Keyword research is a vital first step to improving your website and its content.
Without looking at keywords, it will be harder to figure out what you’re optimising your page for.
Keyword research also helps you figure out how to meet your potential customers’ expectations through your website.
With proper keyword research can yield a huge return. In fact, having solid keyword research is critical to your online success because can make or break your business. That’s why you need to get it right.
Researching keyword demand helps you figure out which keywords to target with your SEO and teaches you a whole lot about your customers, too.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are just words which carry more significance for your business in search engine results.
When you go to Google and types something in, you are typing in a “search term.”
For instance, that somebody wants to buy a new chair for his home, he goes to Google, and their search query may look something like this –
- “Brown leather chairs for sale London.”
- “Brown leather chair prices near me.”
- “Where can I get a brown leather chair in London?”
Here, the keyword is “brown leather chair.”
Google looks for business websites in or around London which use this keyword term naturally in their website’s content.
If you are a retailer that sells brown leather chairs, then the potential customer will come to your website.
You can go further and anticipate the user’s intention much more specifically too such as including search terms on your business website, such as “buy a brown leather chair.”
Of course, if you sell only brown leather chairs, your keyword research would be a lot easier.
But chances are this isn’t the case for your business, as most people offer a range of different products and services across a mixed market.
That’s why keyword research is vital – It brings the right kind of visitors to your business website.
Keyword research allows you to predict changes in market demand, monitor market conditions and help you tailor your products and services to suit what Google users are looking for.
From understanding your customers, learning about what really they want and what motivates them, keyword research allows you to do this easily.
And best of all, it can suit any industry or niche you are operating in.
The Two Types of Keywords
Keywords come in 2 flavours: Generic; and long-tail.
Using a combination of both types of keywords will let you achieve the best results for your business.
As the name suggests, generic keywords target a broader audience. They are usually common phrases or words that are in your niche and consist of around 2 to 3 words.
These keywords broadly describe your product or services, and they help to target people who are searching without a specific company, brand or location in mind.
Because they target a wider audience, they have the potential to bring in high user traffic if used correctly.
However, not all traffic targeted by generic keywords will be interested in your product or service.
This is because lots of people targeted by generic keywords are usually just seeking information.
Long-Tail (Specific) Keywords
Long-tail keywords are more specific than generic keywords and target a smaller, more niche audience.
People who use long-tail keywords in Google typically know what they are looking for and form part of transactional searches.
These keywords need to be highly specific to the products or services you are offering so that whenever a potential customer knows what they want, they will find your business through a Google search.
The 3 Types of Search Intents You Need to Know
The critical principle of keyword research is understanding your potential customers’ intent.
When it comes to the intention, there are three types of search terms which you need to know of:
- Navigational where the Google user already knows the website(s) they want to visit. Navigational search terms will usually include a website’s name alongside any keywords in the search term.
- Informative where the Google user is attempting to find information. These search terms are typically broader, and these provide an excellent opportunity to increase your conversion rates.
- Transactional where the Google user is carrying out their search with the intent to complete an action such as subscribing to a newsletter or buy a product.
Transactional search terms are the most valuable traffic segments you can target as the end-user already knows what they want and are ready to act.
Keyword research lets you know what type of searches your target market are running – whether it’s navigational, informative or transactional – and you can carry out your marketing efforts accordingly.
Essential Tips to Tackle Keyword Research for Maximum Benefits
A keyword’s value can depend on a few factors. The more valuable keywords drive more valuable traffic to your website and increase conversions.
Here are some simple ways to find keywords and get the most out of your SEO:
1. Look at your industry or niche
Before you decide on any keywords, you can ask yourself a few questions to evaluate whether a specific keyword is relevant to the content on your website, and the products or services on offer.
- Will your target market be able to find what they are looking for on your website when they use the keywords you’re considering?
- Will your target market be happy with the results they find when they search these keywords?
- Will the traffic which finds your website through these keywords be likely to carry out the desired action such as making a purchase?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should go right ahead and use it!
2. Run Google searches yourself
You need to know which websites are already ranking for the keywords you want to use. This gives you a priceless insight into your competition.
If you can suss out how challenging it is going to be to rank for a specific keyword, you can alter your SEO strategy accordingly.
For example, if you see the search term “leather seats” is already dominated by several big names in the leather industry, you can stop yourself from wasting time ranking for this term and instead rank for other less competitive terms such as “brown leather high back office chairs.”
While there is nothing wrong with using high-ranking and lucrative keywords, knowing what you’re up against puts you in the best position for success.
You can do this easily by simply carrying out Google searches with the keywords you are using or want to use and check out the top results.
3. Run a trial PPC advertisement
Buying test traffic through a PPC campaign is a great way to figure out a keyword’s value, especially if it is a keyword which isn’t yet ranking.
Using Google AdWords, you can customise your advertisement to only be shown to an “exact match” – i.e., only to people who search for your exact keyword – and then track impressions and conversion rates over time to determine its value.
This is a straightforward and cost-effective method which you can use to determine the value of a keyword and whether you are likely to find success with it.
4. Identify generic keywords
You first want to decide on some generic keywords you want to target which are loosely related to your brand, product or service.
Generic keywords are usually the lowest hanging fruits in SEO for your business, and you should identify as many as you can possibly think of.
