You can’t utilize your SEO marketing strategy if you aren’t using the best keywords. But keywords are much more than just words that relate to your brand. With our NEW Beginners Guide to Keyword Research, you’ll be equipped with the know-how and resources to choose the best keywords for your business and your brand.
What are Keywords Anyway?
If you’ve done any research on SEO, you have seen the term “keyword” all over the place. That’s because the right keywords are the key to SEO optimization. Keywords are the words and phrases that describe what your content is all about, and they’re the things your target audience is going to be typing into the search bar. The keywords you choose to incorporate on your site and in your SEO practices will determine where and when your page will show up in Google’s SERPs. When a user searches for something in Google’s search bar, Google shows them the best results for their search, which are determined by the keywords of different sites.
Why Do Keyword Research?
We have already established that keywords are critical to the success of your SEO strategies and, in the same way, your business. So it only makes sense that keyword research is absolutely necessary to ensure you aren’t wasting your time.
In order to show up on the SERPs for your target audience, you need to include the keywords they’re searching for in your content and links, which are some of the top-ranking factors for your SEO. Keywords and SEO are so closely linked that you’ll want to make sure you have list of keywords that match what your users are searching for. A well-thought-out keyword list can mean the difference in a site visit and resultant sale, so it’s well worth your time and resources to ensure you have a stellar keyword list that you’re implementing in your SEO.
In order to know your audience, your competition, and your market, you can’t just guess which keywords will best benefit you. You need to do research and both before you build your site and afterward, as well, to see how well your keywords are serving your SEO.
Is Keyword Research Still Relevant?
Knowing how important the right keywords are to your SEO success tells you that yes, keyword research is still important. However, keyword research doesn’t look the same way it did at the inception of Google.
In the old days of SEO, you could focus on one or two keywords on your page. These days, with all of the content online and the advances in Google’s algorithms and web crawlers, you have to be more original and specific than that.
And it’s with that in mind that we say yes, keyword research is still relevant. In fact, it’s more relevant than ever. With all of the work that goes into strategic SEO and site design, if you aren’t using relevant keywords, users have no hope of finding you. Keyword research and tools help you know for sure what will drive traffic to your site, and you won’t have to make your best guess about what words, phrases, and topics will work for you.
Keyword Research Methodology? Understanding Keyword Types
Depending on who you ask, there are as few as just a couple and as many as 18 (or more!) types of keywords for you to utilize. We’re going to outline four common keyword types and explain how each can boost your rankings and optimize your SEO efforts.
Short-Tail Keywords – As the name suggests, these types of keywords are short, usually three words or less. These are more generic and are used to bring a variety of users to your site.
Long-Tail Keywords – These keywords are longer and more specific than short-tail keywords. Use long-tail keywords to draw in a more targeted audience looking for specific products or services that you offer.
Fresh Keywords – Fresh keywords offer an explosive search volume surrounding a word or topic that is popular. Fresh keywords don’t remain relevant for long, so you’ll need to monitor their effectiveness and make changes after the hype surrounding the keyword has died down.
Evergreen Keywords – Evergreen keywords are relevant all of the time. Even a few years after you publish an article focused on an evergreen keyword, it will still be authoritative, even if your article might need some minor updating now and then.
8 Dimensions of a Perfect SEO Keyword
Choosing that perfect keyword is difficult if not impossible. We’ve outlined eight key components of the perfect SEO keyword. If your keyword doesn’t fit all of these points, it’s ok. Find a balance, incorporate that keyword, then do follow up research to ensure it’s helping you get the traffic you want.
- High Search Volume – You want to make sure you’re choosing keywords that are actually being searched for. Using the right tools and doing your research will help you know which keywords have a high search volume and can bring the most visitors to your site.
- Relevance – The keywords you choose need to be accurate. That is, they should actually reflect what you offer.
- Strong Conversion Value – Ultimately, your keywords should lead to a sale. Choose words that will attract an audience that is ready to make a purchase or, at the very least, visit your page.
- Reasonable – Just because a keyword is high-ranking doesn’t mean you should choose to focus on it in your own site. Some keywords are so overused that you’ll have no real chance of ranking with them. Be realistic and choose keywords that you can expect to rank with.
- Specific – Choose keywords that are specific to what you have to offer. For example, if you are selling handmade shoes for children, don’t focus on “children’s shoes.” By being specific, you have a better chance of targeting users who are ready to buy.
- Audience Appeal – At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you think of your keyword if it’s not attracting your target audience. Think like a user. What do they want? What do they need? Formulate your keywords and phrases with them in mind.
- Competitive – Study your competition. What keywords are they targeting? Take notes, then formulate your keyword lists based on what they’re doing. This helps you see what you might be overlooking and will help you broaden your list.
- It’s Proven – Don’t stop evaluating your keywords once you publish. Using keyword research and analytic tools will help you see if your keyword choice is effective.
Understanding Keyword Intent – What Do Searchers Really Want?
When you’re doing keyword research and formulating a strategy for you SEO, one of the most important jobs you have is understanding the searcher. Why are they searching the keywords that they are searching for? Understanding the thought process of the searcher will help you better meet their needs and pull them onto your site by using keywords and phrases that will provide the solutions they are looking for. There are a few types of keyword intent:
- High Intent – The user is looking to make a purchase immediately or in the very near future. You’ll see terms revolving around purchases, deals, shipping, etc.
- Informational Intent – Here the user is looking for more information on what they’ve searched for. These users aren’t typically ready to pull out their wallets, but they make great leads for future purchases.
