When you are creating an SEO strategy, it is important to know what your potential customers are looking for through the search engines.
Enter keyword research. Keyword research is an important pre-emptive step which you need to carry out before you optimise 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 customers’ expectations through your website.
Carrying out proper keyword research can yield a huge return – by ranking for the right keywords, you can increase website traffic and conversion rates. Simply put, keyword research can make or break your business and it is important 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.
Carrying out proper keyword research can yield a huge return – by ranking for the right keywords, you can increase website traffic and conversion rates.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are simply words which carry more significance in search terms. When you or one of your customers goes to Google and types something in, you are inputting a “search term”.
Let’s say for instance that somebody takes to Google in search of a new chair for their living room, 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” and Google’s crawlers will look for websites in or around London which use this keyword term naturally in their website’s content.
You can go further with this keyword and target it more specifically, too, by anticipating other search terms such as “buy brown leather chair”.
If you were a retailer who only sold brown leather chairs, your keyword research would be a lot easier. This likely isn’t the case, however, and you may offer a vast range of products and services and have a varied target market.
This is why keyword research is important: it is about getting the right kind of visitors to your website.
Keyword research allows you to foresee changes in demand, monitor market conditions and help you tailor your products and services more towards that which web searchers are looking for.
Understanding your consumers, what they want and what motivates them is important, and keyword research allows you to do this easily, regardless of which industry or niche you are operating in.
How I Can Help
I have worked as an SEO consultant for over a decade and, throughout this time, I have built up a huge roster of clients both large and small. From start-ups to established companies, I have helped them achieve their full potential by optimising their websites.
Although keyword research sounds complicated, it is actually one of the simpler areas of SEO and it is something you can do for yourself.
In this guide, we are going to cover keyword research in depth and help teach you how to do it for yourself. If you would like any help with keyword research after reading through this guide, feel free to contact me or check out my blog.
As always, me and my team are here to help you with your keyword research and to get the most out of your SEO strategy.
3 Types of Search Terms You Need to Know
When it comes to the intention of the searcher, there are three types of search terms which you need to be aware of.
- Navigational where the searcher 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 searcher is attempting to find information. These search terms are typically broader, and these provide a great opportunity to increase your conversion rates.
- Transactional where the searcher is carrying out their search with the intent to complete an action such as subscribe 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.
Carrying out keyword research helps you understand what type of searches your target market are carrying out – navigational, informative or transactional – which puts you in a position to act accordingly.
The Two Types of Keywords
There are two main types of keywords: generic; and long-tail, and you need to use a combination of both to achieve the best results.
As the name suggests, these target a larger audience and consist of 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 provide a larger volume of traffic if used properly, however, not all traffic targeted by generic keywords will be interested in your product or service. Lots of people targeted by generic keywords tend to just be looking for information.
Long-Tail (Specific) Keywords
Again, as the name suggests, long-tail keywords are more specific and target a smaller, more niche audience. People who fall within your long-tail keywords will typically know what they are looking for and usually form part of transactional searches.
These keywords need to be very, very specific to the products or services you are offering; whenever a potential customer knows what they want, they will perform specific Google searches to find it.
Determining Keyword Value for Higher Returns
A keyword’s value depends on a number of factors; more valuable keywords drive more valuable traffic to your website and increase conversions.
There are many keyword research tools which are available on the market and although these are useful, they only paint part of the picture. To determine how valuable a keyword is to your website, you can try out a few of these tactics –
Research your industry
Ask yourself whether a certain 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 a desired action such as making a purchase?
If the answer to these questions is yes when you are considering a keyword, then you can probably go right ahead and use it!
Carry out searches yourself
You need to know which websites are already ranking for any 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 certain keyword, you can alter your overall SEO strategy accordingly and stop yourself from wasting time. Although 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 quite simply by carrying out Google searches with the keywords you are using or want to use and checking out the top results.
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.
These are three very simple and cost-effective methods which you can use to determine the value of a keyword and whether you are likely to find success with it.
How to Tackle Keyword Research for Maximum Benefit
There are lots of different approaches to keyword research, and combining all of these approaches will help you get the most out of it.
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.
The number of keywords to target depends entirely on your website; if you only sell a small number of products or only offer one service then you will need to target a smaller number of keywords.
Research your competitors
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.
Bring your findings together
When you have carried out this research, bring all the keywords you have found together and use a range of online tools to find further ideas and variations.
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.
Remove any irrelevant ideas
You don’t want to be targeting every single keyword and combination you come up with, so compile everything into one spreadsheet and remove the less-relevant ones.
Remember, you only want to target keywords and combinations which are highly relevant and can be naturally placed within your site’s content; remove anything which doesn’t flow well or will be hard to build content around.
Sort them into categories
Categorising your keywords helps you to build your content easier and allows you to carry out proper targeting.
You 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. This is important as it enables you to see the keywords in the context they will be used.
Identify primary and secondary keywords
Primary and secondary keywords are useful for on-page SEO and can help pages rank 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 best use being a blend of general and long-tail ones.
Using Keywords Properly Will Help You Rank Higher
Keywords alone aren’t enough to help your website rank highly, however, they play an important part of the overall SEO process and it is important that you use them right.
When you have decided how many keywords you want to target and which ones you are going to use, you then need to properly implement them on your website.
The aim here is to use your keywords in a way where they read naturally and where the reader will not be able to tell that you are using them.
If you can do 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, however, they are a small cog in a big wheel, and there are both good and bad ways to use them.
In general, creating quality content which surrounds your keywords and establishes your site as an authoritative source of information is the best way to use them.
Always avoid “keyword stuffing” your website. Keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords in your website’s content where they don’t make sense and don’t read well; many people still subscribe to the outdated belief that higher keywords use equals more visitors.
This is not true. Google has come a long way and stuffing your website full of keywords will cause you to rank lower, or not at all.
Putting It All Together
Keyword research is an integral part of your overall SEO strategy and enables you to create high-quality and authoritative website content which will rank you above competitors in search results.
Although you may think you know what keywords you should be targeting, keyword research can paint an entirely different picture. There is nothing wrong with targeting unranked keywords – you should, in fact! – 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.
Reaching Out to an SEO Consultant
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.
Whether you should consult a professional such as myself 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 will say is that you should think about whether you have the time to dedicate yourself to keyword research. You are of course running your own business, and this should always come first – your time could be spent better by focussing on this and outsourcing your SEO.
Keyword research is only a small part of your overall SEO strategy, something which takes time to develop, and it is important to get it right so that you don’t damage your rankings.
An SEO consultant such as myself knows 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.