UX (User Experience) oriented practice. Keyword research for SEO places more emphasis on connecting the right website content to what people, not search engines, are looking for.
Why is SEO Keyword Research Important for Website Content and Traffic?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the organic or natural way to bring traffic to your website without spending money to advertise for it.
The main objective of SEO keyword research is to find out what your potential audiences are typing into search engines like Google to look up your products or services. By identifying these keywords and incorporating them into website content, you are creating better visibility for your website and making it found through search engines.
The bottom line is, proper keyword research puts your content out there in front of more people and drives free search traffic to your website.
How to do SEO Keyword Research
Find high search volume keywords for your content can be easily done with the right keyword research tools. You can always start your keyword research for free with Google Search console. As your website grows, it is a good idea to look into advanced keyword research tools that give you more information.
Through advanced keyword research tools such as SEMRush, you can easily discover what keywords your competitors are ranking for, as well as what kind of backlinks they are receiving. This in-depth data can help you understand where you stand and how to improve and capture more market share.
For example purposes, we will do a quick keyword research demonstration with SEMRush.
How to do SEO Keyword Research with SEMRush
- Make a list of keywords for a certain piece of content you wish to optimize
- Type into the search bar one keyword at a time to get results
- Refer to “Volume” under “Organic Search”
- Refer to the “Related Keyword” and identify low competition keyword variations that have high search volume
- Additionally, under “Organic Search Results”, the tool provides a list of top 100 websites that rank for the keyword you’ve just searched
- The rule of thumb is to pick the keyword variation with the highest search volume and the lowest competition
- Repeat the process for every keyword you wish to rank for
3 Ways SEO Keyword Research Improves Website Traffic
#1. Keyword Research Makes Content Discoverable
Content is one of the most important components that drives traffic to your website, and keyword research is the key to search optimized content. Keyword targeted content can help your website receive desired exposure through search results. So your website can gain traffic over time.
Content optimization does not equal to keyword stuffing. In fact, repeating or overusing keywords can result in adverse effects. Google Webmaster Quality Guideline specifically spells out the wrong practices that can get you into serious trouble.
The right way to do keyword research is to first focus on creating quality content. Then build a bucket list of words that represent the main idea of this content. Refine this list with keyword research tools such as SEMRush to make your content discoverable through search.
Ultimately, keyword research and content optimization go hand in hand. There is really no trick or tactic that can guarantee you instant winning. However, with a consistent effort to keyword optimize content, you are on the right track to long-term SEO success.
#2. Keyword Research Opens Up New Target Market
Take advantage of long-tail keywords to help you discover lucrative new markets. Long-tail keywords are short phrases made up of three or more words. Unlike head terms (single term keywords), long-tail keywords are usually less competitive and targets more specific search queries.
Long-tail keywords are a telltale sign that the user knows what he or she is looking for. For example, someone searching for an “organic gourmet vegan cupcake” is more likely to engage with the targeted content than someone looking up “cupcake”.
Therefore, take the time to find these long-term keywords applicable to your business and add them to your keyword list. You can run a quick keyword research below with SEMRush and test it out yourself. Try searching for a long-tail keyword related to your product or service, and see what potential markets you can uncover.
#3. Keyword Research Improves Organic Traffic
Earning top keyword rankings in organic traffic is the ultimate goal of every online marketer. More “organic” or free traffic means you do not need to spend on advertising for the keywords you are already winning.
Use keyword research tools to find words or phrases with high search volume that are product or service-specific keywords as well as industry keywords. For example, if you sell toy cars, in addition to trying to win the market for the models you carry, think terms that can relate to a broader audience. So if you are selling BMW i3 and i8 toy cars, incorporate words such as “hybrid” or “all electric” as head terms or long-tail keywords.
Track your keyword research results and note the markets where you gain momentum. Periodically access your original keyword list while test for new ones as your website gains authority. You can observe a steady growth of the website’s organic traffic as you continue to check and refine the keyword lists.
