Keyword research

Keyword research

Keyword research is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website, so by researching your market’s keywords, you can learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, and learn more about your customers in the process.

While the aim is to get people to visit your site, you ultimately want to get the right kind of people to visit your site:  your target market. With keyword research, you can predict changes in demand, react to fluctuating market conditions, and produce the products, services and content that people are actively looking for.

Assessing the value of a keyword

Keyword research tools give you an indication of which keywords result in the most conversions, but they don’t necessarily tell you how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches.

To determine the value of a keyword, ask yourself several questions:  is the keyword relevant to your website’s content? Will people find what they’re looking for on your site when they search using certain keywords? Will they be happy with what they find? Will this traffic result in conversions? Answering ‘yes’ makes it safe to say that a keyword is valuable.

Search the term yourself

Finding out which websites already rank for your keyword gives you insight into the competition, as well as the sheer size of the task of ranking for a given term. If there are search advertisements along the top and right-hand side of the organic results, this typically means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.

Buy a sample campaign from Google AdWords

If your website doesn’t rank for a particular keyword, you can buy test traffic to see how well it converts. In Google AdWords, select exact match and point traffic to the relevant page on your website. Track impressions and conversion rate over the course of at least 200-300 clicks.

See which keywords you already rank for

If your website has been live for a while now, you should already be ranking for a few hundred keywords. Finding out what they are is a great way to bolster your keyword research.

To do this, you can use the Google Search Console in Google’s webmaster tools suite. By selecting search analytics, you’ll be able to generate a report that’ll show you the top keywords you’re already ranking for.

Search Console shows your average position for each of the keywords you rank for and how many impressions and clicks this brings you. However, it doesn’t show the monthly search volume, and you’re limited to 1000 keywords.

Find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for

Chances are your competitors have already performed keyword research work themselves, so you can expect them to be on-the-ball when it comes to keywords that rank well in their respective fields. You can use this to your advantage too by researching the keywords they’re ranking for, then picking the best ones to seed throughout your website.

If you’re not sure who your competitors are, just put your seed keywords into Google and see who ranks on the front page.

Make sure you have a mix of short and long-tail keywords

Short keywords, also known as head terms, tend to be more generic – typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases that usually contain three or more words.

It’s important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords because it’ll give you a keyword strategy that’s well balanced, and takes into account both long-term goals and short-term wins. That’s because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often, but not always, much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail keywords.

Make sure that you re-evaluate keywords every few months. Once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that.