One of the most important aspects of SEO is keyword research because, if done correctly, it can significantly improve your business visibility for the searched terms by your target audience. Not sure what SEO is? Check out our articles on beginner’s guide to SEO and 68 SEO terms you need to know to get started!
A complete keyword research strategy should go beyond the typical competitor keyword research to finding all the relevant keywords that can make your website stand out in front of your customers. As you keep reading our guide, you will learn what is keyword research, how to do it, and what keyword research tools you can use.
What is keyword research?
First of all, let’s make it clear what keywords are. Keywords are a word or a phrase included in your content, aimed at improving and optimising its searchability. Ultimately, your goal will be to increase your website traffic through the search engine results page, known as SERPs.
Keyword research is a process where you can find the most relevant keywords for your business, which can be included in your content marketing strategy.
To improve your content’s searchability for your targeted audience, conducting the right keyword research is vital. To make sure you are up to date, have a glance at our beginner’s guide to content marketing.
Why is keyword research so important?
SEO keyword research helps Google understand what type of queries you want your content to rank for. By doing keyword analysis, you can easily target the right audience with your optimised content, and one example of content marketing could be blogging. We have an excellent article on how to write a blog post that converts that you might find useful to read.
Ultimately, keyword research can tell you important information, like where you rank for keywords, which keywords are easy to rank for, and which ones your competitors rank for. Instead of guessing what people are searching for on the internet, advanced keyword research can tell you precisely which topics convert viewers into potential customers.
What to know before starting keyword research
Before we jump on how to do keyword research, we want to explain some essential concepts.
- A focus keyword or keyphrase is the word or phrase you want a specific page (or more) to be found for in Google Search Results
- Long-tail keywords are more specific keywords, and less searched for that head keywords, and they focus on a particular niche; The longer and more specific the search term is, the easier it is to rank for it since the competition will be much lower, so don’t get discouraged that fewer people are searching for such keywords because they might be more motivated to react to your CTAs
- A keyword strategy consists in the decisions based on your keyword research, so think about the type of content you want to create first, how and where are you going to publish it, and if you will create a simple piece of copyright, a social media post, a product page, a video tutorial, or an infographic, etc.
- Search intent is pivotal as you must find out what people want or need, so don’t just glance at keywords, but discover the underlying goals of what searchers want to buy or to know, and then provide them solutions to their so-called “problems” via your SEO optimised content
How to conduct keyword research step-by-step
We consider that there are seven crucial steps to doing keyword research like a pro, and we will guide you through the whole process whilst giving you some useful tips on keyword research best practices.
Set clear goals and objectives
The first step in keyword research is reflecting on the goals and objectives of the business. Take your time, and try to brainstorm and write down the following:
- What is your business mission statement?
- What are your USPs?
- What is the business goal?
- Who is the target audience(s)?
Once this step is complete, you can move on to more advanced stages. Take into consideration the market and industry your business is in, as most industries are highly competitive, which means that larger companies will dominate the Google Search Results. Why? Because such companies have big marketing budgets, and they invest a big part of them especially in SEO, making it harder for smaller companies to rank high.
Look for what makes your product and offering unique, and that should be your business mission for your targeted audience.
If you are about to launch your business into a competitive industry, start small and gradually become a more prominent name in the market. From there, you can quickly begin to level up and increase your sales for a larger audience through a more general business mission.
Gather a good keywords list
The second step is to generate a good keywords list and organise it in a Google spreadsheet so that you can share it afterwards with the rest of your marketing teams. Considering your mission, think about how you could get in front of your customers, depending on what they are looking for on Google. If you have a clear mission, you will determine your exact niche and USPs, and those will be the search terms you will want to be found for on the internet.
So, define the main keywords for which you want to rank your website or specific landing pages, and these will be your main keywords around which your entire keyword research process will revolve around. The best way to choose the right main keywords for your business is by checking the user intent to know what information users are seeking when they enter a search query. To do so, simply enter your keywords into Google or any other SEO tool, and see what type of pages are ranking for it on the search engine results pages (SERP). Our favourite SEO tool is the SEMrush Keyword Research Tool. They even have a full blog on how to use SEMrush for keyword research!
Google will never show a specific company page for a search in a particular category if you include the words “best” or “top” in searches, so try to avoid doing that. This is simply to make sure that you will show up in search results per the intent by choosing the right keywords.
