There was a time when SEO keyword research was simple. Marketers found a few highly trafficked keywords and used them frequently within the content. Within hours or days, the content climbed up the ranks of the search engines. Soon this became known as keyword stuffing. Search engines recognized it compromised the integrity of the search process. Searchers were landing on content that did not align with their original intent. Eager to ensure searchers were satisfied, search engines penalized sites that exploited keywords.
Marketers soon discovered why keyword research is important. Instead of using a few keywords continually, they tried to add them naturally into the content. However, content was still being written with search engines in mind rather than real people. Google began to change its algorithms to further refine the results searchers got when they typed a keyword into the search box. Keeping up with these SEO changes became the full-time work of keyword research services. Discover the importance of sophisticated keyword analysis to develop an effective strategy for success.
What Are Keywords and Why Do They Matter?
Keywords are the words, phrases, and terms searchers type into the search box at search engines such as Google – the leader in modern SEO. People think of a few relevant words that describe what they need or want. The search takes them to websites that should help them find it. Businesses use these words in their website content, blogs, and social media posts to help search engine users find their offerings. When it is done right, digital marketers understand the answer to why keyword research is important… because they get more targeted traffic. By providing meaningful answers to their target audience, companies generate more leads. Adding keywords to metadata, which is the back end of the content, helps further boost the ranking of compelling, keyword-based content.
Know Your Goals to Achieve Them
Before conducting keyword research, know your goals so you can achieve them. Vague goals don’t establish milestones – such as attracting more traffic and leads. Establish specific goals, such as getting 1,000 more visitors by a certain date or how many leads you want by the end of the quarter. Write down these goals to find ways to achieve them through SEO marketing. Your ultimate goal should always be to increase lead generation and sales. Measure your progress through the use of analytics. Consider subject, demographics, timing, and other factors to determine the success of current content. Use this information to develop future goals and web content that aligns with them.
User Intent – Slide Into the Skin of Your Target Audience
User intent is imperative when it comes to selecting keywords. Create personas so you get to know your target audience. A persona should include age, gender, income, interests and hobbies, what they struggle with and what they already accomplish. Depending on your industry, your target audience may consist of several different personas. Slide into their skin and minds when you choose keywords. What phrases would they use to find your products or services? Use a combination of scientific research, common sense, and gut intuition – but always satisfy user intent. Give them what they want to keep them coming back for more.
Create a List of Hot Topics
Take it a step further. What is your target audience talking about? Is there information they need or want? Search social media, search engines, Q&A sites, and forums to find out the latest industry chat. Create a list of topics that pertain to your industry then start finding keywords commonly used to discuss them. Use tools such as Google Adwords, MOZ, and Ubersuggest to find a robust range of keyword possibilities. Use a variety of terms, including:
- brand terms for people who are familiar with your company and are looking for its offerings;
- product terms that show what your product does and the problems it solves for consumers;
- competitor terms to ensure your content is both relevant and original;
- substitute product terms, such as sandals when you mostly sell sneakers to attract a broad audience that might want what you have;
- complementary product terms, which are items that go with your product, such as socks with sneakers; and
- audience terms that reflect what consumers are interested in now.
Keep An Eye on the Competition
Take a few minutes to check out the competition. Type a few search terms into the Google search engine box to see what competitors are saying about the subject. Perform keyword research to determine which words are highly competitive and are commonly used by competitors. Get ideas from this research then take your unique approach. Verify your content is original compared to what already tops the search engines. Cover a subject in-depth, and add appealing visuals. Photographs, video, infographics, surveys, and original case studies all add interest and uniqueness to your content.
Define Your Niche
Before going knee-deep into keyword research, define your niche. For example, competitors might be ranking for the word “home sales” by reaching out to first-time buyers. Consider how to attract a niche market within home sales, such as veteran buyers or people looking for vacation homes. Use this niche approach to make your company stand out from the competition. Find keywords that reflect your niche. Provide useful content searchers may not easily find elsewhere. Answer their questions and address their concerns to prove your ability as a niche expert.
The Short and Long End of Keywords
Not all keywords are created equal. Short keywords are often referred to as head keywords. Typically they are only or two words. Often these keywords are highly competitive because they are general, such as “white shirt.” While these keywords are essential to add to SEO content, they should not be the only ones you use.