- Transactional Intent – Transactional intent users are the happy medium between the two users mentioned above. These searchers want more information before they decide to buy, but they are in prime position to find out which product is best for them and then purchase it.
- Navigational Intent – When searchers use brand or specific company names, this is called navigational intent, and these users usually know exactly who they’re looking up and what they want. Your job is to make sure you make their journey to your page and to the product they want as easy as possible.
10 Keyword Research Tips
Keyword choice should never be just a guess. Here are ten tips that will help you think more critically when considering your keywords.
- Know your audience’s problems – The goal of your SEO efforts is to bring traffic to your site and show your users that you have the solution they’re looking for. But in order to do this, you need to know what they need. Figure out what your audience’s problems are, then use related words in your keyword list to draw them in.
- Use their language – Unless you’re focused on a very niche item that attracts users who are familiar with industry jargon, don’t use it. Speak the language of your audience, using terms they’ll understand.
- Understand the important topics – If you’re providing a product or service, you need to be an authority on what you have to offer. Know the topics related to your products and use terms relevant to those topics to attract users. Being well versed not only helps your SEO, but it makes you a better resource for consumers coming to you for help and information.
- Make use of negative keywords – Negative keywords are words that you don’t want to target. By adding negative keywords, you ensure that your site stays off of the SERPs that don’t necessarily apply to you.
- Capitalize on local business – If you’re a small business, you have a special SEO advantage that others don’t. Target local buyers with localized keywords and phrases. The most effective way to do this is to do keyword research to determine what other local businesses are focusing on as far as keywords are concerned.
- Scope out the competition – Your competition can actually be one of the greatest sources of information when it comes to keyword focuses for your site. Analyzing their keyword usage is one of the easiest—yet most undervalued—ways to perform research.
- Choose low competition keywords – Keywords that are so common that everyone is using them will do you no good. Choose keywords with lower competition, about 1,000 searches per month, and you’ll have a better chance of getting ranked and getting clicks.
- Search like a user– You know most of your users are going to Google to find what they need. In order to better serve users and get clicks, Google’s algorithm has created predictive text in the search bar. To see what folks are searching for, do a search yourself. Enter in a keyword or phrase you want to focus on in your SEO and see what pops up. This can help you get new ideas for your keyword list from an entity that knows its users very, very well.
- Know trends – Seasonal trends can greatly affect your keyword strategies. If you have a product or service that’s seasonal, or if you can market it as such, utilize keywords that play into seasonal sales, like “Christmas,” “Mother’s Day,” “Independence Day,” “Summertime,” etc.
- Take advantage of tools– There are a ton of tools out there specifically crafted for SEO to help you conduct legitimate keyword research. Take advantage of them! They’ll take out a lot of the guess work of keyword choosing to help you know for a fact what works and what doesn’t.
How to Expand Your SEO Keywords: 7 Unique Places to Look
Sometimes, to make an impression, you have to think outside the box. Here are 7 unique yet effective places to look to boost your keyword lists.
- Your competition – We’ve mentioned this before, but do not neglect to scope out your competition! They’re a mine field of valuable keyword information and can seriously help you expand your lists.
- Google –Google itself can help you broaden your keyword lists. Instead of only using the predictive text like we mentioned above, input your keyword followed by “most popular site/articles.” You’ll stumble upon the best-of-the-best sites using your keyword. See what other keywords they’re using, then add them to your arsenal.
- Amazon – Amazon is a fantastic place to discover what users are searching for. Input a product related to the services or products you offer. Then peruse the product description, FAQs, and even other ads to get ideas for new keywords.
- Wikipedia – Wikipedia is literally an encyclopedia created and used by the very people you’re trying to market to. Search for your niche, then see what kind of keywords and phrases are used on the information page.
- Quora – Quora is where everyone goes to have their questions answered, no matter what the topic. You can type in your specific industry or product, look over questions and answers, and see what people are asking. Plus, you can even answer questions yourself, providing a way to get your name out to the people who could be potential customers.
- Search other than Google – Google is the king of search engines. No one will dispute that. But they aren’t the only engines out there. Check out Bing, Yahoo, and anyone else and utilize their predictive text algorithm to see what people are already searching for. You’re tapping into a different market of users, so you’re bound to get different keywords that you haven’t gotten from Google.
- The Thesaurus – Users’ approaches to searching are as varied as they are. Input keywords into a trusty thesaurus to see what comes up. You’d be surprised at how many ways you can say the same thing once you start doing research.
5 Best Keyword Research Tools
One of the best ways to carry out keyword research is to take advantage of the tools specifically created to do it! You have a ton of options for research tools, but we’ve narrowed the list to give you our top five.
- Soovle – Soovle gathers suggested keywords from many different search engines all in one place. It’s super user-friendly, so it’s perfect even if you’re new to the SEO game.
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer – Here you’ll find a huge database with over 7 billion keywords, with the list growing each day. They also offer friendly pricing plans for businesses of every size.
- Google Keyword Planner – You trust Google for everything else, and they have a tool to help every SEO need, including keyword research, so why not utilize it? It’s super simple, but it’s an incredibly accurate source for data.
- Jaaxy – In addition to being a keyword generator, Jaaxy also gives you data on each keyword generated, so you can know the how and why in regards to keyword effectiveness.
- SEMrush – Comprehensive and a self-prcolaimed “All-in-one marketing toolkit,” SEMrush provides you with a concentrated list of keywords instead of a more expansive list like other tools. This can help you focus in on your target audience and attract folks looking to buy.
Keywords are essential to your SEO strategy, as we’ve emphasized over and over. With this guide, you have all the info you need to optimize your keyword research and see real SEO results in 2020.