Research your keywords
After you’ve put together your keywords list, you can start diving deeper into your ideal keywords. Many keyword research tools can make your life easier, and from the top of our heads, the best ones are:
- Google – the king of keyword research as it clearly shows you what Google suggests while you are typing your already existing keywords, which are the questions people usually ask online; here, a good practice would be to check the related searches as well
- Answer the public – a great tool to get instant search insights directly from your customer’s mind
- Google Trends – this tool is handy if you want to find out the best seasonal keywords
- Google Search Console – where you can find keywords that your website pages rank for that might come with a surprise
Once you’ve accessed these keyword research tools, you can start having a look at metrics like:
- Traffic generated by your main keywords
- The organic click rate of your main keywords
- Keywords difficulty
For more support, you can download our FREE SEO Keywords Research Manual to find out the best practices that will help you target the right keywords for your business.
Choose your long-tail keywords
When starting keyword research, people’s most common mistakes are focusing only on popular terms, which large companies mostly take. Long-tail keywords have less traffic, which means the competition is lower, allowing you to rank more effortless for those keywords.
Interesting fact? Long-tail keywords have a higher conversion value as they focus more on specific products or topics relevant to your chosen niche. Generally, these keywords will be slightly longer and more focused than your main keywords. For example, your primary term could be ‘digital marketing’, and the long-tail keyword could be ‘digital marketing consultancy firm in Leicester’. You will easily find these long-tail variations of your keywords if you use one of the tools we’ve mentioned above.
Add all your long-tail keywords to the spreadsheet too. This will help you create an organised site structure, and the more long-tail your keywords are, the further down into your site structure its landing page will belong.
Research keyword competition
Now let’s have a look at how to research keyword competition. If your competition is high, you will rank on main competitive terms a lot harder than if your competition is lower, as in this case, you could rank for more of your main terms.
Google your keywords from your keyword research, and check out the SERP (search engine result page). Here you will be able to see the websites you are competing against once your content has been optimised with those keywords that you’ve searched for. Is their content well-written and optimised for SEO? In case your competition’s content is poor, you could have a high chance to outrank them on Google Search.
If you have a Google Ads account, you can check the PPC (pay-per-click). Search terms that have a higher PPC are usually also harder to rank for in organic results. Take a lot of notes in your spreadsheet about all these findings of your investigated keywords.
You can even do a SEMrush keyword gap analysis to determine the difference between specific keywords and your competitor’s keywords. Here, your primary focus should be on the keywords under ‘missing’, ‘weak’, and ‘untapped’. This is very important to discover so that you know where to focus your marketing efforts further.
Analyse the search intent closely
All your SEO efforts should be focused on answering the questions people have or providing the best solution for their “problems”. Try to remember that every time someone types a search query into a search engine, they ultimately look for specific answers and solutions.
You can find out your audience’s intent by knowing what they type on Google. They can either have an:
- Informational intent – they want to find out something on a specific subject
- Commercial intent – they want to investigate something before buying
- Navigational intent – they want to access specific websites
Look closely at what types of pages rank for those specific queries. Are they mostly product pages, informational blogs, videos, or a mix of all of those? These will be all hints of what Google thinks the search intent of a query is. Finding out what kind of intent can apply to your keyphrases will significantly increase your visibility on search engines. But don’t forget, add all your findings to your spreadsheet!
Create your keyword strategy
Considering all the data you’ve collected so far through the previous steps, you can now create a keyword strategy. Your spreadsheet should have a substantial amount of keywords and key phrases, a lot of competitor information, and your audience’s search intent for those keywords and keyphrases.
Now put this question: How does your website perform compared to the websites in the SERPs? If you are of equal size compared to your competitors and have similar marketing budgets, you can focus on those main terms. But if not, try to come up with more long-tail keywords first, as by doing so, aiming for the right main terms will be more comfortable afterwards.
Once you’ve decided on that, you can start thinking about the type of content that your audience is actively looking for. You can now create content that doesn’t exist yet, which will make you stand out in terms of quality or by providing good solutions to people’s problems. Even more, you can start constructing landing pages for your search terms, but you don’t need to do so immediately, it should be more of a long-term objective.
In an ideal world, you would conduct your keyword research, create a nice Excel table, and you would get on with creating landing pages for each one. This will enhance your website structure and your blogging quality, ranking your website higher in Google. Keyword research should be the start of any effective SEO strategy, but we know this step can be quite challenging, especially with the new Google Algorithm Update for 2021.
If you are interested in optimising your website or developing an achievable SEO strategy, why not book a FREE SEO consultation with us to find out how you can improve your website rankings and reach your target audience!