Long-tail keywords are usually three or more words, such as “white silk shirt.” They are less trafficked and competitive, increasing your ability to rank well for them. Because of their specificity, they can be used to define a niche market. Head keywords make up 30 percent of searches while long-tail keywords make up 70 percent of searches. Though long-tail keywords have less volume, they can ultimately bring in more targeted traffic. The right combination of both types of keywords is a winner. A preferred combination is using long-tail keywords as the primary keyword in the content and a short one as a secondary keyword.
Get to Know Keyword Metrics
Specific metrics are used to measure the effectiveness of keywords and how they should be used. These include search volume, clicks, traffic potential, keyword difficulty, and cost per click. Determine how relevant the keywords are based on your products, services, niche, and goals. Try to be as specific as possible in your choices. Keep in mind a keyword that attracts less than 100 monthly searches is usually too narrow to choose as a primary or secondary keyword.
Avoiding the Online Traffic Jam
Everyone wants to go for the highly trafficked keywords, but it’s not the place to start. Some businesses have ranked for a top keyword for months or years. It will be difficult to surpass their dedicated SEO efforts in just a few weeks or months. Start by using less trafficked keywords to boost the rank and authority of your site slowly. Slow and steady with consistency wins the race. Update website content often, make sure it is always optimized and choose keywords you have a chance to rank for right away. Incorporate these terms into your titles, content, metadata, tags, and social media posts. Use them as hashtags on sites such as Twitter.
A Tiered Approach to Soar Past the Competition
SEO is often like climbing a ladder. It requires caution, effort, and balance to avoid falling so you can get to the top. A tiered approach begins by using keywords with low to medium traffic and competition. Create authoritative and useful content around these keywords for several months. Then start using medium to highly trafficked keywords in your content and blogs. Include internal links to the previous optimized blog posts, as well as useful main pages and services provided at your site. Use the past content to boost the current content based on more competitive keywords. This multi-level approach helps you climb toward competitors who may have monopolized specific keywords for a long time.
Determine the Value of a Keyword
Determining the value of a keyword also means understanding your company and its customers. Are they looking for white sandals or black sneakers? Who makes up your largest target audience? A keyword has value if it reaches out to the people who purchase from your company. If they are looking for white sandals, use the applicable keywords. Frequently check your website analytics. Where is your traffic coming from and what do they want? Then choose keywords that appeal to them.
Give Readers What They Want
Never use keywords to dupe people into visiting your site. The search engines and readers will turn away from your site. Nobody wants to be tricked into visiting your site – and this is not the way to build a trustworthy reputation. Be authentic, use meaningful keywords, and craft content that provides real value to readers.
- answer their common questions;
- fulfill a particular need for your target audience;
- cover trending topics with authority and in detail;
- add keywords naturally, without being obvious and stilted;
- write blogs that are at least 500 words in length and well-researched with external links to authoritative resources; and
- make sure to consider title tags, headlines, and metadata so everything is consistently optimized – this helps people and search engines find your content.
How Many Are Too Many?
Keyword stuffing is a sure way to get a site penalized. And excessive use of keywords usually means the content is difficult to read. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how many keywords to use. Traditionally, SEO marketers select a primary and secondary keyword to focus on when they write a page of content or article. However, additional keywords can be infused into the material if they complement its natural flow. Keyword research services with professional content writers know how to seamlessly incorporated these words without being obvious.
SEO Is a Long Haul Pursuit
Much like financial investments, SEO is a long haul pursuit that requires patience and flexibility. Sometimes the results will be positive. Other times, your site ranking or traffic may plummet. There are many reasons why this happens, ranging from how quickly your site loads to a new trending topic that makes yesterday’s news irrelevant. To be successful, you need to calmly deal with the inevitable highs and lows that come as you crawl to the top. It can take years to build the authority and ranking of a website, but it’s well worth the effort. The results are rarely instant, but savvy keyword research and outstanding content make them consistent.
If At First, You Don’t Succeed…
Much like the search engine algorithms, SEO is constantly changing and evolving. What worked yesterday may no longer be a viable strategy today. If at first, you don’t succeed, evaluate the issues then move forward. Try a new keyword, a different niche, and a fresh approach. You might fall a few times, but once you get up, you’ll be on your way to the top! Maintain the highest standards of excellence at all times to stay there. Work with a team of experts that understands what matters in the SEO world today and knows how to navigate future changes. Keeping up with the latest updates ensures your site stays relevant and continues to climb up the ranks.
All of this brings us back to the original question of why is keyword research important? Search engines are the principal way people find what they need. You want to be on the first page of Google results so they can easily find your organization. Work with a reputable keyword research service to get the results you want based on current best practices. The right approach brands your business, builds trust and enables potential customers to find you first.