The number of keywords to target depends entirely on your website; if you only sell a small number of products or offer only one type of service, then you will need to target a lower number of keywords.
5. Check out the competition
When you have got a list of generic keywords which you are going to target, run them through Google and have a browse of the top search results for them.
Websites which are ranking highly for your keywords are your competitors, and by researching their website’s content, you can get a valuable insight into what you are up against and unearth further keywords to target, too.
6. Compare all your findings
When you have carried out this research, put all the keywords you have found together and use a range of online tools to see even more content ideas and variations.
Free tools such as Google AdWords and Keyword Planner are invaluable for keyword research purposes and can give you an alternative insight into your keywords, as well as provide inspiration for new keywords and variations of them.
7. Prioritise your keywords
Like most things in life, the 80-20 rule applies in SEO marketing too. The best 20% of your keywords will drive the majority of Google traffic to your business website.
This means you don’t want to be spending too much time and budget targeting every single keyword on your list.
Find out what are your top 20% keywords.
Arrange your keywords from the strongest to the weakest. See if you can rearrange and get new keyword combinations, place them all in a descending order neatly in one spreadsheet and get rid of the less-relevant ones.
Remember, you only want the most benefits from the least amount of effort, which means you’ll want to target keywords and terms which are highly relevant and can be naturally placed within your site’s content.
So get rid of anything which doesn’t flow well or will be hard to build content around.
8. Sort them into categories
Grouping your keywords into stacks can help you to build your content ideas quickly and allow you to carry out effective targeting.
You’ll want to first categorise your keywords as either generic or long-tail (specific) and then further group them into product categories, types of service, by user intention or by page.
With properly grouped keyword stacks, you can see the keywords in the context they will be used.
9. Identify primary and secondary keywords
Primary and secondary keywords are useful for on-page SEO and can help your web pages rank effectively for their specific content.
As the name suggests, a primary keyword will be used before any other keyword on a page and is viewed by search engines as the most important one.
Secondary keywords allow for more flexibility, and you can have a handful of them on your page, with the best use being a blend of general and long-tail ones.
Using Keywords Properly Will Help You Rank Highly
Keywords alone aren’t enough to help your website rank higher. Instead, you need to use them in the right way.
When you have decided how many keywords you want to target and which ones you are going to use, it’s time to implement them on your website content properly.
The aim here is to plug your keywords in a way where they are relevant to the user and read naturally. When done right, your readers won’t be able to tell that you are using them at all.
Once you achieve this, you will satisfy both your visitor and Google.
The purpose of a keyword is to tell Google that X website is about Y so that they can include it in relevant search results, and so keywords are a huge ranking factor.
But keywords alone are just a small cog in a big wheel of SEO marketing, and there are both good and bad ways to use them.
The best way to use keywords is to create quality content which surrounds your keywords and establishes your site as an authority.
You will be seen by your audience and Google as a legitimate source of content in your niche.
One critical thing to note is that you should always avoid “keyword stuffing” your website.
Stuffing a keyword refers to the act of overusing keywords in your website’s content where they don’t make sense and don’t read well.
In the past, it was an effective way to rank on Google, but it was abused by unethical marketers.
Since then Google has levelled up their game and is actively penalising websites that carry out this bad practice.
But many people still subscribe to the outdated belief that packing your content full of irrelevant keywords brings more visitors.
This is not true.
Google’s crawlers are smart enough to detect keyword stuffing on your website and place your website lower in their search results. Google can even choose not to display your site at all.
Putting It All Together
As you can tell by now, keyword research is an integral part of your overall SEO strategy.
If you want to rank above your competitors in search results, you cannot ignore this critical research phase.
You may think you can just follow your gut and pick what keywords to target, keyword research can paint an entirely different picture altogether.
There is nothing wrong with targeting unranked keywords – in fact, you should!
But trying to beat the competition by going for keywords which are already ranking is just as vital.
On this page, we have taken a look at a few ways you can perform keyword research and then implement that information into your overall SEO strategy.
Keyword research is something you can easily do for yourself, and the sooner you do it, the sooner you will start seeing results.
If you are unsure about how to start your keyword research, or just don’t have the time to, you can get it taken care of professionally for you by hiring an SEO consultant.
How I Can Help you with Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is something which you can easily carry out for yourself – you don’t need any prior knowledge, it is mostly a case of applying research skills.
I highly recommend that you read the SEO guide on my blog where you’ll be able to pick up all the tips and strategy to get the most out of your SEO.
Whether you should consult a professional such as me depends on the needs of you and your business which, of course, change over time.
There isn’t a right or wrong time to reach out to a professional; I have worked with businesses at all stages of an SEO strategy.
What I’ll say is that you should think about whether you have the time to dedicate yourself to keyword research.
As a local business owner or entrepreneur, you are at the driver’s seat of your business, and this should always come first – your time could be spent better on your business growth, and outsource your SEO tasks instead.
Keyword research is only a small part of your overall SEO strategy, something which takes time to develop, and it is vital to get it right so that you don’t damage your rankings.
I understand the ins and outs of the industry and can not only perform keyword research on your behalf but orchestrate an SEO strategy which will deliver results.
As as a consultant for over a decade I have built up a huge roster of clients both large and small.
From local start-ups to established global companies, I have helped them achieve their full potential by optimising their websites.
About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.