Balance Your SEO Strategies
Keyword research is only half the battle, but it is nevertheless a great start. Learn more about SEO strategies to drive long-term traffic to your website.
5-Step Keyword Strategy to Scale Your SEO Ranking
“Does my business have a market online and who is searching for my products?” Good question, let’s do some keyword research.
This is how to find out what phrases your customers are entering into search engines to look for a particular product or service. Ultimately keywords determine the chances of your website being picked up by users’ search results.
What is Keyword Research and How it Improves SEO?
Keyword research is the core of search engine optimization (SEO). This is where the money is, and it is the secret sauce of online marketing success. Your website can benefit from keyword research in two ways:
- Keyword research reveals valuable data about market demands and how many people are looking for your products and services.
- Keyword research identifies winning phrases that you should be using to optimize the website content for better SEO ranking.
Whether your business is B2B or B2C, you can utilize keyword research results to increase search exposures of your website. It provides a better understanding of what your potential customers are looking for online. If your website captures these search traffic, you can gain more opportunities to convert potential leads into sales.
How to Pick the Right Keywords?
The objective of keyword research is to find out what are the most profitable keywords with the highest conversion rate and lowest cost of acquisition. By utilizing keyword research tools, you can uncover this mystery.
We will show you the best tools to get the job done easily. Before that, let’s talk a little bit about keyword research basics.
Keyword Value and Analytics Data
Not every keyword has equal value in terms of online marketing. There can be keywords that are unique to your business which a generic search will not account for.
For instance, your “holiday special dark chocolate chip cookies” may have generated more sales than “holiday special milk chocolate chip cookies”. On the other hand, “Christmas special mint chocolate chip cookies” is a special market share you have captured within your geolocation.
Well, the good news is that you will have an idea on what type of words you can work off of. In the example above, good phrases to start keyword research would be “dark chocolate chip cookies”, “milk chocolate cookies”, “Christmas cookies” and “mint chocolate chip cookies”.
Keyword research tools can tell you the search volume, competitiveness and similar phrases of each key term. It cannot, however, determine the relevancy of each keyword specific to your business and to your customer’s search query.
This is when your website’s analytics data come to play. Keyword research should always be based on analytics to yield the most accurate results that can eventually scale revenue.
Improve SEO with Keyword Research Strategy
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to keyword research because every business is different. It takes time and the right approach to come up with a list of feasible keywords that caters to your website. Here we will show you how to master proper keyword research in 5 easy-to-follow steps.
Step #1: Brainstorm Keyword List
This is probably one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works. Start your search by making the most educated guesses on phrases best describe your products and services. Come up with broader categories first. Then fill in each category with appropriate keywords that are most relevant to your webpage content.
- Use Google related keywords to get ideas when you are stuck. You might have noticed a section of related search keywords at the bottom of every Google search result page. This tells you what other suggested keywords are related to a particular search query. For more keyword ideas, click on each of the suggested phrase Google provides and look for their related terms. Get the idea?
- Look for keyword data from Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster. Both of these tools are free to sign up. They can effectively identify what keywords your customers are associating your products or services within search.
Step #2: Investigate Competitor Keyword Rankings
Once you have a workable keyword list curated, it’s time to access where you stand against your competitors. Double check your website’s ranking against other similar websites. This is a great way to access your keywords competitiveness and find out how you rank within the industry.
If your competitors are using the same string of keywords as you, it is good and bad news. Now you may have to put in more effort and ranking higher in these queries than everyone else.
Yet does that mean you should focus on these keywords only? Definitely not. Every business is different and distinctive. What works for others might not work for you.
The better way is to reassess your keyword list, identify more long-tail keywords and discover a new niche. We will talk about this next. Capturing more market share with unexplored long-tail keyword territories can open up desirable opportunities.
SEMRush and SearchMetrics are both advanced keyword tools that top our list of the best competitor keyword mining tools. They can identify your website’s top competitors, their best keywords, as well as website visibility changes.
The tools will show your strength and weaknesses in comparison with your top contenders’ in terms of organic search, paid search, and backlinks. Results are also presented in visual charts to help you better understand and identify the areas where your website needs improvement.
With organic search, you can quickly find out which of your webpages are ranking for keywords and the estimated traffic you are receiving per keyword. In paid search you have the opportunity to view all your competitors’ SEM campaigns and discover new keywords that they are advertising with.
Step #3: Evaluate Head Terms vs. Long-tail Keywords
Basically, this means short words vs. long phrases in keyword terms. A healthy keyword strategy has a combination of both, which can tackle short term and long term keyword ranking goals. Let’s take a look at their differences.
Head terms are keywords with no more than a two-word combination. Head terms are usually broad and generic terms used in search.
They tend to have higher frequencies of being searched. However, they are usually more difficult to rank. Picture someone typing in “car” in Google. There are about 3,120,000,000 websites that want to rank for “car”. Yes, that is three billion.
Just imagine the competition. However, you should not avoid head terms completely. It is important to go for these big-deal terms as a long term ranking goal.
As your website grows in authority, ranking for these head terms will be easier. It takes time to see results, but it can be very beneficial in the long run.
Long-tail keywords are longer phrases consist of three or more word combinations. They are what we called the gold-mine keywords, but they also take longer to be mined.
Going back to the “car” example, there are so many cars out there with different years, makes, and models. It can be a nightmare for search engines to turn up just one website that matches the searcher’s exact preference because we don’t know what he or she really wants.
On the other hand, let’s not forget the overwhelming 3,120,000,000 competitor websites trying to rank for “car”. It is almost like trying to hit the lotto.
However, if someone is searching for a “black 2017 BMW M4 coupe”, now you know you have a potential customer. There is a higher probability for that visitor to respond to a call-to-action if your website matches the search query.
Long-tail keywords bring valuable leads and drive conversion in the long run. So take the time to research these long-tail keywords around your industry.
Step #4: Refine Your Keyword List
Once you have a preliminary group of keywords you can work with, narrow down that list of 314,159,265 words down to … a feasible number.
Use keyword research tools. This should help you to make a reasonable assessment of each keyword’s value and ranking. There are plenty of good keyword research tools available. Whether to choose a free or paid tool, make the choices based on your business needs.
With keyword research tools, you can refine the list by first assign a monetary value to each keyword. Analyze a keyword’s worth by referencing its bidding price by doing a search with any keyword tool.
Some keywords will obviously have more worth than others. Just like comparing a shack to a multi-million mansion, they all serve the same purpose, but they carry different values. Apply this to keyword research by finding the value of each keyword. Continue to test until you have the “A list”.
Step #5: Strategize Keywords around Content
In SEO, keyword research and content optimization go hand in hand. The purpose of keyword strategy is to make content more searchable, and in turn, to obtain more traffic. The objective is to naturally optimize content with the right amount of keywords you are trying to rank for.
2 Ways to Add Value to Content with Keywords
Optimize content with keywords
Optimize content with keywords, but don’t overly repeat words. Never stuff keywords you are trying to rank for into your content. Repeating the same word 1,000 times throughout the webpage does not help you score number one position in search results. You will probably lose your audience by disengaging them. Even worse, you may get penalized by Google Panda. In this case, your website may lose all search traffic from Google, and that is not going to be an easy rebound.
Place keywords in the right locations
Place keywords in the right locations such as the title, paragraph headings, and image ALT tags. Most importantly, they should flow naturally into your content. For example, you can create an image ALT tag to include keywords in the image name, so it can be indexed by search engines. In addition, it is a good idea to optimize H1 and H2 headings with keywords, or include them in your call-to-action elements. Refer to our SEO content strategy on how to optimize content for better conversion.
Get Started Right Now
We are not done yet. In fact, this is just the beginning. It is time to take your set of keyword hypothesis to the test. Keep the keyword research objective in mind – successful keywords are those that capture more market share with the least competition. Strengthen your SEO marketing effort with link building strategies and let’s boost that ranking!